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Canker Sores
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cataracts
Causalgia
Celiac Disease
Cellulitis
Cerebral Palsy
Cerumen Impaction
Cervical Cancer
Chemical Dependency
Chest Pain
Chicken Pox

Chlamydia
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Sinusitis
Chronic Vulvar Pain

Cirrhosis
Click-Murmur Syndrome
Cluster Headache
Cold Sore
Colds
Colic
Colon Polyps
Color Blindness
Colorectal Cancer
Compulsive Sexual Behavior (CSB)
Concussion
Congestive Heart Failure
Conjunctivitis
Constipation
Corns & Calluses
Crohn's Disease
Croup
Cushing's Syndrome
Cystic Fibrosis

Canker Sores
Other names: Mouth ulcer, aphthous ulcer

A canker sore is a common form of mouth ulcer that appears as a painful white or yellow bump surrounded by a red area. Canker sores usually begin with a tingling or burning sensation.

Canker sores may occur at the site of a bite on the tongue or cheeks. They may be triggered by emotional stress, dietary deficiencies, hormonal changes, food allergies and viral infections. Symptoms include:

  • A burning or tingling sensation
  • A skin lesion on the mouth
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Diagnosis is usually based on the appearance of the affected area. Canker sores will usually go away by themselves in a few weeks and do not require treatment. It is best to avoid hot or spicy foods to reduce irritation. Severe mouth ulcers may be treated with oral or topical prescription medications.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes a tingling and numbness of the thumb, index and middle fingers. It occurs when tendons or ligaments in the wrist become enlarged and the narrowed tunnel of bones and ligaments in the wrist pinches the nerves that reach the fingers and muscles at the base of the thumb. This irritation of the nerves causes a tingling sensation.

The tingling and numbness associated with carpal tunnel syndrome usually are more noticeable at night. In some cases, this condition is caused by wear and tear on the wrist as a result of repetitive strain such as uncomfortable hand, arm and neck positions. Other symptoms that may occur as the condition progresses include:

  • Decreased grip strength
  • Sharp, shooting pains

Carpal tunnel syndrome may be a temporary condition or one that persists and progressively worsens. The condition is treated by immobilizing the wrist and with anti-inflammatory drugs or injections of cortisone in the wrist to reduce swelling. A small number of patients may also require surgery.

Most of those diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome recover completely. Carpal tunnel syndrome commonly develops in the late stages of pregnancy and usually clears after delivery.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cataracts
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which is behind the iris and pupil. The lens is the part of the eye that focuses light and enables you to see clear images. The lens is primarily made up of water and protein. As you age, protein cells may begin to clump together and cause a film called a cataract.

A cataract is a natural result of aging and the leading cause of visual loss among adults 55 and older. In addition to aging, other causes of a cataract may include family history, medical problems such as diabetes, eye injury, medications, and prolonged exposure to sunlight. Symptoms include:

  • Painless, blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Poor night vision
  • Double vision in one eye
  • The need for brighter light to read

There are some common misconceptions about cataracts. A cataract is not a film that develops over the eye. It is not caused by overuse and does not spread from one eye to the other.

The rate at which a cataract develops varies among individuals and may vary from one eye to the other. In most cases, a cataract occurs over the course of several years.

Surgery is the only way a cataract can be removed, but if symptoms do not interfere with daily activities, a stronger eyeglass prescription may be all that is merited.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Causalgia
Other names: Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), Sudeck’s atrophy

Causalgia is a rare disorder of the sympathetic nervous system. The cause of causalgia is not known but it may be associated with nerve damage, trauma, surgery, atherosclerosis, infection or radiation therapy. Causalgia may occur at any age but most often develops between the ages of 40 and 60.

One visible sign of this disorder is warm, shiny red skin that later becomes cool and bluish. The pain is usually more severe than the injury appears to be and it tends to get worse instead of better. Stiffness may result from lack of use and muscle and bone may begin to atrophy. Symptoms include:

  • Burning pain
  • Inflamed skin
  • Skin that is very sensitive to touch and temperature
  • Excessive perspiration

Treatment strategies may vary. A number of drugs are used to treat causalgia as well as physical therapy and elevation of the affected extremity. Injections of local anesthetics and electrical stimulation may be used. In some cases surgery may be recommended.

Early treatment is most effective and can cause remission. If treatment is delayed, the pain may spread to the entire limb and changes in bone and muscle may become permanent. The pain associated with causalgia often lasts longer than six months and can last for years.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Celiac Disease
Other names: Sprue, nontropical sprue, gluten intolerance

Celiac disease is an inherited digestive disorder in which the small intestine cannot absorb vital nutrients from foods that contain gluten. These foods include wheat, rye, oats and barley. When those who suffer from celiac disease consume these foods, a reaction occurs in their small intestines that prevents the absorption of nutrients and leads to symptoms of the disease and malnutrition. Celiac disease is usually diagnosed in childhood. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain, gas or bloating
  • Foul smelling stools
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • A painful rash
  • Bone or joint pain

Long-term effects of celiac disease may include anemia, stunted growth and bone loss. Most of the effects can be minimized by following a special gluten-free or gluten-restricted diet. Regular items on a gluten-free diet include fruits and vegetables, meat, milk-based items, potatoes, rice, corn, beans, cereals made without wheat or barley malt and a wide variety of specialty foods that are made with alternatives to ingredients that contain gluten. These alternatives include rice, tapioca, potato or corn flours and starches.

There is no specific medication or surgery to treat celiac disease. Some physicians may recommend steroid therapy.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cellulitis
Cellulitis is a skin infection that develops when certain types of bacteria enter a break in the skin through a cut, insect bite, blister, burn, splinter, etc. Cellulitis may occur anywhere on the body.
In adults, cellulitis tends to occur on the legs, face and arms, but in children it tends to occur on the face or around the anus. It is particularly important to get medical attention quickly for infections on the face in order to prevent potential eye infections. Symptoms include:

  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Redness at the site of the infection
  • Fatigue

Cellulitis is typically treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics. In most cases, the infection may be cured within seven to 10 days.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a number of chronic disorders that affect one’s control of movement and posture. These problems are due to brain abnormalities that occur in the early years of development. Cerebral palsy affects motion, muscle strength, balance and coordination. Speech, swallowing and seizures may also be involved as well as mental retardation.

There are three types of cerebral palsy – spastic, dyskinetic and ataxic. In spastic cerebral palsy, which is the most common type, muscles are tight and limit normal movement. In dyskinetic cerebral palsy, muscles stiffen on their own and cause abnormal postures and movements of the arms and legs. Ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance and coordination.

Babies with cerebral palsy may not smile, roll over, sit up, crawl or walk in normal timeframes. Symptoms differ from person to person but include:

  • Difficulty with tasks such as writing or using scissors
  • Difficulty walking
  • Involuntary movement
  • Seizures

Cerebral palsy is not a progressive disease. If the severity of symptoms increases, a different health issue may be the cause.

Currently there is no standard treatment for cerebral palsy and no cure. Treatment may include various types of therapy including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Due to advances in medical research, most of those with cerebral palsy enjoy near-normal lives when their neurological problems are managed appropriately.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cerumen Impaction
Other names: Ear blockage, ear impaction, ear wax

Cerumen impaction occurs when ear wax becomes tightly packed in the external ear canal. This most often occurs when ear wax is pushed against the eardrum by cotton swabs and other instruments people use to clean their ears or when it is trapped against the eardrum by a hearing aid. In a few cases, the impaction may occur due to the glands in the ear overproducing ear wax.

The most common symptom of cerumen impaction is partial hearing loss. Other symptoms may include itching, ringing in the ears or a sensation of fullness and pain. Cerumen impaction affects between 2 and 6 percent of the US population.

Irrigation is the most common treatment of cerumen impaction and involves a medical professional using special equipment to wash out the ear canal with water. Irrigation should not be performed if the eardrum is not completely intact. Some doctors also may prescribe eardrops.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cervical Cancer
Other names: Cancer of the cervix

The cervix is the narrow area between the uterus and vagina and is the second most common area for cancer to develop in women.

With cervical cancer, normal cervical cells gradually change into precancerous and then cancerous cells. This process is called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and this term is used to identify how far cervical cancer has progressed. For instance, low-grade CIN is an early stage of development while high-grade CIN is more advanced.

Cervical cancer can take months or even years to become invasive and is usually detected through annual pap smears. With early detection, cervical cancer is curable, and only after cervical cancer has spread to other organs does prognosis for five-year survival decline to less than 20 percent. Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful urination

A specific cause of cervical cancer is not known, but risk factors include infection with the sexually transmitted infection called human papilloma virus (HPV) or chlamydia, heredity, smoking and age. Approximately 80 percent of those diagnosed with cervical cancer have evidence of HPV.

Treatment for cervical cancer, like most other forms of cancer, depends on the stage of the disease. Several methods for removal of the cancerous cells exist, including the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the cancerous cells or a laser to destroy them. For more invasive cervical cancer, a hysterectomy may be required. Radiation and chemotherapy also may be required.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chemical Dependency
Other names: Drug addiction, drug abuse, drug dependence

Chemical dependency is a medically proven disease. A person may become addicted to a variety of drugs, which may be legal or illegal, and this chemical dependency or addiction can be just as life threatening as many other diseases.

People with chemical dependencies have intense desires for their drug of choice and may be addicted on multiple levels – physically, psychologically and emotionally. The cause of chemical dependency is not known, but a number of factors may be involved – from genetic makeup to the addictiveness of the drug, from peer pressure to emotional distress.

Risk factors include a lack of resources to help deal with stress and the need for immediate escape or relief from frustrations. Signs that someone is taking drugs include:

  • Changes in social patterns
  • Lying and stealing
  • Changes in family relations
  • Changes in normal behavior
  • Spending more time alone or away from home
  • Changes in performance at school or work
  • Increased spending or the need for more money than usual

Treatment begins with the person who is chemically dependent recognizing her problem. Detoxification is part of the treatment process, which involves gradually withdrawing from the abused substance in a controlled environment. Rehabilitation also may be recommended, to prevent dependence from recurring.

Call your physician if you recognize that you have a chemical dependency or if you can no longer get your usual drugs and are at risk of serious health issues related to withdrawal.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chest Pain
Chest pain may be caused by a vast array of conditions. Some conditions may be life threatening and require immediate medical attention, and some may be much less serious, such as acid reflux. However, since it is often difficult to determine the cause, chest pain should be taken seriously.

If you are experiencing severe pain, such as squeezing or crushing pressure, that lasts more than a few minutes and radiates to the neck, left shoulder, arm or jaw, you need to call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. Those experiencing chest pain should not try to drive.

Potentially life-threatening causes of chest pain include angina and a heart attack. Angina occurs when there is an imbalance in the amount of oxygen the heart needs and the amount it is receiving due to a partial blockage in the coronary arteries. Angina is usually caused by physical exertion and stress, which increase the heart’s need for blood and oxygen. Angina pain usually lasts just a few minutes and is often relieved by relaxing. Those suffering from angina may also experience shortness of breath, nausea, indigestion and sweating.

A heart attack occurs when the arteries to the heart become blocked and prevent a sufficient oxygen and blood supply. This causes damage to the heart. A classic heart attack is characterized by severe chest pain that also affects the arm, neck and jaw; however, some people experience much less severe symptoms that may include a feeling of indigestion, nausea or breathlessness. Unlike angina, a heart attack usually lasts several hours.

If you are experiencing chest pain and are uncertain about the cause, seek immediate medical attention.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chicken Pox
Other name: Varicella

Chicken pox is a contagious viral disease that primarily affects children. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that chicken pox affects more than 4 million people each year. Pregnant women should avoid exposure to chicken pox.

This disease usually starts with a low fever and sick feeling. Later, red dots appear that become itchy, fluid-filled blisters within 12 to 24 hours. Some people may only have a few blisters, but most will have hundreds. The blisters form scabs that fall off. Scars don’t usually occur unless the blisters have been scratched. Symptoms of chicken pox include:

  • A low fever
  • Headache
  • A rash that covers the face, scalp and trunk and turns into blisters
  • Itching

In most cases, chicken pox will run its course in a week. Contracting chicken pox provides immunity against the disease in the future.

At-home treatments to reduce discomfort and fever may include applying wet compresses or bathing in cool or lukewarm water. Pat dry rather than rub to avoid irritating the blisters. Calamine lotion may help reduce itching. Keep nails trimmed short since scratching can cause blisters to become infected. Fever and discomfort also may be treated with over-the-counter medication.

A doctor should be called if a child’s fever exceeds 102°F and persists for several days, if blisters appear infected or the child seems unusually confused, sleepy or unresponsive.

A vaccine for chicken pox is available and has proven to be 85 percent effective for preventing chicken pox.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a curable sexually transmitted disease that may be contracted during oral, vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner. Chlamydia is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted diseases in the US.

Chlamydia seldom presents noticeable symptoms until one to three weeks after infection when an abnormal discharge may develop. Painful urination in men and bleeding after sex or between menstrual periods in women may also be symptoms of chlamydia. If left untreated, the infection may spread to cause pelvic inflammatory disease.

Chlamydia is often treated with a prescription antibiotic. It is important to take the full amount of prescribed antibiotic even after symptoms disappear and to see your physician again if the symptoms have not gone away within one or two weeks after finishing the full amount of antibiotic. It’s also important to let sexual partners know that you have the infection so they may also get tested and treated.

The chances of getting chlamydia can be reduced by using a condom during sex and limiting your number of sexual partners. Since you can be infected with chlamydia without having symptoms, doctors recommend anyone with more than one sexual partner be tested for the infection regularly.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition involving prolonged fatigue that is not directly related to rest, but interferes in normal day-to-day function.   Fatigue is a symptom often related with other conditions and diseases, but CFS is considered its own condition. Physicians will check patients for related conditions before diagnosing CFS.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly a half million people in the US suffer from CFS. Experts disagree on whether CFS may be linked to immune function, low blood pressure, viral infections or mood disorders.

CFS may affect people of any gender or age, but it is most often diagnosed among those between the ages of 25 and 45, and 80 percent of those diagnosed are women. Symptoms include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Depression
  • Chills and fever
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Memory loss

Research into CFS continues, but to date there is no known cure or method of prevention. However, many of those with CFS eventually recover – either partially or fully. Most doctors will recommend rest, exercise and a balanced diet. Counseling and stress reduction techniques may also be helpful.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD identifies a group of lung diseases that limit airflow through the body’s airways. The lungs of those with COPD become easily inflamed and the airways produce excess mucus that is coughed up. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two common types of COPD.

COPD is caused by exposure to noxious particles such as cigarette smoke that over time damage airways. The airways try to protect themselves by producing excess mucus, which irritates the lungs. The damage that results can be permanent.

Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Other risk factors include asthma, indoor air pollution, a hereditary deficiency of an enzyme necessary for proper lung function, low birth weight, exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals and severe childhood respiratory infections. Symptoms, which can take years to develop, include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A cough that produces sputum
  • Swollen legs or feet
  • Wheezing

Diagnosis is based on a physical exam; lung function tests to measure how much air a person can take in with a deep breath; and how fast the air can be pushed back out of the lungs; and possibly a chest X-ray and blood tests.

There is no cure for COPD, but there is treatment. COPD is treated with prescription medications and lifestyle changes that include identifying and avoiding factors that contribute to the disease and exercise programs that improve lung function. Other options include oxygen therapy and surgery.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chronic Sinusitis
Other name: Chronic sinus disease

Sinusitis is a common infection or inflammation of the sinuses that can be painful. Most often the condition is categorized as acute, which may last several weeks; chronic, which may last several months or years; and recurrent, which is characterized by several acute cases within a year. Chronic sinusitis affects an estimated 13 percent of the US population or approximately 30 million people, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Symptoms include:

  • A headache in the morning
  • Pain in the forehead
  • Aches in upper jaw and teeth
  • Swelling and tenderness in the eye area
  • Tenderness on the sides of the nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Earache
  • Neck pain
  • Aching at the top of the head
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • A cough
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Sinus drainage that causes a sore throat

Chronic sinusitis may be triggered by asthma or allergies. If you have an immune deficiency disease or abnormality in the way mucus moves through your respiratory system, you also may develop chronic sinusitis. A CT scan or MRI may be requested to rule out any anatomical obstructions that could be contributing to the symptoms.

Treatment of chronic sinusitis is similar to that of acute sinusitis. Your doctor may prescribe decongestants, a steroid nasal spray or oral steroids, and pain relievers for more long-term use. Your doctor also may consider prescribing antibiotics. Surgical drainage of the sinus and correction of the anatomic drainage may be another treatment option.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Chronic Vulvar Pain
Other name: Vulvodynia

Chronic vulvar pain is pain in the vulvar area that never goes away. It can affect your health and sex life and affects at least 200,000 women in the US.

The pain may occur when you urinate, insert a tampon or have sex. The pain may be constant or it may come and go. Symptoms may be experienced during exercise or even while resting.
With chronic vulvar pain, symptoms around your vulva may include:

  • Burning or stinging
  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Throbbing

Chronic vulvar pain is diagnosed by an exam and a series of questions about your symptoms, sexual practices, lifestyle, medical history and medications.

While there is no known cure for chronic vulvar pain, treatment may include the use of antibiotics or anti-yeast infection medication, anti-inflammatory medicine, steroids, estrogen creams, local anesthetics, antidepressants or anticonvulsants. Different women tend to respond to different treatments, and some women may not respond to treatment at all.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cirrhosis
Other name: Chronic liver disease

Cirrhosis is a degenerative liver disease in which the liver cells deteriorate and liver function decreases. The liver is a filter that rids the body of poisons by removing germs, bacteria and waste from the blood. It also releases vitamins, minerals and other substances back into the blood. The liver can replace its own damaged cells with new ones, and it is the organ’s ability to do this that makes liver transplants possible.

There are a few symptoms of cirrhosis in the early sages. As the liver develops more nodules and liver function decreases, symptoms begin to develop. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • A low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained nose bleeds
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Jaundice
  • Itching
  • Bruising
  • Bacterial infections
  • Varicose veins

Cirrhosis also can affect a person’s mental capacity as toxins build in the brain. The affected individual may become irritable, confused or unable to concentrate.

The most common causes of cirrhosis are alcoholic liver disease and hepatitis. The disease is diagnosed with a physical exam, review of medical history and tests such as abdominal CT or MRI and blood tests. A liver biopsy may also be needed.

The treatment of cirrhosis may depend on what caused the liver disease. If alcohol use is a factor, the person will need encouragement and support as he or she strives to avoid drinking. Medications, blood transfusions and other treatments may be considered as well as liver transplantation.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Click-Murmur Syndrome
Other names: Barlow’s syndrome, mitral valve prolapse, systolic click-murmur syndrome, floppy mitral valve, billowing mitral valve

Click-murmur syndrome is a common form of congenital heart disease. In this disease, the mitral valve, which controls blood flow between the upper and lower chambers on the left side of the heart, doesn’t function properly. Part of the valve bulges out into the upper chamber of the heart and allows blood to leak back into it.

The cause of click-murmur syndrome is unknown. It is believed to be an inherited condition in many cases but may also be caused by conditions such as rheumatic fever and coronary heart disease. Symptoms include:

  • Irregular or rapid heart beat
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Intestinal problems

Click-murmur syndrome can be heard through a stethoscope, and an echocardiogram can confirm the original diagnosis. You may be asked to wear a heart monitor for a few days to record the electrical activity of your heart.

While click-murmur syndrome sounds awful, treatment is often not necessary. Your physician may prescribe antibiotics prior to dental work or surgery, and antibiotics may also help prevent an infection of the membrane that covers the heart. A beta-blocker may also be prescribed for symptoms such as chest pain and anxiety. Surgery may be recommended in severe cases.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cluster Headaches
Other names: Histamine headaches, red migraines, Horton’s disease

Cluster headaches are characterized by severe pain primarily behind the eyes and near the temples that may last for up to two hours. Cluster headaches are more painful than migraine headaches, typically begin to occur when people are in their 20s and 30s and occur most often in men.

Cluster headaches may be classified as episodic, occurring within a five-month period that is followed by six months to two years without another episode; or chronic, in which the time period without experiencing a cluster headache is less than a week in a one-year period.

Cluster headaches occur as a result of hormonal, vascular and biochemical changes. Why these changes occur is uncertain. A number of factors can trigger a cluster headache such as alcohol and/or tobacco use, a histamine or stress.

Diagnosis of cluster headaches typically involves a physical exam in which the physician will ask questions about how often the headaches occur, how long they last, how severe the pain is and its primary location.

Treatment usually involves a combination of therapies that use prescription medications to prevent the headaches and shorten their duration. The three forms of therapy are called induction, maintenance and symptomatic.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cold Sores
Other names: Fever blisters, herpes simplex

Cold sores are contagious, fluid-filled, painful blisters around the mouth caused by a form of the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores are often associated with canker sores, but canker sores occur inside the mouth. You can get a cold sore by sharingthe eating utensils, razors or towels of someone with the virus. Once you have contracted the virus that causes cold sores, it lies dormant in your skin for life and may recur. Fever, menstruation and exposure to sunlight may trigger a recurrence. Symptoms include:

  • Fluid-filled blisters around the mouth
  • Pain and tingling
  • Itching

The good news is that cold sores usually clear up without treatment within seven to 10 days. Over-the-counter creams and pain relievers help alleviate pain. If you frequently experience cold sores, your physician may prescribe an antiviral pill or ointment that will make the sores heal faster.

If you have a cold sore, it is best to avoid salty food and acidic foods such as oranges and tomatoes, which may irritate the sores. You may find it helpful to wash the sore once or twice a day with warm, soapy water. Pat the sore dry.

To guard against cold sores and to prevent spreading them to other parts of your body or to other people, avoid kissing and coming into contact with the skin of those who have cold sores while blisters are present, and avoid sharing food or drinks with those who have cold sores. Avoid touching the sores and wash your hands frequently. Parents should wear gloves when applying ointment to a child’s sore.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Colds
The common cold is caused by one of more than 200 viruses and usually lasts a week or two. The most common cold-causing viruses reside in our nasal passages and are called rhinoviruses. Most cold viruses are not spread through the air, but by direct contact with the infected person or objects he or she has handled. Exposure to cold weather doesn’t increase your chances of getting the common cold. Factors that increase risk include stress, allergic reactions and hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle. Symptoms of the common cold include:

  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Nasal or sinus blockage
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Low-grade fever

Most common colds will run their course in a week or two and can be treated with over-the-counter medications. If your symptoms are severe, you may have another condition with symptoms similar to the cold, such as the flu. If you experience chills, excessive sweating, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting or a fever that exceeds 102°F you should see your doctor.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Colic
If your infant is between 2 weeks and 5 months old and has been crying and crying for no obvious reason, he or she may have colic. This common condition affects 10 to 20 percent of all infants and usually goes away within eight weeks. Bouts of crying may last several hours. They tend to occur late in the day and may recur fairly frequently.


The stomach of a colicky baby tends to feel tight or swollen and may make noises. These babies may clench their fists, curl their toes or pull their legs up toward their abdomen. This may result from issues relating to feeding or over-stimulation, but there is no known cause of colic. Some have speculated that the condition occurs as a result of swallowing large amounts of air, which causes abdominal pain. Other possible causes include food intolerances, discomfort due to hunger or overfeeding, lack of sleep, loneliness and overheated milk.

Just as there is no know cause of colic, there is no known cure. Some physicians will suggest certain medications to relieve gas pain. Others will recommend trying to make the baby more comfortable by massaging its back to release any trapped gas or holding the baby in a sitting position to prevent air from being swallowed. Sometimes a light may be too bright or noise too loud for the baby, and it may respond well to being rocked or snuggled in a quiet, dark room. Colic tends to go away before a child is 6 months old.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Colon Polyps
Other names: Intestinal polyps, colorectal polyps

A colon polyp is extra tissue that grows inside the large intestine, which also is called the colon. Most polyps are not dangerous, but some larger types can turn into cancer, so most physicians remove and test all polyps for cancer.

Anyone can develop a polyp, but you are at greater risk if you are 50 years of age or older, have a history of colon polyps, have a family history of colon polyps or a family history of cancer of the large intestine. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients older than 50 have colon polyps. Other factors that put you at greater risk of developing a colon polyp include a diet high in fatty foods, smoking, drinking alcohol, not exercising and being overweight.

Small polyps typically do not cause symptoms and often people don’t even know they have a polyp until their doctor finds it during a physical. When symptoms are present they may include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constipation or diarrhea that lasts more than a week
  • Blood in the stool

The cause of colon polyps is not known. Four tests may be conducted to diagnose a colon polyp– a digital rectal exam, barium enema, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. You should talk to your physician about being tested if you have a family history of polyps or colon cancer, if you are 50 years of age or older and especially if you experience symptoms.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Color Blindness
Other names: Achromatopsia, protanopia, deuteranopia, tritanopia, poor color vision

Color blindness is a genetic condition in which specific light-sensitive nerve cells called cones in the retina of a person’s eye do not function normally and prevent the person from seeing the full spectrum of color. Many people incorrectly think that color blindness means a person sees no color, but that form of color blindness is very rare. In some cases, color blindness may result from injury, disease or aging.

People with normal vision have nerve cells in the retinas of their eyes called rods and cones. The rods enable a person to see black and white, while the cones are positioned to perceive mostly long wavelengths of light, which produce red color; middle wavelengths, which produce green color; or short wavelengths, which produce blue. Those with color blindness either have a type of cone mission or don’t have the normal peak absorption. Several different types of color blindness exist, including:

  • Red/green colorblindness (deuteranopia)
  • Blue/yellow colorblindness (protanopia)
  • Total color blindness (achromatopsia)

Those with deuteranopia and protanopia see color, but only a limited range of hues. Those with achromatopsia see only black and white.

Approximately 5 to 8 percent of men and .5 percent of women are born color blind. Most people with color blindness function like anyone else with the possible exception of occasionally mismatching outfits. Color blindness is usually diagnosed when a parent realizes a child is having difficulty learning some or all colors, or during a routine eye screening.

No cure is available for color blindness, but those who are color blind can function normally, if they are aware of their conditions. For instance, they can learn the difference between the colors on a traffic light by position.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Colorectal Cancer
Other names: Cancer of the colon, cancer of the intestine, cancer of the rectum

Colorectal cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. The colon absorbs water and minerals from food and passes them into the bloodstream. The rectum stores fecal material until it is eliminated. Because of the proximity and relationship of the two organs, cancers of both are discussed together as colorectal cancer. These cancerous cells may occur in any part of the colon, but the majority occur in the right ascending portion. Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Pain or cramps in abdomen
  • Reduced appetite

Risk factors include a diet high in meat or fat; a history of intestinal polyps, chronic inflammatory bowel disease and previous colorectal cancer; a sedentary lifestyle; and a family history of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer occurs in one out of every 20 people and accounts for 15 percent of the total number of new cancer diagnoses. However, 92 percent of patients who receive early treatment are still alive after five years. When adjacent organs or lymph nodes are affected, 64 percent survive at least five years.

Treatment depends on the stage of the disease, but the surgical removal of the section of the bowel containing the abnormal cells or tumor is the most common treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and biological therapy may be used after surgery either on an individual basis or in some combination

Regular screening is necessary for early detection. Ask your doctor if and when you may need to be screened for colorectal cancer.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Compulsive Sexual Behavior (CSB)
Other names: Sexual obsession, hypersexuality, nymphomania, sexual addiction, erotomania

Compulsive sexual behavior is recurrent, troubling and can interfere with work, school, relationships and many functions of day-to-day life. Those who suffer from this condition find that sex has become central to their lives. CSB is estimated to affect at least 3 percent of the population.

Psychologists classify CSB into two main categories – paraphilic and non-paraphilic. With paraphilic CSB, sexual behavior is obsessive, compulsive and unconventional. The behaviors, which include voyeurism (sexual excitement from watching someone who is unaware he or she is being watched) , exhibitionism (sexual excitement from exposing the genitals in public) and pedophilia (sexual attraction to young children), interfere with relationships, intimacy and daily occupational or educational functions. Paraphilic CSB includes intense sexual fantasies or behaviors with objects, suffering or humiliation, children or non-consenting adults.

Non-paraphilic behavior includes conventional behaviors that involve a number of sexual partners without any sense of love or intimacy. Other forms of non-paraphilic behavior include fixations on unattainable partners and compulsive searching for multiple partners.

Some controversy exists over the question of whether CSB is an addiction, a psychosocial disorder, an impulse control disorder, a mood disorder or an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Most recognize that this disorder includes biological, psychological and social factors, so an extensive assessment by an expert should be performed. Those suspected of having CSB also should ask those assessing their conditions about their theories regarding it. In some cases, CSB is caused by an neurological disorder such as epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease. Most professionals agree that the most effective treatment method today involves psychotherapy and prescription medications to regulate certain chemical levels in the brain.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Concussion
A concussion is a head injury that occurs when a person experiences a head trauma that causes some temporary change of mental state. A concussion may occur as a result of an automobile accident, a sports-related injury or due to a fall.

Three grades of concussions have been identified by The American Academy of Neurology, with Grade 1, which does not involve a loss of consciousness, being the least severe, and Grade 3, which involves a loss of consciousness, being the most severe. Grade 1 includes milder symptoms that only last 15 minutes. Grade 2 includes the same types of symptoms as Grade 1, but they last longer than 15 minutes. Grade 3 includes more severe symptoms, such as amnesia, seizures and vomiting. Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Incoherent speech
  • Weakness
  • Amnesia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Vision changes
  • Ringing in ears



Diagnosis of a concussion includes a standard neurological exam. An EEG, X-ray, CT scan or MRI may be ordered to determine the extent of the damage. Sometimes all tests will be negative, because the damage is too mild to detect.

Treatment varies based on the severity of the injury. If the symptoms of someone diagnosed with a Grade 1 concussion go away in 15 minutes, she should avoid strenuous physical activity for a week. A person with a Grade 2 concussion should avoid strenuous physical activity for two weeks. Anyone with a Grade 3 concussion should be transported to a hospital in a neck brace for emergency treatment. Most people with concussions fully recover.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart cannot adequately pump blood throughout the body or prevent it from building up in the lungs and other body tissues. The heart doesn’t actually quit functioning, but it gradually begins to operate less efficiently over several years.

As a result of congestive heart failure, the heart may try to compensate for its inefficient operation by becoming enlarged so that it can contract with greater force or it may begin to beat faster than normal, causing adrenaline levels in the body to increase. These changes may help address the underlying problem for a while, but eventually heart muscles become weak from over-exertion.

The underlying causes of congestive heart failure include coronary artery disease, a heart attack, hypertension, heart valve disorders, congenital heart defects and lung disease. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up phlegm
  • Inflammation of the legs, feet or ankles
  • Dizziness

Congestive heart failure is diagnosed through a variety of tests that may include a chest X-ray, blood test, electrocardiogram, stress test, echocardiography and an angiography.

Congestive heart failure is not curable, but it may be managed with the right combination of medication and lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms. Lifestyle changes include getting 30 to 40 minutes of exercise daily, eating a low-fat diet, losing excess weight, limiting alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, reducing stress levels and lowering caffeine and sodium intake. In some cases, surgery may be required to correct the condition.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Conjunctivitis
Other names: Pink eye, inflammation of the conjunctiva

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids. It is the most common eye disease and varies in severity from mild inflammation with tearing to a severe inflammation that can cause serious injury to tissue.

Conjunctivitis may be caused by a number of viral infections and bacteria. Often it is highly contagious. Symptoms include:

  • Increased tearing
  • Itching or burning eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Crusts that form on the eyelid at night

Treatment depends on the cause of the condition. Antibiotic medications may be prescribed. Some cases will disappear on their own in seven to 10 days. Discomfort may be eased with warm compresses.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Constipation
Constipation occurs when you have difficulty having a bowel movement. An estimated 2.5 million people see their physicians each year due to constipation, and in some cases it is a symptom of a more serious, underlying condition.

Most people believe that to be “regular” you should have a bowel movement every day, but the normal frequency varies from person to person. Some people normally have bowel movements several times a day, while others may have a normal frequency of just three or four times a week. To prevent constipation, don’t delay having a bowel movement when you feel the urge, eat more fiber, drink plenty of fluids, exercise more and avoid using laxatives when possible.

Since people often have different definitions of constipation, your physician will probably start by asking questions about what you mean by constipation. Your physician may also ask you about your medical history and order lab tests or colorectal studies based on the severity of the constipation. Lifestyle changes that include a high-fiber diet and regular exercise may also be recommended.

If you’ve been using laxatives or enemas regularly, your physician will probably recommend tapering them so your body will begin to function normally again. This may take several weeks.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Corns & Calluses
Your feet take a lot of day-to-day abuse and because of it, you may have various types of foot pain. Corns and calluses are just a couple of conditions that your body develops as it tries to compensate for the abuse your feet take—primarily from poorly fitting shoes.

Corns and calluses are thick layers of skin that develop due to repeated pressure or friction. A callus is a protective pad on the top of the toe or bottom of the feet. Calluses, with the exception of a specific type of callus called plantar keratosis, are usually not painful. Unfortunately corns, which are smaller calluses that develop on top of the toes, can be quite painful. They contain a cone-shaped core with a point that can press on the nerves below. Symptoms of calluses and corns include:

  • Thick, hardened skin
  • Skin that may be flaky or dry

Calluses can be avoided by removing the source that is rubbing the foot and by thinning the callus with a pumice stone.

Corns may be treated by wearing properly fitting shoes with extra room in the toe area. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose. Over-the-counter corn removal medications may increase irritation or discomfort. Diabetics or those with poor circulation should never use chemicals to remove corns. Unmedicated corn pads may help reduce pain until the corns go away.

If you have a corn or callus that you suspect is infected, see your physician.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Crohn’s Disease
Other names: Granulomatous enteritis, regional enteritis

Crohn’s disease is one of several diseases that fall into a category called inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn’s is a severe disease that causes inflammation in an organ of the digestive system, usually in the small intestine. The inflammation goes deep into the lining of the area affected, which is usually the lower part of the small intestine. However, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. Untreated Crohn’s disease may lead to a number of other conditions including intestinal obstruction and liver disease.

The cause of Crohn’s disease in not known, but inflammatory bowel disease tends to run in some families. Some think the disease may be caused by a bacterial infection, but this has not been proven. And while diet may affect symptoms, diet is not believed to be responsible for the disease. Symptoms, which vary from person to person, include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Mouth sores
  • Sores in the rectal area
  • Rectal bleeding

Crohn’s disease can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are much like those of other diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. It may be diagnosed through a number of tests including stool tests, blood tests, barium enema X-ray, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and biopsy.

Currently, there is no cure for this disease. Symptoms may be treated and somewhat relieved by avoiding foods that may be irritants, such as dairy products, spicy food and high-fiber food. Your physician may also recommend prescription medications.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Croup
Croup is a group of conditions involving inflammation of the airways that usually affects children 5 years of age and younger. Croup is caused by a virus and is recognized by a loud cough that sounds like a seal barking.

Symptoms of croup are similar to those of a cold and tend to worsen at night or when the child is upset. The characteristic barking cough usually occurs the first night of the illness. Most cases of croup are mild, last just a few days and may be treated at home. Symptoms include:

  • A stuffy or runny nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Inflamed airways
  • Hoarse voices
  • Barking cough

Most cases of croup may be treated effectively at home with antihistamines and decongestants. Antibiotics are not used to treat croup. In severe cases, prescription medication may be required.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cushing’s Syndrome
Other name: Hypercortisolism

Cushing’s syndrome is a rare disorder resulting from over-exposure to the hormone cortisol. It occurs in only about 10 out of every 1 million people annually. Most often this exposure is due to long-term use of medications containing cortisol, but it may also result from the body’s overproduction of the hormone.

Cortisol is a potent hormone that helps protect the body from stress and is one of the few hormones necessary for life. It is involved in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, normal function of the circulatory system, heart, kidneys and muscles as well as the production of blood cells. It aids in nervous, immune and skeletal system functions. Symptoms include:

  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Bone loss
  • Weak muscles
  • Easily bruised skin
  • Purple stretch marks on stomach and thighs
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Excess hair growth on the face and neck of females

Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome is difficult. It must identify the excess hormone and its source. Tumors in the pituitary or adrenal glands are the most common causes of the disorder. Various tests may be used to aid in the diagnosis process including CT scans, MRI and a 24-hour free cortisol test.

Treatment options vary based on the cause of the cortisol excess and may include the use of prescription medications, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that causes glands throughout the body, particularly in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, ducts of the pancreas and ducts of the liver, to produce unusually thick mucus. This mucus obstructs airways, interferes with digestion and leads to frequent respiratory infections.

Usually the gene that causes cystic fibrosis is passed from both parents. The parents seldom have the disease but are carriers of the gene. Symptoms include:

  • Trouble gaining weight
  • Poor growth
  • Malnutrition
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Repeated bouts of pneumonia
  • Fertility problems
  • Barrel chest

Diagnosis is based on a physical exam, review of symptoms and medical history. Tests to confirm the diagnosis may include DNA testing, lung function tests, chest X-rays and a sweat challenge test.

A cure for cystic fibrosis does not exist, so treatment is aimed at infection prevention, maintaining clear airways and improving nutrition. Treatment includes immunizations, enzyme tablets prescribed to improve nutrition and insulin shots if needed.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)