dailyRx https://www.dailyrx.com Health & Wellness Information, Medically Reviewed Fri, 30 Jun 2017 03:29:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Benign Doesn’t Always Mean Harmless https://www.dailyrx.com/uncategorized/benign-doesnt-always-mean-harmless/ Thu, 29 Jun 2017 16:01:50 +0000 https://www.dailyrx.com/?p=2735 Non-functional adrenal tumors, type 2 diabetes linked

When it comes to strange lumps and bumps, hearing a physician say the word “benign” is generally a blissful sound. However, benign doesn’t always mean harmless. New research suggests that for patients with certain benign tumors, the risks may be significant.

According to a press release issued by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a new study found that certain types of benign adrenal tumors known as “non-functional” may increase a patient’s risk for type 2 diabetes. These findings challenge the current belief that non-functional adrenal tumors pose no health threats.

adrenal glandsAdrenal glands are located on the top of each kidney and play a key role in the body’s endocrine system, which controls hormone production. When benign adrenal tumors develop, it’s important to determine whether they’re functional (producing hormones) or non-functional (not producing hormones).

According to the press release, functional adrenal tumors that secrete hormones like cortisol can increase a patient’s risk for cardiovascular or metabolic diseases. Non-functional adrenal tumors that secrete little to no hormones are generally considered without risk and left untreated.

To conduct the study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at the medical records of 1,479 patients, 242 of whom had non-functional adrenal tumors and 1,237 of whom had no adrenal tumors.

“When we analyzed our results, we were quite surprised,” says lead author Anand Vaidya, MD, MMSc, in the press release. “Our results indicated that patients with non-functional adrenal tumors developed diabetes twice as often as patients without any adrenal tumors.”

More than 29 million people in the US have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Diabetes increases a patient’s risk for many serious health problems and complications, including vision loss, heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.

Dr. Vaidya hopes to continue her research and discover the most effective way to treat non-functional adrenal tumors. Future studies will focus on whether surgical or pharmaceutical treatments could reduce the risk of diabetes.

“Our results imply that once you have an adrenal tumor, regardless of its functionality, you should consider recognizing it as a potential risk factor for diabetes,” concludes Dr. Vaidya in the press release.

The full study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Co-researcher Dr. Turchin reports personal fees from Novo Nordisk and Monarch Medical Technologies, as well as grants from Sanofi and Merck outside the submitted work.

Sources:
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Patients with non-functional adrenal tumors at increased risk of diabetes” http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/bawh-pwn080116.php
Annals of Internal Medicine, ““Nonfunctional” Adrenal Tumors and the Risk for Incident Diabetes and Cardiovascular Outcomes: A Cohort Study” http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2540852
CDC, “Diabetes Latest” http://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/
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Living with Ulcertative Colitis https://www.dailyrx.com/featured/living-with-ulcertative-colitis/ Mon, 12 Jun 2017 05:01:58 +0000 http://www.dailyrx.com/?p=2474 OVERVIEW

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine, also known as the colon.

In patients with ulcerative colitis, the lining of the colon becomes inflamed and develops ulcers (tiny open sores). This combination of inflammation and ulcers leads to long-lasting discomfort that can be debilitating and may even lead to life-threatening complications. Because ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease, symptoms may not develop immediately.

crohns-disease-ulcerative-colitisUnlike Crohn’s disease, another type of IBD that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal track, ulcerative colitis affects only the colon.

Scientists have yet to find a cure for ulcerative colitis; however, there are treatments that can reduce symptoms. For some patients, these treatments can lead to long-term remission (periods with little or no symptoms).

SYMPTOMS

The signs and symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary from patient to patient, depending on the severity of the condition. About half of ulcerative colitis patients have mild symptoms.

The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain and blood or pus in diarrhea. Other symptoms include the following:

  • Anemia — a lack of enough healthy red blood cells, which provide oxygen to body tissues
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Sores on the skin
  • Joint pain
  • Delayed growth and development in children

The symptoms of ulcerative colitis tend to come and go. That is, patients often have periods in which symptoms flare up followed by periods in which they may have no symptoms at all. While these periods of remission can last for months or even years, symptoms usually return at some point.

DIAGNOSIS

Because ulcerative colitis shares symptoms with a number of other conditions, a doctor is likely to diagnose ulcerative colitis only after ruling out other possible causes of those symptoms.

Doctors may use a combination of the following tests to make a proper diagnosis:

  • Blood tests: A doctor may order blood tests to check for anemia, infection or the presence of certain antibodies. While these tests help in the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, they cannot tell with certainty if a patient has the condition.
  • Stool samples: Doctors use these tests to look for white blood cells in patients’ stools — a sign of inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis. Stool samples also help doctors rule out other conditions with similar symptoms as ulcerative colitis. For example, certain bacterial infections can cause diarrhea.
  • Colonosopy: In a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera attached to get a view of the entire colon. During this exam, the doctor also may take a small sample of tissue, or biopsy, for lab testing.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: This exam may take the place of a colonoscopy if the colon is too severely inflamed. Sigmoidoscopy involves a thin, flexible tube that gives the doctor a view of the sigmoid, the part of the colon closest to the rectum. However, it may miss problems farther up the colon.
  • Imaging tests: An X-ray of the abdominal area may be used to rule out certain conditions, such as toxic megacolon, that may be causing severe symptoms. CT scans of the abdomen or pelvis are used to spot complications of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. CT scans also can reveal the level of inflammation in the colon.

TREATMENTS

As there is no cure for ulcerative colitis, the main goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation that causes symptoms.

Treatment of ulcerative colitis typically involves a combination of approaches, including medication and lifestyle changes. In some cases, patients may require surgery.

Medications

Doctors use a number of different medications to control inflammation and symptoms of ulcerative colitis. The medications that work for one patient may not work for another, so if you have ulcerative colitis, your doctor may prescribe multiple medications before finding the one that works best for you.

vial of pills spilled on counter, with white capsules strewn aboutThe following categories of medication are used to treat ulcerative colitis:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications: These medications are often part of the first line of treatment. They are used to reduce inflammation and to maintain remission. Anti-inflammatory medications used to treat ulcerative colitis include sulfasalazine (brand name Azulfidine), mesalamine (Asacol, Lialda and others), balsalazide (Colazal) and olsalazine (Dipentum). Corticosteroids are also used to control inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis. Some of these medications carry risks for serious side effects, so speak with your doctor before starting any new treatment.
  • Immune system suppressors: Like anti-inflammatory medications, immune system suppressors also reduce inflammation. However, instead of treating the inflammation itself, immune suppressors target the immune system. As the name implies, these medications suppress the immune system response so it does not cause inflammation to continue. Immune system suppressors used to treat ulcerative colitis include azathiprine (brand names Azasan, Imuran), mercaptopurine (Purinethol), cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune), infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira).
  • Other medications: While the main goal of ulcerative colitis treatment is to reduce inflammation at the root of the disease, patients also need symptom relief. Depending on the type and severity of ulcerative colitis symptoms, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, pain relievers or even iron supplements.

Lifestyle Changes

While there’s no solid evidence that what you eat causes ulcerative colitis, certain foods and drinks can make symptoms worse, especially during a flare-up. Therefore, it’s important for patients with ulcerative colitis to maintain a healthy diet that soothes symptoms, replaces lost nutrients and promotes healing.

foods to avoid with ulcertative colitisIt may take some trial and error to find which foods aggravate symptoms and which foods ease symptoms. Many people with ulcerative colitis find that the following suggestions have helped them:

  • Limit dairy: Some ulcerative colitis patients find that dairy products aggravate symptoms. If you have ulcerative colitis, try cutting dairy out of your diet to see if symptoms improve.
  • Try changing fiber consumption: For most people, a healthy diet usually includes high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. However, for those with ulcerative colitis, fiber can worsen symptoms like diarrhea, pain and gas. Discuss your fiber intake with your doctor if fruits and vegtables bother you.
  • Eliminate problem foods: Avoid eating foods that seem to aggravate symptoms. For some, such foods may include those that cause gas, such as beans, cabbage and brocolli or caffeine and carbonated drinks.
  • Eat small meals: Instead of eating two or three large meals in a day, try eating five or six smaller meals.
  • Drink plenty of liquids: Make sure your getting enough liquids each day, particularly water. Other beverages, such as those with caffeine or carbonation, may make symptoms worse.
  • Ask your doctor about multivitamins: Patients with ulcerative colitis don’t always get the nutrients they need. The condition itself can limit one’s ability to absorb nutrients, and the limited diet many patients require may mean those patients aren’t getting much needed nutrients in the first place. If you have ulcerative colitis, talk to your doctor about whether you may benefit from taking vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Talk to a dietitian: Because a great deal of ulcerative colitis management requires diet changes, it may help to work with a registered dietitian.

Surgery

If lifestyle changes and medications fail to ease symptoms of ulcerative colitis, doctors may recommend one of two surgery options, depending on various factors, such as the extent of disease and patient age and overall health. Both options involve removing the colon.

In the first surgery, which was more common in the past, the entire colon and rectum are removed. The patient then wears a small bag over an opening in the abdomen (ileal stoma) to collect stool.

Now, with new surgical techniques, patients have another option. Like the first, this procedure involves removing the entire colon, but instead of the small bag attached to the abdomen, this second procedure puts a pouch inside the small bowel attached to the anus. This allows the patient to expel waste in a more normal fashion.

CAUSES

It’s not entirely clear what causes ulcerative colitis, but researchers have an idea of what does not cause it. Stress was once thought to be the main cause, but now it seems that stress merely makes symptoms worse.

Today, when it comes to studying the causes of ulcerative colitis, researchers are focused on the immune system and genetics.

Some researchers think that viral or bacterial infections may trigger ulcerative colitis. More specifically, they suspect that the large intestine become inflamed because the immune system is trying to fight off the invading virus or bacteria. Other scientists think the immune system is involved in ulcerative colitis in another way — that inflammation is triggered by an autoimmune response in which the immune system mistakenly attacks tissue when there is no outside invader.

Even though most ulcerative colitis patients do not have a family history of the condition, people have an increased risk for ulcerative colitis if they have a parent or sibling with the disease. Therefore, some scientists think that genes may play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis.

GETTING HELP

For some, it can be hard to tell if their bowel symptoms are something simple that will pass or if they need the attention of a doctor. It may be time to visit your doctor if you notice a continued change in your bowel routine or if you have any ulcerative colitis symptoms, such as the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody stools
  • Continuing periods of diarrhea that don’t get better with over-the-counter medications
  • Unexplained fever that lasts more than a couple days

While ulcerative colitis typically isn’t a deadly disease, complications associated with ulcerative colitis can be life-threatening.

Your family doctor will likely be the first person you see after noticing symptoms of ulcerative colitis. But that doctor might eventually send you to a specialist called a gastroenterologist.

Before seeing a gastroenterologist, it’s a good idea to prepare, particularly because you may not have a lot of one-on-one time with this specialist. It might be a good idea to write down a list of things you want to tell the gastroenterologist or that the gastroenterologist might need to know. This list may include:

  • Your symptoms
  • Personal information
  • Medical information
  • All medications, vitamins and supplements you are taking
  • Any questions you have

RELATED INFORMATION

Ulcerative colitis is one of many conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which are characterized by a chronic immune response and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease is another common form of IBD.

According to the CDC, IBD is the condition behind more than 700,000 physician visits and 100,000 hospitalizations. IBD also accounts for disability in an estimated 119,000 patients.

As much as 25 percent of patients with ulcerative colitis will require surgery over the long term.

LIVING WITH

Living with a chronic condition like ulcerative colitis not only takes a physical toll, but also can affect your emotional health. The pain, discomfort and persistent need to use the toilet can make center a patient’s life around this disease. Even mild symptoms like gas can keep people from making public appearences. For some patients, ulcerative colitis keeps them from even leaving the house. Feelings of isolation, embarrassment and anxiety can build up and may even lead to more serious mental health issues like depression.

For these reasons, many ulcerative colitis patients need support. For some, support simply comes from family. Other patients may turn to support groups. Some patients find it helpful to see a mental health professional who has experience dealing with patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Ask your doctor for suggestions if you need help coping with the emotional aspect of living with ulcerative colitis.

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When Thumb Sucking Doesn’t Suck https://www.dailyrx.com/uncategorized/when-thumb-sucking-doesnt-suck/ Sun, 11 Jun 2017 05:01:38 +0000 http://www.dailyrx.com/?p=2440 Nail-biters, thumb-suckers experience fewer allergies

thumb sucking childMany parents discourage their children from nail-biting and thumb-sucking, in part to keep germs out of their mouths. Though few adults see merit in these dirty habits, new research suggests that they may come with a positive side.

According to a press release issued by McMaster University, a new study found that children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails are less like to develop allergy sensitiveness. And kids who do both are even less likely to be allergic to dust mites, grass, cats, dogs, horses and airborne fungi.

To conduct the study, researchers measured the thumb-sucking and nail-biting habits of more than 1,000 children in New Zealand at the ages of five, seven, nine and eleven. They also measured atopic sensitization using skin prick testing at ages 13 and 32. Researchers found that 31 percent of them were frequent thumb-suckers or nail-biters.

When measured at 13 years old, 45 percent of all the children had atopic sensitization. However, among children who either sucked their thumbs or bit their nails, only 40 percent had allergies. And among children who practiced both nasty habits, only 31 percent displayed allergies. These findings held true when the allergies were measured in adulthood.

Researchers say that the study did not find an association between thumb-sucking and nail-biting and the development of asthma or hay fever.

“Our findings are consistent with the hygiene theory that early exposure to dirt or germs reduces the risk of developing allergies,” says Dr. Malcolm Sears in the press release. Dr. Sears hails from McMaster University’s School of Medicine and works for the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. He adds:

“While we don’t recommend that these habits should be encouraged, there does appear to be a positive side to these habits.”

This study was published in August in Pediatrics. It was funded by Phil Silva. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/mu-tan070816.php

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/2/e20160443

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What is Restless Legs Syndrome? https://www.dailyrx.com/conditions/what-is-restless-legs-syndrome/ Sat, 10 Jun 2017 05:01:34 +0000 http://www.dailyrx.com/?p=2466 An Irresistible Urge

Common Sensations

Sensations Worsen in the Evening

  • RLS patients commonly report that their symptoms are worse in the evening, making it difficult to go to sleep and stay asleep. But many patients also report little to no symptoms in the morning, allowing them to sleep better during that time.
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet” — http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm#241533237

Symptoms Are Triggered By Inactivity

Moving Brings Relief

Restlessness Turns to Twitching at Night

Misdiagnosed Symptoms

Related Chronic Conditions

Medication Might Be The Issue

  • Certain medications may cause RLS symptoms to increase. Anti-nausea medications (prochlorperazine or metoclopramide), antipsychotics (haloperidol or phenothiazine derivatives), antidepressants and certain cold and allergy medications containing antihistamines might make symptoms worse.
  • http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm

What To Do If You Think You Have RLS

Citations:
● National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet”
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm#241533237
● Mayo Clinic, “Restless legs syndrome: Symptoms”
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/restless-legs-syndrome/DS00191/DSECTION=symptoms
● National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Restless Legs Syndrome Fact Sheet”
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/restless_legs/detail_restless_legs.htm#241533237

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How Birth Order Affects Asthma https://www.dailyrx.com/conditions/chronic-disease/how-birth-order-affects-asthma/ Thu, 08 Jun 2017 05:01:25 +0000 http://dailyrx.net/?p=2038 Swedish study confirmed link between birth order and risk of childhood disease. Is it better to be the first-born or the younger child? The answer– at least when it comes to certain diseases– is something Swedish researchers may now know.
A study from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that birth order and the presence or absence of siblings affected a child’s risk of developing asthma, diabetes, ADHD and respiratory infections.
“Our study confirms a link between sibship and childhood disease,” principal researcher, Catarina Almqvist Malmros, MD, said in a press release. “We found that single children had a higher risk of asthma, diabetes and ADHD than firstborns who had younger siblings, but showed no difference in the risk of developing respiratory infections.”
Dr. Malmros is a professor at Karolinska Institute’s Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a pediatrician at Astrid Lindgren’s Children’s Hospital.
Previous research showed that younger siblings are less likely to develop asthma, allergies such as hay fever and atopic eczema–a skin condition. A link between younger siblings and lower risks of type 1 diabetes and ADHD has also been confirmed in the past.
This study was an attempt to develop a more global understanding of the relationship between sibship and diseases. Professor Almqvist Malmros and colleagues analyzed sibship data from the Swedish Multigenerational Registry.
Children were divided into three groups: children with no siblings, first-born children with at least one sibling and second-born children. The researchers also looked at the interval between first and second-born children and divided this group into children born less than two years, two to four years or five years or more after their older sibling.
Single children made up 13 percent of the group, while 43 percent were first-born and 44 percent were second-born. Younger siblings were less likely to develop asthma and respiratory infections than first-born children with younger siblings.
The researchers were unable to determine exactly which birth order affected disease patterns. They theorized that the children might have been exposed to different bacteria or viruses or that the environment in the uterus during pregnancy could have had an effect.
The study was published in the June 2016 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Funding for the study was provided by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish initiative for Research on Microdata in the Social and Medical Sciences, the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, the Åke Wiberg foundation, Sällskapet Barnavård, the Stockholm County Council (ALF project) and the Strategic Research Program in Epidemiology at Karolinska Institute.
Coauthor C. Almgvist reported receiving funding from the Swedish Research Council, Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, Åke Wiberg foundation, and Sällskapet Barnavård and grants provided by the Stockholm County Council (ALF project) and Strategic Research Program in Epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet. None of the remaining authors expressed a conflict of interest.
SOURCES
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, “Sibship and risk of asthma in a total population: A disease comparative approach, (2016)” http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(16)30287-1/abstract
Medical Express, “Sibling order affects risk of asthma and other diseases” http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-08-sibling-affects-asthma-diseases.html
By Beth Greenwood | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Robert Carlson, M.D.
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Athlete’s foot: Defined https://www.dailyrx.com/sports/athletes-foot-defined/ Wed, 07 Jun 2017 05:01:10 +0000 https://www.dailyrx.com/?p=2842 OVERVIEW

Athlete’s foot is a skin condition caused by a fungal infection called tinea pedis, which means “ringworm of the foot.”

Athlete’s foot is contagious and transferable through contaminated surfaces like floors or infected people.

This fungal infection develops on the skin of the feet, usually the areas between the toes and the soles of the feet. Athlete’s foot tends to affect people whose feet have become sweaty or damp in tight shoes. The affected part of the skin becomes scaly and dry, which typically causes itching, burning and stinging sensations. In the worst cases, the foot can crack and blister, potentially resulting in a bacterial infection.

SYMPTOMS

Not all skin infections caused by fungi are athlete’s foot. In some cases, athlete’s foot is mistaken for eczema or simply dry skin.

Symptoms of athlete’s foot include the following:

  • Red, dry and scaly skin
  • Itching, burning and stinging sensations
  • Blisters and cracks on the soles of the feet

Athlete’s foot can affect one or both feet. If you have athlete’s foot and touch the affected skin, the fungus can spread to the palm or fingers, underarms and other parts of the body. The fungus also can be passed from person to person through contaminated towels, clothing or floors. When the soles of the feet blister and crack, the risk for bacterial infection increases.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching any body part affected by athlete’s foot.

DIAGNOSIS

Doctors often can diagnose athlete’s foot by simply looking at the skin.

If needed, a doctor may suggest a skin culture, which involves taking a scraping or sample of affected skin using a cotton swab. If the doctor cannot diagnose the condition by sight, she might suggest a skin biopsy, in which a piece of skin is removed and examined in the laboratory.

TREATMENTS

woman applying cream to bottom of foot

In most cases, people with athlete’s foot can use over-the-counter antifungal products to treat the infection. These antifungals come in a variety of forms, including ointments, lotions, powders and sprays. Over-the-counter, topical treatments include clotrimazole (brand name Lotrimin) and tolnaftate (brand name Tinactin).

Athlete’s foot usually improves within two weeks. However, the infection can recur (come back) if you are exposed to the fungi. To prevent a recurrence of athlete’s foot, people may use those antifungal products more regularly.

In more severe cases of athlete’s foot, doctors may prescribe stronger medications, such as oral antifungal medications. Oral antifungal medications include fluconazole (brand name Diflucan) and terbinafine (brand name Lamisil).

When you first notice signs of athlete’s foot, keep your feet clean and dry. Don’t forget to wash and dry between your toes, too.

CAUSES

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that thrives in humid and warm areas, often in damp socks or closed-toe shoes.

Athlete’s foot can spread from person to person through direct contact or through contact with contaminated items like clothing, towels or floors. The fungus also can spread to surfaces of swimming pools, locker rooms and shower areas.

GETTING HELP

If you notice a skin rash, you might try home remedies first. Start by keeping your feet clean and dry. If that doesn’t do the trick, over-the-counter creams or sprays may work. If the infection doesn’t improve after two weeks, talk to your doctor. If you notice excessive swelling, redness or cracks, contact your doctor right away. Also talk to your doctor if you have diabetes and think you might have athlete’s foot because foot infections can lead to serious complications like amputation in diabetes patients. 

RELATED INFORMATION

Athlete’s foot occurs in 15 to 25 percent of people at any given time. The infection is more common in men than in women. Certain habits can lead to athlete’s foot. These habits include sharing clothes or towels, walking barefoot in public areas, and wearing damp socks or tight-fitting shoes.

LIVING WITH

If you have athlete’s foot, your doctor may recommend regular use of over-the-counter creams or sprays. If other medications are needed, take them as prescribed. You should also always keep your feet clean and dry. Wash your feet regularly and dry them thoroughly. Pay attention to the areas in between your toes.

You can prevent athlete’s foot in a number of ways:

  • Keep your feet clean, dry and cool
  • Wash and change your socks regularly
  • Wear clean cotton socks
  • Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day
  • Wear sandals in communal showers, pools and other public areas
  • Wear light shoes that allow air to flow easily
  • Use talcum powder to reduce sweating
  • Have your nails clipped and keep them clean
  • Don’t share shoes, socks or towels

 

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Air Pollution and Your Skin https://www.dailyrx.com/conditions/cancer/air-pollution-and-your-skin/ Tue, 06 Jun 2017 05:00:33 +0000 http://dailyrx.net/?p=2056 Research shows air pollution damages and prematurely ages skin. Lung and heart diseases have long been linked to air pollution, but the effects on the skin are now beginning to be understood.

Air pollution, especially in large and heavily polluted cities, is causing skin damage, according to emerging research. In urban areas most air pollution comes from vehicle exhaust. Among the pollutants in this exhaust are tiny particles called PMs, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

From eczema and hives to accelerating wrinkles and age spots, air pollution is being linked to damage to the body’s largest organ. However, scientists also say that some common skin routines may also be making the problem worse.

“With traffic pollution emerging as the single most toxic substance for skin, the dream of perfect skin is over for those living and working in traffic-polluted areas unless they take steps to protect their skin right now,” Dr. Mervyn Patterson, a cosmetic doctor at Woodford Medical clinics in the UK, said in an interview with The Guardian.

Jean Krutmann, MD, is the director at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Germany. He and colleagues completed a study of over 1,800 people in Germany and China that showed when air pollution increased so did age spots on the patients cheeks.

“It is not a problem that is limited to China or India–we have it in Paris, in London, wherever you have larger urban agglomerations you have it,” Dr. Krutman said in a press release. “In Europe everywhere is so densely populated and the particles are being distributed by the wind, so it is very difficult to escape from the problem.”

The study was reported in May, 2015 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Pollutants are able to pass through the skin and once in the body they cause inflammation. These pollutants can increase melanocytes, the cells that create pigment in the skin, make blood vessels grow larger and trigger the enzymes that reabsorb damaged collagen. Collagen is one of the supporting structures of the skin. The enzymes can remove so much that skin begins to sag and wrinkle.

Researchers are now looking for ways to protect the skin from air pollution. Some have added vitamin B3 to skin care products as it can help heal damaged skin. Others are looking at different molecules or chemicals that may protect the skin from damage in the first place.

Researchers also noted that some of the things people do in their quest for smoother skin add to air pollution’s effects, like retinoids, glycolic acid and skin scrubs. “You can also put on a very nice physical shield in the form of good quality mineral makeup. That produces an effect like a protective mesh and probably has some trapping effect, protecting against the initial penetration of particles,” Dr. Patterson said. “But you also need always to try to remove that shield in the evening, washing the slate clean every night.”

Sources
The Guardian, “Air pollution causes wrinkles and premature ageing, new research shows”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/15/air-pollution-causes-wrinkles-and-premature-aging-new-research-shows
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, “Traffic-Related Air Pollution Contributes to Development of Facial Lentigines: Further Epidemiological Evidence from Caucasians and Asians,”
http://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(16)00453-X/abstract
Written by Beth Greenwood, RN | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Bob Carlson, M.D.
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Ebola Virus Disease https://www.dailyrx.com/conditions/infectious-disease/ebola-virus-disease/ Mon, 05 Jun 2017 05:01:00 +0000 https://www.dailyrx.com/?p=3078  

Overview

The Ebola virus can cause Ebola virus disease, a severe, often fatal disease that has caused several destructive outbreaks in Africa in the last century.

Ebola is highly infectious. It can spread rapidly and has a high death rate, particularly in areas with overstretched health care systems — such as parts of West Africa, in which the 2014 outbreak took thousands of lives.

Primates like African chimps can carry the virus, and outbreaks usually begin when a human contracts the virus through contact with one. In the Philippines, scientists have discovered a less severe strain of Ebola in some monkeys and pigs. 

Symptoms

Ebola Virus Ecology and TransmissionSymptoms of Ebola virus disease usually develop within 21 days of infection with the virus. The average, though, is between eight and 10 days, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms of Ebola virus disease include a fever higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, muscle and head pain, weakness, nausea, bruising and unexplained bleeding (called hemorrhaging).

Bleeding from Ebola virus disease typically happens once the disease has advanced. The bleeding can be internal, external or both.

Diagnosis

Especially during an outbreak, doctors will conduct blood tests on patients who have Ebola symptoms to confirm or rule out Ebola virus disease.

But making the diagnosis can be difficult with patients who may be within their first few days of infection. Early symptoms — like fever and nausea — are common to many diseases, and on the scale of all diseases, Ebola virus disease is relatively rare.

If a patient has been in an area with a current Ebola outbreak or has encountered an infected person or animal, doctors will typically monitor that patient for symptoms and place him or her in isolation until the results of a blood test clear or confirm Ebola. 

Treatments

As of October 2014, there is no treatment for Ebola that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because of the lack of viable medications to treat the virus, doctors usually try to treat the symptoms.

Ebola patients are often placed in intensive care. There, doctors take several measures to increase the patients’ chances of survival. These measures include providing fluids, stabilizing oxygen and blood pressure levels, replacing lost blood and treating any other infections that arise.

Other medicines used to fight viral infections do not appear to have much effect on Ebola.

The 2014 West African Ebola outbreak sparked a surge in Ebola treatment research. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies, as of October 2014, had several treatments under review, but none were FDA-approved.

Causes

The Ebola virus can cause Ebola virus disease. The virus has been found in primates like monkeys and chimpanzees. Transmission from animals to humans usually occurs when humans eat infected animals.

Once the virus has transferred to humans, it can only be spread through contact with infected bodily fluids. Humans are thought not to be contagious until they show symptoms.

Ebola is not spread through the air or by insects like mosquitoes.

Living With

On average, Ebola virus disease is fatal in 50 percent of cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the fatality rate varies by outbreak — it’s been as high as 90 percent and as low as 25 percent.

Patients who survive an Ebola infection have reported side effects like hair loss and joint pain.

Ebola survivors develop antibodies to the virus, which means they are less likely to catch it again. These antibodies may last up to 10 years.

Whether Ebola survivors are susceptible to other strains of the virus is unknown.

Getting Help

If you believe you have been exposed to the Ebola virus, do not wait for symptoms to develop — seek emergency medical care immediately.

If you have recently traveled to Africa and develop symptoms of Ebola virus disease, contact a medical professional immediately.

Related Information

If you are traveling in an area with a current Ebola outbreak, take precautions against the disease. Preventive measures include frequent hand washing and avoiding bodily fluids and close contact with people who might be infected. Avoid handling objects or touching surfaces that might have come into contact with another person’s blood.

Monitor your health closely for the first 21 days after you return from an area where you could have been exposed to Ebola. If you notice any symptoms developing, seek immediate medical care.

References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease)”
http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/
MedlinePlus, “Ebola hemorrhagic fever”
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001339.htm
Mayo Clinic, “Ebola virus and Marburg virus”
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ebola-virus/basics/definition/con-20031241
World Health Organization, “Ebola virus disease”
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/
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Infectious Diseases: Defined https://www.dailyrx.com/conditions/infectious-disease/infectious-diseases-defined/ Sun, 04 Jun 2017 05:01:22 +0000 https://www.dailyrx.com/?p=3069 OVERVIEW

Infectious diseases are caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.

hiv virus cellThese diseases can be passed directly from one person to another, through animal bites, and through contaminated water, food or other substances. When the body’s immune system weakens (due to illnesses or medications), it is less able to fight these foreign invaders, allowing infectious diseases to take over the body’s defenses.

Common symptoms of infectious diseases may include fever and chills, among many others. While some infectious diseases can be treated with simple home remedies, others may require hospitalization.

Vaccines can prevent a number of infectious diseases. Routine hand-washing also helps to prevent the spread of diseases.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of infectious diseases vary depending on the specific infection. However, symptoms often include fatigue, fever, muscle pain and appetite loss.

You should see your doctor if you have difficulty breathing, swelling or sudden fever. Also see your doctor if you’ve been bitten by an animal.

Other signs of infectious disease may include bad headache or seizures with fever and a cough that lasts longer than a week.

DIAGNOSIS

There are many types of infectious diseases, all of which have different combinations of symptoms. To make a proper diagnosis, your doctor may suggest certain tests depending on the symptoms you are showing. Such tests may include lab tests, imaging scans or biopsies (surgical removal of tissue).

Lab work may include:

  • Blood tests, in which a blood sample is taken through inserting a needle into a vein or through a finger prick.
  • Urine tests, in which you urinate into a container so that the urine sample can be examined for signs of disease.
  • Lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, in which cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal chord) is drawn from the lower spine.
  • Throat culture, in which the back of your throat is scraped with a cotton swab to locate any germs.

Imaging scans that may be used to help diagnose infectious diseases include:

  • X-rays, which use electromagnetic waves of radiation to show general internal structures of the body.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans, which use x-ray methods to show a more detailed cross section of the bones, organs and other tissues within the body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which produces high-resolution pictures of your bones and soft tissues are shown through magnetic scanning. Unlike x-rays and CT scans, MRI doesn’t use radiation.

A biopsy is done by sampling a small piece of a living tissue from an internal organ to locate any damage or diseases.

TREATMENTS

Common infectious diseases, such as cold, can be treated with simple home remedies and over-the-counter medications. For these types of infections, getting enough rest and drinking ample fluids may help speed up recovery.

More complex diseases may require medications.

Bacterial infections: Bacteria are organized into groups of similar kinds. The antibiotics to treat these infections are also grouped by similar types. Your doctor will decide which antibiotic is best suited to treat your bacterial infection. For example, penicillin is often used to treat urinary tract infections.

influenza-virus-fulltextViral infections: Antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections. However, medications called antivirals have been designed to treat some viral infections. Certain antivirals are used to treat HIV and the flu.

 

meningitis-aspergillus-fumigatus_fungal infectionFungal infections: Some fungi can reproduce by spreading small spores through the air. These spores can be inhaled or land on the skin, which is why fungal infections are often found in the lungs or on the skin. Antifungals are used to treat fungal infections. Tolnaftate is an antifungal usually used to treat skin infections like athlete’s foot.

parasitic infection in jarParasitic infections: Infections caused by parasites need condition-specific treatments. Chloroquine, for example, is used both to prevent and treat malaria.

CAUSES

The causes of infectious diseases are grouped into four main categories:

  • Bacteria: Bacteria are organisms with just one cell that can quickly multiply in the body. They often release chemicals that make people ill. An example of bacterial infection is tuberculosis.
  • Viruses: These foreign invaders spread by using people’s own cells. Both the common cold and AIDS are viral infections.
  • Fungi: Fungi are spread mostly through the air. They get into the body through the lungs or the skin. Athlete’s foot is just one example of infection caused by fungi.
  • Parasites: These invaders use the human body both for food and as a place to live. An example of parasitic infection is malaria.

Infectious diseases can be spread in a number of ways. One infected person can pass an infection on to another. Infected animals also may spread infectious diseases to humans. People may even catch an infectious disease through the food they eat.

Here are the primary ways that infectious diseases are spread:

  • Direct contact: The quickest way is through a direct contact with another person or animal with the infection. It can be from one person to another (touch, cough, kisses, sexual contact, or blood transfusion), animal to person, or mother to unborn baby. A common example is influenza.
  • Indirect contact: Infection can also be spread through an indirect contact with items that have germs. Some examples are doorknob and faucet handle.
  • Animal and insect bites: Some germs can be passed on through animal or insect hosts. For example, mosquitoes may carry Malaria parasite or West Nile virus.
  • Food contamination: Germs can also infect you through contaminated food and water, which results in food poisoning. For example, Salmonella is often found in uncooked meat or unpasteurized milk.

GETTING HELP

If you think you have an infection, you may call your family doctor for treatment. Depending on your infection, your doctor may refer you to a specialist.

In order to get a proper diagnosis and treatment, you may want to prepare some information for your doctor. Make a detailed list of your symptoms, your medical history, your family’s medical history, any medications and supplements that you take and questions you may have for your doctor.

RELATED INFORMATION

Infectious diseases are the main cause of death of children and teens and one of the leading causes of death among adults around the world.

Most deaths from infectious diseases happen in low- and middle-income countries. Many of these deaths are caused by preventable or treatable diseases like diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Even with major improvements in medicine, infectious diseases continue to spread. Many of the interventions to prevent and treat infectious diseases are not available to the populations that need them the most. However, through collective efforts, the public health community has had some successes in reducing or eliminating some infectious diseases.

LIVING WITH

Many of the most common infectious diseases, such as the cold, will go away on their own. Remember to drink lots of water and other fluids and to get plenty of rest.

If you develop an infection, here are some tips to prevent further spread of the disease:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
  • Stay home when having diarrhea, vomiting or running a fever.
  • Do not share personal items.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Avoid flight travel when you’re sick.
  • Discuss vaccinations with your doctor.
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Pneumonia: Defined https://www.dailyrx.com/conditions/infectious-disease/pneumonia-defined/ Sat, 03 Jun 2017 05:01:21 +0000 https://www.dailyrx.com/?p=3063 OVERVIEW

Pneumonia is a lung infection that can affect one or both lungs. Different types of germs and irritants can cause the illness — from viruses and bacteria to fungi and inhaled chemicals.

Pneumonia can range from mild to severe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children younger than 5 across the globe. Those older than 65 also face an increased risk.

Pneumonia can be both prevented and treated through avoiding irritants, vaccines, antibiotics and antiviral medications.

SYMPTOMS

Anyone experiencing symptoms of pneumonia should seek immediate medical care, as pneumonia can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Common symptoms of pneumonia include high fever, a low body temperature or chills, a persistent cough that produces phlegm, chest pain or shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms can vary in infants and the elderly. For example, infants sometimes do not exhibit symptoms at all and instead appear restless or overly tired. The elderly may have sudden, sharp changes in mental awareness when they have pneumonia, according to the Mayo Clinic.

DIAGNOSIS

Using a combination of lab tests, a physical exam and your medical history, your doctor will diagnose or rule out pneumonia.

doctor looking at x-rayTo locate the infection and assess its severity, your doctor may give you a chest X-ray. Some doctors choose to use blood tests to confirm an infection and identify the specific type of infection. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, only about half of patients receive an exact identification of the organism causing the infection.

Other tests include pulse oximetry, which measures the level of oxygen in your blood. Since pneumonia can prevent your lungs from moving enough oxygen into your bloodstream, this test can identify the presence of pneumonia or a similar illness. Another common test is the sputum test, which analyzes a sample of fluid from the lungs for the presence of pneumonia.

TREATMENTS

Pneumonia is an infection, so doctors treat it by resolving the infection. They can do this with a variety of methods, but some of the most common ones are antibiotics and antivirals. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections, and antivirals fight viral infections, so your doctor will prescribe one or the other based on what type of pneumonia you have.

antibiotics and thermometerInfants and the elderly are commonly hospitalized for pneumonia, but it can land others in a hospital bed, too — especially if your blood pressure drops to unsafe levels or you are vomiting so much that you can’t keep medications down.

If you have pneumonia, your doctor is likely to prescribe bed rest in conjunction with any other treatment.

CAUSES

Causes of pneumonia can vary widely — each case isn’t the result of the same particular organism or irritant. In other words, many different kinds of bacteria, viruses and fungi can cause pneumonia.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a type of bacteria that can cause pneumonia, often after a cold or the flu when the respiratory system is already weakened. Sometimes, viruses that cause the flu can also cause pneumonia. Some types of viral pneumonia are more mild than bacterial pneumonia, but all cases should be taken seriously.

Fungi do not typically cause pneumonia in healthy adults. Those with weakened immune systems or who have come into contact with a large amount of the fungi are most susceptible.

Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a bacteria-like organism that can cause what’s known as walking pneumonia — “walking” because it isn’t usually severe enough to banish patients to bed rest.

GETTING HELP

Pneumonia-like symptoms should always be taken seriously. If left untreated, especially in infants and the elderly, pneumonia can be deadly. Most primary care doctors and emergency rooms are equipped to treat pneumonia and its symptoms.

RELATED INFORMATION

Preventing pneumonia is better than treating an actual case. Many factors can reduce the risk for pneumonia. These factors include:

  • Not smoking
  • Getting vaccinated for pneumonia
  • Getting a seasonal flu shot
  • Regularly washing your hands
  • Sanitizing surfaces that are likely to carry bacteria and other germs, such as kitchen counters

Talk to your doctor before getting a pneumonia vaccine or flu shot.

LIVING WITH

Pneumonia is often short-lived and easily treated. However, during recovery time, it’s important to get lots of rest, even if you’re feeling better. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water or other healthy fluids, stay home from work or school to prevent the infection from spreading and take all prescribed medications.

Recovery times can vary from two or three weeks in healthy patients to much longer in patients with already compromised health. Taking precautions can shorten recovery times.

REFERENCES
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Pneumonia: An Infection of the Lungs”
http://www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/
MedlinePlus, “Pneumonia”
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/pneumonia.html
Mayo Clinic, “Pneumonia”
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonia/basics/definition/con-20020032
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