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O: Conditions & Diseases

 

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Obesity
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Onychomycosis
Oral Cancer
Oral Candidiasis
Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Osteoarthritis
Osteoporosis
Outer Ear Infection
Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian Cysts

Obesity
Obesity is an excessively high amount of body fat. Obesity is a condition that has become nearly epidemic in the US during the past few decades. Obesity leads to many serious health conditions and can be disabling and even cause premature death in some situations. There are many different tests that determine obesity, including skin-fold measures, waist circumference, body mass index, as well as ultrasound or CT and MRI. Some of the most common health consequences associated with obesity include:

  • Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent)
  • Hypertension
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Angina
  • Gallstones
  • Stroke
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Gout
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Liver disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Reproductive issues
  • Depression

Obesity is caused by a variety of factors. Sometimes, obesity is linked with genetics – although obesity may also run in families due to shared lifestyle habits. The environment of living in the US – with fast food, large portions and sedentary lifestyles – also leads to obesity. Obesity may be caused by emotions, leading people to eat when they feel sad, depressed, lonely or bored. Certain drugs and medications may contribute to obesity.

Obesity is treated through lifestyle change. Although sometimes it is difficult to make the necessary changes, obesity can only be cured through effort on the part of the patient. Diet must be healthy, low in fat and moderate in amount. Exercise must also be incorporated in order to lose weight and avoid the health consequences of obesity. In rare and extreme cases, obesity may be cured by gastric bypass 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)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Other names: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of generalized anxiety disorder in which a person tends to be obsessed about a particular topic and performs a specific task to help her stop thinking about it. For instance, a person may be concerned about leaving the oven on and then go push the off button to keep from obsessing about it. She may repeatedly return to the kitchen to turn the oven off and may have to push the off button several times.

The cause of OCD is unknown, but some research indicates that there may be problems with communication between different parts of the brain.

Diagnosis of OCD is partially based on the fact that the person spends at least one hour per day dealing with her obsessions and compulsions. The most effective treatment for OCD includes the use of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. If not treated, OCD can begin to disrupt normal activities because of the amount of time dedicated to obsessions and rituals. It may lead to depression or a full-fledged phobia.

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)

Onychomycosis
Other names: Nail fungus, ringworm of the nail, tinea unguium

Onychomycosis causes nails to thicken, discolor or split because of a fungus. Most people who have onychomycosis are concerned about the way their nails look, but without treatment this condition can lead to more serious foot problems.

Treatment of onychomycosis has improved recently with medications being introduced to treat it. Oral antifungal medications, which usually must be taken for several months, are fairly safe and effective. However, patients with liver disease should not take Lamisil® or Sporanox®. Most physicians will order a blood test to ensure proper liver function before prescribing these medications. Additionally, you may want to talk with your physician about whether your insurance will cover these medications, which can be rather costly. Penlac® is the only topical medication available.

Since nails grow slowly, it may take a year or longer before nails begin to look healthy again.

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)

Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a group of abnormal cells that involve the oral cavity or the oropharynx, which is the part of the throat at the back of the mouth. The abnormal cells may be found in the lips, tongue or inside the cheeks. Oral cancers can be a mass that grows outwardly, similar to a wart or mole, or an ulcer that grows inwardly.

Oral cancers typically occur among those age 45 or older. Risk factors, which are not causes of oral cancer but are factors common among those diagnosed with the disease, include drinking alcohol, a poor diet, exposure of lips to sun, gum disease and smoking or other uses of tobacco. Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding
  • Numbness
  • A change in voice
  • A change in taste
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Speech impairment
  • A painful sore that doesn’t heal
  • A sore throat

Diagnosis begins with a physical exam. A biopsy of the suspicious tissue may be taken and tested for cancer. Other diagnostic tests may include a CT scan, ultrasound or MRI.

Treatment strategies depend on factors such as the stage of the disease, the size of the tumor, and the patient’s general health. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Oral cancer may be cured if detected and treated early.

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)

Oral Candidiasis
Other name: Thrush

Oral candidiasis is a mild infection caused by a fungus or yeast named Candida, which is the same organism that causes vaginal yeast infections. The infection occurs on the tongue, palate, cheeks and lips. It is fairly common among adults and can affect newborns.

Oral candidiasis occurs most often among those with diabetes or HIV. It also may occur among those who wear dentures, take steroids or antibiotics or receive radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Symptoms include:

  • Thick white patches in the mouth that can be scraped off
  • Mouth pain
  • Painful swallowing
  • Poor appetite
  • Diaper rash
  • A bad taste in the mouth

Candidiasis is not contagious, but it could be a symptom associated with a contagious condition.

Treatment usually consists of medication that may be taken orally or used as a mouth rinse.

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)

Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common cause of knee pain among young athletes that is caused by strain on the knees due to activities such as running, football, volleyball, skating and ballet. Osgood-Schlatter occurs most often among teenagers who are experiencing a growth spurt.

Osgood-Schlatter disease usually goes away over time without treatment, but it may take months and in some cases, it may take years. Stretching your legs before activities may help reduce the severity of the symptoms, which include:

  • Inflamed knees
  • Pain and tenderness just below the knee and over the shin

Osgood-Schlatter disease is diagnosed based on a physician’s review of the patient’s medical history, physical activities and symptoms. X-rays or an MRI may also be ordered to rule out other possible conditions.

Treatment, when a physician thinks it is necessary, may include wearing a brace or cast for several weeks and doing specific exercises to strengthen leg muscles after the brace or cast is removed. Your physician may also suggest the child take a break from sports for a few months. If the child doesn’t give his or her legs an opportunity to recuperate, the condition may worsen and become more difficult to treat.

To treat the pain and symptoms at home, it may be helpful to rest the knee, apply ice for 20 minutes two or three times a day, use an elastic bandage on the affected area and elevate the leg.

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)

Osteoarthritis
Other names: Degenerative joint disease, degenerative arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis affecting about one in every seven Americans. The possibility of developing the disease increases with age. Most people older than 60 have some degree of osteoarthritis, but it can affect people as young as 20.

Osteoarthritis occurs when there is a breakdown of cartilage in one or more joints. The disease usually affects the hands, feet, spine and large weight-bearing joints. Primary osteoarthritis is related to cartilage deterioration that occurs due to aging. Secondary osteoarthritis is the result of another disease or condition, such as obesity, surgery, diabetes, congenital abnormalities and hormone disorders.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary but most often involve pain and stiffness in the joints, and swelling or creaking of affected joints. Factors that increase a person’s chances of developing osteoarthritis include heredity, obesity, injury and overuse of the affected joint.

Osteoarthritis is usually treated with medications, physical therapy, hot, and cold compresses applied to the painful joint, weight control and devices such as canes or crutches. However, these treatments do not reverse or slow the progression of joint damage, and either arthroscopy (surgical removal of damaged cartilage) or joint replacement surgery may be recommended.

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)

Osteoporosis
Other name: Bone loss

Osteoporosis is the name for loss of bone mass that occurs as people age. As the bones become more porous, they weaken and the risk of a fracture or break increases, especially in the hip, spine and wrist.

This condition is most common among white and Asian postmenopausal women. Prior to menopause, women produce estrogen, which aids in keeping bones strong. The hormone testosterone in men helps protect them from this condition even after middle age. However, if men live long enough, they may be at risk of developing osteoporosis, too.

All adults begin to lose bone mass around the age of 35, but in women the rate of deterioration increases after menopause. It also may begin sooner in women whose bodies cease to produce estrogen due to the surgical removal of both ovaries.

Risk factors include going through menopause before age 48, surgical removal of ovaries prior to menopause, not enough exercise, not enough calcium intake, smoking, a family history of osteoporosis, alcohol abuse, small body frame, fair skin, hyperthyroidism and long-term use of oral steroids. Symptoms include:

  • Broken bones
  • Lower back pain
  • Hunched back
  • Reduced height

Treatment includes dietary changes to ensure adequate intake of calcium, not smoking, weight-bearing exercise and a variety of 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)

Outer Ear Infection
Other names: Swimmer’s ear, external otitis

An outer ear infection is the inflammation or infection of the ear canal caused by irritation or a foreign substance. Mostly, outer ear infections are caused by excess water in the ear, hence the name swimmer’s ear. Other debris and substances in the ear, such as sand, dirt, cotton swabs and sharp objects, may also cause an outer ear infection. Sometimes, the use of headphones or earplugs may cause inflammation in the ear canal. Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis contribute to outer ear infections. Symptoms include:

  • Pain that increases when the ear is touched
  • Itching
  • Inability to hear fully
  • A sense that the ear is “full” or has water in it

An outer ear infection can last up to 10 days but will gradually lessen with self-treatment and medication. Your provider may prescribe medicine such as eardrops containing antibiotics or corticosteroids. If you experience an ear discharge, a fever, loss of hearing or persistent pain or itching, you should talk to your healthcare provider.

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)

Ovarian Cancer
Other name: Cancer of the ovaries

Ovarian cancer is a disease that results from the rapid growth of cells in the ovaries that form a tumor. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among American women, and it is estimated that approximately 30,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year.

The cause of ovarian cancer, like most other cancers, is not known. Often there are no symptoms of ovarian cancer in the early stages, but as the disease progresses symptoms may develop.

Risk factors include having a family history of the disease, being age 51 or older, having used fertility drugs, eating a diet high in meat and animal fat, and using talcum powder in the genital area or on sanitary napkins. Symptoms include:

  • Bladder problems
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Early menopause or bleeding after menopause
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Bloating
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Lower back or leg pain
  • Heavy menstruation
  • Weight loss

Tests conducted to diagnose ovarian cancer may include X-rays, an ultrasound, blood tests and a biopsy.

Typical treatment involves the surgical removal of the cancer and surrounding cells. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy also may be recommended.

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)

Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that resemble blisters and form in the ovaries. Cysts may range in size from that of a pea to the size of a softball. They are usually harmless and do not cause symptoms. When symptoms are present, they may include abdominal pain, changes in menstrual periods, painful sexual intercourse, problems with urination and weight gain.

Women usually develop small cysts during the menstrual cycle. The cyst or sac normally contains the egg as it develops. When the egg is released, the sac disappears. This type of cyst is called a functional cyst. If an egg is not released, the sac may form a cyst rather than dissolving as normal. This type of cyst may shrink in a few months.

Another type of cyst is called an endometrioma, which may develop in women who have endometriosis. These cysts are filled with blood and may grow larger if they accumulate more blood with each menstrual cycle. Endometriomas may be painful during menstruation and intercourse.

Most ovarian cysts are found during a regular pelvic exam. Your physician may order an ultrasound or another type of diagnostic test to examine the cyst further. Since many cysts go away on their own after two or three months, your physician may want to examine you again at a later date. If the cyst does not go away, more tests may be required. In some cases, physicians may think it best to surgically remove the cysts.

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)