How Do Medical Imaging Scans Work?

Medical Imaging

Medical imaging tests have made important advances in early diagnosis and treatment. There are a few different options that may be best for certain diagnoses and individuals and allow physicians to see what was impossible to view only a few decades ago. However, these imaging scans can be harmful and not all dangers are yet known.

X-Rays Are Best for Bone and Calcium Dense Tissue Scans

X-rays are the oldest imaging scans and are created by beams of radiation through the body to create an image on photographic films or a digital recording plate. X-rays are best used to take high resolution images of bones and calcium dense tissue, such as in dental images and chest X-rays for pneumonia. It can be used to take images of organs and blood vessels with the use of fluoroscopy, which is the injection of contrast dye into the body.

X-ray imaging is inexpensive and gives fast, high resolution images, as most people have experienced at the dentist. However, X-ray radiation is an ionizing radiation that is weakly carcinogenic. Over-exposure to these rays over time may cause damage to the body and increase the risks for cancer. X-rays of any part of the body are not recommended for pregnant women.

Ultrasounds Are Safe For Pregnant Women

An ultrasound is also called sonography and as the name suggests, it uses high frequency sounds to create images inside the body. Ultrasound scans are commonly used to monitor fetal development in pregnant women; however, they are also important in diagnosing abdominal organ abnormalities, aneurysms in aortas, valve problems in veins, kidney stones, tumors and growths, problems in joints and blocked ducts.

As ultrasounds don’t require ionizing radiation, they are considered less invasive and safe for pregnant women when used as required. They are also fast, easy and effective to perform as well as the most transportable and least expensive diagnostic option. However ultrasound scans are not as powerful as CT and MRI scans and show less detail and fewer structures.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Views Detailed Internal Body Organs

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI uses magnet and radio frequencies to creates of most internal body structures. MRI scans require large scanning equipment that gives detailed imaging of structures in the body. For finer structures a contrast dye may be used to increase the visibility of the image. MRI scans are useful to determine diagnoses in neurological, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and other soft tissues. They are also important in confirming a diagnosis of cancer.

MRI scans are time consuming and require that the patient remain very still inside a large tube-like machine. This can be traumatic and uncomfortable for patients. Though this type of imaging does not use ionizing radiation, it is not known if it is safe for pregnant women. A well known danger of MRI scans is the powerful magnetic force which can cause anything metallic in the body such as pacemakers and orthopedic screws to move or malfunction.

A CAT Scan Provides Multidimensional Cross Sectional Images

A Computed Tomography or CT or CAT scan is a complex imaging technology that makes use of several X-ray beams and electronic detection devices to scan the body and record two or multi-dimensional image. CT scans are used to get cross-sectional images of the body and make difficult diagnosis. Scans can be completed in seconds and provide very detailed images of bone, blood vessels and soft tissue such as internal organs, ducts and muscle.

CTs are important in emergencies because they are able to provide information so quickly. They are important for diagnosing strokes, brain injuries or hemorrhages, heart disease, cancers, abdominal disorders and internal injuries and are safe for patients with pacemakers. However, CT scans have a higher amount of ionizing radiation and should be used only when necessary. They are not safe for pregnant women.

Nuclear Imaging Requires Radioactive Isotopes

Nuclear imaging is the most advanced imaging technology and provides detailed views of the body. Patients are inhale, ingest or are injected with a minute amount of radioactive material which then sends radiation beams from the inside of the body. A scanner or camera is then able to pick up these beams from specific organs to capture detailed images. Nuclear imagining is commonly used in making diagnosis of cancers, tumors and cardiovascular disease.

Nuclear imaging is expensive and requires radioactive isotopes which are difficult to produce and transport. Patients may have to allow the radioactive tracer to accumulate in the body for a few hours to a few days. The radioactive material can also leach or pass from the body to other people and the environment.

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High Blood Pressure Causes Death

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is often called the “silent killer.” That’s because there are rarely any symptoms. Then a person may die as the result of the damage done over time by the presence of high blood pressure. For this reason, people need to have their blood pressure monitored routinely.

Doctors prefer blood pressures to be 120/80 or lower. The top number, 120, is called the systolic number. That top number is obtained when the heart is working to pump blood. The bottom number, 80, is called the diastolic number. It is obtained while the heart is at rest. Both numbers are important.

Diagnosing High Blood Pressure

The diagnosis of hypertension is given to a person who has repeated readings of 140/90 or greater. A diagnosis of hypertension is not based on a single reading. Blood pressures vary over the course of the day. It’s usually lower during sleep and higher in the morning. Pain and stress may elevate a blood pressure reading.

Primary or Secondary High Blood Pressure

The doctor may label the hypertension as primary or secondary. Primary has unknown causes. Secondary means it is a result of something else, a tumor for example. No matter what the cause, high blood pressure requires treatment. Treating hypertension properly can prevent many problems. Some of these problems are: heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage, and vision loss.

Hypertension Increases the Risk of a Heart Attack

People with HBP have heart attacks much more often than those who don’t. A heart attack is caused by a blockage of the blood supply to the heart. HBP can cause the arteries to become narrow. That narrowing increases the possibility of a blockage. Blockages cause heart attacks. Hypertension also causes the heart to work harder.

Blood Clots Cause Death to Organs ond People

Anything that prevents the flow of oxygen-carrying blood can cause death to an organ or a person. Since high blood pressure damages the blood vessels, it increases the risk of getting a blood clot. A trapped blood clot cuts off the flow of blood and oxygen. That’s what kills organs and people.

Strokes Cause Brain Damage

When a person has a stroke, the brain function is impaired because of a problem in the blood supply. As a result, the brain is damaged. Prolonged high blood pressure can cause blood vessels to become narrow. That makes the blood vessels more likely to trap a clot or burst (hemorrhage). Blood clots and hemorrhages are the leading two causes of strokes.

High Blood Pressure Causes Kidney Damage

The same abnormal high blood pressure that damages the heart and brain can also damage the kidneys. When the flow of blood to the kidneys is impaired a person can become very sick, very fast. The kidneys are the filtering system for the body, so any damage to this organ can turn fatal.

High Blood Pressure Causes Vision Loss

The blood vessels in the eye are already very small. And over time, the HBP can cause those passages to become narrower. Hemorrhages occur when the blood can’t pass through the vessels properly. High blood pressure can also cause swelling of the nerves in the eye. All these things can lead to vision loss

Ways to Reduce Blood Pressure

Some factors that affect hypertension cannot be controlled. These factors are age, race, heredity, and gender. Other risk factors can be eliminated. The same things that are bad for general health also influence the blood pressure.
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Inactivity

Too much salt is also a controllable factor.

So prevention is the key to avoiding these (and other) serious problems. Have blood pressures monitored routinely. If high blood pressure is a problem, follow the doctor’s recommended treatment plan to the letter. Take medicines as prescribed, even if you feel fine. Remember, they don’t call it the “silent Killer” for nothing.

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History of Vick's VapoRub

vick's vaporub

At the beginning of the 1900s, popular treatments for colds were poultices and messy plasters. These were typically the same forms of mustard and mint products that had been used for over 5000 years.

These products were applied on the chest and forehead, but due to the abrasiveness of the compounds, they often caused rashes and/or blisters. This was due is a large part because their main ingredients were skin irritants. The other prescribed method to cure a cold was to inhale hot herbal vapors. While this method was very successful in curing colds, it could also cause severe burns if children or patients placed their faces too close to the steam.

Who is Lunsford Richardson?

Lunsford Richardson, a druggist from Selma, North Carolina, was one of several druggists who sought a product that would provide relief without the drawbacks of the plasters and poultices. Two events occurred that led him to the perfect product. The first was the use of petroleum jelly as a safe base for salves and cosmetics. The second was the discovery of menthol, a crystalline alcohol extract from peppermint which released a vapor capable of giving sinus relief.

Ben-Gay and the Connection to Vick's

Menthol had been used by consumers as far back as 1898 when it was introduced in a product called Ben-Gay. This product, which was invented by Jules Bengue, combined menthol with an analgesic pain reliever in a base of lanolin. The innovative product was promoted as a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, gout and even help with a head cold.

Richardson studied the testimonials on Ben-Gay and started mixing different ingredients together in his drugstore. He finally stumbled upon using menthol with other ingredients in a base of petroleum jelly. He named his new product, Richardson’s Croup and Pneumonia Cure Salve. When rubbed onto the chest, the chemicals opened up sinus passages while they increase blood circulation. After its introduction, jars of the product flew off the shelves. Richardson could barely keep up with orders for customers and other druggists.

His only problem was the long, involved name of the product. He felt he needed a catchier moniker and turned to his brother-in-law, a doctor named Joshua Vick. Because it had been in Vick’s laboratory that Richardson had experimented to create a new product he changed the popular products name in honor of his mentor. Vick’s VapoRub was born, the year was 1905.

The Way Vick's Changed the U.S. Post Office

Although the product was selling and Richardson was having difficulty keeping up with orders, he still went on a huge advertising campaign to promote his product. He advertised in newspapers and supplied coupons for a free trial size jar of the product. He also had the ingenious idea to persuade the U.S. Post Office to allow him to provide samples to “Boxholders,” a precursor of today’s “occupant.” Before this time, all mail had to have a name listed on the package and/or letter.

All of this provided great sales for VapoRub, but it was the flu epidemic of 1918 that sent sales soaring through the roof. In the spring, U.S. troops carried the virus to France and then Spain. The flu took so many lives in Spain that it soon became known as the “Spanish Flu.”

The Flu Kills Millions

The flu soon traveled to China and on to Russia where it became even more virulent. During that year the flu killed one half of one percent of the entire population of the United States. To put it in even easier terms to visualize, World War I had taken four years to claim the lives of nine million soldiers. The 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic killed 25 million people, making it the worst plague in history.

It goes without saying that the flu that year drove the need for any type of cold medicine up. Cough syrups, cough drops, decongestants and even ASPIRIN® were bought for every household. These drug sales, especially Vick’s VapoRub, set new industry records. In 1918, Vick’s sold over a million dollars' worth of product. That is 1918 dollars, which was unprecedented until that time. While Vick’s is still very popular today and widely touted as the best cure for sinus and chest colds, it was the flu epidemic of 1918 that put a jar in every home. Mysteriously the flu that claimed so many lives vanished in 1919.

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Hidden Reasons for Back Pain

back pain

People who suffer from back pain usually can pinpoint those obvious causes for the problem. Usually back pain occurs from factors such as heavy or improper lifting, strained ligaments and muscles or sudden body movements. There are also structural reasons for back pain such as arthritis, osteoporosis, sciatica or ruptured disks. However, often back problems are due to hidden causes that are not as obvious.

Shoes and Back Pain

Because shoes support the entire body and are the only contact between the ground and a person, it’s important to wear the right shoes to avoid back pain. Shoes that are not aligned properly and don’t give proper support and ride quality can cause problems with backs. For example, high heels put added pressure on the foot which causes back pain. When wearing these shoes, a woman’s heels are placed unnaturally above her toes so even a slight change to the foot can affect body alignment. The spine has curves designed to distributed body weight and wearing high heels changes these curves.

Other types of shoes that don’t provide enough or any cushion include sandals, flip-flops and cowboy boots. In other words, choose well-cushioned shoes to reduce the odds of getting back pain.

Backpacks Causing Back Pain

Although mostly older people suffer from back problems, children can develop them from carrying heavy backpacks packed with books, calculators, notebooks and other school supplies. Usually, kids walk bent over from the strain of carrying too much weight on their backs and shoulders. According to a Children’s Hospital.org article, there are students who carry as much as 30% of their body weight. Besides a child complaining of back pain, another sign of the problem is a change in posture such as a child leaning either backward, forward or to the side. Excessive redness on shoulders is another sign that a backpack is too heavy. An alternative to heavy backpacks is pulling a small luggage on rollers such as those used when flying.

Poor Posture and Fatigue

Bad posture, whether lying, standing or sitting, causes the back to be more susceptible to back pain. Fatigue is another cause of poor posture leading to back pain. When the spine isn’t properly aligned muscles, spinal joints and ligaments are placed under additional stress causing back pain. The most common type of back pain from poor posture is lower back pain because the lower back supports the majority of the body’s weight. Poor posture can also lead to upper back pain such as people who slouch.

Stress and Back Pain

Back pain can be caused from emotional factors, as well as physical problems. Stress from work or home situations can do more than just cause mental frustration. These stressors can also cause back problems. According to Big Back Pain.com, there’s a significant link between stress and back pain. That’s because stress causes stress hormones to be released which increases the perception of pain. These stress hormones also leads to muscle tightening with muscles becoming so tense they can cause pain spasms with neck and back muscles being especially sensitive to stress effects.

It’s usually not too late to improve a bad back problem; however, it’s important not to ignore symptoms of back pain. As soon as symptoms of back problems surface, it’s vital to seek help and make needed adjustments. Correcting the problem may include the help of a doctor or health care professional.

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Home Remedies for Removing Dark Spots

Dark spots on the skin, also called liver or age spots, usually appear on areas of the body that have the most sun exposure, like the face, arms and trunk. You may begin seeing dark spots at age 40, but they can occur earlier. Age spots are harmless, according to the Mayo Clinic, and don’t need treatment. But some people choose to have them lightened for cosmetic reasons. The best way to prevent dark spots is by minimizing sun exposure.

dark spots

Some sunscreens are infused with a host of ingredients that can lighten lighten liver spots and freckles. Hydroquinone is an organic compound that reduces melanin in the skin. Applying a sunscreen with hydroquinone to dark spots can lighten pigment. For all over freckling or several dark spots, applying the sunscreen all over provides a better chance of fading skin evenly. SkinTx: Sunbalance is an example of one product that contains four percent hydroquinone.

Vitamin C is also known to lighten pigment. An article published in 2006 in the journal "Phytotherapy Research" indicates that vitamin C "has been tested extensively and is reported to inhibit the production of melanin." The Naked Bee produces a sunscreen enriched with vitamin C.

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most commonly used acne medications. It's also known for it's bleaching properties. Considering that 20 percent of American adults have acne, according to the Acne Resource Center, it's likely that most homes have a benzoyl peroxide gel or wash in the bathroom medicine cabinet. The downside is that benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that causes acne, it dries skin and can be irritating. So it's best to use this product on dark spots for people who already have an oily complexion.

Because skin lightening is so popular, cosmetic companies are infusing soaps and washes with ingredients known to eliminate dark spots. You may already have a shower cleanser that contains additives for moisturizing and vitamins to enrich the health your skin. If these ingredients happen to be kojic acid, L-glutathione or glycolic acid, by increasing the application, you could lighten dark spots faster. Not only does it take several weeks before you will notice an improvement, but it's recommended to use these mild skin lighteners two or three times a day to get better results. SkinWhite and SW+SS are two bar soaps that are enriched with compounds that fade pigment.

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How to Treat the Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

sinus infection

Sinus infections resulting in congestion, pain and pressure can last up to four weeks, or longer for chronic sufferers. Luckily, there are many prescription, over-the-counter and natural remedies available to ease the pain, as well as preventative measures to avoid future infections.

Acute Sinusitis and Chronic Sinusitis Treatments

Sinus infection, or sinusitis, is characterized by an inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages.There are varying degrees of sinusitis, ranging from acute sinusitis to chronic sinusitis.

Those suffering from acute sinusitis should only use over-the-counter decongestants for the recommended period of time. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe a decongestant or antibiotics. Use these medications as per the doctor's instructions. Pain relievers may also be used, as recommended.

For anyone with long-term sinusitis symptoms, treatment options may also include decongestants or antibiotics, but these are only to control symptoms. For daily treatments, use saline drops or a vaporizer.

Natural Remedies for Symptoms of Sinus Infection

Natural sinus treatments such as the ones below have become a popular option, especially for chronic sinusitis sufferers:
  • steam treatments: Boil some water and carefully inhale the steam. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to help clear block nasal passages.
  • heating pads: Place a heating pad on the affected sinus area, to reduce pain symptoms.
  • apple cider vinegar: Add two to three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a cup of hot water. Add honey to taste. Consume this drink twice daily to ease congestion and pressure.
  • vitamins: As soon as symptoms start, take vitamin C and zinc to ward off a cold that may result in a sinus infection. Taking vitamins for the duration of a sinus infection may reduce symptoms.
  • ginger: Taking ginger in capsule form may relieve headaches resulting from sinus infections.

Sinus and Nasal Irrigation

The process of nasal irrigation, or sinus cleaning, removes excess mucous and debris. Nasal irrigation includes both saline nasal sprays and conduits, such as the neti pot. The neti pot is an old sinus remedy made popular again in recent years after a demonstration on a health episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Sinus cleaning may be the best preventative measure available to both acute and chronic sinusitis sufferers. Using a gentle saline solution daily, or twice daily, will help to ward of future sinus infections. A neti pot is not necessary, as a person can easily snort the saline solution from cupped hands.

These treatments may be used individually or in combination, but always consult a health care professional first, before beginning any treatment plan.

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