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R: Conditions & Diseases

 

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Rabies
Radiation Sickness
Raynaud's Disease
Reactive Arthritis
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Retinal Detachment
Reye's Syndrome
Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rosacea
Roseola
Rotator Cuff Injury

Rubella

Rabies
Rabies is a deadly disease that is usually contracted by being bitten by an infected animal. By having your pets vaccinated against rabies, you can help protect your family, yourself and your pets. However, at times, people contract rabies from wild animals such as bats, raccoons and rabbits.

Rabies, which is caused by a virus, affects the central nervous system. Symptoms appear 30 to 50 days after being exposed to the virus. The severity and location of the bite can affect the amount of time that passes before symptoms develop. Symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Itching sensation
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stiff muscles
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased production of saliva
  • Sensitivity to light, sound and changes in temperature
  • Convulsions

If you are bitten by a domestic animal, ask its owner for information regarding its rabies vaccinations and get the owner's name, address and telephone number, if possible. Cleanse the wound well with soap and water, see your physician and report the bite to the local health department.

If a wild animal bites your pet, call a veterinarian, the local health department or an animal control officer to report the incident. You can protect your pets from other animals by keeping them in the house or a fenced area. You also should try to kill or contain the wild animal so it may be tested for rabies.

If your physician suspects you have been exposed to rabies, he or she will order a series of five rabies shots in your upper arm over a four-week period. If a person exposed to rabies does not receive prompt treatment, the disease may be fatal.

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)

Radiation Sickness
Other name: Radiation poisoning

Radiation sickness is damage that occurs to the body as a result of excessive exposure to ionizing radiation. The exposure may occur through one major exposure such as a nuclear explosion or gradually through repeated exposure to very small doses in a laboratory or plant. It also may occur through radiation therapy during treatment for cancer.

Those who work with radioactive material or X-rays should protect themselves with shields and special clothing that contains lead. Processes that involve radioactive substances should be observed through thick panels of special glass to prevent exposure to the harmful rays.
Symptoms, which usually occur within 24 hours of exposure to radiation, include:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced immune system function
  • Drowsiness that can lead to coma
  • Skin sores
  • Dehydration
  • Inflammation

Long-term effects may include infertility, cancer and chronic fatigue. Extremely high doses may damage brain tissue and be followed by death within 48 hours, which was the cause of many who were directly affected by the nuclear disease at Chernobyl in 1986.

There is no treatment for radiation sickness, but some people have survived lethal exposure by receiving bone marrow transplants. Medication may be prescribed to treat symptoms.

If you think you or someone you know may have been exposed to radiation, check for normal breathing and circulation. You may need to start CPR. Remove clothing and wash with soap and water. Call for emergency medical assistance and report the exposure to emergency officials.

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)

Raynaud’s Disease
Other names: Raynaud’s phenomenon

Raynaud’s disease is a disorder that occurs when the blood vessels that feed the skin temporarily narrow and limit blood flow. The skin, which is then deprived of oxygen, initially turns white and then blue. Once the arteries relax and blood flow resumes, the skin becomes red. Raynaud’s disease usually affects the fingers, hands, toes and feet but also may occur in areas such as the lips, nose and ears.

Minor exposure to cold temperatures – such as reaching into the refrigerator or freezer – may trigger an attack. Stress also plays a role in when and how often a person with Raynaud’s disease experiences an attack.

Women between the ages of 15 and 50 are diagnosed more often than others. Symptoms include:

  • Changes in skin color
  • Changes in skin temperature
  • Numb sensation in affected areas

Since the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease are temporary, physicians rely largely on the patient’s description of symptoms to diagnose it. The physician probably will also try to determine if Raynaud’s is the only problem or if other factors are involved, in which case the condition is categorized as secondary Raynaud’s rather than primary Raynaud’s. Factors known to cause the disease include rheumatoid arthritis, pulmonary hypertension, scleroderma, smoking and some medications used to treat heart conditions and migraine headaches.

Treatment for primary Raynaud’s requires that patients protect their whole bodies, not just the parts affected, from exposure to cold. They should use gloves to protect their skin when taking food out of the refrigerator or freezer. Physicians also recommend avoiding cuts, bruises and other injuries. Those who smoke are strongly encouraged to quit. Physicians initially treat any related factors in patients with secondary Raynaud’s to reduce or eliminate attacks of the disease. Prescription medications that relax artery walls to improve blood flow may be provided to those who do not respond to other methods of disease management.

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)

Reactive Arthritis
Other name: Reiter’s syndrome

Reactive arthritis is caused by a bacteria that initially makes a person sick and then travels through the body to the joints between the bones where it causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Reactive arthritis usually occurs one to three weeks after the infection and tends to affect only one joint. Most often the joint affected is in a knee, ankle or toe. The disease also may affect the eyes, skin or muscles; when this occurs, the condition is referred to as Reiter’s syndrome.

The name “reactive arthritis” means your immune system is reacting to an infection you have already experienced such as food poisoning, other intestinal illness or a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. The disease most often occurs in those between the ages of 30 and 40. Symptoms include:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Heart problems
  • Red eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Joint pain
  • Inflammation of the genital, urinary or gastrointestinal systems

Exercise will help keep muscles strong around joints and reduce strain on the joints by maintaining weight. In most cases, reactive arthritis goes away in three to four months, but some people experience recurring episodes of joint pain. Treatment usually includes prescription-strength medication for pain and possibly antibiotics.

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)

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes an illness that resembles a cold and is very contagious. It will frequently run its own course in two to three weeks and not cause serious health concerns.

RSV can cause serious concerns when it affects infants, children with asthma, other respiratory disorders or heart disease, and the elderly. Some adults may develop more serious conditions such as pneumonia. Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing on exhalation
  • Fever
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Earache
  • Lack of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

RSV is primarily diagnosed based on symptoms and a known community outbreak. A viral detection test conducted from a sample of nasal drainage may be needed if the physician suspects significant risk of complications.

At-home treatments that may help relieve symptoms include the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines and humidifiers.

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)

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Other names: Ekbom syndrome, Wittmaack-Ekbom syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder in which one experiences sensations of creeping, tingling, crawling or aching in the legs while resting or before going to sleep. The disorder may begin at any stage in life but occurs most often among those 60 years of age or older.

The exact cause of RLS is not known. RLS may be categorized as primary, having no underlying condition to cause the disorder, or secondary, having an underlying condition that may be a contributing factor. Causes of secondary RLS may include iron deficiency, folate deficiency, thyroid problems, diabetes, uremia or peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sensations of tingling, creeping, crawling in the legs when resting or before going to sleep
  • Periodic involuntary limb movements during sleep
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness

Diagnosis of RLS is based on a thorough medical and neurological exam and description of symptoms. Your physician may also order blood tests to check iron levels in the blood and a sleep study or ambulatory monitor to record limb movement during sleep.

Treatment may include the use of prescription medications and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding the use of alcohol or tobacco, exercising regularly and following a regular sleep routine.

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)

Retinal Detachment
Retinal detachment occurs when the retina, the thin tissue of nerves and cells covering the inside wall of the eye, becomes torn. This will cause the fluid inside the center of the eye to flow between the back wall of the eye and retina, allowing the retina to become detached. The detached retina causes blurred vision and can eventually lead to permanent vision loss.

Retinal detachment may occur at any age but is most common among those 60 years of age or older. The condition may be caused by several pre-existing conditions and by complications following cataract surgery. Sometimes the cause of the detachment cannot be identified. An estimated 25,000 Americans are diagnosed with retinal detachment each year. Symptoms include:

  • Light flashes
  • Blurred vision
  • A shadow over part of the field of vision
  • Spots that travel across the field of vision

If you have symptoms that may indicate you have retinal detachment, you should see an ophthalmologist immediately.

With early detection, a laser procedure may be used during an outpatient procedure to reattach a detached retina. In extensive cases, a more complex surgical procedure can be performed to push the wall of the eye against the detached retina. Among those who receive treatment early, 80 percent report improved vision.

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)

Reye’s Syndrome
Reye’s syndrome is a rare and potentially fatal disease that usually strikes children 15 years of age and younger. Reye’s syndrome causes the brain to swell and fatty deposits to develop in the liver and kidneys. In most cases, the disease occurs among children who are recovering from an upper respiratory illness, chicken pox or the flu; however, it may occur at any age.

The cause of Reye’s syndrome is unknown. Some studies indicate a link between the use of aspirin during a viral infection and Reye’s syndrome, which is why many physicians caution parents against giving aspirin to children under the age of 16. Many over-the-counter medications may not be labeled as aspirin, but may still contain aspirin. Acetaminophen is recommended for children with a fever. Symptoms of Reye’s syndrome include:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Personality changes
  • Delirium

If these symptoms occur shortly after a viral infection, seek immediate medical attention.
Treatment of Reye’s syndrome includes medication to reduce inflammation of the brain and IV fluids to restore normal blood chemistry. A ventilator may be needed to assist with breathing. Recovery depends on the severity of the disease. Some people have a full recovery and others sustain various degrees of brain damage. Early detection and treatment are keys to a full recovery. The fatality rate of this disease has been high in the past, but increased awareness and early diagnosis have dramatically decreased the fatality rate.

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)

Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever is a disease that occurs when the body’s immune system has a delayed response to a streptococcal infection and mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing damage to the heart and other organs. The disease is most common among children between the ages of 5 and 15, but also can occur in adults.

Strep throat and scarlet fever are two conditions that may trigger rheumatic fever because they are caused by the streptococcal infection. However, rheumatic fever is not as prevalent today as it was before antibiotics were available to treat infections.

Rheumatic fever develops two to six weeks after a streptococcal infection in adults and more slowly in children. Generally, when the disease occurs in children, it begins with an infection of the heart. Rheumatic fever is not contagious but the streptococcal infection is very contagious. Symptoms of rheumatic fever include:

  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Inflammation
  • Abdominal distress
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Speech impairment

Rheumatic fever is diagnosed with a review of your medical history and a physical exam. Diagnostic tests such as a chest X-ray, throat culture or EKG may also be required.

Treatment includes the use of antibiotics such as penicillin and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and fever. Most cases of rheumatic fever last about six 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)

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the lining of the joints or internal organs become inflamed. The cause is unknown, but a malfunction in the immune system causes it to attack healthy joint tissue, resulting in inflammation and bone and joint damage.

Rheumatoid arthritis typically occurs in a symmetrical pattern – for example, if one wrist is affected, both usually are. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, doctors studying rheumatoid arthritis now believe that damage to bones occurs in the first year or two that a person has this disease. Symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Lumps under the skin
  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Swelling

It is believed that 1 percent of the US population has rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that affects the entire body, but with early detection, the disease may be controlled. Early detection and current treatment strategies make it possible for most to live normal, productive lives. Treatment options include medication, physical therapy, a balance of rest and exercise, education, surgery and support programs.

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)

Rosacea
Rosacea is a skin disorder that causes small pimples and broken blood vessels to occur around the face creating a permanent red appearance. While not as common, these symptoms may also occur on the back, arms, legs and scalp. Rosacea usually occurs among those between the ages of 30 and 60 and is more common in women than men.

The cause of rosacea is not known, but the condition tends to run in fair-skinned families. Rosacea often lasts a long time, disappearing and flaring up again at a later date. Some things may make rosacea worse, such as exposure to the sun, hot drinks, alcohol, extreme temperatures, stress and strenuous exercise. Symptoms, which can give the appearance of acne, include:

  • Pimples and broken blood vessels in the face
  • Burning sensation in reddened areas
  • Swollen eyelids

Your physician or dermatologist will diagnose rosacea by examining the affected areas and discussing symptoms with you. Treatment of rosacea usually includes a prescription-strength antibiotic lotion that is applied to the affected areas each day. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed if the condition does not respond well to the lotion. It usually takes about two months before skin shows a visible improvement

While rosacea is frustrating, it can easily be controlled by following your physician’s advice on treatment. The condition may get worse if not treated and may even cause a deformity of the nose known as rhinophyma, which creates an enlarged red nose. Rhinophymas are treated surgically.

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)

Roseola
Other names: Roseola infantum, roseola infantilis, exanthem subitum

Roseola is a viral illness that most often affects children between the ages of 6 and 24 months. This condition, characterized by a high fever that lasts several days, is spread from person to person, but exactly how it spreads is not known. Roseola usually lasts about a week.

A high fever is a normal symptom of roseola and may go as high as 106°F. While a fever this high may be frightening, at-home care such as lukewarm baths and the use of acetaminophen can help reduce the fever. Avoid sponging the child with alcohol or using aspirin to treat a fever in children. It also may be helpful to note that a high fever can cause a seizure among young children. Fever-related seizures are common in children up to 3 years of age. Symptoms of roseola include:

  • A sudden high fever
  • Irritability
  • A bulging soft spot on the head
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Runny nose
  • Swollen eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash on neck and body

If your child has a high fever and rash and you suspect your child has roseola, take him or her to see a physician. While at-home care using acetaminophen to reduce the fever is often sufficient to treat roseola, a physician should evaluate your child to ensure these symptoms are not caused by another more serious 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)

Rotator Cuff Injury
Rotator cuff injury may involve any of the muscles and tendons that support and help move the shoulder joint. Overuse, repetitive movement or trauma, such as falling on an outstretched hand, can cause rotator cuff injuries.

Rotator cuff injuries may affect anyone at any age. Rotator cuff injuries tend to be caused by trauma among younger populations and by normal day-to-day use in older patients due to the loss of elasticity that occurs with age.

Rotator cuff injuries can be very frustrating and slow to heal, because we use our arm and shoulder joints so much during daily activities. Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include:

  • Pain
  • Loss of motion in the shoulder
  • Weakness

A rotator cuff injury is diagnosed based on observation of symptoms, a physical exam and, possibly, an MRI. Treatment varies based on the severity of the injury. Milder cases may respond to ice, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs and rest. Severe cases may require surgery to repair the injury. Recovery from a rotator cuff injury varies based on the severity, but a normal range for is four to six months for recovery after surgical repair.

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)

Rubella
Other names: German measles, three-day measles

Rubella is very similar to measles, but the symptoms are milder. Most children in the US are required to have the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, so rubella is relatively rare today as compared with earlier, more widespread instances of the communicable disease. Rubella is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It is characterized by the following symptoms, although in some cases involving children, these symptoms may be unnoticeable or overlooked:

  • Mild fever
  • Mild headache
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • Achy joints
  • Rash
  • Tender or enlarged lymph nodes at neck and behind ears

Rubella is highly contagious, even before the symptoms appear. It is spread from person to person mainly through coughing, sneezing and close conversation. Rubella is a relatively mild sickness, which can be treated with bed rest and acetaminophen. If you have rubella, it is very important that you stay out of contact with others and alert others – especially pregnant women – of your condition. Rubella is diagnosed with a blood test because many symptoms are typical of various viral infections.

Rubella becomes extremely serious when it affects a pregnant woman. Women who become infected with rubella early in pregnancy may give birth to an infant with serious birth defects, or may experience a miscarriage or stillbirth. The condition in children born to mothers infected with rubella is called congenital rubella syndrome, which is characterized by mental retardation, heart problems and deformities. If you are a woman of childbearing age and have not already had your MMR vaccine, do so immediately. If you are already pregnant, you cannot have the vaccine, but you can be tested for immunity to ensure that you are not at risk for developing rubella.

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)