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I: Conditions & Diseases

 

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Impetigo
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Influenza
Ingrown Toenails
Insomnia
Intracranial Hematoma
Iron & Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Irritable Bladder
Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)

Impetigo
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection characterized by scabby sores that usually occur on the face and hands. Impetigo typically affects children but can affect a person at any age.

If left untreated, impetigo can spread. The sores can become infected and the condition can affect the kidneys, bones, joints and lungs. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause a more serious condition. Symptoms may include:

  • Itching
  • Yellow scabby sores

A physician will most likely diagnose impetigo based on the appearance of the sores. A sample of fluid from a sore may be taken and tested as part of the diagnosis.

Treatment includes regular washing of the sores with soap and water and the use of a prescription strength antibiotic cream or lotion. In some cases, antibiotics may be given orally or by IV. If treated promptly, impetigo can be cured.

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)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease is a name given to a category of diseases that relate to inflammation and damage of the intestinal lining. IBD occurs when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract’s immune system malfunctions and permits bacteria to enter the GI tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are two types of inflammatory bowel disease.

Researchers do not know what causes the immune system dysfunction that leads to inflammatory bowel disease. Most believe IBD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as infections.

Most of those who suffer from IBD experience periods when the disease flares up and periods when it doesn’t. Most require medication but live normal, productive lives. Some experience complications such as arthritis, liver disease and vision problems due to factors such as malabsorption of nutrients.

Diagnosing IBD usually involves tests such as a blood test, stool samples, colonoscopy or barium-enema X-ray. Medications and dietary changes are used to treat and control IBD. Medications may be recommended to reduce inflammation and bacteria in the GI tract and stop diarrhea. Your physician may prescribe dietary supplements to replace nutrients that are absorbed in the GI tract. Dietary changes to avoid foods that cause pain or trigger attacks also may be required. In some severe cases 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)

Influenza
Other names: Flu, grippe

The flu is an extremely contagious viral infection that nearly everyone has had at some point. People usually contract the flu in the winter and often confuse it with a cold.

The symptoms of cold and flu are the same, but a cold is usually milder. Viruses may cause the flu and colds, but more viruses cause colds than the flu. Only three strains exist for all cases of the flu – A, B and C. A is the most common.

The flu is contracted by inhaling the virus that an infected person has expelled into the air. It also may be caught by touching something that has been contaminated by an infected person’s secretions. Flu symptoms begin suddenly and occur a day or two after you become infected. Symptoms of flu include:

  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose

The flu is common enough that most people recognize it and do not need to see a physician for a diagnosis. However, a physician can diagnose flu based on symptoms and a blood test. Since the flu can lead to other conditions such as bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections, a physician may recommend additional tests, such as throat cultures and X-rays.

A cure doesn’t exist for the cold or flu. Over-the-counter pain relievers will help relieve pain and reduce fever. Those with the flu should drink plenty of fluids and rest while the infection runs its course. Getting a flu vaccine each year before flu season should lessen your chance of contracting the flu.

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)

Ingrown Toenails
Other name: Onychocryptosis

An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem that can be painful and can limit a person’s activity. An ingrown toenail occurs when a section of the nail curves into the skin of the toe and becomes embedded.

An ingrown toenail can occur on any toe but most frequently occurs on the big toe. The condition may be congenital, but many other things can cause an ingrown toenail, including poorly fitting shoes, trauma to the toe and improperly trimmed nails. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain along the sides of the toenail
  • Sensitivity to pressure – from shoes to bed linens
  • Signs of infection such as redness and pus

To prevent this condition from occurring, wear properly fitting shoes and socks, keep feet clean and cut nails straight across. It may be helpful to soak the toe in warm salt water (unless you are diabetic), dry well and apply a mild antiseptic to the area if infected.

If the ingrown toenail is infected, you should see your physician. Treatment may require that your physician trim a small piece of nail to relieve the pressure and trim off the dead skin that may have developed along the edges of the toenail. In severe cases, surgical removal of the nail 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)

Insomnia
Insomnia is the inability to get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia may include difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night and having difficulty going back to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, or sleeping but still not feeling rested.

Insomnia can cause a person to have difficulty concentrating during the day, feel tired and be irritable. It may be a short-term problem, one that comes and goes or a constant issue. Short-term insomnia lasts one night to several weeks. Insomnia may be caused by:

  • Advanced age
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Noise
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Medication
  • Changes in sleep patterns due to work schedules or differences in time zones

Chronic insomnia usually is caused by a couple of factors, including an underlying condition such as depression, arthritis, asthma, sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.

In diagnosing insomnia, your doctor will review your medical history and may ask you to keep a sleep diary or ask to speak with your bed partner regarding your sleep patterns. A sleep study may also be recommended.

Treatment is not usually required for milder cases of insomnia. In some instances, sleeping pills may be prescribed for a short period of time. For more chronic cases of insomnia, treatment will depend on any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the problem as well as possible behaviors that may be modified, such as excessive caffeine intake. Your physician may prescribe sleeping pills as well as other types of therapy, such as relaxation therapy or sleep restriction.

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)

Intracranial Hematoma
Other name: Intracranial hemorrhage

Intracranial hematoma is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by a hemorrhage between the brain and skull. As the blood collects in a particular spot on the brain, a clot or hematoma forms that puts pressure on the brain and may cause brain damage. The hemorrhage may be caused by injury, abnormalities in blood vessels or high blood pressure.

To prevent hematomas, treatment of conditions such as high blood pressure is required. Other steps that may be taken to prevent injury-related intracranial hematomas include using seat belts while driving or riding in motor vehicles and using appropriate safety gear, such as helmets, during recreational activities such as playing baseball or riding bicycles, motorcycles or horses. Symptoms, which usually develop quickly, include:

  • Headache
  • Head injury
  • Nausea
  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Changes in vision
  • Changes in ability to move

Diagnosis will require an examination by a physician, a CT scan of the head and other diagnostic tests. Treatment usually requires surgical removal of the hematoma to relieve the pressure on the brain. Drug therapy is often required after surgery. Amnesia, attention difficulties, headaches and related symptoms may occur and continue for some time after 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)

Iron & Vitamin Deficiency Anemia
Your blood contains several components – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. All of these components are produced in your bone marrow and are important to your health. Anemia occurs when there is a shortage of healthy red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs throughout your body.

Anemia may be caused by a deficiency of iron or any number of vitamins such as B-12, folate and vitamin C. Without healthy red blood cells, your body won’t get the oxygen it needs to feel energized and operate at an optimal level. Anemia also may be caused by an inability to absorb vitamins and nutrients. For instance, those who cannot absorb vitamin B-12 have a condition called pernicious anemia.

One in five women and half of all pregnant women are iron-deficient for a variety of reasons. If you have iron deficiency anemia, your body is not receiving as much iron as it needs to produce hemoglobin, the substance in the blood that carries oxygen throughout the body.
An iron or vitamin deficiency may result from a lack of iron in your diet, poor absorption of iron or blood loss.

Symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia include:

  • Pale skin
  • Numbness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Unusual cravings
  • Cracks on the sides of the mouth
  • Inflamed or sore tongue

Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia include:

  • Sore mouth or tongue
  • Changes in skin coloration
  • Forgetfulness

Anemia can occur at any age but, in most cases, is easily corrected with dietary supplements.

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)

Irritable Bladder
Other names: Overactive bladder, urge incontinence, unstable bladder, spasmodic bladder

Overactive bladder is a condition caused by inflammation and irritation of the lower urinary tract that results in pain and frequent urination. Causes may include nerve damage caused by abdominal trauma, bladder stones, drug side effects and neurological disease. Irritable bladder may occur at any age, and the US Department of Health and Human Services has reported that approximately 13 million people in the US suffer from irritable bladder and other forms of incontinence.

Urination involves urinary tract processes, the nervous system and the brain. When the bladder is about half full, the brain receives the message and suppresses the need until urination is initiated. The nervous system signals the bladder to empty. Once the bladder has been emptied, pressure decreases, the bladder resumes its normal shape and the process begins again.

Those with irritable bladder receive messages that they need to urinate immediately and often at inconvenient times. And, they may not be able to refrain from urinating until an appropriate time, which may interfere with work, daily routines and intimacy. Symptoms of irritable bladder include:

  • Sudden need to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Abdominal bloating and discomfort
  • Involuntary urinary leaks

Diagnosis of irritable bladder usually requires a physical exam as well as other tests such as a urinalysis, a urinary stress test and an abdominal ultrasound. What triggers episodes of irritable bladder may vary from person to person, so it is important to pay attention to what may trigger this condition and learn to avoid those things.

Basic treatment of irritable bladder begins with the consumption of large amounts of water to flush irritants out of the bladder. Your physician may also suggest periodically adding a bit of baking soda to the water you consume. This may help soothe the irritated bladder. Warm baths, the use of heating pads and relaxation techniques may also help. Other dietary changes may include avoiding acidic foods such as coffee, tomatoes and citrus fruits and juices.

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)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of the muscles and nerves of the bowel or large intestine, where stool is made and stored. Because these nerves and muscles are especially sensitive, cramping and pain may occur shortly after a meal is consumed. It is estimated that IBS affects 15 percent of the US population.

Stress and diet are not believed to cause IBS but can further irritate the condition. Symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Diagnosis of IBS usually requires a physical exam, blood test, endoscope exam and X-ray of the bowel.

There is no cure for IBS, but symptoms may be controlled through medication, stress management and dietary changes. If you suffer from IBS, your physician will probably recommend you avoid fatty foods, milk products, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks. A high-fiber diet tends to reduce IBS symptoms, so you also may be encouraged to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole-grain bread and cereal. Your physician may recommend laxatives to treat constipation, antispasmodics to slow bowel contractions and ease pain, and antidepressants for those with severe 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)