Incorrect Treatment For Lyme Disease

lyme disease
Delays in proper treatment, inhibition of our immune systems by tick and bacterial defenses, and development of resistance of Borrelia to common antibiotics allow the bacteria to escape eradication. Caught early enough, most cases are cured with a short series of oral antibiotics. There is even talk about a single dose of long-release doxycycline being sufficient if given early enough. Yet many people are being misdiagnosed, given insufficient treatments (Burrascano 2005), and not cured even after prolonged antibiotic administration.

The Physician Factor

Physicians who follow the guidelines of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) feel that the regime of antibiotics proscribed by IDSA is sufficient to eliminate Lyme disease. Thus, these doctors prescribe 14 days of doxycycline when they assume the patient has had the disease for less than a month, and 28 days when they feel there is neurological involvement.

When the patient symptoms are not relieved by this antibiotic regime, the doctor, following IDSA's guidelines, states the disease is cured, but now the patient is demonstrating “post Lyme disease syndrome”, and there is nothing further that can or will be done. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) produced different guidelines. ILADS physicians understand that the disease has entered a “chronic Lyme disease” state, and more intense measures must be taken to eradicate the disease.

How Borrelia Escape the Immune System During Chronic Lyme Disease
Borrelia penetrate into the cells of various tissues where they become isolated from both antibodies and killer T-cells (phagocytes) that would eat them. The blood brain barrier prevents many antibiotics from entering the tissues of the brain and spinal cord. When Borrelia penetrate that barrier, they are isolated from most antibiotics and wreak mayhem inside our nervous system, causing major alterations in nerve function – breaking the synaptic network and even destroying nerve cells.

The bacteria also burrow into and kill T-lymphocytes, the very cells designed to trap and kill them. As they destroy lymphocytes, Borrelia can hide inside a stolen portion of the lymphocyte's membrane and move through the bloodstream and tissue fluids looking to the immune system like a lymphocyte. The bacteria leave the lymphocyte membrane for only a short time before they enter a new cell.

How Borrelia Escape Antibiotics

  • Once inside the host, the bacteria reproduce about once every two weeks. (E. coli can reproduce once every twenty minutes.) Since most antibiotics prevent the bacteria from reproducing, ILADS feels a two week antibiotic treatment is ineffective as the bacteria may not reproduce during the period of treatment.
  • Each spirochete releases hundreds of membrane covered blebs, from their outer surface, and it appears these blebs are in part responsible for causing the symptoms of LD. Some antibiotics destroy these blebs, although the bacteria escape the antibiotic. In this case, the antibiotic reduces the severity of the illness because, although the blebs are rapidly destroyed by the antibiotic, bacteria continue to make blebs, so a few blebs remain active during treatment. The patient feels “better” but is not cured. Once the antibiotic is stopped, the blebs increase to pre-antibiotic levels and the disease comes back in full force – often producing new and more serious symptoms.
  • Borrelia has the ability to change from a spirochete into two other cell forms and enter body cells (Alan B. MacDonald, MD, power point presentation entitled: “Borrelia and Alzheimer's Disease”, presented to the ILADS national meeting Oct 30, 2007).
  • The first is an inactive cystic form that is able to produce new spirochetes at a later time. MacDonald feels this form is responsible for resurging Lyme disease after periods of remission.
  • The second is an L-form or spheroid without a cell wall. This form is often found inside T-cells and neurons and appears to be responsible for damaging these tissues. Each of the three forms of Borrelia requires different antibiotics or medications to destroy (Burrascano 2005). If these different medications are not provided at the proper times, the disease may return. IDSA does not agree the cyclic and L-forms develop in humans – even though Dr. McDonald has been demonstrating this for years. Thus, IDSA does not provide for treating any form but the spirochetal one.
  • Bacteria can acquire genes for antibiotic resistance from resistant strains of other species. If a few Borrelia become resistant to an antibiotic, the sensitive forms are destroyed by it - effecting a temporary “cure.” When the resistant ones reproduce and form a resistant population, LD returns but now must be treated with a different antibiotic.

Patients May Need Several Medications

The key to treatment of LD is to have the treatment started as soon as you suspect you have the disease - before the bacterium transform, mutate, or obtains antibiotic resistance. Once the bacteria are altered, a single antibiotic can not treat all of its forms, but there are many antibiotics available. If a particular antibiotic fails, another one might be effective.

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Kidney Stones

kidney stones
Stones in the kidney or urinary tract (nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis, both synonymous) often present as a medical emergency. Those afflicted seek help because of excruciating pain and other complications. Though not common, there are various ways for these stones to form. The options for treatment, however, are generally the same.

Formation of Stones

Calcium stones, mainly calcium oxalate, are the most common type of renal calculus. They can form when one doesn't drink enough water, allowing calcium that would dissolve to instead precipitate and crystallize. They also form in association with conditions raising the blood calcium level, including hyperparathyroidism, cancer, vitamin D overdose, and sarcoidosis. Other factors involve oxalate and citrate. Too much dietary oxalate or conditions increasing intestinal absorption of oxalate can promote stone formation. Citrate plays a role when there is too little of it, because it normally binds calcium and prevents crystallization into stones.

Uric acid stones can form with excessive ingestion of purines, primarily from meats. In addition, urine that is more acidic allows uric acid to crystallize more easily. Other types of stones include struvite stones formed through urinary tract infections by urea-splitting bacteria (e.g., Proteus mirabilis), cysteine stones from a rare genetic condition resulting in high levels of blood cysteine, and drug-induced calculi from certain medications that can crystallize within the urinary tract (e.g., the anti-HIV drug indinavir).

Symptoms and Signs

A calculus within the urinary tract triggers intense pain. One may feel it in the flank if the stone resides in the kidney itself. If the stone advances down the ureter, pain is felt in the abdomen or groin depending on the stone's location. Trauma can cause bleeding seen in the urine itself (hematuria). If the stone reaches the urinary bladder and causes outflow obstruction, one may have pain in the lower abdomen and frequent urges to urinate. On occasion, the stone is a large irregularly shaped stone that fills the space within the kidney (staghorn calculus). As a result, one may have signs of infection, like fever and low blood pressure, rather than pain.

The prime imaging study to diagnose nephrolithiasis is a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis. Abdominal x-rays can detect calcium stones since they light up well, but not the other types of stones. Ultrasound of the kidneys can demonstrate urine backing up in the urinary tract (hydronephrosis), but it's not always seen, particularly when the stone is small and nonobstructing. Other tests for nephrolithiasis include urinalysis to detect blood, complete blood count to look for signs of infection, and serum chemistries to detect abnormalities in kidney function and electrolyte levels that may suggest a particular cause for the stone.

Treatments

The first step is to relieve any urinary obstruction. If the obstruction is in the bladder, a Foley catheter is inserted through the urethra to drain the urine. If obstruction involves the ureter and urine is backed up all the way to the kidneys, a nephrostomy tube is inserted directly through the skin and into the kidney to drain the urine.

As for the stone itself, treatment depends on its size. If it's small, like less than 5 mm, the patient may be given medications to help relax smooth muscle in the ureter and aid in passage of the stone (e.g., Hytrin, Flomax). For stones that are larger and are unable to pass, options include breaking the stone with shock waves (extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy or ESWL), inserting a tube through the urethra and all the way to the stone in the ureter in order to extract it with tools (ureteroscopy), and surgically opening the kidney (nephrolithotomy). The urgency of these urological procedures depends on the severity of symptoms. For the most part, they can be done at a urology follow-up appointment after hospitalization.

Once that is taken care of, analysis of the stone is done to determine its composition. From there, the underlying conditions that led to the stone are addressed.

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Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

seasonal affective disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic online, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a cyclic, seasonal condition with signs and symptoms that reoccur around the same time each year. Usually, symptoms appear during late fall and progress on through the winter, only abating with the onset of longer and sunnier days.

Though, conversely, some people have developed the opposite pattern and become depressed with the onset of spring or summer, only feeling relief when that season wanes. But, in either case, SAD symptoms generally start out mild and progress in severity throughout the length of the season.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Facts and Causes

According to Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), SAD mimics many signs of depression, though it is actually a mood disorder that is related to the body's inability to adapt itself to varying amounts of sunlight.
The NMHA further offers the following facts about this serious and often misunderstood disorder.
  • A million people suffer from SAD every winter between September and April.
  • The “Winter Blues" may be a milder form of SAD and affect twice as many people.
  • Three out of four SAD sufferers are women.
  • The main onset of SAD occurs between the ages of 18 and 30.
  • SAD occurs in both the northern and southern hemispheres, though, oddly, it is rarely seen in those living within 30 degrees latitude of the equator.
  • The severity of the disorder depends on both a person’s vulnerability to light variance and his or her geographical location.

Evidently, just as sunlight affects the seasonal activities of animals (reproductive cycles and hibernation), it may too influence human behavior in similarly cyclical ways. As seasons change, there is a marked shift in the human “internal biological clock,” or circadian rhythm, due in part to patterns directly linked to varying levels of sunlight. The effect is an internal clock that is in step with the seasons but out of step with year-round daily schedules.

Also, SAD sufferers seem to more easily produce increased levels of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone that is naturally secreted by the brain. It seems that sufferers excrete heaps of the hormone during extended periods of darkness, so, when the days become shorter and darker, they begin to crave carbohydrates, require greater amounts of sleep, become irritable, and develop a severe disinclination to boogie.

Correctly Diagnosing and Identifying SAD

Of course, despite its pervasive grip on so many Americans, Seasonal Affective Disorder is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat effectively due to its elusive and broad-ranging symptoms and almost entirely subjective level of suffering across those effected. Nevertheless, if the majority of the following symptoms listed below (from the Mayo Clinic on-line) are experienced, SAD may be the cause.
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information

Notably, it is important to talk with your doctor regarding any concerns about mood instability or depression.
Particularly interesting are the symptoms of social withdrawal, appetite changes, and difficulty concentrating and processing information, as these symptoms do not necessarily point to long-term and pervasive suffering. The other interesting notation here is that there is currently no cure for SAD. Medication, light therapy, and weekly exercise regiment are only treatments for the disease.

Light Therapy and Medications for SAD Sufferers

Light therapy currently is the main treatment, and research is continuing to determine the most effective way to use it. There are two types of light therapy: bright light treatment, which makes use of a "light box" for a certain amount of time (usually in the morning), and dawn simulation, which takes place during the sleeping hours, utilizing a low-intensity light timed to go on in the early morning and get brighter with the waking hours.

It may take anywhere from three days to two weeks before a patient experiences positive effects from light therapy. However, discontinuing the routine will likely cause a relapse back into depression, as the goal of the light box is to reset the biological clock to a time of full sun, thereby triggering the brain to function at its highest levels of production.

Other treatments include the use of antidepressants, which may take as many as 6 to 8 weeks to become fully effective. Medication can be used with light therapy, but, as always, it is important to talk with a doctor before taking any medications.

Perhaps SAD is a little misunderstood, but it is very treatable if given proper time, attention, and understanding.

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Understanding Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome

osler weber rendu syndrome
Olser-Weber-Rendu syndrome (OWR), also known as Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT), is an inherited condition affecting the blood vessels. It affects approximately one person out of 10,000, or about 1.2 million people throughout the world.

Causes of Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome

Olser-Weber-Rendu syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by an abnormality in either the endoglin gene (ENG) on chromosome 9, or the activin receptor-like kinase 1 gene (ALK1) on chromosome 12. Both of these genes are involved in blood vessel formation. A mutation in either of these genes will result in similar OWR symptoms, and those who have the disorder generally only have an abnormality in one of the genes.

OWR syndrome has an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance, meaning only one copy of the abnormal gene is necessary to cause the disease and to pass it on. Each child of an individual who has the disorder has a 50% chance of inheriting it. The vast majority of those affected have a family history of the disorder.

Symptoms of Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome

Most symptoms of OWR syndrome are due to abnormal formation of capillaries, tiny vessels that normally connect arteries to veins. Abnormalities in capillary formation cause defects known as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), fragile areas in the vessels that can easily rupture. AVMs may occur on the surface of the skin or in the lungs, brain, liver, stomach or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms often begin to appear in affected people when they are between ten and twenty years old, and increase with age. Individuals with OWR will not necessarily have all of these symptoms.

  • Telangiectasias are small AVMs that may appear on the skin as red spots on the face, hands, lips, or inside the mouth. They may bleed spontaneously or from minor trauma.
  • Nosebleeds (epistaxis) usually begin to appear around 12 years of age, and are due to telangiectasias in the nose.
  • Anemia can be caused by blood loss from frequent nosebleeds or bleeding from AVMs elsewhere in the body.
  • Pulmonary AVMs cause bleeding in the lungs, increase the risk of bacterial infections by interfering with normal filtering processes, and cause low blood oxygen levels, migraine headaches, and can possibly lead to stroke.
  • Brain AVMs can cause headaches, seizures, paralysis or stroke.
  • Liver AVMs can interfere with normal circulation of the blood and lead to increased risk of heart failure.
  • Gastrointestinal AVMs can cause significant loss of blood, leading to anemia.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome

OWR syndrome is usually diagnosed by observation of symptoms such as frequent nosebleeds and telangiectasias, and whether there is a family history of the disorder. Blood tests can detect anemia and monitor blood oxygen levels; chest x-rays or EKGs can assess if lungs and heart are normal; ultrasound is used to find AVMs in the stomach or liver; MRIs are used to look for AVMs in the brain. Gastrointestinal bleeding can be detected by stool samples.

Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may require little or no treatment. Treatment for more severe symptoms may include iron supplements for anemia or laser therapy to seal telangiectasias. Chronic bleeding from the GI tract may require endoscopy and treatment by laser therapy or cauterization of AVMs. Pulmonary AVMs may be treated with embolization, which is insertion of a tube through a vein in the groin area that is used to place a balloon in the lung to block the bleeding artery. Brain AVMs may be treated by surgery, embolization, or stereotactic radiosurgery, which uses a focused beam of radiation.

Other treatments include hormone therapy with estrogen, or aminocaprioic acid, which improves clotting. In cases of severe blood loss, blood transfusions may be necessary. Many people who have Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome do not have severe symptoms, and require minimal treatment to manage the condition, but early screening and proper diagnosis are crucial.

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Recovering From Back Surgery – Healing Safely from Back Surgery

back surgery recovery
For a fast and safe recovery from back surgery, patients are given post operative care instructions. A back surgery patient should try to gradually engage in daily activities and religiously take prescribed medications. Once a patient starts to feel better, engaging in strengthening and mobility exercises is the next step.

Recover Fast From Back Surgery by Getting Back in Action

As part of a speedier recovery process, it is important for a back surgery patient to slowly get back into a daily routine. Immersing oneself in activities, even those as simple as getting out of bed without help, is a major step towards full recovery. Here are some more tips to easily get back in action.
  • Get in and out of bed safely without putting pressure on the back. This can be easily done through a log roll – a position where in an individual rolls on his side, swings legs to the floor and lifts the body using the arms.
  • Utilize special tools such as railings, a reacher and elevated seat to assist with day to day actions.
  • When in doubt on whether or not to perform a specific activity, such as driving or going to work, check with a doctor.
  • Refrain from being in one position for long periods of time to avoid cramps and spasms.

Take Prescribed Medication for Fast Back Surgery Recovery

A doctor will prescribe medication for an effective pain management. Do not hesitate to ask questions pertaining to what the medicine is for and length of time it has to be taken. Never wait for pain to be intolerable before taking medication and make sure to take it on time. Also, if an individual has been on medication for a while, it is best to consult with a doctor before stopping medication.

Gain Strength Back After Back Surgery Through Exercising

Exercise programs are usually given after surgery to help a back surgery patient to heal faster. Exercising is also another way to reduce pain. Here are some strengthening exercises to try.
  • Walking – Walking is a great way to maintain the strength and flexibility of the muscles. Start with short walks on flat surfaces for a few minutes. For each day, add a minute or so.
  • Water Aerobics – This type of exercise is great in exercising muscles, while maintaining a minimum stress on the back. The doctor may recommend this exercise as soon as it is determined that the incision is safe to get wet.
  • Other exercises recommended by a physical therapist

Speed Up Back Surgery Recovery by Protecting the Back

Observing good body mechanics when performing day to day activity can speed up the recovery process. It can also prevent back injury in the future.
  • When lifting, follow the recommended weight limit set by the doctor. Also, remember to always lift using the legs and hold the object to be lifted close to the body.
  • Sit with a straight back; no slouching or slumping.
  • Use knees when bending and never bend from the waist.
  • Avoid any form of twisting or bending

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The Difference Between Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by the depletion of both water and salt due to excessive sweating during periods of work or exercise. Athletes are particularly prone to heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is an extension of heat exhaustion, and it happens when the body's mechanisms responsible for temperature regulation fail. Both of these conditions should be treated as emergencies. Here's how to recognize when a person is afflicted with heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

How to Recognize and Treat Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can affect anyone when the weather is hot, indoors or outdoors. Symptoms can begin after prolonged exposure to high temperatures without balancing the loss of electrolytes with adequate fluid intake. Weakness and confusion will follow. Sufferers of heat exhaustion will sweat more heavily than normal, and may have cool and clammy skin.

It's imperative to get the person to a cooler location; preferably an air-conditioned room. Call for medical assistance right away and give water or sports beverages to replace the salt that's been lost. Only allow the person to sip small amounts of liquid at regular intervals of 10 minutes. Remove as much clothing as possible and wrap the limbs with towels that have been drenched with cool water. The victim might complain of a throbbing headache but under no circumstances should pain medications be given.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke and How to Treat the Condition

A dangerously high body temperature of 104°F or 40°C is the main sign of heat stroke. Visible neurological indicators are seizures, difficulty understanding what others are saying, and hallucinations. Sufferers of heat stroke will produce little or no sweat, and the skin will turn bright red because the body tries to dilate blood vessels to try to release heat. What's happening is that the body is turning into an oven. Other symptoms are a rapid pulse, confusion, and unusually aggressive behavior.

It's vital to call emergency medical services immediately because heat stroke can be fatal. Before they arrive, take steps to cool the victim down. Move the person out of direct sunlight to a shady area. If possible, spray the victim with cool water from a hose. Placing ice packs behind the head, under the arms, and on the sides of the chest will help to bring the person's core temperature down. Do not give caffeinated beverages like tea or coffee and never leave the victim unattended.

How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is the early stage of heat stroke. To reduce the likelihood of getting one and possibly both of these conditions, stay hydrated, wear loose clothing that reflects sunlight and take frequent breaks if you must work outside on hot days. Bring another person along in case an emergency does occur. At the first sign of heat exhaustion, all activities must be stopped, fluids must be replenished and the affected person should relax.

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UK Researchers Say Welfare Programme Cuts Affects Health

welfare programme

UK researchers have said that rates of heart disease and alcohol-related illnesses increases as a result of public spending being reduced.
A study carried out by an investigative team for the British Medical Journal concluded that a £70 reduction in social spending per person would spiral the alcohol illness upwards by 2.8% and heart disease by 1.2%.

Researchers collated data about government spending from 15 European countries including the UK from 1980 to 2005.

Trends Show Death Rates Increase as Public Spending Falls

Analysis revealed that as government spending was high, death rates fell and when social spending plummeted mortality rates grew.
Social circumstances were the strongest link to more cases of heart disease, and health deterioration was also connected with social spending on welfare independently of levels of health spending.

The most vulnerable groups likely to be affected are the long-term unemployed, disabled people and families and children.
Reductions in other areas of government spending such as in military spending or on prisons showed no such correlations with higher rates of death.

The study’s release comes after George Osborne revealed that his June 22 2011 emergency budget is to attack benefit payments
Government departments budgets will be slashed by 25% over the next four years apart from the protected areas of the National Health Service and international aid.

Attacks on benefit payments include a reduction in housing benefits from 2012 with a ceiling of £400 implemented, with the unemployed facing a 10% reduction from 2013 in their housing payments.

There will be more stringent tests for those who claim disability benefits from 2013, and the health in pregnancy grant is to be abolished from 2011 with the Sure Start maternity grant restricted to the first child.

Professor Says that Welfare Programme Spending is More Important than Health

The leader of the study, Dr. David Stuckler, a lecturer at the University of Oxford, believes that welfare spending may be a better use of resource than ring fenced health spending.

He also warned the coalition government that sharp attacks on the state will prove to have far reaching negative effects.

He told news.bbc.co.uk "So far the discussions around budget cuts have largely focused on economics. But social circumstances are crucial to people's health and our study shows there could be quite significant harms. If we want to promote a sustainable recovery in Britain, we must first ensure that we have taken care of people's most basic health needs."

In the UK there are currently an estimated 200,000 heart disease deaths every year and 9,000 fatalities from alcohol.

Dr Struckler concluded in his study that between 6,500 and 38,000 extra deaths would occur after putting through Osborne’s measures on a mathematical model.

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UK Study: More are Overweight and Alcohol-related Deaths Increase

overweight

The latest Social Trends report released by the Office National of Statistics has uncovered that alcohol-related deaths are on the increase but life expectancy is lengthening.

One in five men and one in seven women over the age of 16 consume more than double the daily allowance for alcohol once a week, increasing the amount of people who suffer from alcohol illness.

The ONS has been collating data since the 1970s on how people live in the UK and behavioural changes in society. Matthew Hughes, editor of Social Trends 40, told the telegraph.co.uk "The UK and the world are very different places now compared to 40 years ago. This book represents an overall picture of life in the UK today."

Life Expectancy is Higher for Women and Smoking Rates Fall

The report revealed that men are now expected to live to 77.8 years old 10 years older when compared to the '70s. Women are also living longer on average until 82 years old, a slightly less increase of seven years.

There was more encouraging health news over smoking rates as the number of heavy smokers has fallen considerably. In the last four decades male heavy smokers has decreased from 26 per cent to seven per cent. Women have also seen their rates of smoking fall with a drop of eight per cent down to just five per cent.

Social Changes Include Marriage and Communications

The ons.gov.uk also found that more people are living in single person households and do not feel the need to get married. Since 1971 there has been a doubling of single person households to 12 per cent. Two thirds of people over the age of 18 feel fulfilled enough in their lives not having a regular partner with more women putting off having children until later in life.

One of the largest behavioural changes over the last 40 years has been communications due to the internet revolution. Internet connection has now risen to 66 per cent in households compared to to nine per cent -staggeringly over the last ten years only.

Hughes opined: "The statistics highlight some of the main social changes over the last four decades. We are now living longer, less of us get married, and household sizes are smaller.”

"More of us have cars, women are having babies later in life, and more of our household spending goes on housing, water and fuel."

Other significant changes are the amount of those progressing onto higher education with numbers rising since the 1970s by almost two million.
More passports are also needed in modern day Britain as more than 40 million foreign holidays are taken than four decades ago with Spain still tourist’s most popular destination.

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Dry Eye Syndrome in Young People

dry eye syndrome

It is common knowledge these days that older people are prone to illness and disease. Their bodies seem to shrink as they get older, their skin becomes wrinkly, and simple bodily functions cease to operate properly. One of these is vision and the condition of the eye. A lot of elderly people suffer from cataracts and impaired vision, which is mostly caused by a lifetime of unknown strain on the actual muscle of the eye. But what if this happens in younger people, especially those under the age of 40?

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Quite simply, this disorder is caused by a breakdown of functions in the eye. It is all connected to the tear film, a protective shield that covers the cornea (the centre of the eye) and stops grit or other foreign bodies from scratching it. This tear film is what gives the human eye its moisture, a constant watery layer to keep the eye clean and free from disease.

But dry eye syndrome is not only related to lack of tears. When this watery layer of protective mucus is damaged it can no longer shield the most sensitive part of the eye (cornea). The brain will automatically send messages to try and produce tears to make up for this dryness, and this will result in a stream of water coming from the tear ducts. So from having very dry, sore eyes, the person is now suffering very wet, sore eyes. Yet as soon as this water stream slows, it evaporates, and the eye is back to its usual dry, uncomfortable state.

What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?

As well as a constant dry sensation, the patient of this syndrome will be sensitive to light. They may find even indoor electric lighting is too bright and that they feel more comfortable wearing sunglasses. When driving a vehicle at night it may seem as though all other drivers have their high-intensity beams on even when they don’t. It will be impossible to lift the head up on a sunny day because of the pain.

If the person blinks rapidly they will find no tears forming, and will instead feel sharp, stabbing pains, as though there were something in the eye that shouldn’t be there. It will feel hot, uncomfortable, and sometimes very sore. There will be a sensation of grit in the eye and sometimes a flaky texture around the eyelashes.

A feeling of tiredness is often associated with dry eye syndrome. Prolonged use of contact lenses can damage the eye’s protective layer and may result in dryness and difficulty producing tears. The skin around the eyes will feel puffy and taut and women will find it uncomfortable or painful to wear eye makeup because it sits too heavily on the eyelids and lashes.

How is Dry Eye Syndrome Caused?

In this modern age it is commonly believed that dry eye syndrome only affects elderly people. This is simply not true. Children are being raised on a diet of fast food, fizzy drinks, and playing computer consoles and watching large hi-tech television screens. As they move into the workplace they have to drive for several hours a week, sometimes more than two hours every day, and all of this takes its toll on the eye. The added dependency on computers means the eye is constantly under immense strain.

Exposure to bright lights, lack of natural minerals and vitamins, and even something as simple as not drinking enough water can exacerbate the condition. And even the simplest reaction, blinking the eye, is forgotten about while the person concentrates on the road ahead, or the document they are reading, or the game they are playing. They forget to blink and the eye becomes dry, and the tear film can no longer cope with the strain.

How do I treat Dry Eye Syndrome?

Once diagnosed by a doctor there is currently no known cure for dry eye syndrome. But as with all medical conditions, once a diagnosis is made, it is suddenly easier to deal with. Dry eye syndrome is no different. It can be eased with the aid of simple artificial tears. These are non-medicated eye drops, with no preservatives, that act as temporary lubrication for the eye. They can be readily obtained in a reputable pharmacy. A lubricating ointment can be a great help, especially if applied at night to soak in during sleep. This will stop the eyes from becoming sticky and crusty, and will also help ease dry skin.

It is important to maintain cleanliness around the eyes. They can be bathed in a solution of boiled, cooled water with salt mixed in, which will clean out impurities and foreign bodies. The traditional beauty care method of putting cucumber slices over the eyes can help reduce puffiness and will cool the discomfort, offering temporary relief.

Also the general environment needs to be adjusted. A sufferer of dry eye syndrome must get plenty of sleep to allow the body to heal itself from within. Try to reduce the hours spent in front of a computer screen or television, or at least take regular breaks and remember to blink frequently. Remove the need for air conditioning units where possible, and perhaps place a few humidifiers around the house or workplace. Small houseplants can act as natural humidifiers. And remember to eat good, healthy food and drink lots of water, to keep the body hydrated from within.

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Home Remedies for Back Pain

back pain
Back pain can take a toll on everyone — young and old. However, according to the book 1,801 Home Remedies by Reader's Digest, there are many ways you can help prevent, as well as relieve, back pain on your own.

Apply Ice and Heat

After you've experienced an injury, apply a bag of ice or frozen vegetables on the painful area. Ice is known not only to counteract against pain, but also reduce swelling.1,801 Home Remedies suggests that you keep ice on the injured area as frequently as possible during the first two days. After you've applied ice for 48 hours, place a heating paid on your back (specifically on the injured area). Consider repeating this three times a day, 20 minutes at a time, for about a week.

Massaging Pain Away

Ask your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend to rub your back. However, skip the lotions, especially if you're unsure of whether or not you have skin allergies. And if your partner gets a little tired while giving you a massage, ask him or her to try this: take a knee sock, add tennis balls inside and roll it up and down your back. Or visit your doctor, chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist and see what she recommends as massage tools.

Supplements From the Health Store

Visit your local health store and ask about bromelain supplements. Bromelain, says 1,801 Home Remedies, is known to "promote circulation" as well as decrease swelling. Just make sure you get clearance from a doctor first and read the bottles — pay attention to any contraindications stated on the label.

Change Your Posture When You're in Pain

If your back is in pain, don't force yourself to sit or lie in a certain way. Instead, look for a position that puts the least stress on the injured area. And if you're more comfortable sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your knees. This will help relieve pressure from your back.

Preventing Back Pain

Most of all, we must move around in order to prevent back pain — in fact, if one stops exercising, there's a higher likelihood of injuring the back even more! When your back hurts, gentle movement is recommended, as this will keep the back joints loose and flexible. Also, visit a gym class or personal trainer and get feedback on how you can strengthen your back through stretching and weight training.

Clearly, back pain can be a vicious cycle, however, you can take measures at home to treat, as well as prevent, it. Consider ice and heat, massage, nutritional supplements, changing your posture and preventative measures. In the long run, your body will thank you.

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How To Remove Excess Earwax in a Safe and Healthy Way

excess earwax
Earwax is a waxy substance in the ear meant to protect and clean the ear canal. Figuring out what earwax is is the first step to treating it. Earwax grows slowly, pushing dirt and other particles from the ear. It usually falls out on its own. Sometimes, however the earwax can build up and cause heavy feelings in the ear canal or hearing issues.

Is This Excess Earwax?

Earwax is an itchy substance, but it does have a purpose. Not only does it clean the ear, it provides lubrication. Often times, when people think they have excess earwax when in reality they have the typical amount. Sometimes, however, earwax does build up, and that requires medicinal attention. The trick is figuring out whether or not the ear wax is excessive.

If one is experiencing hearing loss or pain, this could be a sign of excess ear wax. Anything from a slight muffled sound to almost complete deafness can be a sign of hearing loss created by ear wax. If left untreated, it could cause permanent damage to the ear drum. Feeling pain inside the ear drum can also be a sign of excess ear wax. Check the symptoms and consult a doctor if needed.

Removing Earwax Safely

At home removal can help alleviate minor pain or discomfort, but it’s important to do it safely. Never ever use a cotton swab. As stated before, the ear wax is slowly emerging itself from the ear canal. Although a cotton swab will remove some of the ear wax, it will push the majority of the wax back down in the canal. This can cause damage to the ear drum.

Products for removing ear wax can be bought at the store, but it can also be done with household products. All one really needed is a dropper, some sort of oil such as baby oil, mineral oil or olive oil, and water. The oil should be warmed (but not hot). Fill the dropper (these can be purchased at a drug store) with some of the warm oil, and tilt the head to the side. Place several drops of the warm oil in the ear, and allow it to rest in there for several seconds. The heat will “melt” the wax. Tilt the head the other way, and catch the oil in a tissue of cloth. There should be some wax deposits on the tissue as well. If there are none, repeat the process. Afterwards, clean the ear out with water and dry completely.

Usually at home treatment works, but if the hearing loss and pain persist, medical treatment is advisable.

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Huge Study: Statins Associated with Cataracts, Not Dementia

statin drugs

Statin drugs are a family of medications known to reduce the risk of heart attack and death in people with cardiovascular disease. The drugs usually can be identified by the letters “statin” in their names. They include simvastatin, atorvastatin, fluvastatin, pravastatin, and rosuvastin.

Many have worried that statins might increase the risk of dementia, or cancer, or some other serious medical condition, and there have been studies that support those concerns. However, those studies are relatively small. A very large study would be necessary to truly understand the possible risks of taking statin drugs.

The British health care system provides the opportunity to gather huge amounts of data. Medical practices in England and Wales typically use electronic health records.

To look precisely at the issue of the risks of using statins, investigators collected data on almost two million people from over 300 general practices. About 225,000 people, about 10% of the subjects, were new users of one of the statin drugs. Data over five years were used.
The researchers presented their data mostly as relative risks. The five year risk of cataract in a person not using a statin was 0.0495. This means that for 100 people, about five would usually get cataract. Among people using a statin, the five year risk was about a third more, or between six and seven cases in 100 people. Put another way, treating 1000 people with a statin would produce about 19 “extra” cataract cases.

Meantime, the benefit would be a reduced risk of heart attack and sudden death. For every 100 users, about three people would be spared from a new cardiovascular event. Put another way, treating 1000 people with a statin would prevent 27 new cardiovascular cases.

Statin Use Did Not Affect Cancer Risk

There was no association with taking statin medications and the following cancers:
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer

Statin users had a slightly reduced risk of cancer of the esophagus.

Statin Use Associated with Liver, Kidney and Muscle Problems

A few medical conditions were associated with statin use, as previously known and expected. These were:
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Kidney failure
  • Myopathy (muscle inflammation)

Statin Use Not Associated with Osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, Blood Clots

Other conditions for which no association with statin use was found include: dementia, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporotic fractures, and rheumatoid arthritis. The risks and benefits of taking statin medications must be evaluated in light of personal goals and preferences, and in the context of frank discussion with the health care provider.

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How To Quit Smoking With Zyban

Stopping smoking can be extremely difficult for thousands of people who find willpower alone is simply not enough to get them off the dreaded weed for good.

Instead they invariably turn to the hundreds of so-called “miracle” fixes on the market, often paying substantial sums of money for very disappointing results.

zyban

Stop Smoking

However, the anti-depressant, Zyban, if used correctly and in consultation with a doctor, has delivered impressive results by training the brain to “forget” the cravings associated with smoking.

Zyban is the trade name of the drug "bupropion" and it was approved as a stop smoking aid in 1997. The same drug, was previously and still is known as an anti-depressant and is manufactured under the name of Wellbutrin.

The manufacture of Zyban began after smokers taking the anti-depressant medication Wellbutrin (another name for Zyban), reported that their nicotine dependence seemed to diminish, to the point where it was actually preferable to stop smoking rather than continue.

Zyban has been produced in the form of a pill, which is taken twice a day and is only available on prescription from a doctor. It cannot be bought over the counter at present.

How Does Zyban Work?

Zyban works on the brain by boosting two chemicals that release feelings of well being and enjoyment. This in turn reduces the severity of the withdrawal symptoms as well as reducing the urge to smoke at all.

The course begins one week before giving up smoking, so initially patients are taking Zyban whilst continuing to smoke. This is because it takes time for the Zyban to reach the necessary levels to be effective. However, some patients can start to feel “off cigarettes” within hours.
During the second week, a stop smoking date is selected and the medication continues for a further 7 - 11 weeks. If smoking doesn’t cease on the chosen date, a new one should be targeted, as close to the original as possible.

The tablet should be taken twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening, or with at least 8 hours between doses. The pill should be taken with water and swallowed whole. It should not be chewed, crushed or divided.

Each tablet is a 150 mg dose. For the first three days, only one dose is taken and then for the rest of the treatment course, this is increased to a dose of 300 mg. No more than 300 mg should be taken in any one day.

Quitting Smoking

Clinical studies have shown that withdrawal symptoms are reduced, especially feelings of irritability, anxiety, anger, poor concentration, restlessness and depression. Success rates in quitting smoking range between 15% and 25%, although one study did show the success rate to be more than double these figures. Another, from the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that almost one in three users of Zyban required no further stop smoking help.

Is Zyban Safe?

Zyban is relatively new and studies are still being carried out concerning the effects and safety of the drug. The main concern is that it may cause seizures or convulsions and certain people are more at risk than others. It has been estimated that one out of every thousand users will suffer a seizure whilst using Zyban. For this reason, the 150 mg single dose should never be exceeded.

Those taking the drug in the form of an anti-depressant (Wellbutrin) should never take Zyban at the same time. The same goes for people being treated for anorexia nervosa or bulimia, as they are at an increased risk of suffering seizures or convulsions.

Zyban will not be prescribed without a doctor's consent, and only after taking into account and adjusting any existing medication.

Never use Zyban if:

  • Taking Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR or any other medications that contain bupropion
  • Suffering from any eating disorders
  • Taking any form of medication for treatment of depression
  • Suffering chronic liver cirrhosis
  • Suffering from any seizure disorders, such as epilepsy
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Under18

Side Effects

The most common side effects reported with use of Zyban are sleeping disorders, dry mouth and headaches. The side effects are usually mild and disappear after a few weeks with continuous use.

Other common side effects are stomach pains, vivid dreams, changes in bowel movement, muscle and joint pain, coughing, lack of concentration, itchiness, sore throat and nausea.

If side effects persist, stop taking zyban and consult a doctor.

Smoking Facts

  • ted diseases cause an estimated 440,000 American deaths each year.
  • s the United States over $150 billion annually in health care costs.
  • A 2004 Study by the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion found that cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer

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Over the Counter Migraine Pain Relievers

migraine pain relievers
People with milder forms of migraines can use over-the-counter medications to free themselves of this ghastly affliction. Two other non-prescription treatments are hot or cold compresses and alternative medical care.

Migraine Headaches are Common

Migraines are more common than most people know, and many folks with these horrid headaches end up going to an ER to find a way to end the pain. Although no one knows precisely what causes this neurological disorder, according to Dr. Scott Fuller in the article "What is a Migraine?", migraines are believed to be related to the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the brain, and the resulting changes of oxygen flow to the brain.

Migraines are not ordinary headaches.

Migraine Pain

Many people, who have never had a migraine view migraine sufferers as babies who complain about every little bump and bruise and smell and sound, but migraine pain is impossible to describe to those lucky individuals who have never had one.

It cannot be stressed enough: A migraine is no measly little headache. These monsters feel like a combination of having the flu and getting a couple of whacks to the skull. And, because migraines are so individualized / idiopathic, a drug that works for Suzy may do absolutely nothing for Sam.

Many migraine sufferers go undiagnosed. Therefore, it is a good idea to see a doctor to verify that a headache is, indeed, a migraine and not a symptom of another underlying medical problem. Some migraine sufferers are helped by over-the-counter medications. According to "Migraine: Treatment and Drugs", mayoclinic.com, "...medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or aspirin, may help relieve mild migraines."

Over the Counter Pain Relievers

“Over the counter” (OTC) means that a medication can be purchased without a prescription. According to Mayoclinic.com, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can bring relief to people with a mild form of migraine. Here are some analgesics to try:
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • ASPIRIN®
  • Excedrin Migraine (acetaminophen, ASPIRIN® and caffeine)
The problem with these remedies is that they will not work on severe migraines. Also, improper usage can lead to:
  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • ulcers
  • rebound headaches
Check with a pharmacist or physician to make sure that there will be no complications or interactions with one's current medications.

When to See a Doctor for Migraine Treatment

Any headache could be a symptom of a more severe problem, so all headaches should be checked out by a doctor. Moreover, if there are unusual changes in headache patterns, it is imperative to talk to a physician. According to mayoclinic.com, the following symptoms indicate an immediate visit to a doctor or an ER:
  • an abrupt, severe headache (something like a thunderclap)
  • headache with fever, stiff neck, rash, confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness, or trouble speaking
  • headache following a head injury
  • chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining, or sudden movement
  • new headache pain in a person over 50 y/o

Heat and Cold for Migraine Pain

Another simple treatment, that needs no prescription, is the use of hot and cold packs. (Try hot or cold compresses in a dark, quiet room, at the beginning stage of a headache.) Unfortunately, the only way to see if “temperature therapy” works is to try different applications and variations of hot and cold.
According to mayoclinic.com, "Migraines: Simple Steps to Head Off the Pain":
  • hot compresses, applied to one’s head or neck, can relax tense muscles
  • cold compresses applied to the head or back of one’s neck, can have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain
The article "Migraine Remedies" at Migraineliving.com recommends trying these methods:
  • placing a cold, wet cloth (or alternating hot and cold cloths) on the back of the neck
  • placing a cold compress on the forehead and putting one’s feet in warm water

Alternative Medicine

Here are some non-traditional therapies that may help to prevent headaches, and are mentioned in "Migraine: Alternative Medicine" at mayoclinic.com.
  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback
  • Massage therapy
  • Herbs - feverfew and butterbur (Don't use while pregnant.)
  • Riboflavin
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Oral magnesium sulfate supplements
Migraine sufferers should ask their doctors about these therapies.
People with less severe migraines may be able to find treatments that don’t use costly prescription medications. Over-the-counter analgesics, hot and cold compresses, and alternative therapies do not work for all migraine sufferers, but they are good treatments to consider before bringing out the big guns. Headaches of all kinds can be a symptom of a more severe condition. Please check with a doctor about using OTC medications.

Information from this article is not intended to be a substitute for advice from a physician or other professional. Please consult a professional for specific advice.

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Preparing for an Appointment With a Specialist

doctor appointment

Going to a new doctor does not have to be an overwhelming experience. The key is to be prepared ahead of time. Following are some ideas to get ready to see a specialist for the first time.

The Legwork of Getting Ready to Consult a Medical Specialist

The first thing to understand is what the purpose is of being referred to a specialist. What does the general practitioner hope to accomplish by sending the patient for more specialized care? Will it be the patient’s duty to report the findings back, or will the two doctors be in communication over the medical condition?

Ask the general practitioner who he or she recommends as a specialist, but don’t stop there. For instance, if the other doctor will be a neurologist, rheumatologist, high risk ob/gyn, etc, ask friends and family for recommendations as well. Often others' personal experience can be very valuable in making big decisions like this. The internet can also be a valuable recourse for reviews of doctors and medical centers. Do some homework before choosing a doctor.

Check with the insurance company to find out what doctors are covered and what the patient’s financial responsibility will be. Also ask if a written referral is necessary, and obtain one from the general practitioner if required.

Sometimes, if the situation is not urgent, there can be a waiting period of a few weeks or a month before the appointment. Use this time to collect all medical records to bring to the appointment. Also prepare a list of any medications being taken, both prescription and over the counter. Start thinking of questions to ask the doctor, and make a list to bring.

The Day of the Specialist Appointment

It’s a good idea to bring a family member or close friend to the appointment, both for company and to ask any questions that may have been forgotten. Four ears can also listen better than two, and when a patient is nervous, it can be helpful to have someone else there to listen to instructions.

Check the route to the medical center or office ahead of time, especially if unfamiliar with the area. If possible, it’s even a good idea to take a dry run there a day or two before the appointment so as to feel comfortable with the directions.

Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before the appointment time. This will allow time for filling out paperwork and getting settled and calmed down before the appointment. Fill out all answers honestly and thoroughly, this makes it much easier for the doctor to know what’s going on. If possible, clear the rest of the day of responsibilities, that way if the waiting time is longer than anticipated or the appointment itself is lengthy, there will be less stress.

Seeing a new doctor can be stressful in any situation. Often, if a specialist is getting involved, it may be more so. Being prepared ahead of time and having everything in order on the day of the appointment can make the situation much easier to deal with.

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Participatory Health: A New Paradigm Centered Around the Patient

participatory health

The National Council on Aging reports that one third of all chronically ill people say they leave a doctor's office or hospital feeling confused about what they should do to continue their care; 44 percent of people (aged 44 and older) with chronic conditions want their doctors to spend more time talking with them; and 57 percent report that their healthcare providers have not asked whether they have help to manage their conditions at home.

Most of these concerns arise from the fragmented nature of health care delivery in America and the fact that there's often a gap, a disconnect in the amount of digital health information and the exchange of data among providers, patients and caregivers. How often do patients go in for routine tests but never receive a call about their results, good or bad? Why do some patients wait hours to see a physician, only to spend 15 minutes in the exam room and not have all of their concerns heard or addressed?

The healthcare system today is so taxed that physicians often feel pressure to see as many patients as possible, in the shortest amount of time. Though it's a sad state of affairs, the impact can be minimized through today's increasing reliance by society on mobile devices, which can lead to better patient-provider interactions. mHealth, participatory health and participatory medicine are just a few terms that address this new area of healthcare but what do they all mean?

Understanding mHealth

According to the mHealth Initiative, only one year ago, many people didn’t know the meaning of the term "mHealth." Now more and more individuals are familiar with the term (also written as m-health or sometimes mobile health), a recent moniker for medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices.

With the lofty, ambitious and admirable goal of connecting providers, patients, payers, and others came a complement to this endeavor, the idea of better communication in healthcare through participatory health.

Defining Participatory Health

Most experts define participatory health as a partnership between patients and providers and trusted experts, one in which participation is enabled and enhanced by technology such as the Internet and mobile health platforms.

Participatory health is also sometimes referred to as participatory medicine, a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their own health, and in which providers encourage and value them as full partners, according to the Society for Participatory Medicine.

The Need for Participatory Health

In a September 2009 report prepared for the California Healthcare Foundation, "Participatory Health: Online and Mobile Tools Help Chronically Ill Manage Their Care," Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, M.A., M.H.S.A, Think-Health, includes the following quote that speaks volumes about the state of healthcare today and the need for participatory health:

"In our country, patients are the most under-utilized resource, and they have the most at stake. They want to be involved and they can be involved. Their participation will lead to better medical outcomes at lower costs with dramatically higher patient/customer satisfaction." - Charles Safran, M.D., President, American Medical Informatics Association in testimony before the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee On Ways and Means, June 17, 2004

To this end, companies like Healthetreatment strive to enable individuals to share health and wellness knowledge so that others diagnosed with the same or similar conditions can learn from their experiences. Simply put, the site is creating a catalog of health conditions, symptoms and treatments compiled by real people.

According to Mike Bennett, the founder of Healthetreatment, user-generated health information is more robust and more current than existing medical resources. The key to being current and comprehensive, in his view, is to keep people coming to the website to provide the latest information on their condition.

Achieving the Best Potential Health Outcomes

By linking the patient back to his or her physician or healthcare provider, the m-health and participatory medicine movements will go a long way toward ensuring that patients receive the best possible care and that they play a critical, central role in their own health and well-being. As the e-patient movement gains momentum, the power of the online crowd will grow, allowing for improved medical outcomes and quality of life through better healthcare communication.

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Scoliosis – One of Several Disorders of the Spinal Column

scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the curve of the spine, or backbone, is not aligned correctly. In a person with scoliosis, the spine curves from side to side instead of in a straight line. On an x-ray, the shape of the spine may look like the shape of the letter S or the letter C.
According to the National Scoliosis Foundation in its “Information and Support” section, scoliosis affects two to three percent of the population. An estimated six million people in the United States has some type of scoliosis.

Classifications of Scoliosis

There are five main classifications or types of scoliosis which relate to the possible cause. The most common class is called idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown. This class is further broken down into subclasses which describe the age of onset. Idiopathic scoliosis is sub-classified as infantile, juvenile, adolescent or adult.


The second class is called congenital scoliosis. In this class, the abnormality of the spine existed at birth or the cause was due to vertebral abnormalities that were present at birth.

The third class of scoliosis is called neuromuscular. Neuromuscular scoliosis develops as a result of a secondary problem of another medical condition. Conditions such as spina bifida, spinal muscular atrophy, marfan’s disease, cerebral palsy or some kind of physical trauma can impact the formation of the spine as well as the curvature of the spine.

The fourth type is called functional scoliosis. An abnormal curvature of the spine develops because of a problem in another part of the body. One leg being shorter than the other, frequent back spasms or pain in the hips and knees can, over time, impact the normality of the curve of the spine.

The fifth class or type is called degenerative scoliosis. This type is more often seen in adults and is caused by changes in the spine due to age. Some conditions that lead to curvature of the spine due to age include arthritis, weakening of ligaments, muscles, and soft tissue and development of bone spurs.

Signs and Symptoms of Scoliosis

Most cases of scoliosis are mild with slight noticeable changes in the body. Most cases do not cause pain. A person with scoliosis may notice that his clothes do not fit as they did before. Or, he may notice that one pant leg is longer than the other.

Other signs of scoliosis may include uneven muscle formation on one side of the spine, a more prominent shoulder blade or rib prominence. The lengths of the hips or the shoulders may be uneven. A female may notice that one breast size or location is slightly different from the other.
In severe cases, scoliosis can cause more severe symptoms. A person may experience slower nerve action or aches and pain, especially in the back. Due to the asymmetry of the chest, a person with scoliosis may find it more difficult to take a deep breath or may have periods of shortness of breath.

In the severest of cases, pressure on the heart and lungs can cause circulatory and more serious breathing problems. And, finally, severe scoliosis can restrict a person’s physical activity and mobility, according to the article “Scoliosis Symptoms” on the Mayo Clinic website.

Treatment for Scoliosis

The treatment or the management of scoliosis is determined by the type of scoliosis, the severity, the person’s age, likelihood of progression and the symptoms. There are four conventional treatments that include observation, physiotherapy, bracing and surgery.

Observation involves routine evaluations and x-rays by the physician. Treatment of idiopathic scoliosis will be based on the age when it develops. If the spinal curvature is minimal and remains below a certain degree, no other treatment is needed.

If during the observation period, the spinal curvature progresses, a brace may be recommended. Bracing may be more effective in the juvenile idiopathic type of scoliosis because it is this type that has the greatest tendency to progress. The goal of bracing is to prevent the curvature from getting worse until the adolescent has finished growing. When bracing is not meeting this goal, a more aggressive type of treatment may be indicated.

In the neuromuscular scoliosis types, bones of the spine have developed abnormally and it is this type that most often will require surgery to stop the spinal curvature from getting worse. When the progression of the curvature causes lung and heart problems, surgery may be the only effective treatment.

With functional scoliosis, the type where the abnormality is caused from somewhere else in the body, treatment is not directed on the spinal curvature. Treatment in these cases, if treatment is necessary, is focused on relieving the symptoms and correcting the source of the problem.
A person with degenerative scoliosis or a type of scoliosis that is causing pain, especially in the back, will be treated with pain relieving methods. Some treatments that could be recommended here are physical therapy, exercises, chiropractic intervention, bracing and pain relieving medications. If these and other pain relieving measures fail, surgery may be the only solution.

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Techniques Expected to Change Health Care

health care

Dr. Mache Seibel, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School uses music to promote health education. HealthRock® uses contemporary songs to convey lessons on how people can live healthier lives. They are encouraged to make common sense lifestyle changes. The technique uses a variety of musical genres from gospel to pop, he said.

The musical technique has won recognition for its effectiveness from many publications and organizations. It is available in recordings and live performances at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and elementary schools. The technique is available at other locations too, Seibel added.

HealthRock Addresses Chronic Problems

According to the CDC, chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes are among the most prevalent, costly and preventable health problems.

“The fundamental problem is that 90 million American adults and most American children are health illiterate. They don’t know how to keep themselves and their family members well,” he said.

To address these problems, he wrote songs that targeted specific health-related illnesses, such as obesity. “Phat Fat Rap,” “Exercise” and “Don’t Be Afraid of a Squash” are meant to encourage exercise and eating habits that fight obesity.

Guided Imagery Reduces Difficulties

Kathryn Farinholt, a Catonsville, Md., resident, developed a four-step technique that teachers, nurses, supervisors and human resource people can use to deal with difficult employees, students and patients.

Farinholt, who holds a doctorate, created the Defusing Difficulties course and began teaching it to her American clients. Now, she is ready to market the technique to health care providers, educators and stress management teams.

“Defusing Difficulties is a stress reduction technique known as guided imagery anyone can master in four simple steps,” said Farinholt. “Some of my clients who have mastered the technique tell me the problem was reduced or went away or like it never happened.”

On Sept. 10-11, 2009, Farinholt presented her technique to the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers 2009 Annual Meeting and Conference. The technique was well received. Farinholt plans to teach the course Oct. 15, 2009, at the Howard County Community College in Maryland.

Although Farinholt does not have a health background, she does have an educator background and has had situations dealing with difficult people. She developed the technique to help her cope with those situations without causing additional problems. Those who have mastered the technique have reported their difficult problems disappeared once they applied the technique.

To master the technique, Farinholt said, health care providers must give it three weeks. They are taught to try it three times a day. She also recommends parents and spouses to use the technique in family situations that are usually highly emotionally charged.

These are two techniques that could revolutionize treatment for medical problems or stressful situations.

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Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura Symptoms

idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP, is a syndrome in which the blood does not clot properly due to a low number of thrombocytes, commonly known as platelets. Platelets are blood cell fragments produced in bone marrow that stick together, or clot, to seal cuts and stop bleeding.

An individual with ITP will often have purple bruises on the skin or in membranes such as the mouth. The bruises indicate bleeding has occurred underneath the skin. More extensive bleeding can create a hematoma, which is a collection of clotted blood under the skin that looks and feels like a lump. ITP is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another. However, it is possible for a pregnant woman affected by the syndrome to pass the symptoms to her baby during delivery.

The Cause of ITP

The exact cause of ITP is unknown. Therefore, it is labeled as idiopathic, which means "of unknown cause." Doctors do know that the syndrome is a result of a malfunction within the immune system. Antibodies produced by the immune system mistakenly attach themselves to platelets which targets the platelets for disposal. The spleen recognizes the antibodies and removes the platelets from the individual's system, resulting in a low number of platelets. As the amount of platelets decreases, the risk for bleeding increases.

The syndrome is not usually dangerous until the platelet count reaches 10,000 platelets per microliter of blood. At this point, internal bleeding may occur despite the absence of injury. When ITP occurs in children, the syndrome usually follows a viral infection. However, no correlation between infection and ITP exists for adult cases.

The Symptoms of ITP

ITP exists in two forms: acute and chronic. Acute ITP will last six months or less, mostly occurs in children and is the most common type of ITP. Chronic ITP lasts six months or longer and can affect an individual for a lifetime. This form usually affects teenagers and adults. Women contract the syndrome two to three times more often than men. Knowing the symptoms of ITP is necessary to know whether or not to seek treatment. The symptoms of this syndrome include:
  • easy and excessive bruising.
  • excessive bleeding from cuts and scrapes.
  • spontaneous bleeding from gums or nose.
  • blood appearing in urine or stool.
  • heavy menstrual flows.
  • excessive bleeding during surgery.
ITP is not a serious or life-threatening condition. However, doctors and dentists should be informed if a patient has ITP in order to be prepared for any extensive bleeding during surgery or other medical procedures.

Treatment for ITP

Children and adults with mild cases of ITP often never need treatment for the syndrome. Typically, a hematologist, a doctor specializing in blood disorders, will monitor the individual's platelet counts on a regular basis to ensure the count does not become dangerously low. Several treatment options exist for individuals with severe cases of ITP. Immunosuppressant drugs, such as prednisone or Rituxan, can increase platelet levels by suppressing activity in the immune system. Another treatment option for severe ITP is a splenectomy, which removes the spleen. The spleen is responsible for disposing cells that antibodies have marked for destruction. Therefore, removing the spleen can help preserve these cells.

Preventing Symptoms of ITP

ITP is not a serious condition, and the syndrome rarely creates dangerous complications. However, there are certain steps individuals can take to relieve the symptoms. Individuals with ITP should avoid over-the-counter medications that affect platelets, such as ibuprofen and ASPIRIN®. ITP patients should also protect themselves from injury as much as possible to decrease the occurrence of bleeding under the skin. Avoiding sports or other recreational activities may be necessary. This population should also seek immediate medical care for infections, especially those who have had splenectomies. Individuals with ITP should also be under the supervision of a hematologist to regularly monitor platelet counts.

Living with ITP does not require drastic lifestyle changes or treatments for most individuals. Staying informed and paying attention to symptoms can help individuals with ITP effectively manage the syndrome for the duration.

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Tennessee Teenager Cries Tears of Blood

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Calvino Inman regularly sheds tears of blood, up to three times a day and up to an hour each time. The first time it happened his mother, Tammy Mynatt, rushed him to the Emergency Room but by the time they arrived, the bleeding had stopped. Inman was so frightened that he asked his mother if he was going to die.

Tests and Specialists Come Up Empty

Inman has had MRIs, ultrasounds, CAT scans and has seen several specialists, but nothing can give them a concrete explanation. Ophthalmologist Rex Hamilton believes he may be suffering from haemolacria, which literally means “bloody tears.” He told Good Morning America, “That is just a descriptive term of the manifestation of the bloody tears. It says nothing about what’s causing that. It’s a one-in-a-million kind of condition.”

Is Teenager Possessed?

Kids that go to school with Inman are afraid, thinking he may be possessed. While cases are uncommon, they are not unheard of. Some cultures treat this type of thing with fear, while others associate it with stigmata, meant to represent the blood of Jesus on the cross. Other examples of eye-ducts crossing wires are people who drink milk and squirt it out of their eyes, and smokers who blow smoke out of their ears.

Indian Girl Bleeds Through Skin

13-year-old Twinkle Dwivedi of India has a disorder where she loses blood through her skin without any cuts or scratches. She must undergo transfusions after pints of blood seep through her eyes, nose, hairline, neck and soles of her feet. Medics believe this is an extreme version of a rare blood platelet disorder that has no cure. Her blood is dangerously low in clotting particles, making her blood watery.

Hamilton Eye Institute Study

Dr. Barrett G. Haik, Director of University of Tennessee’s Hamilton Eye Institute, says haemolacria is common in people who have experienced extreme trauma or have recently had a serious head injury. Haik and a team of researchers published a 2004 study in the Journal of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery between February 1992 and January 2003. Only four cases were recorded and in all cases the bleeding stopped on its own.

Hamilton Eye Institute to Do Analysis

Dr. James C. Flemming, ophthalmologist at the Hamilton Eye Institute, is reviewing Inman’s medical records, looking for complications such as blood clots, growth or tumor near the eye, or even a simple infection. An analysis will also include a psychological evaluation to rule out the possibility the tears were faked. There have been cases where children seeking attention found creative ways to simulate haemolacriatic symptoms. Tammy Mynatt just wants someone to help her son.

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