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Halitosis
Hammer Toes & Mallet Toes
Hearing Loss
Heart Attack
Heart Murmur
Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion
Hemochromatosis
Hemophilia
Hemorrhoids
Hepatitis
Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP)
Hernia
High Blood Pressure

High Cholesterol
Hives
Hodgkin’s Disease
Hordeolum

Huntington Chorea
Hydrocephalus

Hyperglycemia
Hyperhidrosis
Hyperparathyroidism
Hyperthyroidism
Hypoglycemia

Hypopituitarism
Hypothermia
Hypothyroidism

Halitosis
Other name: Bad breath

Halitosis is bad breath that may be caused by poor dental hygiene, eating spicy food and conditions such as kidney failure, diabetes and liver disease. While a lot of people suffer from halitosis, many cases may be corrected by regular dental checkups, brushing your teeth, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash at least twice a day.

Good oral hygiene will help remove bits of food that stick between teeth and around gums. As this food rots a sulfur compound is produced and a bad smell develops in the mouth. Additionally, the decaying food contributes to the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which also can cause an offensive odor as well as gum disease.

Other steps that can be taken to control halitosis include chewing sugar-free gum and scraping your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper, which is a plastic tool designed specifically to remove bacteria from the tongue. If you wear dentures or some other removable appliance such as a bridge or retainer, clean it regularly to remove odor and bacteria.

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)

Hammer Toes & Mallet Toes
Hammer toes and mallet toes are deformities in which the toes are bent and cannot straighten out. With hammer toes, the middle toe joint is bent upward so that the top of the joint rubs against the top of the shoe and the tip of the toe bears weight. Mallet toes, also called claw toes, are similar with the first joint bent upward.

Both hammer toes and mallet toes result in pain on the top of the affected joint and in the tip of the toe. These conditions are most often caused by bone and muscle imbalances that become exaggerated among those who tend to be on their feet a lot and participate in athletic activities. The muscle imbalance may stem from flat feet, injury or a disease such as arthritis.

Hammer toes and mallet toes may seem like minor ailments, but if left untreated they can lead to serious deformities.

Those with hammer toes or mallet toes should wear shoes with a high and broad toe box to prevent further irritation. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Initially, toes can be straightened easily. If the condition is due to flat feet, a podiatrist can create a custom-molded orthotic to help the muscles work together more effectively.

Arthroplasty is a surgical procedure that lengthens the shortened toe muscle and enables the toe to straighten. If the condition has been left untreated too long and arthroplasty is not effective, your doctor may recommend a procedure called arthrodesis, which requires fusing two bones together to correct the problem.

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)

Hearing Loss
Approximately one-third of Americans 60 years of age or older and half of those 70 years of age or older have a hearing loss. Hearing loss also may occur among those who are younger.

Hearing loss is caused by a number of factors. People may be born with hearing problems, or the problems may occur due to infection, injury or as part of the aging process.

Hearing loss may be defined as conductive or sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss occurs when something interferes with the transmission of sound from the outer to inner ear. Causes of conductive hearing loss include middle ear infections, excess earwax in the ear or damage to the eardrum due to infection or trauma. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage within the pathway that sound impulses travel – from the inner ear to the auditory nerve and brain. Causes of sensorineural hearing loss include age-related hearing loss, injury caused by a loud noise, Meniere’s disease, brain tumor or stroke.

Hearing loss is diagnosed through a physical exam, a review of your medical history, a discussion about hearing-related symptoms and a variety of hearing tests. Treatment of hearing loss depends on the cause. A bacterial infection may be treated with antibiotics and hearing may be restored. Damaged eardrums may be repaired surgically or hearing loss due to the aging process may be corrected with a hearing aid.

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)

Heart Attack
Other name: Myocardial infarction

A heart attack occurs when one or more arteries to the heart become blocked and that portion of the heart ceases to function because it is not receiving enough oxygen or other nutrients. Often the blockage is due to arteriosclerosis, which is also called hardening of the arteries. In some cases a spasm in a coronary artery, inflammation of the heart or lung disease, which can cause a dramatic decline in the oxygen in the blood, may be the cause. Symptoms, which may occur as long as weeks prior to a heart attack, include:

  • Uncomfortable chest pressure
  • Indigestion or fullness
  • Pain in the center of the chest and at times the shoulders, neck and arms
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms may not be present at all. About a quarter of those who experience a heart attack are not even aware it has occurred and find out later they have heart damage.

A physician can usually diagnose a heart attack by examining the patient, asking questions and checking heart rate and blood pressure. Blood work and an electrocardiogram, which will indicate if a coronary artery is blocked, may be required. The electrocardiogram will help the physician determine how much damage has occurred to the heart and the appropriate method of treatment. Once a heart attack is diagnosed, the physician may recommend drug therapy or surgery.

If a muscle in the heart does not receive oxygen for 30 minutes, it ceases to function. Drug therapy should begin within one hour of the start of the heart attack to be effective. It is vital to seek immediate medical attention for chest pain.

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)

Heart Murmur
A heart murmur is a noise that occurs when blood isn’t flowing through the heart normally. When the heart is functioning properly, blood flowing through the heart does not create noise. A number of conditions may cause a heart murmur and still not have a negative effect on the body. Typically, a heart murmur can only be heard through a stethoscope.

Heart murmurs are categorized as either normal or abnormal. Normal heart murmurs occur in about 50 percent of infants and do not indicate any abnormality of the heart. They may be caused by conditions such as anemia, hyperthyroidism and rheumatic fever. Abnormal heart murmurs occur among patients with heart disease. Heart valves that are either too tight or leaky or a hole in the heart may cause the murmur.

Symptoms, which are not always present, include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rapid heart beat

A heart murmur is usually detected during a physical exam. Further testing may be required to determine the cause of a “new” murmur or other abnormal heart sounds. Treatment for a heart murmur usually requires surgery or no treatment at all. The decision is based on the severity of symptoms, the risk of future heart damage if the murmur is not corrected and the risk of other complications, such as a stroke or cardiac arrest. If an underlying condition such as hyperthyroidism or anemia is the cause, a treatment plan may be developed to address the condition first to see if it also corrects the heart murmur.

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)

Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion
Heat stroke occurs when the body loses the ability to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises and the body’s normal cooling system, which includes the ability to sweat, fails. Heat exhaustion is similar to heat stroke, but not as severe. Heat exhaustion often occurs after one has been exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time or has not been able to replace a sufficient amount of fluids. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • High temperature
  • Red, dry skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale skin tone
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Cramps

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention. Extremely high body temperatures can cause death or permanent disability. While waiting for medical assistance, get the affected person to a cool, shady area and cool the person with water, ice or whatever may be available. Check body temperature frequently until it is around 100°F.

If you or someone you know is experiencing heat exhaustion, help keep the person cool and give them cool fluids. It may help to give them a cool shower. If symptoms do not improved in an hour, seek immediate medical care. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.

To prevent heat-related illness, take extra precautions to keep your body cool, such as increasing fluid intake and replacing salt and minerals your body loses while perspiring by drinking fruit juice or a sports drink. Other steps you can take to stay cool include wearing lightweight clothing, using sunscreen, pacing yourself during exercise and staying cool inside an air-conditioned environment or using a fan.

It’s also a good idea to check on those who are particularly susceptible to heat-related illness, such as young children, those 65 years of age or older, those who are overweight, those on certain medications and those who often overexert themselves while working or exercising.

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)

Hemochromatosis
Other name: Iron overload

Hemochromatosis is a hereditary disease caused by excessive levels of iron in the body. Those with hemochromatosis absorb twice as much iron as others. Since their bodies have no way of eliminating it, the iron builds up and can cause serious damage to the liver, heart, pancreas and other organs.

The disease is caused by a defect in the gene that regulates iron absorption. The defect is present at birth, but symptoms don’t usually appear until adulthood. Symptoms include:

  • Arthritis
  • Liver disease
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Impotence
  • Early menopause
  • Gray or bronze colored skin
  • Thyroid deficiency
  • Damage to adrenal gland and pancreas

Hemochromatosis is diagnosed by a review of your medical history and symptoms, a physical exam and blood tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. Blood tests also will reveal the amount of iron in the body.

Treatment strives to eliminate the excess iron and involves phlebotomy, which is removing blood once or twice a week and testing it until normal iron levels are established. At that point, a pint of blood is taken from the patient for testing every month or so for life.

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)

Hemophilia
Hemophilia is a genetic disorder caused by low levels or the absence of the proteins required for blood to clot. Two types of hemophilia exist: hemophilia A and hemophilia B. The difference is that each lacks a different blood-clotting protein.

An estimated 20,000 people in the US have hemophilia, and the majority of them have hemophilia A. The severity of the disease depends on the amount of the blood clotting protein present.

Diagnosis of hemophilia may be made using a variety of tests to determine how long it takes for blood to clot in a carefully controlled environment. Treatment includes ensuring that those diagnosed with hemophilia understand the extreme importance of avoiding injury. When hemophiliacs need dental work or surgery, they should be treated in advance with a blood-clotting factor.

The frequency of treatment with the blood-clotting factor varies based on the severity of the condition. Those with extreme cases may need regular treatment to avoid spontaneous bleeding. Those with milder cases may only need treatment when injured or prior to surgical or dental procedures.

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)

Hemorrhoids
Other name: Piles

Hemorrhoids are enlarged veins in the rectum caused by pressure on veins in the rectal area due to constipation, obesity, pregnancy or lengthy periods of sitting. You can help prevent hemorrhoids and constipation by eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of fluids, exercising regularly and not delaying when you feel the need for a bowel movement. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the rectal area
  • Itching in the rectal area
  • Bleeding that may be present before or after a bowel movement
  • A soft lump at the rectal area

Hemorrhoids are diagnosed based on symptoms and a physical exam, which may include an examination of the rectal area with an endoscope.

Minor occurrences of hemorrhoids may be treated with over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes to reduce constipation. Severe cases may require 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)

Hepatitis
Hepatitis is a liver disease that may be categorized as hepatitis A, hepatitis B or hepatitis C based on the specific virus that causes it.

Hepatitis A can be spread through food, water and stool. It is usually spread by putting food or drink in the mouth that has traces of infected stool. Hepatitis B is spread through blood and body fluids.   Hepatitis C is also spread through blood and body fluids.   Vaccines are now available to prevent hepatitis A and B. Those diagnosed with hepatitis B and C may develop chronic cases of the disease that last six months or longer. It is important to note that patients with chronic hepatitis can still infect others. All three forms of hepatitis may present the same symptoms in the first few weeks, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Joint aches
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Jaundice (one or two weeks after the first symptoms appear)

While all three forms of hepatitis have similar symptoms during the first three to five weeks of illness, hepatitis A continues to improve, while hepatitis B and hepatitis C may have long-term effects such as fatigue and jaundice.

Hepatitis is diagnosed based on symptoms present, blood tests and possibly a liver biopsy. Treatment includes bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding medications that contain acetaminophen and alcohol. Patients who are dehydrated or suffering from severe nausea or vomiting may need to be hospitalized.

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)

Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP)
Other name: Familial spastic paraparesis (FSP)

Hereditary spastic paraplegia is an inherited neurological disorder that causes the muscles of the legs to get progressively weak and stiff. While walking may become difficult, most patients can still manage. Symptoms of HSP include:

  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination
  • Weak leg muscles

There are two categories of HSP – uncomplicated and complicated. Those with uncomplicated HSP do not have other neurological disorders, but they may have or develop other muscle-control issues that result in problems, such as weakened bladder control. Those with complicated HSP tend to have other related conditions, such as impaired vision or hearing, impaired control of voluntary movement and mental retardation.

There is no specific treatment for HSP, but symptomatic control through physical therapy is very important for improving quality of life for those living with the disorder.

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)

Hernia
A hernia is a lump that occurs when an organ pushes through the wall of the cavity that normally contains it. Hernias are named for the protruding organ or for the area through which the organ is protruding.

At least three different types of hernias have been identified – inguinal, hiatal and umbilical. An inguinal hernia, the most common form, passes through the abdominal wall in the groin area. A hiatal hernia occurs when part of the stomach or intestine pushes through an opening in the diaphragm or chest cavity. An umbilical hernia occurs when the bowel pushes through the abdominal wall under the skin near the naval. Symptoms, which may not be present at all, include:

  • A bulge or protrusion under the skin
  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to have a bowel movement
  • Heartburn
  • Belching

When a physician diagnoses a hernia, a physical exam is conducted. The physician may ask you to cough as he or she examines the area, because coughing may make the hernia bulge out further. If the physician suspects a hiatal hernia, an endoscopic exam may also be ordered. One major concern with hernias is that a piece of the intestine may become caught and blood flow cut off, causing a portion of the intestine to die. This condition may lead to serious complications and requires immediate surgery.

Some hernias may not require treatment. Patients with inguinal hernias may wear a belt called a truss that keeps the hernia from protruding. Those using a truss to manage symptoms relating to a hernia should avoid activities that require abdominal strain. Most hernias are repaired through laparoscopic surgery, which may be performed much less invasively than surgery once was. However, laparoscopic surgery may not be an option for very large hernias.

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)

High Blood Pressure
Other name: Hypertension

High blood pressure occurs when an unusual amount of pressure is placed against blood vessel walls, forcing the heart to work harder to provide the necessary blood supply. In addition to straining the heart, high blood pressure can damage kidneys and lead to atherosclerosis and stroke.

Normal blood pressure is 120/70. The first number (systolic) is the measurement of pressure your blood exerts against artery walls when the heart has just finished contracting. The second number (diastolic) is the measure of pressure your blood exerts against artery walls when the heart is filling with blood.

High blood pressure may be caused by obesity, genetics, smoking, stress, excessive consumption of alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle and certain medications. High blood pressure usually does not have any symptoms and is often referred to as the “silent killer.”

High blood pressure is diagnosed by checking the pressure with a blood pressure cuff. You should have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you have severely high blood pressure, you may develop symptoms such as damage to the brain, kidneys, ears and eyes. If you have high blood pressure, your physician will probably recommend lifestyle changes, such as not smoking, eating a balanced diet and increasing your activity. If you have more than a mild case of high blood pressure, your physician may also recommend a prescription medication.

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)

High Cholesterol
Most of what we hear about cholesterol is bad, but this fatty substance produced in the liver is important for the body to function normally. Some cholesterol is important for digestion, hormone production and the creation of healthy cell walls. The problem occurs when too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol is produced, which may form a plaque on the blood vessel walls and restrict blood flow. Cholesterol has four components:

  • LDL, which is the "bad" cholesterol
  • HDL, which is the "good" cholesterol
  • Triglycerides, which increase the risk for heart disease
  • Total cholesterol

The FDA estimates that nearly half of the adult population has elevated LDL cholesterol levels.

All adults 20 years of age and older should have their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. Men who are 45 or older, women 55 or older and those with a family history of high cholesterol should have their cholesterol checked more frequently.

The only way to diagnose high LDL cholesterol is through a blood test, but other indicators include obesity and a high-fat diet. Treatment includes lifestyle changes such as maintaining a regular exercise routine and eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet. Prescription medications also are available to treat cholesterol problems.

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)

Hives
Other name: Urticaria

Itchy, irritating little red bumps that may disappear from one location and reappear in another are an allergic reaction called hives. An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system produces an inappropriate response to a normally harmless substance. Some people also develop hives in response to sunlight, cold, heat, stress, exercise or a viral infection.

Hives usually persist for up to 24 hours and go away. When larger welts occur beneath the skin, this condition is called angioedema. Common triggers of hives include:

  • Food such as berries, nuts, eggs, milk and shellfish
  • Medications
  • Pollen
  • Infection
  • Insect stings or bites

Hives are treated with antihistamines to relieve swelling and itching. An oatmeal bath may help relieve itching, and a shower or bath may make hives go away if the allergic reaction was caused by skin contact with an allergen. If the reaction is severe, your doctor may prescribe an oral corticosteroid.

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)

Hodgkin’s Disease
Other names: Lymphoma – Hodgkin’s

Hodgkin’s disease is the development of a specific type of cancerous tissue that may be found in the lymphatic system, which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, adenoids, thymus gland, tonsils and bone marrow. There are two types of lymphomas – Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Lymphatic tissue with Hodgkin’s disease contains specific cells called Reed-Sternberg cells, which are not found in other cancerous lymphomas or cancers. Both non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s begin in lymphatic tissues and can progress to other organs.

Lymph nodes are small, pea-sized organs that are found under the skin along large blood vessels and in groups on the neck, underarms, groin, abdomen and pelvis. Lymph nodes are linked by narrow tubes that carry fluids collected throughout the body and funneled back into the bloodstream. Symptoms of Hodgkin’s disease include:

  • Painless swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats/excessive sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Generalized itching
  • Hair loss
  • Neck pain

Various tests are used to diagnose Hodgkin’s disease and to determine how advanced the disease is. These test may include a biopsy of the lymph node, bone marrow or suspected tissue; CT scan of the abdomen; blood tests, chest X-ray and MRI. Treatment usually includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

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)

Hordeolum
Other name: Sty

Hordeolum is the inflammation of one or more of the oil glands of the eyelid caused by a bacterial infection. It is similar to pimples, which occur elsewhere on the skin. A sty often develops over the course of a few days, then drains and heals on its own. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Redness at the edge of the eyelid
  • Local pain
  • Tenderness
  • Yellow drainage

Hordeolum is diagnosed based on a review of your medical history and a physical exam. Treatment is based on your age and severity of 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)

Huntington Chorea
Other name: Huntington’s disease (HD)

Huntington chorea is a disease characterized by dementia and jerky involuntary movement called chorea. It typically occurs in those between the ages of 30 and 50. Huntington chorea is an aggressive disease that frequently will result in death within 15 to 20 years.

Approximately 10 people in 100,000 are affected by this primarily genetic disease, which was first described by George Huntington in 1872. Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal movement
  • Unsteady gait
  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Dementia
  • Rigidity
  • Behavior changes

Currently, there is no cure for Huntington chorea and no medication known to slow the progression of this disease. Prescription medications may be recommended by a physician to help with movement problems and psychiatric symptoms. Physical or occupational therapy may be recommended. Supportive care from caregivers and family will 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)

Hydrocephalus
Hydrocephalus is a life-threatening condition caused by an excessive amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that causes a potentially dangerous amount of pressure on the brain. CSF is the fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord. This fluid also removes waste and provides the brain with nutrients.

Normally, CSF circulates through the brain and is absorbed into the bloodstream. When more CSF is produced than the body can absorb, the result is hydrocephalus. The cause of overproduction is not known. Symptoms, which tend to vary with the age of the patient, include:

  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • An enlarged head
  • Poor vision
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Memory loss

Hydrocephalus is usually diagnosed after tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI, are thoroughly evaluated. Treatment of hydrocephalus most often requires surgically implanting a shunt that will allow the excess CSF to drain to another part of the body where it can be safely absorbed.

Recovery from hydrocephalus varies based on the cause, any underlying or related disorders and how quickly the condition is diagnosed. Many people who have had hydrocephalus live normal lives with few limitations with the proper treatment.

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)

Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia is having too much sugar in your blood. High sugar levels occur when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert the sugar into energy.

High stress levels, new medications or a recent illness may cause hyperglycemia. Symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst or hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased urination
  • High blood sugar
  • High levels of sugar in urine
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting

Hyperglycemia particularly affects diabetics who do not manage their insulin properly. If blood sugar levels get too high, a person with diabetes can experience ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include shortness of breath, sweet-smelling breath, dry mouth, loss of appetite and nausea.

Hyperglycemia is diagnosed with a blood test that checks a person’s sugar level. A person experiencing hyperglycemia for the first time will probably be given a diet and exercise plan by her physician. Insulin and other medications may also be included in this treatment plan.

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)

Hyperhidrosis
Other name: Excessive sweating

Hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating. This condition may be categorized as either primary or secondary. Primary hyperhidrosis results in excessive sweating of the hands and face only. This type of hyperhidrosis only affects about 1 percent of the population. While there seems to be a genetic link to the cause of primary hyperhidrosis, a definitive cause has not been identified.

Secondary hyperhidrosis is excessive sweating that affects the entire body and is generally related to an underlying condition such as hyperthyroidism, obesity, menopause and severe psychiatric disorders.

The most effective treatment of primary hyperhidrosis today is endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, which is a surgical technique that interrupts the nerves that transmit signals to sweat glands in the palm and face. This method is not effective for treatment of secondary hyperhidrosis. Treatment of secondary hyperhidrosis begins with identifying and treating the underlying 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)

Hyperparathyroidism
Hyperparathyroidism is a disorder caused when the parathyroid glands become enlarged and overactive, producing too much parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid glands are very small glands in the neck near the thyroid gland. An estimated 100,000 people in the US develop hyperparathyroidism each year.

Parathyroid hormone helps maintain the appropriate balance of calcium and phosphorous in the body. It regulates the amount of calcium released, absorbed and excreted. When the amount of calcium in the blood is higher than normal, it is a signal to physicians that something is wrong with the parathyroid glands.

Most often enlarged parathyroid glands are caused by a condition called hyperplasia. In rare cases, hyperparathyroidism may be caused by cancer of the parathyroid gland. Symptoms of hyperparathyroidism include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Kidney stones
  • High blood pressure
  • Peptic ulcers

Hyperparathyroidism is diagnosed when blood tests show high levels of calcium and parathyroid hormone. A bone density test may also be ordered to determine if bone loss has occurred.

Surgical removal of the enlarged gland or glands is the only treatment for hyperparathyroidism in most cases. Those with only mild cases may not require surgery but should have calcium levels and kidney functions monitored every six months.

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)

Hyperthyroidism
Other name: Overactive thyroid

In hyperthyroidism the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormones, which speed up chemical reactions in the body and cause physical and mental changes. Hyperthyroidism occurs most often among young and middle-aged women.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located below the Adam’s apple in the neck. It produces a hormone called thyroxine, which controls the rate at which a person’s body converts food and nutrients to energy. When the thyroid is producing too much of this hormone, a person’s metabolism accelerates. Symptoms include:

  • Anxiousness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling hot when others are comfortable
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Protruding eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased appetite
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

A number of factors may cause hyperthyroidism, such as an autoimmune disorder, which can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge and develop a condition called goiter; inflammation due to a viral infection; childbirth; or tumors.

Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed using a simple blood test to check hormone levels and thyroid function. Thyroid scanning and an ultrasound may also be required. Treatment may include prescription medication to address symptoms such as rapid or irregular heart rate and sweating. Anti-thyroid medications may also be prescribed to reduce the rate at which your thyroid is producing thyroxine. In more severe cases, radiation therapy or surgery may be necessary.

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)

Hypoglycemia
Other names: Low blood sugar, insulin reaction

Hypoglycemia is common in diabetics but may also occur in non-diabetics when the level of glucose in the bloodstream becomes extremely low and cannot be used as energy for the body. Glucose is a form of sugar that is very important as fuel for your body’s functions. Glucose comes from foods you eat, particularly from carbohydrates. The blood carries glucose to your cells to be used for energy.

There are two types of hypoglycemia: fasting hypoglycemia (low blood sugar if you haven’t eaten for a few hours) and non-fasting hypoglycemia (low blood sugar that occurs a few hours after you eat). Both instances may be linked with hereditary metabolism issues. Fasting hypoglycemia may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a kidney, heart or liver problem, an insulin-producing tumor, or starvation. Hypoglycemia may also be a result of certain medications or alcohol consumption. Common symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Hunger
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Perspiration
  • Cold and clammy hands
  • Nervousness
  • Shakiness or trembling
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Discomfort
  • Headache
  • Paleness
  • Increased heartbeat

More rare symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • Unconsciousness
  • Fainting
  • Memory loss

If you are diabetic, you probably already monitor your own blood glucose levels. If you experience bouts of hypoglycemia, you might want to invest in a blood glucose monitor so you can check your levels if you experience any of these symptoms. The first thing to do when you experience any symptoms of hypoglycemia is to eat a quick snack containing sugar. That should help your symptoms within 15 minutes.

Insulin shock can occur if blood sugar levels become too low, and emergency treatment is immediately required. Glucagon injections are often used in cases of diabetics who experience more severe cases of hypoglycemia. Treatment for mild cases of hypoglycemia may include diet and exercise changes that will help to regulate blood glucose levels.

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)

Hypopituitarism
Other names: Underactive pituitary gland, pituitary insufficiency

Hypopituitarism is a condition that affects pituitary gland functions due to insufficient amounts of hormones being secreted by the pituitary gland. Symptoms vary based on which hormones are being insufficiently produced by the pituitary gland.

In some cases hypopituitarism may result in irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, vaginal dryness and loss of female characteristics. In men, this condition may lead to impotence, shriveled testes, infertility and loss of male characteristics.

In cases where growth hormone levels are low, few if any symptoms are apparent in adults, but children with this deficiency have stunted growth. When other hormones produced in the pituitary gland are affected, the symptoms may include weight gain, confusion, intolerance to cold temperatures and in rare cases an inability to produce breast milk after childbirth.

Hypopituitarism may be caused by tumors, inadequate blood supply to the pituitary gland, head trauma, stroke, infections, sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, radiation therapy, surgical removal of pituitary tissues or autoimmune diseases. Diagnosis of hypopituitarism usually is based on a physical examination, CT scan or MRI and blood tests.

Treatment of hypopituitarism depends on the cause of the condition and is based on overall health, medical history, extent of the condition and tolerance to specific medications. Left untreated hypopituitarism can result in death. Common types of treatment include hormone replacement therapy, radiation therapy or 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)

Hypothermia
Hypothermia occurs when the body loses more heat than it can generate, and the body’s temperature drops so low that it becomes dangerous. When body temperature drops too low, a number of dangerous changes occur.

Hypothermia usually occurs when the temperature outside is very low, but it may occur at 40° F or higher if a person gets chilled from sweat, rain or falling into cold water. Most people at risk of hypothermia are elderly, children, those under the influence of alcohol and those who are outdoors for extended periods of time, such as hunters, hikers and homeless people.

The danger is that a low body temperature may affect one’s metabolic rate and prevent the body from getting the amount of oxygen it needs. Another concern is that hypothermia may affect one’s mental capacity and a person may not realize she is in danger. Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Internal body temperature below 95° F
  • Confusion
  • Shivering
  • Sleepiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Reduced mental acuity
  • Reduced physical coordination
  • Behavioral changes

Tips for preventing hypothermia while exposed to cold temperatures include dressing warmly at all times during, using alcohol sparingly and not before bedtime, eating hot foods and drinking hot liquids.

To diagnose hypothermia, a physician will check the patient’s temperature, observe her symptoms and review her medical history. Treatment includes warming the patient, covering her head and neck, removing any wet clothing, applying warm compresses and performing CPR, if necessary.

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)

Hypothyroidism
Other names: Underactive thyroid gland, thyroid insufficiency

The thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck, manages the body’s metabolic processes. When this gland does not produce enough hormones, hypothyroidism slows the body’s metabolism until the affected person becomes mentally and physically tired.

Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid condition. It affects people of all ages. It is estimated that 5 million Americans have this condition, and many people are not even aware they have it. Hypothyroidism may be caused by an autoimmune disease, inflammation caused by lymphocytes, damage caused by radiation therapy or surgery, pituitary or hypothalamic diseases, pituitary injury, iodine deficiency and certain types of medication. Symptoms include:

  • Dry skin
  • Thinning hair
  • Puffy eyes
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Inflammation in the legs
  • Sleepiness
  • Intolerance to cold

Hypothyroidism may be diagnosed with simple blood tests that measure hormone levels and check thyroid function. Hormone replacement therapy is the most common treatment of hypothyroidism.

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)