Showing posts with label Inside Human Body. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inside Human Body. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bad Breath Linked To Bacteria That Cause Stomach Ulcer And Cancer

New research from Japan found bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and cancer living in the mouths of some people with bad breath, even though they did not show signs of stomach illnesses.

The study was the work of Dr Nao Suzuki from Fukuoka Dental College in Fukuoka, Japan and colleagues and is published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

Scientists recently discovered that infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is carried by over 90 per cent of people in the developing world and 20 to 80 per cent of people in the developed world, was a possible cause of peptic ulcers and gastric cancers.

More recent research has also suggested that the human mouth, which is home to over 600 different species of bacteria (some of which cause disease), is a possible reservoir for H. pylori, particularly in the presence of periodontal or gum disease, a known cause of halitosis or bad breath.

Suzuki explained that bad breath or halitosis is common in humans and is mostly caused by gum disease, tongue debris, poor oral hygiene and badly fitted fillings (they trap bacteria).

"Bacteria produce volatile compounds that smell unpleasant, including hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulphide. Doctors often measure the levels of these compounds to diagnose the problem. Gastrointestinal diseases are also generally believed to cause halitosis," said Suzuki.

Suzuki and colleagues decided to investigate the prevalence of H. pylori in the mouths of people with bad breath.

"Recently, scientists discovered that H. pylori can live in the mouth," said Suzuki, adding that:

"We wanted to determine whether the bacteria can cause bad breath, so we tested patients complaining of halitosis for the presence of H. pylori."

For the study, the researchers did DNA scans of saliva taken from 326 Japanese people; 251 had actual bad breath or halitosis and 75 did not. None showed any signs of stomach illnesses.

They found H. pylori and other bacteria that occur with periodontal or gum disease, called periodontopathic bacteria, including Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola and Prevotella intermedia.

More spefically the results showed that:
  • 21 (6.4 per cent) of the participants had H. pylori in their mouths.

  • These participants also had higher levels of other markers for periodontal disease, including higher levels of: methyl mercaptan (a bad breath gas); each of the periodontopathic bacteria; tooth mobility; periodontal pocket depth (PPD); and occult blood in the saliva.

  • Of the 102 participants with periodontal disease, 16 (15.7 per cent) had H. pylori in their mouths.
The researchers concluded that the presence of H. pylori in nearly 16 per cent of the participants with periodontitis suggested that:

"Progression of periodontal pocket and inflammation may favour colonization by this species and that H. pylori infection may be indirectly associated with oral pathological halitosis following periodontitis."

"Although the presence of H. pylori in the mouth does not directly cause bad breath, it is associated with periodontal disease, which does cause bad breath," said Suzuki, who said the team will now be looking into the:

"Relationship between H. pylori in the mouth and in the stomach. We hope to discover the role of the mouth in transmitting H. pylori stomach infections in the near future."

"Detection of Helicobacter pylori DNA in the saliva of patients complaining of halitosis."
Click here for Abstract.

Source: Journal abstract, Society for General Microbiology press briefing.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dark Chocolate Lowers Blood Clot Risk

If you eat a little bit of dark chocolate each day you could be reducing your chances of developing a blood clot, say researchers from Johns Hopkins University, USA. They say dark chocolate helps thin the blood, in pretty much the same way as aspirin does.

The research team had started studying aspirin's effect on platelets. Platelets are tiny particles in your blood that stick to each other, eventually forming clumps which make a clot. The patients being observed had to give up eating chocolate for the study to be effective. However, 139 of them couldn't do so - they continued eating chocolates.

The scientists decided to compare the blood of the chocoholics to those who had stopped eating chocolate. They found that the chocoholics' platelets clotted at 130 seconds (when taken out), compared to 123 seconds for the other people. In other words, the platelets of the chocoholics were taking longer to clot.

They concluded that chemicals, perhaps flavonoids, in the cocoa bean have a biochemical effect similar to aspiring in reducing platelet clumping. Platelet clumping can block a blood vessel and cause heart attacks.

The scientists say we could benefit from either having a bit of dark chocolate each day or a chocolate drink. It is important its sugar and butter content is minimal. The ideal amount would be about two tablespoons of dark chocolate each day.

Many fruits and vegetables are rich in flavonoids.

Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Worms in Your Body

Worms that thrive on the human body....

Usually it’s our dogs, cats and horses that are prone to worm infections, but people are mammals too, and the human body is just a great a place as any for these little suckers to set up shop.

There are many types of worms we humans can secumb to. Here is a quick overview of the most common types of worms you may one day find crawling through your bodies delicious high-ways.


Pinworms are the most common type of worm found in the human body. Also known as seatworms, pinworms live inside the colon but exit to lay their eggs on the outside of the host’s body. The female worm lays her eggs during nighttime, causing the host to scratch, thus transporting the eggs to infect a new person, or reinfect the host.
pin worms Worms in Your Body
Pinworm is the most prevalent parasite infection in the United States and Europe today. Pinworm is most commonly found in school-aged children, but it can occur in adults as well.


Another common type of worm that can make its home in the human body is the roundworm. Infected soil or fruits are the main method of transmission to humans. Unlike most other worms/
round worms Worms in Your Body
Roundworm eggs can find their way from the intestines to other organs where they can do major damage.


Tapeworms are commonly found in cats and dogs, but can often make their home in humans as well. Common causes of infection included eating undercooked, infected fish.
tape worm Worms in Your Body
Once inside the body the parasite feeds by attaching itself to the wall of the intestine where it lives off nutrients that the body absorbs.


Hookworms are a particularly nasty parasite that, according to, actually has teeth. Infection can be caused by consuming compromised fruit or water, or by coming into contact with soil or water where the worms reside. According to OptumHealth, “the larvae will bore through the skin and ride through the lymph circulation to the right side of the heart.”
hookworms Worms in Your Body
The larvae are then pumped into the lungs where they bore into the tiny air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. Once these larvae are coughed up, they are swallowed and pass to the small intestine where they can reside for up 14 years.

Liver Flukes

Liver flukes make their home in the bodies liver where they begin to make holes. They can survive for decades.
liver fluke Worms in Your Body
There is a wide variety of methods of becoming infected by a liver fluke, including eating contaminated food, or drinking contaminated water.

Guinea Worm

Also known as dracunculiasis, the Guinea worm is a parasitic worm infection that occurs mainly in Africa. The Guinea worm is as thin as a paper clip and it can grow up to a staggering three feet long.
guinea worm Worms in Your Body
Once the larvae mature inside the human body, the Guinea worm exits the body through a painful blister in the skin. This can cause long-term suffering and oftentimes, crippling aftereffects.


Ring worm, or “Tinea” which means “growing worm” in Latin, is a fungal infection that can be found on the surface of the skin. Unlike other worms, Ring worm is caused by fungus that creates a ‘ring’ on the skin, hence the name.
ring worm Worms in Your Body
Ring worm remains on the surface of the skin, hair or nails until treated and it does not invade other parts of the body, such as the insides or mucous membranes. Ring worm does, however, thrive in moist, warm conditions on the skin, such as the areas around the groin and between the toes. It is very easy to catch ring worm in places such as locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools.

Morgellons Worm

Morgellons worm, or Morgellons disease, is a misunderstood disease that, is rarely recognized as a parasitic affliction by members of the medical community. Many people believe that Morgellons is carried by microscopic parasitic worms called nematodes, which invade their host and contribute to the feeling of bugs (or worms) crawling on and under the skin.
morgellons worm Worms in Your Body
Patients who are diagnosed with Morgellons disease report a host of general symptoms including itching skin lesions similar to pimples. They may fester on their own and are often reinforced by scratching or picking at the wounds. Fibers also erupt from the skin and at these points, black specks can also be detected. Many patients report that balled cocoon-like threads are produced from the sores or even unblemished skin. The infected host may also experience sensations such as bugs crawling under the skin, through the hair, and in the ears.

Loa Loa Worms

Loa Loa worms (also known as the “eye worm”) are classified as filarial worms, meaning they thrive in human tissue. The Loa Loa worm is also called the “eye worm” because they often migrate through the eye and surrounding subsurface areas.
loa loa worms Worms in Your Body
The larvae are passed on by flies who have bitten an infected host. Once the fly bites the human, the larvar enters the body. Loa Loa worms can live approximately fifteen years inside their human hosts. They travel continuously through connective and deep tissue, often without the victim experiencing any sensation other than occasional itching.

When the worm slows or reaches a sensitive spot that a person will often feel the greatest discomfort. At this point, immune reactions may also include localized redness and a condition called “Calabar” swelling. Skin eruptions and muscle pain may be evident. When the Loa Loa worm reaches the eye tissue, it can be easily seen and felt within the eyeball for up to an hour. It is usually removed under local anesthesia if the patient is within proximity of a qualified physician. may remain unnoticed for months or years before becoming an adult, mating, and producing offspring.
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

The number of calories people should eat each day depends on several factors, including their age, size, height, sex, lifestyle, and overall general health. A physically active 6ft 2in male, aged 22 years, requires considerably more calories than a 5ft 2ins sedentary woman in her 70s.

Recommended daily calorie intakes also vary across the world. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, the average male adult needs approximately 2,500 calories per day to keep his weight constant, while the average adult female needs 2,000. US authorities recommend 2,700 calories per day for men and 2,200 for women. It is interesting that in the UK, where people on average are taller than Americans, the recommended daily intake of calories is lower. Rates of overweight and obesity among both adults and children in the USA are considerably higher than in the United Kingdom.

The NHS stresses that rather than precisely counting numbers (calories), people should focus more on eating a healthy and well balanced diet, being physically active, and roughly balancing how many calories are consumed with the numbers burnt off each day.

According to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the average person's minimum calorie requirement per day globally is approximately 1,800 kilocalories.

Worldwide food consumption
Daily calorie consumption varies considerably around the world (countries in gray indicates "no data available")

What is the difference between calories and kilocalories?

Scientifically speaking, one kilocalorie is 1,000 calories. However, the term calorie in lay English has become so loosely used with the same meaning as kilocalorie, that the two terms have virtually merged. In other words, in most cases, a calorie and kilocalorie have the same meaning.

A kilocalorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water from 15° to 16° Celsius (centigrade) at one atmosphere.

A "small calorie" refers to the traditional scientific term of calorie, meaning one-thousandth of a kilocalorie.

Internationally, most nations talk about food energy in kJ (kilojoules). 1 kcal (kilocalorie) = 4.184 kJ.

In this article, the term "calorie" means the same as "kilocalorie" or "kcal".

Portion sizes

In industrialized nations and a growing number of emerging economies, people are consuming many more calories than they used to. Portion sizes in restaurants, both fast food ones as well as elegant places, are far greater today.
Comparing cheeseburger sizes over the last 20 years
The average cheeseburger in the USA 20 years ago had 333 calories, compared to the ones today with over 600 calories

The human body and energy usage

For the human body to remain alive, it requires energy. Approximately 20% of the energy we use is for brain metabolism. The majority of the rest of the body's energy requirements are taken up for the basal metabolic requirements - the energy we need when in a resting state, for functions such as the circulation of the blood and breathing.

If our environment is cold, our metabolism increases to produce more heat to maintain a constant body temperature. When we are in a warm environment, we require less energy.

We also require mechanical energy for our skeletal muscles for posture and moving around.

Respiration, or specifically cellular respiration refers to the metabolic process by which an organism gets energy by reacting oxygen with glucose to produce carbon dioxide, water and ATP energy. How efficiently energy from respiration converts into physical (mechanical) power depends on the type of food eaten, as well as what type of physical energy is used - whether muscles are used aerobically or anaerobically.

Put simply - we need calories to stay alive, even if we are not moving, and need calories to keep our posture and to move about.

How many calories do I need per day?

The Harris-Benedict equation, also known as the Harris-Benedict principle, is used to estimate what a person's BMR (basal metabolic rate) and daily requirements are. The person's BMR total is multiplied by another number which represents their level of physical activity. The resulting number is that person's recommended daily calorie intake in order to keep their body weight where it is.

This equation has limitations. It does not take into account varying levels of muscle mass to fat mass ratios - a very muscular person needs more calories, even when resting.

How to calculate your BMR
  • Male adults
    66.5 + (13.75 x kg body weight) + (5.003 x height in cm) - (6.755 x age) = BMR
    66 + ( 6.23 x pounds body weight) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.76 x age) = BMR

  • Female adults
    55.1 + (9.563 x kg body weight) + (1.850 x height in cm) - (4.676 x age) = BMR
    655 + (4.35 x kg body weight) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age) = BMR
You can use our BMR calculator below to work out your BMR.

BMR calculator

1) Metric Calculator
Age (in years):
(in cm, e.g: 183)
(in kg, e.g: 63)
2) Imperial Calculator
Age: (in years)
feet: inches:
stones: pounds:

Applying levels of physical activity to the equation
  • Sedentary lifestyle - if you do very little or no exercise at all
    Your daily calorie requirements are BMR x 1.2

  • Slightly active lifestyle - light exercise between once and three times per week
    Your daily calorie requirements are BMR x 1.375

  • Moderately active lifestyle - if you do moderate exercise three to five days per week
    Your daily calorie requirements are BMR x 1.55

  • Active lifestyle - if you do intensive/heavy exercise six to seven times per week
    Your daily calorie requirements are BMR x 1.725

  • Very active lifestyle - if you do very heavy/intensive exercise twice a day (extra heavy workouts)
    Your daily calorie requirements are BMR x 1.9

How much should I weigh?

As with how many calories you should consume each day, your ideal body weight depends on several factors, including your age, sex, bone density, muscle-fat ratio, and height.
  • BMI (Body Mass Index) - some say BMI is a good way of working out what you should weigh. However, BMI does not take into account muscle mass. A 100-metre Olympic champion weighing 200 pounds (about 91 kilograms), who is 6 feet (about 1mt 83cm) tall, who has the same BMI as a couch potato of the same height, is not overweight, while the couch potato is overweight.

  • Waist-hip ratio - this measurement is said to be more accurate at determining what your ideal weight should be, compared to BMI. However, waist-hip ratio does not properly measure an individual's total body fat percentage (muscle-to-fat ratio), and is also limited.

  • Waist-to-height ratio - this new way of determining ideal body weight is probably the most accurate one available today. It was presented by Dr. Margaret Ashwell, ex-science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, and team at the 19th Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, on 12th May, 2012. It is also a very simple calculation; easy for lay people to work out.
Dr. Ashwell's team found that:

"Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world."

Put simply, to achieve and/or maintain your ideal body weight:
    "Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height."
If you are a 6ft (183cm) tall adult male, your waist should not exceed 36 inches (91 cm).
If you are a 5ft 4 inches (163 cm) tall adult female, your waist should not exceed 32 inches (81 cm)

How do I measure my waist? - according to the World Health Organization (WHO), you should place the tape-measure half-way between the lower rib and the iliac crest (the the pelvic bone at the hip).

Not all calories are the same, not all diets are the same

Simply counting calories, and ignoring what you put in your mouth might not lead to good health. Insulin levels will rise significantly more after consuming carbohydrates than after eating fats (no rise at all) or protein. Some carbohydrates, also known as carbs, get into the bloodstream in the form of sugar (glucose) much faster than others. Refined flour is a fast carb, while coarse oatmeal is slow. Slow-release carbs are better for body weight control and overall health than fast carbs.

A 500-calorie meal of fish/meat, salad, and some olive oil, followed by fruit, is much better for your health and will keep you from being hungry for longer than a 500-calorie snack of popcorn with butter or toffee.

A chef's salad
Taking 500 calories from this dish is much better for the health, preventing hunger, and maintaining a healthy body weight than the equivalent calories in popcorn with butter or toffee

There are several diets today which claim to help people lose or maintain their body weight. Some of them have been extremely successful and good for participants, but are notoriously difficult to adhere to long-term.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is Your Health Really Healthy?

What is good health? Is good health based on one's age or genetics? We have been indoctrinated and scripted to believe that with age we can expect lesser and lesser quality of health. Yet, some people are healthier than someone half their age. So what is good health?

Health is not the mere absence of disease. Health is a positive state of multi-layered well-being in mind, body and spirit. Health begins at the cellular level of consciousness. It begins with you and your consciousness. It begins where you place your ideas, thoughts and your actions. Your entire life begins in the cells. Your cells are embedded with memories. Your cells are embedded with your thoughts, your ideas, your beliefs and your experiences. All physical disease (illlness) has a metaphysical root cause. Thus, there is a metaphysical way to overcome every diagnosed disease (illness) from A to Z. Using the subconscious mind through hypnosis, the cellular cause of any disease can be healed.

Do you have little or low energy? Do you feel lethargic? Do you have headaches, migraines, or acid reflux? Have you ever thought that perhaps it is not just your physical Self that is off, but your emotional Self is out of whack? Do you take one or more Over-The-Counter or Prescription drugs occasionally or daily? Are you anxious? Do you worry about things, conditions or events? Do things bug you? Does life's vicissitudes irritate you? Does it seem there are more questions and not enough answers? Do your thoughts seem to swirl around and around in your head, thus, you are unable to have peace of mind or relaxation. Physical toxins and poor digestion impair mental digestion creating mental toxins such as fear, anger, greed, attachment, envy and judgment.

Love, trust and compassion needs to be developed if you are to be healthy. Neuropsychiatry discovered specific neuropeptides, associated with joy and happiness, communicate with the body's trillions of cells. Likewise, the health of mind and emotions depends on bodily health.

When you think negative thoughts you overload your cells with toxic energy. Your cells get burned out, causing them to send out distress signals that are diagnosed as a disease. Consequently you get burned out. You are tired, overburdened and seldom feel energetic or refreshed.

The worst case scenario is depression or cancer raising its head and your mind implodes. You, your body and your life do not have to tank or resort to depression or cancer. Depression means you are pressing down on your Self right in your cells. Cancer is deep hurt, longstanding resentment, a deep secret or grief eating away at the Self at the cellular level. You are imposing on the consciousness of your cells, consciousness that is overloaded with negative thoughts and behaviors. Your cells can not function properly and neither can you.

No matter what is going on around you that you cannot control, you can be in charge of what you are thinking, what you are doing and how you are participating in your life. Your physical health depends upon your emotional and spiritual health. When you are in your power emotionally and spiritually, you are in your power physically. When you are in your power, without the negative thought patterns, your cells can do their job, stay healthy. Thus, you create healthy health sans pills, potions or surgery.

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How to Boost Your Immunity: Obvious and Less Obvious Ways

Your immunity is your self-defense system. It needs to be strong enough to keep bacteria and viruses from entering your body and multiplying, and to reestablish health when disease does gain a foothold. The immunity in a person can be considerably effected by the lifestyle of that person. People who catch cold, can recover quicker, and in some cases even prevent catching cold in the first place, as long as they help their bodies to improve its immunity. There are some well-known ways to improve your self-defense system and there are some surprising ways that are less obvious to us. Let's discuss both of them!

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What are the obvious ways?

Your immunity is your health. I think we all know simple rules to stay healthy. Why do we often forget about them?:) All of them work for your immunity as well. So if you want to improve your self-defense system you should always remember these simple rules. I will call them "4 basic rules of health."

1. Move a lot: we all know that movement is extremely important for our health, so walk, run, dance, exercise, just move! Read more about the importance of movement, and I hope this article will motivate you to move a lot.

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2. Eat well and drink water: We are what we eat. What else can I say? A lot of books have been written about healthy food and healthy eating, but I will repeat it again: we all know what is healthy and what is not. Maybe there are some disputable products that cannot be considered healthy or not for sure. But who doesn’t know that fruits and vegetables are healthy and alcohol is not healthy?

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3. Get enough sleep and establish a daily routine: Sleep is considered to be the easiest of all beauty treatments, and it is also among the most effective. Heard the term "beauty sleep"? Well it’s not grandmotherly lore. Try setting a "bedtime" for yourself and try to stick to it. Prescribed 7-8 hours of sound sleep is important for your health and beauty. I should say that habits are important not only for sleep. Try to eat, exercise, work at the same time every day. A good routine is a real gift to your body, this way it will always get ready for the next activity.

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4. Be happy: Avoid stress! Unmanaged stress does more to rob us of energy than anything else. Stress generates negative emotions, disrupts sleep, fosters poor eating habits and interferes with exercise routines. In addition, stress hormones can wreak havoc on our cardiovascular and immune systems. The results can be disastrous for outsmarting the status quo. Learning proper ways to respond to stress is an essential life skill. Yoga, deep breathing and meditation are all great options and should be incorporated into a daily routine. Your good mood is the key to success!

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I’m sure that these simple rules will make you much healthier! They are true for everybody everywhere. Just don’t forget about them! It’s not difficult to follow these rules, just develop a habit! And soon it will be difficult for you not to follow them!

What are less obvious ways to improve your immunity?
Scientists always research and get surprising results:) "We're still in the horse-and-buggy era of understanding how the immune system works," Lee Berk says, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine, "but we do have a few pieces of the puzzle. Research shows that when you do simple, everyday activities that make you feel good, you also stay healthier. This is a case of science catching up with intuition." Here are some of those ways.

Listen to Beethoven (or Britney)

Listening to music can boost your immunity, but it has to be music you love. "Something that calms one person might rile another," Berk says. "The trick is finding music that soothes your soul." Scientists at McGill University in Montreal found that listening to music that sent "shivers down the spine" or that gave people chills stimulated the same "feel-good" parts of the brain that are activated by food and sex. "Even better than listening to music is making it," says Bittman, who found that people who took part in an amateur group-drumming session had greatly enhanced natural killer-cell activity afterward.

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Turn down the volume

Noise hurts more than your ears. Any unwanted and intrusive sound can trigger muscle tension, speed heartbeat, constrict blood vessels and cause digestive upsets - the same response your body has to being startled or stressed. Chronic exposure to noise can lead to even longer-lasting changes in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and immune function. Cornell University research found that women who work in moderately noisy offices produce more of the stress hormone adrenaline and may be more vulnerable to heart disease than women who work in quiet offices. Even worse are unwelcome sounds you perceive as uncontrollable, such as car alarms, barking dogs and P.A. systems. Try to take control over the noise in your environment, even if it means wearing earplugs or asking the restaurant owner or gym manager to turn down the music.

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Go out and mingle

Your immune system likes it when you spend time with friends. "We have phenomenal data showing the value of nurturing, social support and camaraderie," says neurologist Barry Bittman, M.D., CEO of the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Pa. In one such study, researchers exposed people to a cold virus and then monitored how many contacts those people had with friends, family, co-workers and members of church and community groups. The more social contacts the people had - and the more diverse the contacts - the less likely they were to catch the cold. Touch is important too: Giving or getting hugs or other forms of touch can boost the activity of the natural killer cells that seek out and destroy cancer cells or cells that have been invaded by viruses.

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Look on the bright side

The immune system takes many of its cues from our thoughts and feelings, so try to keep your outlook upbeat. Years ago, Mayo Clinic researchers found that people who were optimists in their youth tended to live 12 years longer than pessimists. A recent study by Anna L. Marsland, Ph.D., R.N., a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, found that people who were negative, moody, nervous and easily stressed had a weaker immune response to a hepatitis vaccination than their more positive peers. Negativity is a personality trait that's difficult to change, but if wearing rose-colored glasses can improve your immunity, why not try on a pair?

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Laugh out loud

While painful emotions like anger and grief can impair health, laughter does the opposite. A real belly laugh increases infection-fighting antibodies and boosts natural killer-cell activity, says Berk, who has shown students funny videos and measured their immune systems' response. "Even anticipating a humorous encounter can enhance immunity," he says. "It happens at the molecular level." Laughter also increases circulation, stimulates digestion, lowers blood pressure and reduces muscle tension.

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Use your brain

Certain kinds of thinking may boost immunity. University of California, Berkeley, neuroscientist Marian Diamond, Ph.D., found that playing bridge stimulated women's immune systems. Her research is the first to show a connection between the immune system and the part of the brain that handles planning, memory, initiative, judgment and abstract thinking. Says Diamond: "Any mental activity that uses one or a combination of these intellectual functions might benefit immune activity."

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Douse the night light

Only when it's really dark does your body produce melatonin, a hormone that helps prevent certain diseases. Not sleeping enough, or being exposed to light during the night, decreases melatonin production and boosts estrogen levels, increasing breast-cancer risk. In fact, recent studies have found a height-ended risk of breast cancer - up to 60 percent - among women who work the graveyard shift, and possibly an even greater increase among women with the brightest bedrooms. Not surprisingly, blind women have an approximate 20-50 percent reduction in breast-cancer risk. Even a dim source like a bedside clock or a night light may switch melatonin production off, so keep your bedroom as dark as possible.

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I hope these obvious and less obvious ways will help you to take care of your self-defense system. Remember about your health not only when you lose it, but all the time! Love your body, take care of it!
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Monday, July 23, 2012

Irritable Bowel Linked To Gut Bacteria, Definitively

A new study of Greek patients shows that overgrowth of bacteria in the gut is definitively linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is the first to use the "gold standard" method of examining gut bacterial cultures to connect bacteria to the cause of a disease that affects some 30 million Americans. The researchers say their findings confirm antibiotics are a successful treatment for IBS.

Previous studies have suggested a link between gut bacteria and IBS, but they have been based on testing methane (a byproduct of bacterial fermentation) in the breath.

The findings, published in the May issue of Digestive Diseases and Sciences, corroborate those of previous clinical trials at Cedars-Sinai that showed antibiotics are effective against IBS.

Study author Mark Pimentel is director of the Cedars-Sinai GI Motility Program. He commented in a statement to the press released on Friday that:

"While we found compelling evidence in the past that bacterial overgrowth is a contributing cause of IBS, making this link through bacterial cultures is the gold standard of diagnosis."

"This clear evidence of the role bacteria play in the disease underscores our clinical trial findings, which show that antibiotics are a successful treatment for IBS," he added.

For the study, Pimentel and colleagues from Sismanogleion General Hospital in Athens, Greece, and from the University of Athens, examined samples of small bowel cultures from over 320 Greek patients to confirm the presence of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The patients were all scheduled to receive upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract endoscopy.

They found that more than a third of the patients with IBS had SIBO, compared with only 10% of those without IBS.

Of patients with diarrhea-predominant form of IBS, 60% had SIBO, compared to just over 27% without the diarrhea form.

The researchers used the Rome II criteria to define IBS. The Rome criteria is a system, based on clinical symptoms, of classifying disorders of the digestive system in which symptoms can't be explained through presence of tissue abnormality. As well as IBS, other disorders that are defined using Rome criteria include dyspepsia, functional constipation, and functional heartburn.

Pimentel and colleagues conclude:

"Using culture of the small bowel, SIBO by aerobe bacteria is independently linked with IBS. These results reinforce results of clinical trials evidencing a therapeutic role of non-absorbable antibiotics for the management of IBS symptoms."

IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the US. Symptoms include painful bloating, constipation, diarrhea or an alternating pattern of both.

Many people with IBS avoid social interactions because they are embarassed by their symptoms.

Ten years ago Pimentel went against the thinking of the time when he proposed bacteria played a key role in IBS. Since then he has led clinical trials that have shown rifaximin, a targeted antibiotic absorbed only in the gut, is an effective treatment for IBS.

Pimentel said in the past, treatments have focused on alleviating symptoms. But "patients who take rifaximin experience relief of their symptoms even after they stop taking the medication".

"This new study confirms what our findings with the antibiotic and our previous studies always led us to believe: bacteria are key contributors to the cause of IBS," he affirmed.
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What Is Normal Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is primarily produced when the heart muscle contracts - it is the pressure of blood upon the walls of the blood vessels. There are two recordings, a high one (systolic) and a lower one (diastolic). The systolic pressure is measured when the heart contracts, while the diastolic one is gauged just before the heart contracts.

The heart is the muscle that pumps blood throughout the body during every second of our lives. Low-oxygen blood is pumped towards the lungs, where it becomes oxygen-rich again. Oxygen-rich blood is pumped by the heart around to body to supply tissue, muscle, organs and cells. This pumping generates blood pressure.

According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, Blood Pressure is:

"The pressure or tension of the blood within the systemic arteries, maintained by the contraction of the left ventricle, the resistance of the arterioles and capillaries, the elasticity of the arterial walls, as well as the viscosity and volume of the blood; expressed as relative to the ambient atmospheric pressure."

Hypertension is when our blood pressure is too high, while hypotension is the opposite; it is when our blood pressure is too low.

Taking a blood pressure measurement

Most of us have had our blood pressure taken at some time in our lives. The procedure is straightforward and provides the doctor or other health care professional with vital data regarding the condition of the patient's blood vessels and heart.

As mentioned above, two blood pressure readings are measured:
  • The Systolic Pressure - this is the maximum pressure in an artery. It occurs when the heart contracts; when it is beating, and blood is being pumped through.
  • The Diastolic Pressure - this is the minimum pressure in an artery. It occurs just before the heart contracts; in between heartbeats. It occurs when the heart is resting.
If either the systolic or diastolic pressure is too high, the patient has hypertension (high blood pressure). So, both readings are important.

The patient needs to be relaxed and seated or lying down comfortably when their blood pressure is taken. Their arm must be well supported.

What happens when somebody's blood pressure is taken?

Digital Blood Pressure Monitor
Digital Blood Pressure Monitor - A 122/65 mmHg blood pressure reading, using an electronic sphygmomanometer

A cuff is wrapped around the upper arm and is inflated. Velcro keeps it in place. With an electronic sphygmomanometer, the patient just relaxes and waits and the device does everything.

Clinical Mercury Manometer
A clinical mercury Manometer
  • A Clinical mercury Manometer has a cuff, a tube that leads to a rubber bulb, and another tube which leads to a reservoir of mercury. The doctor wraps the cuff around the patient's upper arm.
  • The cuff is inflated by compressing the rubber bulb repeatedly.
  • The doctor places a stethoscope on the patient's arm and listens to his/her pulse.
  • When the doctor first hears the pulse, the systolic pressure is measured.
  • Gradually the pressure on the cuff is released. As this occurs the sound of the pulse becomes fainter and fainter.
  • As soon as the doctor cannot hear the pulse any more, the diastolic pressure is taken.
  • Blood pressure is measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
Electronic devices are becoming more commonplace, and mercury ones less.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

Also known as ABPM, ambulatory blood pressure measures the patient's blood pressure at regular intervals throughout a 24-hour period. It is useful, especially with patients who suffer from white coat hypertension - raised blood pressure caused by anxiety and stress when entering a clinical setting. Put simply: some patients see doctors and nurses wearing white uniforms, they become anxious, resulting in higher blood pressure.

The patient's blood pressure is measured as they go about their daily business. They wear a portable device which records BP (blood pressure) information on a chip. The data helps the doctor determine the patient's blood pressure in a normal environment. Doctors may opt for ABPM if the patient's BP readings vary a lot, their blood pressure does not respond to medications, when the doctor suspects current treatment may be causing hypotension (low blood pressure), and for patients with suspected white coat hypertension.

What is normal blood pressure?

Normal blood pressure is generally below 120/80 (one-twenty over eighty). 120 represents the systolic measurement and 80 represents the diastolic measurement.

Desirable blood pressure is:
  • Systolic - from 90 to 119
  • Diastolic - from 60 to 79

High or elevated blood pressure (hypertension)

Prehypertension - this is when the reading is between 120/80 and 139/89.

Hypertension - this is when the reading is at least 140/90.

Health authorities in the UK and USA say that approximately one third of all people with hypertension do not know they have it - meaning, they probably have no symptoms. Experts say we should check our blood pressure now and again because of this, this is especially the case for people who smoke, drink alcohol regularly, are overweight, and are reaching old age.

If symptoms are felt, they may include:
  • Blood in urine
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches, some quite severe
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Pains in the chest
  • Problems with breathing
  • Vision problems

Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Anybody whose reading is 90/60 (ninety over sixty) mmHg or below has hypotension. For some seemingly healthy patients, in fact, a bit of hypotension is thought to protect them from subsequent hypertension. However, hypotension may mean there is an underlying problem.

If the hypotension is not severe, there may be no symptoms.

If symptoms are felt, they may include:
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Eyesight problems, such as blurred vision
  • Light headedness; fainting is possible
  • Nausea
  • Pale, cold and clammy skin
  • Palpitations
  • Shallow panting
  • Thirst
  • Tiredness
Continue to Read more ...

What Are Bed Sores (pressure Ulcers)? What Causes Bed Sores?

Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, pressure sores or decubitus ulcers are skin lesions which can be caused by friction, humidity, temperature, continence, medication, shearing forces, age and unrelieved pressure. Any part of the body may be affected; bony or cartilaginous areas, such as the elbows, knees, ankles and sacrum are most commonly affected. The sacrum is a triangular bone at the base of the spine and the upper and back part of the pelvic cavity (like a wedge between the two hip bones).

If discovered early, bed sores are treatable. However, they may sometimes be fatal. According to health authorities in the UK and USA, bed sores are the second iatrogenic cause of death, after adverse drug reactions. Iatrogenic cause of death means unexpected death caused by medical treatment - death caused by the action of a physician or a therapy the doctor prescribed.

In the 1950s, Doreen Norton (1922-2007), a British nurse, used research to demonstrate that the best treatment and prevention of bedsores was removing the pressure by turning the patient every two hours. Norton is seen as instrumental in changing nursing practices to effectively treat pressure ulcers, which was a major killer of hospital patients.

According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary:
    A decubitus ulcer is "a chronic ulcer that appears in pressure areas of skin overlying a bony prominence in debilitated patients confined to bed or otherwise immobilized, due to a circulatory defect."

    An acute decubitus ulcer is " a severe form of bedsore, of neurotrophic origin, occurring in hemiplegia or paraplegia." (Hemiplegia = paralysis on one side of the body. Paraplegia = paralysis of the lower part of the body, including limbs.
Pressure ulcers (bed sores) develop when the skin and the tissue below it becomes damaged. In severe cases the muscle and the bone may be damaged too. Pressure ulcers are much more common among patients who are unable to move because of paralysis, illness or old age. Sustained pressure can cut off circulation to vulnerable parts of the body, especially the skin of the buttocks, hips and heels - the affected tissue dies if it does not receive an adequate flow of blood.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, it is estimated that between 4% and 10% of all hospitalized patients develop at least one pressure ulcer. Up to 70% of UK elderly patients with mobility problems develop bed sores.

Experts say that even with excellent medical and nursing care, bed sores can be hard to prevent, especially among vulnerable patients. Anyone, not only those living with paralysis, can develop bed sores - any person who cannot change position without help can develop bedsores. The bedsores can develop and progress rapidly and are frequently difficult to heal. Doctors say that with proper preventive measures the skin's integrity can more easily be maintained, resulting in better healing of bedsores.

What are the risk factors for bed sores?

A risk factor is something which increases the likelihood of developing a condition or disease. For example, obesity significantly raises the risk of developing diabetes type 2. Therefore, obesity is a risk factor for diabetes type 2.

Pressure ulcers are more common among:
  • Patients who are immobilized because of injury, acute illness or sedation. Their immobile state does not have to occur for long for bed sores to develop.

  • Individuals with long-term spinal cord injuries. Because the nerve damage is often permanent, compression of the skin and some tissues is constant; damaged or atrophied skin as well as poor circulation increases the risk of damage and lowers the chances of proper healing. Patients with long-term spinal cord injuries also have reduced sensation, so they often do not receive the body signals (pain, discomfort, etc) which would make them automatically change positions - i.e. patients do not feel a developing bed sore and lie on it, resulting in a rapidly-developing sore.
Patients who cannot move specific parts of their body unaided may have a greater risk of developing pressure ulcers if:
  • They are elderly - elderly people have thinner skin, which is more vulnerable to damage from minor pressure. If a very elderly individual is underweight (often the case), there will be less padding around their bones. Another common problem among very elderly patients is poor nutrition, which may affect skin and blood vessel quality, resulting in less effective healing.

    Experts say that even if a very elderly patient eats properly and enjoys good overall health, healing is much slower when compared to younger people.

  • The patient resides in a nursing home - the incidence of bed sores in nursing homes is significantly higher than in hospital or at home (very elderly cared for at home). This could be due partly to the fact that those in nursing homes tend to be especially frail.

  • Is in a coma - hospitalized patients who are in a coma are especially vulnerable to bed sores. The reasons are obvious; they cannot move unaided and do not respond to or acknowledge pain like other people do.

  • Is not perceiving pain - some diseases, as well as most spinal cord injuries, can reduce or eliminate the patient's sensation of pain. Somebody who does not feel pain does not take steps to relieve it, such as changing position or asking somebody to move him/her, and also may not know that a pressure ulcer is developing.

  • Loses weight in hospital - people who are hospitalized often lose weight because of their condition, especially if they are unable to move. The loss of fat and muscle leaves the bones more exposed to damage.

  • Is not eating properly - patients who are not eating properly, especially those whose diets are poor in protein, vitamin C and zinc have a higher risk of developing bed sores.

  • Has incontinence (urinary or fecal) - if a patient urinates uncontrollably there will be areas of permanently moist skin, resulting in a greater risk of skin breakdown. Fecal incontinence raises the risk of bacteria causing skin problems and getting through cracks and wounds in the skin and causing serious systemic complications, such as gangrene, sepsis and other rapidly spreading infections.

  • Has an illness or medical condition - patients with diabetes and vascular diseases that affect circulation may have problems with proper blood flow to certain tissues, resulting in a higher risk of tissue damage.

  • Is a smoker - nicotine undermines circulation, while smoking reducing the amount of oxygen in blood; this has a negative effect on healing.

  • Has lower mental awareness - if the patient is not fully mentally aware, perhaps because of a disease, injury or medication, they will not be able to take action to prevent or facilitate the healing of pressure ulcers.

What are the signs and symptoms of pressure ulcers?

A symptom is something the patient feels and reports, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor detect. For example, pain may be a symptom while a rash may be a sign.

Parts of the body that are not covered by a high level of body fat and flesh (muscle) and are in direct contact with a supporting surface, such as a bed or wheelchair have the highest risk of developing pressure ulcers. Bedbound patients are most at risk of developing bed sores on their:
  • Ankles
  • Back of the head
  • Breasts (female patients)
  • Elbows
  • Genitals (male patients)
  • Heels
  • Knees
  • Rims of the ears
  • Shoulder blades
  • Shoulders
  • Toes
Patients who use a wheelchair have a higher risk of developing pressure sores on their:
  • Buttocks
  • Tailbone
  • Spine
  • Shoulder blades
  • Back of arms
  • Back of legs

Grading the pressure ulcers

Pressure sores are classified into four possible stages, depending on their severity. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, USA, defines each stage as follows:
  • Stage I - starts as a persistent area of red skin, which may be itchy, painful and may also feel warm, spongy or firm when touched. Among people of African ancestry, and individuals with darker skin, the mark may seem to have a bluish/purplish cast; it may even look ashen or flaky. As soon as the pressure is relieved, the sore generally goes away rapidly.

  • Stage II - skin loss has already taken place. This could be in the epidermis (the outer layer of skin), or the dermis (deeper down in the skin) - sometimes both. The pressure ulcer is at this point an open sore, similar to an abrasion or a blister. The surrounding tissue may appear red or purple.

  • Stage III - there is now a deep wound, like a crater; the damage has gone below the skin. There is skin loss which occurs throughout the entire thickness of the skin. The underlying muscles and bone are not damaged.

  • Stage IV - the most severe type of ulcer. Skin is severely damaged and there is tissue necrosis (surrounding tissue starts to die). Underlying muscles or bone (or both) may also be damaged. Tendons and joints may also be damaged. At this point there is a serious risk of developing a life-threatening infection.

What are the causes of pressure ulcers?

Healthy and mobile individuals make numerous postural adjustments throughout the day to prevent pressure sores from ever developing. These subtle movements we take for granted are not possible for patients who are paralyzed, injured, ill or very old and frail. For them, pressure ulcers are a constant risk.

Pressure ulcers, especially for immobilized individuals, are usually caused by:
  • Continuous pressure - if there is pressure on the skin on one side, and bone on the other, the skin and underlying tissue may not receive an adequate blood supply. Oxygen and other key nutrients may be lacking, resulting in possible skin and tissue damage. Areas most susceptible are those which are not well padded with flesh (muscle) and fat; areas just over a bone, such as the coccyx (tailbone), shoulder blades, hips, heels, ankles and elbows. Some causes of circulation loss may seem unlikely, but they do exist, such as crumbs in the patient's bed, wrinkles in the sheets and clothing, thick seams in pants (UK: trousers), a slightly tilting chair. Even sweating can moisten the skin and raise the risk of bed sores.

  • Friction - for healthy and mobile people making bodily adjustments - shifting around - prevents the development of bed sores. However, for some patients, especially those with very thin and frail skin, as well as poor circulation, turning and moving may damage the skin, raising the risk of bed sores.

  • Shear - if the skin moves one way while the underlying bone moves in the opposite direction, this is known as shear. If a patient slides down a bed or a chair, or raises the top half of a bed too much, there is a risk of shearing - cell walls and minute blood vessels may stretch and tear. The tailbone, especially if the skin is already very thin, is especially susceptible to bed sores from shear.

Diagnosing pressure ulcers and ulcer management

Diagnosis of a pressure ulcer is made by visual examination. Good diagnostic process, experts say, is to accurately assess the patient's risk of developing bed sores. To do this, the medical team will assess the patient's:
  • State of health
  • Mobility (how much, often and easily can the patient move).
  • Posture - is there anything that may affect the patient's posture.
  • Signs or symptoms that may point to an infection.
  • Mental health
  • Mental state
  • Personal history of pressure ulcers
  • Continence - urinary or/and fecal
  • Nutrition
  • Blood circulation
To better assess the patient's risk, the doctor may order urine and blood tests. Blood tests, apart from providing important data on the patient's health, may also provide clues on how well he/she is eating. Urine tests may provide details on the state of the kidneys, or whether a urinary tract infection is present.

Self checking - if the patient is not in a hospital, care home, nursing home (any primary care setting), the doctor or nurse may teach them how to carry out regular daily checks for pressure ulcers. This will involve looking out for discoloration of the skin, and touching the skin for any unusual texture. A household member may help check parts of the body that are hard to look at, such as the back or buttocks - the patient might use a mirror. Any signs or symptoms of possible bed sores should be reported to a health care professional as soon as possible.

Removing a sample - if there is a wound that does not heal, even after treatment, or if the patient has chronic pressure ulcers, the doctor may take a small sample of tissue. This tissue is then cultured for unusual fungi or bacteria. Sometimes it is also checked for cancer.

What are the treatment options for pressure ulcers?

Treating pressure ulcers is not easy. If it is an open wound it most likely will not heal rapidly; even when healing does take place it may be patchy because the skin and other tissues have already been damaged. A multidisciplinary approach is required to deal with the many aspects of wound care. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, the MDT (multidisciplinary team) may consist of:
  • A dietician
  • A gastroenterologist (a digestive system doctor specialist)
  • A neurosurgeon (a brain and nervous system specialist surgeon)
  • An orthopedic surgeon (a bone and joints specialist surgeon)
  • A physical therapist (UK: physiotherapist)
  • A plastic surgeon
  • A social worker
  • A urologist (a urinary system specialist doctor)
  • An incontinence advisor
  • Nurses
The majority of Stage I and Stage II pressure ulcers will heal within a few weeks just with conservative measures. However, Stages III and IV wounds may require surgery.

Step 1 in treating any sore, regardless of its stage, is to remove the pressure that is causing it. This can be done by:
  • The patient's positions - the patient needs to be turned and repositioned regularly. If the individual is in a wheelchair this may mean changing positions every 15 minutes. A bedridden patient may require repositioning every couple of hours. Sheepskin or some type of padding over the wound may help reduce friction when the patient is repositioned.

  • Support surfaces - special beds, pads, cushions and mattresses may all help reduce pressure on a sore, as well as protect likely areas from further breakdown. The type of support used depends on the patient's mobility, their build, as well as the severity of the ulcer. Pillows and rubber rings should be avoided to cushion a wheelchair - air-filled, water-filled or foam devices are better. Experts say that low-air-loss beds or air-fluidized beds are better.
The following non-surgical treatments for pressure ulcers are also possible:
  • Clean wound - the wound must be kept clean. If it is a Stage I wound, it may be gently washed with water and a mild soap. Open sores, on the other hand, need to be cleaned with a saline solution each time the dressing is changed. Hydrogen peroxide or iodine should be avoided.

  • Continence - this must be controlled as much as possible. The patient may be helped with lifestyle changes, behavioral programs, incontinence pads as well as certain medications.

  • Debridement - a wound does not heal well if dead or infected tissue is present. The dead or infected tissue needs to be removed.

    • Surgical debridement - the doctor uses a scalpel to remove dead tissue (other devices are possible).

    • Mechanical debridement - a high-pressure irrigation device removes devitalized tissue.

    • Autolytic debridement - the body's own enzymes break down dead tissue.

    • Enzymatic debridement - topical debriding enzymes are applied.

    • Ultrasound - dead tissue is removed using low-frequency energy waves.

    • Laser - dead tissue is removed using focused light beams.

  • Maggot therapy (larvae therapy) - this is an alternative method of debridement. The maggots feed on dead and infected tissue, but do not touch healthy tissue. They also release substance that kill bacteria and encourage healing. The maggots are placed into the wound dressing and the area is covered with gauze. A few days later the dressing and the maggots are removed.

  • Dressings - these are key to protecting the wound and accelerating healing. The type of dressing used depends on the severity of the wound. Basically, the wound must be kept moist, while the surrounding tissue has to stay dry. A Stage I sore does not usually require covering. Stage II wounds are generally treated with hydrocolloids, or transparent semi-permeable dressings' that hold the moisture in and accelerate skin cell growth. Special dressings may be used for weeping wounds, or those with surface debris. An antibiotic cream may be used for contaminated sores.

  • Hydrotherapy - the skin may be kept clean with whirlpool baths. They may also naturally remove dead or contaminated tissue.

  • Oral antibiotics - the patient may be given oral antibiotics if the pressure ulcers are infected.

  • Nutrition - wound healing may be enhanced if the patient eats properly. This includes adequate supplies of protein, vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin C and zinc), and enough calories.

  • Relief from muscle spasms - skeletal muscle relaxants that block nerve reflexes in the spine or in the muscle cells may alleviate spasticity.
Surgery Some bedsores may become so severe that surgical intervention is necessary, regardless of treatment received. Surgery aims to improve the appearance of the sore, clean it up, treat or prevent infection, reduce fluid loss, and lower the risk of subsequent cancer.

Typically, a pad of muscle, skin or other tissue from the patient's own body is used to cover the wound and cushion the affected bone (flap reconstruction).

Prevention of pressure ulcers

Experts all agree that it is far easier to prevent bed sore than to treat them. However, easier does not necessarily mean easy. With the appropriate measures, patients and medical staff can significantly reduce the risk of developing pressure ulcers.

The Mayo Clinic, USA, recommends that patients and medical staff develop a plan that all can follow; this must include position changes, supportive devices, routine skin inspections and good diet.
  • Position changes - the prevention of bed sores depends largely on regular position changes. It does not take long for a pressure ulcer to start developing. That is why experts say positions should change every 15 minutes or so for those on a wheelchair and at least once every two hours for people in bed, even during the night-time hours (if the patient spends most of his/her time in bed). Patients who cannot do this unaided will need help.

  • Best positions in bed - a qualified physical therapist should advise the patient on the best positions. These may include:

    • Hip bones - lie on your side at a 30-degree angle, do you lie directly on your hipbone. Make sure your legs are suitably supported - if you are lying on your back place a foam pad or a pillow under your legs from the middle of your calf to your ankle. Do not use a doughnut-shaped cushion, as it can cut your circulation.

    • Knees and ankles - to prevent them from touching each other use small pillows or pads.

    • Head of the bed - do not raise the head of the bed more than 30 degrees, to minimize the risk of friction.

    • Type of bed - pressure-reducing mattresses or beds are best. This may include foam, air, gel or water mattresses.

  • Wheelchairs - pressure-release allow for longer periods of sitting. Patients without a pressure-release chair will need to change their position every 15 minutes, or thereabouts. Wheelchairs need cushions that reduce pressure while providing support and comfort.

  • Skin inspections - these should be done daily. Use a mirror if you have to, or ask a family member or caregiver to help you. People who spend long periods in bed should check their hips, spine, shoulder blades, elbows, heels and lower back especially carefully. People on wheelchairs should check their buttocks, tailbone (coccyx), lower back, legs, heels and feet carefully.

  • Diet - good nutrition is crucial for skin health and proper healing. It is sad that those who are at high risk of pressure ulcers tend to be more malnourished than other people. Talk to a qualified nutritionist or dietitian about what is most suitable for you.

  • Smoking - if you smoke regularly, giving up may be the single best thing you can do to prevent pressure ulcers, and help a more rapid and likely recovery if they do occur.

  • Exercise - exercise helps circulation, builds muscle, improves overall health and stimulates a healthy appetite. Talk to a physical therapist about which exercise options are best for you.

What are the possible complications of pressure ulcers?

  • Cellulitis - a bacterial infection of the dermis - the deep layer of skin - as well as the subcutaneous tissues (fat and soft tissue layer) that are under the skin. Cellulitis can result in life-threatening complications, including septicemia (blood poisoning), and the spreading of infection to other parts of the body. People with cellulitis also risk eventually having a permanent swelling around the affected area.

  • Bone and joint infections - if a pressure ulcer makes its way into the joints or bones, there is a serious risk of infection, resulting in damage to cartilage and tissue from joint infections, and a reduction in limb and joint function for bone infections.

  • Sepsis - bacteria can enter through sores, especially advanced ones, and infect the bloodstream. There is then a serious risk of shock and organ failure, a life-threatening condition.

  • Cancer - there is a higher risk of developing an aggressive carcinoma in the skin's squamous cells if the patient has bed sores.
Continue to Read more ...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Is a Peptic Ulcer? What Causes Peptic Ulcers?

A peptic ulcer is a hole in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. An ulcer is a sore or erosion that forms when the lining of the digestive system is corroded by acidic digestive juices. It is estimated that between 5% and 10% of adults globally are affected by peptic ulcers at least once in their lifetimes.

When a peptic ulcer affects the stomach it is called a gastric ulcer, one in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer, while an esophageal ulcer is an ulcer in the esophagus. When the lining of these organs is corroded by acidic digestive juices secreted by stomach cells peptic ulcers can form.

Peptic ulcer disease affects millions of Americans each year at an annual cost for the country estimated to run in the billions of dollars.

According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, a peptic ulcer is "an ulcer of the alimentary mucosa, usually in the stomach or duodenum, exposed to acid gastric secretion."

Etymologies of peptic and ulcer

The English word "peptic" comes from the Latin word pepticus which comes from the Greek word peptikus which comes from the Greek word peptein, meaning "to digest".
The English word "ulcer" comes from the Latin word ulcus (genitive: ulceris), meaning "a sore, a wound, an ulcer".

Meanings of peptic and ulcer

The English word peptic means relating to digestion or promoting digestion.
The English word ulcer means an area of tissue erosion.
The term peptic ulcer literally means tissue erosion in the digestive system.

What are the signs and symptoms of peptic ulcers?

A symptom is something the patient feels and reports, such as a stomachache, while a sign is something other people, including the doctor detect, such as a rash.

The first symptom of peptic ulcer is usually stomach pain - caused by the ulcer and intensified by stomach acid coming in contact with it. However, it is not uncommon for people to have a peptic ulcer and no symptoms at all. Even though stomachache is the first symptom, most stomachaches are not serious and do not mean the individual is ill.

The most common signs or symptoms of peptic ulcers are:
  • Indigestion-like pain. The pain can.. felt anywhere from the belly button to the breast bone
      ..last from a couple of minutes to a number of hours more severe when the stomach is empty worse during the night (during sleeping hours) temporarily relieved after eating certain foods
      ..go away and return for a few days or weeks

  • Difficulty getting food down (swallowing it)

  • Food that is eaten regurgitates (comes back up)

  • Retching after eating

  • Feeling unwell after eating

  • Weight loss

  • Loss of appetite
Ulcers can cause severe signs and symptoms, such as (much less common):
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black and tarry stools, or stools with dark blood
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • These symptoms should be treated as medical emergencies
When you should see a doctor:

A peptic ulcer should be treated with your doctor's help. OTC (over-the-counter) medications may temporarily provide some pain relief, but will not provide comprehensive treatment. If you have the signs and symptoms described above you should see your doctor.

What are the causes of peptic ulcers?

Peptic ulcers are usually caused by either Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) bacteria or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). H Pylori bacteria are responsible for about four-fifths of all gastric ulcers and 95% of duodenal ulcers, while NSAIDs are known to cause about 20% of gastric ulcers and 5% of duodenal ulcers.
  • H pylori

    Over 25% of people in Western Europe and North America carry H pylori. Experts are not certain why the bacteria do not cause ulcers in all people who carry H pylori. The bacterium spreads through food and water. As it is present in human saliva it can spread through mouth-to-mouth contact, such as kissing. It lives in the mucus that coats the lining of the stomach and duodenum and produces urease, an enzyme that neutralizes stomach acid by making it less acidic. To compensate for this the stomach makes more acid, which irritates the stomach lining.

    H pylori also weakens the defense system of the stomach and causes inflammation. Patients with peptic ulcers caused by H pylori need treatment to get rid of the bacterium from the stomach to prevent recurrences.

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

    These are medications for headaches, period pains, and other minor pains. Examples include aspirin and ibuprofen. Many NSAIDs are OTC medications, while others, such as diclofenac, naproxen and meloxicam can only be acquired with a doctor's prescription.

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs lower the stomach's ability to make a protective layer of mucus, making it more susceptible to damage by stomach acids. NSAIDs can also affect the flow of blood to the stomach, undermining the body's ability to repair cells.

  • Genetics - a significant number of individuals with peptic ulcers have close relatives with the same problem, suggesting that genetic factors may also be involved.

  • Smoking - people who regularly smoke tobacco are more likely to develop peptic ulcers compared to non-smokers.

  • Alcohol consumption - regular heavy drinkers of alcohol have a higher risk of developing peptic ulcers.

  • Mental stress - mental stress has not been linked to the development of new peptic ulcers. However, people with ulcers who experience sustained mental stress tend to have worse symptoms.

How are peptic ulcers diagnosed?

A patient's description of symptoms will usually make the doctor suspect a peptic ulcer. Some tests will be ordered so that diagnosis can be confirmed, such as:
  • Blood test - a blood test can determine whether H pylori bacteria are present. However, a blood test cannot determine whether the patient had past exposure or is currently infected. Also, if the individual has been taking antibiotics or proton pump inhibitors a blood test can give a false-negative result.

  • Breath test - a radioactive carbon atom is used to detect H pylori. The patient drinks a glass of clear liquid containing radioactive carbon as part of a substance (urea) that the H pylori will break down. An hour later the patient blows into a bag which is subsequently sealed. If the patient is infected with H pylori the breath sample will contain radioactive carbon in carbon dioxide. The breath test is also useful in checking to see how effective treatment has been in eliminating H pylori.

  • Stool antigen test - this test determines whether H pylori is present in the feces (stools). This test is also useful in determining how effective treatment has been in getting rid of the bacteria.

  • Upper gastrointestinal X-ray (upper GI X-ray) - the test outlines the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The patient swallows a liquid which contains barium. The barium coats the digestive tract and shows up on the X-ray, making the ulcer easier to see. Upper GI X-rays are only useful in detecting some ulcers.

  • Endoscopy - a long-narrow tube with a camera attached to the end is threaded down the patient's throat and esophagus into the stomach and duodenum. The doctor can see the upper digestive tract on a monitor and identify an ulcer if one is present. Endoscopies are also performed if the patient has other signs or symptoms, such as weight loss, vomiting (especially if blood is present), black stools, anemia, and swallowing difficulties.

    If an ulcer is detected the doctor may take a biopsy - a small sample of tissue is taken near the ulcer. The sample is examined under a microscope to rule out cancer. A biopsy can also be used to test for the presence of H pylori.

    Sometimes another endoscopy is performed a few months later to determine whether the ulcer is healing.

What are the treatment options for peptic ulcers?

The type of treatment is usually determined by what caused the peptic ulcer - H Pylori or NSAIDs. Treatment will focus on either lowering stomach acid levels so that the ulcer can heal, or eradicating the H pylori infection.
  • PPIs (proton pump inhibitors)

    These tablets reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces and are prescribed for patients who tested negative for H pylori infection. Treatment usually lasts from one to two months - if the ulcer is severe treatment may last longer.

    Patients who have to undergo an endoscopy will have to stop taking PPIs for at least 14 days beforehand. PPIs make it harder to see the inside of the abdomen.

    If side effects do occur they are usually mild and go away when treatment stops. They may include:

    • Nausea
    • Skin rashes
    • Stomach pain
    • Dizziness
    • Headaches
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea

  • H pylori infection treatment

    Patients infected with H pylori will usually have to take a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) and two different antibiotics - twice a day for seven days. It is crucial that the patient adheres to dosage instructions. This treatment is effective in about 90% of patients, whose ulcer will start to disappear within a matter of days.

    When treatment is over the individual will have to be tested again to make sure the H pylori have gone, especially if such symptoms as indigestion persist. If the infection is still present he/she will undergo another course of antibiotics; this time with different antibiotics.

    A person who has a gastric ulcer caused by H pylori infection has a slightly higher risk of developing stomach cancer. Hence, confirming that treatment has been successful is important.

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

    People whose peptic ulcer was caused by taking NSAIDs will have to stop taking them, if possible. The doctor will prescribe another painkiller, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, paracetamol).

    Individuals with another condition that causes severe pain may have to stop taking NSAIDs for as long as possible until their ulcer has healed.

    In some cases it may not be possible to stop taking NSAIDs. The doctor may minimize the dosage and review the patient's need for them later on. The doctor may also prescribe a medication to be taken long term, alongside the NSAID - this might be either a PPI or an H2-receptor antagonist.

  • Alginates

    Alginates help relieve indigestion caused by acid reflux and is often found in antacids. Alginates form a foam barrier on the surface of the stomach contents, keeping the stomach acid in the stomach. Antacids which contain alginates help medications stay in the stomach for longer.

  • H2-receptor antagonists

    These medications reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. They are swallowed as tablets. Patients taking erythromycin or warfarin will not be able to take cimetidine (a type of H2-receptor antagonist).

    Individuals who are to undergo an endoscopy will have to stop taking H2-receptor antagonists for at least 14 before the procedure.

    If side effects do occur, they may include:

    • Headaches
    • Skin rashes
    • Fatigue
    • Diarrhea
    • Dizziness

  • Follow-up treatment

    Even after the ulcer has healed and treatment has been completed the patient may still have indigestion. In such case the doctor may advise some eating and lifestyle changes. If symptoms persist the doctor may prescribe a low-dose PPI or H2-receptor antagonist.

What are the possible complications of peptic ulcers?

The risk of complications is much greater if the ulcer is left untreated, or if treatment was not completed. Examples include:
  • Internal bleeding - slow blood loss can lead to anemia, while severe blood loss requires hospitalization and blood transfusions.

  • Infection - a peptic ulcer can bore a hole through the wall of the stomach or small intestine, significantly increasing the risk of infection in the abdominal cavity - peritonitis. Peritonitis can be very painful and causes chills and fever, nausea, vomiting and a hard feeling in the abdomen. Individuals with peritonitis should seek medical attention as soon as symptoms are felt.

  • Scar tissue - scar tissue caused by peptic ulcers can obstruct the passage of food through the digestive tract, making the patient feel full more easily. Scarring may also cause vomiting and weight loss.

  • Pyloric stenosis - chronic inflammation in the lining of the stomach or duodenum caused by a peptic ulcer can result in a narrowing of the pylorus (small passage that links the stomach and the duodenum). Pyloric stenosis is the narrowing of the pylorus. Food will not pass through to the intestines, causing vomiting and weight loss.

  • Recurrence of peptic ulcers - People with the highest risk of developing peptic ulcers are those who have had them before. Somebody who had a peptic ulcer caused by H pylori infection runs a 5% risk of having another one during their lifetime; even after their original ulcer was successfully treated and healed.

    Somebody who had a peptic ulcer caused by H pylori infection and still has the bacteria runs a 60% risk of having another gastric ulcer during their lifetime and a 80% risk of having another duodenal ulcer.
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Are Flat Feet (Pes Planus, Fallen Arches)? What Causes Flat Feet?

Most people have a gap under the arch of their foot when they are in a standing position. The arch, the inner part of the foot is slightly raised off the ground. People with flat feet or fallen arches either have no arch, or it is very low.

The feet of people with flat feet may roll over to the inner side when they are standing or walking, and the feet may point outwards as a result.

A significant number of people with fallen arches (flat feet) experience no pain and have no problems. Some, however, may experience pain in their feet, especially when the connecting ligaments and muscles are strained. The leg joints may also be affected, resulting in pain. If the ankles turn inwards because of flat feet the most likely affected areas will be the feet, ankles and knees.

Some people have flat feet because of a developmental fault during childhood, while others may find that the problem develops as they age, or after a pregnancy. There are some simple devices which may prevent the complications of flat feet.

According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, pes planus (flat feet) means "a condition in which the longitudinal arch is broken down, the entire sole touching the ground."

What are the signs and symptoms of flat feet or fallen arches?

A symptom is something the patient feels and reports, while a sign is something other people, including the doctor may detect. An example of a symptom may be pain in the ankle, while a sign may be a swelling.

Symptoms may vary and generally depend on the severity of the condition. Some have an uneven distribution of bodyweight and find that the heel of their shoes wears out more rapidly and more on one side than the other. The most common signs or symptoms of flat feet are:
  • Pain in..

      ..the ankle (inner side), there may also be swelling
      ..the foot in general
      ..the arch of the foot
      ..the calf
      ..the knee
      ..the hip
      ..the back
      ..the general lower leg area

  • People with flat feet may also experience stiffness in one or both feet.

  • One or both feet may be flat on the ground (either no arch, or very slight arch).

  • Shoes may wear unevenly.

What are the causes of flat feet?

  • Family history - experts say fallen arches can run in families.

  • Weak arch - the arch of the foot may be there when no weight is placed on it, for example, when the person is sitting. But as soon as they stand up the foot flattens (falls) onto the ground.

  • Injury

  • Arthritis

  • Tibialis posterior (ruptured tendon)

  • Pregnancy

  • Nervous system or muscle diseases - such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or spina bifida.

  • Tarsal Coalition - the bones of the foot fuse together in an unusual way, resulting in stiff and flat feet. Most commonly diagnosed during childhood.

  • Diabetes

  • Age and wear and tear - years of using your feet to walk, run, and jump eventually may take its toll. One of the eventual consequences could be fallen arches. The posterior tibial tendon may become weakened after long-term wear a tear. The postario tibial tendon is the main support structure of the arch of our feet. The tendon can become inflamed (tendinitis) after overuse - sometimes it can even become torn. Once the tendon is damaged, the arch shape of the foot may flatten.
Our feet are incredibly well specialized structures. There are 26 different bones in each foot, held together by 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments (in each foot). They way they weave and align together determine the formation of our arches.

The aim of the arches is to give us spring and distribute our body weight across our feet and legs. The structures of the arches of our feet determine how we walk - they are rigid levels which allow us to move smoothly. However, the arches need to be sturdy as well as flexible to adapt to various surfaces and stresses.

During childhood it is normal to have flat feet. This is because our feet form during our childhood. In other words, having what appears to be flat feet during early childhood does not necessarily mean that it will persist throughout the individual's life.

People with very low arches or what appear to be no arches at all may experience no problems.

What are the risk factors for flat feet?

A risk factor is something that increases the likelihood of an illness or condition developing. For example, people who are obese are more likely to develop diabetes type 2 compared to slim people. Therefore, obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.

The following risk factors are linked to a higher probability of having flat feet:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Getting older (aging)
  • Pregnancy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Foot or ankle injury
  • Posterior tibial tendon tear or dysfunction

How are flat feet or fallen arches diagnosed?

People who have flat feet without signs or symptoms that bother them do not generally have to see a doctor or podiatrist about them. However, if any of the following occur, you should see your GP or a podiatrist:
  • The fallen arches (flat feet) have developed recently
  • You experience pain in your feet, ankles or lower limbs
  • Your unpleasant symptoms do not improve with supportive, well-fitted shoes
  • Either or both feet are becoming flatter
  • Your feet feel rigid (stiff)
  • Your feet feel heavy and unwieldy
Most qualified health care professionals can diagnose flat feet just by watching the patient stand, walk and examining his/her feet. A doctor will also look at the patient's medical history. The feet will be observed from the front and back. The patient may be asked to stand on tip-toe while the doctor examines the shape and functioning of each foot.

In some cases the physician may order an X-ray, CT (computed tomography) scan, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan.

What are the treatment options for fallen arches (flat fleet)?

Some patients with flat feet may automatically align their limbs in such a way that unpleasant symptoms never develop. In such cases treatment is not usually required.
  • Pain in the foot that is caused by flat feet may be alleviated if the patient wears supportive well-fitted shoes. Some patients say that symptoms improve with extra-wide fitting shoes.

  • Fitted insoles or orthotics (custom-designed arch supports) may relieve pressure from the arch and reduce pain if the patient's feet roll or over-pronate. The benefits of an orthotic only exist while it is being worn.

  • Patients with tendonitis of the posterior tibial tendon may benefit if a wedge is inserted along the inside edge of the orthotic - this takes some of the load off the tendon tissue.

  • Wearing an ankle brace may help patients with posterior tibial tendinitis, until the inflammation comes down.

  • Rest - doctors may advise some patients to rest and avoid activities which may make the foot (feet) feel worse, until the foot (feet) feels better.

  • A combination of an insole and some kind of painkiller may help patients with a ruptured tendon, as well as those with arthritis.

  • Patients with a ruptured tendon or arthritis who find insoles with painkillers ineffective may require surgical intervention.

  • Patients, usually children, whose bones did not or are not developing properly, resulting in flat feet from birth, may require surgical intervention to separate fused bones (rare).

  • Bodyweight management - if the patient is obese the doctor may advise him/her to lose weight. A significant number of obese patients with flat feet who successfully lose weight experience considerable improvement of symptoms.

What are the possible complications of flat feet or fallen arches?

As fallen arches can affect the way a person's body is aligned when standing, walking or running, the risk of subsequent pain in the hips, knees or ankles is significantly greater.

People with other foot problems may find that flat feet either contribute to them or make symptoms worse. Examples include:
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Arthritis in the ankle(s)
  • Arthritis in the foot (feet)
  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Plantar fasciitis (pain and inflammation in the ligaments in the soles of feet)
  • Posterior tibial tendinitis
  • Shin splints
Continue to Read more ...
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