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Crohn's Disease (Regional Enteritis)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Crohn's disease, also known as regional enteritis or granulomatous colitis, is an inflammation of any part of the gastrointestinal tract that involves all the layers of the intestinal wall. Most commonly it affects the terminal ileum and proximal colon. But it can affect any part of the G.I tract.

The disease was named after Dr. Burrill Bernard Crohn, who was an American gastroenterologist. In 1932, Dr Crohn and two other colleagues published a landmark paper describing the features of the disease.
What are the risk factors of Crohn's disease ?
1. Smokers are at a higher risk of having Crohn's disease. Smoking is the most important risk factor.]
2. Age: most individuals are diagnosed at the age of 20-30.
3. Race: Ashkenazi Jews are at a higher risk.
4. Individuals who have a first-degree relative (parents, siblings or children) diagnosed with Crohn's disease.
5. Eating a diet rich in fats, low in fibre and high in refined sugar increases the risk.

The exact cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. It is believed that it is due to a combination of genetic factors, environmental factors and immunologic abnormalities.

What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease ?

The symptoms depend on the region of the GIT affected. There are two main categories for presentation:
- Acute Crohn's disease: it occurs in only 5% of the cases and it resembles acute appendicitis.
- Chronic Crohn's disease:
The patient usually presents with a history of diarrhoea (that may be associated with blood in stools) that had been extending over many months, occuring in bouts accompanied by intestinal colic. Weight loss, intermittent fever and anaemia can be present. 
After repeated attacks of inflammation, the affected area of the intestine begins to narrow with fibrosis and causes obstructive symptoms. 

How to get rid of a bad cold ?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Let's start our article by defining common cold. Common cold is a contagious viral infection of the nose and throat. It is usually a self-limited condition, which means that it resolves by itself without medications. 

What are the symptoms of common cold ?
Symptoms can vary from one person to another but it may include the following: runny nose, sore throat, watery eyes, headache, sneezing, tiredness.
In fact, sore throat and runny nose seem to be the chief disturbing symptoms. 
How to get rid of a sore throat and a cold ? Are there home remedies to help relieve the symptoms of a cold ?
Common cold can be treated without the need to see a doctor by following these advices:
- Have plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids as tea, herbal teas, warm fluids.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Hypertension is defined as the elevation of the systolic or diastolic pressure. In other words, the pressure of the blood in the arteries is above normal values.
Before we discuss more details about hypertension, we must outline the normal values of blood pressure:
  • If the systolic B.P is <120 and diastolic B.P is <80, this is known as optimal blood pressure.
  • If the systolic B.P is <130 and diastolic B.P is <85, this is a normal blood pressure.
  • If the systolic B.P is between 130 - 139 and diastolic B.P is between 85 - 89, this is a high normal blood pressure.
These were the variations in the values of normal blood pressure. (all blood pressure values written in this article are in mmHg).
Hypertension is said to be present if the systolic B.P is more than 140 and the diastolic B.P is more than 90. 

How is hypertension diagnosed ?
If an individual measures his/her blood pressure in 3 different occasions and finds out that the systolic B.P is greater than 140 and the diastolic B.P is greater then 90, then this person is hypertensive.

What are the types and causes of hypertension ?
1- Essential hypertension: there is no a specific underlying cause for hypertension. More than 85% of hypertensive patients have this type.
What can increase the risk of having essential hypertension ?
Factors include family history of hypertension, old age, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high intake of sodium or saturated fats in the diet.

2- Secondary hypertension: a specific cause is present. It can occur due to:
  • Renal diseases: as renal vascular disease, renal parenchymal diseases (especially glomerulonephritis) and polycystic kidney disease.
  • Endocrine diseases: as pheochromocytoma, cushing's syndrome, conn's syndrome, hyperparathyroidism and thyroid diseases. 
  • Drugs: as oral contraceptives, corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Any of the above causes can cause hypertension. Therefore, treating the cause will abolish high blood pressure forever.

Hepatitis A

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Hepatitis is defined as the inflammation of the liver. The causes of hepatitis are numerous. Viral hepatitis is one of the important causes of liver damage. The most important types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C. In this article, hepatitis A will be discussed in details.
Hepatitis A, also called infectious hepatitis, is the infection with hepatitis A virus involving the liver. It is responsible for about 30% of hepatitis cases in the United States. Although it is highly contagious, permanent liver damage does not occur in hepatitis A. 

Mode of infection with hepatitis A virus:
Infection can occur through eating or drinking contaminated foods or drinks respectively. This situation usually occurs in daycare centers when caregivers do not wash their hands after changing a diaper and then prepare or serve food. 
This mode of infection is known as fecal-oral infection.

Ways of transmission of hepatitis A virus:
  • Drinking contaminated water.
  • Eating food that is prepared by an infected food handler who does not wash his/her hand after using the toilet.
  • Eating shellfish, such as clams and oysters, that can be contaminated if harvested from waters contaminated with hepatitis A virus.
  • Although rare, sexual transmission can occur in some cases.

How to prevent food poisoning ?

Monday, 10 January 2011

Food poisoning is a condition that results from eating food or drinking water which is contaminated with a bacteria, virus or a parasite.

90% of the cases in the United States are caused by the following:
- Salmonella.
- Campylobacter jejuni.
- Shigella.
- Clostridium perfringens.
- Staphylococcus aureus.
What can be done to prevent food poisoning ?
Organisms grow best at room temperature. So always keep your food either hot (above 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius) or cold (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius).
Do not eat raw or undercooked seafoods, meat, poultry and eggs. Avoid purchasing fresh-cut fruits or vegetables that are not refrigerated. Avoid eating raw or unpasteurized dairy products.

Colorectal cancer

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Colorectal cancer, also named colon cancer, is defined as a neoplasm in the colon or rectum. It is the third most common cancer world-wide. In many cases, the situation starts by the appearance of adenomatous polyps which, by the passage of time, can progress into an invasive cancer.
An image showing the normal abdominal contents. The brown organ is the liver. The purple one is the spleen. The tubular structure is the large intestine or the colon.
(Image from Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 18th ed.)

At what age should individuals get screened for colorectal cancer ?
All individuals should be screened for colorectal cancer after the age of 50. In some cases, screening can start at an earlier age if there is an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Friday, 7 January 2011

Let's start by the definition: Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammation that involves the joints (arthritis) in someone who is having psoriasis. In many cases, individuals develop psoriasis first and then have psoriatic arthritis but the reverse can also occur.
The onset is usually between the age of 25 to 40 years old. 

What is the cause of psoriatic arthritis ?
The exact cause is unknown but it is most probably due to abnormal immune response which results in attacking the body's joints. This results in inflammation and if left untreated, can cause damage to the joints.

What are the different forms of presentations that can occur in psoriatic arthritis ?
There are five main presentations for psoriatic arthritis:

1. Asymmetrical inflammatory oligoarthritis.
The joints of the upper and lower limbs can be affected. This will cause a painful, sausage-like swelling of the fingers and toes.
Notice the "sausage" middle finger.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

What is IBS ?
IBS, also called spastic colon or irritable colon, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by a chronic abdominal pain associated with alteration in bowel habits.

What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome ?
Symptoms include:
- Recurrent, colicky or cramping, abdominal pain which is relieved by defecation. 
- Constipation or diarrhea or both.
- Abdominal distention.
- Feeling of incomplete defecation.
- Mucus in stools.
- Urgency of defecation.

IBS can co-exist with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine, dyspareunia.

What can trigger IBS ?
Certain factors had be associated with triggering the onset of IBS, which are:
- Psychological stress and trauma.
- Sexual, verbal and physical abuse.
- Depression.

How to prevent and treat constipation ?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Constipation is a common condition which involves having two or more of the following for at least 12 weeks:
- Infrequent passage of stools (<3/week).
- Straining.
- Passage of hard stools.
- Incomplete evacuation.
- Sensation of rectal block.

Constipation can cause the following symptoms:
Headaches, malaise, nausea and abdominal discomfort. 

What can be done to prevent and treat constipation ?
Before taking any medications or going to the doctor, you must do all of the following. They involve changing your lifestyle in order to have a healthy bowel movements.
  • Eat a normal fiber-containing diet. Foods that contain high fiber content include beans, bran, fruits and vegetables. The fiber content in the diet should be increased gradually.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water and fluids.
  • Bowel habit training: you should take enough time during defecation. The best time to move bowels is in the morning, after eating breakfast.

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