Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – Inherited Condition

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
Ehlers Danlos syndrome – EDS is related to a group of inherited conditions which affect the collagen proteins in the body. It features are stretchy skin, fragile body tissue and loose joints. It is a disorder affecting the connective tissues primarily the skin and blood vessel walls, besides the joints.

The connective tissues are a complex combination of proteins and other substances which provides strength and elasticity to the underlying structure of the body. Collagen is a building block which strengthens and supports the various body tissues and is found in tendons, ligaments, skin, cartilage, bone, blood vessels, in the gut and the spine.

 The cause of EDS is due to the alteration of certain genes, which make collagen weaker and sometimes the quantity of collagen is reduced in the body. These faulty genes can be passed from the parents to their children.

Flexible Joints and Stretchy Skin

People suffering from Ehlers Danlos syndrome tend to have flexible joints and stretchy fragile skin which can become a problem if they have a wound that may need stitches since the skin is not strong enough to hold them. There are various forms of EDS such as Classical wherein the skin is stretchy, soft, elastic and fragile.

The joints tend to be loose and flexible. Hypermobility is another form wherein the joints are noticeably loose and besides being flexible are sometimes painful particularly after exercise though unlike other types of EDS, the skin is normal except that it gets bruised easily. The loose joints tend to bend more than usual and can cause floppy joints in infant while some children who are affected take longer time to sit, stand and even walk.

Sometimes the joints can also be very unstable and may tend to dislocate easily. Joint unstability may at times lead to osteoarthritis though this is uncommon and may happen mostly with adults. Vascular is one of the most severe kinds of this disorder that may cause the walls of the blood vessels, intestines or uterus to rupture.

Kyphoscoliotic disorder is where the spine is severely curved in childhood. Dermatospraxis is another type wherein the skin is loose and wrinkled with a tendency to sag and fold though this is a rare case probably affecting few people. Periodontal, this form resembles classical EDS with the combination of fragile gums.

Prone to Bruises

In most of the EDS cases, the skin is stretchy than normal and easily pulls away from the body springing back once released which could be tested best at the neck, elbow or knee. Bruising of the skin is another form wherein the small surface blood vessels may be fragile and break easily.

In the case of classical EDS, the skin can be extremely fragile and split easily especially in the areas over the forehead, knees, shins and the elbow while the scars can be papery and wide. In the case of vascular EDS, the skin seems transparent especially over the chest with the veins clearly visible beneath. People with this disorder tend to tire easily and should conserve their energy and pace their activities.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Acromegaly a condition of Growth Hormones

Acromegaly is a condition in which the body produces too much growth hormone that may lead to excess growth of body tissue over a long period of time.

The noticeable symptoms are that the hands and feet become larger while the features of the face may also tend to become more prominent, the cause of which is a small non cancerous tumor in the pituitary gland. Treatment may include surgery to remove the tumor and medicine to block the release or the effects of growth hormones.

Typical features of this ailment may include an enlarged tongue, abnormally tall height (if it happens before puberty), besides abnormally large hands, feet and large prominent facial features. This ailment can affect about 6 in every 100,000 adults though the problem is very rare in children.

Hormones released and produced by Pituitary Gland

The growth hormone is produced and released by the pituitary gland which is a pea sized gland below the brain and when hormone is released in the blood, it tends to stimulate the liver to produce another hormone, a insulin like growth factor 1 – IGF-1, which causes growth of muscle, cartilage and bones throughout the body and this process is essential for the growth and repair of body tissues.

This disease is caused by the excessive production of growth hormone when the skeleton and the organs stop growing and if it takes place before puberty, it may lead to an excessive tall height which is termed as gigantism. It is the outcome of a benign brain tumor known as adenoma which is rarely inherited and is usually developed spontaneously due to genetic change within a cell of the pituitary gland.

This genetic change may tend to switch on a signal which conveys to cells in the pituitary gland to divide and secrete growth hormone. The tumor may grow to a size of 1 cm and compress the surrounding normal pituitary tissue which may also affect the production of other hormones like the thyroid hormones that are released from the thyroid gland.

Symptoms may not be specific

The person suffering from Acromegaly may experience joint aches, carpal tunnel syndrome (compression of the nerve in the wrist, which may cause numbness as well as weakness of the hands), skin tags, thick coarse oily skin, enlarged lips and nose, protruding tongue and brows, widely spaced teeth, impaired vision, headaches, fatigue and weakness, excessive sweating with body odor, deepening of the voice due to enlarged sinuses and vocal cords and sleep apnoea or breaks in breathing during sleep due to obstruction of the airways.

The obstruction of vision and headache could be due to the tumor compressing near the tissues and if this occurs, the tumor may be squashing the nearby nerves which may take place at any age developing slowly which may often go unnoticed till the person reaches middle age. Moreover the symptoms are also not very specific and hence the condition may also tend to be diagnosed much later after the symptom takes place.

A blood test can measure the level of growth hormone though a single test may not be reliable and a glucose tolerance test may be conducted where the person is made to drink a sugar drink containing 75 grams of glucose with a series of blood test over two hours. A MRI scan may also be conducted to know the size of the tumor besides eye and visual test to assess if the tumor is pressing on the optic nerve.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Acoustic Neuroma – Non Cancerous Tumor

Acoustic Neuroma
A benign non cancerous tumor or growth in the brain is known as Acoustic Neuroma and is also called vestibular Schwannoma. It grows on the acoustic nerve which helps in controlling balance and hearing, which runs alongside the facial nerve that conveys the information from the brain to face muscles. Small acoustic neuroma causes problems like hearing loss which is the most common symptom and usually develops gradually in one ear and in some cases it may develop all of a sudden.

 Tinnitus, a perception of noise in the ear or both ears comes from within the body rather than from outside. Some examples could be the ringing sound in the ear. Balance, causing vertigo, the sensation of spinning or moving, which may be felt even when the person is still and not moving.

Large Acoustic – Multiple Symptoms

Large acoustic can cause multiple symptoms like headaches with blurred vision, is a relatively rare symptom and happens if the tumor blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds the brain. A temporary sight problem is another rare symptom which is also caused by cerebrospinal fluid blockage.

Ataxia another symptom with physical coordination affects the ability to move such as writing or walking which may affect one side of the body. Facial numbness, tingling or pain is rare symptoms which occur if the tumor tends to press on the nerve that controls the feeling and sensation in the trigeminal nerve in the face.

Symptoms Differ in Severity

The symptoms of acoustic neuroma may differ in severity and may develop gradually which may make the condition difficult to diagnose. A person suspecting of acoustic neuroma may have to undergo hearing test, a magnetic resonance image (MRI) scan or a computerized tomography-CT scan.

This ailment tends to be more common in women than men, the reason for which is yet unknown and people within the age group of 40 and 60 years are more likely to get affected while in the case of children, this ailment is rare.

Acoustic neuroma grows slowly and does not spread from the original point of the tumor. At time, it is so small and grows gradually that it does not cause any symptoms or problems and in such case, the acoustic neuroma could only be monitored in order to avoid the risk associated with surgery.

Not a life Threatening Ailment

In some cases, the tumor tends to grow large enough to press on the brain though in most of the cases neuroma can be treated before they reach this stage through surgery to remove the tumor or through radiotherapy to destroy the tumor. This ailment is not a life threatening condition but the symptoms could disrupt the day to day activities and with the loss of hearing it could affect the person’s ability to communicate and interact with people.

Though the cause of this ailment it unknown, the only known risk factor in developing acoustic neuroma is having a very rare genetic condition known as neurofibromatosis type 2. It grows from a type of cell called Schwann cell, a nerve cover cell which helps in keeping them insulated.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Epiglottitis – Viral or Bacterial Infection

Epiglottitis is a term which describes the inflammation and swelling of the epiglottis which is a leaf shaped flap of cartilage tissue that lies beneath the root of the tongue at the back of the throat and its main function is to close the entry of the windpipe or the trachea, at the time of eating to avoid food entering into the airways.

When the food is swallowed, the epiglottis covers the larynx or the voicebox which is in front of the neck above the trachea and stops the food from entering the windpipe. It contains the vocal cords enabling the air to pass from the mouth to the trachea and then to the lungs. Epiglottitis is caused by a bacterial or viral infection, the symptoms being sore throat, fever with difficulty in swallowing.

At times the person may also experience difficulties in breathing where immediate treatment needs to be administered to ensure that the person receives sufficient oxygen supply to the lungs and negligence could be life threatening. The symptoms of epiglottitis develop rapidly which may include drooling, besides severe sore throat, difficulty in swallowing and breathing. If the epiglottis tends to get swollen, it could be serious since it can restrict the oxygen supply to the lungs which needs to be attended to without any delay.

Symptoms – Fever/Sore Throat /Difficulty in Swallowing

Epiglottitis could also be confused for croup, which is a common childhood viral infection that affects the larynx and the trachea though croup is less dangerous and improves on its own.

 Epiglottitis affect children in the age group of two and seven and since the Hib vaccine was introduced in the 1990s in the United Kingdom along with other countries, this ailment has been reduced among many children and now seems to be very rare. However no vaccine is 100% effective and it is very rare that epiglottitis caused by Hib can get affected even if they have been vaccinated.

The person suffering from Epiglottitis starts with high temperature which is the first symptoms and complains of a sore throat and may also tend to have a hoarse voice with pain on swallowing. Due to the pain on swallowing, they may also drool saliva and the symptom of cough is less in this ailment.

Severe cases, Timely treatment essential

Breathing that is noisy and difficult follows and should be treated immediately. In moments like these, the person with epiglottitis prefers to sit upright and lean slightly forward with their tongue sticking out and this position could be helpful to open up their airway to let in more oxygen to the lungs.

Some may even tend to panic and get frightened while others may tend to make grunting noise due to the difficulty of breathing and receive less oxygen to their lungs. Their skin color may change and become grey or blue.

If the person is not treated on time, the swelling of the epiglottis may totally block the airway which may lead to the person collapsing and even death. Treating these severe cases is done by a procedure known as tracheostomy which helps the person in getting the supply of oxygen to the lungs while some with tracheostomy may also need the help of ventilator.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Charley Horse

Charley Horse – One Horse no one would want

Charley Horse is a common name for muscle spasm which can occur in the body especially in the thigh, calf and feet with painful cramping of the muscles that can happen at any time making the person to stop in the middle of any activity.

When the spasm takes place, it contracts without control and does not relax. This happens when a muscle is overused or injured. Some spasms may occur when the nerve connecting to the muscle is irritated.

Spasms in the calf often takes place while kicking during swimming or it can also occur while in bed at night and when it happens, the muscles of the calf of foot may suddenly become hard and tight making it very painful. When the muscle gets into spasm, the person experiences a feeling of tightness which could be described like a knot and the pain could be very severe.

Upper leg spasm is common while running or in jumping activities while spasm in the neck or cervical spine could be due to stress. Causes of spasms may include exercising when the fluid intake is not sufficient or having low levels of minerals like potassium or calcium in the body or it could also occur as side effects of some drugs taken during medication.

Treating Muscle Spasms

Treating muscle spasms can be done by stopping the activity and trying stretching or massaging the affected muscle at the first sign of a spasm to help in reducing the pressure and the painful cramping. Pressure should be medium using the thumbs and fingertips in a circular movement at both the direct areas of pain and above it to improve the circulation.

This could be continued for a few minutes till the pain subsides or if desired you could move to another form of treatment. Heat can also relax the muscle at first while ice can be helpful after the first spasm and when the pain has improved considerably. If the pain tends to be sore after heat and ice treatment, one can use non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to ease the pain.

 In more severe cases, the health physician should be consulted for treatment of the same. Before exercising, drinking water or sports drink could also be helpful to ease cramps due to dehydration. At times drinking water alone would not be enough, hence salt tablets or sports drinks could help to replace the minerals lacking in the body.

Self Care Measures 

To diagnose a spasm, the physician could check for tight or hard muscles which could be tender to the touch since there are no blood test or imaging for this ailment. If the spasm is caused due to nerve irritation, as in the case of the back, an MRI would be helpful to identify the cause of the ailment.

To reduce the risk of spasms in future, one could eat foods that are rich in vitamins, calcium and magnesium with good consumption of water intakes and stretching properly before exercising. `Self help is the best help’, and hence self care measure could prove to be beneficial in dealing with muscle spasms which can ease the pain within a short span of time.

If the person tends to experience the spasms for no apparent reason, a visit to the physician would be essential to identify the real problem with the necessary treatment.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Narcolepsy, A Neurological Disorder

Narcolepsy is a rare chronic neurological disorder affecting brain’s inability to regulate sleep wake cycles normally and those suffering from narcolepsy tend to experience excessive day time sleepiness, falling asleep at inappropriate times.

People with narcolepsy experience irresistible bout of sleep even during daytime wherein the individual may fall asleep for periods lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. They tend to experience sudden loss of temporary muscle control, like laughter and anger, triggered by strong emotions resulting in falling asleep while working, cooking or even driving.

Many instances of narcolepsy are known to be the result of autoimmune system wherein the antibodies, infection fighting proteins are released by the body and instead of destroying the disease carrying toxins and organisms, they tend to destroy healthy cells and tissue. The antibodies attack areas of the brain which produces sleep regulating chemical known as orexin or hypocretin which leads to a deficiency of orexin causing narcolepsy.

Symptoms occur between the age of 10 and 25

Most people experience their first signs of narcolepsy between the age of 10 and 25 though the symptoms may vary from person to person, the main symptom being excessive daytime sleepiness and abnormal REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

Various other symptoms of narcolepsy related to abnormal REM sleep may include hallucinations, sleep paralysis and cataplexy, a sudden loss of muscle control. Most common narcolepsy symptoms being excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy are connected to the emotional state wherein the person may show signs of these symptoms when they experience intense emotions like laughter, frustration or surprise.

To correctly diagnose narcolepsy, a visit to the physician is essential where a medical and family history will be examined together with the sleeping habits and symptoms. Other tests may also be carried out in helping to identify other underlying conditions which could be the cause of excessive daytime sleepiness and if suffering from narcolepsy, the person would be referred to a sleep disorder specialist for in-depth analysis of the person’s sleep pattern.

Adopting Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Though no cure exists for narcolepsy, various treatments could help to control the symptoms enabling the person to live a normal life. These treatments would be based on the ones best suited according to the narcolepsy symptoms which may include a combination of medication, counseling and lifestyle changes.

None of the currently available medications could help people with narcolepsy to fully maintain a normal state of alertness but symptoms like EDS and cataplexy the most disabling of this disorder, can be controlled with drug treatment which can tend to change depending as the symptom changes. Adopting healthy lifestyle changes could also be of immense help to handle narcolepsy symptoms together with support and counseling with other recommendation from the physician.

Exercises during the day followed by the right diet, managing stress, could play a very important role in maintaining a healthy sleep-wake cycle and the most important schedule to follow is to maintain a regular sleep schedule with relaxing bedtime routine. Self help is the best help and in combining the various self help treatments could help to improve daytime alertness thereby help in reducing the symptoms of narcolepsy.

The Emergency Clinic Niche

Also known as urgent clinics an emergency clinic, offers similar services to an emergency room without the lengthy wait time. The phrase emergency clinic can also imply those services that are provided at an actual hospital emergency room. As a matter of fact, some hospitals have emergency clinics that are not attached to the hospital’s ER and may be on another side of town. Below is a detailed explanation of what a patient can expect when visiting an emergency clinic for treatment.

Services Rendered

When it comes to medical services provided by an emergency clinic, it is safe to say that there are many. While the sky is not necessarily the limit, the medical services that are available are abundant and helpful to patients facing a bad situation. So, if a semi-emergency situation occurs and you are unable to get to your primary care physician, then it might be a good idea to go to an emergency clinic. The thing about this particular type of clinic is that it has similar resources to primary care facilities yet simultaneously provides walk-in services and has extended hours to better meet the needs of patients.

Increasing Numbers of Emergency Clinics

Believe it or not, urgent clinics are located all over the world. With the health care system trying to curb the strained hospital emergency departments nationwide, the need for urgent clinics is steadily increasing. For one thing, theses clinics are a viable alternative to the hospital setting; they provide a productive way to improve access to services for patients and to aid in cost containment measures for hospitals at large. Furthermore, such clinics actually reduce monthly emergency room visits.

A Note on Cost Containment

Coast-to-coast and around the world, health care systems are putting cost containment measures actively in place especially to curb the high cost of services rendered in an emergency room setting. Currently there is a demand for convenient access to care. The notion of an urgent clinic can be a win situation for all parties involved. For insurance companies, if a patient chooses to go to an urgent clinic, then it becomes a winning situation because they do not have to cover the high costs of emergency department services. For hospitals, it is a winning situation because it is a way to get patients through referrals. For patients it is an absolute win because of the quick turnaround time for services rendered. In short, for patients – they’re in and they’re out quickly.


Think “After Hours Doctor’s Office”
If nothing else, these clinics would like for patients to think of them as after-hours doctor’s offices. However, they are fully staffed with similar medical staff that you would encounter at a doctor’s office. Additionally, there is a certified physician on site at all times. These clinics are unlike retail clinics which do not have a board certified physician on site. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for patients to make the doctor at the clinic their primary care physician from a convenience aspect alone.

As more and more people opt to get easy access and convenience of services when it comes to medical assistance, it will not be uncommon for them to seek the services of a clinic. If you are interested in learning more about emergency clinic services, visit Midwest Express Clinic.