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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