Alanine Aminotransferase Screenings

ALT is contained primarily inside the liver, but also in lesser quantities in the kidneys, muscles, and pancreas. ALT at one time was referred to as blood serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT).

alanine aspartate

ALT is valuated to check if the liver is impaired or unhealthy. Decreased amounts of ALT are generally contained in the bloodstream. However once the liver has been injured or diseased, it brings out ALT into the blood, which causes ALT amounts to rise. The majority of increases in ALT amounts are created by liver-related injury.

The ALT procedure is often completed along with other screenings that look for liver impairment, like aspartate aminotransferase (AST), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin. Both AST and ALT amounts are reliable screenings for liver injury.

Why Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) Tests are Performed

The alanine aminotransferase (ALT) procedure is completed to:
  • Discover liver illness, particularly cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis produced by alcoholism, medications, or viruses.
  • To find out if jaundice was made by a blood disease or liver problem.
  • Keep track of the consequences of cholesterol-lowering drugs and other medications that can harm the liver.

How to Prepare for the Alanine Amino Transferase Test

Keep from any strenuous physical exertion just prior to getting an ALT screening.

Notify the doctor if you're using any drugs. A lot of drugs may interact with test results. The physician could instruct you to cease taking specific medications for a few days prior to getting an ALT test.

Certain herbs and natural items (like echinacea and valerian) also may affect ALT results. Speak with the doctor regarding any concerns you have about the need for the procedure, the risks, how it may be completed, or what the final results could imply.

As the Alanine Aminotransferase Test is Carried Out

The health care provider taking a sample of the blood for the ALT screening may:
  • Wrap a rubber band on the upper arm to block the flow of blood. This causes the veins beneath the elastic band to get larger so it is easier to put a needle in the vein.
  • Wipe the needle region with alcohol solvent.
The person will then place pressure on the region and give you a bandage.

Results of the Alanine Aminotransferase Test
Having an excessive amount of of alanine aminotransferase, meaning approximately ten times the normal amount, can indicate acute hepatitis.

In a patient suffering from acute hepatitis, the ALT levels normally stay elevated for approximately 30-60 days. However, ALT levels can take up to 90-180 to return to normal.

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Hypertrophic Pyloric Stenosis

hypertrophic pyloric stenosis
Hypertrophic stenosis is a condition in which the pyloric muscle around the lower part of the stomach leading to the intestines becomes larger than normal. This causes the outlet of the stomach to become narrow, making it difficult for the stomach to empty its contents into the intestines.

Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis is a pediatric disorder that occurs between the ages of two weeks and five months. It is more common in male children and full term infants are more likely to be affected than premature infants. The cause of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis is unknown.

 

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Stenosis

A child with this condition will show the following signs:
  • constipation or a decrease in bowel movements because food fails to reach the intestines.
  • failure to gain weight or weight loss.
  • excessive hunger.
  • dehydration as evidenced by fewer wet diapers than normal for the baby or a decrease in urinating, crying without tears and weakness or fatigue.
  • yellowing of the eyes.
The cardinal sign of hypertrophic stenosis is projectile vomiting, where the infant vomits forcefully about 30 minutes after eating. The contents of the vomit may travel up to 30 feet away from the child. It may start off as spitting up which eventually increases in frequency and intensity. Vomiting occurs after a meal and along with the initial food contents eaten, there may be blood in the vomit. Wave-like motions may be seen on the stomach after an episode of vomiting.

Hypertrophic Stenosis Treatment

Initial medical management of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis is focused rehydrating the infant. Corrective surgery then follows once the child is sufficiently hydrated. The surgical procedure for this disorder is called pyloromyotomy and is aimed at reducing the size of the pyloric muscle.

Pyloromyotomy may be done by making an open incision around the infants navel to visualize and work on the enlarged pyloric muscle or by inserting a laparoscope (a viewing instrument which has small surgical instruments and a laser attached to it) into a little incision made near the infant's navel. The laparoscopic procedure leaves a smaller scar and is as safe and effective as the open procedure.

What to Expect After Treatment

The pyloric muscle returns to its normal size about 12 weeks after surgery. Some vomiting will occur postoperatively but should stop after about 48 hours. Symptoms of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis are usually absent 24 hours after surgery and postoperative complications that may occur include a leak in the intestines or stomach due to perforation, infection of the incisions and persistent vomiting.
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Anemia: Serious or Minor Illness?


Anemia is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells in the body, or there is not enough protein (hemoglobin) in the red blood cells. There are many different types of anemia ranging from mild to moderate, moderate to severe. According to Women's Health.gov, over three million people in the United States have anemia. Women and people with chronic health conditions are at greater risk than others (1).

anemia

Is anemia really a serious condition? The answer is yes. Not having enough healthy red blood cells in the body, the cells that carry oxygen to vital organs, means the body is not getting the supply of oxygen it needs. Vital organs are effected and can be damaged, and eventually could lead to death. Anemia can be temporary or long term, diet induced or hereditary, and also could be an indicator of other medical conditions.

What are the Types of Anemia and the Symptoms?

Some types of anemia include:
  • iron deficiency anemia (IDA)
  • sickle cell anemia
  • aplastic anemia
  • vitamin deficiency anemia
  • thalasemia
Symptoms vary, but some types of anemia share common symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic vitamin deficiency anemia symptoms can include: fatigue, pale or yellowish skin, diarrhea, muscle weakness, mental confusion or forgetfulness, irritability, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, weight loss and other symptoms (2). Aplastic anemia carries some of the same symptoms, but also include unexplained or easy bruising, skin rash, dizziness, rapid or irregular heart rate and prolonged or frequent infections (3).

Depending on the type and intensity of the anemia, some patients may experience all, some or none of the symptoms. These symptoms can also be a sign of other illnesses so it is important for patients to discuss any symptoms with a medical professional, undergo testing and discuss treatment options with a doctor.

How is Anemia Treated?

Treatments for anemia vary based on type and severity. Self diagnosing anemia and self medicating could cause other problems, such as hemocrhomatosis, a condition caused by too much iron build up in the blood (1). Too much iron can damage organs, including the liver. Iron overload can also cause heart problems, early menopause, arthritis and even a loss of sex drive (1). While iron supplements may be prescribed for treatment of IDA, one should be sure to follow the physician prescribed dosage, and to go back for any follow up doctor's visits in order to monitor iron levels.

Medical professionals run blood test to determine the type of anemia, along with other physical exams, and evaluate patient medical history and family medical history when diagnosing. Some types of anemia require a moderate change in diet to ensure vitamin intake is sufficient, others require medication or more extreme methods of treatment including surgery.

Each type of anemia carries its own degree of risk, with varying symptoms that present. Those who have anemia, or expect they have anemia, should consult a medical professional for proper testing, and to discuss treatment options. Anemia left untreated could make the heart work faster, which can harm the heart and even lead to heart failure (1).

Since anemia can also be a symptom of other illnesses, including kidney disease, celiac disease and even ulcers and some types of cancers, it is important to seek medical attention. Primary care physicians can perform testing, but may also refer the patient to a hematologist for further assessment, and other specialists depending on the cause of anemia.

Anemia is a serious condition, no matter the type, and should not be overlooked, self diagnosed or self medicated. If one experiences any of the symptoms of anemia one should seek medical attention as anemia may be the result of an underlying illness.
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Alternative Treatments for Alopecia Sufferers

Alopecia is a term used to describe hair loss and may affect both men and women as well as young people. There are several different types of alopecia, which may cause loss of scalp hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

alopecia

Types and Causes of Alopecia

While the most commonly recognised form of alopecia is alopecia areata, there are three other types of the inflammatory condition. In The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements, Brewer (2010), highlights four types of alopecia, to include the following:
  • alopecia areata – hair lost in patches, usually on scalp
  • alopecia totalis – total loss of scalp hair
  • alopecia universalis – loss of hair over entire body
  • alopecia androgenetica – widespread hair loss, moth-eaten appearance
The exact cause of alopecia still remains unknown, although stress is believed to be a significant factor in promoting hair loss, through reducing the supply of blood to the scalp. There are also possible links between the non-scarring condition and anaemia (iron deficiency), enzyme imbalance, under-active thyroid and abnormal immune response. Clearly more research into this condition is required, to make the daily lives of alopecia sufferers less difficult.

Alternative Treatments for Alopecia Sufferers

Typical outcomes associated with alopecia, involves 50% of sufferers having their hair follicles begin to recover, within the space of a year. However, some individuals (approximately 10%) may experience a gradual worsening of alopecia over time.

Coping with alopecia may include wearing a wig, although some sufferers prefer to opt for wearing hats and scarves. Celebrity alopecia sufferer Gail Porter is helping make the condition more well-known through confidently attending functions without covering up.

Brewer (2010) identifies alternative approaches which may be helpful treating suffers affected by alopecia, as follows:
  • iron supplements
  • biotin
  • ginkgo
  • vitamin B5
  • evening primrose oil
Biotin, in particular, is part of the B vitamin group, which has been recognised to play an important role in hair growth and repair. Biotin supplements may be purchased from high street pharmacies such as Boots and most health food shops such as Holland & Barrett. Another alternative treatment which may help alleviate alopecia symptoms includes evening primrose oil. This may be due to the fact that evening primrose oil is identified to have anti-inflammatory properties and also helps promote skin repair.

As highlighted above, while the exact cause of alopecia is unknown, many factors may play a part, such as stress, anaemia and thyroid problems. Alternative treatments for helping alopecia sufferers, include iron supplements, biotin, vitamins and evening primrose oil, with the latter having anti-inflammatory properties.
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Ankle Sprains

ankle sprains

The ankle is a complex joint which allows the foot to perform a number of movements. It is connected to the foot bones by a number of ligaments at the sides and back of the joint. While these ligaments are normally very strong, extreme stretching or awkward movements can lead to injury of the ligaments.

Ankle Injuries – Some of the More Common Causes

The ankle is a rather mobile, flexible joint, however there are certain factors that increase the likelihood of a ligament injury:
  • walking on uneven surfaces
  • sudden twisting movement
  • playing sports – especially jumping and landing awkwardly
  • weak ankle muscles – not strong enough to protect the ankle
  • previous ankle sprains, particularly if the treatment or rehabilitation was inadequate
When a ligament injury of the ankle does occur, it can generally be classified into one of three grades of severity, depending on the extent of ligament damage and associated symptoms.

Grade 1 Ankle Ligament Injury – Minimal Damage

This type of injury means there has been some stretching or minor tearing of the ligament(s). The symptoms include pain, swelling, possibly some ankle joint stiffness but not much functional loss. In other words, despite the pain and swelling, a person can still weight-bear and mobilise – though with some difficulty.

Treatment of mild ligament damage is by resting the foot. The less weight-bearing on the affected foot, the better. Applying an ice pack, compression bandage and elevating the foot above heart level are also very important.

Grade 2 Ankle Sprains – Moderate Ligament Injury

In this type of injury, there is a more severe tearing of the ligament. The symptoms of Grade 2 sprains are more intense – there is usually significantly more swelling and a great deal of pain. The ankle joint becomes rather stiff and range of movement is very limited. The stability of the ankle joint is also compromised.

As with Grade 1 ankle sprains, it is very important to rest the foot. Weight bearing should be avoided completely, if possible. Elevating the affected ankle above heart level, using a compression bandage and regular application of an ice pack are also essential.


Depending on the intensity of the symptoms, anti-inflammatory medication may be indicated.

Following the acute phase of the injury, rehabilitation is highly recommended in order to strengthen the ankle and restore good movement and balance.

Grade 3 Ankle Ligament Tear – Severe Ankle Injury That Requires Medical Treatment

This is the most severe of the three types of ankle ligament injuries, due to a complete rupture of the ligament. Symptoms include severe swelling and pain, gross instability of the ankle and consequently a loss of ankle function.

Treatment of this type of injury often requires surgical intervention, in order to repair the ruptured ligament. Immobilisation of the ankle in a cast is also needed, usually for around two to three weeks and the injured person could be on crutches for several weeks.

Surgery and/or immobilization of the ankle is usually followed by physiotherapy. Rehabilitation is crucial to restore the joint to its pre-injury function and to prevent any future ankle injuries.

Recovery Timeframes for Ankle Sprains Vary According to Severity of the Injury

Recovery from a Grade 1 ankle sprain is fairly quick. Depending on the extent of swelling, full recovery can be achieved within a week or two.

Grade 2 ankle sprains take four to six weeks to heal. This timeframe includes the resting of the ankle in the acute phase of the injury, as well as the subsequent rehabilitation phase. Timely treatment and adequate rehabilitation will generally reduce the recovery timeframe for Grade 2 ankle sprains.

Grade 3 sprains will take longest to heal with eight to 12 weeks being the average timeframe to full recovery. Following medical advice is very important and as mentioned before, rehabilitation is of utmost importance. Failure to treat and rehabilitate a severe ankle sprain will not only increase recovery timeframes, but will almost certainly lead to ongoing ankle problems, such as recurring injuries, pain, swelling, stiffness and poor balance.

Ankle sprains can vary in severity from Grade 1 to Grade 3, but regardless of the severity of the injury, treatment within the first 48 hours will reduce the acute symptoms and will speed up recovery.
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Antibiotics and How They Work

antibiotics

Since their development, antibiotics are the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. Ironically, the term antibiotics means "against life," but that couldn't be further from the truth. Antibiotics are used in the treatment of diseases like diphtheria and tuberculosis, but they're most frequently prescribed to fight the generous multitudes of classified infections. And what's most amazing is that only about 70 years ago, these medical maladies were killing tens of thousands of people every year.

Chronicle of the History of Antibiotics

Historical documentation cites that during World War I many soldiers died due to infections from their wounds. At that time there was only one drug used in an attempt to address infections and other war-related diseases, like dysentery and syphilis. The drug was an arsenic-based medicine called Salvarsan, but its effectiveness was not very high.

Antibiotics were discovered in 1929, decisively on accident, when the British scientist Alexander Fleming realized that a mold, Penicillium, had inadvertently found its way into a Petri dish containing bacteria. Fleming found that the mold compound halted the bacterial growth and eventually killed it. He then tested it on various other forms of bacteria and he recognized its potential, but was unable to develop it any further.

Years later in 1938, a German biochemist, Ernst Chain, and Australian pathologist, Howard Florey, began working to advance and promote Fleming's research. Two years later, in 1940 they announced the production of the first penicillin antibiotic.

Use of Antibiotics

The first person to receive antibiotic treatment was a British policeman who had severe infections of the head, face and lungs. His recovery results amazed the entire medical community, but there were not sufficient amounts of antibiotic available and the man died a month later. In 1940 the war threatened to politically convolute the production of the newly conceived penicillium, so Florey and Chain rather quietly continued their efforts. Great Britain could not afford to produce the new drug, so the United States ultimately became its country of origin and mass production.

Among the diseases antibiotics were initially successful in treating were pneumonia, diphtheria, syphilis and meningitis, but now there are a forever-growing variety antibiotics being produced. In the late 1980s, synthetic antibiotics, known as quinolones, were being introduced to treat specific new strains of infection. Since, scientific research reflect, the reason these antibiotics work so well is because bacteria cannot build a resistance to them.

How Antibiotics Work

Antibiotics work by killing off the bacteria infecting the patient's normal body function. Infections can only take a strong-hold if the bacteria that causes them is allowed to reproduce. It is the mass reproduction of bacteria that enables an infection to annihilate a human body.

Penicillin interferes with the construction of bacterial cell walls during formation, allowing the bacteria to leak out, displace and die. Other forms of antibiotics actually poison bacterial components, destroying the proteins they need to reproduce. And yet other types of the drug interfere with the genetic code necessary for the bacteria to reproduce.

The risky factor when new antibiotics are developed is ensuring they do not actually destroy the body's useful bacteria. If this happens in a patient, he is then diagnosed as having what is medically described as a secondary infection. But the most troublesome quandary of the antibiotic research and development scientist is that bacterias continually adapt, evolve and build resistance. Therefore the production of new, more effective antibiotics is an ongoing struggle.

Very often patients leave their doctors' offices feeling confused by explanations and/or complicated answers to simple questions. It does not take a medical degree to gain a basic comprehension of antibiotics and how they work, and for most people simply having a layperson's understanding is all that is needed.
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