Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Erythromelalgia Disorder Affecting Skin of Hand and Feet

Erythromelalgia
med.jhmi. edu
Erythromelalgia is a rare disorder which affects the skin of the feet or hands or the arms, legs, ears and face as well, causing visible redness with intense heat and burning sensation. The term erythromelalgia describes the syndrome erythros – redness, melo as extremity and algia as pain. Its alternative name is erythermalgia which stresses the thermos or heat that is the essential factor of the syndrome.

The symptoms could start at any age and some people with this ailment could have had it from young age while in some it could surface in their later years of adulthood. It usually affects both sides of the body though it could affect just one side.

The pain and burning could tend to be extremely severe and people with this disorder usually make a lot of adjustment in their lifestyle to reduce the pain and burning sensation. In less severe cases, normal function like standing, walking, working exercising, sleeping and socializing could be affected.

Cooling the hot areas of the body could relieve the flare ups as well as elevating the affected areas could be of much help. Besides this, the use of ice and water soaking should be avoided as ice and water submersion could damage the skin.

Flare-ups of Severe Pain

People suffering from erythromelalgia suffer from flare ups of severe pain which could last for a few minutes to several days. These flare ups begin with an itching sensation that tends to worsen to extreme burning pain with tender mottled reddish skin.

The pain could be so severe that the person may tend to have difficulty to walk, stand, or perform the normal activities which could affect their work or social life. Symptoms of this disorder usually get triggered due to an increase in body temperature.

Besides this it could also trigger off after exercising, wearing gloves, socks or tight footwear, entering a warm room, being dehydrated or on consumption of alcohol or spicy food. The cause of erythromelalgia in most cases in not known though in some cases, an underlying cause could be found, either a medical condition or it could be a faulty gene.

Causes of Erythromelalgia

Erythromelalgia could be the outcome of underlying disease like having abnormal high levels of blood cells. It could either be due to many platelets in the blood or too many red blood cells, damage to the peripheral nervous system which is the network of nerves placed on the outer area of the brain and spinal cord where the damage is called peripheral neuropathy, MS or multiple sclerosis which is a disease of the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord.

In some cases of erythromelalgia, the disorder is the result of the change in a gene which may occur spontaneously or it could have been inherited from the parent indicating that it runs in the family. Other causes could be an autoimmune problem like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis wherein the immune system tends to attack the body’s own tissues.

The genes in the body contain genetic information or instructions to proteins in the body and genetic mutation takes place when the DNA changes thereby altering the genetic instruction resulting in erythromelalgia.

Different Treatment Based on Condition

Other causes could be due to changes in the SCN9A gene which provides information for sodium channel in pain nerves and changes in these channels could result in opening which could be easy and remains open longer than usual thus increasing or amplifying the pain.

The condition of hands and feet being affected the most is not identified. Various medication have given much relieve to the symptoms experienced by the patient though no specific drug has helped and different treatment needs to be experimented under the supervision of physicians together with the combination of different medication.

The physician could then discuss the various options best suited to the person. Some treatments would also need referral to specialist centre in order to check the benefits and potential side effects.

Other Pain Relieving Drugs/Intravenous Infusion – Reduce Pain 

There are other drugs of nerve pain that could be used to reduce symptoms which includes anti-epilepsy drugs or low doses of tricyclic anti-depressants which could be effective in pain relieve that are due to increased sensitivity or damage to the nervous system.

Moreover, drugs used for high blood pressure or Raynaud’s disease could also help the blood vessels to widen and prove to be beneficial in certain cases of erythromelalgia. In some case of this disorder, when the pain has not been relieved by medication taken by mouth or orally, another option through intravenous infusion could be used wherein the medicine is given directly in the bloodstream through a drip.

A local anaesthetic drug is also given to block sodium channels which could help the nerve related pain and is administered depending on the condition of the patient, the procedure of which is explained by the physician to the person suffering from erythromelalgia.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Urticaria


Urticaria
Urticaria – Hives/Welts/Nettle Rash 

Urticaria also known as hives, welts or nettle rash is a kind of a rash which is itchy, raised rash that appears on the skin. Urticaria is a common ailment and it is estimated that 1 in 6 people could have it sometime in their lives.

Children often tend to get affected by urticaria and women between 30 and 60 years as well as people with a history of allergies may get affected by this ailment. These may cause a stinging or burning sensation and are frequently caused by allergic reactions and there are some which can be non-allergic.

The rash may be on just one area of the body or could spread across to other areas wherein the affected area may change in skin appearance within twenty four hours but it usually disappears within a few days. If the rash tends to clear within a period of six weeks it is known as acute urticarial.Chronic urticarial is when the rash persist or comes and goes for more than six weeks,often over several years, but this case is very rare.

Major cases of chronic urticarial have unknown or idiopathic cause wherein 30 to 40% cases of chronic idiopathic urticarial is caused by an autoimmune reaction. Acute viral infection is another type of common cause of acute urticarial or viral exanthema while the lesser common causes of hives are friction, pressure, exercise, temperature extremes and sunlight.

High Level of Histamine Release

Urticaria takes place when some substance causes high levels of histamine and other chemical messengers to be released in the skin and these substances could cause the blood vessels of the skin to open up in the affected area which appears to be red or pink and becomes leaky.

Histamine is a chemical which is released from specialized cells which are along the skin’s blood vessels. The extra moisture in the tissues results in itchiness and swelling. Histamine released could be due to variety of reasons such as cold or heat exposure, an allergic reaction to substance like latex, infection, or the effect of some chemicals which could be found in certain food or medicines like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs.

Urticaria is diagnosed on examining the rash on the skin and also checking on what could have triggered the symptoms to avoid the occurrence of it in future. If the person is suspected of allergic reaction, then the individual could be referred to an allergy clinic for an allergy test.

Identify Causes for Future Precautions

In most cases treatment is not necessary since the rash tends to get better within a few days and if the itchiness is uncomfortable, medication can be helpful. In case of severe cases of urticarial, a short course of steroid tables could be of some relief to the patient.

If urticarial persists, a skin specialist or a dermatologist should be consulted where the same could be treated with medication while identifying its cause for future precautions.

Some of the people with acute urticarial and chronic urticarial tend to develop swelling in the deeper layer of skin which is known as angioedema that can cause severe swelling in different areas of the body like the lip, eyes and genitals. In some severe cases of angioedema, steroid injection may be given which are usually given in hospitals or at clinic by an allergy or a specialist of immune system.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Paget's Disease


Paget’s disease – Disruption of Bone Renewal/Repair of Normal Bone

Paget's disease
Paget’s disease or osteitis deformansis a chronic ailment which disrupts the normal cycle of bone renewal and repair of the normal bone remodelling process. The normal bones strikes a balance to lay down new bone and take up old bone which is known as bone remodelling which is essential in maintaining the normal calcium levels in the blood.

 Bones affected by Paget’s disease tend to get disturbed in bone remodelling and is not synchronized resulting in the bone being abnormal, enlarged and tends to get brittle and vulnerable to fracture. It mainly affects the older bone of adults.

This condition commonly causes no symptoms and is noticed when x-ray tests are done for other ailments.

Paget’s disease can cause pain in the bone which is the most common symptoms that often affects the pelvic, the thigh bone, the skull, the collarbone, the upper arm bone or spine and the pain get worse when lying down.

X-Ray/Bone Scan, MRI/CT Scan

The symptoms of this condition are based on the severity of the affected bones. Enlarged bone ten to pinch adjacent nerves resulting in numbness and tingling and may also lead to bowing of the legs. Hip or knee could lead to arthritis causing limping with pain and stiffness of the knee or hip.

When the bones of the skull get affected, headache, hearing loss and loss of vision may also occur. This condition is diagnosed depending on the x-ray, though it could also be detected with other imaging test like bone scan, CT scan and MRI scan.

Alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme which comes from bone is at times increased in the blood of people with this condition due to the abnormal bone turnover of actively re modelling bone. Besides this, the blood test is also referred to as the serum alkaline phosphatase - SAP, which is used to check the results of Paget’s treatment.

Surgery – Osteoarthritis/Bone Fracture

Bone scan is especially helpful in identifying the extent of the condition since it provides an image of the whole skeleton and the bone that is affected by this condition can be easily determined with bone scanning images.

Paget’s disease can be treated by controlling the disease activity and handle it complications. When this ailment causes no symptoms and the blood testing indicates that the level of serum alkaline phosphatase is normal, no treatment would be needed. Pain in the bone could be relieved with anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relieving medication while bone deformity would need supports like heel lifts or specialized footwear.

For damaged joints, severely deformed bones, fractures or when nerves are pinched due to enlarged bone, surgical operation would be needed. Before undergoing an operation it could be helpful to be treated with medication which could diminish the risk of complication of surgery. Surgery is often done when the disease tends to cause further problems like osteoarthritis or a bone fracture.

In some rare cases, Paget’s disease could also cause bone cancer or heart failure. It is not clear why this condition occurs, but genetic as well as environment factors are believed to be the result of this disease where around 15% of the cases runs in the family.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Haemochromatosis

Red Blood Cells
Haemochromatosis – High Iron Level in the Body 

Haemochromatosis is one type of inherited disorder wherein the iron contents in the body slowly builds up over a period of time and hence it is called iron overload disorder. It is an inherited ailment caused by faulty gene known as HFE which enables a person to absorb a large content of iron from food which in normal case, the body only absorbs as much as it is needed.

The excess amount tends to build up in the body causing several problems. It is characterised by excessive iron which is stored in various organs and joints in the body especially the liver. Iron storage tends to keep rising in the person with this condition wherein the liver gets enlarged and may get damaged which may lead to serious disease known as cirrhosis.

Early haemochromatosis may have no symptoms but in later stages it may present various symptoms though not all may experience the same signs. Most of the symptoms may be the same to those that could be caused due to other illness which is the reason why this condition is very often overlooked and not treated immediately.

Recessive Gene Disorder

The condition is a recessive gene disorder which is caused by the mutations of the haemochromatosis - HFE gene and to develop a recessive gene disorder, a person needs to inherit the same from both the parents.

If the mutated HFE genes are inherited from one person only, then they tend to be the carriers and the carrier will not develop the condition but could pass the same to their children. A child has a fifty percent chance of inheriting one mutated HFE gene, if two carriers conceive, and become a carrier.

There could be one in four cases of inheriting both mutated HFE genes and be prone to this disease. To check if a person is carrying the mutated HFE genes, a simple blood test can be done for the same.

Some of these systems experienced are weight loss, liver dysfunction, joint pain normally in the joints of the second and middle fingers, feeling of weakness and lethargy, disorder of the menstrual period like early menopause, abdominal pain, loss of body hair, darkening of the skin etc.

Treatment of Venesection to Reduce Iron Level

Other related problems could also include heart disease, arthritis and diabetes for both women as well as men though women may develop the condition at a later stage in life due to regular menstrual periods which deplete the body of iron.

This condition could be diagnosed partly due to the symptoms which may be similar to those that may occur with other illnesses. Serious damage could be averted if the person with this ailment is diagnosed when the symptoms occur and the iron level is maintained at a normal range.

Haemochromatosis can be controlled with treatment which aims to remove the excess iron from the body which is a simple process known as venesection, wherein the blood is removed from the body on a regular basis just as in the case when the blood is donated with around 500 ml of blood which is taken out. This leads in the overall drop of iron level in the blood.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Whiplash

Whiplash
Credit: ageonicsmedical
Whiplash – Sudden Movement of the Head, Damage to Ligaments/Tendons

Whiplash also called neck sprain or strain is caused by sudden movement of the head forward, backwards or sideways which could occur after sudden impact in a road accident wherein the vigorous movement tends to damage the ligaments and tendons in the neck.

Tendons are the fibrous, tough bands which connect muscles to the bone while ligaments are the fibrous connective tissue which link two bones together at a joint. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints, those which are between the vertebrae discs and ligaments, cervical muscles and the nerve roots may get damaged.

People get affected by whiplash when they experience an abrupt backward or a forwards jerking motion of the head in an accident and the symptoms may not show or could be delayed for 24 hours or more even after the trauma.

But some people may develop one or more symptoms within the first few days after injury like stiffness and neck pain, headaches, lower back pain, dizziness, pain or numb feeling in the arm or hand, difficulty in concentrating and remembering, pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades and irritability, fatigue and sleep interruptions.

Road Accidents/Sudden Blow/Fall or Slip – Causes 

Road traffic accidents being the main cause of whiplash, due to the sudden stopping impact of the collision results in the sudden violent head movement. With this violent impact of the forward, backwards or sideways movement, ligaments and tendons tend to get damaged resulting in this ailment.

Low speed collisions may also lead to whiplash. Besides road accidents, whiplash could also be due to sudden blow to the head especially during a boxing game, rugby or sports. A fall or a slip wherein the head tends to get affected due to a violent and sudden jolt backwards could also be the cause of whiplash, or being struck on the head by a solid and a heavy object.

No specific treatment has been scientifically proven to be effective for whiplash though pain relief medication with gentle exercises, physical therapy, massage, heat, ice, traction, injections and ultrasound could be helpful for some people

Diagnosis Based on Symptoms 

Whiplash injuries earlier were treated with immobilization in a cervical collarthough the present trend is encouragement of movement instead of immobilization. Ice is also recommended within the first 24 hours of the impact which could be followed with gentle movement.

If the neck pain is painful, it is essential to keep it mobile from the early stage which could improve its functions and quicken the recovery. It is better to move the neck by using a neck brace or collar instead of keeping it still.

Diagnosis of whiplash is often done based on the condition and injury of the ailment through a series of tests and scans like x-rays, computerised tomography –CT, or magnetic resonance imaging –MRI is done incase of a fracture or any other problem. Whiplash usually tends to get better on its own or after following some basic treatment.

Whiplash that lasts for six months or beyond is called chronic whiplash or late whiplash syndrome and the treatment plan would be based on the symptoms and if the pain tends to be severe, the physician would recommend stronger painkiller or the option of physiotherapy.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Motor Neurone Disease


Motor Neurone Disease
Motor Neurone Diseases – Group of Progressive Neurological Disorder

Motor neurone diseasesMND, is the name for a rare ailment connected with a group of progressive neurological disorder that tends to damage motor neurons, which are the cell that control the necessary voluntary muscle activity like speaking, breathing, swallowing or walking. Motor neurone disease is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – ALS, which takes place when the nerve cells in the spinal cord and the brain known as motor neurons tend to stop functioning properly affecting the muscle activities in the body. Messages from nerve cells located in the brain known as upper motor neurons tend to get transmitted to nerve cell in the brain stem and the spinal cord, called the lower motor neurons to particular muscles. From the upper motor neurons it is directed to the lower motor neurons to enable movements like walking or chewing while lower motor neurons control movements related to the arms, legs, chest throat, face and the tongue. The spinal motor neurons are also known as anterior horn cells while the upper motor neurons are called corticospinal neurons.

Disorder in Coordination between Upper/Lower Motor Neurons

When the disorder in the signals between the lowest motor neurons and the muscles takes place, the muscles fail to function properly resulting in gradual weakening and thereby develop uncontrollable twitching known as fasciculation. Disorder in the coordination between the upper motor neurons with the lower motor neurons, results in tendons reflexes like the knee and the ankle jerks getting overactive and over a period of time, the capabilities of controlling the voluntary movement could be weaken or lost. Individuals suffering from motor neurone diseases will find the normal activities difficult as the condition progress and finally may find it impossible to function normally.

Weakened Grip/Slurred Speech ……

Symptoms of this condition tends to begin gradually over weeks or months and affects only one side of the body at first and then gets worse. Early symptoms could be a weakened grip wherein the person may face difficulty in holding or picking objects, slurred speech, dragging of the leg, and weakness at the shoulder which would make lifting of the arm difficult, or a foot drop which is the result of weak ankle muscles. Though the condition is not painful, as the condition progresses, symptom may spread to the other areas of the body and eventually the person may have difficulty in movement or is unable to move. This could also affect communicating, breathing or swallowing.

Life Shortening Ailment

MND is a life shortening ailment for most of the cases and the life span could probably be three to four years when the symptoms occur, though there are few cases where some tend to live up to ten years or even longer. In most cases of MND, it could be fatal since the involvement of the breathing muscles makes the person prone to drowsiness and susceptible to chest infections. Though there is no cure for MND, treatment could be aimed at making MND patients comfortable and provide them with maximum support as well as compensate for the loss of bodily functions like communication, breathing, and mobility or swallowing.

Modern Technology Brings Better Treatment Options


Dental care
More people today have appearance goals, even when they begin to age. They recognize that quite often, appearance begins with the skin. With this in mind, those people are quickly finding that new technology makes it much easier to get the sort of skin rejuvenation that last. Yaletown Laser Centre in vancouver is just one of the facilities offering individuals a bevy of different options designed to make life just a little bit easier.

What are those companies like Yaletown Laser offering today? For one, these places offer botox treatment that can breathe new life into a person's face. The effects of age catch up with even the best person. Botox treatments provide a very easy, very affordable solution for those individuals who want to get more out of their later years.

In addition, today's laser technology can provide things like hair removal. Quite often, women run into problems with unwanted hair in all the wrong places. They might fight this for a prolonged period of time, but getting wax treatments can be cumbersome if done for long enough. Laser hair removal takes care of the problem permanently, allowing individuals to look their best without having to engage in a near-constant maintenance process.

 With new technology has come the ability to look one's best even in old age. Lasers provide individuals with new options that are easy, quick, and affordable. As more individuals have come to value the appearance of their skin, more have sought out the best laser facilities for a range of different treatments.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Japanese Encephalitis – Viral Brain Infection


Japanese Encephalitis
Japanese encephalitis previously known as Japanese B encephalitis to distinguish from von Economo’s A encephalitis is a type of viral brain infection which spreads through mosquito borne Japanese encephalitis virus that is from the Flaviviridae family. It is mostly common in the rural areas in South East Asia, the Far East and the Pacific islands. This virus is often found in birds and pigs which are passed to the mosquitoes which tend to bite the infected animals.

Domestic pigs and wild birds like herons have the virus in plenty and transmission to humans could cause severe symptoms. Human could get the infection when they are bitten by infected mosquito and most of the ailment could result in mild symptoms which are short lived, like flu, though in some cases, the infected persons may experience inflammation of the brain along with symptoms which may include sudden onset of high fever, headache, coma, tremors, disorientation and convulsions.

Around 1 in 250cases could also be fatal wherein the infection could spread to the brain and cause serious symptoms which may include seizures or fits, inability to speak, confusion, paralysis – inability to move certain areas of the body.

Precautions to Prevent this Disease – Vaccination 

Presently there is no specific treatment for this ailment though patients could focus on supportive care and take precaution to prevent this disease by using personal protective measures to get vaccinated and avoid mosquito bites.

Treatment could involve supporting the functions of the body when it tries to fight off the infection which will need admitting the person to the hospital where they are kept on fluids, oxygen and treated for any symptoms.

One in every three cases tends to develop further serious symptoms and dies while those who survive may have permanent brain damage. Immediate medical aid should be taken if faced with the symptoms of Japanese encephalitis especially for those who had recently visited or are in any of those infected areas.

Care to be Taken to Reduce the Risk of Japanese Encephalitis 

Japanese encephalitis is very rare in travellers from out of risk areas. Those who are at risk are those who may be living and working in rural areas where there is a widespread of this infection and seventy five percent may involve children under 15 years of age.

For the prevention of Japanese encephalitis, the best option is to get vaccinated against the infection before visiting any location where there could be risk of the infection of the disease and if the visit is to be made in rural areas or hiking or campus, the chances of risk are higher.

Though the vaccine is available privately and provides protection against the disease, it is also essential to take precaution to reduce the risk of getting mosquito bites like taking care to sleep in room with close fitting gauze over the windows and door, or if sleeping out in open areas, care should be taken to use mosquito nets which have been impregnated with insecticide, apply a good amount of insect repellent to the exposed parts of the body and covering up long sleeved tops, trousers and socks to be free from infected mosquito bites.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Fibromyalgia


Image Credit: torontopolyclinic/ 500px
Fibromyalgia – Chronic Pain in Ligaments/Muscles

Fibromyalgia also known as fibromyalgia syndrome is a long term ailment which causes chronic pain in ligaments and muscles. Though women are more prone to this condition in their mid-thirties to late fifties, it can also occur in people of any age including children and the elders.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is not known but research indicates that it could be relatively common conditions with some estimates suggesting that nearly 1 in 20 cases could develop fibromyalgia to some extent.

Its causes could most likely involve some factors like genetic which may run in families where certain genetic mutation could make the person vulnerable in developing this disease. Infection of some illness could also trigger this condition and emotional trauma or stress could be linked to fibromyalgia.

Symptoms at times could also begin after surgery, or a physical trauma or psychological stress while in other cases; it could gradually get accumulated over a period of time. Diagnosing this condition tends to get difficult since fibromyalgia symptoms can be similar to a number of other conditions.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Though there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, there are certain treatments which could be helpful to some extent to relieve some of the symptoms and make life easier. Treatment could be a combination of medication of anti-depressants and painkillers, or talking therapies which could involve counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy –CBT.

Changes in lifestyles could also add to bring much relief to this condition like undertaking exercise programmes together with relaxation techniques. It has been observed that exercises together with relaxation and stress reduction have provided good benefit to the person with this condition together with pain relief.

Besides the muscular pain and stiffness, the patient may also experience widespread pain associated with fibromyalgia and is described as a dull ache which could last for atleast three months.

Cognitive Difficulty – Fibro Fog

This pain could occur on both sides of the body as well as above and below the waist. The person also experiences fatigue and often tends to wake up feeling tired inspite of being asleep for a long period of time. Their sleep is often interrupted by pain with the result they tend to suffer from sleep disorder like restless legs syndrome and sleep apnoea.

A cognitive difficulty is a symptom referred as fibro fog which impairs the ability to concentrate or pay attention on mental tasks. Besides these, the person with fibromyalgia may also experience headaches, depression and pain or cramps in the lower area of the abdomen.

The pain accompanied with lack of sleep could create difficulties in the daily functions at home or at work and the frustration of dealing with this inability could be a misunderstood condition resulting in depression and ill health.

According to research, it is believed that repeated nerve stimulation could cause the brain with fibromyalgia to change involving an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain which may cause pain. Moreover, the pain receptors in the brain develop a kind of memory of the pain and tend to get more sensitive and overreact to pain signs.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Cardiomyopathy Disease of Heart Muscle

Cardiomyopathy
Cardiomyopathy is a general term for diseases of the heart muscle having many causes, symptoms, signs and treatments. It occurs when the walls of the heart chambers tend to get stretched, stiff or thickened and affects the ability of the heart to pump the blood in the body.

In other rare cases, the muscle tissue is replaced in the heart with scar tissue. As cardiomyopathy tends to get worse, the heart gets weaker and is unable to pump blood through the body to have a normal electrical rhythm which could lead to a failure of the heart or irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias.

This in turn could cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs, feet, ankles, legs or abdomen. People suffering from cardiomyopathy are at risk of dangerous forms of irregular heartbeats which can lead to cardiac death and the most common type of cardiomyopathy is known as dilated cardiomyopathy. The term cardiomyopathy could theoretically refer to any disease related to the heart and is usually referred to severe myocardial disease which leads to heart failure. Some types of cardiomyopathy are inherited and are seen in children as well as younger individuals.

Different Forms of Cardiomyopathy

In the case of dilated cardiomyopathy, the muscle walls of the heart tend to get stretched and thin and cannot contract or squeeze sufficiently to pump the blood in the body. People with dilated cardiomyopathy are at greater risk of heart failure where the heart fails to pump enough blood to the body at the appropriate pressure.

Besides this, the person is also at a risk of valve problems, blood clots and irregular heartbeat and immediate treatment would be essential. The symptoms of heart failure may cause shortness of breath, extreme tiredness and ankle swelling.

Besides dilated cardiomyopathy, there are other types of cardiomyopathy namely hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy and restrictive cardiomyopathy. A heart transplant may be needed for people with severe heart failure. Cardiomyopathy differs from a heart attack though heart attack also tends to damage the heart muscles but may also be caused due to other reasons.

DilatedCardiomyopathy takes place in people between the age of 20 to 60 years more in men than women and when the heart muscles tend to start stretching and getting thin or dilate it could mean that the heart muscles is not capable of contracting normally and is unable to pump sufficient blood to the body. Over a period of time the heart tends to get weak which could lead to heart failure and other complications.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is considered a very common form of cardiomyopathywhich can affect people of any age group and occurs when the heart muscle cells tend to get enlarged causing the wall of the heart to thicken. This could further block the flow of the blood out of the ventricle and if a blockage takes place, the heart would need to work harder in pumping the blood to the body which in turn could lead to chest pain, dizziness, fainting or shortness of breath. This form of cardiomyopathy could also have other effects on the body.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy is a rare type which takes place when muscle tissue in one area of the heart is replaced with scar tissue thereby disrupting the heart’s electrical signals causing irregular heartbeats. Some of the symptoms may include palpitations together with fainting after doing some physical activity which normally affects young adults and teenagers.

Restrictive cardiomyopathy tends to affect the older group of individuals wherein the heart gets stiff and rigid due to abnormal tissues like scar tissue replacing the normal heart muscles.

Conclusion 

There is no cure for this ailment, but it could be kept under control by maintaining a healthy diet, quitting smoking if one is prone to smoking, lose excess weight if overweight, reducing the intake of alcohol, get sufficient sleep, handle stress and ensure that any underlying condition like diabetes is kept under control.

Medical treatments may be needed in order to control the blood pressure, remove any excess fluid, correction of the abnormal heart rhythm or prevent the clotting of the blood. In cases with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the septum which is the wall dividing the left and right side of the heart get thickened, bulging into the main heart chamber.


 In such a case, an injection of alcohol in the heart is given to reduce portion of the muscle in the septum or a septal myectomy or heart surgery is done to remove part of the thickened septum, the mitral valve could be repaired simultaneously if required.

Individual with heart rhythm problems could also have the need of a pacemaker or some similar device that could be implanted to control the abnormal rhythm of the heart. Heart transplant is the last resort when other treatment is not effective and does not give much relief to the patient.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Rubella, German Measles


Rubella
Rubella also known as German measles is a viral infection which is very common in children andis best recognized by its distinctive red rash. It is not the same as measles or rubeola though these two condition share the same characteristic that of red rash.

Rubella is caused by a different type of virus called togavirus and spreads in the similar way as cold or flu through someone who is infected with this ailment via their droplets of moisture from the nose or throat which is released in the air when they cough, talk or sneeze. A person can get affected when they tend to come in contact with the droplets from these infected people and it could take two to three weeks for the symptoms to surface.

A person with rubella could be infectious to other people from one week before the symptoms develop and up to four days after the rash appears. In such a case, the infected person should stay away from work or school for six days after the rash starts in order to avoid the spread of this disease to others especially pregnant women where the highest risk to the foetus is during the first trimester as well as later stage of pregnancy.

Measles Mumps Rubella – MMR Vaccine

The symptoms of rubella usually tend to last a few days though the glands may get swollen for several weeks. The measles mumps rubella – MMR, vaccine is given to children twice in the US before they reach the school level and is highly effecting in the prevention of rubella.

 The symptoms may include a high temperature, cold like symptoms like cough and running nose, swollen glands around the head and neck, red pink skin rash made up of small spots, and aching and painful joints.

The rubella rash may look like several other viral rashes and the physician usually conduct laboratory test to confirm rubella. The person may have a virus culture or a blood test which can help to detect the different types of rubella antibodies in the blood wherein these antibodies indicate if there had been a recent or past infection or a rubella vaccine.

Congenital Rubella 

There is no specific treatment for rubella though the symptoms tend to pass off normally within seven to ten days. The best way to prevent this disease is to be immunised with the MMR vaccine. Children are given this vaccine as their routine childhood immunisation programme which is given in two doses; the first is given between 12 – 13 months old and a booster when they are around three to five years of age.

MMR vaccine can be given to older children as well who have not been immunised earlier. Congenital rubella is an ailment which occurs when the virus in the mother affects the child during the first three months of pregnancy and affects the development of the child.

After the fourth month the mother’s rubella infection is less harmful to the child. Pregnant women who have not been vaccinated for rubella and have not been infected with the disease in the past are at risk of getting infected themselves as well as the unborn child.

Ichthyosis


Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis – Genetic Skin Condition 

Ichthyosis is a family of genetic skin condition characterized by thick, dry, scaling skin which may be thick or very thin. Most of the people with ichthyosis, inherit a faulty type of gene from their parent and the signs and symptoms of inherited ichthyosis are usually seen at birth or within the first year which can affect them throughout their life.

The faulty gene can affect the rate at which the skin regenerates, either the shedding of old skin cells could be too slow or production of skin cell to be much faster than the shedding of old skin, causing a build-up of scaly, rough skin. Ichthyosis tends to get worse in winter when the air is colder and dryer.

Some of the symptoms of ichthyosis may include, itchy skin, flaky scalp, scales which may tend to be brown, grey or white, severely dry skin or thickened skin or polygon shaped scales on the skin. The dry skin patches may appear on the elbows or the lower legs and most often may affect the shins in thick, dark segments.

In more severe cases, it could also cause deep painful cracks which may develop on the soles of the feet, or the palm of the hands.

Different Kinds of Inherited Ichthyosis

The most common kind of inherited ichthyosis is ichthyosis vulgaris which affects around one in 250 people while other form of ichthyosis are rare and may include:

X-link ichthyosis affects only males and has general scaling especially over limbs, neck and the bottom.

Harlequin ichthyosis is an extremely rare form though the scaling is server which may require intensive care at the time of birth.

Syndromes that include ichthyosis are Netherton’s syndrome or Sjogren-Larsson syndrome.

Congenital ichthysoform erythroderma may develop if a baby is born with shiny yellow membrane which sheds within the first week of birth and once the membrane has shed, it may develop non-bullous ichthyosiform erythroderma which is inflamed, scaly skin that affects the entire skin surface.

Bullous ichthyosiform erythroderma is inflamed, scaly skin with fluid filled blisters which may get infected and give out foul smelling skin odour and

Lamellar ichthyosis is where the skin may not be red in colour but the scales can be larger and tighter to the skin. Severe cases of congenital ichthyosiform erthroderma may have drooping lower eyelids with mild hair loss and tight skin on the fingers.

Acquired Ichthyosis in Adults

Acquired ichthyosis may also be acquired as an adult that could be caused due to certain health conditions like kidney disease, an under active thyroid, lymphoma which is a type of cancer, sarcoidosis, a rare kind of a disease which causes collections of cells to form in the organs and HIV infection.

There is no cure for this condition though treatment may involve exfoliating and moisturising the skin daily in order to prevent scaling, dryness, cracking and for the build-up of skin cells. The dermatologist could recommend appropriate emollients in the form of cream, lotion, ointment or bath oil to keep the skin moist which could be applied to wet skin to keep in the moisture especially after a shower.

 A pumice stone rubbed gently on wet skin to remove some of the thickened skin, and brushing washed hair to remove scales from the scalp would also help to keep this condition under control.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Silicosis – An Incurable Lung Condition

Silicosis
Silicosis, an incurable lung condition is caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust which is found in certain types of stone, rock, clay and sand and is marked by inflammation and scarring in the form of nodular lesion in the upper regions of the lungs.

It could be a kind of pneumoconiosis.Silicosis was earlier used in 1870 by Achille Visconti prosector in the Ospedale Maggiore of Milan and the recognition of respiratory problems from breathing in of dust dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

While working with these materials which could create fine dust known as respirable crystalline silica, it could be inhaled easily. Once these dust particles get into the lungs, it is attacked by the immune system causing inflammation or swelling which leads to gradual hardening and scarring lung tissue or fibrosis. This eventually affects the proper function of the lungs.

Those who work in construction and demolition are prone to exposure to bricks, mortar, and concrete while people connected to potter, ceramics and glass manufacturing, mining, quarrying, sand blasting and stone cutting could also be at risk of being the victim of Silicosis.

Shortness of Breath/Tiredness/Weight Loss…

Silicosis
The early stages of silicosis are cough with shortness of breath and as the disease progresses it could cause weight loss, with extreme tiredness, wheezing at times, and swollen fingers. Though it takes several years of exposure to silica dust before the symptoms show up, most of the people developing silicosis could have been exposed to low amounts of dust for many years without being aware of any danger to their health.

In these cases, doctor would refer these cases as simple chronic silicosis. It could also occur after exposure to larger quantity of silica over a shorter time span though this is quite unusual. Acute silicosis which is the result of short term exposure to large amount of silica is very rare and in these instances, the cough and the shortness of breath could appear within a few days or weeks of exposure to silica followed by tiredness, weight loss and wheezing which could develop with a few months or years.

In some rare cases, the lungs tend to become severely scarred which is known as progressive massive fibrosis. This leads to shortness of breath which could get worse and also increase the risk of other complications

Precautions to be taken 

Diagnosis is carried out with the help of x-ray of the chest to check for abnormalities in the structure of the lungs, a computerised tomography or CT scan of the chest to obtain more detailed images of the lungs andtesting of lung function with the help of spirometry which involves breathing into a machine to assess the working condition of the lungs.

The person could also be asked to take a skin test for tuberculosis known as Mantoux test which involves injecting a substance called PPD tuberculin in the forearm. Though there is no cure for silicosis since the damage to the lungs cannot be repaired, treatment could relieve some of the symptoms and improve the life of the person.

Precautions need to be taken to avoid exposure to any more silica, quit smoking if one is a smoker, and have regular skin test to check for tuberculosis since silicosis is more prone to tuberculosis and other infections.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Nail Patella Syndrome, a Rare Genetic Disorder


Nail Patella Syndrome

Nail patella syndrome- NPS, is a very uncommon or rare genetic disorder which causes abnormalities of bone, fingernails, joints, kidneys and eyes. Nail Patella Syndrome is characterised with the absence or the under developed kneecaps and thumbnails and is estimated to take place in 1 out of 50,000 new-borns. The symptoms may vary among individuals but most of the people with nail patella syndrome tend to have abnormal nails and have problems with their pelvis, knees and elbow though most of them tend to lead a normal life.

Sometimes the person with the condition may not have any symptoms while some symptoms may be more severe than the others. People with this condition may face abnormal or absence of nails which is quite apparent at the time of birth where the base of the nail is often triangular instead of curved shape while the nails could be underdeveloped, split, discoloured, ridged or pitted. The most severed is the thumbnails which decreases towards the little finger and the toenails are normally not affected as much as the fingernails.

 Besides this, the person also tends to have problem with the other areas of the body which includes the bone, joints, eyes and the kidneys.

Defective Gene – LMX1B

The common features comprises of the absence of kneecaps that are small, irregularly shaped and easily dislocated, incapable to fully extend the arm or turn the palms up while keeping elbows straight, wherein the elbows may angle outwards, bony growth on the pelvic bone which is apparent on x-ray but does not cause much of a problem, increased pressure within the eyes or glaucoma at an early stage, there could be protein in the urine which could be an early sign of kidney problem, that could lead to kidney disease and kidney failure, difficulty in gain weight especially muscles inspite of regular consumption of food and exercise, with a decrease in muscle mass in the upper arms and upper legs area, with receding hairline particularly at the temples.

Most of the people with this condition would have inherited a defective gene known as LMX1B from either of their parents where only one copy of the altered gene is essential to develop this condition.

Diagnosis - Clinical Features/Genetic Testing 

The LMX1B gene are codes for protein which regulates the activity of several other genes and are especially important at the early stage of development of growth of the child’s limbs, kidney and eyes when they are in the womb, while genes are units of DNA which provide instructions in producing the protein that are needed for the body and though there is no family history of this condition at times, in some cases, the LMX1B gene may get mutated or altered spontaneously.

The mutated LMX1B gene could lead to the production of an abnormal protein which does not functions well. Diagnosis of nail patella syndrome is done based on clinical features and when the diagnosis is unclear, genetic testing is done to identify if the person has the mutated LMX1B gene, the cause of NPS that involves taking a sample of blood that may include cells containing the persons’ DNA.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Uveitis


Uveitis
Uveitis – Inflammation of Middle Layer of Eye

Uveitis is the internal inflammation of the middle layer of the eye known as the uvea or uveal tract which is made up of the iris, the coloured part of the eye, ciliary body, that is the ring of muscle behind the iris and choroid, the layer of tissue which supports the retina, all of which together form the middle layer of the eye between the retina and the sclera which is the white area of the eye.

The eye is like a tennis ball having three types of layers of tissue which surround the central gel filled cavity known as vitreous while the innermost layer is the retina which is responsible in seeing light and sending images to the brain.

The middle area between the outer layer being the sclera or the strong white wall of the eye and the retina is the uvea which comprises of several blood vessels namely the veins, capillaries and arteries. These carry blood to and from the eye.

 The uvea plays an important role in nourishing various parts of the eyes since it transports blood to the different parts of the eye that are important for vision and if inflammation of the uvea occurs, it could damage the sight of the person.

Causes & Types of Uveitis

Eye Diagram
There are several potential causes for Uveitis which may include infection with a virus while other causes could be fungus, parasite, bacteria, and inflammatory disease affecting various other parts of the body or an injury to the eye. Common symptoms of uveitis may be pain in one or both of the eyes, blurred vision, redness of the eye, floater which are shadows that move around in your field of vision, or sensitivity to light – photophobia. There are four types of uveitis namely –

Iritisis one of the commonform of uveitis that affects the iris and is usually associated with auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or sarcoidosis. It could develop suddenly and could last for weeks with treatment. Chronic cases may need close and long term monitoring which is quite rare.

Uveitis
Cyclitis is an inflammation in the middle area of the eye which may affect the muscles that focuses the lens and could also develop suddenly lasting for several months.

Retinitis another type which affects the back of the eye and progresses rapidly makes the treatment difficult which could be caused by viruses like shingles or herpes with bacterial infections like syphilis or toxoplasmosis.

Choroiditis is the inflammation of the layer which lies beneath the retina and this could be caused by infections like tuberculosis.

Uveitis – Serious Condition 

The two types of uveitis namely, retinitis and choroiditis, can be caused by auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid, lupus or arthritis and in most of the cases of uveitis, the cause is unknown. Sometimes stress could be the cause since the inflammation is triggered by the body’s immune system.Since uveitis is a serious condition, treatment should be started immediately.

 If uveitis is not caused by an infection, the physician may recommend eye drops with steroids which may reduce the swelling that has occurred along with drugs to relieve the pain. People with infectious uveitis are prescribed antibiotics. Dark glasses are suggested to help with light sensitivity.

Importance of Blood Sugar Monitoring System


Health
Next time you are offered a sweet or decide to eat chocolate, think twice. Not only because you might gain may some calories but you end up with high blood sugar levels. Blood sugar concentration is the amount of glucose present in human or animal blood. The human body regulates the glucose levels as a part of metabolic stability hence blood sugar monitoring becomes important in case of any visible symptoms or irregularities. 

What is diabetes?

High blood sugar level or diabetes is one of the commonest metabolic disorders all over the world including India. As per statistics, diabetes cases are likely to cross 300 million by 2015. Pancreas in human body secretes insulin, a hormone which breaks the glucose from the food we eat into energy and helps it to enter our blood cells. Diabetes is inability of pancreas to produce normal amount of insulin which makes its job ineffective. It can affect anybody from an infant to an adult.

What can health hazards of diabetes?

Important health hazards due to diabetes have been mentioned below:
  • Heart Disease –Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack
  • Organ Complications – Diabetes increases the risk of blindness, foot problems and other organ related problems
  • Nerve Damage – Diabetes can cause damage to nerves, it hampers the regenerative process of tissue hence healing takes time which is a major concern during high end operations
  • Side effects during pregnancy – Diabetes during pregnancy can lead to high birth weight babies, problem in normal delivery and post pregnancy issues
  • Effects lifestyle – Diabetes can change lifestyle due to strict diet regime and medication

What is the need for monitoring diabetes? 

Uncontrolled diabetes can be fatal with life threatening complications. Hence monitoring is important to check fluctuations which might need immediate medical help to avoid chronic repercussions. Testing determines response to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) like diet adjustments, exercise, and injecting insulin. In gestational diabetes, reading patterns determines whether insulin doses are sufficient or needs to be altered for normal sugar level which is essential for safe pregnancy.


How to monitor diabetes? 

Diabetes can be monitored either by blood test in lab or finger pricking (using glucometer) at home. The second one is highly recommended for diabetes patients and gestational diabetes. Glucometers have a chemical substance which reacts with glucose in blood to return a value within few seconds.
If the reading is beyond permissible range on either side, precautionary measures needs to be taken as per doctor’s advice. Basically a glucometer pack contains the device, testing strips and lancets. The device is calibrated and battery operated. The testing strip, which needs to be fitted to the device, contains the substance which when come in contact with a drop of drop pricked by using the lancet will determine the sugar reading. Both the testing strips and lancets are one time use and can be bought separately in packs. The device is intelligent enough to detect an erroneous testing Readings are generally displayed in mg/dl or mmol/I. Values also depend on the time reading was taken like fasting or after meal. Readings needs to be maintained in a chart along with timing. The pattern determines the sugar variations and hence the course of action.

Various glucometers are available in the market which makes monitoring easy and reliable. OneTouch is one of the most popular glucometers along with Dr. Morepan, Bayer etc. You can check out various glucometers and their pricing at Healthgenie and Healthkart. Use healthkart coupons to save the money while shopping glucometers from here for more offer and deal visit CouponzGuru.com.

So next time you want to have a sweet, keep your glucometer handy if you are worried about your rising blood sugar levels!