What Is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is a disease caused by four dengue viruses spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Once you contract one of the dengue viruses, you develop immunity to that virus for the rest of your life. However, you can still contract the other three viruses, so it’s possible to get all four dengue viruses in your lifetime. The viruses that cause dengue fever are related to those that cause yellow fever and West Nile virus infection.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 400 million casesTrusted Source of dengue fever occur across the globe every year. Tropical regions are heavily affected. Areas that have the greatest risk of infection includeTrusted Source:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Central America
  • Mexico
  • the Caribbean
  • Pacific Islands
  • India
  • South America
  • Southeast Asia
  • Southern China
  • Taiwan
  • northern parts of Australia

Dengue fever symptoms

If you develop dengue fever, symptoms usually begin about 4 to 10 daysTrusted Source after the initial infection. In many cases, symptoms will be mild. They may be mistaken for symptoms of the flu or another infection.

Young children and people who’ve never experienced infection may have a milder illness than older children and adults. Common symptoms generally last for 2 to 7 days and can includeTrusted Source:

Very few cases occur in the United States. Most diagnosed cases occur in people who contracted the virus while traveling abroad. However, risk of infection is increasing for residents of Hawaii, Florida, and in Texas near the Mexican border.

Dengue fever is transmitted via the bite of a mosquito harboring the dengue virus. Person-to-person transmission doesn’t occur. However, a pregnant person with dengue canTrusted Source pass the disease to their child.

  • sudden, high fever (up to 106°F or 41°C)
  • severe headache
  • swollen lymph glands
  • severe joint and muscle pains
  • skin rash (appearing between 2 and 5 days after the initial fever)

Symptoms of severe dengue can include:

  • belly pain and tenderness
  • mild to severe vomiting (three times in 24 hours)
  • mild bleeding from the nose or gums
  • vomiting blood or blood in stool
  • fatigue, restlessness, or irritability

There’s no medicationTrusted Source or treatment specifically made for dengue infection.

If you believe you may have dengue, you should use over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce your fever, headache, and joint pain. However, you should avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, as they can cause more bleeding.

Your doctor will perform a medical exam, and you should rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you feel worse after the first 24 hours of illness — once your fever has gone down — you should be taken to the hospital as soon as possible to check for complications.

Complications of dengue fever

A small percentage of people who have dengue fever can develop a more serious form of disease known as dengue hemorrhagic feverTrusted Source.

Diagnosing dengue fever

Doctors use blood tests to check for antibodies the dengue viruses or the presence of infection. A doctor may use a virological test or a serological test.

Virological test

This test directly tests for elements of the virus. This type of testing often requires specialized equipment and a staff that’s technically trained, so this type of testing may not be available in all medical facilities.

Serological test

This test detects antibodies in the blood to confirm a current or recent infection.

If you experience dengue symptoms after traveling outside the country, you should see a healthcare professional to check whether you have the virus. Read More

How Much Do We Know About Delta Variant?

The Delta variant, which is also called B.1.617.2, is a mutant strain of COVID-19. COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by The World Health Organization (WHO). After that the virus mutated as it spread throughout the world. Each mutation is assigned a letter (Alpha, Beta, Delta, etc.).

The first instance of Delta variant infection in the United States was reported in March 2021. Now, the Delta variant accounts for 83.2% of all new infections in the U.S. according to the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Research have reported that the Delta variant:

  • Is 50% more contagious than the original alpha COVID-19 virus strain
  • Is associated with a higher risk of complications and hospitalization
  • Spreads and infects quickly
  • Affects the younger population more often
  • Creates hospitalization risk for unvaccinated individuals

Are vaccines effective against the Delta variant?

All vaccines offer some level of protection against the Delta variant. Vaccination and mask use are therefore crucial in protecting yourself against infection.

  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: 
    • Found to be 36% and 88% effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant after first and second doses, respectively. 
    • Found to be 94% and 96% effective in preventing hospitalization after first and second doses, respectively.
  • Moderna vaccine: 
    • Uses the same technology as that of Pfizer; therefore, researchers believe it should provide similar protection as that provided by the Pfizer vaccine. 
    • Studies are underway to determine exactly the extent of protection the vaccine offers.
  • AstraZeneca vaccine:
    • Found to be 60% effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant and 93% effective against complications and hospitalization after both doses.
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine: 
    • Single-shot vaccine that has been shown to be effective against the Delta variant, although not as protective as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. 
    • Some researchers believe this vaccine has similar results to those of the AstraZeneca vaccine, although more studies are ongoing.

COVID-19 Modes Of Spreads:

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, viral particles are released into the air, and when another person breathes in those particles, they can become infected with the virus. It spreads between people in close contact, within 6 feet. Sometimes, it can spread to a person exposed to small droplets or aerosols containing the virus that stay in the air for several minutes or hours. Moreover, it can spread if a person touches a surface or object with viral particles on it and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.

How To Treat The Delta Variant Infection?

Currently, there are no specific treatments for COVID-19, including an infection caused by the Delta variant. Scientists are working on developing treatment methods, and many clinical trials are ongoing. Doctors therefore advise taking precautions such as getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distance and good hygiene.

People with mild COVID-19 can ease their symptoms with sufficient rest and medications as prescribed by their doctor. Antibiotics do not help because they help treat bacterial infection, not viral infection. Doctors do not advise self-medicating or using herbs to attempt preventing or curing COVID-19.

Have You Heard Of Havana Syndrome?

Havana syndrome is a series of debilitating symptoms that first affected U.S. intelligence officers and embassy staffers stationed in Havana, Cuba, in late 2016. In the following year, American diplomats in different parts of the world reported similar symptoms. 

Researchers investigating the condition have stated that Havana syndrome, which was initially dismissed as mass hysteria or a reaction caused by psychosomatic causes such as stress, may be a result of microwave weaponry. Symptoms are similar to those of a concussion or mild head injury and have mostly been reported by diplomats, intelligence officers, military personnel, and their family members deployed on foreign soil. 

To date, Havana syndrome has affected more than 130 people, with a few officials having reported symptoms while they were on U.S soil. Symptoms are not only distressing but aftereffects also seem to linger for a long time.

What are the symptoms of Havana syndrome?

In late 2016, deployed diplomats heard a loud piercing sound at night and felt intense pressure in the face. Pain, nausea, and dizziness followed. While the sound stopped eventually, some people complained of continued pain and dizziness along with trouble concentrating. The symptoms were debilitating enough to interfere with their work during the period of deployment.

In the years that followed, many intelligence officers and military personnel reported symptoms such as confusion, nausea, and disorientation that typically started with a sudden onset of pain and pressure in the head and ears. They reported other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, brain fog, memory problems, light sensitivity, and sleep-related complaints (drowsiness and insomnia).

The long-term sequelae of Havana syndrome include:

Migraine

Problems with distant vision

Squinting

Recurrent vertigo

Nosebleeds

Experts state that overall symptoms are akin to those reported by individuals with head injuries, although none of the personnel reported a blow to the head or related preexisting health conditions.

What could be the cause of Havana syndrome?

Initially, experts suspected that Havana syndrome may be caused by either accidental or deliberate exposure to a toxic chemical, pesticide, or drug. No traces of such agents, however, were found in affected people or their homes. 

The most likely cause of Havana syndrome is assumed to be some type of a mechanical device that emits ultrasonic or microwave energy:

Such radiofrequency energy exposure through highly specialized bioweaponry could potentially create microbubbles in the fluid inside a person’s ear. When those bubbles travel through the blood into the brain, they can cause minute air emboli that result in cell damage, similar to decompression sickness (disorder that deep-sea divers develop if they surface too quickly), Another explanation is that symptoms may be due to direct penetration of radiofrequency waves into the skull, which disrupts electrical and chemical activity in the brain and rewires certain neural pathways. This rewiring may be the reason that the symptoms seem profound and have long-lasting sequelae.

Although debilitating, Havana syndrome is not fatal, and all afflicted individuals are still alive.

How is Havana syndrome treated?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of affected individuals compared with those of healthy individuals show differences in the white matter (the paler tissue of the brain and spinal cord that mainly contains bundles of myelinated nerve fibers) structure. This supports the hypothesis that Havana syndrome is a disorder involving non-specific and unfathomable changes in brain activity and structure.

The management of the disease consists of alternative medicine modalities such as art therapy, meditation, breathing exercises, and acupuncture. 

A rehabilitation program consisting of specific neurological exercises administered in 1-hour sessions has been partially successful but needs further research. Each session consists of cognitive exercises comprising repetitive complex movements of the upper and lower limbs, balance exercises, and orthoptic exercises.

What is the HAVANA Act?

On July 6, 2021, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries from possible directed energy attacks or Havana syndrome, called the HAVANA (Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks) Act.

The Act, which was authorized by Senator Susan Collins along with the Intelligence Committee, plans to lend financial support to individuals who have suffered from Havana syndrome. Both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and State Department will create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for paying the victims.

The HAVANA Act is an endeavor by the U.S. government to acknowledge the hardships of afflicted U.S. public officers, providing financial aid and legislative changes to help cope with the condition. Read More

Facts About Urinary Retention

Urinary retention is the inability to empty the bladder. Urinary retention can be acute or chronic. Acute urinary retention is a medical emergency.

Urinary retention is most common in men in their 50s and 60s because of prostate enlargement. A woman may experience urinary retention if her bladder sags or moves out of the normal position (cystocele) or pulled out of position by a sagging of the lower part of the colon (rectocele).

Causes of urinary retention include an obstruction in the urinary tract such as an enlarged prostate or bladder stones, infections that cause swelling or irritation, nerve problems that interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder, medications, constipation, urethral stricture, or a weak bladder muscle.

Symptoms of acute urinary retention are severe discomfort and pain, an urgent need to urinate but you simply can’t, and bloated lower belly. Chronic urinary retention symptoms are mild but constant discomfort, difficulty starting a stream of urine, weak flow of urine, needing to go frequently, or feeling you still need to go after you’ve finished.

Complications include urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder damage, and chronic kidney disease.
Tests to diagnose urinary retention include taking a urine sample, bladder scan, cystoscopy, X-ray and CT scan, blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA), prostate fluid sample test, and urodynamic tests to measure the bladder’s ability to empty steadily and completely.

Treatment for urinary retention includes catheterization, treating prostate enlargement, and surgery.
Urinary retention is the inability to empty the bladder. With chronic urinary retention, you may be able to urinate, but you have trouble starting a stream or emptying your bladder completely. You may urinate frequently; you may feel an urgent need to urinate but have little success when you get to the toilet; or you may feel you still have to go after you’ve finished urinating. With acute urinary retention, you can’t urinate at all, even though you have a full bladder. Acute urinary retention is a medical emergency requiring prompt action. Chronic urinary retention may not seem life threatening, but it can lead to serious problems and should also receive attention from a health professional.

Anyone can experience urinary retention, but it is most common in men in their fifties and sixties because of prostate enlargement. A woman may experience urinary retention if her bladder sags or moves out of the normal position, a condition called cystocele. The bladder can also sag or be pulled out of position by a sagging of the lower part of the colon, a condition called rectocele. Some people have urinary retention from rectoceles. People of all ages and both sexes can have nerve disease or nerve damage that interferes with bladder function.

What is urinary retention?
Urinary retention is the inability to empty the bladder completely. Urinary retention can be acute or chronic. Acute urinary retention happens suddenly and lasts only a short time. People with acute urinary retention cannot urinate at all, even though they have a full bladder. Acute urinary retention, a potentially life-threatening medical condition, requires immediate emergency treatment. Acute urinary retention can cause great discomfort or pain.

Chronic urinary retention can be a long-lasting medical condition. People with chronic urinary retention can urinate. However, they do not completely empty all of the urine from their bladders. Often people are not even aware they have this condition until they develop another problem, such as urinary incontinence — loss of bladder control, resulting in the accidental loss of urine — or a urinary tract infection (UTI), an illness caused by harmful bacteria growing in the urinary tract.

What is the urinary tract and how does it work?

The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing urine, which is composed of wastes and extra fluid. In order for normal urination to occur, all body parts in the urinary tract need to work together in the correct order.

Kidneys. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Every day, the kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine. The kidneys work around the clock; a person does not control what they do.

Ureters. Ureters are the thin tubes of muscle — one on each side of the bladder — that carry urine from each of the kidneys to the bladder.

Bladder. The bladder, located in the pelvis between the pelvic bones, is a hollow, muscular, balloon-shaped organ that expands as it fills with urine. Although a person does not control kidney function, a person does control when the bladder empties. Bladder emptying is known as urination. The bladder stores urine until the person finds an appropriate time and place to urinate. A normal bladder acts like a reservoir and can hold 1.5 to 2 cups of urine. How often a person needs to urinate depends on how quickly the kidneys produce the urine that fills the bladder. The muscles of the bladder wall remain relaxed while the bladder fills with urine. As the bladder fills to capacity, signals sent to the brain tell a person to find a toilet soon. During urination, the bladder empties through the urethra, located at the bottom of the bladder. Read More

BENEFITS OF ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

Activated charcoal is a fine, odorless, black powder often used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses. Its toxin-absorbing properties have a wide range of medicinal and cosmetic uses, though none are scientifically proven.

Superheating natural sources of carbon, such as wood, produces activated charcoal. The black powder stops toxins from being absorbed in the stomach by binding to them. The body is unable to absorb charcoal, and so the toxins that bind to the charcoal leave the body in the feces.

This article will discuss some of the ways people use activated charcoal, its potential benefits, and if there are any risks.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is not the same substance as that found in charcoal bricks or burnt pieces of food.

The manufacture of activated charcoal makes it extremely adsorbent, allowing it to bind to molecules, ions, or atoms. In this way, it removes these from dissolved substances.

Making activated charcoal involves heating carbon-rich materials, such as wood, peat, coconut shells, or sawdust, to very high temperatures.

This ‘activation’ process strips the charcoal of previously absorbed molecules and frees up bonding sites again. This process also reduces the size of the pores in the charcoal and makes more holes in each molecule, therefore, increasing its overall surface area.

As a result, one teaspoon full of activated charcoal has more surface area than a football field.

Possible uses of activated charcoal

Authorities have only approved activated charcoal for the emergency treatment of overdoses or poisonings.

But due to its powerful toxin-clearing properties, some advocates have proposed activated charcoal as a treatment for an ever-growing list of conditions.

There is not sufficiently conclusive, large-scale research to establish what the benefits are of activated charcoal. Many over-the-counter (OTC) products also rely on the basic chemical principles of activated charcoal to defend their benefit claims.

A few of the uses of activated charcoal with some evidence include the following:

1. Kidney health

Activated charcoal may be able to assist kidney function by filtering out undigested toxins and drugs.

Activated charcoal seems to be especially effective at removing toxins derived from urea, the main byproduct of protein digestion.

More research is needed, but some animal studies show that activated charcoal may help improve kidney function and reduce gastrointestinal damage and inflammation in those with chronic kidney disease.

2014 studyTrusted Source saw rats with induced, chronic kidney disease given 4 grams (g) per kilogram per day of an oral activated charcoal preparation. The researchers found that the animals had significant reductions in intestinal inflammation and damage.

In another 2014 study, rats with induced chronic renal failure were fed mixtures containing 20 percent activated charcoal, and they also experienced improved kidney function, and a reduced rate of kidney inflammation and damage.

2. Intestinal gas

Activated charcoal powder is thought to be able to disrupt intestinal gas, although researchers still do not understand how.

Liquids and gases trapped in the intestine can easily pass through the millions of tiny holes in activated charcoal, and this process may neutralize them.

In a 2012 studyTrusted Source, a small sample of people with a history of excessive gas in their intestines took 448 milligrams (mg) of activated charcoal three times a day for 2 days before having intestinal ultrasound examinations. They also took another 672 mg on the morning of the exam.

The study showed that medical examiners were better able to see certain parts of some of the organs they intended to identify with the ultrasound whereas intestinal gas would have obscured these before the treatment.

Also, some 34 percent of the participants who were given the activated charcoal to reduce their gas had improved symptoms.

In a 2017 studyTrusted Source, people who took 45 mg of simethicone and 140 mg of activated charcoal three times daily for 10 days, all reported a significant reduction in abdominal pain with no side effects.

The research is still limited, but a panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reports that there is enough evidence to support the use of activated charcoal to reduce excessive gas accumulation.

There is no set way to use activated charcoal for intestinal gas, but the EFSA recommend taking at least 1 g at 30 minutes before and after each meal.

3. Water filtration

People have long used activated charcoal as a natural water filter. Just as it does in the intestines and stomach, activated charcoal can interact with and absorb a range of toxins, drugs, viruses, bacteria, fungus, and chemicals found in water.

In commercial settings, such as waste-management centers, operators often use activated carbon granules for one part of the filtration process. Dozens of water filtration products are also designed for at-home use, using carbon cartridges to purify water of toxins and impurities.

2015 studyTrusted Source found that water filtration systems that used carbon removed as much as 100 percent of the fluoride in 32 unfiltered water samples after 6 months of installation.

4. Diarrhea

Given its use as a gastrointestinal absorbent in overdoses and poisonings, it follows that some people might propose activated charcoal as a treatment for diarrhea.

In a 2017 review of recent studies on the use of activated charcoal for diarrhea, researchers concluded that it might be able to prevent bacteria and drugs that can cause diarrhea from being absorbed into the body by trapping them on its porous, textured surface.

While noting it as a suitable treatment for diarrhea, the researchers also pointed out that activated charcoal had few side effects, especially in comparison with common antidiarrheal medications.

5. Teeth whitening and oral health

Dozens of teeth-whitening products contain activated charcoal.

Many oral health products that contain activated charcoal claim to have various benefits, such as being:

  • antiviral
  • antibacterial
  • antifungal
  • detoxifying

Activated charcoal’s toxin-absorbing properties may be important here, but there is no significant research to support its use for teeth whitening or oral health.

In a 2017 review, researchers concluded there was not enough laboratory or clinical data to determine the safety or effectiveness of activated charcoal for teeth whitening or oral health.

6. Skin care

Researchers have reported that activated charcoal can help draw microparticles, such as dirt, dust, chemicals, toxins, and bacteria, to the surface of the skin, to make removing them easier.

7. Deodorant

Various activated charcoal deodorants are widely available. Charcoal may absorb smells and harmful gases, making it ideal as an underarm, shoe, and refrigerator deodorant.

Activated charcoal is also reported to be able to absorb excess moisture and control humidity levels at a micro level.

8. Skin infection

Around the world, many different traditional medicine practitioners use activated charcoal powder made from coconut shells to treat soft tissue conditions, such as skin infections.

Activated charcoal may have an antibacterial effect by absorbing harmful microbes from wounds. Several are available commercially. Read More

Everything About Kawasaki Disease

  • Kawasaki disease is a syndrome of unknown cause that mainly strikes young children.
  • Kawasaki disease symptoms and signs include
  • The disease can be treated with high doses of aspirin (salicylic acid) and gamma globulin.
  • Kawasaki disease symptoms usually resolve within a month or two, but the disease should be considered a “lifelong disease” because monitoring for late-onset heart artery changes is necessary.
  • Some children with Kawasaki disease suffer coronary artery lesions.
  • Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is different but with similar symptoms to Kawasaki disease.

What is Kawasaki disease, and how do doctors diagnose it?

The definition of Kawasaki disease is an uncommon illness in children that is characterized by high fever of at least 5 days’ duration together with at least four of the following five symptoms and signs that occur in the acute phase:

  1. Inflammation with reddening of the whites (conjunctivae) of the eyes (conjunctivitis or pinkeye) without pus
  2. Redness or swelling of the feet and/or hands, or generalized skin peeling
  3. Rash on body and/or genital area
  4. Lymph nodes swelling in the neck
  5. Cracking, inflamed lips or throat, or red “strawberry” tongue

Doctors use the above criteria to make a diagnosis of Kawasaki disease. Some investigators consider this phase 1. Phase 2 signs and symptoms may occur during the disease and may include:

  1. Skin peeling (from red palms and finger tips and reddish swollen feet)
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Abdominal pain
  5. Joint pain

In phase 3, signs and symptoms slowly abate if there are no complications. However, the person may have irritability, tiredness, and low energy for 1-2 months.

Doctors sometimes use the terminology “incomplete Kawasaki disease” for patients who receive a diagnosis with only some features of classical Kawasaki disease.

Most patients (about 77%) are under 5 years of age with a peak incidence at 18 months of age. It is the most common acquired heart disease in children. Complications may include long-term effects of heart problems and coronary artery abnormalities like vasculitis.

What is mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome?

Mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome is the original name for Kawasaki disease. The original name was quite descriptive because the disease is characterized by the typical changes in the mucous membranes that line the lips and mouth and by the enlarged and tender lymph nodes. Kawasaki disease is also termed infantile polyarteritis.

What are causes of Kawasaki disease?

The cause is not known. Microorganisms and toxins like that of scarlet fever have been suspected, but none has been identified to date.

  • It is common for Kawasaki disease to occur after a preceding infection, such as tonsillitisear infectionpneumonia, urine infection, or gastrointestinal infection.
  • Genetic factors (genetic variants in some patients) and the immune system (for example, autoimmune disease) seem to play roles in the disease, which is characterized by immune activation.
  • The disease is more common in those of Japanese or Korean descent.

Who develops Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease typically affects children under 5 years of age. Only rarely does it affect children over 8 years of age, in which case it is sometimes referred to as atypical Kawasaki disease. Read More

Put An End To Nail Fingus Once And For All

Many changes in fingernails or toenails may cause people to think they have a fungal infection of the nails, medically known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium.

Fungal infection of the nails sometimes makes the condition sound contagious or related to poor hygiene. In fact, up to 10% of all adults in Western countries have fungal infection of the nails. This percentage increases to 20% of adults who are age 60 or older. Toenail fungus is much more common than fingernail fungus.

In reality, abnormal-looking nails may be caused by a number of conditions including, but not limited to, fungal infection. There are many other reasons why your nails may look different.

Here are some other conditions you may have instead of fungal nails:

  1. Lines and ridges: These are common and may be considered normal. They may worsen during pregnancy. A large groove down the center of the nail can be caused by nail biting. Some people may develop these changes following chemotherapy.
  2. Senile nails: As you age, the nails become brittle and develop ridges and separation of the nail layers at the end of the nail. To avoid this, try to clean solutions and don’t soak the nails in water.
  3. Whitish or yellowish nails can occur due to onycholysis. This means separation of the nail from the nail bed. The color you see is air beneath the nail. The treatment is to trim the nail short, don’t clean under it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. Persistent onycholysis can make the nails susceptible to fungal infection.
  4. Red or black nails due to a hematoma, or blood under the nail, usually occur from trauma (like whacking yourself on the thumb with a hammer). The discolored area will grow out with the nail and be trimmed off as you trim your nails. If you have a black spot under your nail that was not caused by trauma, you may want to see a dermatologist or a podiatrist if it involves a toenail to make sure it is not melanoma (a type of skin cancer associated with pigmented cells). A simple biopsy can rule out malignancy (cancer).
  5. Green nails can be caused by Pseudomonas bacteria, which grow under a nail that has partially separated from the nail bed. This infection may cause a foul odor of the nails. The treatment is to trim the nail short every four weeks, don’t clean it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. It is also advised to avoid soaking the nail in any sort of water (even if inside gloves) and to thoroughly dry the nail after bathing. If the problem continues, there are prescription treatments that your doctor may try.

Facts you should know about fungal nails (onychomycosis, tinea unguium)

Many changes in fingernails or toenails may cause people to think they have a fungal infection of the nails, medically known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium.

Fungal infection of the nails sometimes makes the condition sound contagious or related to poor hygiene. In fact, up to 10% of all adults in Western countries have fungal infection of the nails. This percentage increases to 20% of adults who are age 60 or older. Toenail fungus is much more common than fingernail fungus.

In reality, abnormal-looking nails may be caused by a number of conditions including, but not limited to, fungal infection. There are many other reasons why your nails may look different.

What other conditions can be mistaken for fungal nails?

Here are some other conditions you may have instead of fungal nails:

  1. Lines and ridges: These are common and may be considered normal. They may worsen during pregnancy. A large groove down the center of the nail can be caused by nail biting. Some people may develop these changes following chemotherapy.
  2. Senile nails: As you age, the nails become brittle and develop ridges and separation of the nail layers at the end of the nail. To avoid this, try to clean solutions and don’t soak the nails in water.
  3. Whitish or yellowish nails can occur due to onycholysis. This means separation of the nail from the nail bed. The color you see is air beneath the nail. The treatment is to trim the nail short, don’t clean under it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. Persistent onycholysis can make the nails susceptible to fungal infection.
  4. Red or black nails due to a hematoma, or blood under the nail, usually occur from trauma (like whacking yourself on the thumb with a hammer). The discolored area will grow out with the nail and be trimmed off as you trim your nails. If you have a black spot under your nail that was not caused by trauma, you may want to see a dermatologist or a podiatrist if it involves a toenail to make sure it is not melanoma (a type of skin cancer associated with pigmented cells). A simple biopsy can rule out malignancy (cancer).
  5. Green nails can be caused by Pseudomonas bacteria, which grow under a nail that has partially separated from the nail bed. This infection may cause a foul odor of the nails. The treatment is to trim the nail short every four weeks, don’t clean it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. It is also advised to avoid soaking the nail in any sort of water (even if inside gloves) and to thoroughly dry the nail after bathing. If the problem continues, there are prescription treatments that your doctor may try.
  6. Pitted nails may be associated with psoriasis or other skin problems that affect the nail matrix, the area under the skin just behind the nail. This is the area from which the nail grows. Nails affected by psoriasis can also be tan in color.
  7. Swelling and redness of the skin around the nail is called paronychia. This is an infection of the skin at the bottom of the nail (cuticle). If the infection is acute (has a rapid onset), it is usually caused by bacteria. It may respond to warm soaks but will often need to be drained by a doctor. A chronic paronychia occurs when a cuticle becomes inflamed or irritated over time. Sometimes, yeast will take advantage of the damaged skin and infect the area as well. Therapy begins with keeping the skin dry and out of water. If the problem continues, a physician should be consulted. Antibiotics are not often used but may be necessary in severe infection.
  8. Chronic nail trauma, such as repeatedly starting and stopping, kicking, and other athletic endeavors, can cause damage to the nails that can look a lot like fungal nails. This sort of repetitive trauma can also occur with certain types of employment or wearing tight-fitting shoes. Some traumas may cause permanent changes that may mimic the appearance of fungal nails. Read More

Causes Of Gallbladder Pain

Gallbladder pain is (often misspelled “gall bladder”) an all-inclusive term used to describe any pain due to disease related to the gallbladder. The major gallbladder problems that produce gallbladder pain are biliary colic, cholecystitis, gallstonespancreatitis, and ascending cholangitis. Symptoms vary and may be triggered by eating certain foods. The pain may be described as intermittent, constant, abdominal, radiating to the back, mild to severe depending on the underlying cause.

A brief review of the gallbladder anatomy and function may help readers better understand gallbladder pain. The gallbladder is connected to the liver via ducts that supply bile to the gallbladder for storage. These bile ducts then form the common hepatic duct that joins with the cystic duct from the gallbladder to form the common bile duct that empties into the GI tract (duodenum). In addition, the pancreatic duct usually merges with the common bile duct just before it enters the duodenum. Hormones trigger the gallbladder to release bile when fat and amino acids reach the duodenum after eating a meal, which facilitates the digestion of these foods. Statistics suggest that women may have up to twice the incidence of gallstones than men.

What are the causes of gallbladder pain?

As stated previously, the major gallbladder problems that produce gallbladder pain are biliary colic, cholecystitis, gallstonespancreatitis, and ascending cholangitis. There are two major causes of pain that either originates from the gallbladder or involve the gallbladder directly. They are due to 1) intermittent or complete blockage of any of the ducts by gallstones; or 2) gallstone sludge and/or inflammation that may accompany irritation or infection of the surrounding tissues, when partial or complete obstruction of ducts causes pressure and ischemia (inadequate blood supply due to a blockage of blood vessels in the area) to develop in the adjacent tissues.

Gallstone formation usually happens in the gallbladder, but may form in any of the ducts. When the gallbladder is compressed (squeezed by musculature), bile usually goes out through the bile ducts into the GI tract; however, if gallstones or gallstone sludge is present, there can be partial or complete blockage of the ducts with pressure on the surrounding tissue, sometimes enough to cause local ischemia. Other processes such as trauma can cause gallbladder pain. Infection of the biliary ducts and the gallbladder, usually occurring after gallstone obstruction also can cause pain.

What is biliary colic?

Biliary colic is a term used to describe the type of pain related to the gallbladder, when the gallbladder contracts and the cystic duct is partially or completely blocked by a gallstone. The symptoms are described below.

What are other signs and symptoms of gallbladder pain?

Gallbladder pain may vary or feel different depending on the cause. Many people with gallstones never experience pain. However, there are some variations in gallbladder pain that help the doctor to make a diagnosis.

  • Biliary colic (intermittent duct blockage): Sudden and rapidly increasing pain (ache or pressure) in the right upper abdomen or epigastric area; some people will have pain radiating to the right shoulder (or back pain in the tip of the scapula) and/or also develop nausea and vomiting. The pain usually subsides in about 1 to 5 hours although a mild ache may persist for about a day.
  • Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder tissue secondary to duct blockage): severe steady pain in the upper-right abdomen that may radiate to the right shoulder or back, abdominal tenderness when touched or pressed, sweatingnauseavomitingfeverchills, and bloating; discomfort lasts longer than with biliary colic.
  • Acalculous cholecystitis (no gallstones) has similar symptoms to cholecystitis but occurs as a complication of other problems like trauma or burns; patients have severe symptoms and appear very ill.
  • Pancreatitis: Gallstones from the gallbladder can block the pancreatic duct and cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) with upper abdominal pain that may radiate to the back, tender abdomen, more pain after eating, nausea, and vomiting. Read More

What You Know About Blood And Age

Blood pressure is the force applied by the blood over the inner walls of the arteries. Although the average blood pressure for a person remains constant, it shows minor fluctuations throughout the day—declining while relaxing and momentarily increasing while being excited or under stress. An increase in the resting blood pressure can scar, stiffen, or harden the arteries.

Blood pressure is written as systolic and diastolic values. Hence, BP 120/80 mm Hg means 120 is the systolic number, and 80 is the diastolic number.

High blood pressure is more likely to cause:

What is normal blood pressure according to age?

The blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. Its measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first (systolic pressure) is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second (diastolic pressure) is measured before the heart contracts and lowest. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called “hypertension“.

The chart shows normal blood pressure according to age both male and female.  Diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP) are included in the chart.

What are the different blood pressure categories?

Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types, namely:

Normal: Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be normal.

Elevated: When blood pressure readings consistently range from 120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, it is known as elevated blood pressure. People with elevated blood pressure are at risk of high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.

Hypertension stage I: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic. Doctors may prescribe blood pressure medications and some lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.

Hypertension stage II: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 140/90 mm Hg or higher. The doctors may prescribe a combination of both medications and lifestyle changes.

Hypertensive crisis: This is the most critical condition and requires emergency medical attention. In this condition, the blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mm Hg. Contact the physician immediately if the following symptoms are experienced:

How to treat high blood pressure?

Lifestyle changes and regular exercises can help to treat high blood pressure. Some of the suggested lifestyle changes by the physicians are as follows:

  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Avoid alcohol or at least limit the intake
  • Eat a low-sodium and low-fat diet such as the DASH diet
  • Avoid too much of stress
  • Eat foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium such as bananas and milk
  • Regular monitoring of blood pressure after reaching the age of 35 years
  • Practice meditation and other stress-relieving exercises
  • Cut back on caffeine

The physicians may prescribe the following medications:

How to treat low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure can be prevented or treated using the following methods:

  • Consume lots of fluids
  • Limit alcoholic drinks
  • Stay hydrated, especially during the hot weathers or during viral flu
  • Drink more of nonalcoholic drinks
  • Exercise regularly to encourage blood flow
  • Avoid sitting or standing quickly
  • While rising, take care to sit upright for a few seconds and then getting off from the bed
  • Stay away from heavy lifting
  • Avoid standing still for a prolonged time
  • Avoid straining while passing stools
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to hot water such as sauna, hot water springs, and spas
  • Compression stocking covering the thigh and calf restricts the blood flow to the lower part of the body
  • Try eating smaller, more frequent meals to avoid post-meal dizziness
  • Any consumption of over-the-counter medications should be reported to the physician. Read More

Glaucoma: Causes, Symptoms, Types, and Treatment

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damages the optic nerve that is essential for vision. This damage is caused by abnormally high pressure in the eyes. It can occur at any age but is more common in older adults. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in people aged over 60 years. Glaucoma may not have symptoms until it is at an advanced stage. Vision loss due to glaucoma can’t be recovered; hence, regular eye check-ups are important for early diagnosis and treatment.

What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma occurs due to optic nerve damage. The nerve gradually loses function, causing blind spots to develop in the visual field. The exact cause of this is unknown, but it is believed that nerve damage usually occurs due to increased pressure in the eyes.

Eye pressure increases due to the build-up of internal fluid (aqueous humor) that flows throughout the eyes. The fluid drains through a tissue called the trabecular meshwork at the angle where the iris (colored part of the eye) and cornea meet. If there is an overproduction of the fluid or if the fluid doesn’t drain properly, the fluid builds up causing increased eye pressure.

Risk factors of glaucoma:

What are the types of glaucoma?

There are several types of glaucoma. These include:

  • Open-angle glaucoma: This is the most common form of the disease. The drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris remains open, but the trabecular meshwork is partially blocked, causing eye pressure to gradually increase. It may be asymptomatic until vision loss occurs.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma: This is also called closed-angle glaucoma. It occurs when the iris bulges, narrowing or blocking the drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris. Angle-closure glaucoma may occur suddenly (acute angle-closure glaucoma), which is a medical emergency, or gradually (chronic angle-closure glaucoma).
  • Normal-tension glaucoma: The optic nerve gets damaged despite the eye pressure being normal. The exact cause is unknown. It could be due to optic nerve sensitivity or decreased blood supply to the optic nerve.
  • Glaucoma in children: It may be caused by drainage blocks or a developmental eye abnormality.
  • Pigmentary glaucoma: Activities such as running, jogging, or other sports can cause pigment granules from the iris to dislodge and deposit in the trabecular meshwork, blocking fluid drainage and causing increased eye pressure.

What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma?

The signs and symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on the type and stage of your condition:

Open-angle glaucoma:

Acute angle-closure glaucoma:

How is glaucoma treated?

The damage caused by glaucoma can’t be reversed. However, early treatment and regular follow-ups can help delay the progression or prevent vision loss, especially in the early stages. Treatment options include:

Prescription eye drops:

  • Prostaglandins: These increase the drainage of the aqueous humor (fluid in the eye), resulting in decreased eye pressure.
  • Beta-blockers: These reduce the production of fluid in the eyes, resulting in decreased eye pressure.
  • Alpha-adrenergic agonists: These reduce the production of eye fluid and increase the drainage of fluid. 
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors: These reduce the production of fluid in the eyes. 
  • Rho-kinase inhibitor: This suppresses the enzyme, rho kinase, responsible for the fluid increase. 
  • Miotic or cholinergic agents: These increase the drainage of eye fluid. 

Oral medications: Oral medications such as carbonic anhydrase inhibitor may be prescribed.

Surgery and other therapies:

  • Laser therapy: Laser trabeculoplasty may be done for open-angle glaucoma. A small laser beam is used to open clogged channels in the trabecular meshwork.
  • Trabeculectomy: A part of the trabecular meshwork is removed.
  • Drainage tubes: A small tube/shunt is inserted in the eye to drain excess fluid and lower eye pressure.
  • Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS): These procedures reduce eye pressure and usually require less postoperative care and have less risk than trabeculectomy or installing a drainage device. They can be combined with cataract surgeryRead More

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