Some Medical Questions And Answers By Dr.Gita Mathai

How much can I drink?


Q: I like my drink in the evening and I don’t think it does any harm to me or anyone else. However, I do not want to wind up an alcoholic. What are the safe limits? Some guidelines say one drink, some two. The exact quantity (small or large pegs) is not specified.

A:
Current guidelines state that men should consume no more than three or four units of alcohol a day; women should consume no more than two or three units. The limits for women are less than for men because their body composition is different with more fat and less muscle. Some physicians feel that these limits are too high. They think it should be reduced to three units a day for men and two units a day for women. Two days a week should be drink free.

A unit is not the same as a drink. Most alcoholic drinks contain more than one unit. A premium pint of lager, bitter or cider (5 per cent alcohol), contains 3 units. A large 250 ml glass of wine (12 per cent) contains 3 units, a large double measure of spirits (2 x 35ml at 40 per cent) contains 3 units.

The long-term effects of uncontrolled drinking include cirrhosis and mouth, esophageal, liver and breast cancer. The risks are increased if drinking is combined with smoking.

Also, even controlled drinking takes its toll on the wallet. Your family may not be happy with the money you spend on your “social drinking”. Always remember, no matter how sober you feel, drinking and driving can be a fatal combination.

Itchy vagina

Q: I have repeated attacks of itching in my vagina. I am 27 years old. Please advise.

A: You probably have an infection caused by an yeast called Candida. It tends to occur in overweight people, in pregnancy, or if you or your partner have diabetes or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection. It occurs if the normal bacterial flora of the vagina changes. This can take place after treatment with certain antibiotics, corticosteroids or hormones. It occurs in some women when they take oral contraceptive pills.

Correction of any underlying precipitating factor will reduce the recurrences. Treatment of the infection is simple. Oral antifungal agents (usually single dose therapy) can be used. Vaginal tablets or pesssaries can deliver the medication directly to the source of infection.

Giddiness



Q: I feel giddy and dizzy and sometimes I feel I am going to vomit or lose my balance and fall down. I am very worried.

A: I think you are describing vertigo, a sense that the room is spinning around you. It can occur normally if you suddenly change the position of your head relative to your body. If it is frequent and recurrent you need to have it evaluated by an ENT (ear nose and throat) physician. You also need to have an X-ray of your neck bones. A physician can also do relevant blood tests to rule out anaemia.

There are several possibilities like benign positional vertigo, inner or middle ear infections or Meniere’s disease. Some of these require medication. Others need positional exercises.

Treatment of the disease will remove the precipitating factor and cure you.

You may click to see also:->An article on Giddiness

Dry, itchy skin

Q: I have very dry skin that is also very itchy. If I scratch, it sometimes bleeds and becomes infected. The dermatologist says I have icthyosis and that I must apply oil. If I stop, my skin becomes dry and itchy all over again.

A: Icthyosis is a hereditary condition of the skin. It can be mild or severe. You need to apply oil regularly as your skin requires a lot more oil than those of other people. A small quantity of a mixture of 500 ml of coconut oil, 500 ml of sesame oil and 100 ml of olive oil can be applied half an hour before bathing. A tablespoon of coconut oil can also be put in the bath water. A non-drying emollient soap like Dove or a glycerine-based soap like Pears will help to keep the skin moist. Baby oil or Vaseline can be applied at night. Both these will not stain the bed clothes.

You may also click to see:->

Winterizing Dry Itchy Skin

8 Home Remedies for Dry Skin

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Meningitis

Definition;
Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, most prominently bacteria, viruses and other infectious agents, but also physical injury, cancer, or certain drugs. While some forms of meningitis are mild and resolve on their own, meningitis is a potentially serious condition due to the proximity of the inflammation to the brain and spinal cord. The potential for serious neurological damage or even death necessitates prompt medical attention and evaluation. Infectious meningitis, the most common form, is typically treated with antibiotics and requires close observation. Some forms of meningitis (such as those associated with meningococcus, mumps virus or pneumococcus infections) may be prevented with immunization.

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Anatomy of the brain. In meningitis, the meninges that line the brain become swollen and inflamed.

Signs and symptoms
Severe headache is the most common symptom of meningitis (87 percent) followed by nuchal rigidity (“neck stiffness”, 83 percent). The classic triad of diagnostic signs consists of nuchal rigidity (being unable to flex the neck forward), sudden High fever[1] and altered mental status. All three features are present in only 44% of all cases of infectious meningitis.[2] Other signs commonly associated with meningitis are photophobia (inability to tolerate bright light), phonophobia (inability to tolerate loud noises), irritability and delirium (in small children) and seizures (in 20-40% of cases). In infants (0-6 months), swelling of the fontanelle (soft spot) may be present.

Nuchal rigidity is typically assessed with the patient lying supine, and both hips and knees flexed. If pain is elicited when the knees are passively extended (Kernig’s sign), this indicates nuchal rigidity and meningitis. In infants, forward flexion of the neck may cause involuntary knee and hip flexion (Brudzinski’s sign). Although commonly tested, the sensitivity and specificity of Kernig’s and Brudzinski’s tests are uncertain.[3]

In “meningococcal” meningitis (i.e. meningitis caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis), a rapidly-spreading petechial rash is typical, and may precede other symptoms. The rash consists of numerous small, irregular purple or red spots on the trunk, lower extremities, mucous membranes, conjunctiva, and occasionally on the palms of hands and soles of feet. Other clues to the nature of the cause may be the skin signs of hand, foot and mouth disease and genital herpes, both of which may be associated with viral meningitis.

Diagnosis:

Investigations
Suspicion of meningitis is generally based on the nature of the symptoms and findings on physical examination. Meningitis is a medical emergency, and referral to hospital is indicated. If meningitis is suspected based on clinical examination, early administration of antibiotics is recommended, as the condition may deteriorate rapidly. In the hospital setting, initial management consists of stabilization (e.g. securing the airway in a depressed level of consciousness, administration of intravenous fluids in hypotension or shock), followed by antibiotics if not already administered.

Investigations include blood tests (electrolytes, liver and kidney function, inflammatory markers and a complete blood count) and usually X-ray examination of the chest. The most important test in identifying or ruling out meningitis is analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that envelops the brain and the spinal cord) through lumbar puncture (LP). However, if the patient is at risk for a cerebral mass lesion or elevated intracranial pressure (recent head injury, a known immune system problem, localizing neurological signs, or evidence on examination of a raised ICP), a lumbar puncture may be contraindicated because of the possibility of fatal brain herniation. In such cases a CT or MRI scan is generally performed prior to the lumbar puncture to exclude this possibility. Otherwise, the CT or MRI should be performed after the LP, with MRI preferred over CT due to its superiority in demonstrating areas of cerebral edema, ischemia, and meningeal inflammation.

During the lumbar puncture procedure, the opening pressure is measured. A pressure of over 180 mm H2O is indicative of bacterial meningitis.

The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample is examined for white blood cells (and which subtypes), red blood cells, protein content and glucose level. Gram staining of the sample may demonstrate bacteria in bacterial meningitis, but absence of bacteria does not exclude bacterial meningitis; microbiological culture of the sample may still yield a causative organism. The type of white blood cell predominantly present predicts whether meningitis is due to bacterial or viral infection. Other tests performed on the CSF sample include latex agglutination test, limulus lysates, or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for bacterial or viral DNA. If the patient is immunocompromised, testing the CSF for toxoplasmosis, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, JC virus and fungal infection may be performed.

CSF finding in different conditions:-
Condition……………………………..Glucose…………Protein…………….. Cells
Acute bacterial meningitis…………. Low high…… high………….. often > 300/mm³
Acute viral meningitis…………….. Normal normal or high mononuclear,……< 300/mm³
Tuberculous meningitis…………….. Low……….. high pleocytosis, mixed < 300/mm³
Fungal meningitis…………………. Low…………high………………. < 300/mm³
Malignant meningitis………………. Low…………high usually mononuclear
Subarachnoid hemorrhage……………..Normal normal, or high Erythrocytes

In bacterial meningitis, the CSF glucose to serum glucose ratio is < 0.4. The Gram stain is positive in >60% of cases, and culture in >80%. Latex agglutination may be positive in meningitis due to Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, Escherichia coli, Group B Streptococci. Limulus lysates may be positive in Gram-negative meningitis.

Cultures are often negative if CSF is taken after the administration of antibiotics. In these patients, PCR can be helpful in arriving at a diagnosis. It has been suggested that CSF cortisol measurement may be helpful.

Aseptic meningitis refers to non-bacterial causes of meningitis and includes infective etiologies such as viruses and fungi, neoplastic etiologies such as carcinomatous and lymphomatous meningitis, inflammatory causes such as sarcoidosis (neurosarcoidosis)) and chemical causes such as meningitis secondary to the intrathecal introduction of contrast media.

Although the term “viral meningitis” is often used in any patient with a mild meningeal illness with appropriate CSF findings, certain patients will present with clinical and CSF features of viral meningitis, yet ultimately be diagnosed with one of the other conditions categorized as “aseptic meningitis”. This may be prevented by performing polymerase chain reaction or serology on CSF or blood for common viral causes of meningitis (enterovirus, herpes simplex virus 2 and mumps in those not vaccinated for this).

A related diagnostic and therapeutic conundrum is the “partially treated meningitis”, i.e. meningitis symptoms in patients who have already been receiving antibiotics (such as for presumptive sinusitis). In these patients, CSF findings may resemble those of viral meningitis, but antibiotic treatment may need to be continued until there is definitive positive evidence of a viral cause (e.g. a positive enterovirus PCR).

Prediction rules
The Bacterial Meningitis Score predicts reliably whether a child (older than two months) may have infectious meningitis. In children with at least 1 risk factor (positive CSF Gram stain, CSF absolute neutrophil count = 1000 cell/µL, CSF protein = 80 mg/dL, peripheral blood absolute neutrophil count = 10,000 cell/µL, history of seizure before or at presentation time) it had a sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 63.5%, and negative predictive value of 100%

Causes
Most cases of meningitis are caused by microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites, that spread into the blood and into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).[8] Non-infectious causes include cancers, systemic lupus erythematosus and certain drugs. The most common cause of meningitis is viral, and often runs its course within a few days. Bacterial meningitis is the second most frequent type and can be serious and life-threatening. Numerous microorganisms may cause bacterial meningitis, but Neisseria meningitidis (“meningococcus”) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (“pneumococcus”) are the most common pathogens in patients without immune deficiency, with meningococcal disease being more common in children. Staphylococcus aureus may complicate neurosurgical operations, and Listeria monocytogenes is associated with poor nutritional state and alcoholism. Haemophilus influenzae (type B) incidence has been much reduced by immunization in many countries. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the causative agent of tuberculosis) rarely causes meningitis in Western countries but is common and feared in countries where tuberculosis is endemic.

Treatment
Bacterial meningitis
Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and has a high mortality rate if untreated.[9] All suspected cases, however mild, need emergency medical attention. Empiric antibiotics must be started immediately, even before the results of the lumbar puncture and CSF analysis are known. Antibiotics started within 4 hours of lumbar puncture will not significantly affect lab results. Adjuvant treatment with corticosteroids reduces rates of mortality, severe hearing loss and neurological sequelae in adults, specifically when the causative agent is Pneumococcus.

Age group Causes
Neonates Group B Streptococci, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes
Infants Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae
Children N. meningitidis, S. pneumoniae
Adults S. pneumoniae, N. meningitidis, Mycobacteria, Cryptococci
The choice of antibiotic depends on local advice. In most of the developed world, the most common organisms involved are Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis: first line treatment in the UK is a third-generation cephalosporin (such as ceftriaxone or cefotaxime). In those under 3 years of age, over 50 years of age, or immunocompromised, ampicillin should be added to cover Listeria monocytogenes.[11] In the U.S. and other countries with high levels of penicillin resistance, the first line choice of antibiotics is vancomycin and a carbapenem (such as meropenem). In sub-Saharan Africa, oily chloramphenicol or ceftriaxone are often used because only a single dose is needed in most cases.

Staphylococci and gram-negative bacilli are common infective agents in patients who have just had a neurosurgical procedure. Again, the choice of antibiotic depends on local patterns of infection: cefotaxime and ceftriaxone remain good choices in many situations, but ceftazidime is used when Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a problem, and intraventricular vancomycin is used for those patients with intraventricular shunts because of high rates of staphylococcal infection. In patients with intracerebral prosthetic material (metal plates, electrodes or implants, etc.) then sometimes chloramphenicol is the only antibiotic that will adequately cover infection by Staphylococcus aureus (cephalosporins and carbapenems are inadequate under these circumstances).

Once the results of the CSF analysis are known along with the Gram-stain and culture, empiric therapy may be switched to therapy targeted to the specific causative organism and its sensitivities.[citation needed]

*Neisseria meningitidis (Meningococcus) can usually be treated with a 7-day course of IV antibiotics:
*Penicillin-sensitive — penicillin G or ampicillin
*Penicillin-resistant — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime
*Prophylaxis for close contacts (contact with oral secretions) — rifampin 600 mg bid for 2 days (adults) or 10 mg/kg bid (children). Rifampin is not recommended in pregnancy and as such, these patients should be treated with single doses of ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, or ceftriaxone
*Streptococcus pneumoniae (Pneumococcus) can usually be treated with a 2-week course of IV antibiotics:
*Penicillin-sensitive — penicillin G
*Penicillin-intermediate — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime
*Penicillin-resistant — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime + vancomycin
*Listeria monocytogenes is treated with a 3-week course of IV ampicillin + gentamicin.
*Gram negative bacilli — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime
*Pseudomonas aeruginosa — ceftazidime
*Staphylococcus aureus
*Methicillin-sensitive — nafcillin
*Methicillin-resistant — vancomycin
*Streptococcus agalactiae — penicillin G or ampicillin
*Haemophilus influenzae — ceftriaxone or cefotaxime

Viral meningitis
Patients diagnosed with mild viral meningitis may improve quickly enough to not require admission to a hospital, while others may be hospitalized for many more days for observation and supportive care. Overall, the illness is usually much less severe than bacterial meningitis.

Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot be killed by antibiotics although drugs such as acyclovir may be employed, especially if herpes virus infection is either suspected or demonstrated.[4]

Fungal meningitis
This form of meningitis is rare in otherwise healthy people but is a higher risk in those who have AIDS, other forms of immunodeficiency (an immune system that does not respond adequately to infections) and immunosuppression (immune system malfunction as a result of medical treatment). In AIDS, Cryptococcus neoformans is the most common cause of fungal meningitis; it requires Indian ink staining of the CSF sample for identification of this capsulated yeast. Fungal meningitis is treated with long courses of highly dosed antifungals.

Complications
In children there are several potential disabilities which result from damage to the nervous system. These include sensorineural hearing loss, epilepsy, diffuse brain swelling, hydrocephalus, cerebral vein thrombosis, intra cerebral bleeding and cerebral palsy. Acute neurological complications may lead to adverse consequences. In childhood acute bacterial meningitis deafness is the most common serious complication. Sensorineural hearing loss often develops during first few days of the illness as a result of inner ear dysfunction, but permanent deafness is rare and can be prevented by prompt treatment of meningitis.

Those that contract the disease during the neonatal period and those infected by S. pneumoniae and gram negative bacilli are at greater risk of developing neurological, auditory, or intellectual impairments or functionally important behaviour or learning disorders which can manifest as poor school performance.

In adults central nervous system complications include brain infarction, brain swelling, hydrocephalus, intracerebral bleeding; systemic complications are dominated by septic shock, adult respiratory distress syndrome and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Those who have underlying predisposing conditions e.g. head injury may develop recurrent meningitis.Case-fatality ratio is highest for gram-negative etiology and lowest for meningitis caused by H. influenzae (also a gram negative bacilli). Fatal outcome in patients over 60 years of age is more likely to be from systemic complications e.g. pneumonia, sepsis, cardio-respiratory failure; however in younger individuals it is usually associated with neurological complications. Age more than 60, low Glasgow coma scale at presentation and seizure within 24 hours increase the risk of death among community acquired meningitis.

Prevention

Immunization
Vaccinations against Haemophilus influenzae (Hib) have decreased early childhood meningitis significantly.

Vaccines against type A and C Neisseria meningitidis, the kind that causes most disease in preschool children and teenagers in the United States, have also been around for a while. Type A is also prevalent in sub-Sahara Africa and W135 outbreaks have affected those on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Immunisation with the ACW135Y vaccine against four strains is now a visa requirement for taking part in the Hajj.

Vaccines against Type B Neisseria meningitidis are much harder to produce, as its capsule is very weakly immunogenic masking its antigenic proteins. There is also a risk of autoimmune response, and the porA and porB proteins on Type B resemble neuronal molecules. A vaccine called MeNZB for a specific strain of type B Neisseria meningitidis prevalent in New Zealand has completed trials and is being given to many people in the country under the age of 20 free of charge. There is also a vaccine, MenBVac, for the specific strain of type B meningoccocal disease prevalent in Norway, and another specific vaccine for the strain prevalent in Cuba.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae is recommended for all people 65 years of age or older. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all newborns starting at 6 weeks – 2 months, according to American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations.

Mumps vaccination has led to a sharp decline in mumps virus associated meningitis, which prior to vaccination occurred in 15% of all cases of mumps.

Prophylaxis
In cases of meningococcal meningitis, prophylactic treatment of close relatives with antibiotics (e.g. rifampicin, ciprofloxacin or ceftriaxone) may reduce the risk of further cases.

Click to learn more about Meningitis……………………….(1)…..(2).…….(3)……(4)

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Sources:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meningitis

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Was the new finger a ‘natural’ miracle?

The story of the man who re-grew a finger using “pixie-dust” has captured the imagination of many this week.

The fingertip has ‘amazing’ healing powers

But a number of scientists have cast cold-water over the claims – and said it may have been a “natural” miracle.

Lee Spievak, 69, chopped off part of his finger – said to be almost down to the first joint – in a model aeroplane accident in 2005.

His brother was working in the field of regenerative medicine, with Dr Stephen Badylak at the University of Pittsburgh.

They provided Mr Spievak, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the “pixie-dust” – more accurately called extracellular matrix, which he sprinkled on his finger.

Extracellular matrix is, essentially, the support structure for cells which is present in all animal and human tissue.

Within weeks, it is said the tip of the finger – including bone, tissue, skin and nail grew back.

Click to read more

Click also to see:->Artificial blood vessels ‘closer’

The man who grew a finger

Sources: BBC NEWS

Beyond Behavior

Defense Mechanisms
We all have defense mechanisms that we’ve developed over time, often without being aware of it. In times of trouble, the behaviors that have worked to get us past challenges with the least amount of pain are the ones that we repeat; even when part of us knows they no longer work. Such behavior is a natural response from our mental and physical aspects. But because we are spiritual beings as well, we have the ability to rise above habits and patterns to see the truth that lay beyond. And from that moment on, we can make choices that allow us to work directly from that place of truth within us.

Most of our defense mechanisms were developed in childhood; from the moment that we realized crying would get us the attention we craved. Passive aggressive ways of communicating may have allowed us to get what we needed without being scolded, punished or laughed at, so we learned to avoid being direct and honest. Some of us may have taken refuge in the lives of others, discovering ways to direct attention away from ourselves entirely. Throwing ourselves into projects or rescuing others from themselves can be effective ways to avoid dealing with our own issues. And when people are truly helped by our actions, we get the added bonus of feeling heroic. But while defenses can keep away the things we fear, they can also work to keep our good from us.

When we can be honest with ourselves about what we truly desire, then we can connect our desires to the creative power of the spirit within us. Knowing that we are one with the energy of the universe allows us release any need for defense. Trusting that power, we know that we are exactly where we are meant to be, and that challenges bring gifts of growth and experience. When we can put down arms raised in defense, then we are free to use our hands, minds, hearts and spirits to mold and shape our abundant energy to create and live our lives.

Sources: Daily Om

The Vitamin You Need to Prevent Prostate Cancer

Increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent, according to the results of European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

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The potential benefits of K2 were most pronounced for advanced prostate cancer. Vitamin K1 intake did not offer any prostate benefits.

The findings were based on data from more than 11,000 men taking part in the EPIC Heidelberg cohort. It adds to a small but ever-growing body of science supporting the potential health benefits of vitamin K for bone, blood, skin, and now prostate health.
Sources:
NutraIngredients.com April 9, 2008
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition April 2008; 87(4):985-92

Natural Trans Fats Actually Have Health Benefits

Artificial trans fats are bad for you, but naturally occurring ones may have very different effects.

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A diet with enriched levels of trans vaccenic acid (VA) — a natural animal fat found in dairy and beef products — can actually reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes and obesity, according to a researcher from the University of Alberta.

The benefit was due in part to the ability of VA to reduce the production of chylomicrons, which are particles of fat and cholesterol that form in your small intestine following a meal. They are then rapidly processed throughout the body, and may be related to a variety of conditions arising from metabolic disorders.

Experiments on rats showed that VA in the diet could lower total cholesterol by approximately 30 percent, LDL cholesterol by 25 percent, and triglyceride levels by more than 50 percent.
Sources:
Science Daily April 5, 2008

Crash Diets Can Reduce Lifespan

Crash dieting doesn’t reduce your waistline alone; it significantly reduces your life expectancy too.

Researchers at Glasgow University observed that fish given a “binge then diet” food regime had a reduced lifespan of up to 25%.

Their study compared the growth rate, success of reproduction and lifespan of stickleback fish. They believe the findings could have implications for teenagers and children who follow extreme patterns of dieting. This is because they are still growing.

The study was conducted by researchers in the University of Glasgow’s faculty of biomedical and life sciences, reports BBC News portal.

The findings are published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Professor Neil Metcalfe said: “The fish on the fluctuating diet put just as much effort into breeding -the males became brightly coloured as usual and the females produced the normal number of eggs.

“However, on average their lifespan was three-quarters that of animals eating a constant amount every day.” The research found that the difference in lifespan was not a consequence of more rapid aging but an increase in the risk of sudden death.

Metcalfe added: “It seems that uneven growth, due to the fluctuation in the amount eaten per day, is responsible for the increase in the risk of sudden death.

“This is possibly because the body tissues are more likely to have imperfections due to growth spurts.”

Similar results would most likely be seen in other animals with short lifespans that grow throughout their lives, said Metcalfe.

But it could also be applied to humans who follow extreme patterns of dieting, he went on, and could be seen in teenagers and children who are still growing.

Metcalfe said: “Applying this to humans, it would only occur in children and teenagers.

“But it would be for extreme switches in diet. Just skipping lunches would not have any effect, but if they had several weeks of one diet followed by several weeks of the extreme opposite, then there could be an effect.”

The world has already seen the deaths of models aspiring to be “size zero” by crash dieting.

Click to read more article on it:->……………………...(1).....(2)…...(3)…….(4)

Sources: The Times Of India

Osteopathy

Definition
Osteopathy is a system and philosophy of health care that separated from traditional (allopathic) medical practice about a century ago. It places emphasis on the musculoskeletal system, hence the name—osteo refers to bone and path refers to disease. Osteopaths also believe strongly in the healing power of the body and do their best to facilitate that strength. During this century, the disciplines of osteopathy and allopathic medicine have been converging.

It is a system of therapy founded in the 19th century based on the concept that the body can formulate its own remedies against diseases when the body is in a normal structural relationship, has a normal environment and enjoys good nutrition.

While osteopathy takes a “holistic” approach to medical care, it also embraces modern medical knowledge, including medication, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy when warranted. Osteopathy is particularly concerned with maintaining correct relationships between bones, muscles, and connective tissues. The practice of osteopathy often includes chiropractic-like adjustments of skeletal structures. Craniosacral therapy, a practice in which the bones and tissues of the head and neck are manipulated, also arose in osteopathy.
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Purpose
Osteopathy shares many of the same goals as traditional medicine, but places greater emphasis on the relationship between the organs and the musculoskeletal system as well as on treating the whole individual rather than just the disease.

Precautions
Pain is the chief reason patients seek musculoskeletal treatment. Pain is a symptom, not a disease by itself. Of critical importance is first to determine the cause of the pain. Cancers, brain or spinal cord disease, and many other causes may be lying beneath this symptom. Once it is clear that the pain is originating in the musculoskeletal system, treatment that includes manipulation is appropriate.

History

Osteopathy was founded in the 1890s by Dr. Andrew Taylor, who believed that the musculoskeletal system was central to health. The primacy of the musculoskeletal system is also fundamental to chiropractic, a related health discipline. The original theory behind both approaches presumed that energy flowing through the nervous system is influenced by the supporting structure that encase and protect it—the skull and vertebral column. A defect in the musculoskeletal system was believed to alter the flow of this energy and cause disease. Correcting the defect cured the disease. Defects were thought to be misalignments—parts out of place by tiny distances. Treating misalignments became a matter of restoring the parts to their natural arrangement by adjusting them.

As medical science advanced, defining causes of disease and discovering cures, schools of osteopathy adopted modern science, incorporated it into their curriculum, and redefined their original theory of disease in light of these discoveries. Near the middle of the 20th century the equivalance of medical education between osteopathy and allopathic medicine was recognized, and the D.O. degree (Doctor of Osteopathy) was granted official parity with the M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree. Physicians could adopt either set of initials.

However, osteopaths have continued their emphasis on the musculoskeletal system and their traditional focus on “whole person” medicine. As of 1998, osteopaths constitute 5.5% of American physicians, approximately 45,000. They provide 100 million patient visits a year. From its origins in the United States, osteopathy has spread to countries all over the world.

Practice

Osteopaths, chiropractors, and physical therapists are the experts in manipulations (adjustments). The place of manipulation in medical care is far from settled, but millions of patients find relief from it. Particularly backs, but also necks, command most of the attention of the musculoskeletal community. This community includes orthopedic surgeons, osteopaths, general and family physicians, orthopedic physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, specialists in orthotics and prosthetics, and even some dentists and podiatrists. Many types of headaches also originate in the musculoskeletal system. Studies comparing different methods of treating musculoskeletal back, head, and neck pain have not reached a consensus, in spite of the huge numbers of people that suffer from it.

The theory behind manipulation focuses on joints, mostly those of the vertebrae and ribs. Some believe there is a very slight offset of the joint members—a subluxation. Others believe there is a vacuum lock of the joint surfaces, similar to two suction cups stuck together. Such a condition would squeeze joint lubricant out and produce abrasion of the joint surfaces with movement. Another theory focuses on weakness of the ligaments that support the joint, allowing it freedom to get into trouble. Everyone agrees that the result produces pain, that pain produces muscle spasms and cramps, which further aggravates the pain.

Some, but not all, practitioners in this field believe that the skull bones can also be manipulated. The skull is, in fact, several bones that are all moveable in infants. Whether they can be moved in adults is controversial. Other practitioners manipulate peripheral joints to relieve arthritis and similar afflictions.

Manipulation returns the joint to its normal configuration. There are several approaches. Techniques vary among practitioners more than between disciplines. Muscle relaxation of some degree is often required for the manipulation to be successful. This can be done with heat or medication. Muscles can also be induced to relax by gentle but persistent stretching. The manipulation is most often done by a short, fast motion called a thrust, precisely in the right direction. A satisfying “pop” is evidence of success. Others prefer steady force until relaxation permits movement.

Return of the joint to its normal status may be only the first step in treating these disorders. There is a reason for the initial event. It may be a fall, a stumble, or a mild impact, in which case the manipulation is a cure. On the other hand, there may be a postural misalignment (such as a short leg), a limp, or a stretched ligament that permits the joint to slip back into dysfunction. Tension, as well as pain, for emotional reasons causes muscles to tighten. If the pain has been present for any length of time, there will also be muscle deterioration. The osteopathic approach to the whole person takes all these factors into account in returning the patient to a state of health.

Other repairs may be needed. A short leg is thought by some to be a subluxation in the pelvis that may be manipulated back into position. Other short legs may require a lift in one shoe. Long-standing pain requires additional methods of physical therapy to rehabilitate muscles, correct posture, and extinguish habits that arose to compensate for the pain. Medications that relieve muscle spasm and pain are usually part of the treatment. Psychological problems may need attention and medication.

Risks
Manipulation has rarely caused problems. Once in a while too forceful a thrust has damaged structures in the neck and caused serious problems. The most common adverse event, though, is misdiagnosis. Cancers have been missed; surgical back disease has been ignored until spinal nerves have been permanently damaged.

Normal results
Many patients find that one or a series of manipulations cures long-standing pain. Other patients need repeated treatments. Some do not respond at all. It is always a good idea to reassess any treatment that is not producing the expected results.

Sources:http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/osteopathy-1 and http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4684

Less Sleep Makes You Obese

No matter which part of the world you live in, if you don’t get enough of sleep, there’s a fair chance you are going to put on weight, states a new study.

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What’s more is that it doesn’t matter if you’re an adult or a child.

In one of the first studies to observe cross-sectional relationships between duration of sleep and obesity in both children and adults, researchers have discovered a consistent increased risk of obesity among short sleepers.

The study, led by Francesco P Cappuccio, MD, of Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom, involved an orderly search of publications on the relationship between short sleep duration and obesity risk.

Of the 696 studies, the researchers short-listed 12 studies on children and 17 studies on adults based on the inclusion criteria. This involved report of duration of sleep as exposure, body mass index (BMI) as continuous outcome and prevalence of obesity as categorical outcome, number of participants, age and gender.

In children, the study included 13 population samples from the 12 studies, representing 30,002 participants aged between two to 20 years, and found that 7 of 11 studies showed a significant link between short sleep duration and obesity.

In case of adults, 22 population samples from the 17 studies were included that meant a total of 604,509 participants aged between 15-102 years. It was discovered that 17 population samples showed a significant association between short duration of sleep and obesity.

In fact, all studies in adults showed a consistent and significant negative association between hours of sleep and BMI, quite unlike studies in children.

Cappuccio said that this study showed a consistent pattern of increased odds of being a short sleeper if you are obese, both in childhood and adulthood.

“By appraising the world literature, we were able to show some heterogeneity amongst studies in the world. However, there is a striking consistent overall association, in that both obese children and adults had a significantly increased risk of being short sleepers compared to normal weight individuals. The size of the association was comparable (1.89-fold increase in children and 1.55-fold increase in adults),” said Dr Cappuccio.

He added: “This study is important as it confirms that this association is strong and might be of public health relevance. However, it also raises the unanswered question yet of whether this is a cause-effect association. Only prospective longitudinal studies will be able to address the outstanding question.”

Click to see also :->Lack of Sleep and Obesity

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Sources: The Times Of India

Dizziness

Definition
Dizziness is classified into three categories—vertigo, syncope, and nonsyncope nonvertigo. Each category has a characteristic set of symptoms, all related to the sense of balance. In general, syncope is defined by a brief loss of consciousness (fainting) or by dimmed vision and feeling uncoordinated, confused, and lightheaded. Many people experience a sensation like syncope when they stand up too fast. Vertigo is the feeling that either the individual or the surroundings are spinning. This sensation is like being on a spinning amusement park ride. Individuals with nonsyncope nonvertigo dizziness feel as though they cannot keep their balance. This sensation may become worse with movement…..CLICK & SEE

Description
The brain coordinates information from the eyes, the inner ear, and the body’s senses to maintain balance. If any of these sources of information is disrupted, the brain may not be able to compensate. For example, people sometimes experience motion sickness because the information from their body tells the brain that they are sitting still, but information from the eyes indicates that they are moving. The messages don’t correspond and dizziness results.

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Vision and the body’s senses are the most important systems for maintaining balance, but problems in the inner ear are the most frequent cause of dizziness. The inner ear, also called the vestibular system, contains fluid that helps to fine tune the information the brain receives from the eyes and the body. When fluid volume or pressure in the inner ear changes, information about balance is altered. The discrepancy gives conflicting messages to the brain about balance and induces dizziness.

Certain medical conditions can cause dizziness because they affect the systems that maintain balance. For example, the inner ear is very sensitive to changes in blood flow. Because such medical conditions as high blood pressure or low blood sugar can affect blood flow, these conditions are frequently accompanied by dizziness. Circulation disorders are the most common causes of dizziness. Other causes are head injuries, ear infections, allergies, and nervous system disorders.

Dizziness often disappears without treatment or with treatment of the underlying problem, but it can be long-term or chronic. According to the National Institutes of Health, 42% of Americans will seek medical help for dizziness at some point in their lives. The costs may exceed a billion dollars and account for five million visits to physicians annually. Episodes of dizziness increase with age. Among people aged 75 or older, dizziness is the most frequent reason for seeing a doctor.

Causes & symptoms
Careful attention to symptoms can help determine the underlying cause of the dizziness. The underlying problems may be benign and easily treated, or they may be dangerous and require intensive therapy. Not all cases of dizziness can be linked to a specific cause. More than one type of dizziness can be experienced at the same time and symptoms may be mixed. Episodes of dizziness may last for a few seconds or for days. The length of an episode is related to the underlying cause.

The symptoms of syncope include dimmed vision, loss of coordination, confusion, lightheadedness, and sweating. These symptoms can lead to a brief loss of consciousness or fainting. They are related to a reduced flow of blood to the brain; they often occur when a person is standing up and can be relieved by sitting or lying down. Vertigo is characterized by a sensation of spinning or turning, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, headache, or fatigue. An individual may have trouble walking, remaining coordinated, or keeping balance. Nonsyncope nonvertigo dizziness is characterized by a feeling of being off balance that becomes worse if the individual tries moving or performing detail-intense tasks.

A person may experience dizziness for many reasons. Syncope is associated with low blood pressure, heart problems, and disorders in the autonomic nervous system, which controls such involuntary functions as breathing. Syncope may also arise from emotional distress, pain, and other reactions to outside stressors. Nonsyncope nonvertigo dizziness may be caused by rapid breathing, low blood sugar, or migraine headache, as well as by more serious medical conditions.

Vertigo is often associated with inner ear problems called vestibular disorders. A particularly intense vestibular disorder, Ménière’s disease, interferes with the volume of fluid in the inner ear. This disease, which affects approximately one in every 1,000 people, causes intermittent vertigo over the course of weeks, months, or years. Ménière’s disease is often accompanied by ringing or buzzing in the ear, hearing loss, and a feeling that the ear is blocked. Damage to the nerve that leads from the ear to the brain can also cause vertigo. Such damage can result from head injury or a tumor. An acoustic neuroma, for example, is a benign tumor that wraps around the nerve. Vertigo can also be caused by disorders of the central nervous system and the circulation, such as hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), stroke, or multiple sclerosis.

Some medications cause changes in blood pressure or blood flow. These medications can cause dizziness in some people. Prescription medications carry warnings of such side effects, but common drugs such as caffeine or nicotine can also cause dizziness. Certain antibiotics can damage the inner ear and cause hearing loss and dizziness.

Diet may cause dizziness. The role of diet may be direct, as through alcohol intake. It may be also be indirect, as through arteriosclerosis caused by a high-fat diet. Some people experience a slight dip in blood sugar and mild dizziness if they miss a meal, but this condition is rarely dangerous unless the person is diabetic. Food sensitivities or allergies can also be a cause of dizziness. Such chronic conditions as heart disease and serious acute problems such as seizures and strokes can cause dizziness. These conditions, however, usually exhibit other characteristic symptoms.

Diagnosis
During the initial medical examination, an individual with dizziness should provide a detailed description of the type of dizziness experienced, when it occurs, and how often each episode lasts. A diary of symptoms may help to track this information. The patient should report any symptoms that accompany the dizziness, such as ringing in the ear or nausea, any recent injury or infection, and any medication taken.

The examiner will check the patient’s blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and body temperature as well as the ear, nose, and throat. The sense of balance is assessed by moving the individual’s head to various positions or by tilt-table testing. In tilt-table testing, the person lies on a table that can be shifted into different positions and reports any dizziness that occurs.

Further tests may be indicated by the initial examination. Hearing tests help assess ear damage. X rays, computed tomography scan (CT scan), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can pinpoint evidence of nerve damage, tumors, or other structural problems. If a vestibular disorder is suspected, a technique called electronystagmography (ENG) may be used. ENG measures the electrical impulses generated by eye movements. Blood tests can determine diabetes, high cholesterol, and other diseases. In some cases, a heart evaluation may be useful. Despite thorough testing, however, an underlying cause cannot always be determined.

Doctors caution that childhood syncope (fainting), although rarely serious, can indicate a serious cardiac. If the fainting is abrupt or happens with exertion, it may indicate a more serious problem.

Treatment:-

Because dizziness may arise from serious conditions, it is advisable to seek medical treatment. Alternative treatments can often be used alongside conventional medicine without conflict. Potentially beneficial therapies include nutritional therapy, herbal remedies, homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture, acupressure, and relaxation techniques.

Nutritional therapy
To prevent dizziness, nutritionists often advise eating smaller but more frequent meals and avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, foods high in fat or sugar, or any substances that cause allergic reactions. A low-salt diet may also be helpful to some people. Nutritionists may also recommend certain dietary supplements:

*Magnesium citrate, aspartate or maleate: for dizziness caused by magnesium deficiency.
*B-complex vitamins, especially vitamin B12: for dizziness caused by deficiency of these essential vitamins.

Herbal remedies

The following herbs have been used to treat dizziness symptoms:

*Ginger: for treatment of dizziness caused by nausea.
*Ginkgo biloba: may decrease dizziness by increasing blood flow to the brain.

Homeopathy

Homeopathic therapies can work very effectively for dizziness, and are especially applicable when no organic cause can be identified. They are chosen according to the patient’s specific symptom profile:

*Aconite: for feeling light-headed from postural hypotension (getting up too quickly)
*Coccolus: for motion sickness or syncope
*Conium maculatum: for feeling dizzy while looking at rapidly-moving images.
*Gelsemium: for feeling light-headed and out of balance, often associated with influenza or stage fright.
*Petroleum: for dizziness upon standing up too fast and headache before and after a storm.

Aromatherapy:

Aromatherapists recommend a warm bath scented with essential oils of lavender, geranium, and sandalwood as treatment for dizziness. This therapy can have a calming effect on the nervous system.

Osteopathy:

An osteopath or chiropractor may suggest manipulations or adjustments of the head, jaw, neck, and lower back to relieve pressure on the inner ear.

Acupressure:

Acupressure may be able to improve circulation and decrease the symptoms of vertigo. The Neck Release, which involves pressing on five pairs of points on the shoulder blades and neck, is helpful for dizziness associated with migraine headaches.

Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and massage therapy for relieving tension, are popularly recommended methods for reducing stress.

Allopathic treatment:
Treatment of dizziness is determined by the underlying cause. If an individual has a cold or influenza, a few days of bed rest is usually adequate to resolve dizziness. Other causes of dizziness, such as mild vestibular system damage, may resolve without medical treatment. If dizziness continues, drug therapy may be required to treat such underlying illnesses as high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, nervous conditions or diabetes. A physician may also prescribe antibiotics if ear infections are suspected. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have recently been shown to relieve dizziness in patients who have psychiatric symptoms. When other measures have failed, surgery may be suggested to relieve pressure on the inner ear. If the dizziness is not treatable by drugs, surgery, or other means, physical therapy may be used and the patient may be taught coping mechanisms for the problem.

Expected results
The outcome of treatment depends on the cause of dizziness. Controlling or curing the underlying factors usually relieves the dizziness itself. In some cases, the symptoms disappear without treatment. In a few cases, dizziness can become a permanent disabling condition.

Prevention

Most people learn through experience that certain activities will make them dizzy and they learn to avoid them. For example, if reading in a car produces motion sickness, reading should be postponed until after the trip. Changes in diet can also cut down on episodes of dizziness in susceptible people. For example, persons with Ménière’s disease may avoid episodes of vertigo by leaving salt, alcohol, and caffeine out of their diets. Reducing blood cholesterol can help diminish arteriosclerosis and indirectly treat dizziness. Daily multiple vitamin and mineral supplements may help prevent dizziness caused by deficiencies of these essential nutrients. Relaxation techniques can help ward off tension and anxiety that can cause dizziness.

Some cases of dizziness cannot be prevented. Acoustic neuromas, for example, are not predictable or preventable. Alternative approaches designed to rebalance the body’s energy flow, such as acupuncture and constitutional homeopathy, may be helpful in cases where the cause of dizziness cannot be pinpointed.

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Dizziness/Vertigo

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/dizziness