Archive for August, 2006

Hepatitis

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Hepatitis means “inflammation of the liver”, and the most common cause is infection with one of 5 viruses, called hepatitis A,B,C,D, and E. All of these viruses can cause an acute disease with symptoms lasting several weeks including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice); dark urine; extreme fatigue; nausea; vomiting and abdominal pain. It can take several months to a year to feel fit again.

Menopause : Signs and symptoms

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Every woman experiences menopause differently. Even the age at which menopause begins may be unique to you. Some women reach menopause in their 30s or 40s, and some not until their 60s, but menopause most often occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.

Your signs and symptoms also are likely to be very individual. You may breeze through menopause with few signs and symptoms. Or you may experience a number of physical and emotional changes, including:

# Irregular periods. Your menstrual periods may stop suddenly, or gradually get lighter or heavier and then stop. The unpredictability of your periods may be your first clue that menopause is approaching.

# Decreased fertility. When ovulation begins to fluctuate, you’re less likely to become pregnant. Until you haven’t had a period for a year, however, pregnancy is still possible.

# Vaginal and urinary changes.

# Changes in appearance.

# Emotional and cognitive changes.

Menopause – Types and Stages

Friday, August 25th, 2006

The whole Menopause transition varies from woman to woman. Depending on this it can be divided into four main stages

Premenopause - this refers to entire normal reproductive period of a woman’s life from the time of the first menstruation cycle to the last regular menstrual period.

Perimenopause - this refers to the transition phase when a woman passes from regular periods to irregular periods and happens for a few months or years before attaining full stoppage of menstruation. It is usually experienced by women from 35 to 50 years of age. During this stage a there are hormone fluctuations and this causes the typical menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.

Menopause – this itself refers to a stage when the women’s reproductive life comes to an end and a woman can no longer get pregnant naturally. At this point the ovaries stop producing eggs and the menstruation cycle stops permanently. The two reproductive hormones – estrogen and progesterone production decreases permanently to low levels

Postmenopause – refers to the period in a women’s life after one year from the time of the last menstrual cycle. From here a woman will be postmenopausal for the rest of her life.

Premature Menopause and Male Menopause

Menopause usually comes after the age of 45 years but some woman experience it sooner i.e. before the age of 40 and this is called ‘Premature Menopause’.

In this context it should be mentioned that although there is nothing like male Menopause or now called Andropause but some men do experience similar symptoms that women experience in Menopause.

Menopause is a natural biological process, not a medical illness

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Menopause is a natural biological process, not a medical illness. Although it’s associated with hormonal, physical and psychosocial changes in your life, menopause isn’t the end of your youth or of your sexuality. Several generations ago, few women lived beyond menopause. Today, you may spend as much as half of your life after menopause.

Hormone therapy (HT) has been widely used in recent decades to relieve the signs and symptoms of menopause and — doctors thought — to prevent diseases associated with aging. However, new long-term evidence has demonstrated that HT may actually increase your risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, breast cancer and stroke.

Estrogen therapy is still a safe, short-term option for some women, but numerous other therapies also are available to help you manage menopausal symptoms and stay healthy during this important phase of your life. 

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Thursday, August 24th, 2006

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Thyroid gland

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that lies in front of the windpipe, also known as the trachea, and just below the voice box, also called the larynx. This gland makes hormones that regulate the way the body uses energy.

The thyroid gland uses iodine from food to make two thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) Thyroid glandand triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid gland stores these hormones and releases them into the bloodstream as they are needed.

If the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, it is called hypothyroidism. If the gland produces too many hormones, it is called hyperthyroidism. Problems with the thyroid gland can affect many body systems. Changes in weight, heartbeat, body temperature, digestion, and muscle function are common. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be treated, usually with medication and sometimes with surgery.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

hypothyroidismThe symptoms of hypothyroidism can initially be very mild and develop slowly. It is possible to have some of these symptoms before the amount of thyroid hormone drops below normal.

This type of mild hypothyroidism is called subclinical hypothyroidism. People affected need to be monitored by their doctor, who will watch out for further symptoms.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism relate to a general “slowing down” of the body’s functions. They include:

-feeling tired and sleeping excessively
-easily feeling the cold
-dry and thickened skin
-coarse, thinning hair and eyebrows and brittle nails
-sore muscles, slow movements and weakness
-depression and problems with memory and concentration
-weight gain
-constipation
-fertility problems and increased risk of miscarriage
-heavy, irregular or prolonged menstrual periods

There may also be swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck – a goitre.

Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) & Risk factors

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This tends to slow down the body’s functions. Symptoms include tiredness, constipation and sensitivity to the cold.

Risk factors for hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is more common in older people.
Women are more likely to be affected than men.
Autoimmune hypothyroidism is more likely in those who have other conditions resulting from an autoimmune disorder such as type 1 diabetes mellitus, vitiligo and Addison’s disease.
Some medicines can affect the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. These include lithium carbonate (for bipolar disorder) and amiodarone (for heart rhythm abnormalities).

 

Asbestos Lung Cancer Biopsy

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

asbestosIn many cases, a pathologist will take a tissue sample or biopsy to confirm whether asbestos lung cancer is present (Diagnosing Lung Cancer, CancerNet, National Cancer Institute).

Types of biopsies include:

Bronchoscopy: The doctor puts a bronchoscope (a thin, lighted tube) into the mouth or nose and down through the windpipe to look into the breathing passages. Through this tube, the doctor can collect cells or small samples of tissue.
Needle aspiration: A needle is inserted through the chest into the tumor to remove a sample of tissue.

Thoracentesis: Using a needle, the doctor removes a sample of the fluid that surrounds the lungs to check for cancer cells.
Thoracotomy: Surgery to open the chest. This procedure is a major operation performed in a hospital.

Mediastinoscopy: Using a lighted viewing instrument or scope, the doctor examines the center of the chest (mediastinum) and nearby lymph nodes. Tissue samples are taken from the lymph nodes along the windpipe through a small hole cut into the neck.

Asbestos Lung Cancer

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Most asbestos lung cancer starts in the lining of the bronchi, the tubes into which the trachea or windpipe divides. However, asbestos lung cancer can also begin in other areas such as the trachea, bronchioles (small branches of the bronchi), or alveoli (lung air sacs). Although lung cancer usually develops slowly, once it occurs, cancer cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body.

The two most common types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer (SCLC), in which the cancer cells are small and round, and non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), in which the cancer cells are larger. Sometimes a cancer has features of both types, and is called mixed small cell/large cell cancer.

Non–small cell lung cancer accounts for almost 80% of lung cancers. Small cell lung cancer accounts for about 20% of all lung cancers (American Cancer Society, Lung Cancer). Although the cancer cells are small, they can multiply quickly and form large tumors. The tumors can spread to the lymph nodes and to other organs.

Early–stage asbestos lung cancer may be asymptomatic (without symptoms). The methods used to diagnose asbestos lung cancer include imaging tests, biopsies, and taking phlegm (spit) samples. See Asbestos Lung Cancer Diagnosis.

Symptoms of Pleural Mesothelioma

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma (mesothelioma of the lining of the lung, known as the pleura) may include, but are not limited to, the following:

# shortness of breath (dyspnea) – hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and/or coughing up of blood.
# pleural effusion – a build up of too much fluid between the pleura (linings of the lungs and chest); a pleural effusion may cause chest pain and difficulty breathing (dyspnea), however, many cause no symptoms and are first discovered during the physical examination or seen on a chest x-ray.
# pain in the chest – may sometimes be felt in upper abdomen, shoulder, or arm.

 

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

The peritoneum also has two layers the inner (visceral) layer which is next to the peritoneal-mesotheliomaabdominal organs and the outer (parietal) layer which lines the abdominal wall. 

Peritoneal mesothelioma causes the peritoneum to thicken and fluid to collect in the abdomen. This collection of fluid is called ascites and causes the abdomen to swell. Because pleural mesothelioma is more common and often spreads to the peritoneal cavity, it is sometimes necessary to determine if pleural mesothelioma is the primary cancer.

Picture Source – mesotheliomacenter.org 

Pleural Mesothelioma

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

The pleural lining has two layers: the visceral (inner) layer is next to the lung and the parietal (outer) layer lines the chest wall. The pleura produces fluid that lubricates the space between the two layers, this allows the two layers to slide comfortably over each other as we breathe in and out. 

pleural-mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma causes the pleura to thicken. This thickening of the pleura might begin to press onto the lungs or attach itself to the inside of the chest wall. In either case the expansion of the lung becomes progressively restricted by the tumour. Fluid, sometimes several litres, can collect between the two layers of the pleura; this affects the lungs ability to expand and causes the person to feel breathless. This is known as a pleural effusion. 

Picture Source – mesotheliomacenter.org 

Cancer Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Because mesothelioma’s symptoms are not unique to it and the disease’s relative rarity, cases of mesothelioma misdiagnosed are not uncommon. A review of the patient’s medical history is an important part in assessing the risk of mesothelioma.

As a first step in diagnosing the disease, the doctor may order an x-ray of the chest or abdomen or a CT (or CAT) scan or MRI may be performed. Although mesothelioma typically cannot be seen on an x-ray, the tumor often causes a pleural effusion, or fluid collection between the lung and chest wall. This abnormal finding is associated with shortness of breath and warrants clinical followup. Lung function tests may also be completed.

ThoracoscopeThe doctor may look inside the chest cavity with a special instrument called a thoracoscope. A cut will be made through the chest wall and the thoracoscope will be put into the chest between two ribs. This test, called thoracoscopy, is usually done in the hospital. Before the test, the patient will be given a local anesthetic (a drug that causes a loss of feeling for a short period of time). Some pressure may be felt, but usually there is no pain.

The doctor may also look inside the abdomen (peritoneoscopy) with a special tool called a peritoneoscope. The peritoneoscope is put into an opening made in the abdomen. This test is also usually done in the hospital. Before the test is done, a local anesthetic will be given.

If tissue that is not normal is found, the doctor will need to cut out a small piece and have it reviewed under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. This is called a biopsy. Biopsies are usually done during the thoracoscopy or peritoneoscopy.

Diagnosing mesothelioma is very difficult, and cases of mesothelioma misdiagnosed are unforunately not uncommon. It is important to share your case history of work experience (especially in shipyards and at construction sites) and asbestos exposure potential with your physicians if you feel mesothelioma is a risk. Asbestos fibres can also be carried into the home on clothing, inadvertantly exposing the deadly fibres, and the risk of mesothelioma, to family members.

A mesothelioma diagnosis is serious, but treatments are available. The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on the size of the cancer, where the cancer is, how far the cancer has spread, how the cancer cells look under the microscope, how the cancer responds to treatment, and the patient’s age. As with most types of cancer, early diagnosis is an excellent first step in fighting the disease.

Mesothelioma – Symptoms & Signs

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

MesotheliomaMesothelioma (Asbestos Cancer) – Symptoms & Signs:

Shortness of breath (this is the primary symptom)

A persistent and productive cough

Chest tightness

Chest pain

Loss of appetite/weight loss

A crackling sound in the lungs while inhaling.

Mesothelioma (asbestos cancer)

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer which may affect the lining of the lungs (pleura) and the abdominal cavity (peritoneum).

Most mesotheliomas are caused by exposure to asbestos.

Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed 30 years or more after the first exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma occurs more often in men than in women.

Risk increases with age.

Eat Protein-Rich Foods

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

ProteinBody proteins are constantly being made and used during your lifetime to maintain cell and organ functions. Adequate protein intake and protein reserves are important for older adults, especially during periods of emotional and physical stresses. Protein helps to prevent muscle loss. Eat protein-rich foods such as meats, fish, dried beans and peas, or tofu. Also, these foods are good sources of iron and zinc.

As you age, blood levels of vitamin B-12 usually decrease. Vitamin B-12 is needed to make red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system. Animal foods are good sources of vitamin B-12.

Eat Calcium-Rich Foods

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Calcium and Vitamin D are essential to maintain strong bones and teeth. After age 50, more calcium or 1,200 milligrams are needed to prevent a disease called osteoporosis. As you age, minerals in your bones are lost and bones may get thinner. Protect your bones by choosing calcium-rich foods, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, greens, broccoli, sardines, canned salmon with bones, dried beans and peas, tofu, and calcium-fortified foods. If you have problems digesting milk,

# Drink lactose reduced milk.
# Eat yogurt or cheese, where the lactose has been broken down, Eat Calcium-Rich Foods
# Drink a smaller amount of milk or buttermilk at a time,
# Eat other calcium-rich foods that are not milk-based.

Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium. It is found in fluid milk, dried milk products, and fortified cereals. Your body can make its own Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sunshine. Several times a week try to take a walk or sit in the sun for 20-30 minutes. This is especially important in the winter when there is less sunlight. Remember to use sunscreen

Why Vitamin A, B, E

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Vitamin A – Prevents night blindness, promotes healthy skin, and fights infections.

Vitamin C - Maintains healthy gums, assists in healing wounds, and helps the body use iron.

Vitamin E – Protects your body against free radical damage to cells.