Monday, 28 April 2014

SARS – A Viral Respiratory Disease

Severe acute respiratory – SARS, a viral respiratory disease of zoonotic origin is caused by the SARS coronavirus. There are various numbers of coronaviruses connected to infections in humans and animals and the two recognized human coronaviruses may cause mild respiratory infection like common cold.

This type of virus may also include strains which may cause severe illnesses like SARS.It is a highly contagious and a serious life threatening form of pneumonia. This ailment originated in 2002, in the Guangdong province of southern China and the infection went on spreading quickly to other countries resulting in more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths before the virus was brought under control.

It has flu like symptom which begins around two to ten days after infection. The patient experiences high temperature of 38 degree Centigrade or above, headaches, chills, extreme tiredness, muscle pain and loss of appetite or diarrhoea.

After these symptoms occur, between three to seven days, the infection tends to affect the respiratory systems like the lungs and the airways leading to additional symptoms like dry cough, an increasing lack of oxygen in the blood which could be fatal in most severe cases and breathing difficulties.

Initial Symptoms like Flu

Its initial symptoms are flu like which may include fever, lethargy, myalgia symptoms, sore throat, cough with other nonspecific symptoms and the most common symptoms in all patients is the fever above 38 degree Centigrade with shortness of breath which follows later.

The person may have symptoms similar to cold in the initial stage which may later resemble influenza, occasionally leading to pneumonia which could be either direct viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia.

An Airborne Virus

It is an airborne virus which spreads in a similar way like flu and common cold. The SARS virus spreads in small droplets of saliva coughed or sneezed in the air by the infected individual and infection can take place if someone breathes in the droplets.

It can also spread indirectly if the infected person touches any surface with unwashed hand and the same is again touches by another person who may get infected with the ailment. Besides this, the SARS virus can also spread through the faeces of the infected person and if the person does not maintain hygiene by washing the hands properly after using the toilet they tend to pass on the infection to others.

Those living and caring for people affected with SARS are also prone to get affected with this infection.

Victim to be kept in Isolation

Presently there is no cure for SARS though there is a possibility of a vaccine and the infected person should be admitted in the hospital without any delay and kept in isolation under careful observation.

Supportive treatment include antibiotics to treat bacterial which may cause pneumonia, antiviral medication, assistance with breathing with the use of the ventilator for oxygen, high doses of steroid to reduce the swelling in the lungs.

It is said that precaution is better than cure and one could take precaution in avoiding travelling to areas affected with SARS and reduce the risk of getting affected or avoid direct contact with SARS victim, for at least ten days after the symptoms disappear.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Tennis Elbow result of Strenuous Overuse of Muscles

Tennis Elbow
Lateral epicondylitis is clinically known for Tennis elbow which is an ailment where the outer part of the elbow tends to get sore and tender and is commonly caused by non-inflammatory chronic degenerative changes in the tendon which attaches the forearm muscle extensor carpi radialis brevis to the elbow.

 This is more prevalent during middle age, in men more than women and this ailment is idiopathic, benign and self-limiting. Tennis elbow is a misnomer since several people who suffer from this disease do not play tennis and lateral epicondylitis a misnomer, since in this condition; there is no involvement of inflammation. It normally takes place as a result of strenuous overuse of muscles and the tendons on the forearm near the elbow.

One may experience pain on the outer area of the upper forearm below the bend of the elbow, or when lifting or bending the arm, when gripping small objects like a pen, or while twisting the forearm while turning the door knob or opening a jar, making it difficult to perform these small tasks. Besides this, it also tends to get difficult to fully extend the forearm.

Golfer Elbow

Tennis elbow is often caused by straining the muscles connected to the elbow and used to straighten the wrist and if the muscles and the tendons are overused, inflammation with tiny tears may erupt near the bony lump or the lateral epicondyle on the outer area of the elbow.

The tendons in the elbow join the bones and muscles and control the muscles of the forearm. It may also be the result, as its name suggest by playing tennis though it may also be due to other activities with repeated stress on the elbow joint. Golfer elbow is the pain that occurs on the inner side of the elbow.

Tennis Elbow – Self Limiting

Tennis elbow being a self-limiting ailment can eventually get better without the need of any treatment though there are treatments which can be used to improve the symptoms for a speedy recovery.

It is essential to have enough rest for the injured arm and refrain from indulging in activities which may aggravate the ailment. Cold compress on the affected elbowfor few minutes, done several times a day can give immense relief to the person.

Besides this, pain killers could also help in reducing the mild pain caused by tennis elbow along with other drugs which can also be taken to reduce inflammation.

Relief – Physiotherapy/Massage/Manipulation

Moreover, physiotherapy may also be suggested in case of severe and persistent situations with massaging and manipulating the affected area could also bring about much relieve to the pain and stiffness thereby improving the condition of the arm.

In more severe cases wherein the tendon could have been damaged, surgery would be the last resort in giving relief to the affected person.

In most of the cases, tennis elbow may last between six months to two years though in majority of the cases, the recovery occurs within a period of one year.

Putting too much stress on the muscles and tendons which surround the elbow should be avoided which will help in prevention of the condition getting severe.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Granulamatosis with polyangiitis, a rare disorder

Granulamatosis with polyangiitis
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis or GPA, formerly known as Wegener’s granulomatosis–WG, is a systemic disorder involving both granulomatosis and ployangiitis, a form of vasculitis or inflammation of blood vessels, affecting small and medium size vessels in various organs.

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis is a rare disorder in which the walls of the blood vessels tend to get inflamed or swollen and leaky leading to poor blood flow to the issues in the body. It is a serious ailment which needs to be treated and could be fatal if not treated in time.

It can cause a wide range of symptoms like frequent sinusitis, persistent fever, fatigue and weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss, joint pain and soreness, persistent ear infections and problem in hearing, coughing out blood or blood in the phlegm and in urine, chest pain, cough or shortness of breath, recurrent nosebleeds or sores around the nose, general feeling of sickness and night sweats.

Vasculitis or inflammation of the Blood Vessels

Some may be at a risk of having blood clots in the leg or deep vein thrombosis or in the lung, pulmonary embolism.

Vasculitis or the inflammation of the blood vessels caused by granulomatosis with polyangiitis affects mainly the nose, sinuses, lungs, ears and kidney though other organs could also be affected in due course including the brain, nerves, heart, bowels and the skin and could also lead to tissue damage and organ failure eventually.

Symptoms may start any age even in childhood though the condition is usually seen in middle age between the age of forty and fifty.

Autoimmune Disease

The cause of GPA is not known but it is presumed to be an autoimmune disease meaning that the body’s immune system can mistakenly attack its own tissues. Just in the case of other autoimmune conditions, it could be that people with GPA have a gene which makes them more likely to be the victim of this ailment and could be triggered by some other factor such as infection with virus or bacteria. The genes alone cannot be responsible for this condition and it is very unlikely for two people in the same family to suffer from GPA.

Anti-Neutrophil-Cytoplasmic Antibodies

GPA is usually traced when a person has some unexplained symptoms for a long period of time and determination of Anti neutrophil-cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs)which are antibodies that the immune system of people with GPA use to attack the body’s own blood vessels, can assist in the diagnosis.

Blood test can be done to check the levels of ANCA though these testsat times may show signs of negative in people with GPA and hence it cannot be relied upon in diagnosing the condition. Besides this, a tissue sample of the affected area may also be conducted and viewed under the microscope for signs of inflammation wherein in GPA; the white blood cells tend to clump together forming tiny lumps known as granulomas.

 Urine test may also be done to check for blood or protein in the urine with indication that GPA may have affected the kidneys. Other test may also include an x-ray of the chest to check if the lungs have been affected, a Computed tomography CT scan of the sinuses, nose and ears and an MRI – magnetic resonance imaging scan of the affected organ.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Glaucoma, Eye Disorder

Glaucoma is a term which describes a type of eye disorder with no initial symptoms at first but eventually can causeharm to the optic nerve which carries information from the eye to the brain resulting in affecting the vision.

It is an eye disease that produces pressure in the fluid of the eye and if this remains elevated for a long time it may tend to cause the eye to water. Glaucoma can affect both the eye in varying degrees with one eye developing glaucoma much quicker than the other. Over a period of time, it can also damage the optic nerve resulting in a permanent loss of eyesight.

If not treated or uncontrolled, glaucoma can first cause peripheral vision loss leading to blindness.It may be difficult to recognize glaucoma and hence regular eye check-up is essential for individuals having a family history of glaucoma, those who have crossed the age of 40 or those who have diabetes, a history of steroid or cortisone use or people with extremely high or low blood pressure.

Silent Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is called the `silent thief of sight’ and rightly so, since it is difficult to recognise the symptoms of this ailment and moreover there is no pain or any noticeable symptoms until one notices some vision loss. There are four types of glaucoma, chronic open angle glaucoma which is the most common type and it develops gradually.

The next is the primary angle closure glaucoma which is very rare, occurring slowly (chronic) or may develop quickly (acute) with a sudden painful build-up of pressure in the eye. The secondary glaucoma occurs as a result of an injury in the eye or an eye condition like uveitis which is the inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. Finally, developmental glaucoma or congenital glaucoma is rare but a serious type which is usually present at the time of birth or could develop shortly after birth and is caused by an abnormality of the eye.

Damage to Optic Nerve

Glaucoma may occur when the drainage tubes or the trabecular meshwork within the eye tends to get somewhat blocked preventing eye fluid – aqueous humour from draining properly.

And when the fluid is not capable of draining properly, the pressure builds up which is called intraocular pressure.

This can cause damage to the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain and the nerve fibres from the retina which is the light sensitive nerve tissue that lines up the back of the eye.

Treatment – Eye Drops/Medication/Laser/Surgery

If a person has been diagnosed with glaucoma, it may be treated with eye drops, laser treatments or pills. Surgery can also be done to treat glaucoma along with a combination of medication. Early diagnosis is essential to save damage to the eye which cannot be reversed and take timely treatment with an aim to control glaucoma to avoid losing their eyesight. Once diagnosed of glaucoma, the person needs to follow the prescribed medication given and avoid negligence and should they experience any kind of side effects, they should consult the physician without much delay.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Carcinoid Syndrome – A combination of Symptoms

Carcinoid Syndrome
Carcinoid syndrome is a combination of symptom which can occur with a kind of cancer known as carcinoid. It is a type of cancer of the neuroendocrine system, the system which produces the hormones. The carcinoid tumours tend to glow gradually and are common in the gut areas, like the appendix, small intestine orlarge bowel.

They also tend to grow in the lung, pancreas, kidney, stomach, testicles or theovaries. Carcinoid syndrome occurs when a carcinoid tumour especially the one that has spread to the liver releases hormones in the bloodstream. The tumour tends to produce too much of serotonin hormone together with other chemicals which widens the blood vessels and may cause a wide range of symptoms.

Growth very Slow

Though the prognosis for carcinoid is good, like most cancers it also depends on the size of the tumour, depending on the area of the body it occurs, the possibility of it spreading to other areas and the general health and age of the person.

It can at time be cured with a surgery and even if the tumour is not completely eliminated, it may not cause a problem since its growth is very slow. In the initial stage of a carcinoid tumour, one may not have any symptoms if the tumour is in the digestive system since any hormones produced would be destroyed by the liver and if symptoms do occur, it could be general and could be mistaken for signs of other ailments. Symptoms could be the outcome of the tumour or from hormones it may release in the bloodstream.

Symptoms of Carcinoid tumour

A person suffering from lung carcinoid tumour may experience wheezing, cough wherein they may cough up blood, breathlessness, tiredness, or chest pain. A person with stomach carcinoid may show signs ofweight loss, pain, tiredness and a feeling of weakness. A bowel carcinoid tumour may cause bleeding from the bottom, block bowel- constipation or feeling of sickness and belly pain.

Appendix carcinoid tumour does not cause any symptoms and is only discovered at the time of removal of the appendix or for any other reason. The symptoms of carcinoid syndrome are diarrhoea, belly pain with loss of appetite, flushing of the skin, fast heart rate, shortness of breath and wheezing. These symptoms may tend to show up unexpectedly since the hormones may be produced by the tumour at any point of time.

Rare Family Syndrome 

It is yet unknown why carcinoid tumours occurs, but it is presumed that in most cases they develop by chance though in some cases it may run in the families. As per Cancer Research UK, these tumours tend to be common in people with rare family syndrome known as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, children of parents with carcinoid tumour or those affected sibling, with squamous cell skin cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or cancer of the brain, breast, liver, bladder or kidney, the womb and people with condition known as neurofibromatosis.

If the tumour is detected in its early stage in the digestive system or lung, there is a possibility of completely removing it and curing the carcinoid syndrome altogether or else the surgeons can remove as much of the tumour as possible which is known as debulking. If it is not possible to remove the tumour and if it does not tend to grown or causes any symptoms, no treatment would be necessary though careful monitoring would be needed.

Treatment of Injection of Drugs

If the tumour does causes some symptoms, treatments like injections of drugs are given to the person to slow down the growth of tumour cells, chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells and shrink the tumour, radiotherapy to kill some of the cancer cells, a procedure to stall the blood supply to the carcinoid tumour (this is only for tumours in the liver) which is known as hepatic artery embolization and another procedure which is used as a heated probe to kill cancer cells in the case of tumours in the liver, called radiofrequency ablation. Injections are also given for symptoms of carcinoid syndrome which can slow down the growth of hormones released by the tumour with drugs to widen the airways, to relieve breathlessness and wheezing as well as medication for anti-diarrhoea.

Surgical Removal of Tumour

If the entire tumour can surgically be removed, it may cure the cancer and the symptoms. Carcinoid syndrome symptoms can be controlled and the growth of the tumour can be delayed with drugs enabling the person to lead an active life with only occasional symptoms coming up.

 If and as the tumour may grow or spread producing more hormones it would be difficult to control the symptoms and the need for further treatment or surgery would also be essential. Should the tumour spread to the liver, lymph nodes, lung or the lining of the abdomen, a cure would be unlikely and it would be difficult to remove all the cancer cells and the person needs to be carefully monitored.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Peritonitis – An Inflammation of the Peritoneum

Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum which is the thin layer of tissue that lines the inner area of the abdomen, covering and supporting most of the organs in the abdominal area.

It is usually caused from fungi or bacteria and if not treated could rapidly spread into the (sepsis) blood and to the other organs causing multiple organ failure and also resulting in death. Some of the symptoms like severe sudden abdominal pain that may gradually tend to get worse is a usual sign of potentially serious infection or illness and would need the immediate attention of prompt medical evaluation with treatment which can prevent further complication of the ailment.

Besides this, the person may also suffer from nausea, lack of appetite, high temperature of 38 degree C. or above, not passing of urine or less than normal.

Due to Fungal or Bacterial Infection 

Peritonitis is the cause of bacterial or fungal infection which may either develop directly in the peritoneum or spread from another area of the body and most of the peritonitis cases are the outcome of infection or injury to another part of the body like a split stomach ulcer, digestive disorder like Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis, or a burst appendix.

The less common infections developed directly within the peritoneum could be due to cirrhosis, scarring of the liver which may be caused due to long term liver damage or peritoneal dialysis, a treatment used widely for people suffering from kidney failure.

Primary and Secondary Peritonitis

The early symptoms of peritonitis are poor appetite and nausea accompanied with a dull abdominal ache which may soon turn into persistent and severe abdominal pain that may get worse with any movement. It may also include other symptoms like Chills, Fever, fluid in the abdomen, having a bowel movement or the passing of gas, extreme thirst, besides abdominal pain and difficulty of passing of urine.

There are two main types of peritonitis one being primary spontaneous peritonitis, an infection which develops in the peritoneum which includes liver disease with cirrhosis which are often caused due to accumulation of abdominal fluid or as cites that can be infectious and kidney failure getting peritoneal dialysis which involves the catheter implanted into the peritoneum to remove waste products in the blood of people with kidney failure.

Secondary peritonitis usually develops when an injury of an infection occurs in the abdominal cavity enabling infection in the peritoneum and both of them are life threatening.

Serious Condition to be well treated

Peritonitis could be a serious condition if not treated in time and in order to prevent the possibility of fatal complications to occur immediate medical attention and treatments should be undertaken. The infection can be treated with injections of antibiotics or antifungal medication based on the seriousness of the infection. In other cases, possibility of surgery may also be needed in order to repair damage to the peritoneum or treatment for the cause of the infection.

This ailment could also be fatal inspite of the best efforts in treating it which could be due to the infection spreading through the blood stream to the major organs and though death are less common in the case of peritonitis connected to cirrhosis or kidney dialysis, it still remains a serious condition.

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.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Bell’s palsy

Bell’s palsy
Bell’s palsy connected to Facial Nerves

Bell’s palsy is a temporary paralysis or weakness which occurs on one side of the face. Damage is caused to the facial nerve which controls the muscles on one side of the face. This can lead the face to droop and the damage may also lead to affect the sense of taste, saliva and the tears.

Bell’s palsy is not the outcome of any stroke or a transient ischemic attack – TIA. Symptoms of Bell’s palsy may differ from person to person with partial palsy which is a mild muscle weakness or complete palsy wherein there is a possibility of no movement or paralysis.

Bell’s palsy can also affect the eyelid and mouth and can tend to make it difficult to close and open them. In some rare cases, it may also affect both the sides of a person’s face. Bell’s palsy occurs when the nerve which controls the muscles in the faces tends to get compressed though the exact cause is unknown.

It is presumed that the facial never becomes inflamed due to a viral infection and variants of the herpes virus could also be responsible. Most cases are presumed to be caused by the herpes virus that causes cold sores, while in other cases the nerves controlling the facial muscles gets damaged due to inflammation.

Complications leading to Speech Problems & Tensing of Muscles

Several health problems may cause paralysis or weakness of the face and if a specific reason is not identified for the weakness, this ailment can be related to Bell’s palsy. Its symptoms may include sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of the face which may cause it to droop, which is the main symptom in Bell’s palsy.

Closing of the eye on that side of the face may be difficult. Eye drops may be needed to prevent complicating problems and if the person is unable to close their eyes, tape may be used to close the eyes while sleeping.

The person may also have eye problem with excessive tearing or dry eye, loss of ability to taste, numbness in the affected area of the face, pain behind or in the ear, drooling, and increased sensitivity to sound. Complication may also include speech problems and tensing of the muscles.

Recovery depending on Extent of Nerve Damage

Bell’s palsy, a rare condition affects about 1 in 5,000 people and is more common between the age group of 15 and 45 though people outside this age group may also tend to suffer from this ailment and it may affect both men and women alike. Pregnant women and those with diabetes and HIV may also get affected, for reasons yet unknown.

Most people affected with partial Bell’s palsy recover completely with or without much treatment and most of them notice improvement in their symptoms within one to two months but those with permanent muscle weakness or other problems on the affected side of the face would find it difficult and treatment would be necessary.

Recovery may vary from person to person depending on the extent of the nerve damage. Diagnose is done by a series of question from the physician on its development with a physical as well as a neurological examination to check the facial nerve function and if not clear, other tests like blood test, a CT scan or MRI would be needed.