Tuesday, March 29

Health Care and Your Gallbladder

The gallbladder is a 4-inch, pear-shaped organ. It’s positioned under your liver in the upper right section of your abdomen. The gallbladder stores bile, a combination of fluids, fat, and cholesterol. Bile helps break down fat from food in your intestine. The gallbladder delivers bile into the small intestine. This allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be more easily absorbed into the bloodstream. If you have problems with your gallbladder, you can feel very sick and not know exactly what’s going on until you get medical attention.

According to Every Day Health.com, the gallbladder releases bile, via the cystic duct, into the small intestine to help break down the foods you eat — particularly fatty foods. Typically the gallbladder doesn't cause too many problems or much concern, but if something slows or blocks the flow of bile from the gallbladder, a number of problems can result. Most gallbladder symptoms start with pain in the upper abdominal area, either in the upper right or middle. Below are common symptoms of gallbladder conditions:

·         Severe abdominal pain
·         Pain that may extend beneath the right shoulder blade or to the back
·         Pain that worsens after eating a meal, particularly fatty or greasy foods
·         Pain that feels dull, sharp, or like cramps
·         Pain that increases when you breathe in deeply
·         Chest pain (angina)
·         Heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas
·         A feeling of fullness in the abdomen
·         Vomiting, nausea, fever
·         Shaking with chills
·         Tenderness in the abdomen, particularly the right upper quadrant
·         Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
·         Stools of an unusual color (often lighter, like clay)

Some gallbladder problems, like simple gallstones that are not blocking the cystic duct, often cause no symptoms at all. They're most often discovered during an x-ray or CT scan that's performed to diagnose a different condition, or even during an abdominal surgery. More detailed info is located at this website: http://www.everydayhealth.com/gallbladder/symptoms/.

Gallstones form when substances in bile harden. Rarely, you can also get cancer in your gallbladder, according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). Many gallbladder problems get better with removal of the gallbladder. Fortunately, you can live without a gallbladder. Bile has other ways of reaching your small intestine. More details are found at this site: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/gallbladderdiseases.html.

According to HealthLine.com, any disease that affects your gallbladder is considered a gallbladder disease. Symptoms of a gallbladder problem may come and go. However, you’re more likely to develop a gallbladder problem if you’ve previously had one. While gallbladder problems are rarely deadly, they should still be treated. You can prevent gallbladder problems from worsening if you take action and see a doctor. More info is found at this website: http://www.healthline.com/health/gallbladder-problems-symptoms#3.

Some problems associated with the gallbladder are gallstones, gallbladder attack and gallbladder disease. Gallbladder pain is usually caused by biliary colic, gallstones, cholecystitis, pancreatitis and cholangitis, according to LiveScience.com. Gallstones in particular are troublesome, and they are solidified particles of substances in the bile. They are made of a combination of bile salts, cholesterol and bilirubin. 

Gallstones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. Gallstones can block the gallbladder ducts so that bile cannot reach the small intestine as effectively, which may prevent the gallbladder from doing its job and can lead to other gallbladder diseases. And, while most gallstones pass on their own, some require a minor procedure or even surgery.

According to the Mayo Clinic, factors that contribute to the risk of gallstones include obesity, high-fat or high-cholesterol diets, diabetes and taking medicines with estrogen. Women, people over 60, Native Americans and Mexican-Americans are also at a higher level of risk. Symptoms of a gallbladder attack may be similar to those of a heart attack and other conditions, so it is important to consult a doctor for a correct diagnosis. More info about the gallbladder is located at this site: http://www.livescience.com/42965-gallbladder.html.

Gallbladder problems are more common than you may think. Gallstones affect more than 25 million Americans with 1 million new cases diagnosed annually, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. And there are other things that go wrong with the gallbladder besides just gallstones, according to GallbladderAttack.com. People can go for years with digestive symptoms and never realize that they may be related to a gallbladder problem.

That's because they are so interwoven with other digestive symptoms such as indigestion, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and nausea. Much more detailed material is located at this website, including some naturopathic options for treatment: http://www.gallbladderattack.com/gallbladdersymptoms.shtml.

Because gallstones are related to diet, particularly fat intake, the incidence of gallstones varies widely among nations and regions. For example, Hispanics and Northern Europeans have a higher risk for gallstones than do people of Asian and African descent. People of Asian descent who develop gallstones are most likely to have the brown pigment type, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).

Also, having a family member or close relative with gallstones may increase the risk. Up to one-third of cases of painful gallstones may be related to genetic factors. Studies indicate that the disease is complex and may result from the interaction between genetics and environment. Some studies suggest immune and inflammatory mediators may play key roles.

The UMMC reports as well that people with diabetes are at higher risk for gallstones and have a higher-than-average risk for acalculous gallbladder disease (without stones). Gallbladder disease may progress more rapidly in patients with diabetes, who tend to have worse infections. As well, being obese or overweight is a significant risk factor for gallstones. In such cases, the liver over-produces cholesterol, which is delivered into the bile and causes it to become supersaturated.

Men are also at increased risk for developing gallstones when their weight fluctuates. The risk increases proportionately with dramatic weight changes as well as with frequent weight cycling. For a significant in-depth study of gallbladder health issues, visit this website: http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/gallstones-and-gallbladder-disease.

If you have gallbladder disease, your gastroenterologist may recommend removing your gallbladder, according to the Florida Medical Clinic. You may need a referral from your family doctor if you don’t already have a specialist in this area of treatment. The surgical removal of the gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy. Gastroenterology is the study of the normal function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts and liver. More details are found at this site: https://www.floridamedicalclinic.com/recognizing-the-symptoms-of-a-gallbladder-attack/.

If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of a gallbladder attack, get to your doctor or a medical facility as soon as possible to rule out other possible health issues. Get an action plan to deal with your pain and for any treatment that is recommended. The short and long term effects of getting a proper diagnosis and follow through is critical to reduce pain and suffering.

Until next time. 
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Monday, March 14

Health Care and Head Trauma

From a simple bump to a concussion to death, getting a quick diagnosis for head trauma is critical. Brain dysfunction can be caused by an outside force, usually a violent blow to the head, and can result in many serious side effects. Brain injury or trauma often occurs as a result of a severe sports injury or car accident.

According to the Merck Manuals,
in the United States, about 13 in 10,000 people sustain minor head injury, and about 3 in 10,000 sustain severe head injury each year. In the United States, from 2002 to 2006, about 1.7 million civilians had traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. About 1.4 million were treated and released from emergency departments. About 275,000 were hospitalized and discharged alive, and 52,000 died.

TBI (traumatic brain injury) is responsible for about 33% of all deaths caused by injuries of any kind. About 5.3 million people have permanent disabilities due to head injury. About 25% to 33% of people in the United States who have a severe head injury die. More information is located at this site: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/injuries-and-poisoning/head-injuries/overview-of-head-injuries.

About half of head injuries result from motor vehicle crashes, and head injuries occur in more than 70% of severe motor vehicle crashes. Other common causes are falls (especially in older adults and young children), assaults, and mishaps during sports or recreational activities. Mishaps in the workplace (for example, while operating machinery) and firearms also cause head injuries.

Often, injury is caused by direct impact. However, the brain can be damaged even if the head has not been hit. For example, violent shaking or sudden deceleration can damage the soft brain as it collides with the rigid skull. In such cases there may be no visible injuries to the head.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Most head trauma involves injuries that are minor and don't require specialized attention or hospitalization. However, even minor injuries may cause persistent chronic symptoms, such as headache or difficulty concentrating, and you may need to take some time away from many normal activities to get enough rest to ensure complete recovery. Call 911 or your local emergency number if any of the following signs or symptoms are apparent, because they may indicate a more serious head injury.

·         Severe head or facial bleeding
·         Bleeding or fluid leakage from the nose or ears
·         Severe headache
·         Change in level of consciousness for more than a few seconds
·         Black-and-blue discoloration below the eyes or behind the ears
·         Cessation of breathing
·         Confusion
·         Loss of balance
·         Weakness or an inability to use an arm or leg
·         Unequal pupil size
·         Slurred speech
·         Seizures

·         Any of the signs or symptoms for adults
·         Persistent crying
·         Refusal to eat
·         Bulging in the soft spot on the front of the head (infants)
·         Repeated vomiting

Keep in mind that even a minor head bump can cause a large swelling. And the speed, momentum and size of the people (full-grown adolescents versus young children), and the forces involved (such as impact with a concrete floor or other hard surface) may increase the possibility of serious injury. More information about head trauma is found at this website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-head-trauma/basics/art-20056626.

There are several types of brain trauma, according to Family Doctor. The following categories should be treated immediately by medical professionals:

A concussion is a jarring injury to the brain. Most of the time it doesn't involve a loss of consciousness. A person who has a concussion may feel dazed and may lose vision or balance for a while after the injury.

      A brain contusion is a bruise of the brain. This means there is some bleeding in the brain, causing swelling.

      A skull fracture is when the skull cracks. Sometimes the edges of broken skull bones cut into the brain and cause bleeding or other injury.

      A hematoma is bleeding in the brain that collects and clots, forming a bump. A hematoma may not be apparent for a day or even as long as several weeks. So it's important to tell your doctor if someone with a head injury feels or acts oddly. Watch out for headaches, listlessness, balance problems or throwing up.

It's normal to have a headache and nausea, and feel dizzy right after a head injury. Other symptoms include ringing in the ears, neck pain, and feeling anxious, upset, irritable, depressed or tired. The person who has had a head injury may also have problems concentrating, remembering things, putting thoughts together or doing more than one thing at a time. These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks, but may go on for more than a year if the injury was severe. More details are available at this site: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/head-injuries.html.

Sport’s professional participants sustain severe brain injuries at far higher rates than the general population, according to the New York Times. They also appear to confirm what scientists have said for years: that playing football increases the risk of developing neurological conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that can be identified only in an autopsy. An article reporting the link between concussions and long term health problems is found at this site: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/sports/football/actuarial-reports-in-nfl-concussion-deal-are-released.html?_r=0.

Head trauma, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), result in permanent neurobiological damage that can produce lifelong deficits to varying degrees. The impact on a person and his or her family can be devastating.   More info is available at this website: http://www.traumaticbraininjury.com/.

Head trauma should be treated without delay. Always check with your doctor or a health care professional if you or a loved one suffers an injury or accident to the head. Although many blows to the head may not cause any difficulties, it’s always best to take an extra measure of preventive medical care to rule out the possibilities of any long term problems.

Until next time.
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