Category Archives for "Health"

January 8, 2017

Stomach Ulcers

An ulcer is a sore a broken exposed area of the skin or internal lining (mucous membrane) which is slow healing or fails to heal at all. Some common sites for ulcers are mouth, stomach, small intestines and legs.

What is a stomach ulcer?

Ulcers of the gastro-intestinal tract are called peptic ulcers. These peptic ulcers develop on the inside lining of your stomach (Gastric ulcer) and the upper portion of the small intestine (Duodenal ulcer). Stomach pain is the predominant symptom.

 

What causes stomach ulcers?

Peptic ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the stomach or small intestine. The acid can create a painful open sore that may bleed.

The digestive tract is protected from the gastric acid by a coating of mucous membrane. Two conditions can weaken this barrier: 1) an increase in the amount of acid or a decrease in the layer of mucus membrane. Either condition lends itself to the development of an ulcer.

Common causes include:

  • The Helicobacter pylori bacteria which commonly live in the mucous layer that covers and protects tissues that line the stomach and small intestine. Often, the H. pylori bacterium causes no problems, but it can cause inflammation of the stomach’s inner layer, producing an ulcer.

H. pylori may be transmitted from person to person by close contact, such as kissing. People may also contract H. pylori through food and water.

  • Ongoing use or abuse of certain analgesics (pain relievers).
    • Aspirin (ASA)
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
      • Ibuprofen
      • Advil
      • Aleve
      • Motrin
      • Naproxen sodium (such as Aleve, Anaprox)

These drugs can irritate or inflame the lining of your stomach and small intestine.  It is therefore not surprising that peptic ulcers are more common in the elderly who take these pain medications frequently or in people who take these medications for osteoarthritis.

There are other medications which when taken with NSAIDs can increase the risk of developing peptic ulcers. They are:

  • steroids
  • anticoagulants
  • low-dose aspirin
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Fosamax (alendronate)
  • Actonel (risedronate)

Risk factors for Peptic Ulcers

There are lifestyle habits which may increase the risk of peptic ulcers if you are also taking medication for pain:

  • Smoking may increase the risk of peptic ulcers in people who are infected with H. pylori.
  • Alcohol can irritate and erode the mucous lining of your stomach, and it increases the amount of stomach acid that’s produced.
  • Sustained mental and physical stress.
  • Spicy foods which irritate the gut.

Alone, these factors do not cause ulcers, but they can make them worse and more difficult to heal.

Complications

There are serious complications which could occur from having an untreated pepti ulcers. Here are a few:

  • Internal bleeding. Bleeding can occur as slow blood loss that leads to anemia or as severe blood loss that may require hospitalization or a blood transfusion. Severe blood loss may cause black or bloody vomit or black or bloody stools.
  • Infection. Peptic ulcers can eat a hole through (perforate) the wall of your stomach or small intestine, putting you at risk of serious infection of your abdominal cavity (peritonitis).
  • Obstruction. Peptic ulcers can lead to swelling, inflammation or scarring that may block passage of food through the digestive tract. A blockage may make you become full easily, vomit and lose weight.

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December 19, 2016

Hypothyroidism

“What you need to know”

The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland at the base of your neck. It is an endocrine gland which produces thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone controls the body’s metabolism which is the rate of many activities in your body, including how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. Diseases of the thyroid cause it to make either too much or too little of the hormone. Depending on how much or how little hormone your thyroid makes, you may often feel restless or tired, or you may lose or gain weight. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid diseases, especially right after pregnancy and after menopause.

Thyroid problems include

  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland (Goiter)
  • Hyperthyroidism (excessive production of thyroid hormones)
  • Hypothyroidism (insufficient production of thyroid hormones)
  • Cancer of the thyroid
  • Thyroid nodules – lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Thyroiditis – swelling of the thyroid gland

Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems can be managed well if properly diagnosed and treated.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a common disorder. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.

The thyroid gland is located in the front lower part of your neck. Hormones released by the gland travel through your bloodstream and affect nearly every part of your body, from your heart and brain, to your muscles and skin.

Who is at Risk for Hypothyroidism?

Women, particularly older women, are more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men. You are also more likely to develop hypothyroidism if you have a close family member with an autoimmune disease. Other risk factors include:

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance
  • Muscle cramps, frequent muscle aches
  • Constipation
  • Depression, Irritability, Memory loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles, Decreased libido

The severity of the thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the proper amount of hormone will determine the symptomatology (range of symptoms).

Most people will have a combination of these symptoms. You may have one of these symptoms as your main complaint, while another will not have that problem at all and will be suffering from an entirely different symptom. A few patients with hypothyroidism are asymptomatic (have no symptoms at all) or the symptoms are so subtle that they go un-noticed.

It is important to discuss with your doctor if you have any of the aforementioned symptoms. Additionally, you may need to seek the skills of an endocrinologist.  If you have already been diagnosed and treated for hypothyroidism and continue to have any or all of these symptoms, you need to discuss it with your physician.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in Babies

Babies with hypothyroidism may have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Hypothermia: Cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Listless and extreme sleepiness
  • Hoarse cry
  • Retarded growth or no growth
  • Floppy muscle tone
  • Jaundice which persists
  • Poor feeding habits
  • Puffy face
  • Distended stomach
  • Swollen tongue

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December 6, 2016

Infertility

Reproductive health refers to the normal function and dysfunction of the male and female reproductive systems throughout the life course. Disorders of reproduction include infertility and reduced fertility. Other disorders include birth defects, developmental disorders, low birth weight, preterm birth, impotence, and menstrual disorders. There is a body of research that has made a strong link between exposure to environmental pollutants and the threat to reproductive health. One such pollutant is heavy metals and lead is associated with reduced fertility in both men and women. Another is mercury which when an individual is exposed to this heavy metal it could lead to birth defects and neurological disorders. A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to endocrine disruptors, chemicals that appear to disrupt hormonal activity in humans and animals, may contribute to problems with fertility, pregnancy, and other aspects of reproduction.

Fertility

Fertility is the natural capability to produce offspring and it is controlled by hormones. Having intercourse as close as possible to ovulation definitely helps.

What is Infertility?

Infertility is a fairly common reproductive health disorder in approximately 15% of couples. What infertility means is the inability of a couple to become pregnant after a year of trying. Infertility can be traced to the woman in a third of the cases. Another third of cases is attributed to infertility in the male. The remainder of cases is because both partners have infertility issues or no cause can be found. If a woman can get pregnant but keeps having miscarriages or stillbirths, that’s also called infertility.

Fertility treatments are specific for men or for women. Some involve both partners. Surgery, drugs and assisted reproductive technology are common treatment options to resolve infertility. The success rate of fertility treatment is very encouraging as many couples go on to have babies.

What are the common causes of infertility?

All of the steps during ovulation and fertilization need to happen correctly in order for the woman to get pregnant. Sometimes the issues that cause infertility in couples are present at birth or they develop later in life.

Causes of male infertility

These may include:

  • Abnormal production of sperm due to
    • undescended testicles,
    • genetic defects,
    • health problems such as diabetes or
    • infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, mumps or HIV.
    • Enlarged veins in the testes (varicocele) can also affect the quality of sperm.
  • Issues with the delivery of sperm are due to sexual problems such as:
  • premature ejaculation
  • cystic fibrosis and other genetic disorders
  • structural problems, such as a blockage in the testicle; or damage or injury to the reproductive organs.
  • Environmental factors include:
  • overexposure to chemical including pesticides
  • Medical therapy related to cancer and its treatment, including radiation or chemotherapy can damage the reproductive organs and impair sperm production.

Other factors which cause infertility

It has been established that nicotine, alcohol, marijuana and some prescription drugs such as antibiotics, anti-hypertensives, steroids (anabolic) or others, can also affect fertility in some individuals. Prolonged heat exposure in some occupations as well as recreational exposure to heat in saunas or hot tubs may affect sperm production.

Causes of female infertility may include:

  • Ovulation disorders

Ovulation is the monthly release of a mature egg from one of the two ovaries. This process can be disrupted by hormonal disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome, hyperprolactinemia, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Excessive exercise and eating disorders can also interfere with ovulation. Both conditions are seen in female athlete triad syndrome. Physical trauma or tumors of the ovaries will impact ovulation.

  • Anatomical abnormalities of the uterine or cervical

Abnormalities of the cervix, uterus include congenital abnormalities, tumors (including fibroids) and cancers. These can interfere with implantation of the fertilized egg.

  • Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes

Sexually transmitted infections can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease which could lead to blocked fallopian tubes.

  • Endometriosis

Endometrial tissue which grows outside of the uterus is called endometriosis. It may be found on the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. Endometrial tissue outside of the uterus responds to the menstrual hormonal changes and often bleed during menstruation.

  • Early menopause

Early menopause occurs before age 40. Medical conditions which can induce this are immune system diseases, certain genetic conditions such as Turner syndrome. Smoking, radiation or chemotherapy treatment can induce early menopause.

  • Pelvic adhesions: bands of scar tissue that bind organs after pelvic infection, appendicitis, or abdominal or pelvic surgery.

 

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