Sunday, 31 August 2014

Giardiasis – An Intestinal Infection

Giardiasis is an intestinal infection of the digestive system caused by a microscopic, single celled parasite known as Giardia intestinalis or Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis. These parasites are usually found in lakes, ponds or streams which have been contaminated by humans, dogs or beaver faeces.

Giardiasis is also known as beaver fever. Most of the people may get affected with this condition by consuming drinking water which is contaminated with the Giardia parasite or through direct contact with an infected person.

It could also pass on the infection if the infected person does not wash their hands properly after using the toilet and handles the food which is eaten by others. Besides this, the food could also tend to get contaminated if it has been washed with the infected water.

It is essential to adopt good hygienic habits like washing of hands regularly with soap and clean water, ensuring the water consumed comes from good source, could contribute in helping to avoiding the risk of giardiasis.

High number of infection is often seen in late summer and at times with few deaths taking place. People travelling to regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America could be at risk of getting infected since clean water supplies are quite low in these regions.

Symptoms – Diarrhoea/Cramps/Bloating/Flatulence 

There are possibilities where some healthy people may not get affected from Giardia lamblia but they could still pass on the infection to others. Children, seniors and others with long term illness could be prone in getting infected since the risk of transmission is high in day-care centres as well as seniors’ residence.

The most common symptom of giardiasis is diarrhoea while other symptoms may include abdominal cramps, flatulence and bloating. These symptoms may tend to be unpleasant but it is not a serious threat to health and can be treated. The parasite which is the cause of giardiasis lives in the intestine of the infected person or animals and enters the soil, food and water or other surfaces after bowel movements.

 People may also tend to get infected through hand to mouth transmission which involves eating contaminated food or touching contaminated areas thereby swallowing the parasite unknowingly.

Treated with Antibiotics 

These parasites produce cysts which are swallowed which is turn reproduces in the intestines resulting in signs and symptoms of giardiasis. The parasites then form new cysts which are passed in the stool and this is the on-going cycle of the parasite and ingestion of around 10 cysts is enough to infect a person with this ailment. When faced with the symptoms which could last for a week, the person is advised to consult a physician especially if they have travelled abroad.

To diagnose the condition, the physician could send some sample of faeces to the laboratory to get tested and based on the result can diagnose the ailment. To ensure a correct diagnosis, three samples may be needed to be taken over a number of days. Giardiasis is treated successfully with antibiotic which can kill the giardia parasite and free the person from this disease.

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Rosacea – Acne like Benign Skin Condition 

Rosacea is considered to be common red, acne like benign skin condition which could affect several people. The main symptoms of Rosacea comprises of red or pink facial skin, small dilated blood vessels, like small red bumps and at times may contain pus, cysts and pink or irritated eyes. Many people are not aware that they may be having rosacea and that it is diagnosable and can be treated.

They may have the notion that they blush or that their skin may be sensitive to the sun. Rosacea mainly involves the central area of the face especially the forehead, the cheeks, lower area of the nose, chin, neck, chest and scalp and is often seen in people with light skin namely English, Irish and Scottish.

It is not contagious or infectious and there is no evidence that it can spread by contact with skin, or sharing towels or through inhalation. Rosacea can affect people of any age group and has four subtypes, where three affect the skin while the fourth affect the eye which is an ocular type. It could tend to get worse over a period of time if not treated though treatment like topical steroid could aggravate this condition.

Symptoms can be Controlled with Treatment

Rosacea can affect both men as well as women though it is three times more common in women and has its peak age of onset between the age of 30 and 60.

This is a relapsing condition wherein there are times when the symptoms are bad followed by instances when the condition is less severe. Most of the symptoms can be controlled with treatment and the physical changes in appearance may take place as a result of the condition which may have a psychological as well as social impact that may affect the overall personality of the person.

The cause of this condition is not known though a number of possible factors have been considered including abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face together with reaction to microscopic mites which are most often found on the face. Though all these causes may not be the direct result of this ailment, several causes have been identified which may worsen rosacea.

Laser and Intense Pulsed Light- IPL

Exposure to sunlight, stress, hot or cold weather, hot drinks, alcohol and caffeine, certain spicy food and strenuous exercise may cause rosacea. Though there is no cure for rosacea, treatment could contribute in controlling the symptoms. Long term treatment would be essential and there could be instances when the symptoms may tend to improve and treatment could be stalled temporarily.

Treatment for most of the people could be a combination of self-help measure and medication like avoiding drinks which may contain alcohol or caffeine, medication in the form of creams and gels, applied directly to the skin to reduce spots and redness, oral medication like tablets or capsules which may help to clear up some of the severe spots, like oral antibiotics.

In other cases, certain procedures like laser and intense pulsed light –IPL could be a helpful treatment which involves beams of light that are focused on the visible blood vessels in the skin in order to shrink them and are made less visible on the skin.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome - Neurological Disorder 

Restless legs syndrome – RLS, is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease – WED and is a neurological disorder. It is the disorder of the part of the nervous system, affecting the legs which causes an unpleasant feeling in the feet, calves and thighs of crawling or creeping sensation with an irresistible urge to move them which often gets worse in the evening or at night, Moving the affected part modulates the sensations and provides some temporary relief to the affected person. It usually interferes with sleep at night and is considered a sleep disorder.

It can also be associated with involuntary jerking of the legs or even arms at times which is known as periodic limb movements. Its symptoms may tend to vary from being mild to severe and in severe cases; this condition could be very depressing which may disrupt the normal activities of the person.This condition ranges from pain or an ache in the muscles to an itch which one cannot scratch, or a tickle which does not stop, besides the crawling or creeping sensations. These sensations tend to begin or intensify at the time of quiet wakeful moments, while relaxing, reading or trying to drop off to sleep.

Nature of Body in Handling Dopamine

In most cases, the cause of restless legs syndrome is not identified though doctors refer this as idiopathic RLS or primary RLS which may tend to run in the family while some neurologist are of the opinion that the symptoms may have something to do with body’s nature in handling chemical called dopamine.

It plays a role in controlling muscle movement and could be responsible in the involuntary leg movement which is associated with restless legs syndrome. Some other cases of restless legs syndrome are caused due to the underlying health condition like iron deficiency anaemia or kidney failure and the doctors consider this as secondary RLS.

Pregnancy also has some link to restless legs syndrome and around one in five pregnant women may experience symptoms in the last three months of their pregnancy and at times, this condition tends to disappear after the women has given birth.

Good Sleep Pattern/Regular Exercises/Refrain from Alcohol, Smoking

Other mild cases of this ailment which may not be linked to an underlying health condition would not need any treatment, but the need to make a few lifestyle changes like adopting good sleep pattern which may involve regular hours and avoid alcohol, caffeine at night, do away with smoking if one tend to smoke and regular exercise during the day. If the symptoms are severe, treatment may be essential to regulate the level of iron and dopamine in the body.

If the condition is caused due to the iron deficiency anaemia then the need for iron supplements may be essential to overcome the symptoms. If the cause is not known, the symptoms may tend to get worse with time and may affect the person’s life though it is not a life threatening ailment but it can lead to insomnia and give cause for depression and worry.Women are more likely to develop restless legs syndrome than men and this condition is also common in middle age though the symptoms may tend to develop at any age which may also include childhood.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Marfan Syndrome

Marfan Syndrome
Marfan Syndrome – Condition of the Body’s Connective Tissues

Marfan syndrome is a condition of the body’s connective tissues which is a group of tissues that maintains the structure of the body and supports internal organs as well as other tissues. The connective tissues help to control the growth and the development of the body.Marfan syndrome mostly affects the connective tissue of the heart and blood vessels, bones, eyes, lungs and the covering of the spinal cord and due to this condition it could affect several parts of the body, resulting in many complications some of which could be life threatening.

Children are likely to inherit it from one of their parents. Some characteristics or signs of Marfan syndrome would include heart defects, being tall, lens dislocation, wherein the lens of the eye gets into an abnormal position, abnormally long and slender limbs, fingers and toes. It is a genetic disorder, a change or a mutation in the gene which tends to control the formation of fibrillin, which is a protein that has a major role in the body’s connective tissue and is the cause of Marfan syndrome.

Heart & Aorta Serious Complication

This ailment varies from person to person and while some people suffering from this condition may have several signs or traits, others may have only a few of them. The heart and the blood vessels is the most serious complication of Marfan syndrome which can also affect the aorta, which is the main blood vessel supplying oxygen rich blood to the whole body.

When affected with this ailment, the aorta tends to stretch and grow weak and this condition is known as aortic dilation or aortic aneurysm and if the aorta stretches and grows weak, there could be a tear or burst and the possibility of blood leak. This condition is known as aortic dissection which is very dangerous and may lead to severe heart problem or even death.

There is no cure for Marfan syndrome though treatment could help in delaying or preventing complications which may set in and hence the treatments is focused on handling the symptoms and reduce the risk of any complications. Treatments include medicine, surgery together with other therapies.

Genetic Test to confirm definitive Marfan Syndrome

Certain activities could be limited or changed and the performance of the same could contribute some help in reducing the risk to the eyes, aorta and the joints. Treatment is based on the condition affecting the body. Diagnosing this disease could be difficult since the symptoms may differ from person to person and as the symptom does not always develop during childhood, it could also occur during teenage years.

A diagnosis of Marfan syndrome in most cases is based on a thorough physical examination together with detailed assessment on the medical and family history of the person. To confirm definitive, Marfan syndrome, a genetic test is done by closely studying the affected gene though it could be time consuming as well as an expensive process since the gene can mutate in over 1,000 various ways. The life span of the person with Marfan syndrome is likely to be short if the heart and aorta are affected.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Macular Hole

Macular Hole

Macula -Focussing Area of the Eye 

The macula is a very small, central area of the retina, a thin layer of light sensitive tissue that lines the back area of the eye and is the focusing surface of the eye. Light rays are focused onto the retina where they get transmitted to the brain and identify the image which is seen. The macula is responsible in pinpointing vision, enabling to see the print while reading, sew or to recognise a person.It helps to see things directly in front as well as helps to see colour and other details.

The macular hole is a small break in the macula, the area which is responsible for details and the central vision of the eye. In the early stage, a macula hole could cause blank spots, blurring or distortion of the central vision. Straight lines may tend to be seen wavy or bowed and one may face discomfort while reading small print.

After some time, the persons may see small black patch or a missing patch in the centre of the vision. As we tend to age, the thick vitreous gel in the centre of the eyes shrinks, pulling always from the macula and the gel sticks to the macula and does not pull back, the macular tissues gets stretched eventually tears and a hole is formed.

The Amsler Grid Test

Macula hole is very common in people who have crossed the age of 60 and above and this condition may differ among individuals and a consultation with the physician is essential if faced with any of these symptoms. The macula often affects only the central vision and the peripheral or side vision is not affected but the person may have some difficulty in reading and with close vision and may notice grey or black spots or even blank area in their vision.

 It usually affects only one eye instead of both the eyes though there could be a possibility of both the eyes getting affected.It may develop over a period of time and one may fail to notice any symptoms till the vision gets affected.The initial stage starts with blurring and distorted images and the straight lines like the window frames, telegraph poles or lines of text may appear wavy or bent. A simple test, the Amsler Grid, will help to determine if the vision is distorted.

Virectomy for removal of the Vitreous Gel 

The location and the size of the macula hole can determine on how much the vision has been affected. There are three stages of this condition wherein the vision will tend to deteriorate as the condition progresses and worsens.

The treatment for macula hole is most effective if it is carried out in its initial stage of development of the condition. Surgery is usually essential to repair the hole and is often successful though one needs to be aware of the possibility of complication of treatment and that the vision may probably not return completely to its normal state. An operation known as vitrectomy is adopted to carefully remove the vitreous gel from the affected eye and replaced with a gas which helps in the healing of the macula hole

Monday, 18 August 2014

Hepatitis – Injury to Liver

Hepatitis – Injury to Liver/Inflammation of Liver cells 

The word `hepatitis’ is derived from the ancient Greek word `hepar’ meaning `liver and the Latin` itis’ means inflammation and Hepatitis means injury to the liver accompanied with inflammation of the liver cells. Hepatitis is used to describe the inflammation of the liver and can occur due to viral infection or if the liver has been exposed to harmful substance like alcohol. There are some types of hepatitis which do not cause any permanent damage to the liver while there are other types which may persist for several years causing scarring or cirrhosis of the liver.

 In serious cases, it could also lead to the loss of the liver function or liver failure or even liver cancer and that could be life threatening. These types of long lasting conditions are called chronic hepatitis. The liver which is the largest gland in the body weighs 1.36 kg and is reddish brown in colour. It has four lobes of different size and length and the largest internal organ of the body which lies below the diaphragm towards the right area in the thoracic region of the abdomen.

The blood travels to the liver through the hepatic artery and the portal vein carries blood containing digested food from the small intestine while the hepatic artery carries the oxygen rich blood from the aorta. The liver is the combination of thousands of lobule where each lobule comprises of many hepatic cells, which are the basic metabolic cells of the liver

Symptoms of Hepatitis

The symptoms of hepatitis in its initial stage are similar to flu and include muscle and joint pain, headache with high fever; feeling of sickness, with occasional yellowing of the eyes and skin, In the case of chronic hepatitis, symptoms may include unusual feeling of tiredness all the time, depression, jaundice and a general sense of not feeling well.

 In several cases, hepatitis does not cause any noticeable symptoms and when it occurs due to virus, many tend to be unaware of the ailment. Hepatitis normally heals on its own with no significant consequences or it could also progress and scar the liver and while acute hepatitis last less than six months, chronic hepatitis lasts much longer.

Three hepatitis viruses are the cause of liver damage namely hepatitis A, B and C though hepatitis may also be caused by other toxins and infections besides alcohol, as well as from our own autoimmune process within the body itself.

Autoimmune Hepatitis 

Autoimmune hepatitis is very rare cause of chronic or long term hepatitis wherein the white blood cells tend to attack the liver thereby causing chronic inflammation and damage to the liver. This could lead to more serious problems resulting in liver failure and the reason for this in not known.

Not all types of hepatitis are infectious and alcohol, chemical maybe unsafe for the liver and may cause inflammation. Obesity could be a cause of liver damage resulting in inflammation or a person may have some genetic problem, a metabolic disorder or an immune related injury all of which can be termed as non-infectious since this ailment does not spread from one person to another.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Ebola Virus Disease

Ebola Virus Disease
Ebola Virus Disease – Fatal Hemorrhagic Fever 

Ebola virus is an important member of the Zaire ebolavirus species as well as the most dangerous of the five known virii in the genus ebolavirus. Out of the five ebolavirii, four of them are the cause of severe and at times fatal hemorrhagic fever among humans together with other pirmates which is known as ebola virus disease.

The Ebola virus disease – EVD is caused due to the virus from the Filoviridae family and is said to be transmitted from animals to humans wherein the virus tends to spread through direct contact with the body fluid of an infected individual or animals. The Ebola virus along with its species was earlier named Zaire which is now the Democratic Republic of Congo and the country where it was first described, was identified to be closely related Marburg virus excluding its species and given the name of `ebola virus’ in order to avoid confusion in the year 2010. It species is a virological taxon species which is included in the genus Ebolavirus, the Filoviridae family and whose members are called Filovirus, order Mononegavirales.

Natural Reservoir – Bats 

It is said that its natural reservoir is bats, especially the fruit bats and can be transmitted through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or bodily fluids of the infected animals and in the case of humans it is transmitted when healthcare personnel may contract the said disease through contact with infected bodily fluid or through transmission, handling the meat of infected animals, contact with the bodily fluids of the infected person who has expired, besides coming in contact with the infected person’s blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids.

 Ebola virus was first discovered infecting humans in the African countries especially Sudan and is now presently bringing about a fear in the minds of the people due to its destructive capabilities drawing the infected individual to a fatal end. The Ebole hemorrhagic fever is a condition that can infect million and to be safe from this dreaded disease, utmost care and precaution needs to be taken.

Contagious Ailment

According to DrRattan Kumar Vaish, Senior Consultant of the Department of Internal Medicine, Rockland Group of Hospitals – NCR, Delhi, considers this conditionto be contagious and migratory populations are likely to get infected and transmit this virus. Those at a higher risk of infection could be individuals who are diabetics, immune-compromised patients, individuals with kidney and liver failure as well as HIV infected people.

It is also a hospital acquired infections wherein the hospital staff could also get affected with this virus. The incubation period which is the time when the infection occurs to the time when the persons understand the symptoms of this disease is around one week which is the early symptoms of this condition.

These symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, rashes, vomiting accompanied with stomach pain. Besides this, the affected person may also experience lower back pain, arthritis type of pain in the body, with diarrhoea and sore throat.

Know the Symptoms

As the condition progresses, symptoms like increased sensitivity to pain on the skin, genital swelling, conjunctivitis, bleeding from the mouth, ears, nose and ears,rashes over the body and redness on the roof of the mouth takes place.

The physician would be able to diagnose the ailment on checking the symptoms wherein test like Complete Blood count –CBC, a test to check the presence of the viral antigen – viral antigen testing and liver function test are prescribed. Once the symptoms are diagnosed, the treatment is to treat the symptoms and thus prevent secondary infection or complication such as liver failure and pneumonia since there is no definite treatment and the common anti-viral therapies are not effective on Ebola virus.

As per World Health Organisation reports, 80 percent of the people on an average infected with this ailment tend to die, the cause of which is the drop in their blood pressure and the failure of organs.

Basic Hygiene/Avoid Crowded Areas of Outbreak

As of date, there are no vaccinations available to eliminate this disease but basic hygiene could be adopted and followed in order to prevent the onset of this dreaded condition such as washing hands well, maintaining general hygiene, drinking of water from clean source, cooking food, especially meat, well. Besides this, crowded places should be avoided or the areas where there is an outbreak of this ailment. It is also advisable to take note of the early symptoms and consult a physician at the earliest.

The Ebola infected individual is placed in an enforced isolation area to avoid the spread of this virus. Government usually quarantine these areas where the disease occur or individuals who are infected. United States enables quarantine for those infected with Ebola virus. Liberia had closed schools during the 2014 outbreak.

One of the largest outbreaks till date is the 2014 West Africa Ebola virus outbreak which had affected Guinea, Sierra Leone, besides Liberia and as of August 2014, it has also been affecting Nigeria and at the end of July 2014, over 1320 cases had been surfaced.

Thursday, 14 August 2014


Gangrene – Serious and Life Threatening Ailment

Gangrene is a serious condition and potentially a life threatening ailment which arises due to the loss of blood supply causing the body tissue to die.It can affect any area of the body though it starts in the toes, feet, hands and fingers but can also occur inside the body, damaging muscles and organs. This may be the result of an injury or infection or in those suffering from chronic health problem which may affect the circulation of the blood.

Primary cause of gangrene is reduced supply of blood to the affected tissues which end up in cell death. Long term smoking and diabetes could increase the risk of suffering from gangrene. Gangrene are of different types with different symptoms like dry gangrene, wet gangrene, internal gangrene, gas gangrene and necrotizing fasciitis where the treatment options would include debridement or in extreme and severe cases would be amputation of the affected part of the body, antibiotics, maggot therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and vascular surgery.

Some of the symptoms of this condition include redness and swelling in the affected part of the body, loss of sensation or severe pain, sores or blister in the affected areas which tend to bleed or produce foul smelling pus. The need to see a physician is extremely essential if faced with these symptoms.

Blood the Most Essential Element

Blood is the most essential element for health since it transports oxygen and nutrients to the entire body to feed cells, in delivering disease fighting antibodies which protects the body from various infection and when the blood circulation is not circulated effectively in the body, the cells are unable to survive resulting in infection and the tissue may die from gangrene.

Conditions affecting the blood stream flow could increase the risk of gangrene like atherosclerosis, peripheral arterial disease, trauma, Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition wherein the blood vessels supplying the skin tends to get narrowed down, besides diabetes and smoking. The two major type of gangrene are the wet and dry gangrene where several cases of dry gangrene are not infected while all cases of wet gangrene are considered to be infected by bacteria.

Wet/Dry/Gas Gangrene

Wet gangrene occurs with the complication of an untreated infected wound, resulting in swelling from the infection of the bacteria due to sudden stoppage of circulation of the blood flow. Due to termination of the blood flow, the tissues tend to react to the presence of bacteria which multiply and the disease fighting cells - the white blood cells cannot reach the affected areas resulting in becoming moist and wet and breaking down causing death of the tissues.

Dry gangrene is the result of reduction of blood flow through the arteries and appears gradually and the process is slow. In most cases, the affected area is not infected and in this type of gangrene, the tissues tend to become black and cold and begin to dry off. This condition is common in people with blockage of arteries known as arteriosclerosis which results from high cholesterol levels, smoking, genetic, diabetes and other factors.

Gas gangrene is another type of wet gangrene caused by bacteria known as Clostridia which are a type of infection causing bacteria that grow only in the absence of oxygen and as they grow they produce poisonous toxins and gas. Regular check-up are essential and quitting smoking followed by adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercises and low fat diet should be maintained to reduce the risk of this ailment.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis Nigricans
Acanthosis Nigricans – Darken/Thicken/Velvety Hyperpigmentation

Acanthosis nigricans, is a medical term for darkened, thickened patches of the skin, a brown to black, velvety hyperpigmentation of the skin that is usually found in body folds, like the lateral folds of the neck, armpits, groin, forehead, navel and other areas of the body. Though it is not a condition, it may be a sign of an internal or an underlying condition which is not really serious though the skin changes could be early signs of diabetes and rarely cancer. The only signs of acanthosis nigricans are the skin changes where one will notice thick, dark and velvety skin in the folds and creases of the body. These changes tend to appear slowly and at times over a period of years and the affected area may tend to smell or be itchy.

At times the skin over the joints of toes and fingers also tend to get affected together with the skin on lips, palms of the hand as well as the soles of the feet though this is usually common in the case of elderly people and acanthosis nigricans seems to be a sign of cancer which is known as acanthosis nigrican maligna and is quite rare. In rare cases of acanthosis nigricans which could be signs of cancer, the patches get very aggressive, spreading quickly in different areas of the body and tend to be more severe and extensive.

Tiny Finger like Growth - Papillomatosis

In these conditions, the mouth, tongue, throat, windpipe and nose could also get affected.One may also come across several tiny fingers like growth from the patches which are known as papillomatosis. Besides this, there could also be skin tags surrounding the areas that are affected which are small flesh coloured or pigmented growth which hangs off the skin looking somewhat like warts.

Acanthosis nigricans could be associated with insulin resistance wherein most people having this condition are prone to insulin resistant, which is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that enables the body to process sugar and insulin resistance is the cause of type 2 diabetes. People with acanthosis nigricans are overweight or obese and these are the risk factors in the development of insulin resistance. Besides this, hormonal disorder like ovarian cyst, problems with the adrenal glands or under active thyroids could also be associated with this condition.

Endoscopy or X-ray 

Medication like corticosteroid and oral contraceptive may also cause acanthosis nigricans as well as high doses of niacin. Cancerous tumours which tend to begin growing in internal organs like the stomach, liver or colon could also be the cause of acanthosis nigricans. The physician can suspect acanthosis nigricans by inspecting the skin and if the cause is not clear, blood test to check the count of sugar level and an endoscopy or x-ray would be essential.

Treatment is done to resolve the underlying cause of the condition of the skin that would depend on the cause, which would be to lose weight or opting to an alternate medication.Many cases of this condition tend to be harmless wherein the skin patches tend to fade away slowly as the condition is treated though in case of malignant acanthosis nigricans, with underlying cancer, the situation tends to get serious. If the tumour is successfully eliminated, this condition may disappear.

Sunday, 10 August 2014


Achalasia – Difficulty in Swallowing/Regurgitation

Achalasia is a failure or loss of ability to move food along and the valve at the end of the gullet fails to open to enable food to pass to the stomach. It is a failure of the smooth muscle fibres to relax causing a sphincter to remain closed, failing to open when needed. Achalasia can take place at several areas, along the gastrointestinal tract, achalasia of the rectum, for instance is known as Hirschsprung’s disease. Achalasia is an uncommon ailment which affects around 6000 people in Britain and is at times known as cardio spasm.

An esophageal motility disorder known as esophageal achalasia involves the smooth muscle layer of the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter – LES and is characterized by the in completion of the LES relaxation, increased LES tone and the lack of peristalsis of the esophagus, the inability of smooth muscles to move food down the esophagus. Achalasia is related to the difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation and at times connected with chest pain.

Due to Damage/Loss of Nerves in Gullet Wall

Symptoms of this condition could start at any point of time which tends to show up gradually. People with this ailment have dysphagia; a condition of difficulty and at times tends to get painfulwhile swallowing food and may get worse after some years. This may result in bringing up food which could have shortly been consumed after meals and some of the food brought up could have been held in the gullet for some time.

Vomit may also dribble out of the person’s mouth, occasionally and stain the pillow at night and should the same trickle down the windpipe it could result in repeated chest infection or even pneumonia. Achalasia is caused by loss or damage of the nerves in the gullet wall and the reason for this is not known though some believe that it could be the result of a viral infection which may have occurred in life.


Some diagnostic test are performed to diagnose the ailment like a barium swallow which involves drinking a white liquid containing barium chemical that enables the gullet to be seen and videoed through an X-ray. In the case of achalasia, the exit at the bottom end of the gullet does not open properly resulting in delay in passing of barium in the stomach and an ordinary chest x-ray would show a wide gullet.

An endoscope which is a flexible instrument is passed in the throat to enable the doctor to view directly at the gullet lining and stomach where trapped food can easily be visible. The endoscope being a flexible instrument can pass through the tight valve at the lower end of the gullet and in the stomach to check any disorder of the stomach. Manometry is also used to measure pressure waves in the gullet wherein a small plastic tube is passed in the gullet through the mouth or nose and the pressure at various points in the gullet is measured.

Treatment is carried out to disable the valve to enable the food to pass to the stomach with ease and though this condition cannot be cured, there are several ways to reduce the spasms at the end of the gullet and improve the symptoms.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder
Frozen Shoulder – Stiffness and Pain

Frozen shoulder is an ailment that leads to pain, together with stiffness of the shoulder whichis also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture. It has a limited range of movement causing stiffness which could be due to an injury, strain, diabetes or a stroke. The stiffness may cause restriction and the inability to carry the daily functions and in more severe cases, the person may find it very difficult to even move the shoulder at all.

The tissues around the joint stiffen; scar tissue forms and shoulder movement tend to get difficult and painful. The symptoms gradually gets worse over a period of time and the person may experience shoulder pain for the first two to nine months which may later on lead to increasing stiffness. This ailment may improve over a period of time though it may take several years to get relieve from this condition.

Frozen shoulder could develop when one stops using the joint normally due to the pain, injury or due to chronic health condition and any shoulder pain could get worse if the frozen shoulder is not exercised well and not kept in motion. It could occur after an injury or a surgery, in people between the ages of 40 to 70 years old, in people suffering from chronic diseases and this condition is more common in women than men.

Known as Capsule- Gets Thicken and Inflamed

Frozen shoulder develops when the flexible tissue surrounding the shoulder joint also known as the capsule, gets thicken and inflamed. Frozen shoulder is diagnosed when the physician suspects limited shoulder movement and an x-ray is done to indicate symptoms if they are related to broken bone or arthritis.

Often the frozen shoulder eventually gets better without much treatment though proper treatment is necessary to eliminate the pain and misery of this condition, to improve the movement of the shoulder and be relieved from this condition. Possible treatments options could be painkillers, pain relieving injections, and shoulder exercises together with physiotherapy which could be helpful to the person to get some relieve though the treatment will depend on how severe the condition is and its progress.

Application of Heat to Affected Area

Besides this, application of heat to the painful area together with delicate, gentle stretching could prove to be helpful. Ice and medicine could also be used to reduce the pain and swelling. To increase the range of motion, physical therapy is a good option to the person with frozen shoulder. At times if the said treatment does not give much relief, a surgery may be suggested which is done to loosen some of the tight tissues around the shoulder and is often done with an arthroscope.

The causes of some of the cases of frozen shoulder is not known andthough it may not be possible to prevent them, efforts can be done to improve or reduce the pain experienced in this condition. Gentle progressive range of motion exercises, using the shoulder more often, stretching, together with patience and adhering to the instructions provided by the physicians, could all add to some relieve to the pain of frozen shoulder.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


Lymphoma – Type of Cancer Affecting the Immune System

Lymphoma is a type of cancer which affects the immune system and it is cancer of immune cells known as lymphocytes, a kind of white blood cell. Lymphoma is a group of blood cell tumours which develop from lymphocytes and is sometimes referred to cancerous ones rather than tumours.

The symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes which do not seem to be painful, fever, itchiness,weight loss, a feeling of tiredness and sweats which are very common at night. There are two main types of lymphoma namely Hodgkin Lymphoma – HL and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma –NHL along with two others, multiple myeloma and immunoproliferative diseases which have been included by the World Health Organization in its category.

While Non Hodgkin lymphoma is around 90% of cases which includes a large number of sub-types, lymphomas belong to a wider group of neoplasm known as tumours of the hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues. Lymphoma just like cancer represents various diseases, have different cancers of lymphocytes which are around of thirty five different subtypes. It is a kind of cancerous group which affects the cell that play an important role in the immune system especially representing cells which involve in the lymphatic system of our body.

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system which comprises of a network of vessels carrying fluid known as lymph like the way that network of blood vessel supply blood throughout the body. Lymph also contains white blood cells known as lymphocytes which attack a variety of infectious properties together with other cells in the precancerous stage of development.

The lymph nodes are a collection of small lymph tissue which appears in the body and the lymphatic system functions through the lymphatic channels which connect thousands of lymph nodes that may be present in the body.

The lymph flows through the lymph nodes together with other lymphatic tissues which include the tonsils, spleen, the bone marrow and the thymus glands wherein these lymph nodes filter the lymph that carry bacteria, viruses or any other microbes. Huge numbers of microbial organisms tend to collect in the regional lymph nodes at the affected areas causing swelling and tenderness, typical of a localized infection.

These may also get enlarged and at times confluent collection of lymph nodes also called lymphadenopathy which is often referred to swollen glands. In certain areas of the body like the anterior part of the neck they tend to be visible when they are swollen.

Lymphocytes Identifies Infectious Organism/Abnormal Cells

The lymphocytes identify the infectious organism and abnormal cells and eliminate them. Cancer occurs when normal cellsgo through a transformation when they tend to grow and increase uncontrollably andlymphoma is a malignant transformation of cells.

As the abnormal cells tend to multiply, they get collected in one or more lymph nodes in other lymph tissues like the spleen. The cells continue to increase forminga mass which is often referred to a tumour. These tumours affect the surrounding tissues by invading their space resulting in depriving them of the necessary nutrients and oxygen that is needed for the function and survival of the body.

Lymphomas that are formed outside the lymphatic tissue are called extra nodal disease. The treatment for lymphoma depends on the kind and stage of the condition. Certain factors like the age, overall health of the individual and if the person has already been treated for lymphoma earlier are taken in consideration at the onset of the treatment process.

Monday, 4 August 2014


Euthanasia – Intentionally ending life to Relieve Pain/Suffering

Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally putting an end to life to relieve the pain and suffering experienced by the victim.

It is an act of deliberately ending life to get away from physical suffering. It is considered as assisted suicide to deliberately assist or encourage a person to commit or attempt to suicide. Such as a doctor who may give a patient having terminal cancer, an overdose of muscle relaxants in order to end his life, will be considered to have carried out euthanasia.

 If a relative of an individual having terminal illness were given powerful sedative inspite of knowing that the person has intention of taking an overdose of sedatives in order to end his life, they would be assisting that person in committing suicide.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia are both considered illegal under the English law. Under the terms of the Suicide Act 1961 assisted suicide is illegal and is punishable by 14 years imprisonment.

Active/Passive/Voluntary/Non Voluntary Euthanasia

Euthanasia is classified in different ways such as active euthanasia wherein a person may deliberately intervene to end someone’s life for instance by injecting them with sedatives.

Another classification is passive euthanasia where the person may cause death by withdrawing or withholding his treatment which would be necessary for his life, namely withholding antibiotics for someone with pneumonia.

It could also be classified as voluntary euthanasia where the person would make a conscious decision to end his life seeking help from others to do so. Non voluntary euthanasia is when a person is unable to give his consent due to coma state or is experiencing severebrain damage and another person may take the decision on his behalf.

 This could be due to the desire of the victim who may have earlier expressed his desire to end his life in these types of circumstances. Involuntary euthanasia is when a person is killed against his desire to live.

Based on the situation, voluntary as well as non-voluntary euthanasia can be taken into consideration as either voluntary man slaughter, wherein a person’s life is ended though circumstance may partly justify their action or it could be termed as murder and involuntary euthanasia is often regarded as murder.

Ethical & Pragmatic Arguments 

Opponents as well as supporters have been debating on euthanasia and assisted suicide which are ethical argument and pragmatic argument.

In ethical arguments they argument is that people should have the right to choice, which includes the right to control their own body and life and the state should not develop laws that could prevent people from choosing when and how they should die.

Pragmatic arguments are that euthanasia, especially passive euthanasia is already a widespread practice currently.

It states that several of the practices used in ending life are a type of euthanasia but in name like in the case of `do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation –DNACPR order when a person requests not to receive treatment when their they stop breathing or their heart stops beating.

Critics are of the opinion that DNACPR is a kind of passive euthanasia since the person is denied treatment which could possibly save their life.

When one is approaching the end of life, they have the right to proper treatment to control pain together with other symptoms to a social, psychological and spiritual support and are entitled to have a say in the treatments they may need at a given stage.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Bursitis – Inflammation and Swelling of Bursa

Bursitis is the inflammation and swelling of a bursa which is fluid filled sac formed under the skin especially over the joints and acts as a cushion between the bones, muscle, skin and the tendons which decreases friction, rubbing and irritation.

It could also be an inflammation of one or more bursae of synovial fluid in the body which tend to get lined with synovial membrane that secretes a lubricating fluid. There are over one hundred and fifty bursae in the body which rest at the points like muscles and tendons that move across bone and a healthy bursa functions smoothly without causing friction, with normal movement that is painless. In the case of bursitis, movement tends to get difficult with the inflamed bursa being painful.

Besides this, the movement of tendons and muscle over the inflamed bursa aggravates the inflammation resulting in stiffness of muscles. The symptoms of this ailment are pain combined with swelling and tenderness in the affected area of the body which usually occurs in the shoulder, elbow, knee and hip areas. Other areas like the ankle, foot and Achilles tendon which is the large tendon attaching the heal bone and the calf muscle, may also get affected.

Incorrect Posture/Improper Stretching 

It is often caused due to repetitive minor impact on the area or due to sudden or more serious injury though age could also make its contribution to the cause of bursitis since as the tendons tend to age they are unable to tolerate the stress; their elasticity is low and prone to tear easily.

Moreover, injury or overuse of the joint at the time of functioning could also increase the risk of getting affected with this ailment such as activities like throwing and pitching, tennis, golf, shovelling, carpentry, raking, gardening etc.

 Incorrect posture at work or home or improper stretching or condition before exercise, could also lead to bursitis. In less common cases, bursitis may also develop due to stress or inflammation from other ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, thyroid disorders, psoriatic arthritis or unusual medication reaction which may increase the risk and an infection at times may lead to inflammation of a bursa,

More Common in Adults after Forty

Bursitis is more common in adults who have crossed the age of forty and it can be treated in various ways like resting the injured area, avoiding activities which would aggravate the affected area, placing ice pack over the area when injured or taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication.

 If the person suffering from bursitis does not seem to get relief after following the above treatment, the need to visit the physician would be essential for further treatment and relief from this ailment.

Steroid is often used to decrease the inflammation and pain which is injected directly on the affected area, though injection are often but not always effective and may be repeated.

Multiple injections in several months are avoided due to the possibility of side effect from injection.Physical therapy could also be tried which includes range of exercises.

Surgery could be the last resort when bursitis does not respond to any of the treatment options.

Friday, 1 August 2014


Tetanus Caused by Bacterium – Clostridium Tetani

Tetanus is a rare infection which is caused by bacteria and occurs when a flesh wound gets contaminated. . It is a medical condition characterized by contraction of skeletal muscle fibers and the primary symptoms tend to be caused by tetanospasmin which is a neurotoxin that is produced by the Gram-positive, rod shaped obligate anaerobic bacterium, Clostridium tetani.

This bacterium can live in various substances like soil, animal and human waste like manure as well as house dust. The tetanus bacteria normally enter the body through the wound or a serious burn on the body and once entered in the body they tend to multiply releasing a powerful kind of poison, neurotoxin.

This in turn disrupts the normal workings of the nerves resulting in symptoms like stiffness and muscles spasms.If the condition is not treated complications of tetanus are likely to develop which could be very fatal, dangerous and life threatening to the individual.

The infection usually takes place with wound contamination which involves either a cut or deep puncture wound and as the infection increases, muscle spasm occurs in the jaw and other areas of the body. Infection of tetanus can be prevented by proper immunization or post exposure prophylaxis.

Starts with Mild Spasm in Jaw and other Areas of the Body

Tetanus starts with mild spasms in the jaw muscle which is also known as lockjaw or trismus though the spasms can also affect the neck, chest, back, abdominal muscles and buttocks.

While back muscle spasm may cause arching called opisthotonos, at times the spasms may affect muscles connected with breathing leading to breathing problems.

The prolonged muscular function could cause sudden, painful and powerful muscle contraction known as `tetany’, wherein these episodes could give way to fractures and muscle tears.

Besides this, the symptoms could also include drooling, fever, excessive sweating, hand or foot spasm, difficulty in swallowing, - dysphagia, and irritability, with uncontrolled urination or defecation and it could also cause destruction of elements, affecting the nervous system through viral cell exchange. Diagnosis is done when someone has had a recent wound or an injury causing painful muscle spasms with muscle stiffness.

Spatula Test for Confirmation 

A spatula test will enable a confirmation of tetanus in case of doubt regarding the diagnosis which involves insertion of the spatula into the back of the throat which will cause a gag reflex and the person tends to push the spatula of the mouth.

 If the person is infected with tetanus, the spatula will cause the throat to spasmurging the person to bit down onto the spatula. Tetanus can be treated through vaccination and medication.

 If the person has a deep wound that has become contaminated by tetanus bacteria and has not been vaccinated, they should be admitted in the hospital for immediate treatment which would involve a series of medication like antibiotics, muscle relaxants and antitoxins to fight the effect of the tetanus condition.

If the person has breathing problem, a ventilator, which is a machine in assisting with the breathing, is used to help in the prevention of suffocation. Cuts and wounds should not be deprived of timely treatment which could be very dangerous and fatal to life.

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