Tuesday, May 31

Health Care and Inflammation

Do you ever suffer from joint pain or other maladies caused by inflammation? It’s more common than you may think. Inflammation is typically defined as a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection.

According to LiveScience, inflammation is a vital part of the body's immune response. It is the body's attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria; and repair damaged tissue. Without inflammation, wounds would fester and infections could become deadly. 

Inflammation can also be problematic, though, and it plays a role in some chronic diseases. Inflammation is often characterized by redness, swelling, warmth, and sometimes pain and some immobility. Much more detailed information is located at this website: http://www.livescience.com/52344-inflammation.html.

In a delicate balance of give-and-take, inflammation begins when pro-inflammatory hormones in your body call out for your white blood cells to come and clear out infection and damaged tissue, according to WomenToWomen. These agents are matched by equally powerful, closely related anti-inflammatory compounds, which move in once the threat is neutralized to begin the healing process.

Acute inflammation that ebbs and flows as needed signifies a well-balanced immune system. But symptoms of inflammation that don’t recede are telling you that the “on” switch to your immune system is stuck. It’s poised on high alert — even when you aren’t in imminent danger. In some cases, what started as a healthy mechanism, like building scar tissue or swelling, just won’t shut off. More material about inflammation is available at this website: https://www.womentowomen.com/inflammation/causes-of-inflammation/.

According to Prevention Magazine, scientists refer to the immune response gone rogue as chronic inflammation and have identified it as a contributor to a wide range of conditions, including heart disease, asthma, and joint pain. Since studies started making these links in the early 2000s, the term inflammation has become somewhat of a buzzword, bandied about by health nuts and doctors alike.

Some physicians consider it such an important predictor of poor health that they monitor patients' blood for a marker of inflammation, called C-reactive protein, as part of a standard workup. This testing is still uncommon, and it's somewhat controversial, but more and more doctors are adjusting to the idea of quantifying how sick is their patient…really. One hundred million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and they deal with it day after day with no clear fix. Twenty-one million have depression, and for many of them, medication and therapy help only so much.

Meanwhile, scientists are still exploring what inflammation is and how it might be responsible for so many health problems like depression and depression symptoms. Much more detail on the connection between inflammation and depression is located at this site: http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/.

Inflammation has become a medical hot topic, according to Women’s Health Magazine. More and more research shows that chronic inflammation is involved in heavy-hitting illnesses like the following:
·         Cancer
·         Heart disease
·         Diabetes
·         Depression
·         Allergies

It all starts with the immune system, the body's first line of defense against any kind of harm. When you're injured or sick, your bone marrow dispatches veritable SWAT teams of white blood cells to root out infection and jump-start the healing process. Sometimes, however, the immune system gets a faulty distress signal and deploys an unnecessary first-aid squad. Those misguided white blood cells still mobilize just like they would if you were actually under the weather, but because there's no infection for them to attack, they end up just hanging around, often for a long, long time.

However, the problem is that your body isn't made to accommodate this kind of unfocused immune activity, and eventually those white blood cells can start damaging your internal organs. They can also needlessly assault other cells the body routinely uses to push off disease, leaving the door cracked open for illnesses such as cancer. More information on inflammation is located at this website: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/chronic-inflammation.

For centuries, scientists have debated whether inflammation is good or bad for you, according to New Yorker Magazine. Now they believe that it’s both: too little, and microbes fester and spread in the body, or wounds fail to heal; too much, and nearby healthy tissue can be degraded or destroyed. The fire of inflammation must be tightly controlled—turned on at the right moment and, just as critically, turned off.

Understanding and controlling inflammation has become a central goal of modern medical investigation. The internal research arm of the National Institutes of Health recently designated inflammation a priority, mobilizing several hundred scientists and hundreds of millions of dollars to better define its role in health and disease. More detailed material about this topic is available at this site: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/30/inflamed.

According to BodyEcology, there are many reasons why you may suffer from inflammation:
·         Chronic low-grade food allergies or food sensitivities that may cause a few symptoms.
·         An imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your gastrointestinal tract, also known as dysbiosis. This causes your immune system to overreact to bacteria in your gut and can be without notable symptoms.
·         Stress! Constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises the level of cortisol, creating inflammation.
·         Environmental toxicity from air, water, food pollutants and toxic metals like mercury and lead all contribute to inflammation and have been linked to diseases as varied as endometriosis and cancer.
·         Diet and lifestyle: too much fat, sugar, and protein in your diet, constant dehydration, consumption of too many sodas or caffeine, inactivity, and lack of sleep can all increase inflammation in your body.

If you reduce inflammation in your body, you'll not only look and feel younger, but you'll significantly lower your risk for chronic disease. More info on this subject is located at this site: http://bodyecology.com/articles/inflammation_cause_of_disease_how_to_prevent.php.

According to Mercola, the presence of inflammation is what makes most disease perceptible to an individual. It can and often does occur for years before it exists at levels sufficient to be apparent or clinically significant. How long it has been smoldering really determines the degree of severity of a disease and often the prognosis assuming the inflammation can be controlled.

Inflammation is rampant. In fact 1 in 12 women and 1 in 24 men are dealing with full blown autoimmune mediated inflammation. The number of undiagnosed people is going to be much higher. People with inflammation in the early phases of autoimmunity will often claim no dietary involvement. This is an inaccurate assumption however because the autoimmunity is often triggered by factors not strictly related to diet and the diet can become a secondary trigger later in the development of the condition.

If you are dealing with inflammation, then get a comprehensive professional medical evaluation to look at what is perpetuating your personal situation. More information is located at this website: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.aspx.

Inflammation can be good for you when it’s controlled. When it is out of control, then your natural healing process needs help. See your doctor in cases of acute or ongoing inflammation, and recognize the symptoms of how your personal situation have developed. Diagnosis and treatment in a timely manner are worth the time and effort to discover the cause and possible options for your own healthcare when you suffer from inflammation.


Until next time.
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Thursday, May 26

Health Care and Lithotripsy

When a kidney stone gets too big to pass in the urinary tract system, trying to migrate from the kidney to the bladder, your doctor or urologist may suggest a procedure known as a lithotripsy. Surgery was the only method to remove stones too large to pass until lithotripsy was developed and replaced it as the most frequent treatment beginning in the 1980s.

The introduction of lithotripsy in the early 1980s revolutionized the treatment of patients with kidney stone disease, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Patients who once required major surgery to remove their stones could be treated with lithotripsy, and not even require an incision. As such, lithotripsy is the only non-invasive treatment for kidney stones, meaning no incision or internal telescopic device is required. More information is available at this website: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/urology/lithotripsy_92,p07720/ .

Kidney stones occur when minerals and other substances in the blood crystallize in the kidneys, forming solid masses (stones). Stones may consist of small, sharp-edged crystals, or smoother, heavier formations that resemble polished river rocks. They usually exit the body naturally during urination, according to Healthline.

However, sometimes the body can’t pass larger formations through urination. This can lead to kidney damage. People with kidney stones may experience bleeding, severe pain, or urinary tract infections. When stones begin to cause these types of problems, your doctor may suggest lithotripsy. More info about lithotripsy is located at this site: http://www.healthline.com/health/lithotripsy#Overview1 .

According to the National Kidney Foundation, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a technique for treating stones in the kidney and ureter that does not require surgery. Instead, high energy shock waves are passed through the body and used to break stones into pieces as small as grains of sand. Because of their small size, these pieces can pass more easily from the body along with the urine.

There are two ways to remove stones using shock wave treatment. In one method, the patient is placed in a tub of lukewarm water. Using x-rays or ultrasound to pinpoint the location of the stones, the body is positioned so that the stones are targeted precisely. In the second, more common method, the patient lies on top of a soft cushion or membrane through which the waves pass. About 1-2 thousand shock waves are needed to crush the stones. The complete treatment takes about 45 to 60 minutes. Much more detail about this process is located at this website: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/lithotripsy.

ESWL is usually an outpatient procedure, according to Healthwise. You go home after the treatment and do not have to spend a night in the hospital. After ESWL, stone fragments usually pass in the urine for a few days and cause mild pain. If you have a larger stone, you may need more ESWL or other treatments. ESWL may be used on a person who has a kidney stone that is causing pain or blocking the flow of urine.

Stones that are between 4 mm (0.16 in.) and 2 cm (0.8 in.) in diameter are most likely to be treated with ESWL. ESWL may work best for kidney stones in the kidney or in the part of the ureter close to the kidney. Your surgeon may try to push the stone back into the kidney with a small instrument (ureteroscope) and then use ESWL. More info is available at this site: http://www.webmd.com/kidney-stones/extracorporeal-shock-wave-lithotripsy-eswl-for-kidney-stones .

As with any medical procedure, there are always inherent risks to patients. According to the American Urological Association, although manifestations of chronic injury have been identified, it seems likely that the full spectrum of long-term injury—the form and severity of chronic adverse effects—has yet to be determined. It is intuitive that chronic effects derive from acute tissue damage, but very little is known about the progression of tissue changes that link the two.

There is also limited information about treatment dose and the development of chronic effects and whether specific risk factors exist that predispose an individual to long-term effects. Much more clinical data and research is available at this site: https://www.auanet.org/education/guidelines/shock-wave-lithotripsy.cfm .

According to the University of Florida Medical Center, here are some post surgery symptoms you may experience after going through lithotripsy:

·         Flank Pain: Most patients experience some degree of discomfort for a day or two after ESWL. The pain is usually described as a dull ache or soreness over the kidney or flank area, and is typically at its worst the evening following surgery. The pain lessens over the following days.

·         Blood in Urine: It is normal to see visible blood in the urine for days to several weeks after surgery. It is important during this time of bleeding that you avoid strenuous activity, blood thinning medications, and drink plenty of fluid.

·         Fevers: Low grade fevers are not uncommon following any surgical procedure and anesthesia. If you have fevers >101o F, please notify your surgeon and ask to be connected to the urologist on call.

There are some patients who are not suited to undergo lithotripsy. Patients who are pregnant, have active urinary infection, obstruction of the kidney or are on blood thinning medications that cannot be discontinued are not ideal candidates for ESWL treatment. Patients with particular known stone composition including cystine and certain types of calcium phosphate stones are not ideal candidates as these stone types may not fragment well with ESWL due to their dense nature. Much more detailed material is available at this website: http://urology.ufl.edu/patient-care/stone-disease/procedures/extracorporeal-shock-wave-lithotripsy-eswl/ .

If your child needs this procedure, follow the directions of your child’s doctor and nurse for caring for your child at home after the treatment. According to AboutKidsHealth, they will usually instruct that your child:
·         Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
·         Change their diet, if needed.
·         Take medication to manage pain and nausea.
·         Get plenty of rest.

If your child is toilet trained, your child’s doctor or nurse may also instruct you to strain your child’s urine for several days and will explain how to do this. Straining the urine will enable you to collect any stone particles so that they can be analyzed in a laboratory. Your child’s doctor will use the information about the make-up of the stone to monitor your child and make recommendations (such as changes in diet) to prevent the kidney stones from recurring. A lot of additional material on this healthcare subject is located at this site: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/TestsAndTreatments/Procedures/Pages/shock-wave-lithotripsy.aspx.

Kidney stones are very painful, and those that don’t pass easily are even worse. As one option for treatment, lithotripsy has its merits in spite of the associated risks. However, if your family has a history of kidney stones, you may possibly encounter this situation at some point. Educate yourself on how to deal with the medical options, the procedure, and its outcome.


Until next time.
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Monday, May 16

Health Care and Dehydration

When your body doesn’t have enough fluid to maintain its equilibrium to sustain itself, you may be suffering from dehydration. According to osteopathic physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola, your body requires water to work well. In fact, up to 60 percent of your entire body is made of water, 83 percent of your lungs is water and 73 percent of your brain and heart are composed of water. Water is very important to your ability to function, think, breathe and live. More information is found at this website: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/05/14/urine-dehydration.aspx#_edn1

Summertime means outdoor activities, prolonged exposure to the sun, and excessive sweating—all of which can lead to dehydration, according to Medicine in Motion. Although dehydration can happen any time of the year, the summer months are of particular concern because of the higher temperatures. When a person has lost more than two percent of their body weight during activity, they are considered to be dehydrated.

The best way to battle dehydration, of course, is to drink lots of water or sports drinks before, during and after any intense physical activity or prolonged exposure to hot temperatures. If ignored, dehydration can lead to other problems such as heat exhaustion, muscle cramps, fatigue or even heat stroke. More information is located at this site: http://www.newson6.com/story/31979569/austin-sports-medicine-practice-provides-warning-signs-and-life-saving-tips-for-dehydration.

Fluid concentration does not have to experience a major change before dehydration can occur. Dehydration is mostly caused by fever, serious sweating (after an intense workout, especially in summers), and diarrhea. Dehydration can occur in any age group, but it is most common in young children and older adults. The signs and symptoms of dehydration can be mild or severe. The good news is that your body will notify you if you are getting dehydrated. More details are available at this website: http://fatalsymptoms.com/10-symptoms-of-dehydration/?gclid=CL621JfU3swCFZCIaQod4NEBbg.

According to the Mayo Clinic, mild to moderate dehydration is likely to cause the following symptoms:
·         Dry, sticky mouth
·         Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
·         Thirst
·         Decreased urine output
·         No wet diapers for three hours for infants
·         Few or no tears when crying
·         Dry skin
·         Headache
·         Constipation
·         Dizziness or lightheadedness

The Mayo Clinic also reports that severe dehydration, a medical emergency, can cause these symptoms:
·         Extreme thirst
·         Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
·         Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
·         Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
·         Sunken eyes
·         Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn't "bounce back" when pinched into a fold
·         In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby's head
·         Low blood pressure
·         Rapid heartbeat
·         Rapid breathing
·         No tears when crying
·         Fever
·         In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness

Unfortunately, thirst isn't always a reliable gauge of the body's need for water, especially in children and older adults. A better indicator is the color of your urine: Clear or light-colored urine means you're well hydrated, whereas a dark yellow or amber color usually signals dehydration. More details about this health care issue are located at this site: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/symptoms/con-20030056.

According to the New York Times, there are some ways to help prevent dehydration:
·         Drink plenty of fluids every day, even when you are well. Drink more when the weather is hot or you are exercising.
·         If anyone in your family is ill, pay attention to how much they are able to drink. Pay close attention to children and older adults.
·         Anyone with a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea should drink plenty of fluids. DO NOT wait for signs of dehydration.
·         If you think you or someone in your family may become dehydrated, call your health care provider. Do this before the person becomes dehydrated.

For more severe dehydration or heat emergency, you may need to stay in a hospital and receive fluid through a vein (IV). Your health care provider will also treat the cause of the dehydration. Dehydration caused by a stomach virus should get better on its own after a few days. More information is available at this website: http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/dehydration/overview.html.

According to Everyday Health, when it comes to total water intake, which includes water gained from foods and other beverages like tea and milk, the  Institute of Medicine recommends that most women get about 2.7 liters of water a day (or about 12 cups), and most men get about 3.7 liters a day (or about 15 cups). Much more detailed information is available at this site: http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/unusual-signs-of-dehydration/.

According to Merck Manuals, seniors are more susceptible to dehydration.  In older people, common causes of dehydration include the following:
·         Confusion
·         Disorders that make obtaining fluids difficult (usually because of restricted mobility)

Additionally, older people sense thirst more slowly and less intensely than younger people do, so even those who are otherwise well may not drink enough fluids. Seniors usually have a higher percentage of body fat. Because fat tissue contains less water than lean tissue, the total amount of water in the body tends to decrease with age. More detailed material is available at this website: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/hormonal-and-metabolic-disorders/water-balance/dehydration.

Children are especially prone to dehydration. Be alert for the warning signs of dehydration in children, and notify the pediatrician immediately if any of them develop. More info is located at this site: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/Pages/dehydration.aspx.

Should you be concerned about dehydration during pregnancy? According to the American Pregnancy Association, the answer is YES. Dehydration is the result of your body losing water faster than you are taking it in. It is a serious issue for the health and wellness of anyone, but for pregnant women, it is especially important to stay well-hydrated.

Pregnant women need more water than the average person, since water plays an important role in the healthy development of your baby. Water helps to form the placenta, which is what a baby relies on to receive nutrients during pregnancy. Water is also used to form the amniotic sac later in pregnancy. Therefore, it is important to avoid dehydration during pregnancy. More information on this topic is located at this site: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/dehydration-pregnancy/.

Dehydration can be prevented if common sense safety precautions are observed. Don’t let yourself or someone you know lose too much fluid without replacing it right away. Dehydration can happen quickly and unexpectedly. It pays to know the symptoms and how to react when you suffer the symptoms.


Until next time.
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