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Is it a urinary tract infection ?

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Urinary tract infections are common and they frequently affect both males and females. UTI is commoner in females than males due to anatomical reasons.
By definition, urinary tract infection is an infection that affects the urethra, bladder, ureters or kidneys. The infection can involve any of these structures.


Do i have a urinary tract infection ? A question that arises when the symptoms are urinary in origin.

For women:

If you have a burning sensation when urinating, pain during urination, sensation of a need to urinate (urgency), low back pain, blood in urine or have frequent urination, then it can be a UTI.

For men:
If you have a sensation of need to urinate (urgency), pain during urination, low back pain, slow urinary flow or blood in urine, then it can be a UTI.


Remember that if the infection had affected the kidneys, chills and fever can be present. A condition called pyelonephritis.

What should i do to check if i am having a urinary tract infection ?



First of all, consult a doctor (nephrologist). Your doctor will examine you and will ask for a urine sample for dipsticks urinalysis, urine analysis +/- urine culture.
If the urine proved positive, then you will be given antibiotics to clear out the infection. It is important that you take your medication on time and as instructed by your doctor.


If you have a urinary tract infection, drink excess water + fluids and maintain a good hygiene. Both men and women must avoid sexual intercourse during treatment. 


UTI is easy to treat. However if left untreated can lead to serious complications so please pay attention to any of the above symptoms.

How to get rid of carpal tunnel syndrome ?

Monday, 29 November 2010

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common cause of peripheral nerve compression. It occurs when the median nerve is compressed during its passage in the carpal tunnel which is present at the wrist.
Here is a diagram of the anatomy of the wrist:




Who are more liable to have carpal tunnel syndrome ?

- Computer users.
- Pregnant women (especially those who are in the third trimester).
- Obese individuals.
- Musicians.
- Females are more liable than males.
- Women who are taking oral contraceptive pills.
- Menopausal women.

What are the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome ?

Symptoms include tingling and pain in the hand and/or forearm. The pain of carpal tunnel syndrome does NOT affect the little finger.
Feeling of weakness in the hands can occur.

How to get rid of carpal tunnel syndrome ?
Non-surgical ways:
Application of cold packs can relief the swelling. Splinting of the wrist in extension while sleeping can relief the symptoms.
Besides, the doctor can inject corticosteroids into the carpal tunnel.


Surgical ways:
Surgical decompression of the carpal tunnel is the definitive treatment. It is usually done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. 

Note: Pregnant women having carpal tunnel syndrome are usually relieved after childbirth.

How to quit smoking ?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Quitting smoking can be a pretty hard. Smoking is a habit easy-to-do but hard-to-leave. Many are struggling to quit and they fail to do so. 

Usually it takes more than one try so that a person can quit completely. Lets talk first about the dangers to smoking then we will discuss ways for quitting. 

Why do you need to quit smoking ?
Because it increases your risk of getting coronary artery diseases, heart attacks and atherosclerosis. Smoking can kill. Besides it is carcinogenic and can help in occurrence of certain cancers as lung cancer.
When you quit for a year, the increased risk of coronary artery diseases gets reduced by half. And after 15 years, the risk falls to be same as a non-smoker.

Quitting smoking is an easy job only if you follow these points with the same order:

  • Admit the benefits of quitting and make sure that you are convinced that your life and health will be better when you do so. 
  • Throw away your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays.
  • Avoid any contact with friends who smoke or encourage you to do so.
  • Tell everybody about it. Tell your family, friends and colleagues that you are quitting.
  • Be well determined. It is normal that you wont be able to quit from the first try so it may need a few chances and you must have the determination for it.
  • Exercise your favourite sport.




  • Choose a quitting strategy:
 You may need to use a nicotine replacement therapy so that your body gets its daily needs of nicotine. The methods include nicotine patch, gums or spray.However i recommend that you stop it gradually.
  • It will be better to try chewing sugarless gums as it can help reduce the urge to smoke or use tobacco.
  • If you fail to quit, seek help from a doctor. Drugs as Bupropion and Varenicline can help a lot people who smoke more than 10 cigarettes per day.
Remember that you will feel different after you quit. And you will feel the results soon. 

Encourage others to quit and seek help from doctors if they can't do that by themselves because smoking kills.
  
I hope you benefited from this article. If you are a smoker, good luck with your quitting plan. And if you are a non-smoker, keep it up.
 

Helicobacter Pylori infection

Saturday, 13 November 2010

H. pylori infection is present in many individuals but it doesn't cause any signs or symptoms. H. pylori is a bacterium that infects the stomach or the duodenum. In some people, it can cause serious complications as gastric ulcer or cancer.
Infection is usually acquired during childhood. The exact route is unknown but it can be transmitted by oral-oral or kissing. 
Once you are infected, it will persist for life unless it is treated. This bacteria can survive in the acidity of the stomach as it produces an enzyme to create an adequate pH for its survival.

Symptoms:
In many cases, it is asymptomatic (causing no symptoms). In some cases, it can cause the following symptoms:
  • Burning pain in the abdomen.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
If you are unaware of this infection, it can lead to a peptic ulcer or gastric cancer. 

Peptic ulcer:
H.pylori is the major cause of peptic ulcer.

Symptoms of a peptic ulcer include:
- Burning epigastric pain: an individual who can point using a single finger to the epigastric pain, is highly suggestive of a peptic ulcer. The charcteristics of pain is that it is worse when hungry.
- Back pain
- Nausea
- Anorexia

Gastric cancer:
Can H.pylori infection cause gastric cancer ? 
Yes, chronic H.pylori gastritis can cause gastric cancer. 
Clinical presentation: 
- Presence of an epigastric or abdominal mass + epigastric pain
- Hard nodular liver
- Ascites
- Lymphadenopathy

What are the investigations that are done to detect H. pylori infection ?
- Serological tests to detect the presence of IgG antibodies.
- Breath test: a quick and reliable method. It is used as a screening test. 
- Endoscopy: a sample is taken from the stomach and duodenum and checked for the presence of the bacterium.


Treatment of H.pylori infection: 
H. pylori should be eradicated by the use of triple therapy. It consists of: 
- Tetracycline/ amoxicillin
- Colloidal bismuth
- Metronidazole


If there is a peptic ulcer, your doctor will prescribe an H2-receptor blocker or a proton pump inhibitor.Besides you should follow these instructions:
- Have small frequent meals. Avoid heavy meals
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen
- Avoid coffee and tea
- Avoid any spicy diet


Surgery can be done in cases of perforation or severe hemorrhage 

We hope this article was interesting to you. Thank you for reading it. 
 

Depression: Symptoms - Causes - Treatment

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Depression is one of the commonest psychological conditions nowadays. It is defined as chronic and recurrent mood disorder. 

Clinical depression refers to the persistence of the symptoms for a long period of time which result in affection of everyday life. 

What are the causes of depression ?

  • Most commonly it is related to life events. 
  • Depression can be caused by hormonal changes. Thyroid problems and menopause can cause hormonal changes which can lead to depression.
  • Traumatic events during childhood can leave a permanent effect in the brain.
  • Changes in neurotransmitters in the brain.

Symptoms of depression can include any of the following: 
- Persistent sad mood
- Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling hopeless
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Fatique and loss of energy
- Crying spells for no apparent reason
- Unexplained physical problems as headache and back pains


In children, symptoms of depression include poor school performance, lack of playfulness, suicidal actions.


What should be done to treat depressive disorders ?   

  • Stop depressing drugs as steroids and alcohol.
  • Regular exercise (at least a 30 minutes walk daily)
  • Your doctor can put you on an antidepressant if depression persists. 
  • If antidepressants didn't work, an adjunctive drug (as lithium) can be used.
  • The use of cognitive behaviour therapy can be of great help in depression. 
  • Get plenty of sleep.

The most effective treatment is a mixture of cognitive behaviour therapy and an antidepressant.
The commonest two types of antidepressants are tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).


Bottomline (if possible) try to avoid any cause of depression and if you feel that you need help, please do not hesitate to seek help from a psychologist whenever you feel that you are going through a psychological problem.

Non - Hodgkin's lymphoma

Wednesday, 10 November 2010



Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a malignant tumour that originates from the lymphatic system. 
Let's give a brief introduction about the lymphatic system:
It consists of lymphoid organs (as bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes) and lymph vessels. When a malignant tumour arises from the lymphatic system, it is called Lymphoma. 
There are two forms: Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Today we will talk about Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as it is much common than Hodgkin's lymphoma.
What are the causes of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma ?
The definite cause is unknown but it has been linked to some viruses and toxins as benzene and pesticides.

Now let's talk about a general simplified view of the mechanism of this cancer.
This cancer causes production of lots of abnormal lymphocytes. A normal lymphocyte has a life span but the abnormal one doesn't. These lymphocytes continue to grow and divide until they cause crowding of the lymph nodes. As a result, lymph nodes get enlarged.

Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include:
- Painless enlarged lymph nodes (usually cervical or supra-clavicular nodes). 
Normally, lymph nodes are not felt. If you feel them, then they are enlarged.
(Here is an illustration of the sites of lymph nodes)
- Systemic symptoms as fever, night sweats and weight loss.
- Abdominal pain or swelling.

 Posterior auricular and posterior cervical adenopathy.
(From Swartz MH: Textbook of Physical Diagnosis, 5th ed. Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 2006.)



What are the risk factors ?
Individuals who are old aged or taking immunosuppressive drugs or using insecticides are at a higher risk of developing Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is classified according to "The Working Formulation" into:
- Low grade lymphoma
- Intermediate grade lymphoma
- High grade lymphoma
The treatment depends on the histological findings. In general, it may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, total neck irradiation.


Please note that not all enlarged lymph nodes are of malignant cause as there are other causes of lymph nodes enlargement. If you feel any lymph node in your body, let a doctor check it as early as possible.

Thank you for reading this article. We hope you benefited from it. 
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Last edited: 20/2/2012 

Back pain - How to prevent and treatment options

Saturday, 6 November 2010


Back pain is a common complaint worldwide. Many people will experience back pain at least once during their lifetime. Chronic back pain is the cause of 14% of long term disability in the UK.
Symptoms can include limited range of motion, pain radiating to the legs, inability to stand straight. However there are some conditions were you must see a doctor as early as possible as they indicate a much complicated problem. These condition are:
- If the age of the patient is less than 20 years old or more than 50.
- Constant progressive pain.
- Morning stiffness.
- The presence of fever, night sweats, weight loss.
- The presence of bowel or bladder problems.

Causes of lower back pain:
It can be caused by any of the following:
- Strained muscles or ligaments
- Lifting heavy weights
- After a sudden movement
- Less commonly due to a structural cause as bulging disk
What can be done to prevent having back pain ?
You can prevent it by following these instructions:
- Exercise regularly by have a 30 minute walk daily 
- Quit smoking (if you are a smoker)
- Maintain a normal body weight. If you are having back pain and you are obese, then loosing weight can be of great value in terms of relieving the pain
- Stand smart, sit smart and lift smart. And let me explain what's meant by "lift smart". When you are going to lift something, keep your back straight and bend your knees only.

What can be done to relief back pain ?

The use of pain relievers are used in many cases. However i do not recommend using them unless you try the following:
- Massage
- Physical therapy: which includes the application of heat, ultrasound, muscle release techniques to the muscles of the back.
- Chiropractic care

If the above solutions do not relief the pain, then your doctor may use cortisol injections to help relief the pain.
In a minority of cases, a surgery can be done in order to correct an underlying structural abnormality.

FDA had approved the use of Cymbalta, an antidepressant, for the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain and chronic lower back pain. Besides the drug is approved to treat diabetic nerve pain and fibromyalgia.
This was announced on 04 Nov. 2010

Bottomline, do not made any sudden movements. Exercise regularly and maintain a normal body weight. Avoid lifting heavy weights.


 

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