Archive for August, 2006

What is AIDS?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

images.jpgAIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Acquired – means that the disease is not hereditary but develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent (in this case, HIV).

Immunodeficiency – means that the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system.

Syndrome - refers to a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease. In the case of AIDS this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain cells in a person’s immune system.

A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using specific clinical or laboratory standards.

What is HIV?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV destroys certain white blood cells called CD4+ T cells. These cells are critical to the normal function of the human immune system, which defends the body against illness. When HIV weakens the immune system, a person is more susceptible to developing a variety of cancers and becoming infected with viruses, bacteria and parasites.

How do you get infected to HIV/AIDS ?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

HIV is passed on in the sexual fluids or blood of an infected person, so if infected blood or sexual fluid gets into your body, you can become infected. This usually happens by either having sexual intercourse with an infected person or by sharing needles used to inject drugs with an infected person. People can also become infected by being born to a mother who has HIV and a very small number of people become infected by having medical treatment using infected blood transfusions.

HIV can’t be caught by kissing, hugging or shaking hands with an infected person, and it can’t be transmitted by sneezes, door handles or dirty glasses.

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

You can be HIV-positive and not realize it. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have symptoms for many years. You cannot rely on symptoms to know your HIV status.  

The following may be warning signs of HIV infection:

  • Severe weight loss
  • Fevers
  • Headaches
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing

symptoms_new.jpgThe symptoms can last for weeks or months at a time and do not go away without treatment. Since these symptoms are commonly seen in other diseases, don’t assume these are HIV/AIDS-related until you get tested. If you are experiencing these symptoms and think you might be at risk, don’t wait! See a doctor or visit your student health center and get tested!!

A positive HIV test does not mean a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using certain clinical criteria. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for preventative care and treatment.

Is there a treatment for HIV/AIDS ?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

All the currently licensed anti-retroviral drugs, namely AZT, dd1 and ddC, have effects which last only for a limited duration. In addition, these drugs are very expensive and have severe adverse reactions while the virus tends to develop resistance rather quickly with single-drug therapy. The emphasis is now on giving a combination of drugs including newer drugs called protease inhibitors; but this makes treatment even more expensive. WHO’s present policy does not recommend antiviral drugs but instead advocates strengthening of clinical management for HIV-associated opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis and diarrhoea. Better care programmes have been shown to prolong survival and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Symptoms of appendicitis

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

appendicitis

Symptoms of appendicitis may include

pain in the abdomen, first around the belly button, then moving to the lower right area

loss of appetite

nausea
vomiting

constipation or diarrhea

inability to pass gas

low fever that begins after other symptoms

abdominal swelling

Not everyone with appendicitis has all the symptoms. The pain intensifies and worsens when moving, taking deep breaths, coughing, or sneezing. The area becomes very tender. People may have a sensation called “downward urge,” also known as “tenesmus,” which is the feeling that a bowel movement will relieve their discomfort. Laxatives and pain medications should not be taken in this situation. Anyone with these symptoms needs to see a qualified physician immediately.

The cause of appendicitis

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

The cause of appendicitis relates to blockage of the inside of the appendix, known as the lumen. The blockage leads to increased pressure, impaired blood flow, and inflammation. If the blockage is not treated, gangrene and rupture (breaking or tearing) of the appendix can result. 

Most commonly, feces blocks the inside of the appendix. Also, bacterial or viral infections in the digestive tract can lead to swelling of lymph nodes, which squeeze the appendix and cause obstruction. This swelling of lymph nodes is known as lymphoid hyperplasia. Traumatic injury to the abdomen may lead to appendicitis in a small number of people. Genetics may be a factor in others. For example, appendicitis that runs in families may result from a genetic variant that predisposes a person to obstruction of the appendiceal lumen.

Appendicitis

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

The appendix is a small, tube-like structure attached to the first part of the large intestine, also called the colon. The appendix is located in the lower right portion of the abdomen. It has no known function. Removal of the appendix appears to cause no change in digestive function.

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. Once it starts, there is no effective medical therapy, so appendicitis is considered a medical emergency. When treated promptly, most patients recover without difficulty. If treatment is delayed, the appendix can burst, causing infection and even death. Appendicitis is the most common acute surgical emergency of the abdomen. Anyone can get appendicitis, but it occurs most often between the ages of 10 and 30.

What are the types of anxiety disorders?

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Following are several of the most commonly experienced types of anxiety attacks and disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – If you feel consistently anxious for reasons which aren’t always apparent, you may be suffering from GAD. Anxiety related to GAD often manifests itself in physical symptoms like headaches, stomach upset and fatigue.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – The main symptom of OCD is unwanted thoughts or behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control.

Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder – Panic disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks. Panic disorder may also be accompanied by agoraphobia, a type of anxiety associated with being in places where escape or help is not perceived to be possible in case of panic.

Phobias – A phobia is type of anxiety that involves an extreme, unrealistic fear of a specific object/activity (such as a particular animal, or of flying) or of certain situations (such as being in open spaces, or in social situations). Usually phobias cause unrelenting fear and physical symptoms that prevent the person from facing the fear.

Separation Anxiety – Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage experienced by a child when separated from the primary caregiver. It consists of crying and distress when a child is away from a parent or from home. If separation anxiety continues to occur beyond a certain age or negatively impairs life or activities, it may need to be addressed.

Social Anxiety / Social Phobia – Social anxiety disorder can be thought of as an extreme shyness – extreme to the point of avoiding social situations and causing disruption to social and professional relationships.

Separation from home – Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety

Monday, August 28th, 2006
  1. Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:
  2. recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated
  3. persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures
  4. persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped)
  5. persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation
  6. persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings
  7. persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home
  8. repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation
  9. repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

How to prevent constipation

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Eat three meals per day at least 4 hours apart. Frequent feeding keeps your intestines contracting and moving stool along.

Drink at least 32 oz. (one quart) of water per day, not including what you drink at meal time.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which deplete body water stores. If you can’t avoid these, then match your caffeinated or alcoholic beverage intake with an equal amount of water.

If your diet is not extremely high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, by all means take a bulk fiber supplement How to prevent constipation

The preceding advice is mainly preventative, but it can be helpful in mild cases of existing constipation, too. If you stimulate the colon enough, contractions will help get the hardened stool out. Try prunes or other fruits, or even caffeine to stimulate contractions, as well as moderate exercise. But don’t jog too far away from a bathroom!

If constipation is quite severe, or special circumstances (such as hemorrhoids) make it mportant to control quickly, then consider these laxative groups:

Bulk fiber laxatives. Different brands have different ingredients, but they all just add bulk to the stool and prevent too much water from being absorbed. They may take awhile to take effect (12 hours to 3 days).

Stool softeners. These can be effective if your stool is too hard or dry to come out, despite normal bowel contractions. They are mainly preventative, but can work very quickly when combined with a stimulant laxative.

Stimulant laxatives. These stimulate bowel contractions quickly, but don’t soften the stools at all. They are often combined with stool softeners.

Glycerin suppositories. Promptly effective, usually within 1/2 hour. They both soften the stool and stimulate contractions. They only work on the stool that is in the rectum and lower colon.
Enemas and oral magnesium solutions. Avoid these unless directed by a physician.

Sometimes constipation results in stools so hard they won’t come out no matter what you try at home. This is called stool impaction. Don’t delay any longer — see your doctor immediately. If an impaction isn’t removed, it can cause total bowel obstruction and require hospitalization.

Constipation & causes of constipation

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Constipation Constipation can be defined as infrequent or hard pellet stools, or difficulty in evacuating stool. Passing one or more soft, bulky stools every day is a desirable goal. While troublesome, constipation is not usually a serious disorder. However, there may be other underlying problems causing constipation and, therefore, testing is often recommended.

Causes of Constipation:
The stomach churns and mixes food so it can be digested. The near-liquid food then enters the small intestine which extracts calories, minerals and vitamins. The small intestine ends in the right-lower abdomen where it enters the colon. The colon, or large bowel, is 5 to 6 feet long. Its function is to withdraw water from the liquid stool, so that by the time it reaches the rectum there is a soft formed stool. If an excessive amount of water is extracted, the stool can become hard and difficult to expel.

Constipation is often caused by a lazy colon that does not contract properly and fails to move the stool to the rectum. The colon also can become spastic and remain contracted for a prolonged time. In this case, stool cannot move along. Too much water is absorbed and hard pellet-like stool develops. Constipation also can result from a mechanical obstruction, such as tumors or advanced diverticulosis, a disorder which can distort and narrow the lower-left colon. Other conditions that can produce a sluggish, poorly contracting bowel include: pregnancy, anal fissures and hemorrhoids, certain drugs, thyroid hormone deficiency, the abuse of laxatives, travel, and stress.

Diarrhea Treatment

Friday, August 25th, 2006

DiarrheaThere are simple things that can be done at the beginning of a diarrheal episode which may help reduce symptoms. Taking only liquids by mouth and avoiding solid food and milk may be helpful. Over-the-counter constipating agents, such as Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate, or Imodium can also be tried. For explosive or persistent diarrhea, treatment will obviously depend on the cause. Fortunately, the cause of diarrhea can almost always be found and effective treatment is then usually available.

Diarrhea is a common problem which is usually not serious. If it is severe or persistent, a specific diagnosis should be sought. By working closely with the physician, effective treatment is almost always available.

Diarrhea – Diagnosis

Friday, August 25th, 2006

The cause and treatment of diarrhea may be very simple, such as discontinuing magnesium- containing antacids. Or it may be more difficult. Testing of blood and stool may be needed. X-rays and ultrasound may also be necessary. In some cases, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy are required to visually inspect the colon with a lighted, flexible tube. Testing depends on how severe and prolonged the condition is, and how the physician evaluates a specific case.

Causes of Diarrhea

Friday, August 25th, 2006

There are many causes of diarrhea. Fortunately, in most instances, this change in bowel habits is short lived and clears up on its own. In these cases, it is assumed that it is a virus infection or even “something I ate.” Whenever diarrhea lasts more than two or three weeks, medical advice is generally recommended. Among the many known causes are:

Food – Most people have certain foods that may cause diarrhea. For hot pepper lovers
(the chemical in it is called capaiscin), diarrhea often occurs the morning after. Many people are intolerant of milk and milk products so that even small amounts of the milk sugar lactose can cause diarrhea. Large amounts of fatty foods cause the same problem in other people. The obvious solution in all these instances is to avoid the offending agent.

Chemical Laxatives – Many people become dependent on laxatives early in life and use them on a daily basis. The names for the usual chemical stimulants are Milk of Magnesia, magnesium (Epsom salt), cascara (Nature’s Remedy), and phenolphthalein (Exlax, Correctol, Feen-A-Mint). Magnesium can be inadvertently ingested in various over-the-counter preparations such as Maalox or Mylanta. Check labels! Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener that is used in sugar free gum and prepared foods such as jams and jellies. Sorbitol, too, is a laxative.

Prescription Drugs – If a change in bowel habit occurs after taking a new drug, the physician should be contacted. In particular, antibiotics are known to cause diarrhea, at times quite severe. Diarrhea can develop up to one month after taking antibiotics.

Infection – There are over 400 different bacteria that normally live quietly and beneficially in the large intestine. There are also many viruses and other infectious agents that find their way into our bodies. Some of these can infect the intestinal tract and cause diarrhea. Fortunately, most of the time these infections come and go on their own. Some bacterial infections, such as salmonella, are serious and require medical evaluation. Salmonella commonly comes from contaminated poultry. There are parasites, such as amoeba and giardia, that attack the intestines. Giardia may be found in wild animals and in contaminated streams and well water. For people infected with the AIDS virus, there are a number of infections that can occur in the intestinal tract. Close medical follow up is always required in these instances. Virus infection is probably the most common cause of short term diarrhea and, fortunately, it usually clears up on its own.

Traveler’s Diarrhea – The cause of traveler’s diarrhea is a toxic bacteria called E. Coli. It most often occurs in developing countries where sanitation is not good. This infection can often be prevented by avoiding fresh, uncooked produce and fruits. Fruits, such as oranges, that have protective skins are safe. In particular, tap water in any form and especially ice should be avoided. Bottled beverages are recommended. The physician should be contacted prior to travel to these countries to obtain more information on prevention and treatment.

Diseases – There are certain intestinal disorders that can cause chronic diarrhea. These include ulcerative and microscopic colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulosis, and even colon cancer. These are all serious diseases that require careful medical attention and treatment. It is a major reason why the cause of chronic diarrhea should always be known.

Stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) — IBS is a problem that occurs when the intestines, especially the colon do not contract in a smooth, rhythmic manner. The contractions can be exaggerated in which case diarrhea occurs or they may be sluggish and result in constipation. Sometimes there is alternating constipation and diarrhea. Emotional stress often aggravates these symptoms.

Hepatitis C & its causes

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Hepatitis CThe hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread by direct contact with an infected person’s blood. The symptoms of the hepatitis C virus can be very similar to those of the hepatitis A and B viruses. However, infection with the hepatitis C virus can lead to chronic liver disease and is the leading reason for liver transplant in the United States.

The hepatitis C virus can be spread by:

sharing drug needles
getting a tattoo or body piercing with unsterilized tools
blood transfusions (especially ones that occurred before 1992; since then the U.S. blood supply has been routinely screened for the disease)
transmission from mother to newborn
sexual contact (although this is less common)

 

Hepatitis B – serum hepatitis

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Hepatitis B (also called serum hepatitis) is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms ranging from general malaise to chronic liver disease that can lead to liver cancer.

The hepatitis B virus spreads through:

Hepatitis B infected body fluids, such as blood, saliva, semen, vaginal fluids, tears, and urine
a contaminated blood transfusion (uncommon in the United States)
shared contaminated needles or syringes for injecting drugs
sexual activity with an HBV-infected person
transmission from HBV-infected mothers to their newborn babies

Hepatitis A

Friday, August 25th, 2006

In children, the most common form of hepatitis is hepatitis A (also called infectious hepatitis). This form is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), which lives in the stools (feces or poop) of infected individuals. Infected stool can be present in small amounts in food and on objects (from doorknobs to diapers).

The hepatitis A virus is spread:

when someone ingests anything that’s contaminated with HAV-infected stool (this makes it easy for the virus to spread in overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions)
in water, milk, and foods, especially in shellfish

Someone with hepatitis – several disorders

Friday, August 25th, 2006

hepatitisSomeone with hepatitis may:

have one of several disorders, including viral or bacterial infection of the liver
have a liver injury caused by a toxin (poison)
have liver damage caused by interruption of the organ’s normal blood supply
be experiencing an attack by his or her own immune system through an autoimmune disorder
have experienced trauma to the abdomen in the area of the liver