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Back Pain
Bacterial Vaginosis
Baker's Cyst
Barber's Itch
Bell Palsy (BP)
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
Bile Duct Cancer
Bipolar Disorder
Bladder Cancer

Bladder Infection
Bladder Inflammation
Blisters
Boils & Carbuncles
Bone Cancer
Borderline Personality Disorder
Bowel Obstruction
Brain Tumor
Brain Tumor Cancer

Breast Cancer
Bronchiolitis
Bronchitis
Bruxism
Bulimia
Bunions
Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)
Burns
Bursitis

Back Pain
Backaches are common problems, and it’s understandable since the back is such a complex structure with numerous bones, nerves, muscles, and ligaments concentrated in one location.

In fact, up to 85 percent of people experience lower back pain when the sciatic nerve is inflamed, known as sciatica. Lower back pain is the leading cause of work-related disability and one of the most common reasons that people visit a doctor.

Most often, lower back pain occurs when a herniated disc puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, which extends from the lower back through the hip and thigh to the feet. Lower back pain may vary in severity. It may feel like a mild tingling or a sharp pain and result from small fractures to the spine, muscle spasm, disc problems and more. The pain is usually worse after a prolonged period of sitting or standing and may get worse at night.

Frequently the cause for the pain is elusive even when using today’s state-of-the-art imaging technology. Contributing factors include pregnancy, occupations that require a lot of lifting, infrequent or improper exercise.

You also may be likely to experience back pain if you:

  • Are 50 years of age or older
  • Have recently had an injury
  • Are awakening with back pain
  • Have a history of corticosteroid use or urinary tract infections
  • Experience pain unrelated to movement

Bed rest is no longer recommended as a treatment and may even delay recovery. Over-the-counter pain relievers are helpful in relieving symptoms. The use of warm compresses or a heating pad may be helpful as well as supportive back belts or braces. Some people have found massage therapy beneficial. Prescription medications also are available, and in some cases surgery may be advised. If you are experiencing back pain, especially severe pain, contact 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)

Bacterial Vaginosis
Other names: Gardnerella vaginitis, haemophilus vaginitis, nonspecific vaginitis

Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is excessive bacteria in the vagina causing a grayish-white discharge, odor, itching and burning. Often there are no symptoms.

The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but it may be comforting to know that it is not passed by sex, is not dangerous and tends to go away without medication. Women usually consult a physician based on a larger than normal amount of vaginal discharge or an odor. The physician will usually ask a series of routine questions to help determine the severity of the symptoms and whether this discharge and odor may be representative of a more serious condition. A pelvic exam also is performed in most cases.

Medication, when prescribed, may be taken orally or vaginally depending on the medication 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)

Baker’s Cyst

Other names: Popliteal cyst, popliteal bursa

Baker’s cysts are fluid-filled areas caused by pressure and fluid build up on the front of the knee, flowing into the bursa behind the knee. Initially, Baker’s cysts present little discomfort, but as more fluid accumulates, the pain becomes more noticeable. A well defined area may be felt on the back of the knee. The fluid can even extend down the calf muscle and the cyst may rupture, causing swelling and pain that may mimic a blood clot.

In some cases the cyst will disappear on its own. An ultrasound can be performed to diagnose and monitor a Baker’s cyst. Treatment options include injections of corticosteroids and, in some cases, 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)

Barber’s Itch

Other names: Folliculitis, tinea barbae, pseudofolliculitis barbae

Barber’s itch is an infection of the upper part of the hair follicles, which can occur anywhere on the skin. It starts when hair follicles are damaged by friction due to clothing, a blocked follicle or shaving. In most cases the follicles are infected with staphylococcus – more commonly known as staph. Although not often a serious condition, severe cases of barber’s itch may cause permanent hair loss and scarring.

Barber’s itch usually occurs on the upper lip and is aggravated by shaving, but it also may occur on the neck or groin area. There are various forms of folliculitis, depending on the bacteria involved and the affected area. Deep folliculitis, which affects the entire hair follicle instead of just the top portion, is very painful. Symptoms include:

  • Rash
  • Pimple-looking bumps that may crust over
  • Itching

Treatments include minimizing friction from clothing, avoiding shaving and keeping the area clean. Often this infection will clear up without treatment. Use only clean washcloths when applying warm, moist compresses to promote drainage. Topical and oral antibiotics or antifungal medications may be prescribed.

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)

Bell Palsy (BP)
Other names: Bell’s palsy, facial palsy, facial paralysis

Bell palsy is named after Sir Charles Bell, a Scottish doctor who studied the nerve that directs how the face moves. This disease is the most common form of nerve damage, and it makes it difficult to move the face. Often it gives the appearance that one side of the face is stiff or droopy. About 40,000 people in the US develop Bell palsy each year.

The cause of Bell palsy is unknown, but it is not dangerous. Bell palsy can show up very suddenly, and people often think they have experienced a stroke. Sixty to 80 percent of cases go away within a few weeks or months – often without medication.

The disease and its effects may vary from person to person. Symptoms, which tend to peak within 48 hours, include:

  • Weakness or stiffness in one side of the face
  • Trouble closing an eye
  • Dryness in an eye
  • Headache
  • Pain behind or in front of one ear
  • Hearing that is louder in one ear than the other
  • Impairment in taste
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Drooling

Some believe the cause of Bell palsy is a virus that irritates the facial nerve. Another cause is Lyme disease. Other factors include injury, flu, diabetes, ear infections, herpes simplex and pregnancy.

When necessary, treatment options include corticosteroids, lubricating eye drops and, inextreme situations, surgical procedures to decompress the facial nerve.

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)

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Other names: Positional vertigo, benign positional vertigo (BPV)

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night unable to roll over or discovering one day that youcan’t lift your head to look up high at something. That’s exactly the kind of thing that happens to people who experience benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.

Your inner ear helps your body maintain balance and locate itself. Occasionally, material can come loose in your inner ear. When this happens, your body can become confused and you may experience dizziness, or vertigo.Vertigo often starts suddenly and can be brought on by head movement. Vomiting may also occur in cases of severe vertigo, and some patients havevisual problems, such as the perception that things are moving.

Risk factors may include heredity, head injury or infection. To diagnose vertigo, physicians often conduct a test in which they watch for abnormal eye movement. A CT scan, MRI or EEG may also be required.Vertigo can be frightening, but not medically dangerous. Usually, it improves with time, and only less than 1 percent of patients have recurring vertigo. Often a procedure can be done in your physician’s office to help alleviate the symptoms. Medications may also be prescribed.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 advicerelating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Bile Duct Cancer
Other names: CholangiocarcinomaBile duct cancer is a fairly rare form of cancer that occurs in the tube that connects the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. This tube is called the bile duct. The bile duct carries bile,which is a fluid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, to the small intestine where it is used to break down fats during digestion.

A variety of tests may be performed to diagnose bile duct cancer including an ultrasound, CT scan and MRI. If abnormal tissue is discovered, the physician may require a bit of fluid or tissue be removed and evaluated under a microscope for cancer cells. Because diagnosis is difficult, surgery may be required. Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Weight loss

When possible, surgical removal of the tumor is usually the preferred treatment. However, cancerous tumors in the bile ducts form slowly, and by diagnosis they are sometimes too advanced to remove surgically. Treatments for bile duct cancer include surgical removal of the cancer, radiation and chemotherapy. Recovery and choice of treatment depend largely on the stage and location of the cancer and thepatient’s overall health.

A list of clinical trials to identify other treatments and cures of bile duct cancer is available at www.cancer.gov. Descriptions are available in both physician and patient versions. For moreinformation, call the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237.Consult your physician immediately if you have persistent jaundice or if other symptoms of bile duct cancer are present.

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)

Bipolar Disorder
Other names: Manic depression, bipolar affective disorder

Unlike the normal ups and downs that most people experience in their day-to-day lives, individuals with bipolar disorder have unusual mood swings that can damage relationships and result in poor performance at work or school and even suicide. More than two million American adults or about 1 percent of the population over the age of 18 have bipolar disorder.

The abrupt mood swings, which range from periods of excitability to periods of depression, are caused by malfunctions in the areas of the brain that regulate mood. Those with bipolar disorder often experience a major episode with a manic period followed by a major depression.

Bipolar disorder typically becomes apparent between the ages of 15 and 25. The cause is unknown, but there seems to be a hereditary link.

Symptoms during the manic stage include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased energy
  • Lack of self-control
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Little need for sleep
  • Irritability
  • Short attention span
  • Increased sex drive

Symptoms during the depression stage include:

  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Disruption in sleep patterns
  • Eating disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Thoughts of death

Suicidal tendencies may occur during either stage. Like diabetes or heart disease, a bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be managed throughout a person’s life. With proper medication and psychosocial therapy, most people with bipolar disorders can stabilize their mood swings.

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)

Bladder Cancer
Other names: Transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder

Bladder cancer usually results from the growth of transitional or abnormal cells in the lining of the bladder. The growth may be classified as either papillary tumors or nonpapillary tumors, which are the less common of the two but are more invasive. One or more types of bladder cancer can develop at the same time in different areas of the bladder.

Bladder cancer is classified or staged based on how aggressive it is and how different the cancerous cells are from the normal cells. Symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful urination
  • Frequent urination in small amounts
  • Incontinence
  • Bone pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Lower leg swelling

The exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown, but it occurs more frequently among smokers than nonsmokers. Exposure to other carcinogens also may be a factor. Treatment varies based on the stage and size of the cancerous tissue, but chemotherapy, immunotherapy or surgery may be used.

Call your physician if you have blood in your urine or other symptoms of bladder cancer.

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

Bladder Infection
Other names: Cystitis

Bladder infections are extremely common conditions, especially among women. Bladder infections can result from bacteria entering the urinary system from outside the body during intercourse, following a bowel movement or due to poor hygiene. In some cases, a bladder infection may result from a virus.

The risk of infection is higher during pregnancy, among diabetics and in those who have problems completely emptying their bladders during urination. Symptoms include:

  • Burning
  • Frequent and urgent urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Low-grade fever
  • Pain in the abdomen or lower back

To prevent bladder infections, women should urinate soon after intercourse, wipe from front to back after a bowel movement or urination, drink sufficient amounts of fluid and not delay urination for extended periods of time. The use of spermicides and diaphragms during intercourse may increase the risk of developing a bladder infection.

Bladder infections may go away without treatment, but an infection can spread to the urinary tract and kidneys to create more serious problems. A physician may prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection.

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)

Bladder Inflammation
Other names: Interstitial cystitis

Bladder inflammation is a chronic problem that affects approximately 750,000 Americans. The inflammation can scar the bladder and make it inflexible and unable to expand as it fills with urine. Bladder inflammation, or interstitial cystitis, may affect anyone, but most of the time it affects women 40 years of age or older. It often goes undiagnosed. Symptoms include:

  • Urgent and frequent need to urinate
  • Pain during intercourse
  • A bladder that doesn’t hold as much urine as it previously did
  • Tenderness and/or pain around the bladder and pelvic area

The cause of bladder inflammation is not known, but it may be due to a defect in the bladder’s lining or an autoimmune response. Diagnosis involves taking urine cultures to determine if a bacterial infection is present, ruling out other diseases and conditions that have similar symptoms, or performing a cystoscopy.

Currently there is no cure for bladder inflammation, but many medications and treatments exist that help improve symptoms. Surgical procedures may be recommended in extreme cases. Your physician can help identify what’s best for you.

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)

Blisters
Other names: Vesicles

Whether it was the result of poor-fitting shoes or too much time in the sun, almost everyone has had a blister at some point in her life. Many diseases and conditions, such as chicken pox and poison ivy, also involve blisters.

Physicians will make determinations about possible causes and treatments of disease-related blisters based on where the blister is located, the condition of the surrounding skin and the history of the blister. Over-the-counter treatments are available to alleviate related symptoms for some conditions.

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)

Boils & Carbuncles

Boils are tender, swollen areas that resemble pimples and develop around infected hair follicles, a condition called folliculitis. At first, the boil is red and tender. After a few days, pus collects under the skin, resulting in a white color in the center of the boil. Carbuncles are patches of boils.

Causes of boils include staph bacteria that enters the body through cuts and scratches, immune problems, diabetes and exposure to certain chemicals. Symptoms of folliculitis include:

  • Pus in hair follicles
  • Irritated hair follicles
  • Damaged hair

Symptoms of boils include:

  • Pus in the center of the swollen area
  • Bloody discharge

Symptoms of carbuncles include:

  • Pus in the center of the swollen area
  • Bloody discharge
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Most boils may be treated at home by washing skin regularly, taking care of minor injuries and applying warm compresses. Carbuncles should be seen by a physician and most likely treated with 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)

Bone Cancer
Bone cancer occurs when abnormal cells multiply, spread and form tumors that damage and destroy healthy bones. This potentially life-threatening disease can be successfully treated, especially if identified in the early stages.

Several forms of bone cancer exist. Primary bone cancer, a rare form of cancer, occurs when the cancer begins in the bone itself. Secondary bone cancer, which is more common, occurs when cancer from another part of the body spreads to the bone. Multiple myeloma is a third type of bone cancer that starts in the bone marrow in the center of the bone. Symptoms, which may vary from person to person, include:

  • Pain and tenderness around the affected area
  • Swelling around the affected area
  • Pain in the bone or joints that gets more severe at night
  • Fragile bones
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fever

The body contains more than 200 bones that can be affected by cancer, but certain types are more common in specific areas. For instance, osteosarcoma is typically found in the bones of the thigh, upper arm and shin.

Treatment varies depending on the type of bone cancer and whether it has spread. It may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and hormone replacement. The likelihood of recovery from bone cancer has improved in recent years, but the prognosis depends on a variety of factors – from the type of cancer to the size of the cancerous area.

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)

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Those who suffer from BPD fear abandonment, have difficulty trusting others, experience intense moods and frequently behave impulsively in areas of spending, eating, substance abuse, sex, driving or gambling. The intense mood swings that individuals with BPD experience – depression, anger, irritability or anxiety – usually last only a few hours and rarely more than a few days. Patients also report long-term feelings of emptiness, issues with self-image or self-worth and the belief that they are fundamentally flawed or damaged. Suicidal thoughts and behavior also characterize borderline personality disorder.

Some BPD patients describe traumatic childhood experiences such as physical or sexual abuse and others describe emotional neglect.

Treatment for BPD varies. Medication may be prescribed by a physician and psychotherapy is most often 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)

Bowel Obstruction
Other names: Intestinal obstruction, paralytic ileus, intestinal volvulus, ileus

A bowel obstruction occurs when part or all of the intestine becomes blocked and prevents content from passing through the bowel. Many causes lead to bowel obstruction including a volvulus, or twisting of the bowel on itself. Other causes include hernias, postoperative scar tissue, impacted feces, gall stones and tumors. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Breath odor
  • Swelling of the stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Failure to pass gas or stool
  • Abdominal sounds
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

Treatment includes using a nasogastric tube to decompress the intestine or surgically removing the obstruction.

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)

Brain Tumor
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain that may be localized, invasive (spread to nearby areas), benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Tumors can directly damage brain cells or damage them indirectly by producing inflammation and pressing on parts of the brain as the tumor grows.

The cause of primary brain tumors (those that begin in the brain) is unknown. Secondary brain tumors spread to the brain from another part of the body. Some primary brain tumors are hereditary and some are congenital or present from birth.

Brain tumors may occur at any age, but specific types of brain tumors are more common in certain age groups. For instance, brain stem gliomas occur almost exclusively in children. There are various types of brain tumors, which can make diagnosis a challenge. Symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Personality changes
  • Emotional instability
  • Impaired brain function (judgment and memory)
  • Seizures
  • Changes in vision, hearing, smell or speech
  • Fever
  • Decreased coordination
  • Confusion

Symptoms, treatments and probable outcomes vary based on the site and type of tumor as well as the age and overall health of the affected person. Most tumors are treated by surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

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

Brain Tumor Cancer
A brain tumor is a disease in which cells grow uncontrollably in the brain. Cancerous brain tumors are called malignant and can either originate in the brain and spread elsewhere in the body or originate elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain.

The cause of a cancerous brain tumor is not known, but risk factors that increase your chances of getting the disease include:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • Exposure to chemicals such as formaldehyde and vinyl chloride
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • A family history of rare forms of cancer

Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty with coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Personality changes
  • Changes in speech, vision and hearing
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs

A variety of tests may be performed to diagnose a cancerous brain tumor, including an MRI, CT scan, PET scan, arteriography and biopsy. Once diagnosed, treatment options may include surgically removing the tumor or implanting a shunt to divert fluid build-up to another part of the body. Radiation therapy, chemotherapy and rehabilitation therapy may also 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)

Breast Cancer
Each year breast cancer affects more than 190,000 women in the US. Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second most common cause of death from cancer in women. Still, tremendous breast cancer research has been conducted in the last 20 years, and today treatment is more efficient than ever. With early detection, the survival rate has greatly improved.

There is no single cause for breast cancer, but research has shown that several factors may increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, such as a previous history of breast cancer, family history, dense breast tissue, exposure to radiation and late childbearing. Other factors that may increase risk are starting menstruation at a late age, going through menopause after age 55, extended use of hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills and never becoming pregnant.

Symptoms are rarely present during the early stages of breast cancer, which is why annual mammograms and clinical breast exams are so important. As cancer develops, the following symptoms may arise:

  • A lump in the breast or underarm area
  • Discharge from the nipple or nipple tenderness
  • Changes in the breast that resemble the skin of an orange
  • A change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Breast pain

Mammograms are vitally important for early detection. A lump may be detected by a mammogram up to two years before it is large enough to feel. Most doctors recommend that you get a mammogram every year or two once you turn 40. If you have risk factors for breast cancer, such as family history of the disease, your doctor may want you to start mammograms sooner or more frequently.

Your doctor should perform a clinical breast exam during your annual gynecological exam. You also should perform a self-exam each month. More than 90 percent of women whose breast cancer is found early will be cured.

Biopsies of suspicious tissue are taken to determine if tissue is cancerous. Treatment, which typically involves surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, will depend largely on factors such as the type of cancer and how far it has progressed.

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)

Bronchiolitis
Other names: Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV), viral pneumonia

Bronchiolitis is an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs that is usually caused by a viral infection. Along with the inflammation, the normal amount of mucus in the lungs increases. This condition usually affects children two years of age and under.

Bronchiolitis is a common condition, and most children get over it in seven to 10 days. However, depending on the age of the child and the degree of breathing difficulty, it can be a serious condition and may require hospitalization. Symptoms include:

  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bluish skin color

Bronchiolitis occurs more frequently in the fall and winter. It is contagious and passed from person to person by direct contact with nasal secretions or airborne droplets. In adults, the virus usually only causes mild symptoms.

A physician may recommend using a vaporizer or humidifier to moisten the air. Medication will depend on the cause 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)

Bronchitis
Bronchitis is inflammation of the air passages to the lungs, or the bronchial tubes. It may be acute, which is usually caused by a virus, or chronic, characterized by a daily cough that brings up phlegm.

Acute bronchitis is common during the winter and tends to develop after the flu or a cold. Symptoms of acute bronchitis include:

  • A cough
  • Clear, yellow or green mucus
  • A low fever
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

Treatment may include prescription or nonprescription medication to reduce fever and relieve cough and pain.

Chronic bronchitis is one of two diseases that are considered a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As the disease progresses it may be difficult to carry out everyday activities. COPD, which also includes emphysema, is the fourth leading cause of death in the US. COPD most often occurs among those who smoke or have smoked in the past. Other lung irritants such as dust and chemical fumes also may lead to COPD.

Currently there is no cure for COPD. Medications are available to relieve symptoms.

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

Bruxism
Other names: Teeth grinding

Clenching or grinding one’s teeth during sleep is also known as bruxism. Dentists don’t know why some people grind their teeth, but they suspect it has something to do with the way the top and bottom teeth fit together along with stress. The grinding can wear down tooth enamel, cause chips, make your face or jaw sore and cause headaches.

Stress reduction techniques or even counseling may be helpful. You may want to change your routine before bed so that you are more relaxed and to avoid teeth grinding during sleep. For example, taking a warm bath or reading a book before bedtime can help to relieve stress.

If you find that you are grinding your teeth frequently, talk to your dentist about your treatment options.

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)

Bulimia
Other names: Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by overeating followed by inappropriate purging methods to control weight. Methods include vomiting, fasting, the use of enemas, laxatives or diuretics and compulsive exercising.

Bulimia is a psychological disorder. The bulimic person loses control and consumes large amounts of food in response to depression, stress or low self-esteem rather than hunger. Bulimics tend to prefer to binge on comfort foods that are sweet, smooth and soft. After this binge period, a bulimic patient experiences a sense of calm that is soon followed by self-loathing and purging. The cycle of overeating and purging is repeated frequently and typically becomes an obsession. Some bulimics do not binge, but purge regularly sized meals or snacks.

Bulimia is dangerous for a number of reasons – from the removal of important electrolytes in the digestive system that affect the heart and other organs to inflammation of the esophagus to tooth decay and chronic irregular bowel movements.

Diagnosing bulimia is often difficult because those who suffer from it often look normal. Bulimics tend to binge and purge secretly and may deny their condition. Bulimics usually binge at least twice a day and sometimes more frequently.

There is no known cause for bulimia. Researchers believe it starts with concern over weight and possibly dieting as an effort to regain control and self-esteem. Most bulimics have low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness and a fear of gaining weight.

If you suspect a friend or someone in your family has bulimia, realize that she needs a lot of support. Try to get her to see an eating disorder expert, and expect denial, resistance and anger as you help her battle this 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)

Bunions
Other names: Hallux valgus, bunionettes

A bunion is a bump on the inside of the foot at the big toe joint. The bump can result from abnormal foot function, arthritis or poor-fitting shoes.

Bunions and bunionettes, which are smaller bumps that form on the outside of the foot at the little toe joint, are common. Symptoms of both bunions and bunionettes include swelling and discomfort.

In the early stages, temporary relief may be achieved by soaking feet in warm water. Proper fitting shoes with a wide toe area help alleviate pain. Other home treatments include bunion bandages, night splints and bunion shields, all of which limit the progression of the bunion and relieve pain. Orthotics are also recommended to provide comfort, support and protection.

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)

Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)
Other names: Stomatodynia, glossodynia

BMS is a puzzling and somewhat rare condition in which patients suffer from a burning sensation in their mouths, palates, lips and tongues. The condition occurs primarily in women in their 50s and 60s and is thought to be triggered by anxiety and depression. BMS-related symptoms include:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Altered ability to taste
  • Burning sensation

Other contributing factors may include anemia, gastroesophageal reflux, undiagnosed diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance and an infection in the mouth.

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)

Burns
Burns are injuries to the skin caused by direct heat such as steam, fire, hot liquids or objects, friction, radiation, sunrays, chemicals and electricity. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a million burns are reported every year, and half of them require hospitalization.

Burns are categorized by severity into three types – first-, second- and third-degree burns. First-degree burns are mild and have associated pain and swelling. Second-degree burns have symptoms similar to first-degree burns but also have related blisters. Third-degree burns may have blackened or charred skin and be painless due to nerve damage.

Treatment depends on the severity, size and type of burn. Home treatment for minor burns may include covering the burn with sterile gauze or bandage, soaking it in cool water and using over-the-counter pain relievers. DO NOT break blisters, apply butter, margarine or ointments to second- or third-degree burns or remove any clothing stuck to a burn.

For severe burns, call 911. Any burn victim who appears sick or confused should get emergency medical treatment regardless of the type of burn.

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)

Bursitis
Bursitis is the inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that cushions and lubricates a joint. Most often bursitis occurs in the shoulders, elbows and hips and causes pain.

Bursitis may be caused by chronic overuse, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout or infection, but sometimes the cause cannot be determined.

Your physician may recommend temporary rest or immobilization to treat bursitis. Over-the-counter medications may also relieve pain and inflammation. If inflammation persists, fluid may be drawn from the bursa or an injection of corticosteroids may be administered.

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)