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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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Irritable Bowel Syndrome and How to Manage Your Symptoms

How IBS is Diagnosed?

Diagnosing IBS can be a lengthy and complex process, as no actual test for IBS exists. Many disorders of the stomach or bowel often have similar systems to IBS so must therefore be ruled out before any final diagnosis is made. When a patient consults their doctor with symptoms of IBS, the doctor will often refer the patient for tests for conditions such as coeliac disease, Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Occasionally in more severe cases, the patient may even be referred for a colonoscopy, an exploratory procedure of the bowel. Only when all other possibilities are ruled out can there be a diagnosis of IBS. Any abnormality in bowel movement or stools can be a sign of IBS.

Symptoms of IBS

The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, often described as colic-type pain, stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence and an urgency to go to the toilet. Other symptoms can include lower back pain, nausea, headaches, tiredness, mucus in stools and feeling particularly full after eating. Symptoms can vary depending on the person. Some people may only have a few symptoms and have periods where the symptoms flare up occasionally.

In more severe cases, IBS can be debilitating for the individual and has a profound affect their daily lives. It may prevent the sufferer from being able to go to work or do anything. Frequent flatulence in public or a sudden urgency to use the toilet and not being able to make it to the toilet on time may also be present and can be extremely traumatic on the sufferer.

What Causes IBS?

The cause of IBS is unknown; however, there are many theories to what causes the condition and triggers symptoms. The most popular theory is related to diet, primarily because food consumed has a direct impact on the gastrointestinal system. Food intolerances and certain foods which has a direct effect on the digestive system may trigger symptoms of IBS. There is a theory that IBS sufferers have a colon or large intestine, that is particularly sensitive and reactive to certain foods, and also to stress.

Evidence has shown that there is a connection between IBS and stress or anxiety. Many sufferers relate symptoms to stressful events in their life. The relationship between the gut and nervous system is complex and it has been claimed by many studies that there is a part of the nervous system in the gut. A bacterial infection in the gut is another popular theory for being a cause of IBS.

How IBS can be Treated

Treatment for IBS symptoms can vary and depends on the individual. What is considered effective for one individual may not be as successful for another. There is no actual treatment for IBS, but there are many methods which are recommended for treating the condition. One recommended method is consuming probiotics. Probiotics are found in dairy products such as yoghurts and cheese, or can be bought in capsules. They are nutritional supplements that contain good bacteria which lives in gut. Limiting consumption of spicy or rich foods, caffeine, and fizzy juice or alcohol is also highly recommended.

Other recommendations include regular exercise, drinking plenty of water or herbal teas, peppermint tea or peppermint water, and decaffeinated drinks.

Peppermint and oat-based foods like porridge, oatcakes or oat-based cereals are good for bloating. Anti-spasmodic medicines relax the wall of the gut and relieve pain and discomfort caused by trapped wind or inflammation. Treating each symptom separately is also effective. Relaxation and complementary therapy techniques such as yoga and avoiding stress as much as possible will also help ward off IBS symptoms.

Living With IBS

As anyone with any experience of IBS can testify, living with IBS is not easy but understanding and monitoring lifestyle and diet is a highly effective way of relieving symptoms and coping with the condition. It is recommended that when and how often flare-ups start be recorded in a diary and shown to a doctor as evidence so the symptoms can be more readily treated. A food diary is also recommended so that any any particular foods or drink that triggers an attack can be identified and known to be avoided in the future.

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