Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tooth Abscess: Symptoms and Treatment

Dental or tooth abscess is a collection of pus (infection) caused due to bacteria, which accumulates in the centre (soft pulp) of the tooth. The general causes of a dental abscess in tooth decay (commonly called cavities or caries) and damage to the tooth (breaking, cracking, chipping). It can afflict the root of the tooth, and the nearby, supporting bone as well.


The most discernable symptom of a tooth abscess is experiencing a throbbing, persistent, shooting and consuming pain in the tooth. Other accompanying warning signs may include:

  • Malodorous breath
  • Constant bitter taste in the mouth
  • Swelling of the gum, base of tooth, cheek; in addition to being swollen, the gum may also appear red
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • In some cases facial swelling is also observed
  • Swelling of upper of lower jaw (this is considered as a serious symptom)
  • Migraine
  • Fever may develop in some cases
  • Teeth will be sensitive to extremely hot or cold things
  • Experiencing pain while chewing
  • Significant pain if you close your mouth too tightly
  • Touching the infected tooth can spark off unbearable pain
  • Open sore near the gum which may leak/drain if the abscess remains untreated
  • The patient will experience a severe ache when the dentist taps on the infected tooth
  • A general sense of uneasiness and discomfort is also reported


The treatment goals for a tooth abscess include getting the infection under control and preserve the tooth. The first step mostly taken is to prescribe an antibiotic medication, which will allow the pain to subside. Warm salt-water gargles also prove to be soothing.

This is then maybe followed by a root canal, which is mainly done to drain the pus out. A root canal is done to save the tooth. Minor gum surgeries may also be required. In case the infection is too severe, root canal will be ruled out and surgical extraction of the tooth will be resorted to.

Tooth abscesses, which are left untreated, can lead to acute complications. Firstly it could result in the loss of the tooth. In addition, it can culminate in sepsis (the bloodstream becomes infested with bacteria). The patient may suffer from Osteomyelitis (critical or chronic bone infection) if the infection permeates to the jaw. The infection can also spread to other surrounding soft tissues like the face (facial cellulitis). In the most severe and rare cases the infection may travel to other parts of the body like the brain (terminating in brain abscess or even meningitis), the lungs (leading to pneumonia) and other such complications.

There are varied reasons why dental abscesses may not heal completely:

  • Formation of cysts
  • Inadequate and untimely root canal therapy
  • Vertical root fractures
  • Presence of foreign matter in the wound
  • Related periodontal infection

A tooth abscess necessitates timely medical intervention, which if provided, will lead to purging of the infection as well as conservation of the tooth.

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About The Brachial Plexus

The lower 4 cervical nerves (C5, C6, C7, C8) and 1st thoracic nerve (T1) emerge from the inter vertebral foramina; the anterior rami of these 5 nerves undergo a characteristic fusion which is known as the Brachial Plexus, which is a network of nerves which supply the upper limbs. It also receives contributions from the anterior primary rami of C4 and T2. It can be prefixed or post fixed. It is said to be prefixed when the contribution by C4 is large and that from T2 is absent. In the Post fixed variety, contribution from T1 is large, T2 is always present, C4 is absent and C5 is reduced in size. The C5 and C6 roots join to form the upper trunk. C7 root forms the middle trunk. C8 and T1 join to form the lower trunk. Each trunk divides into ventral and dorsal divisions. These divisions join to form cords. The cords are named as lateral, medial and posterior based on their relation to the axillary artery. The lateral cord is formed by the union of the ventral divisions of the upper and middle trunks. The medial cord is formed by the ventral division of the lower trunk. The posterior cord is formed by the union of the dorsal divisions of all the three trunks.

Nerves arising from the Brachial Plexus and their root value:

Long thoracic nerve (C5, 6, 7)

Suprascapular (C5, C6), Dorsal scapular nerve (C5)

Nerve to the subclavius (C5, 6),

Thoracodorsal nerve (C6, 7, 8), two subscapular nerves (C5, 6),

Axillary nerve (C5, 6),Ulnar nerve (C8, T1)

Medial pectoral nerve (C8, T1), lateral pectoral nerve (C5, 6, 7)

Medial cutaneous nerve of the arm (C8, T1),

Medial cutaneous nerve of the forearm (C8, T1)

Median nerve (C5, 6, 7, 8, T1), Radial nerve (C5, 6, 7, 8, T1)

Musculocutaneous nerve (C5, 6, 7)

Common Injuries and characteristic defects produced:

Erb’s paralysis: Is caused due to injury to the upper trunk. Nerve roots involved mainly C5 and partly C6 of the Brachial Plexus. Injuries wherein the head gets separated far from the shoulder, like an accidental fall, birth injury sustained due to shoulder dystocia etc. The muscles that get paralysed are biceps, deltoid, brachialis and brachioradialis. Partly supraspinatus, infraspinatus and supinator. The affected limb hangs to the side, is adducted and medially rotated, due to paralysis of the deltoid, biceps and brachialis. The forearm is extended and pronated. This deformity is called ‘policeman’s tip hand’ or ‘porter’s tip hand’ owing to the characteristic position of the affected limb.

Injury to nerve to Serratus Anterior: This nerve can be damaged if there is a sudden weight lifted on the shoulders. It causes ‘Winging of the scapula’ that is the medial border of the scapula becomes prominent. Symptoms will be loss of overhead abduction (patient will be unable to lift his arm over his head) and loss of pushing and punching actions.

Klumpke’s paralysis is caused due to injury to the lower part of the plexus and causes claw hand and Horner’s syndrome.

Some injuries of the Brachial Plexus are minor and will completely recover in several weeks; others however may be severe enough to cause permanent disability. Factors that may affect the results following injury are age, the type, severity and location of the injury. Several surgical techniques can be used to treat and help recovery, in cases where improvement is possible.

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Tennis Elbow Symptoms and Treatment

Tennis Elbow or lateral epicondylitis affects the outer portion of the elbow making it painful and tender. There arises a problem, typically understood to be microscopic tears, in the tendons (attachments of the muscles) attached to the outside of the elbow. When these are incompletely mended, it causes the muscle to attach itself to that outer part of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle. Tennis elbow is believed to be a degenerative process spurred on by repetitive use.


Individuals afflicted with tennis elbow suffer from pain on the outside of the elbow that increases when they clutch objects and elevate, extend the wrist. It is most common in sportspersons (especially racquet sports) as well as manual labourers.

When to seek tennis elbow treatment

The onset of the following symptoms and signs should act as a signal to consult a qualified medical health professional for undergoing tennis elbow treatment:

  • Experiencing difficulty in carrying items or even simply using your arm
  • Elbow pain that begins and persists at night or while resting
  • Outer elbow pain that continues beyond a few days
  • Inability or incapacity to straighten, unbend, flex or loosen your arm
  • Swelling or significant bruising around the elbow joint or arm


Tennis elbow treatment options

Tennis elbow treatment is a process that takes a certain amount of time to take effect. It is not a line of action that will yield instant results. Most medical experts are of the opinion that a patient should only abandon one line of treatment if it does not alleviate or reduce the pain after a sufficient passage of time. The rationale being that the effects are slow to start with but it is observed that continuing treatment for a reasonable amount of time is beneficial. The following are the options available:

  • Lifestyle changes: Doctors recommend that modifying the way you carry out simple everyday activities (carrying/lifting) can cause the pain to subside.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications are also prescribed to curb the pain and discomfort
  • Another very commonly used form of treatment is cortisone injections. The general dosage required is 2 injections.
  • An elbow brace or clasp is used to redirect, restrict the pull of the awry muscles.
  • Tennis elbow exercises are also a proven from of treatment. Physiotherapists often also recommend the use of a new tool called Thera-Band FlexBar, which strengthens your muscles.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy: A controversial alternative with inconclusive findings regarding its effectiveness, this option induces micro-trauma in the tissue that is believed to reduce pain.
  • Autologous Blood Injection and Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP): The former involves an injection using your own blood, and injected into the damaged tendon, in order to kindle a healing reaction. PRP on the other hand is a concentration of platelet cells taken from your blood, which have growth factors that may help to heal injuries.
  • Surgical options include removing a part of the injured tendon. A repair of the healthy portion of tendon is also possible. In addition, arthroscopic elbow surgery has become an alternative for some.

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Kennel Cough: Symptoms & Treatment

The most heart-melting look is the look full of innocence, pity, and pain. When someone looks directly into your eyes, while pouring full bucket of these emotions out of it, you cannot help think, “Aww… what puppy eyes!” Of course, what else could be a more perfect expression to refer to such kind of a look? Moreover, the importance of this statement couldn’t be understood better than the ones, who own their own little puppies, and get to see these puppy-expressions, when their beloved pets are not well. Talking of their illnesses, one of the reasons that can keep your pet down is Kennel Cough.

Like in human race, canine world has its own share of contagious diseases. Kennel cough, in medical terms known as “Infectious Tracheobronchitis”, is one such common respiratory disease that easily spreads to healthy dogs, when they come in a close contact with the infected ones. The most likely places, from where they can catch this disease, are kennels, veterinary hospitals, canine boarding facilities, dog fairs, etc.

When the infected dog comes in contact with a healthy dog, the infected dog’s viruses and bacteria are passed on to the healthy one through air by his sneezing and coughing, or even by shared contact with contaminated surfaces, e.g. eating from the same bowl. Kennel cough is so contagious that even many weeks after the symptoms have disappeared; the previously infected dog still can pass on the bacteria.

Kennel cough can be quite a testing period for both, the dogs as well as their human friends. This is said so, because once the dog has contracted this infection, it will start showing symptoms like coughing (hacking) after every few seconds. In most of the instances this coughing will be dry, however in some cases it can also hack up phlegm and vomit. There will be constant sneezing, snorting, gagging, and retching. Some dogs can also catch fever, but it varies from dog to dog. Even though the disease initially lasts for 2-3 weeks, it can reappear in case the dog is exposed to any kind of stressful situation or when stress is put on his immune system.

Kennel cough doesn’t have any adverse impact over dog’s activity level, appetite, or general attitude, however, the cough produced can be harsh, forceful, and loud on our ears, sometime inducing dry heaves. One thing must be noticed that if nasal discharge, lethargy, anorexia, or any other signs of illness are apparent, it must be considered something more serious than just a cough.

Since prevention is always better than treatment, one must get their dogs vaccinated for canine adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, and bordetella. Dog’s bed, cages, toys, bowls, etc. must be disinfected. In case of boarding facilities, dogs must not be taken in without proof of vaccination. As for the treatment, even though it is noticed that in most cases the dogs self-recover in 5 to 20 days, the treatment shouldn’t be avoided, since excessive coughing can damage trachea. Kennel cough can be dealt with antibiotics for the bacterial infection. Cough suppressants also can be an option if it’s a dry cough. Common medications for cough control are Hydrocodone and Butorphanol.

If taken proper care of, your pet will still flash his puppy-looks… but in a more spirited way!

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All About The Human Genome Project

Human anatomy has been subject to intensive research for so many years. Every passing year there is something added to the vast ocean of data collected about the nature and facts about human body. Human Genome Project is one such concentrated study that had been undertaken in October 1990 and was carried on until 2003. These complete 13 years of rigorous research has made an unmatched contribution to the human kind.

Human Genome Project was coordinated by the US Department of Energy and the National Institute of Health. When the project was still in its initial phase, the Welcome Trust (UK) became a major partner in this venture, later bringing contributions from Japan, France, Germany, China, and few more countries. Ari Patrinos, head of the office of Biological & Environmental Research was the chief director of this research program.

The main goals of the project were,

  • Classification of around 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human DNA
  • Establishment of the sequence of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make human DNA
  • Storage of this information in a database
  • Improvisation of the tools for data analysis
  • Transferring of the related technologies to the private sector
  • Addressing the ethical, legal, and social issues that may arise from the project

Human Genome Project was considered to be an expensive task, since sequencing patients’ whole genomes was far too intricate and costly affair. Therefore, a new theory was employed to cut down the expenses, by considering only those sites on the genome, where many people have a variant DNA unit. The idea behind this was that since the major diseases are common, so too would be the genetic variants that caused them. The Human Genome Project is considered a mega project, because the human genome has approximately 3.3 billion base-pairs, and in the project the genome was broken into 150,000 base-pairs in length.

In this project the blood samples for the research were collected from both, male and female donors, however only few of many collected samples were actually processed as DNA resources. The donor identities were strictly protected so neither the donors nor the scientist would know whose DNA was sequenced. The interesting part of Human Genome Project is that much of the DNA for this research came from a single anonymous male donor from Buffalo, New York.

The findings of this project are very interesting. This research established few facts, including that the average human gene consists 3000 base pairs, but sizes vary greatly. The human genome sequence is almost exactly the same (99.9%) in all people. However, the functions of more than 50% discovered gens are still unknown.

Nevertheless, few things still remain unexplored, like exact genes number, their locations, function, etc.  For many such unidentified mysteries post-sequencing projects are undertaken worldwide. If these projects are successful, they will reveal comprehensive understanding of complex living systems, with application to human health, energy, agriculture, global climate change, and environmental remediation, amongst others.

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Glucometer – A Sweetness Calculator

We rocket-launched our spaceship of human evolution many millenniums ago, and that ship is still progressing beyond the stars and galaxies. Today, we can measure the longest of intergalactic distances, we can weigh the heaviest balls of gases that give us light, and the list of things that we can do is really long. Nevertheless, at the simplest of tasks we fall short. We neither can put in number the quantity of love that our beloved ones give us, nor can we make a definite forecast as to how long someone would hold a grudge against us. Although, we have managed to concoct a device that can gauge someone’s sweetness, Glucometer!

Before you jump to any eager conclusions, it must be clear that Glucometer is a medical device that finds out the fairly accurate absorption of glucose in the blood. As per the mechanism of the device, a small drop of blood is obtained by pricking the skin with a lancet. It is then placed on a disposable test-strip, which is read by the meter. The reading is used to calculate the glucose level in the blood. The findings are displayed on the meter-screen in mg/dl or mmol/l.

It is not hard to guess, from the fact that it is used to scale the glucose level of blood, that Glucometer is predominantly used by/for the people suffering from diabetes. However, it also plays an important role in nutrition and diet management. Its main objective is to help people achieve normal levels of glucose in the blood for as much of the time as possible. There is a special kind of a Glucometer, which previously was used for multi-patient hospitals, for providing more elaborate glucose control records. Their data handling capabilities are designed to transfer glucose results into electronic medical records.

As per the medical studies factors like, strenuous exercise regime, personal stress, incessant travelling, holiday meals, and illnesses are factors that cause glucose levels to fluctuate. Self-monitoring of blood glucose with the help of portable Glucometer can guide your day-to-day changes in diet and insulin dosages. It allows you to respond to the normal lifestyle and maintain a degree of flexibility without subjecting yourself to hyper or hypoglycemic episodes. It empowers you to maintain the quality of life in a variable environment.

However, there is a discrepancy in opinions regarding the precision of Glucometer readings. As per the ISO 15197 standards, such glucose measuring devices must provide results that are within 20% of a laboratory standard 95% of the time. Nonetheless, the factors that affect the accuracy of these readings are calibration of meter, ambient temperature, pressure used to wipe off the strip, size and quality of blood sample, high levels of substances like ascorbic acid in blood, dirt on meter, humidity, and aging of test strips. Different models of such meters are differently susceptible to these factors and their ability to prevent (or warn about) inaccurate result with error messages also differs.

Whatever the case may be, these devices are the only handy instruments that let us count the glucose levels in our blood today. Therefore, despite having difference of opinions about its 100% accuracy, they continue to help us know… how sweet we really are!

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The Flat Belly Diet – Should You?

Developed by Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass, editors of popular heath and lifestyle magazine ‘Prevention’, the 1600-calorie Flat Belly Diet has been moulded around the classic Mediterranean style diet. This 32-day diet plan guarantees that a devout follower will lose up to 15 pounds, several inches of belly fat and feel rejuvenated at the same time. It boasts of visible results (5 pounds and 7 inches lighter) within a measly 96 hours of committing to the diet. In addition, the tagline of this programme proclaims, “A flat belly is about food & attitude … not a single crunch required!”

Commencing with a unique ‘bloat-busting 4-day jump-start’ the Flat Belly Diet helps you to achieve the aforementioned goals by consuming the right kind of foods, which include, wholesome, unrefined foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, lean protein, and very little red meat (once a month). During the jump-start period, dieters drink 2 litres of daily “sassy water,” a blend of spices, herbs, citrus, and cucumber and christened after Cynthia Saas. This is the most rigorous period of the diet.

Nutritionists claim that the secret key to this diet’s success is the substitution of Saturated Fat with Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs). MUFAs can be sourced in some oils like olive oil, some chocolate like semi-sweet chocolate, nuts and seeds, olives and avocados. This regular ingestion of MUFAs is also accredited with helping the dieter feel more full and satisfied after each meal.

Another cornerstone of the Flat Belly Diet is 4 meal plans in a day, each comprising of 400 calories. This differs from the regular practice of 3 meals. Moreover, the diet happily allows foods like chocolate and peanut butter, so as to benefit from the MUFAs present in these foods, which are mercilessly shunned by most diet programmes.

Dieters don’t count and calculate calories. Instead, they can pick and choose from a list of 28 compatible mix-and-match breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snack packs. Flat Belly Diet comes with food lists and accompanying portion sizes and calories allow flexibility and room for personal tastes in creating snack packs and can be used according to your need and schedule. Recipes are available with nutrient analysis of calories, protein, carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and fibre so that you can understand exactly what and how much you are eating.

Although the marketing campaign dismisses the need to exercise to view desired results, the diet itself encourages exercise and provides for a 28-day work out plan, which has been found to be effective. Experts also advise dieters to carry forward this regime once the diet duration is up.

Experts believe that losing 15 pounds in 32 days is most likely the result of losing water weight and not fat. Professionals doubt the effectiveness of MUFAs in burning belly fat citing lack of scientific proof, but are quick to credit the Flat Belly Diet as being a nutritious, healthy and balanced plan that focuses on improving overall health.

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Your Cholesterol Numbers Are Crucial

Cholesterol numbers refer to the measurement of cholesterol (in milligrams) per decilitre of your blood. The metric system may vary to millimoles per litre in some European nations. Doctors recommend a full-fledged lipoprotein profile, more commonly known as cholesterol level test, to anyone who has crossed 20 followed by check up tests every 5 years. Men aged 35 and above and women 45+, ought to be regularly screened for lipid disorders. This profiling leads us to obtain your cholesterol numbers for each type of cholesterol. To crack your cholesterol numbers and unearth what they precisely indicate, the first step involves understanding the different form cholesterol itself can take (these are documented in the profile). Cholesterol is broadly classified as:

  • LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, infamously called “bad” cholesterol)
  • HDL (High Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, also hailed as “good” cholesterol)
  • Triglycerides (fat carried in the blood derived from the food we consume)

A total cholesterol number is generated through a combined study of the abovementioned components.

LDL: This accumulates on the walls of the arteries and disrupts smooth blood flow. After the passage of time, this can culminate in heart disease. Low LDL cholesterol levels are considered to be positive sign especially for individuals who already have certain conditions (heart disease risk factors) like diabetes, previous heart attack or stroke, arterial blockage in the neck, which can snowball the already severe adverse effects of high LDL levels. The following chart depicts the general analysis for LDL cholesterol levels.

Below 70 mg/dL Below 1.8 mmol/L Ideal for people at very high risk of heart disease
Below 100 mg/dL Below 2.6 mmol/L Ideal for people at risk of heart disease
100-129 mg/dL 2.6-3.3 mmol/L Near ideal
130-159 mg/dL 130-159 mg/dL Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL 4.1-4.9 mmol/L High
190 mg/dL and above Above 4.9 mmol/L Very high

A high LDL level can be controlled largely by making lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, exercising, shedding weight, eating healthy etc. However, the event of an inability to control the level despite this, medication like statins maybe prescribed to help the process along.

HDL: This cholesterol obstructs LDL and prevents it from clogging the arteries. For this reason, higher levels of this cholesterol are considered to be desirable.

Below 40 mg/dL (men)

Below 50 mg/dL (women)

Below 1 mmol/L (men)

Below 1.3 mmol/L (women)

50-59 mg/dL 1.3-1.5 mmol/L Better
60 mg/dL and above Above 1.5 mmol/L Best

Triglycerides: These features in the list of factors that increase risk of heart disease. Hence it is essential to keep their levels in check.

Below 150 mg/dL Below 1.7 mmol/L Desirable
150-199 mg/dL 1.7-2.2 mmol/L Borderline high
200-499 mg/dL 2.3-5.6 mmol/L High
500 mg/dL and above Above 5.6 mmol/L Very High

Total Cholesterol: Total cholesterol numbers are composed of the levels of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components. The following are the recommendations:

Below 200 mg/dL Below 5.2 mmol/L Desirable
200-239 mg/dL 5.2-6.2 mmol/L Borderline High
240 mg/dL and above Above 6.2 mmol/L High

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Condromalacia Patella Symptoms and Treatment

Condromalacia patella (CMP) is one of the most common causes of knee pain. This condition is commonly seen in adolescent women and as a part of normal ageing process. Athletes and runners are most prone to this condition.

Condromalacia means the abnormal degeneration or softening of the cartilage which forms the knee joint (articular cartilage). Patella is one of the bones which forms the knee joint. This condition can occur due to constant friction or rubbing on a hard surface.

Condromalacia patella mainly affects the articular cartilage of the knee joint which lies beneath the knee cap ( patella) .The pain is generally felt in the front of the knee joint(anterior part). The cartilage acts as a shock absorber. Pain is generally felt due to overuse or increased friction or any kind of injury in that area.

This condition is also referred to as ‘Patella-Femoral pain’ or ‘Stress syndrome’.

It may or may not progress to osteoarthritis. But some authors believe that condromalacia patella is the precursor of osteoarthritis.

In normal knee, the cartilage (articular cartilage) is smooth and elastic which glides smoothly over the femur bone (thigh bone). This smooth movement of the cartilage is restricted when the cartilage gets eroded and affects the smooth movement of the joint which causes pain in the joint on bending.


-Injury to the joint area.

-Uneven pressure onto the joint area.

-Abnormal alignment of the patella.

-Overuse of the joint (in athletes / runners)


Pain around the knee cap.

-Pain intensity in increased on squatting , kneeling , going up and down the stairs

-Tender knee.

-Radiating pain to the back of the joint.



The degree of severity of the condition can be assessed by taking x-rays of the affected area. CT scans and MRI scans also help in analyzing the condition.

-Temporary relief can be acquired by taking NSAID’s (Non Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory Drugs) which includes aspirin or ibuprofen.

-Physical therapy like stretching exercise and other rehabilitation exercises can improve the condition. Muscle strengthening exercises are generally performed which strengthens the muscles supporting the joint area.

-Simple methods like ice application on your knee after any physical exercise will improve the condition.

-Your physical therapist may suggest taping of the knee joint which would gradually strengthen your knee and improve your exercising ability


Surgical treatments include:

a) Artheroscopy –A procedure in which a tiny incision is made and a thin device with a camera and light is inserted into the joint area and tiny fragments of bone are removed.

b) Realignment of the joint can also improve the condition.



–       A warm up exercise is always a must.

–       Excess weight must be lost.

–       Gentle stretching exercises must be performed regularly.

–       Maintain good strength by exercising the muscles around the joint. Strong muscular support around the joint will keep balanced forces acting on the joint.

–       Comfortable shoes should be worn while performing any kind of physical exercise.

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Chronic Sinusitis: Symptoms and Treatment

A common affliction in the United States, chronic sinusitis (also referred to as chronic rhinosinusitis) is a recurring and ongoing inflammation and swelling of paranasal sinuses persisting for 12 weeks or longer. Paranasal sinuses are 4 spaces filled with air located in bones surrounding the nose-

  • Frontal sinuses (in the forehead)
  • Maxillary sinuses (behind the cheek bones)
  • Ethmoid sinuses (between the eyes)
  • Sphenoid sinuses (behind the eyes)

Although it most generally affects young and middle-aged adults, chronic sinusitis is also known to occur in children. It can be caused by a myriad of diseases that carry paranasal inflammation as a symptom.


The following are the symptoms most commonly associated with chronic rhinosinusitis:

Blockage of the nasal passage

Facial pain and pressure and pain in area surrounding the eyes; may aggravate when the person is bending or lying down

Headaches, dizziness, heavy head

Nighttime coughing

General discomfort and malaise

Thick greenish discharge of mucus from the nose; can include pus and/or blood

Difficulty in breathing through the nose

Can also lead to a reduced sense of smell

Ear Problems

Recurring sore throat and bad breath (Maxillary sinusitis)



Causes of chronic sinusitis broadly include:

  • Blockage in the nose from allergies, caused due to nasal polyps, nasal tumors
  • Structural abnormalities like deviated nasal septum
  • Nasal blockage due to bacterial infection
  • Dental infections like tooth abscess
  • Allergy to the aspergillus species of fungus

Factors that increase the risk of developing chronic rhinosinusitis or predispose an individual to contract it are:

  • Environmental factors such as dust or pollution
  • Smoking as well as passive smoking


The treatment goals are mainly to eliminate the infection and mucosal edema. This maybe achieved through antibiotics and nasal irrigation. Pills taken orally may help clear a blocked nose (oral decongestants). Nasal sprays (topical steroids) may relieve symptoms of chronic sinusitis caused due to allergies.

Over-the-counter painkillers (analgesics) may be used to control facial pain.

Surgery to clean and drain the sinuses may be required. Surgical correction of a deviated septum or nasal obstruction may decrease the chances of a relapse of chronic sinusitis.

A comparatively nascent advancement in the treatment of chronic sinusitis is a form of surgery called Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS). This surgery eradicates anatomical and pathological impediments in order to restore natural clearance of the sinuses. This substitutes earlier techniques requiring facial or oral incisions and gives due attention to the natural openings of the sinuses.

Persistent symptoms and disease in patients despite the use of medical and functional endoscopic approaches, older techniques like the Caldwell-Luc radical antrostomy have to be resorted to. It encompasses the surgical removal of the entire diseased maxillary sinus mucosa and drainage is allowed into the nasal orifice by crafting a large opening in the lateral nasal wall.

Complications arising due to chronic sinusitis:

  • Abscesses
  • Meningitis
  • Visual problems

In extreme cases infection of the brain, seizures, coma, and death

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Cervical Dysplasia Symptoms and Treatment

Cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition caused by the human papilloma virus(HPV). The condition is also referred to as squamous intra-epithelial lesion which gradually progresses to cervical cancer.

This condition is characterized by the appearance of abnormal cells (dysplasia) on the surface of the cervix. The condition does not always necessarily progress to cancer. Some smaller lesions regress on their own, while other lesions progress to cervical dysplasia. It is generally asymptomatic and can be detected with the help of pap-smear by analyzing the exfoliated cervicovaginal cells. It is generally seen in women of age group of 25 to 35 years of age. HPV virus generally spreads through sexual contact.

The changes are generally seen on the pap smear. Depending on the severity of the condition it may be graded into three categories:

-Low grade

-High grade

-Possibly cancerous (malignant)

WHO estimates that 74,000 Indian women lose their lives every year due to cervical cancer.

More than 95% of prolonged HPV infections turn cancerous over 15 to 20 yrs.

According to the studies carried out by WHO, the number of deaths can be reduced to almost half by getting themselves tested by a single screening test.

Symptoms: The condition is generally asymptomatic or usually presents with no symptoms.

Certain individuals are more prone to develop cervical dysplasia:

  1. Women who have suppressed immune system.
  2. Foul odor,  heavy vaginal discharge
  3. Pelvic pain and pain during urination.



  1. Routine pelvic examination is done, particularly for women over 30 years.
  2. Further testing should be carried out in individuals with abnormalities detected in the pap-smear.
  3. Colonoscopy directed biopsy should be done to confirm the condition and its severity.
  4. Regular pap-smear examination should be carried out at regular intervals for individuals with mild abnormalities.


Factors that may increase the changes for the condition turning cancerous:

  1. i.        Lack of personal hygiene
  2. ii.        Multiple pregnancies
  3. iii.        Imbalanced nutrition
  4. iv.        Multiple sexual partners
  5. v.        Smoking
  6. vi.        Use of oral contraceptive pills
  7. vii.        Early marriage or early onset of sexual activity.


In most cases of cervical dysplasia, the treatment depends on the degree of severity.

Mild dysplasia cases might regress on their own.

Regular visits to the doctor for a thorough medical check-up is a must in every 3-6 months (pap smear examination).

If the symptoms are persistent for 2 years or more, then treatment is generally recommended.


In moderate to severe cases of cervical dysplasia following is the recommended treatment:

-Cone biopsy (procedure in which the abnormal tissue is removed)


-Lasers to destroy abnormal tissues



Prognosis is generally good in mild cervical dysplasia cases

-When the condition is not treated, it may turn cancerous.



Since cervical dysplasia is a precancerous condition it may take time to progress into a malignancy or a cancerous condition.

-Regular medical check-ups and pelvic examination should be carried out in women above 21 years of age.

-Practice monogamy.

-Vaccinations for HPV should be taken between 10 to 25 years of age.

-Safe sex methods should be encouraged.

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Brain Aneurysm: The Symptoms and Treatment

Cerebral or brain aneurysm is the anomalous broadening or ballooning of a portion of an artery or vein within the brain. A loop of arteries situated at the base of the brain called the Circle of Willis, are responsible for maintaining the supply of blood and nourishment to this organ. The probability of the occurrence of a brain aneurysm is heightened at those locations where these arteries intersect; this can be attributed to the weakening of the blood vessels at such points. The larger the ballooning the greater is the possibility of it rupturing and bleeding out into the brain.


Medical professionals have been studying the causes of a brain aneurysm and have outlined the following possibilities:

  • Congenital (hereditary) deformity of the blood vessels
  • Head trauma or injury
  • High blood pressure
  • Atherosclerosis (accumulation of fat in arteries)

Brain aneurysm rarely affects children and is most common in adults; it has a greater tendency to strike in women than in men.


A headache is the most discernable symptom of a brain aneurysm. Patients are often known to complain of experiencing the ‘worst headache of their life’. This occurs typically when the aneurysm bursts. This may also be accompanied by:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Neck stiffness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Variation in mental condition
  • Seizures

Prior to this the individual may be unaware that he has an aneurysm. It has been seen that almost half of the people with a ruptured aneurysm will suffer a warning (sentinel) headache a couple of days or even weeks (average of 2 weeks) preceding the break open of the vessel.

Some people may suffer from symptoms linked to an expanding, unbroken aneurysm. These include:

  • Dilated pupil in one eye
  • Visual field deficiencies
  • Incapability to move one eye in all possible directions
  • Experiencing pain or discomfort above or behind an eye


Surgical clipping or coiling techniques are majorly used in the treatment of brain aneurysms. It is essential to note that not all aneurysms are amenable to both forms of treatment. Consulting a neurologist is of extreme importance.


The surgeon reaches the aneurysm by cutting out a portion of the skull (craniotomy) and then locates the injured blood vessel and inserts a clip across the aneurysm. This obstructs blood from entering the aneurysm and then leaking out, or incases of an un-ruptured aneurysm, stunts its growth.

Endovascular Coiling or Coil Embolization:

This treatment approach involves inserting a catheter into the femoral artery (in the patient’s leg) and steering it through the vascular system, into the brain and finally into the aneurysm. Small platinum coils are lined through the catheter and placed into the aneurysm, jamming blood flow into the aneurysm and preventing a fissure. This minimally invasive procedure can be performed under general anaesthesia.

Both options come with the risk of leading to more bleeding, damaging brain tissue, causing spasms, barricading blood supply and produce a stroke.

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Bordetella Pertussis Infection – Symptoms and Treatment

Bordetella pertussis affects the respiratory system. It is the cause of Pertussis which is more commonly known as Whooping cough. Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease. It is called so because individuals suffering from this illness seem to produce a characteristic “whoop” sound during inspiration after a bout of the episodic cough. This sound however may not be produced in infants below the age of 6 months and in older children and adults. This gram negative bacillus belongs to the genus Bordetella. It was first identified in 1906 by Bordet and Gengou. It has a worldwide distribution. Cyclical outbreaks of whooping cough are seen every 3 to 5 years, which is in spite of widespread immunization. It can occur in all months and can affect all age groups. However it commonly affects preschool and school age children.

The Chinese called Pertussis “the 100 day cough” owing to the long clinical course of the illness. Bordetella Pertussis is known to produce a variety of toxins which is responsible for its pathogenesis. The most commonly known toxin is “Pertussis Toxin” which has varied biological effects. The bacillus mainly colonizes in the nasopharynx. It attaches itself to the ciliated epithelial cells, after which it multiplies and releases a variety of toxins which decreases the host defense as well as damages the local epithelium. The paroxysmal cough caused is most probably due to the accumulated secretions as a result of impaired movements of the cilia.

Incubation period of this organism in the human host is about 7 to 10 days.

Symptoms: The first stage is the catarrhal stage. It resembles an acute upper respiratory tract infection. Symptoms include running nose, sneezing, low grade fever and mild cough. This stage of Bordetella Pertussis infection lasts for a week or two, which is followed by a second stage, the paroxysmal phase. This stage may last for one to six weeks. Symptoms of this stage include severe bouts of episodic cough, repetitive bursts of 5 to 10 coughs often with a single expiration. Following the cough the patient appears exhausted as well as vomiting may be present. Every episode of cough is followed by a “whoop” sound, which is produced due to rapid inflow of air during inspiration against a closed glottis. During an episode of cough, there may be neck vein distension, cyanosis, bulging eyes and tongue protrusion. These episodes of cough occur over a frequency of 5 to 10 per day, and are usually worse at night. The final stage is the convalescent stage, during which the episodes of cough become less frequent and less intense. This stage may last for a month to 3 months.

Treatment: Administration of antibiotics early in the clinical course of the illness is found to be highly effective. Antibiotics like Erythromycin, Clarithromycin, and Azithromycin are most frequently used. Since Bordetella Pertussis is a highly contagious infection, there is a high risk of transmission to the household contacts, hence administration of antibiotics as a prophylactic to all those who have come in contact with the suffering individual is advisable.

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Whooping Cough Symptoms and Treatment

Whooping Cough, medically known as Pertussis is a bacterial disease that is characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing. The severe coughing can make it harder to breath for the patient. Hence a ‘whooping’ sound is often heard when the patient tries take a breath.

The disease affects the respiratory tract and the lungs and is caused by bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is highly communicable, through tiny droplets containing the bacteria, which are released into the air when an infected person coughs. The illness affects persons of any age and is said to last for six weeks before subsiding.

It was initially said to be most common amongst unimmunized infants and young children. If not treated in time, it could cause permanent disability in infants, and even death. However now that most children are immunized at the age of 1 or 2 years the higher percentage of cases is seen among adolescents and adults. Recent studies suggest that adults are becoming susceptible to whooping cough and share a part of 25% of cases. The disease however seems to be in the mild form in adults, and therefore is frequently missed, thus allowing the bacteria to spread to the more vulnerable, infants and children.

However if neglected, whooping cough can lead to subconjunctival hemorrhage or bleeding on the white part of the eye, pneumothorax or bursting of lung and hernia or popping out of the intestine through the skin near groin.


Initially, about a week after exposure to the bacteria, symptoms akin to common cold like a runny nose, sneezing, slight fever and mild cough usually develop.  This is called the catarrhal stage.

After one to two weeks, the second which is called the paroxysmal stage, begins. In this stage one experiences long spells of rapid coughing. Prolonged coughing may lead to vomiting, loss of consciousness.  During an attack, the individual may become cyanotic (turn blue) from lack of oxygen. In infants, breathlessness and choking is common. Cough Spells frequently occur at night, with an average of 15-24 attacks per 24 hours. This lasts for two to three weeks after which the spells gradually begin to decrease in frequency.

The third stage is the gradual recovery or convalescent stage. The cough becomes less severe and usually disappears over two to three weeks.


Antibiotics are a common and effective means for treating whooping cough, especially when administered early in the course of the disease. This can also help prevent transmission to other family members or to those who may come in contact with the infected patient. Medicines containing antibiotics like Azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole have been shown to be effective in treating whooping cough. General measures include providing adequate nutrition, hydration and avoiding factors aggravating cough such as excessive crying. Infants younger than 18 months need constant supervision because their breathing may temporarily stop during coughing spells. Infants with severe cases should be hospitalized.

Timely diagnosis of the disease and administration of antibiotics can go a long way in curing it and preventing fatalities.

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Throat Cancer Symptoms and Treatment

Throat Cancer is cancer of the vocal cords, voice box, or other areas of the throat. It forms in tissues of the pharynx, the hollow tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the windpipe and esophagus. It may also include the nasopharynx or the upper part of the throat behind the nose, the oropharynx or the middle part of the pharynx, the hypopharynx or the bottom part of the pharynx and larynx or voice box.

The main causes of such cancer are smoking, chewing tobacco and chewing betel quid. Excessive alcohol intake or both smoking and drinking alcohol also increases the risk. Sexual transmission of certain virus like human papillomavirus can also be a cause. Most cancers of the throat develop in adults older than the age of 50 years. Men are 10 times more likely than women to develop throat cancer.


Throat cancer usually begins with symptoms that seem harmless, like an enlarged lymph node on the outside of the neck, a sore throat or a hoarse sounding voice. However these conditions may persist and become chronic. Common Symptoms of such type of throat cancer are –

  • Abnormal  or high-pitched breathing sounds
  • Hoarseness that does not get better in 1 – 2 weeks
  • Palpable Lump or swelling in the neck and facial muscles
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Recurrent Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in the ear
  • Sore throat that does not get better in 1 – 2 weeks, even with antibiotics
  • Swelling or lumps in the neck
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Facial Palsy

The symptoms may vary in patients according to the size of the tumor and the degree of metastasis


Throat cancer can be cured in most patients if detected early. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes in the neck, 50 – 60% of patients can be cured. However, if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body besides the head and neck, it is not curable and treatment is aimed at prolonging and improving quality of life.

In case of early stages, the goal of treatment is to completely remove the cancer and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. When the tumor is small, either surgery or radiation therapy alone can be used to remove the tumor. If the tumor is larger or has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy is often used to preserve the voice box. Some patients need surgery to remove the tumor, including all or part of the vocal cords rendering the patient mute for life.

After treatment, patients generally need therapy to help with speech and swallowing to help them adjust to the changes in the structure of the throat. A small percentage of patients may not be able to swallow and will need to be fed through a feeding tube.

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Tetanus Shot – The Facts


Tetanus ShotTalk of contamination and it already is everywhere… water, food, air… people’s moralistic values… everything is contaminated. Wish we could just wipe it clean in one sweep! … Aah, who are we kidding… we can’t do that. It sounds like you got a wound and you are just “wiping it clean” with a ball of cotton with an antiseptic on it. … Well, talking of a wound… that might be possible! Pretty effectively possible!


A wound contamination, which you must know by the name of “Tetanus”, is an infectious disease that is caused by bacteria, called Clostridium Tetani, which lives under the soil. This medical condition is typified by a lingering contraction of skeletal muscle fibers. Fortunately there is a tetanus shot available that can stop the contamination of the wounds.


Tetanus is commonly linked with rust. Nevertheless, this is a somewhat illusory notion. Rust does not cause tetanus by itself, or it doesn’t contain Clostridium Tetani bacteria. The only role that rust plays in causing tetanus is providing its coarse surface as a favorable environment for this bacteria to reside in. In Tetanus, the wound contamination is marked by a cut or a deep puncture wound. The muscle spasms develop along the progressive infection, which can be prevented by proper immunization, called Tetanus shot.


This vaccine is composed of Tetanus Toxoid, which is immunogenic but not pathogenic. It was first produced in 1924 and was mainly used to prevent tetanus amongst the soldiers during the Second World War. Now there are various ranges of tetanus shot are available, for instance, in mild cases Tetanus Immunoglobulin IV or IM, Metronidazole IV, or Diazepam. If the progression of tetanus is very severe, the patient needs to be admitted in the ICU and treated with tracheotomy, mechanical ventilation, intravenous dose of magnesium, or diazepam.


All adults who have never been immunized with at least three doses, or those, who have an injury or would that could cause tetanus, need to take tetanus shot. People, who have had previous anaphylactic reaction to this vaccine, or anyone with history of encephalopathy, should never take this vaccine.


There are predetermined numbers of tetanus shot for different age groups. The usual schedule for infants is a series of four doses given at 2, 4, 6, and 15 or 18 months of their age. A booster dose is advised at the age of 4 or 6 years. For adults, who were never vaccinated should be given these shots with 1-2 months distance between first two shots, and 6-12 months difference between the 2nd and the 3rd shot.


The effectiveness of this vaccine is marked with 100% protective level of tetanus antitoxin in the blood. However, because antitoxin levels decrease with time, boosters after every 10 years are highly recommended.


Although rare, there are few common side effects of tetanus shot, which are…


  • Soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Pain, Fever, Headache, Tiredness, Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Stomach ache
  • Allergic reaction
  • Deep aching pain and muscle wasting at the injection site


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Atrial Septal Defect – The Symptoms and Treatment

Atrial Septal defect is a congenital heart condition where basically the wall between the two atrial chambers has not fused completely. Due to this anomaly, the blood continuously flows between the right and left atrial compartments.

This may cause the formation of a “shunt” due to the mixing of the atrial and ventricular blood.

Causes of Atrial Septal defect

There is no actual cause for this condition. Basically for a fetus in the intra uterine life there is an opening between the two atrial chambers. The opening closes after child is born. But if there is a septal defect, the opening remains patent.

This condition may worsen with age.

Symptoms of Atrial septal defect

This conditions presents with hardly any symptoms at birth. But they may start appearing through child hood and may worsen at middle age. Symptoms that may occur are as follows:

1) Shortness of breath due to the shunts that are formed. These Shunts cause excessive pressure on one side of the heart leading to shortness in breath (dyspnoea).

2) In cases of adults there may be palpitations and pulmonary distress in severe cases.

3) Signs of cyanosis can occur if the shunted blood is pumped out into the periphery.

Diagnosis of Atrial septal defect

Diagnosis for children with this defect is done at an early stage when the child is a fetus, with the help of an ultra sonogram.

In adults the diagnosis can be done by auscultation with a stethoscope. Abnormal heart sounds can be heard like a murmur can be heard in a certain area.

Children present with a typical sign of a septal defect i.e., a patent foramen ovale it is basically a remnant of the fetal foramen ovale. The following tests are carried out to confirm the diagnosis:

1) A echocardiogram can be done

2) A Chest x-ray

3) A M.RI

4) A electrocardiogram

A typical sign of this condition is a splitting of the S2 heart sound on auscultation.


Adults with this defect may present the following complications based on the severity of the defect.

1) Atrial fibrillations

2) Failure in the right side of the heart.

3) A stroke due to increased pressure on the right side of the heart.

Treatment of Atrial septal defect

There is no treatment required for cases which are symptom less.

But if the defect is larger and there is any type of irregularity or abnormality in the size of the heart a surgical repair is required for the defect. A patch is placed to surgically close the opening.

A newer procedure is used these days by using a catheter method. It is inserted via the thigh muscle to the area of the septal defect and it is pushed open. Thus it closes the opening between the two atria.

Prognosis of Atrial septal defect

Prognosis is good for people having smaller defects without any symptoms. But people having larger defects may show some type of disability later in life.

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Polio Vaccine: Types and Effects

Polio or poliomyelitis is a viral illness that leads to paralysis or even death. The poliovirus is communicable and generally spreads from drinking water contaminated from the virus; it can also spread due to close contact with an infected person. The discovery of the polio vaccine (circa 1950) has greatly reduced the incidence of this disease especially in America and Europe.

There are two main types of the polio vaccine, which work towards controlling and eliminating the spread of poliomyelitis- Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV).

IPV or the Salk vaccine: It is a killed vaccine (developed by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1952) that is administered subcutaneously through an injection and contains strains of all 3 types of the virus: Mahoney (type1), MEF (type 2), and Saukett (type 3). IPV, which is grown in a monkey kidney culture and deactivated, using formaldehyde, causes serum immunity to all 3 forms of the virus; it produces antibodies in the blood. This blocks the spread of the virus to the nervous system and prevents paralysis. This immunity is at least prolonged, if not life long. However, the level of immunity evoked by IPV (including the enhanced IPV) is lower than that induced by OPV. Therefore, in this sense it is a less steadfast option. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of this vaccine has been seen in many nations like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.

Effects: As it contains a killed virus, this polio vaccine is easier to manage than its oral counterpart. Moreover, this is also responsible for the elimination of VAPP (Vaccine Associated Polio Paralysis). The Salk vaccine is free from any severe adverse effects. However, it provides low immunity from the wild poliovirus in the intestinal tract and is considerably more expensive than OPV.

OPV: Developed in 1958 by Dr. Albert Sabin, it contains live attenuated strains of the three aforementioned types of the poliovirus; OPV is administered at sub-physiological temperatures. The most common trivalent form of this polio vaccine effectively immunizes (often life long) an individual from all known forms of the virus especially those affecting the gastro-intestinal tract (most active site of the poliovirus). Boosters of OPV are required to achieve this. Similarly, immunity is induced to the third strain with the third booster. The vaccine contains small amounts of antibiotics—neomycin and streptomycin and it has been successful in producing antibodies in 95% of the recipients.

Effects: However, a strong correlation has been established between OPV and Vaccine Associated Polio Paralysis, which is absent in case of IPV. Moreover, especially in the U.S. the incidence of the wild type virus is so low that IPV has been favoured over OPV. OPV is recommended for countries with a low vaccination rate.

The new proposed method of polio immunization involves sequential use of IPV (first two doses) followed by OPV (doses 3 and 4). IPV induces sufficient immunity to prevent VAPP while OPV will induce optimal intestinal immunity and sustain immunity evoked by IPV.

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Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms and Treatment

Talk of “essentials for life” and, even though food, shelter, clothes, air, water are the predominant necessities that come to our mind, the science has gone a little deeper to identify the core essentials for human being, of which minerals are a very critical one.

Minerals are very important nutrients, and amongst minerals Magnesium is considered to be one of the most vital ones. In dietary discussions, magnesium deficiency is said to cause due to much less intake of magnesium than it is ideally required.

According to many proven studies of dietary and health practices Magnesium is a mineral that is essential to many bodily biological processes. It is helps body absorb calcium and plays a key role in bone and teeth formation as well as building up their strength. This hints at magnesium’s usefulness for those, who are suffering from osteoporosis.

Keeping heart healthy is also one of the functions of magnesium. It helps stabilize heart rhythm and prevents abnormal blood clotting in it. It maintains healthy blood pressure levels and also lowers the chances of heart attacks and strokes.

Even though Magnesium is available through everyday foods, such as Beans, Broccoli, Nuts, Seeds, Pumpkin, Soy Milk, Cooked Spinach, Whole grain cereal, wheat bread, etc., magnesium deficiency is still apparent amongst people. Why does it happen? What are the causes?

Magnesium deficiency is a result of alcohol abuse, poorly controlled diabetes, excessive or chronic vomiting, diarrhea, some drugs that deplete magnesium levels, etc. Early signs of this problem include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, and in more severe conditions, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions, cramps, seizure, personality change, abnormal heart rhythms, coronary spasms, etc.

Even though certain aspects of poor lifestyle are responsible for magnesium deficiency, there are few treatments available for this problem.

Any water soluble salt, like magnesium chloride and magnesium citrate, is a rich source of magnesium. This salt is available in the capsule form that typically contains 100 mg to 200 mg magnesium per capsule. Magnesium aspartate, chloride, lactate, citrate, and glycinate  have 4 times higher bioavailability than oxide form and are equivalent to each other per amount of magnesium, but are little expensive. Magnesium oxide, due to its compactness, high magnesium content by weight, low cost, and ease-of-use is considered the best choice of magnesium source. However, because it is insoluble in water, it depends on stomach acid for neutralization before they are absorbed. This particular trait makes it a relatively poor magnesium source. Magnesium sulfate is soluble in water, but is commonly used as a purgative, due to the poor absorption of the sulfate component. However, in lower doses, they may be used as an oral magnesium source. Severe hypomagnesaemia is often treated medically with intravenous or intramuscular magnesium sulfate solution, which is completely bioavailable and effective.

Apart from people with magnesium deficiency, there are others, who need enough intake of magnesium. People, who have chronic malabsorptive problems, such as Crohn’s disease, gluten sensitive enteropathy, regional enteritis, and intestinal surgery may lose magnesium through diarrhea. Individuals with chronically low blood levels of potassium and calcium may also have an underlying problem with magnesium deficiency.


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Iodine Deficiency Symptoms and Treatment

Iodine, a chemical element, is an essential dietary component as it is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. Insufficient intake of dietary iodine can lead to iodine deficiency which leads to Goiter or enlargement of the thyroid hormone, Hyperthyroidism or insufficient secretion of thyroid hormone, Cretinism or severely stunted growth and to mental retardation in infants and children whose mothers were iodine deficient during pregnancy.

The thyroid, a gland in the throat, regulates many metabolic processes through secretion of thyroid hormones. The two main thyroid hormones, thyroxin and tri-iodothyronine, are synthesized from the amino acid, tyrosine, and from iodide or dietary iodine. The thyroid hormone moderates the metabolic rate such as growth and energy expenditure, development throughout the body, including the brain. If there isn’t enough thyroid hormone circulating in the blood, the brain sends a chemical signal to the thyroid gland, which then releases a measured dose of these hormones.  If a person’s diet is too low in iodide, the brain keeps sending signals to the thyroid in vain. In an attempt to make more thyroid hormone, the gland gets larger and larger.

Iodine Deficiency is a major problem in developing countries and is considered to be the world’s number one cause of preventable intellectual disability in children. In case of pregnancy, the deficiency can have severe effects on the fetus or developing child such as stunted physical growth, diminished intelligence and retardation.


Ailments caused by iodine deficiency have no characteristic symptoms which are different from those of patients with another disease. The only way is to diagnose this for sure is through blood tests. However some common symptoms that one should take note of are-

  • Swelling in the neck and facial muscles
  • Low basal body temperature or feeling cold
  • Weight Gain
  • Hair fall
  • Dry Skin
  • Fatigue
  • Slow Reflexes
  • Forgetfulness and Depression
  • Constipation
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Trouble Exercising & Shortness of breath


Disorders caused by iodine deficiency such as Goiter or Hypothyroidism cannot be completely eradicated once detected. But in most patients, these can be completely controlled. This is possible by replacing the amount of hormone that the patient’s own thyroid can no longer make, through ingestion of dietary supplements rich in iodine or synthetic thyroxine pills.

Iodine is abundantly found in seawater, so any type of seafood is a rich source of this element, particularly sea plants like seaweed. However despite coming from the ocean, sea salt is not a good source of iodine. Iodized salt is perhaps the most common source of iodine in the Western diet and can provide enough iodine to avoid low thyroid activity. Since an adult only requires around one teaspoonful of iodine over a lifetime, eating fish once a week is enough to fulfill the average iodine requirement and prevent iodine deficiency

It is crucial to conduct diagnostic blood tests like TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test and the T4 test on a regular basis like every 6 to 10 weeks in case of affected patients to avoid the symptoms from getting worse.

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Endocrine Glands – What You Should Know

Endocrine glands are organs that form the endocrine system and perform the function of secreting hormones. This secretion is directly into the blood stream as opposed to through a duct, as is generally observed.

The following are the main endocrine glands:

  • Adrenal
  • Hypothalamus (neuro-endocrine gland)
  • Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas
  • Ovaries
  • Parathyroid
  • Pineal
  • Pituitary
  • Testes
  • Thyroid

Some of these glands also have regions with a non-endocrine orientation that perform functions other than hormone secretion. For example, the ovaries and testes not only secrete hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) but also produce ova and sperm respectively. Moreover, we also see some organs like the stomach, which produce hormones (ghrelin), but their primary function is not hormone production and emission.

Some major endocrine glands in detail:

Adrenal Glands: Comprising of Adrenal Medula and Adrenal Cortex, the former secretes adrenalin and noradrenalin. Adrenalin is instrumental in activating the ‘fight or flight’ response which is a reaction spurred on by increasing stress levels. Noradrenalin also has effects similar to that of adrenalin. Alternatively, adrenal cortex is responsible for the discharge of Corticosteroids (Glucocorticoids and Mineralocorticoids), which are accountable for proper utilization of carbohydrates, protein and maintaining salt and water balance.

Pituitary Gland or Hypophysis: Also termed as the ‘master gland’, it is situated at the base of the brain at the bottom of the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland consists of two components: the anterior pituitary (or adenohypophysis) and the posterior pituitary (or neurohypophysis), and is functionally linked to the hypothalamus through the pituitary stalk.

The anterior pituitary synthesizes and secretes the following important endocrine hormones:

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)
  • Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
  • Growth Hormone (also referred to as ‘Human Growth Hormone’, ‘HGH’ or ‘GH’ or somatotropin)
  • Prolactin (PRL), also known as ‘Luteotropic’ hormone (LTH)

The posterior pituitary stores and releases:

  • Oxytocin
  • Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH)

Hormones secreted from the pituitary gland help control the following body processes:

  • Growth (Excess of HGH can lead to gigantism)
  • Blood Pressure
  • Some aspects of pregnancy and child birth including stimulation of uterine contractions during childbirth (Oxytocin)
  • Thyroid Gland function
  • Metabolism

Thyroid Gland: Located in the anterior throat, it secrets the thyroid hormone (TH) which accelerates the rate of cellular metabolism. Hyperthyroidism (excess secretion) causes Grave’s Disease where as hyposecretion causes cretinism in infants.

Islets of Langerhans: Located in the pancreas (close to the abdomen), this is the endocrine portion of the pancreas. It releases insulin and glucose into the blood stream.

Gonads: This refers to the ovaries in females and the testes in males. The ovaries secrete progesterone and estrogens, where as the testes secrete testosterone. These hormones are responsible for maturation of the reproductive system and development of secondary sex characteristics in females and males respectively.

The efficiency of all endocrine glands seems to decrease gradually as aging occurs. This leads to a generalized increase in the incidence of diabetes mellitus and a lower metabolic rate.

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Downs Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment

Downs syndrome or Trisomy 21 is a genetic condition affecting 1 in every 800 live births. The sole most common cause of human birth defects, it occurs when a child has 47 chromosomes instead of the general 46 that is required from maintaining a healthy mind and body (23 from each parent). This extra chromosome is generally found to an additional copy of chromosome 21, which prompts the term Trisomy 21. The extra genetic material causes developmental delays (physical and mental) and cognitive impairment in individuals who suffer from it. It leads to mild-moderate learning disabilities.

The severity of Downs syndrome (mild-severe), its symptoms and the health conditions associated with it vary across persons. Even so, some parallels in term of physical characteristics can be drawn.

  • A flat face and nose, short neck, small mouth, a protruding tongue, small ears, upward slanting eyes with small skin folds at the inner corner, excess skin at nape of the neck, separated joints between the bones of the skull
  • Presence of white spots on the iris (Brushfield spots)
  • Hands are short and broad with short fingers, and a single crease in the palm
  • Low muscle tone and loose ligaments are also observed
  • Development and growth is usually delayed and often average height and developmental milestones (crawling, walking, talking) are not reached at the same time as their peers

Psychological and social developmental impediments that occur in children suffering from Downs syndrome include:

  • Learning disabilities (slow learning)
  • Short attention span
  • Impulsive behaviour
  • Poor judgment

Individuals afflicted with Downs syndrome are also prone to have certain medical problems. These also vary across children

  • Congenital heart defects (atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, endocardial cushion defects)
  • Early onset of Alzheimer’s
  • Leukemia
  • Gastro-intestinal problems (esophageal atresia, duodenal atresia, chronic constipation problems)
  • Dementia
  • Eye problems (poor eye sight, tendency to develop cataract)
  • Hearing problems and tendency to contract ear infections
  • High risk of dislocation
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sleep apnea (due to airway being narrow)
  • Dental problems

Downs syndrome can be diagnosed prior to the birth of the child on the basis of heart murmur, appearance of the fetus, and a blood test, which can confirm the presence, or absence of an additional chromosome.

The probability of having a child who suffers from this disorder is directly related to the age of the mother; the odds stand at 1 in 100 live births for women over 40 years of age.


Although it can be detected, Trisomy 21 cannot be cured. There is no specific treatment that is available. However, special education, family counseling have been found to be effective in helping to cope with the disorder. Moreover, since people suffering from this condition are susceptible to the outlined medical problems, they will require treatment for those conditions that they suffer from. Today people with Downs syndrome are living longer and healthier lives, despite their limitations.

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Symptoms and Treatment of Aortic Stenosis

Aortic Stenosis is a disease of the heart, where the opening of the aortic valve has been constricted abnormally due to certain etiological factors. This leads to decreased blood flow from the heart to rest of the body.

Causes of Aortic Stenosis

Mostly this condition is prevalent in the older population, due to calcifications in the valve. The symptoms are generally slow and progressive over years. This condition can also be congenital. This condition is more common in men. Other factors that may case this condition to develop are diseases like rheumatic fever, people with hypertension and diabetes.

Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis

The severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of narrowing of the valvular opening. The most common symptom is difficulty in breathing, followed by radiating chest pain. The patient may feel a sudden tightness in the chest.

The patient may go into syncope followed by heart failure. As there is decrease in the blood flow to the brain, due to a fall in the blood pressure.

Angina may be caused due to over exertion leading to death in many cases, if the valve is not replaced immediately.

Children suffering from this disease show signs of palpitations very often along with breathing problems and the conditions worsen as they grow older.

Diagnosis of Aortic Stenosis

This disease can be diagnosed on physical examination of the patient. Also the following tests can be carried out to diagnose the condition.

1) A chest x-ray

2) A echocardiogram

3) A stress test is also very useful.

On auscultation with a stethoscope an abnormal heart sound can be heard like a faint murmur or a click.

Children who are born with the condition always present with a case of cold clammy and pale skin, they are basically weak and have respiratory difficulties.

A MRI of the heart may also be done to check the condition of the aortic valve. The blood pressure must also be checked when the above mentioned diagnostic tests are being carried out.

Treatment of Aortic Stenosis

Treatment is generally not required if the patient is asymptomatic. If the patient may have any kind of symptoms they can be controlled by constant monitoring by the doctor.

Patients suffering from a more severe form are advised to lead a very non- stressful lifestyle. They must avoid any kind of strenuous activity like a vigorous exercise regime.

Medical support can be given to patients having symptoms like heart failure or any kind of abnormal heart activity. Drugs like beta blockers for e.g, METAPROLOL.Or diuretics are administered.

In more serious life threatening cases surgical approaches are taken.

1) A minimally invasive aortic valve surgery is done to replace the valve; this decreases the chances of fatality.

2) A valvuloplasty may be done in cases of treating children.

Prognosis of Aortic Stenosis

If surgery is not done when the symptoms worsen, then the prognosis for such patients is very poor.

The condition may be cured by surgery but the success rate is not 100%.

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Coughing Up Blood – Cause For Concern?

One of the diseases that freak us out the most is when one starts coughing up blood. Besides being a grotesque site, it also floods our mind with a lot of fears and anxieties. Seldom someone attempts to understand why it happens or how serious it is.

Coughing up blood, in medical terms, is known as Hemoptysis. It is actually the spitting of blood or bloody mucus from the respiratory tract, or simply from lungs and throat. Since it is mixed with mucus and air, it looks bubbly. It is usually bright red, however it can also appear rust-colored. At times the mucus may only contain streaks of blood. Hemoptysis can be tricky to rightly identify, since many times it is actually nothing but just a nose-bleed. Nevertheless, if it is Hemoptysis, it can be quite intimidating.

The most common misconception is that coughed up blood is an indication of lungs cancer. Obviously it is not true. There are a lot many, and diverse, reasons that can cause Hemoptysis… Lung cancer is just one of those reasons. In any case, this misconception actually works in our favor, since this fear of lung cancer makes the sufferer consult the doctor, and if it is lung cancer it can be detected in the early stage and the treatment can be started when it is not too late.

As mentioned earlier, there are different situations that involve the Hemoptysis, such as, Bronchitis, Pneumonia, Lung Neoplasm, Tuberculosis, Pulmonary Embolism, Pneumonic Plague, Cystic Fibrosis, Bleeding Disorders, Drug Induced Situations, Trauma, etc. In children Hemoptysis is commonly caused by the presence of a foreign body in the respiratory tract.

It is very imperative to distinguish between coughing up blood and blood that is brought in the mouth from other body organs. The later condition is called “Pseudohemoptysis”, in which blood doesn’t come from the lungs or bronchial tubes.

The treatment for Hemoptysis mainly depends on the root cause of the coughed up blood. Angiography is mainly used to locate the exact site of the bleeding. Generally the medical techniques, iced saline and topical vasoconstrictors (like adrenaline or vasopressin) are used to stop the blood discharge. However, there are few other models of treatment available too. If hemorrhage is occurring, then bronchial intubation is used to collapse the lung. Laser photocoagulation can stop bleeding during bronchoscopy. Finally, surgical option is also offered, but it is generally reserved as the last resort. It involves lobectomy or pneumonectomy. Certain types of lung cancer can be treated with Erlotinib or Gefitinib.

Having said all this, people must realize one thing that coughing up blood is not an indication that your death is near. Most of the times, Hemoptysis is accompanied by chills, fever, weight loss, night sweats, anxiety, and other such symptoms. However, it is due to the fear. This fear makes the person look sicker than he actually is. The best option is to timely consult the doctor and have your doubts cleared.

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All About Cord Blood Banking

Cord blood banking refers to the storage of blood found in the umbilical cord (within 10 post delivery) for further future use in a life-threatening situation. Cord blood transplantation is found to effectively treat diseases of the blood and immune system like leukaemia, sickle-cell disease, metabolic disorders, genetic disorders, cancer and a host of other paediatric conditions. Studies have found cord blood transplants to be superior to the traditional bone marrow transplantation for which finding a suitable donor within the stipulated period of time is a tall ask.

There are two main bifurcations in the area of cord blood banking- public cord blood banking and private cord blood banking. The former enjoys the support of the medical community while the latter is believed to make desperate attempts to attract expectant parents to opt for cord blood banking as a form of insurance for their child (this has also been termed as emotional marketing).

If you choose a private cord blood bank, the cord blood can be used by anyone who requires it. Once donation has taken place, the blood cannot be identified or retrieved by the family who donated it. Private banks on the other hand, operate in a manner quite opposite. Here the donation is closely concurrent with the identity of the donor so that it can be used by him or his siblings at a later date. This however, is a very expensive alternative as private banks charge anywhere between one or two thousand dollars.

In addition to these two alternatives, parents have some other options for donating their child’s cord blood. Efforts are being made to create a National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank Network to prepare, store, and distribute human umbilical cord blood stem cells for the treatment of patients requiring them.

It has been suggested that cord blood banking for their own use can be a good idea for families that have a child suffering from leukaemia, lymphoma, other cancers, sickle cell disease, thalassemia or other transplant-treatable diseases. It may also be a good idea if another family member has a condition that can be treated with a bone marrow transplant.

However medical health professionals have pointed out that empirical evidence that confirms that children will need their own cord blood for future treatment is severely lacking. There also is no evidence to vouch for the safety or effectiveness of autologous cord blood transplantation for the treatment of malignant neoplasm’s. It has been observed in specific cases that there may be some medical issues regarding using one’s own cord blood cells (an autologous transplant). This will require then using cells from another donor, with the vast majority being unrelated donors. However, studies have shown that cord blood stem cells can also be used for siblings and other members of your family who have a matching tissue type. Siblings have up to a 75% chance of compatibility, and the cord blood may even be a match for parents (50%) and grandparents.

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