Thursday, December 30, 2010

10 Types of Heart Drugs

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of people in the United States. A diagnosis of heart disease doesn't spell out certain doom, however. Exercise and a healthy diet are one way to fight it, and fortunately, nowadays there are many safe and effective drug treatments as well. Some are new, some are old, and some work when others don't. Your doctor will know which is the best drug (or drugs) for you, but it helps to be informed so you can take part in your own health care (and heart care) planning.

1: Cholesterol-lowering Drugs
2: Potassium
3: Calcium Channel Blockers
4: Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
5: Blood Thinners (anticoagulants)
6: Beta Blockers
7: Digitalis Preparations
8: Vasodilators
9: Diuretics
10: ACE Inhibitors

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reduce Baby Heat Rash

Being a parent is often considered to be one of the toughest jobs in the world. It seems as though new studies or articles come out on a regular basis telling you about something else you should do or avoid doing to raise the healthiest child possible. But you might look at it this way: Life is too short to sweat the small stuff -- especially when sweating can lead to heat rash.

Heat rash is a relatively common condition, particularly in young children. It usually develops in hot and humid weather when the sweat ducts become blocked and clothing rubs the skin, causing redness and irritation. Although annoying and uncomfortable, the good news is that heat rash usually heals on its own in just a few days. More good news (especially for children) -- heat rash is not infectious or contagious.

The best way to reduce the risk of getting heat rash is take preventive measures to avoid it. Babies usually develop heat rash because their parents dress them in too much clothing in hot and humid weather. There is no reason to stay inside when the weather is nice, but it is important to keep your child cool and dry if you want to beat the heat (and the heat rash). Use lightweight, soft clothing in the summer. Another way to avoid heat rash is to keep your child's room cool at night. And try not to overuse powders or creams; these can block pores and lead to heat rash. If your child does end up getting heat rash, find a cool, dry place.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sleep and Chronic Disease

As chronic diseases have assumed an increasingly common role in premature death and illness, interest in the role of sleep in the development and management of chronic diseases has grown. Notably, insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.


Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of diabetes. Specifically, sleep duration and quality have emerged as predictors of levels of Hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control. Recent research suggests that optimizing sleep duration and quality may be important means of improving blood sugar control in persons with diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease:

Persons with sleep apnea have been found to be at increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases. Notably, hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias) have been found to be more common among those with disordered sleep than their peers without sleep abnormalities. Likewise, sleep apnea and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) appear to share some common physiological characteristics, further suggesting that sleep apnea may be an important predictor of cardiovascular disease.


Laboratory research has found that short sleep duration results in metabolic changes that may be linked to obesity. Epidemiologic studies conducted in the community have revealed an association between short sleep duration and excess body weight. Notably, this association has been reported in all age groups—but has been particularly pronounced in children. It is believed that sleep in childhood and adolescence is particularly important for brain development and that insufficient sleep in youngsters may adversely affect the function of a region of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite and the expenditure of energy.


The relationship between sleep and depression is complex. While sleep disturbance has long been held to be an important symptom of depression, recent research has indicated that depressive symptoms may decrease once sleep apnea has been effectively treated and sufficient sleep restored. The interrelatedness of sleep and depression suggests it is important that the sleep sufficiency of persons with depression be assessed and that symptoms of depression are monitored among persons with a sleep disorder.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Night Blindness

Night blindness is poor vision at night or in dim light.

Night blindness may cause problems with driving at night. People with night blindness often have trouble seeing stars on a clear night or walking through a dark room, such as a movie theater.

These problems are often worse just after a person is in a brightly lit environment. Milder cases may just have a harder time adapting to darkness.

The causes of night blindness fall into two categories: treatable and nontreatable.

Treatable causes:

* Cataracts
* Nearsightedness
* Use of certain drugs
* Vitamin A deficiency (rare)

Nontreatable causes:

* Birth defects
* Retinitis pigmentosa

Home Care

Take safety measures to prevent accidents in areas of low light. Avoid driving a car at night, unless you get your eye doctor's approval.

Vitamin A supplements may be helpful if you have a vitamin A deficiency. Ask your doctor.
When to Contact a Medical Professional

It is important to have a complete eye exam to determine the cause, which may be treatable. Call your eye doctor if symptoms of night blindness persist or significantly affect your life.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your health care provider will examine you and your eyes. The goal of the medical exam is to determine if the problem can be corrected (for example, with new glasses or cataract removal), or if the problem is due to something more serious.

The doctor may ask you questions, including:

* When did the night blindness begin?
* Did it occur suddenly or gradually?
* Does it happen all the time or just sometimes?
* How severe is the night blindness?
* Are you nearsighted?
* Do you have other vision changes?
* What other symptoms do you have?
* Do you have unusual stress, anxiety, or a fear of the dark?
* Does using corrective lenses improve night vision?
* What medications do you use?
* How is your diet?
* Have you recently injured your eyes or head?
* Do you have a family history of diabetes?

The eye exam will include:

* Color vision testing
* Pupil light reflex
* Refraction
* Retinal exam
* Slit lamp examination
* Visual acuity

Other tests may be done:

* Electroretinogram (ERG)
* Visual field

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Muscle Cramp

A muscle cramp is an uncontrollable and painful spasm of a muscle. Any muscle can be affected, but the muscles of the calf and foot are particularly prone. A cramp can last for varying periods of time and generally resolves by itself. The exact cause of cramp is unknown but risk factors may include poor physical condition, mineral and electrolyte imbalances and tight, inflexible muscles.

Cramps are usually harmless but may sometimes be symptomatic of an underlying medical disorder, such as atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries). Regular cramping or severe cramping that lasts longer than a few minutes should always be investigated by your doctor.

The symptoms of a muscle cramp include:

* Sudden sensation of uncontrollable and painful spasms in the muscle
* Muscle twitching.

Minerals and electrolytes
Muscle tissue relies, in part, on a range of minerals, electrolytes and other chemicals in order to contract and relax. Some of these important substances include calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Inadequate diet, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhoea are just some of the factors that are thought to disturb the body’s balance of minerals and electrolytes, and make muscles more susceptible to cramping.

Tetany is a special form of cramping – it can be brought on by overbreathing, which results in a low level of carbon dioxide in the blood. It is usually caused by anxiety.

Risk factors
The exact cause of muscle cramp is not known, but risk factors may include:

* Tight, inflexible muscles
* Poor physical condition
* Poor muscle tone
* Inadequate diet
* Physical overexertion
* Physical exertion of cold muscles
* Muscle injury
* Muscle fatigue
* Excessive perspiration
* Dehydration – caused by, for example, a bout of gastroenteritis
* Reduced blood supply (ischaemia)
* Wearing high-heeled shoes for lengthy periods.

Muscle cramp associated with medical conditions
Certain diseases or conditions may increase the risk of muscle cramp, including:

* Atherosclerosis – a condition characterised by narrowed arteries due to the formation of fatty plaques. Muscles are more likely to cramp if their blood supply is inadequate.
* Sciatica – pain in the buttock and leg caused by pressure on nerves in the lower back. In some cases, the irritated nerve may prompt the associated muscles to contract.
* Medications – some medical conditions require the regular use of fluid pills (diuretics). These drugs can interfere with the body’s mineral balance and contribute to cramping.

Treatment options
Most muscle cramps resolve after a few seconds or minutes. Treatment options include:

* Stretch and massage – lengthen the cramping muscle using a gentle, sustained stretch then lightly massage the area until the cramp subsides. If you are unsure how to stretch leg muscles, see your physiotherapist for advice.
* Icepack – in cases of severe cramp, an icepack applied for a few minutes may help the muscle to relax.
* Medication – some medications can be helpful to control muscle cramps. See your doctor for further information.
* Further treatment – see your doctor if you experience regular muscle cramping or if cramps last longer than a few minutes. You may have an undiagnosed medical condition that requires treatment.

Prevention strategies
Suggestions on how to reduce the likelihood of muscle cramp include:

* Increase your level of physical fitness.
* Incorporate regular stretching into your fitness routine.
* Warm up and cool down thoroughly whenever you exercise or play sport.
* Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
* Make sure your diet is nutritionally adequate, and include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
* A regular massage may help to reduce muscle tension.
* Wear properly fitted shoes and avoid high heels.

Where to get help

* Your doctor
* Nurse on Call Tel. 1300 606 024 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
* Pharmacist
* Massage therapist
* Physiotherapist
* An accredited practising dietitian, contact the Dietitians Association of Australia
* Australian Physiotherapy Association Tel. (03) 9534 9400

Things to remember

* A muscle cramp is an uncontrollable and painful spasm of a muscle.
* The exact cause is unknown, but some of the risk factors may include poor physical condition, dehydration and muscle fatigue.
* You can help reduce the duration and severity of cramp by gently stretching the muscle and massaging the area.
* See your doctor if you experience regular muscle cramping or if cramps last longer than a few minutes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Conjunctivitis is swelling (inflammation) or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids (conjunctiva).

The conjunctiva is exposed to bacteria and other irritants. Tears help protect the conjunctiva by washing away bacteria. Tears also contain enzymes and antibodies that kill bacteria.

There are many causes of conjunctivitis. Viruses are the most common cause. Other causes include:

* Allergies (allergic conjunctivitis)
* Bacteria
* Certain diseases
* Chemical exposure
* Chlamydia
* Fungi
* Parasites (rarely)
* Use of contact lenses (especially extended-wear lenses)

"Pink eye" refers to a viral infection of the conjunctiva. These infections are especially contagious among children.

Newborns can be infected by bacteria in the birth canal. This condition is called ophthalmia neonatorum, and it must be treated immediately to preserve eyesight.

See also:

* Allergic conjunctivitis
* Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
* Neonatal conjunctivitis
* Trachoma
* Vernal conjunctivitis


* Blurred vision
* Crusts that form on the eyelid overnight
* Eye pain
* Gritty feeling in the eyes
* Increased tearing
* Itching of the eye
* Redness in the eyes
* Sensitivity to light

Exams and Tests

* Examination of the eyes
* Swab of conjunctiva for analysis

Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause.

Allergic conjunctivitis may respond to allergy treatment. It may disappear on its own when the allergen that caused it is removed. Cool compresses may help soothe allergic conjunctivitis.

Antibiotic medication, usually eye drops, is effective for bacterial conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis will disappear on its own. Many doctors give a mild antibiotic eyedrop for pink eye to prevent bacterial conjunctivitis.

You can soothe the discomfort of viral or bacterial conjunctivitis by applying warm compresses (clean cloths soaked in warm water) to your closed eyes.
Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome is usually good with treatment.
Possible Complications

Reinfection within a household or school may occur if you don't follow preventive measures.
When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if your symptoms last longer than 3 or 4 days.

Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis:

* Change pillowcases frequently.
* Do not share eye cosmetics.
* Do not share towels or handkerchiefs.
* Handle and clean contact lenses properly.
* Keep hands away from the eye.
* Replace eye cosmetics regularly.
* Wash your hands often.

Alternative Names

Inflammation - conjunctiva; Pink eye

Monday, December 6, 2010

Forgetfulness - The Aging Brain

In our 20s and 30s, our brains begin to change in ways that affect how we store memories. We become more forgetful. If you're in your 40s and 50s, you might worry that forgetfulness is an early sign of Alzheimer's disease. But, not all forgetfulness is serious. For instance, knowing a word and not being able to remember it is usually a temporary problem. It's common to forget some of the many things you need to do. And many people mix up, or even forget, appointments now and then. Use lists and a calendar to keep you on track. Put things like your keys in the same place every time.

Just as physical activity keeps your body strong, mental activity can help keep your mind engaged and challenged as you age. Some research suggests that activities that engage your brain might offer some protection against cognitive decline. Here are some activities you might try:

* Learning to play a musical instrument
* Playing Scrabble or doing crossword puzzles
* Starting a new hobby, such as crafts, painting, biking, or bird-watching
* Staying informed about what's going on in the world
* Reading

Also, some research suggests that physical activity, especially at high levels, may protect against cognitive decline.

Keep in mind the positive effects of aging on the brain. For instance, people can acquire new skills as they grow older. Middle-aged adults typically do better on tests involving knowledge and information than younger adults do. Vocabulary and word use improve with age. And although perhaps not “measurable,” a lifetime of building knowledge and real-world decision-making and experience results in wisdom that is rare in youth.

When Forgetting Isn't Normal

Although memory lapses are usually minor, serious memory loss and confusion are not a normal part of aging. Memory loss along with big changes in personality and behavior may mean there is a problem. Signs of a syndrome called dementia — the most common form is Alzheimer's disease — include symptoms such as:

* Asking the same questions over and over again
* Forgetting how to use everyday objects or words
* Becoming lost in familiar places
* Being unable to follow directions
* Neglecting personal safety, hygiene, and nutrition

These symptoms can also be caused by other more minor medical conditions, infections, nutrition problems, minor head injuries, bad reactions to medicine, or other physical problems that occur in later life. It's important to see a doctor right away to get a correct diagnosis and possibly fix the problem if it is not dementia.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatism is a term used by physicians as a general category of all diseases that cause pain and disability affecting the joints and their supporting structures. The term arthritis is used for conditions arising from involvement of the joints and their immediate surrounding structures. It is commonly used as a general term to describe rheumatic diseases which essentially attack the joints. Therefore we hear that "he/she has some form of arthritis"

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the joints of the body, and that can profoundly affect an individual's ability to function at normal level. The effects of rheumatoid arthritis can be traced to inflammation caused by the body's normal response to infections, injury, wounds, or foreign objects in the body. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Here is a quick overview on the five most common forms of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis: Also known as "degenerative joint disease is by far the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis develops as a result of the continual wear and tear experienced by the cartilage that surrounds our joints. The symptoms of osteoarthritis can range from very mild to severe. In general, men experience the brunt of their symptoms in the knees and hips while women tend to suffer more in their fingers.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:
This condition is different from most other types of arthritis conditions in that it is a disease of the autoimmune system. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the vital organs in more advanced cases. Women are at a greater risk for developing this form of arthritis.

Seronegative Arthritis:
These are a class of arthritis disorders that manifest symptoms similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis. Seronegative arthritis disorders tend to be related to skin disorders. These may include psoriasis, disorders of the immune system, and intestinal disorders.

This is a form of arthritis cause by the overproduction of uric acid in the body. The uric acid creates small crystals that may be felt beneath the surface of the skin. Gout affects about half a million people in the United States, and it is much more common among men. Gout usually affects one joint of the time, and it commonly strikes in the big toe.

Infective arthritis:
This form of arthritis occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream and infects the joints. Infective arthritis is usually the result of a wound or injury that becomes infected. Illness may also cause it, including the mumps and chicken pox.