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Health Problems & Solutions

Some Health Quaries & Answers

Help, I’m claustrophobic
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Q: I am a 53-year-old man with no illnesses. I have been suffering from claustrophobia for a long time. I cannot ride an elevator, travel in tube rail, enter a tunnel or sit in a confined space. I cannot bear to have the window closed. My office is air-conditioned, because of which I took voluntary retirement. I feel miserable. Is there any remedy?

A: Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder which produces an intense and irrational fear of enclosed spaces. It is common, affecting 3 to 5 per cent of the population. A person suffering from claustrophobia may panic when inside an elevator, an aeroplane, a crowded room or any other confined area. Once a person has experienced a number of panic attacks, he or she becomes increasingly afraid of experiencing another. Such people start to avoid situations that may bring on the attack. However, any coping technique that relies solely on avoiding these situations can only make the phobia worse. It is also not feasible. Anticipation of confinement intensifies the feelings of anxiety and fear. Psychological methods are used for the treatment of claustrophobia. Sometimes medications are also needed. Successful treatment requires six to eight weeks.

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Planning a baby

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He refuses to eat

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Q: Our son is 18 months old and does not eat any of the baby foods like Ceralac and Farex. We even imported some ready-to-eat Heinz products but he does not like them either. Please help.

A: It is better to put the child on a normal diet and have him sit with the rest of the family for meals. You may need to reduce the amount of spices in the food so that he can also enjoy it. Allow him to try and eat on his own, while you break the food into small pieces and feed him with a spoon from the side. Cut the milk intake to 400 ml a day. Do not top up meals with milk, or else he will get the idea that he does not need to make an effort to chew solid food. Many children do not like the synthetic taste of precooked weaning foods. Try tasting it. You may not like it either.

I have emphysema

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Q: I smoke around 30 cigarettes a day. A few days ago, I had great difficulty in breathing and the doctor says I have “emphysema”. What can I do?

A: Emphysema is a chronic disease of the lung that causes shortness of breath. It occurs when the lung tissues necessary to support the physical shape and function of the lung are destroyed. Treatment for emphysema depends on the severity of the ailment.

In your case the damage seems to have occurred because of cigarettes. Immediately stop smoking (and not reduce the number of cigarettes). It is difficult to quit “cold turkey” but you do not really have an alternative. Medications can be used to improve the functioning of the lung by opening up the passages. These are best given by inhalation, either by using inhalers with a spacer or by home nebulisation with a machine. Bronchodilating tablets may also be required. If the blood oxygenation is not satisfactory, oxygen may have to be given. Antibiotics need to be taken only if there is an infection.

Heel pain

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Q: I have terrible pain if I rest my heel on the ground. An X-ray showed a “calcaneal spur”. The doctor has recommended surgery, but I do not want it.

A: No one knows why a heel or calcaneal spur occurs. Excessive friction on that part of the bone seems to result in such a condition. It is more likely to occur in athletes, especially if they do not stretch before and after activity, and overweight people.

Soft cushioned footwear supports the foot and reduces the pain. Regular physiotherapy usually helps. If the pain is unbearable and persists even at rest, injections of corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medications into the affected area can be tried. Surgery should be considered a last resort.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

 

 

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Agoraphobia

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Definition:
The word “agoraphobia” is an English adaptation of the Greek words agora (a) and phobos (ß), and literally translates to “a fear of the marketplace.”

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Panic disorder is characterized by repeated and unpredictable attacks of intense fear and anxiety. Agoraphobia, literally “fear of the marketplace”, develops from a panic disorder in more than one-third of cases.

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Agoraphobia is a condition where the sufferer becomes anxious in environments that are unfamiliar or where he or she perceives that they have little control. Triggers for this anxiety may include crowds, wide open spaces or traveling, even short distances. This anxiety is often compounded by a fear of social embarrassment, as the agoraphobic fears the onset of a panic attack and appearing distraught in public.

Agoraphobics may experience panic attacks in situations where they feel trapped, insecure, out of control or too far from their personal comfort zone. In severe cases, an agoraphobic may be confined to his or her home. Many people with agoraphobia are comfortable seeing visitors in a defined space they feel they can control. Such people may live for years without leaving their homes, while happily seeing visitors in and working from their personal safety zones. If the agoraphobic leaves his or her safety zone, they may experience a panic attack.

It is an anxiety disorder, often precipitated by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there is no easy means of escape. As a result, sufferers of agoraphobia may avoid public and/or unfamiliar places. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to their home, experiencing difficulty traveling from this “safe place.”

Agoraphobia is fear of being in places where help might not be available, and is usually manifested by fear of crowds, bridges, or of being outside alone.

Prevalence:
The one-year prevalence of agoraphobia in the United States is about 5 percent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 3.2 million Americans ages 18-54 have agoraphobia at any given time. About one third of people with Panic Disorder progress to develop agoraphobia.

Gender differences
Agoraphobia occurs about twice as commonly among women as it does in men. The gender difference may be attributable to social-cultural factors that encourage, or permit, the greater expression of avoidant coping strategies by women. Other theories include the ideas that women are more likely to seek help and therefore be diagnosed, that men are more likely to abuse alcohol as a reaction to anxiety and be diagnosed as an alcoholic, and that traditional female sex roles prescribe women to react to anxiety by engaging in dependent and helpless behaviors. Research results have not yet produced a single clear explanation as to the gender difference in agoraphobia.

Causes :
Agoraphobia often accompanies another anxiety disorder, such as panic disorder or a specific phobia.
If it occurs with panic disorder, the onset is usually in the 20s, and women are affected more often than men. People with this disorder may become housebound for years, which is likely to hurt social and interpersonal relationships.

There is no one single cause associated with agoraphobia.

There is no one single cause associated with agoraphobia. Instead, there are a number of factors that contribute to the development of agoraphobia. These factors include:

Family factors:

*Having an anxious parent role model.

*Being abused as a child
*Having an overly critical parent.
Personality factors:
*High need for approval.
*High need for control.
*Oversensitivity to emotional stimuli.
Biological factors:
*Oversensitivity to hormone changes.
*Oversensitivity to physical stimuli.
*High amounts of sodium lactate in the bloodstream.

.Research has uncovered a linkage between agoraphobia and difficulties with spatial orientation.Normal individuals are able to maintain balance by combining information from their vestibular system, their visual system and their proprioceptive sense. A disproportionate number of agoraphobics have weak vestibular function and consequently rely more on visual or tactile signals. They may become disoriented when visual cues are sparse as in wide open spaces or overwhelming as in crowds. Likewise, they may be confused by sloping or irregular surfaces. Compared to controls, in virtual reality studies, agoraphobics on average show impaired processing of changing audiovisual data.

Some scholars have explained agoraphobia as an attachment deficit, i.e., the temporary loss of the ability to tolerate spatial separations from a secure base.

Symptoms:
*Fear of being alone
*Fear of losing control in a public place
Fear of being in places where escape might be difficult
*Becoming housebound for prolonged periods of time
*Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
*Feelings of helplessness
*Dependence on others
*Feeling that the body is unreal
*Feeling that the environment is unreal
*Anxiety or panic attack (acute severe anxiety)
*Unusual temper or agitation with trembling or twitching

Additional symptoms that may occur:
*Lightheadedness, near fainting
*Dizziness
*Excessive sweating
*Skin flushing
*Breathing difficulty
*Chest pain
*Heartbeat sensations
*Nausea and vomiting
*Numbness and tingling
*Abdominal distress that occurs when upset
*Confused or disordered thoughts
*Intense fear of going crazy
*Intense fear of dying

Diagnosis:
Most people who present to mental health specialists develop agoraphobia after the onset of panic disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 1998). Agoraphobia is best understood as an adverse behavioral outcome of repeated panic attacks and subsequent anxiety and preoccupation with these attacks that leads to an avoidance of situations where a panic attack could occur.[16] In rare cases where agoraphobics do not meet the criteria used to diagnose Panic Disorder, the formal diagnosis of Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder is used.

DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria
A) Anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in the event of having an unexpected or situationally predisposed Panic Attack or panic-like symptoms. Agoraphobic fears typically involve characteristic clusters of situations that include being outside the home alone; being in a crowd, or standing in a line; being on a bridge; and traveling in a bus, train, or automobile.

B) The situations are avoided (e.g., travel is restricted) or else are endured with marked distress or with anxiety about having a panic attack or panic-like symptoms, or require the presence of a companion.

C) The anxiety or phobic avoidance is not better accounted for by another mental disorder, such as Social Phobia (e.g., avoidance limited to social situations because of fear of embarrassment), Specific Phobia (e.g., avoidance limited to a single situation like elevators), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (e.g., avoidance of dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (e.g., avoidance of stimuli associated with a severe stressor), or Separation Anxiety Disorder (e.g., avoidance of leaving home or relatives).

D)The individual may have a history of phobias, or family, friends, or the affected person may tell the health care provider about agoraphobic behavior.
The individual may sweat, have a rapid pulse (heart rate), or have high blood pressure.

Treatments:
Agoraphobia can be successfully treated in many cases through a very gradual process of graduated exposure therapy combined with cognitive therapy and sometimes anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. Treatment options for agoraphobia and panic disorder are similar.
The goal of treatment is to help the phobic person function effectively. The success of treatment usually depends upon the severity of the phobia.
Systematic desensitization is a technique used to treat phobias. The person is asked to relax, then imagine the things that cause the anxiety, working from the least fearful to the most fearful. Graded real-life exposure has also been used with success to help people overcome their fears.

Cognitive behavioral treatments
Exposure treatment can provide lasting relief to the majority of patients with panic disorder and agoraphobia. Disappearance of residual and subclinical agoraphobic avoidance, and not simply of panic attacks, should be the aim of exposure therapy. Similarly, Systematic desensitization may also be used.

Cognitive restructuring has also proved useful in treating agoraphobia. This treatment uses thought replacing with the goal of replacing one’s irrational, counter-factual beliefs with more accurate and beneficial ones.[citation needed]

Relaxation techniques are often useful skills for the agoraphobic to develop, as they can be used to stop or prevent symptoms of anxiety and panic.[citation needed]


Psychopharmaceutical treatments

Anti-depressant medications most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders are mainly in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class and include sertraline, paroxetine and fluoxetine. Benzodiazepine tranquilizers, MAO inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants are also commonly prescribed for treatment of agoraphobia.


Alternative treatments

Eye movement desensitization and reprogramming (EMDR) has been studied as a possible treatment for agoraphobia, with poor results.As such, EMDR is only recommended in cases where cognitive-behavioral approaches have proven ineffective or in cases where agoraphobia has developed following trauma.
Alternative treatments of agoraphobia include hypnotherapy, guided imagery meditation, music therapy, yoga, religious practice and ayurvedic medicine.

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Additionally, many people with anxiety disorders benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others. Stress management techniques and meditation can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and may enhance the effects of therapy. There is preliminary evidence that aerobic exercise may have a calming effect. Since caffeine, certain illicit drugs, and even some over-the-counter cold medications can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety disorders, they should be avoided

 

Prognosis:
Phobias tend to be chronic, but respond well to treatment.

Possible Complications :
Some phobias may affect job performance or social functioning.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms suggestive of agoraphobia develop.

Prevention:

As with other panic disorders, prevention may not be possible. Early intervention may reduce the severity of the condition.

.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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agoraphobia
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000931.htm

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Claustrophobia

Definition:
A phobia is a form of anxiety disorder in which someone has an intense and irrational fear of certain objects or situations. Anyone suffering from high levels of anxiety is at risk of developing a phobia. One of the most common phobias is claustrophobia, or the fear of enclosed spaces. A person who has claustrophobia may panic when inside a lift, aeroplane, crowded room or other confined area.

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Some other phobias, borne from anxiety, include social phobia – fear of embarrassing yourself in front of others – and agoraphobia, which is the fear of open spaces. The cause of anxiety disorders such as phobias is thought to be a combination of genetic vulnerability and life experience. With appropriate treatment, it is possible to overcome claustrophobia or any other phobia.

It is an anxiety disorder that involves the fear of enclosed or confined spaces. Claustrophobes may suffer from panic attacks, or fear of having a panic attack, in situations such as being in elevators, trains, or aircraft.

Conversely, people who are prone to having panic attacks will often develop claustrophobia.[citation needed] If a panic attack occurs while they are in a confined space, then the claustrophobe fears not being able to escape the situation. Those suffering from claustrophobia might find it difficult to breathe in enclosed spaces. Like many other disorders, claustrophobia can sometimes develop due to a traumatic incident in childhood.

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Claustrophobia can be treated in similar ways to other anxiety disorders, with a range of treatments including cognitive behavior therapy and the use of anti-anxiety medication. Hypnosis is an alternative treatment for claustrophobia.

The name claustrophobia comes from the Latin word claustrum which means “a bolt, a place shut in” and the Greek word phobos meaning “fear”.


Causes :-

Claustrophobia can develop from either a traumatic childhood experience (such as being trapped in a small space during a childhood game), or from another unpleasant experience later on in life involving confined spaces (such as being stuck in an elevator).

When an individual experiences such an event, it can often trigger a panic attack; this response then becomes programmed in the brain, establishing an association between being in a tight space and feeling anxious or out-of-control. As a result, the person often develops claustrophobia.

Symptoms:
If a person suffering from claustrophobia suddenly finds themselves in an enclosed space, they may have an anxiety attack. Symptoms can include:

*Sweating
*Accelerated heart rate
*Hyperventilation, or ‘overbreathing’
*Shaking
*Light-headedness
*Nausea
*Fainting
*Fear of actual harm or illness.

Specific symptoms of claustrophobia:-
When in an enclosed space, the signs of claustrophobia may include:

  • Inside a room – automatically checking for the exits, standing near the exits or feeling alarmed when all doors are closed.
  • Inside a vehicle, such as a car – avoiding times when traffic is known to be heavy.
  • Inside a building – preferring to take the stairs rather than the lift, and not because of health reasons.
  • At a party – standing near the door in a crowded room, even if the room is large and spacious.
  • In extreme cases – for a person with severe claustrophobia, a closed door will trigger feelings of panic.

The catch-22 of avoidance
Once a person has experienced a number of anxiety attacks, they become increasingly afraid of experiencing another. They start to avoid the objects or situations that bring on the attack. However, any coping technique that relies on avoidance can only make the phobia worse. It seems that anticipating the possibility of confinement within a small space intensifies the feelings of anxiety and fear.

Frequency:-
It was found that 5-10.6% of people screened before an MRI scan had claustrophobia. Furthermore, it was found that 7% of patients had unidentified claustrophobia, and had to terminate the scanning procedure prematurely. 30% reported milder distress due to the necessity to lie in a confined space for a long time. For specific phobias in general, there is a lifetime prevalence rate of 7.2%-11.3%. Other forms of Claustrophobia include conditions such as Agrophobia and panic attacks.

The thought of treatment can be frightening
For someone with a disabling phobia, the realisation that this fear is irrational and that treatment is needed can cause further anxiety. Since most treatment options depend on confronting the feared situation or object, the person may feel reluctant.

Support and encouragement from family and friends is crucial. A person trying to overcome a phobia may find some treatment methods particularly challenging and will need the love and understanding of their support people. The therapist may even ask the family members or friends to attend certain sessions, in order to bolster the courage of the person seeking treatment.

Treatment:-

There is no cure for claustrophobia, however, there are several forms of treatment that can help an individual control her condition. Treatment for claustrophobia can include behavior therapy, exposure therapy, drugs or a combination of several treatments.
Treating phobias, including claustrophobia, relies on psychological methods. Depending on the person, some of these methods may include:

  • Flooding – this is a form of exposure treatment, where the person is exposed to their phobic trigger until the anxiety attack passes. The realisation that they have encountered their most dreaded object or situation, and come to no actual harm, can be a powerful form of therapy.
  • Counter-conditioning – if the person is far too fearful to attempt flooding, then counter-conditioning can be an option. The person is taught to use specific relaxation and visualisation techniques when experiencing phobia-related anxiety. The phobic trigger is slowly introduced, step-by-step, while the person concentrates on attaining physical and mental relaxation. Eventually, they can confront the source of their fear without feeling anxious. This is known as systematic desensitisation.
  • Modelling – the person watches other people confront the phobic trigger without fear and is encouraged to imitate that confidence.
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) – the person is encouraged to confront and change the specific thoughts and attitudes that lead to feelings of fear.
  • Medications – such as tranquillisers and antidepressants. Drugs known as beta blockers may be used to treat the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a pounding heart.

Alternative claustrophobia treatments include regression hypnotherapy, in which hypnotherapy is used to remember the traumatic event that led to the individual’s claustrophobia. The patient is taught to see the event with ‘adult’ eyes, which helps to decrease the sense of panic that it has instilled into their minds.

Length of treatment
The person may be treated as an outpatient or, sometimes, as an inpatient if their phobia is particularly severe. Generally, treatment consists of around eight to 10 weeks of bi-weekly sessions.

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Where to get help

  • Sane Australia Helpline Tel. 1800 187 263
  • Your doctor
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Trained therapist

Things to remember

  • A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of certain objects or situations.
  • A person who has claustrophobia may panic when inside an enclosed space, such as a lift, aeroplane or crowded room.
  • With appropriate treatment, it is possible to overcome claustrophobia or any other phobia.

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.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Claustrophobia?open
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claustrophobia
http://www.epigee.org/mental_health/claustrophobia.html

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Anxiety Disorders

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Temporary feelings of nervousness or worry is stressful situations are natural and appropriate. however, when anxiety becomes a general, response to many ordinary situations and causes problems in coping with normal, everyday life, it is diagnosed as a disorder.

Anxiety disorders occur in a number of different forms. The most common is generalized anxiety disorder or persistent anxiety state, characterized by excessive and persistent anxiety that is difficult to control. Another type of anxiety disorder is panic disorder, in which there are recurrent panic attacks of intense anxiety and alarming physical symptoms. these attacks occur unpredictably and usually have no obvious cause. panic attacks may also feature in generalized anxiety disorder. In another type of anxiety disorder known as phobia, severe anxiety is provoked by an irrational fear of a situation, creature, or object.

Generalized anxiety disorder affects about 1 in 25 people in any one year in the us. The condition usually begins in middle age, and women are more commonly affected than men. sometimes anxiety disorders exist alongside other mental health disorders, such as depression or schizophrenia.

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What are the causes?
An increased susceptibility to anxiety disorder may be inherited or may be due to experiences in childhood. for example, poor bonding between a parent and child and abrupt separation of a child from a parent have been shown to play a part in some anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder may develop after a stressful life event, such as the death of a close relative. however, frequently the anxiety has no particular cause. Similarly, panic disorder often develops for no obvious reason.

What are the symptoms?
People with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder experience both psychological and physical symptoms. However, in generalized anxiety disorder, the psychological symptoms tend to be persistent while physical symptoms are intermittent. In panic, attacks, both psychological and physical symptoms come on together suddenly and unpredictably. The psychological symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

· A sense of foreboding with no obvious reason or cause.
· Being on edge and unable to relax.
· Impaired concentration.
· Repetitive worrying thoughts.
· Disturbed sleep and sometimes nightmares.

In addition, you may have symptoms of depression, such as early waking, or a general sense of hopelessness. Physical symptoms of the disorder, which occur intermittently, include:

· Headache.
· Abdominal cramps, sometimes with diarrhea and vomiting.
· Frequent urination.
· Sweating, flushing and tremor.
· A feeling of something being stuck in the throat.

Psychological and physical symptoms of panic attacks include the following:

· Shortness of breath.
· Sweating, trembling and nausea.
· Palpitations.
· Dizziness and fainting.
· Fear of choking or that death may be imminent.
· A sense of unreality and fears about loss of sanity.

Many of these symptoms can be misinterpreted as signs of a serious physical illness, and this may increase your level of anxiety. Overtime, fear of having a panic attack in public may lead you to avoid situations such as eating out in restaurants or being in crowds.

What might be done?
You may be able to find your own ways of reducing anxiety levels, including relaxation exercises. if you are unable to deal with or identify a specific cause for your anxiety, you should consult your doctor. It is important to see a doctor as soon as possible after a first panic attack to prevent repeated attacks. There are several measures you can try to help control a panic attack, such as breathing into a bag. For any anxiety disorder, your doctor may suggest counseling to help you manage stress. You may also be offered cognitive therapy or behavior therapy to help you control anxiety. A self-help group may also be useful.

If you are coping with a particularly stressful period in your life or a difficult event, your doctor may prescribe a benzodiazepine, but these drugs are usually prescribed for only a short period of time because there is a danger of dependence. You may be prescribed beta-blocker drugs to treat the physical symptoms of anxiety. If you have symptoms of depression, you may be given antidepressant drugs, some of which are also useful in treating panic attacks.

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In most cases, the earlier that anxiety disorders are treated, the quicker their effects can be reduced. Without treatment, an anxiety disorder may develop into a life-long condition.

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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.

Resources:

http://www.charak.com/DiseasePage.asp?thx=1&id=24

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Palpitation

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Palpitation, a common problem, is a state in which the heart beats forcibly and maybe, irregularly. It enables the person to become aware of the action of his heart. It is a distressing condition but is not always serious.

Palpitations are unpleasant sensations of irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart. In some patients with palpitations, no heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms can be found. Reasons for their palpitations are unknown. In others, palpitations result from abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Arrhythmias refer to heartbeats that are too slow, too rapid, irregular, or too early. Rapid arrhythmias (greater than 100 beats per minute) are called tachycardias. Slow arrhythmias (slower than 60 beats per minute) are called bradycardias. Irregular heart rhythms are called fibrillations (as in atrial fibrillation). When a single heartbeat occurs earlier than normal, it is called a premature contraction. Abnormalities in the atria, the ventricles, the SA node, and the AV node of the heart can lead to arrhythmias.

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It is an awareness of the beating of the heart, whether it is too slow, too fast, irregular, or at its normal frequency. Palpitations may be brought on by overexertion, adrenaline, alcohol, disease (such as hyperthyroidism) or drugs, or as a symptom of panic disorder. More colloquially, it can also refer to a shaking motion. It can also happen in mitral stenosis.

Nearly everyone experiences an occasional awareness of their heart beating, but when it occurs frequently, it can indicate a problem. Palpitations may be associated with heart problems, but also with anemias and thyroid malfunction.

Attacks can last for a few seconds or hours, and may occur very infrequently, or more than daily. Palpitations alongside other symptoms, including sweating, faintness, chest pain or dizziness, indicate irregular or poor heart function and should be looked into.

Palpitations may also be associated with anxiety and panic attacks, in which case psychological assessment is recommended.

Types of palpitation
People describe their palpitations in many different ways, but there are some common patterns:

The heart “stops”
Those who experience palpitations may have the feeling that their heart stops beating for a moment, and then starts again with a “thump” or a “bang”. Usually this feeling is actually caused by an extra beat (premature beat or extrasystole) that happens earlier than the next normal beat, and results in a pause until the next normal beat comes through. People are not usually aware of the early, extra beat, but may be aware of the pause, which follows it (the heart seems to stop). The beat after the pause is more forceful than normal, giving the “thumping” sensation.

The heart is “fluttering” in the chest
Any rapid heartbeat (or tachycardia) can give rise to this feeling. A rapid, regular fluttering in the chest may be associated with sensation of pounding in the neck as well, due to simultaneous contraction of the upper, priming chambers of the heart (the atria) and the lower, main pumping chambers (the ventricles). If the fluttering in the chest feels very irregular, then it is likely that the underlying rhythm is atrial fibrillation. During this type of rhythm abnormality, the atria beat so rapidly and irregularly that they seem to be quivering, rather than contracting. The ventricles are activated more rapidly than normal (tachycardia) and in a very irregular pattern..

Types:
Palpitations may be associated with feelings of anxiety or panic. It is normal to feel the heart thumping when feeling terrified or scared, but it may be difficult to know whether the palpitations or the panicked feeling came first. Unfortunately, since it can take some time before a clear diagnosis is made in a patient complaining of palpitations, people are sometimes told initially that the problem is anxiety.

Stressful situations cause an increase in the level of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, circulating in the blood, and there are some types of abnormal heart rhythm that can be stimulated by adrenaline excess, or by exercise. It may be possible to diagnose these sorts of palpitations by performing simple tests, such as an exercise test, while monitoring the ECG.

Some types of abnormal heart rhythm seem to be affected by posture. For many people, standing up straight after bending over can provoke a rapid heart rate. Often these attacks can be abolished again by lying down. Many people, if not all, are more aware of the heartbeat when lying quietly in bed at night. This is partly because at that time, the attention is not focused on other things, but also because the slower heart beat at rest can allow more premature beats to occur.

Symptoms:
The main symptom of palpitation of the heart is a kind of ‘thumping’ feeling in the chest .The patient feels a real discomfort in the front of the chest .The pulse rate may become faster than normal.
Many times, the person experiencing palpitations may not be aware of anything apart from the abnormal heart rhythm itself. But palpitations can be associated with other things such as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness. Depending on the type of rhythm problem, these symptoms may be just momentary or more prolonged. Actual blackouts or near blackouts, associated with palpitations, should be taken seriously because they often indicate the presence of important underlying heart disease.

Probable Causes:

Palpitation of the heart may occur due to a variety of factors, most of which may not be related to the heart itself. Anything, which increases the workload of the heart, may bring on this condition. Some persons may experience palpitations when lying on the left side, because the heart is nearer the chest wall in that position. Many nervous persons suffer from this condition. Although palpitations do occur among other symptoms in serious heart disease, the vast majority of cases is due to anxiety and has no direct connection with heart disease whatsoever. Other causes contribution to this condition is an overfull stomach, flatulence, and constipation. Excessive smoking may also give rise to this disorder.

Diagnosis

The most important initial clue to the diagnosis is one’s description of the palpitations. The approximate age of the person when first noticed and the circumstances under which they occur are important, as is information about caffeine intake. It is also very helpful to know how they start and stop (abruptly or not), whether or not they are regular, and approximately how fast the pulse rate is during an attack. If the person has discovered a way of stopping the palpitations, that is also helpful information.

The diagnosis is usually not made by a routine medical examination and electrical tracing of the heart’s activity (ECG), because most people cannot arrange to have their symptoms while visiting the doctor. Nevertheless, findings such as a heart murmur or an abnormality of the ECG, which could point to the probable diagnosis, may be discovered. In particular, ECG changes that can be associated with specific disturbances of the heart rhythm may be picked up; so routine physical examination and ECG remain important in the assessment of palpitations.

Blood tests, particularly tests of thyroid gland function are also important baseline investigations (an overactive thyroid gland is a potential cause for palpitations; the treatment in that case is to treat the thyroid gland over-activity).

The next level of diagnostic testing is usually 24 hour (or longer) ECG monitoring, using a form of tape recorder (a bit like a Walkman), which can record the ECG continuously during a 24-hour period. If symptoms occur during monitoring it is a simple matter to examine the ECG recording and see what the cardiac rhythm was at the time. For this type of monitoring to be helpful, the symptoms must be occurring at least once a day. If they are less frequent then the chances of detecting anything with continuous 24, or even 48-hour monitoring, are quite remote.

Other forms of monitoring are available, and these can be useful when symptoms are infrequent. A continuous-loop event recorder monitors the ECG continuously, but only saves the data when the wearer activates it. Once activated, it will save the ECG data for a period of time before the activation and for a period of time afterwards – the cardiologist who is investigating the palpitations can program the length of these periods. A new type of continuous-loop recorder has been developed recently that may be helpful in people with very infrequent, but disabling symptoms. This recorder is implanted under the skin on the front of the chest, like a pacemaker. It can be programmed and the data examined using an external device that communicates with it by means of a radio signal.

Investigation of heart structure can also be important. The heart in most people with palpitations is completely normal in its physical structure, but occasionally abnormalities such as valve problems may be present. Usually, but not always, the cardiologist will be able to detect a murmur in such cases, and an echo scan of the heart (echocardiogram) will often be performed to document the heart’s structure. This is a painless test performed using sound waves and is virtually identical to the scanning done in pregnancy to look at the fetus.


Modern medical Treatment

Treating heart palpitations depends greatly on the nature of the problem. In many patients, excessive caffeine intake triggers heart palpitations. In this case, treatment simply requires caffeine intake reduction. For severe cases, medication is often prescribed.

A variety of medications manipulate heart rhythm, which can be used to try to prevent palpitations. If severe palpitations occur, a beta-blocking drug is commonly prescribed. These block the effect of adrenaline on the heart, and are also used for the treatment of angina and high blood pressure. However, they can cause drowsiness, sleep disturbance, depression, impotence, and can aggravate asthma. Other anti-arrhythmic drugs can be employed if beta-blockers are not appropriate.

If heart palpitations become severe, antiarrhythmic medication can be injected intravenously. If this treatment fails, cardioversion may be required. Cardioversion is usually performed under a short general anaesthesia, and involves delivering an electric shock to the chest, which stops the abnormal rhythm and allows the normal rhythm to continue.

For some patients, often those with specific underlying problems found in ECG tests, an electrophysiological study may be advised. This procedure involves inserting a series of wires into a vein in the groin, or the side of the neck, and positioning them inside the heart. Once in position, the wires can be used to record the ECG from different sites within the heart, and can also start and stop abnormal rhythms to further accurate diagnosis. If appropriate, i.e. if an electrical “short circuit” is shown to be responsible for the abnormal rhythm, then a special wire can be used to cut the “short circuit” by placing a small burn at the site. This is known as “radiofrequency ablation” and is curative in the majority of patients with this condition.

Atrial fibrillation has been discussed in a separate article. Treatment may include medication to control heart rate, or cardioversion to support normal heart rhythm. Patients may require medication after a cardioversion to maintain a normal rhythm. In some patients, if attacks of atrial fibrillation occur frequently despite medication, ablation of the connection between the atria and the ventricles (with implantation of a pacemaker) may be advised. A very important risk of atrial fibrillation is the increased risk of stroke. Management of atrial fibrillation usually includes some form of blood thinning treatment.

Very rarely, palpitations are associated with an increased risk blackouts, and even premature death. Generally speaking, serious arrhythmias occur in patients who are known to have heart disease, or carry a genetic predisposition for heart disease or related abnormalities and complications.

Palpitations, in the setting of the above problems, or occurrences such as blackouts or near blackouts, should be taken seriously. Even if ultimately nothing is found, a doctor should be contacted immediately to arrange the appropriate investigations, especially if palpitations occur with blackouts or if any of the above conditions are noticed.

Ayurvedic & Herbal Healing Options:

Ayurvedic Suppliments: 1. Stress Guard 2. Aswagandharisthra 3.Keshari Kalp 4. Brahmi Bati (Click to buy)

Herbal Home Remedy: Grapes,Aswagandha, Satabari and Brahmi… these herbs helps to get rid of any kind of palpitition.

Click to learn more herbal home remedy

Diet Option: The patient suffering from palpitation of the heart should take a simple diet of natural foods, with emphasis on fresh fruits, and raw or lightly cooked vegetables. He should avoid tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, soft drinks, food colorings, white rice, and condiments. He should restrict his diet to three meals a day .He should take fruits, milk, and a handful of nuts or seeds, fresh vegetables.

Life Style:Patient should do meditation every day. Swimming, skipping and cycling is also good for health.

Yoga Option: 1. Basic Breathing Exercise(Pranayama) 2. The Shoulder Stand (Sarvang Asana) 3. Shavasana(Total Body Rest)

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.

Resources:

http://www.allayurveda.com/ail_palpitation.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palpitation

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