Thursday, 30 October 2014


Haemophilia – Inherited Blood Disorder

Haemophilia is a group of inherited blood disorder which affects the blood’s ability to clot. It is also known as hemophilia. The bleeding disorder is due to the defects in blood vessels, the coagulation mechanism or it could be the blood platelets.

The blood coagulation mechanism tends to transform the blood from liquid form into solid state involving several different clotting factors which generates fibrin when it is activated together with platelet plugs and stops bleeding.

Normally when one has an injury, substance in the blood known as clotting factors combines with blood cells, platelets that make the blood sticky which stops the bleeding eventually. However in the case of haemophilia, the clotting factors are few and those with this condition could bleed longer than usual.

This disorder could be passed to a child by either or both of the parents. The symptoms of haemophilia could be mild to severe based on the level of clotting factors. In severe cases of haemophilia, the person may experience internal bleeding which usually takes place around the joints and muscles, causing stiffness and pain and could also lead to joint damage over a period of time.

Common Types - Haemophilia A & B

The common types of haemophilia are – haemophilia A and haemophilia B. Both the types tend to have the same symptoms though they are caused by issues with different clotting factors with different treatment.

Besides this, there is also another rarer form of haemophilia known as acquired haemophilia which is not an inherited condition but is caused by the immune system invading the clotting factors in the blood.

Haemophilia can be diagnosed when a pregnant women with a history of haemophilia undergoes a gene test where a sample of placenta is removed from the uterus and tested which is known as a chorionic villus sampling test.. If a child is suspected of haemophilia, a blood test is carried out which determines if the child has this haemophilia A or B and how severe it could be.

Can Be Controlled with Treatment

Though there is no cure for haemophilia, with treatment this condition can be controlled and the person and enjoy a good quality of life.Genetically engineering clotting factor medications have developed in recent times to treat and prevent prolonged bleeding wherein these medications can be injected based on the severity of the condition.

 Usually injections are only given in milder conditions in case of prolonged bleeding while in more severe cases they are treated with regular injections to stop the bleeding. The medication is generally injected in the vein, in the back of the hand or the crook of the elbow where the initial treatment is administered by a nurse or a doctor at clinic/hospital, and later on adults learn how to administer the same.

 Should the person with haemophilia, experience any of the following, they should seek immediate help such as, if there is an injury to the mouth, tongue, neck, face or eye, if the bleeding is heavy or persistent, a severe blow to the head, if there is severe pain or swelling in any area of the body or an open wound that may need stiches.

Angelman Syndrome

Angelman Syndrome
Angelman Syndrome – Genetic Disorder

Angelman syndrome is a genetic disorder which causes developmental as well as neurological problems like severe speech impairment with trouble in walking and balancing. It could affect about one in 10,000 people and those with this disorder seem to be usually happy and affectionate and may laugh often and at any inappropriate time.

Those who are affected with Angelman syndrome may also have epilepsy and are also associated with low levels of pigment in hair, skin and eyes. People with this disorder could be treated based on the behaviours associated with the disorder.

In several cases, it is not an inherited issue and the genetic anomaly which is responsible for the syndrome could occur by chance at the time of conception. Usually the typical characteristics of Angelman syndrome is not obvious at birth and a child with the syndrome tends to show signs of delayed development around six to twelve months like being unable to sit without support or make babbling sound. At a later stage, they may also not speak at all or may be able to say just a few words.

Characteristics of Angelman Syndrome

Besides this, their movement also gets affected where the person affected with Angelman syndrome may also find it difficult to walk due to problems in balance and co-ordination, their arms may tend to tremble or move jerkily while their legs may be stiffer than normal. Other distinctive behaviours could also be associated with Angelman syndrome which may include frequent smiling and laughter with little stimulus, getting excited easily, often flapping the hands, feeling of restlessness, short attention span, accompanied with problems with sleep or needing less sleep than other children.

As they reach the age of around two years, an abnormally small head which tends to be flat at the back develops and they may begin to have seizures or fits during this age period. Besides this, other possible features could also include: crossed eyes – strabismus, sticking out of the tongue, a wide mouth with widely placed teeth, pale skin and light coloured hair and eyes, a side to side curvature of the spine, a fascination for water and walking with arms in the air.

Treatments & Aids 

Due to the problem in co-ordination, some infants may face problems in feeding and may have difficulty in sucking and swallowing. In such a situation, a high calorie formula is recommended in order to help the infant to be nourished or they may need to be treated for reflux.

Treatment and aids could be beneficial for Angelman syndrome such as anti-epileptic medicine to control the seizures, physiotherapy which could help to improve balance, posture and the ability to walk, which is also important to prevent permanent stiffness of the joints as one tends to grow older, a back brace or a spinal surgery could be recommended in order to prevent the spine getting curved further, communication therapy could also be recommended to help them to develop non-verbal language skills like sign language and use of visual aids such as iPad applications and other familiar devices, an ankle or foot orthosis which could help them to walk independently, activities like swimming, horse riding and music therapy are also known to be of great advantage to the person with Angelman syndrome.

Things in Your Household You Don't Clean Often Enough

No matter how much effort you may put into cleaning your house, the chances are you may be overlooking at least a few areas that you ought to be cleaning more often. Here are a few of some of the most commonly overlooked areas that may need cleaning:

The Dishwasher Interior 

You might think that because your dishwasher is constantly exposed to soap and water that there is no need for further cleaning. However, soap scum, grease and bits of food can accumulate, leading to germs and unpleasant odors. Try running a cup of vinegar through your dishwasher during the hot cycle to clean the whole machine and eliminate odors.

Refrigerator Coils

It's estimated that roughly 70% of malfunctioning by refrigerators is related to problems with the coils. You can avoid most such problems by unplugging the refrigerator and cleaning the coils every six months or so with a vacuum and small brush. This will do much to add to the life the appliance.

Door Knobs and Light Switches

Because of constant handling, door knobs and light switches are major places for germs to live and spread. Wipe them regularly with disinfectant, perhaps going beyond common household products and using professional medical disinfectants like those sold by medical supply outfits such as E-Current. To learn more click here.

By attending to these problem areas, you can do much to improve the appearance, atmosphere and healthfulness of your home.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


Bruxism – Grinding Teeth/Clenching of Jaw

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding the teeth and the clenching of the jaw. A person suffering from bruxism may unconsciously clench their teeth together, during the day or grind and clench them at night in their sleep.

Sleep bruxism is a sleep related movement disorder and who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are likely to have other sleep disorders like snoring and pauses in breathing – sleep apnoea. Bruxism which is mild, may not need any treatment though in some people it could be frequent and severe enough to cause jaw disorders, headaches, together with damaged teeth and several other problems.

At times people with this disorder tend to grind their teeth without it causing any kind of symptoms or problems though regular grinding and clenching could cause jaw pain accompanied with discomfort and wear down on teeth.

It could also lead to headaches and earache. Around 80% of the cases of teeth grinding takes place subconsciously during sleep and is usually associated with contributing factors like stress or anxiety.

Reasons – Stress & Anxiety

Bruxism could also affect people when they are awake though it is more likely to be clenching the teeth and jaw instead of grinding their teeth. Most of the people tend to do it subconsciously while concentrating or when they are under stress.

The disorder tends to come and go and is likely to be worse when the person is undergoing a lot of stress or anxiety. Some of the signs and symptoms are – teeth grind or clenching which could be loud enough to wake a person from their sleep, teeth flattened, fractured, chipped or loose, increased tooth sensitivity, jaw or face pain or soreness, tired or tight jaw muscles, worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of tooth, pain which feels like an earache when the problem is not with the ear, dull headache which originates in the temples, damage from chewing on the inside of the cheek, and indentations on the tongue.

Associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – OSA 

Besides stress bruxism is also associated with obstructive sleep apnoea OSA which is a sleep disorder wherein the breathing is interrupted while the person is asleep though it is unknown how bruxism and OSA affect each other.

Teeth grinding could also be due to antipsychotic and antidepressant medication. Teeth grinding is at times referred by physicians as the result of underlying condition as primary bruxism, while bruxism associated with medication, condition or lifestyle factors is considered as secondary bruxism.

Life style could also have an effect wherein regular consumption of alcohol smoking and use of recreational drugs like cocaine and ecstasy could increase the risk of bruxism.

Treatments for bruxism are many though only a few have shown to be effective. The use of mouth guards or mouth splints and behavioural therapies could be effective in handling the symptoms connected with bruxism.

Mouth splints and mouth guard works in reducing the sensation of grinding and clenching teeth, helping in the prevention of any wear on the teeth while other treatments like muscle relaxation exercises together with sleep hygiene could also help in managing the symptoms.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


Spondylolisthesis – Backward/Forward Slip of Vertebra

Spondylolisthesis occurs when a bone from the lower area of the spine, a vertebra, tends to slip out of position which could be confused with a slipped disc, when one of the spinal disc gets ruptured between the vertebrae.

The word spondylolisthesis comes from two parts, spondylo meaning spine and listhesis which mean slippage. Spondylolisthesis is considered a forward or a backward slip of one vertebra, on an adjacent vertebra, one out of the 33 bones of the spinal column.

 It usually tends to occur at the base of the spine in the lumbar area which tends to get worse with activity or when standing and one finds relieve on lying down. Causes of spondylolisthesis may include trauma, birth defects, degenerative, tumour and most of the people can be treated conservatively without the need of any surgery.

Those who do not improve with conservative treatment may be required to undergo surgery. Symptoms of this ailment include lower back or leg pain, hamstring tightness, numbness and tingling in the legs. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person.

Can Be Identified on Plain Radiograph

Spondylolisthesis could also lead to deformity of the spine and narrowing of the spinal canal or compression of the exiting nerve root – foraminal stenosis. Spondylolisthesis in children could occur as a result of birth defect like having thin bones in the spine area or due to some sudden injury.

In the case of adults, it could be due to age related wear of the spine or a degenerative disease such as arthritis. Other possibilities could be bone disease like Paget’s disease of the bone, a fracture due to sustained pressure on the spine as in the case of gymnasts and weight lifters and fracture caused due to sudden injury.

In most of the cases there are no visible signs of spondylolisthesis and people may complain of pain in the back with intermittent pain in the legs. It may also cause muscle spasms or tightness in the hamstrings. Spondylolisthesis can be identified on using plain radiographs where a lateral x-ray from the side portrays if a vertebra has slipped forward on comparing with the adjacent vertebrae and is graded according to the percentage of slip of the vertebra compared with the neighbouring vertebra.


If the person complains of pain, tingling, weakness or numbness in the legs, additional studies may need to be carried out. A CT or MRI scan could help to detect compression of the nerves associated with spondylolisthesis. At times a PET scan could also help in determining if the vertebra at the site of defect is active.

The initial treatment is conservative for spondylolithesis depending on the symptoms. The person should rest and avoid activities which would involve lifting and bending that could reduce the symptoms. Physical therapy could also help to increase the range of motion of the lumbar spine as well as hamstrings to strengthen the core abdominal muscles.

Person experiencing pain numbness with tingling in the legs could benefit from epidural steroid injection and those with isthmic spondylolisthesis could benefit from hyperextension brace which extends the lumbar spine bringing the two parts of the bone at the defect, closer enabling healing. Anti-inflammatory medication could also help in reducing pain by decreasing the inflammation of the nerves and muscles.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Thalassemia – An Inherited Blood Disorder

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder which tends to be passed down through families where the body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen and this disorder could lead to great destruction of red blood cells resulting in anaemia.

Anaemia on the other hand is a disorder wherein the body does not have sufficient normal, healthy red blood cells –RBC. Red blood cells are important since they contain substance known as haemoglobin which carries the oxygen from the lungs to the various areas of the body which is produced in the marrow of the bone,(a spongy substance found within the larger bones), from the iron which the body obtains from the food consumed.

In the case of thalassemia the production of haemoglobin is low leading to anaemia with a reduced oxygen carrying content. If the body does not receive sufficient amount of oxygen one may tend to feel tired, breathless, faint and drowsy.

Alpha/Beta Thalassemia

This disorder could be inherited from one of the parents who could be the carrier of the disease and is caused by either a genetic mutation or a deletion of some key genes. Thalassemia often occurs among people of Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern, Southern and African descent.

The two kinds of thalassemia are alpha thalassemia and beta thalassemia. In the case of alpha thalassemia, one of the alpha globin genes has a mutation or an abnormality while in the case of beta thalassemia; the beta globin genes are affected.

Thalassemia could be severe or mild and some people may not show any symptoms or mild anemia. The severe type in the United States is known as Cooley’s anemia which tends to appear during the first two years of life and the person may have severe anemia with slowed growth, delayed puberty and problems with the liver, heart, spleen or bones.

Blood Transfusion/Bone Marrow Transplant/Cord Blood Transplant

If the person is not given timely treatment, there could be serious types of thalassemia leading to complication which could include organ damage, heart failure and even death. Thalassemia can be diagnosed through blood test.

DNA tests could also be needed to identify the exact type of thalassemia. A questionnaire about the family origin is also done as an initial screening to check the risk of this disorder. Treatment includes blood transfusion and other options to remove excess iron from the body. If there are not symptoms or the symptoms are mild, the need for any treatment is not essential.

However in severe cases, a bone marrow transplant is done which is the only known cure for thalassemia and cord blood transplantation wherein the blood cells are used from the umbilical cord of a new-born baby with the consent of the parent, though the procedure could cause a range of complications and may not be suitable for all.

Some of the problems faced with BTM are that the person may need frequent blood transfusions which may result in a build-up of iron in the body causing serious health issues. People who tend to receive regular blood transfusion for BTM should consider iron chelation therapy which helps in removing the excess iron from the body.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Drink Spiking and Date Rape Drugs

Drink Spiking – Mind Altering Substances 

This health topic is to bring about awareness among our present generation who could be at risk of grave consequences and being forewarned is forearmed when faced with such situations. A glance at the news daily gives us variety of such incidents of rapes; murder etc. and our youngsters should be informed and trained to handle such situations while they party along with their friends and acquaintance.

Many tend to be victims of drink spiking where drugs or alcohol seem to be added to their drinks without their knowledge and in some cases, the date rape drugs could be used to spike a person’s drink in order to attempt a sexual assault. Drink spiking is when the mind altering substances like drugs or alcohol is added to the drink without letting them know about it and is often done to take advantage of the victim.

Mind altering could mean that the victim would be unaware of his/her act or how they tend to behave with the other people while they are under the influence of the drugs. Enjoying a party at night and celebrating a special occasion with friends could be a great idea but like everything with its advantage as well as disadvantages, caution needs to be practised in everything that is said and done.

Common Substance – Alcohol 

Alcohol is the most common substance that is used to spike a drink which can be added to a soft or a non-alcoholic drink. As the party goes on and drinks are consumed, people get involved in the enjoyment without being watchful over their drinks which at times can put the victim at a risk for date rape making the person an easy target for perpetrators.

 A date rape drug also known as predator drug is intentionally used as incapacitating agent in assistance of the execution of drug facilitate sexual assault – DFSA. Though drink spiking is often done with the intention of malicious acts which could include violence, drug assisted sexual assaults and thefts; it could also be used for misguided jokes or pranks.

Date rape drugs could be particularly dangerous when they are combined with alcohol since the mixture tends to have a powerful anaesthetic effect on the victim and in some extreme cases, it could also lead to a coma or even death. These are available in liquid, powder or tablet form and do not have any unusual taste or smell.

Seek Help at the Earliest from Trusted Source

If the person thinks that their drink has been spiked they should immediately get in touch with someone whom they can trust and seek help from a close reliable friend, a relative, a medical professional or the police.

The effect of the date rape drug is seen within 15-30 minutes and the symptoms tend to last for several hours thereafter. If the person tends to pass out, it could be difficult to know the full effect of the drug. The person may also feel some of the symptoms of the effect of the drug even after a night’s sleep though it would depend on which drug had been used on the victim.

They may experience some of the symptoms like difficulty in concentrating or speaking, loss of balance and difficulty in movement, lowered inhibitions, visual problems with blurred vision, memory loss or blackout, paranoia, a feeling of distrust or fear of others, feeling confused or disorientated especially on waking, nausea and vomiting or unconsciousness. Drink spiking is a very grave offence and can be punishable with imprisonment. Remember to drink sensibly and remain safe.