Chickenpox – Latest Medical News

According to the Mayo Clinic, prior to the availability of a chickenpox vaccine, 4 million children in the US contracted chickenpox annually. Chickenpox hospitalized nearly 11,000 people and killed 100 people per year. Since the introduction of a vaccine in 1995, cases of chickenpox have plummeted dramatically.

Yet a new study indicates that the chickenpox virus has now been potentially linked as a protector against a particular skin condition and even asthma, calling into question the issue of recommended vaccination.

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The Varicella Zoster Virus or VZV and Vaccine – The Latest News

A recent study published in the August 2010 edition of the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, claims to have revealed that children exposed to VZV or the varicella vaccine may be less likely to develop or be diagnosed with atopic dermatitis (AD or eczema) and asthma in later years than children not exposed to the disease.

The study, an "Association Between Varicella Zoster Virus Infection and Atopic Dermatitis in Early and Late Childhood: A Case-Control Study" by Dr. Jonathan I. Silverberg et al, concluded that Wild-type varicella zoster virus infection, "WTVZV, in childhood protects up to 10 years of age against AD and delays onset of AD symptoms, and decreases AD severity and office visits."

The results of the study now call into question the benefits of vaccinating children against chickenpox, says the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, (AAAAI), the official publisher of the journal, who alleges that "The chicken pox vaccine (Varivax TM) is likely unable to confer the strong protective immunological benefits against development of AD that an actual case of chicken pox gives." Furthermore, claims the AAAAI, the vaccine, could be the "Contributing factor in the rising prevalence of AD over the past few decades."

Should Parents Reconsider the Chickenpox Vaccine for Their Children?

The vaccine for chickenpox has always had its critics. Vaccine Truth.org points to incidents of chickenpox outbreaks in children that have received the chickenpox vaccine and certainly transmission, according to the CDC, is possible from a vaccinated child that presents with a rash. Cdc.gov;

No vaccine ever has a 100% success rate, so in light of this latest study, should parents reconsider having their children vaccinated against chickenpox?
According to Genevra Pittman of Reuters Health, vaccine experts are concerned about Dr. Silverman's study due to its limited scope. CDC virus expert Jane Seward told Pittman, "We're seeing very, very significant declines in deaths and hospitalizations" from chickenpox, she said. "A single study with a single finding is interesting, but it needs ... more evidence."

Pittman's article, "Does Chickenpox Protect Against Skin Condition?" published on August 4, 2010, cites further expert sources who caution parents against acting rashly in regard to one result. Experts instead propose further studies at the national level for a more representative result upon which an alternate recommendation (if required) can then be made.

Certainly there are benefits and negatives to both the chickenpox vaccination and to the disease itself. Complications of VZV according to the American Academy of Pediatrics include infection (from blister scratching); pneumonia, encephalitis and a risk of death for people with impaired immunity.

If Dr. Silverman's study withstands further comprehensive testing, however, VZV exposure could prevent a future diagnosis of both AD and asthma for children.

The CDC claims that the vaccine for chickenpox is safer than the actual disease itself and that few suffer side effect symptoms from the vaccination.

Furthermore, the vaccine can prevent the painful condition known as shingles, caused by the reactivation of the VZ virus which remains dormant in the system after exposure. Of those that have reactions, the CDC says, most are mild and include, soreness and swelling at the shot sight and a fever or a mild rash.

Severe reactions to the chickenpox vaccination include seizures or pneumonia, with seizures (according to the CDC), being more prevalent in the MMRV vaccine given to children and adults aged 12 years and older. Parents unsure of their decision to vaccinate should always carefully research the pros and cons of vaccination before making any informed decision.

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Causes of Easy Bruising: Reasons Why People Bruise Easily

Bruising, a reddish or purple discoloration under the skin, most often results from trauma to the small blood vessels, called capillaries, but can also occur spontaneously.

easy bruising

How and Why Bruises Occur

Blood leaks out of the capillaries and accumulates under the skin, gradually absorbing over several days. Bruising most often occurs because people run into objects or experience other trauma. Most bruising is easily explained, but frequent bruising that occurs without obvious cause needs prompt investigation, since several serious diseases can cause bruising. In general, women bruise more easily than men.

How Aging Increases the Risk of Easy Bruising

Bruising increases as people age for several reasons. Skin thins as people age and the capillaries become more fragile. The layer of fat that cushions blood vessels and protects them from injury becomes thinner as well. Older people often take medications and supplements that thin the blood and contribute to easy bruising.

Vision problems and poor coordination, problems that are more common as people age, may cause more frequent falls or bumping into furniture, resulting in bruising. Excessive sun exposure over the years also increases the potential for increased bruisability, since it damages the skin and makes it more susceptible to bruising.

Diseases that Cause People to Bruise More Easily

Bruising tendencies increase in a number of diseases. Acute and chronic leukemias in adults and children causes easy bruising because abnormal blood cells crowd out production of normal blood cells.

Decreased numbers of platelets in the blood, called thrombocytopenia, also increase bruising tendencies. Genetic anemias and anemias caused by blood loss may also lead to bruising. Hemophilia and Von Willebrand disease, genetic diseases characterized by a lack of clotting factors in the blood, also cause bruising. Hemophilia can cause life threatening internal bleeding as well as visible bruising.

End stage liver disease, kidney disease and lack of vitamin C in the diet can also cause easy bruising, according to NetWellness.

Medications that Lead to Easy Bruisibility

Many common medications can increase bleeding because they disrupt blood clotting, which leads to increased bruising. ASPIRIN® and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, also called NSAIDS, commonly increase bruising as a side effect. Other medications, such as heparin, Coumadin and Plavix are taken specifically to thin blood to prevent heart problems and stroke.

Corticosteroids can skin to become thin, which makes bruising more likely.

Chemotherapy, some antibiotics, antidepressants and tranquilizers and cardiac medications such as nitroglycerin and beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers used to treat hypertension also increase bleeding tendencies, MSN Health reports.

Dietary supplements such as fish oil and ginko also increase bleeding tendencies, MayoClinic.com states.

Following Up on Easy Bruising to Determine the Cause and Treatment
Any unexplained bruising should be investigated, since several serious diseases can cause bruising. See a medical practitioner, who will most likely prescribe blood work to determine the cause.

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Crohn's Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Crohn's Disease


Crohn’s disease describes an illness where the gastrointestinal tract of humans becomes chronically inflamed and easily irritated. Ulcers commonly develop in the intestines of people with Crohn’s disease, which leads to s sensitivity to certain foods, frequent diarrhea, and bloody stool.

The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) estimates that up to 500,000 people in the United States suffer from Crohn's disease.

Crohn’s Disease Symptoms and Diagnosis

The primary symptoms of Crohn’s disease are the same symptoms that classify most intestinal diseases—abdominal pain and diarrhea. Because there is no one symptom that clearly indicates the presence of Crohn’s disease, the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends a detailed personal history, physical examination, and significant laboratory testing.

Beyond abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea, victims of Crohn’s may experience blood in stool samples, weight-loss, skin issues, and fevers (NIH). Frequent blood loss in stool samples can lead to a low count of red blood cells in the body (anemia), and therefore a victim of Crohn’s may also experience tiredness. Children with Crohn’s disease can experience a stunt in growth.

There are many theories on how Crohn’s disease works, but the most popular belief is that the body perceives bacteria and certain foods as “invaders” of the intestines (NIH). To combat theses invaders the tissue of the intestines becomes agitated and inflamed.

Many doctors require a colonoscopy, or a biopsy of intestinal tissue to determine that Crohn’s disease is causing intestinal irritation.

Crohn’s Disease Treatment

Crohn’s is a chronic disease, which means that it will persist for an extended period of time. Crohn’s disease cannot be cured, but it can be treated.
Treatment for Crohn’s disease aims at eliminating or lessening the degree to which bowels become irritated. This generally includes a change in diet to foods that do not irritate the bowels. Many Crohn’s victims find that highly carbonated beverages such as beer or soda are particular agitators of the intestinal tract. Beyond changes in diet. Crohn’s victims are often given drug treatments aimed at reducing or eliminating inflammation. These may include anti-inflammatory drugs, or immunomodulators (Mayo Clinic).

In severe cases of Crohn’s disease surgery may be conducted to remove the tissue that is causing inflammation. Once this tissue is removed the healthy ends of the intestine are reunited.

Nutritional supplements can also be used to treat Crohn’s disease as many nutrient-rich foods may be causing irritation in the intestines. Nutritional supplements present a way for Crohn’s victims to maintain a healthy diet without consuming irritating foods.

Crohn’s disease can be a mysterious and debilitating disorder. It is essential for people with Crohn’s disease to inform doctors of their diets, family history, and stool consistency if they want an accurate diagnosis and eventual relief from the disease.

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Depression: When It's More Than Just the Blues

Depression

Depression is the most common psychological disorder among American adults with over 15 million being affected by the illness in a given year. According to the PBS.org production, "Out of the Shadows," approximately 80% of those suffering from depression are not receiving any treatment. Often a result of a combination of chemical imbalances in the brain and environmental factors, depression is a serious disorder than can affect every aspect of life for those caught in its grasps, from weight gain, to job performance, to relationships with loved ones. There are several emotional and physical symptoms that can accompany depression and signify the need to seek professional help.

What Causes Depression?

Research has indicated that depression is a disorder of the brain. This research, as outlined in the August 20, 2007 Science Daily article, "Depression: Brain Imaging Reveals Breakdown of Normal Emotional Processing," has shown that the brains of depressed patients appear different than the brains of those not suffering from depression. However, what specifically causes depression (namely whether the different appearance of the brain in brain imaging technologies is a symptom or the cause) is still unclear, and evidence points to a variety of possible origins. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression often results from a variety of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors.

Some forms of depression tend to run in families, indicating a possible genetic link. However, significant traumas such as the loss of a loved one or a difficult relationship have also been shown to trigger depression. Whatever the direct cause, there are several key symptoms that are common to victims of depression that signal the need to seek professional assistance.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Everyone has felt "sad" at some point. However, for most, these feelings of sadness are fleeting, alleviating in a few days. For those with depression, feelings of sadness are persistent and often severe. According to NIMH, symptoms of depression can include:
  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness / pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Changes in diet (overeating or appetite loss)
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Persistent aches or pains, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

People suffering from depression can display such symptoms for weeks at a time, if not longer. Consequently, every aspect of their lives can be affected. As found on the American Psychological Association website, "depression is a real illness and carries with it a high cost in terms of relationship problems, family suffering, and lost work productivity. Yet, depression is a highly treatable illness...." Treatment for depression comes in a variety of forms from prescription medication to counseling and exercise.

Treatments for Depression

Depression, even in its most severe forms, is highly treatable. As is the case for many illnesses, the sooner the diagnosis and treatment begins, the greater the likelihood for success and the lower the risk of the reoccurrence of symptoms. The first step for a person who suspects that he or she may be suffering from depression is to visit the doctor.

A doctor's visit is crucial when determining the right method of treatment for one suffering from symptoms of depression. There are medications, as well as other illnesses, that can result in the same symptoms as those seen with depression. Therefore, it may be necessary to eliminate other possible causes before depression is diagnosed.

Once depression is diagnosed, there are several methods of treatment including prescription medications and psychotherapy. According to NIMH, these are the two most common methods of treatment. It is important to note that antidepressants have their own set of possible side-effects, and these must also be taken into consideration when determining treatment.

Anyone suffering from clinical depression or who has a loved one suffering from the illness can attest to the destructive role it can play in one's life. However, knowledge of the symptoms can lead to proper diagnosis, and with proper diagnosis and a doctor's assistance in determining the best course of treatment, depression is highly treatable.

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Depression with a Degree

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) estimated in a 2007 report that about 1,100 suicides each year were college related. the 2005 National College Health Assessment found that 25 percent of 17,000 surveyed students admitted to feeling “so depressed it was difficult to function” three to eight times during that surveyed year.

Where did the college atmosphere of “Animal House” and “Van Wilder” and “Old School” disappear to? When did it funnel down like copious amounts of alcohol into the deep, dark belly of depression?

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The Right to the Pursuit of Perfection

In the movies, a college student's biggest worry is whether he'll have to ruin his bedsheet for a toga and sleep on the bare mattress all semester. In real life, the world is severely altered.

Bedsheets are superfluous when a final project due in December looms heavily even in August.

“Many students find college more academically demanding than they anticipated and feel stressed or anxious about not performing well,” reads an article on Lifespan.org concerning collegiate depression.

Timothy Peterson, PhD, a clinical and research psychologist with the Rhode Island Hospital's Mood Disorders Program expounded on the worry in the same article.

“Type A personalities, or perfectionists, are prone to these types of worries. They are often more likely to experience significant depressive symptoms because of negative self talk as a result of perceived failures.”

In Marissa Miller's October 2009 article for the Diamondback, the University of Maryland's campus newspaper, Richard Winter, PhD, author of “Perfecting Ourselves to Death,” blames mainstream America for the pressure of perfection.

“American culture bombards students with images and solutions for becoming 'perfect,' which leads them to believe that they also need to be perfect,” he is paraphrased as saying.

This incessant strive for the unattainable leads to tremendous stress on college students, and in turn, affects their school work. In a fall 2008 health assessment by the American College Health Association, 11.2 percent of 26,000 surveyed students said that depression affected their academic performance.

Freedom from Oppression: The Taboos of Alcohol and Drugs

Lifespan.org lends an air of escapism to alcohol and drug use among depressed collegiates. They're a Band-Aid fix. For the night they can take away everything, but in the morning all the problems will be back, beating an uncontrollable tattoo against the imbiber's skull and slugging him with papers.

Balance My What? The Checkbook Will Check Out

There's a reason a sports bar near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette runs a Wednesday special of dollar burgers and hot dogs. College students are always notoriously broke.

An article on MethodsofHealing.com sheds a laser pointer on why students stress out about such a real-world problem when they haven't even hit the “real world.”

Some students work full time to support themselves and sometimes families. Tuition just keeps rising, so paying for school becomes a worry. Dollar burgers are only on Wednesdays, not Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well.

The financial burdens on students, added to the academic stress, lead to a swamping of epic proportions on the psyche.

Reaching Out for The Life Preserver During the Epic Swamping

Most colleges offer counseling. Not just course advising, but real counseling to aid students through particularly rough semesters. Campus organizations also step up, allowing members a chance to vent to friends and find help in a familiar setting.

The AFSP's College Screening Project's findings support the services offered by the university community.

The study discovered that students who spoke with counselors, even online, experienced a therapeutic effect.

So, where did Van Wilder run off to in the years since his partying peak? Did the Animal House-esque fantasy burn down?

No, they were both possessed by an oppressive university yes-man with a penchant for neurosis. It's time to sit back, pop some popcorn with a roommate and let John Belushi teach today's students what college is all about.

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Complications of Refractive Clear Lens Extraction

Refractive clear lens extraction replaces a natural lens with an artificial one to improve vision. Complications are rare and similar to those associated with cataract surgery.

Along with the cornea, the lens of the eye focuses light on the retina. If this focusing system doesn’t work well, the result can be nearsightedness (myopia) or farsightedness (hyperopia). Options for treating these types of poor eyesight include glasses, contact lenses, refractive eye surgery such as LASIK and, particularly for myopia, replacement of the lens with one selected to improve focus.

Lens replacement surgery is the same as cataract surgery except the removed lens is clear, its ability to function hindered only by its poor focusing ability. By contrast, a lens affected by a cataract is cloudy. Because glasses and contact lenses can usually provide similar improvements to vision, refractive clear lens extraction is considered a form of cosmetic surgery. It usually is performed to treat people who have very severe nearsightedness.

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Complication Rates of Lens Replacement Surgery

Cataract surgery is among the safest of eye surgeries with a rate of complications estimated at 2%. Patients undergoing clear lens extraction benefit from the experience ophthalmologists have gained performing this common procedure. Some ophthalmologists estimate its complication rate to be around 5%.

Immediately after surgery, patients can expect to feel a little discomfort and some itchiness, both of which are normal. Other complications, such as drooping or swollen eyelids, or increased pressure in the eye, are routinely resolved with medication and/or further treatment. Swelling of the eye’s surface (corneal edema) usually gets better in a few days after the operation. Despite the low risk, it is important to be able to recognize major problems that might develop after surgery.

Detached Retina and Inflammation

In some cases, the layer of light-sensing cells, the retina, separates from the back surface of the eye. A detached retina causes vision to be hindered by what seems like a curtain moving across the visual field. A rare but serious condition, it requires immediate treatment. People who are very nearsighted have up to ten times the risk of retinal detachment.

Another rare complication involves swelling in the central part of the retina (the macula) following cataract or lens replacement surgery. This condition, called cystoid macular edema, affects vision in the center of the visual field, the portion that detects the most detail. It usually is treated with anti-inflammatory medications.

Dislocated Lenses and Retained Lens Material

Blurred or distorted vision may be a sign that the implant has shifted away from its proper orientation in the eye. Fortunately, a dislocated intraocular lens often can be repositioned relatively easily during a second operation. The second procedure should not be delayed long because a dislocated lens can become set in place by scar tissue in a matter of months. If this happens, it becomes much more challenging to reposition it correctly.

Inflammation can result if a piece of the old lens, which is broken up prior to removal, falls into the space behind the membrane that normally separates it from the lens. A doctor may treat such retained or dislocated lens material by removing the gel-like substance, the vitreous, that fills the back chamber of the eye and replacing it with a sterile saline (salt) solution.

Infection or Bleeding Following Eye Surgery

Endophthalmitis is a bacterial infection inside the eye. It occurs in only 0.033% of cases. It causes pain, light sensitivity and redness. Proper sterile techniques and use of antibiotics account for the low incidence of infection.

Modern surgical procedures for removing and replacing lenses require much smaller incisions than they did in the past. This advance greatly reduces the chances of bleeding (choroidal hemorrhage). Although it isn’t possible to predict who might be affected by this unlikely complication, there seems to be a greater risk for older patients and/or people with high blood pressure or glaucoma. If the bleeding is limited, it may not significantly affect vision. If, however, it is extensive, it could result in permanent loss of vision.

Pre-Surgery Evaluation Essential

Multiple studies suggest that clear lens extraction to replace poorly focusing lenses produces good results in the majority of patients provided they are well evaluated before surgery. Pre-op evaluation can identify eye conditions or diseases that increase the risk of complications. Following surgery, patients should immediately contact their ophthalmologist or go to an emergency room at the first sign of any serious complication.

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