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Sarcoidosis
Sarcoma Cancer
Scabies
Schizophrenia
Sciatica
Scleroderma
Scoliosis
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seizure Disorder
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Shin Splints
Shingles
Sickle Cell Anemia
Sjörgen’s Syndrome
Sleep Apnea
Snoring

Spina Bifida
Spinal Cord Injury
Sprains & Strains
Still's Disease
Strep Throat
Stroke
Stump Pain
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Syndrome X
Syphilis

Sarcoidosis
Sarcoidosis is a disease that may cause inflammation of any organ of the body and may affect multiple organs. The inflammation occurs due to an accumulation of inflamed cells called granulomas, which may appear either inside the body or as sores on the face and shins.

Exactly what causes the granulomas to appear is not known. Sarcoidosis is not cancer, it is not contagious, and it is seldom disabling.

Sarcoidosis typically occurs in those between the ages of 20 and 40. It may leave some permanent damage, but in many cases, the disease will occur and disappear on its own. When sarcoidosis occurs in the lungs, the symptoms may include a dry cough, shortness of breath and mild chest pain. When the disease occurs on the skin, a scaly rash or red bumps may appear, as well as fever, sore eyes and pain and swelling of the ankles.

Sarcoidosis is diagnosed based on a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may also order lab tests, pulmonary function studies and a chest X-ray. A biopsy of the granulomas may also be required.

Treatment may not be necessary. In some cases, treatment may be required to ensure that affected organs are working properly and to relieve symptoms with 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)

Sarcoma Cancer
Other name: Soft tissue cancer

Sarcoma cancers develop in the body’s connective tissues, which include fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, nerves, bones and cartilage. Not all sarcomas are cancerous, but in those that are the cancerous cells resemble normal tissues and are classified based on the type of cell that makes up the cancer.

Soft tissue sarcomas account for less than 1 percent of new cancer cases diagnosed annually in the US. Bone sarcomas have different characteristics than soft tissue sarcomas and occur more frequently in children than in adults.

Symptoms, which vary based on the type of sarcoma, include:

  • Fractures or broken bones
  • Inflammation or tenderness of joints
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

Diagnosis and treatment also vary with the type of cancer and how far it has progressed. Nearly all patients with sarcoma require chemotherapy. In some cases, surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of both 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)

Scabies
Scabies is a contagious disease that is caused when a certain type of mites infest the outer layers of the skin. The waste products of the mites irritate the skin and cause this very itchy condition.

Scabies can affect anyone at any time regardless of personal hygiene. The condition is based by close contact with an infected person. The intense itching – which usually occurs in warmer parts of the body such as between fingers, under nails and along the belt line – doesn’t begin until about a month after infestation. Scratching may lead to infection. Symptoms include:

  • Red bumps that resemble hives
  • Itching
  • Crusty or scaly skin

When diagnosing scabies, your physician or dermatologist will conduct a thorough examination of the body to confirm scabies. The physician may also apply a drop of oil to an affected area and scrape off a sample of skin to examine under a microscope for mites or mite eggs.

Scabies is usually treated easily with a prescription-strength lotion. Antihistamines may also be recommended to relieve itching and irritation. Treatment should extend to all members of the family to ensure that they are not affected. Bedding and clothing also need to be well cleaned.

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)

Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that affects about 1 percent of the population. It is characterized by frightening episodes, including such symptoms as hearing voices not heard by others and obsessive belief in conspiracy theories. Those who suffer from schizophrenia may not be able to tell the difference between the real and unreal and appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, meaning that most people with schizophrenia suffer from some degree of the disease throughout their lives. It is estimated that only one in five schizophrenics is estimated to recover completely.

Experts estimate that 1.8 million people in the US have schizophrenia, and most develop it between the ages of 15 and 30. A common misconception is that schizophrenia is a split-personality disorder, which is not the case. Those with schizophrenia have a higher rate of suicide than the general population.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Withdrawal
  • Illusions
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking and speech
  • Loss of emotion and expression
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Changes in memory
  • Decreased attention span
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Diagnosis of schizophrenia involves ruling out other illnesses that may cause similar symptoms and testing blood and urine samples to ensure that behavioral changes are not caused by drugs.

The cause of schizophrenia is not known, and treatment may vary. Antipsychotic medication can dramatically improve the symptoms of schizophrenia and is the most effective form of treatment currently available. Antidepressants may also be prescribed to address symptoms such as lack of motivation and reduced emotion that antipsychotic medications may not address.

Most of those diagnosed with schizophrenia need to adhere to a long-term – possibly life-long – treatment plan since relapse is more likely when one stops taking antipsychotic medications or takes the medication irregularly. Antipsychotic medications also have some serious side effects that should be discussed with the attending physician.

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)

Sciatica
Sciatica is a common form of back pain that is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve. Any type of irritation to the sciatic nerve may cause back pain, but a herniated disc pressing directly on the nerve most often is the cause.

Sciatica may be severe and debilitating or mild, sporadic and merely irritating. Usually, only one side of the lower body if affected, but the pain is felt throughout the lower back and down the back of the thigh. Symptoms of sciatica may include:

  • Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Pain in the buttocks or leg that is more intense while sitting
  • Numbness in leg
  • A shooting pain that makes standing difficult

If symptoms include bladder or bowel incontinence, seek immediate medical care.

Sciatica is diagnosed through a physical exam that includes checking ankle reflexes and muscles for weakness. An X-ray or MRI may also be ordered by your physician to rule out a herniated disk or other underlying conditions.

In some cases, sciatica will disappear in a few weeks without treatment. When treatment is necessary, your physician may suggest physical therapy or chiropractic treatment to relieve pressure on the nerve, or medication to relieve inflammation in severe cases. When other types of treatment do not relieve symptoms, 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)

Scleroderma
Other name: Systemic sclerosis

Scleroderma is a disease that causes skin and connective tissue to harden. The disease may last a long time or recur, and it gets worse over time. Scleroderma occurs when the body’s immune system becomes confused and sends antibodies, which usually kill bacteria and viruses in the body, to attack its own tissues.

The cause of scleroderma is not known, but it usually affects those between the ages of 30 and 50 and is more common among women than men. Some believe scleroderma is caused by excess collagen in the body. Collagen is a protein found in the bone, cartilage, tendon and other connective tissues. Others think the condition occurs when blood vessels are damaged and the body’s tissues do not receive a sufficient oxygen supply. Symptoms include:

  • Thickening or inflammation in the ends of the fingers
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Shiny, tight skin
  • Difficulty making facial expressions
  • Change in skin color
  • Loss of hair in affected area

Eventually, the skin may become so tight that it can lead to deformity. It may also affect eating and dental hygiene if the area around the mouth is affected. Scleroderma can even cause potentially life-threatening problems with the heart, kidneys and liver.

Scleroderma is diagnosed with a review of the patient’s medical history and a physical exam. A biopsy of the skin may be ordered as well as blood tests and X-rays.

No treatment is available to cure this disease, but a variety of medications can relieve symptoms and help prevent organ damage.

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)

Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a side-to-side curvature of the spine and the most common deformity of the spine. An estimated 10 percent of adolescents have some degree of scoliosis, but less than 1 percent require treatment. A curvature of less than 20 degrees is seldom treated.

Scoliosis may be caused by abnormal formation of the spine, or the cause may be unknown, which is most often the case. A curve in the spine usually progresses during adolescence, so more than 30 states have screening programs in schools that are conducted by trained school nurses or gym teachers.

Scoliosis may cause problems with posture and balance and can lead to muscle fatigue and pain. More severe forms of the disease can cause difficulty breathing and lead to arthritis of the spine.

Scoliosis is diagnosed based on two abnormalities of the spine – a lateral or side-to-side curve as well as rotation or twisting of the vertebrae. The physician will review the patient’s family medical history of scoliosis and perform a physical exam in which the spine is examined in different positions. A neurological exam may also be conducted, and an X-ray or an MRI ordered for a closer look at the spine.

Physicians usually recommend that patients wear a brace nearly all day, only removing it for exercise. Surgery may be recommended for those with severe curvatures, those with curves that have continued to progress despite bracing or those with extreme 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)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder characterized by symptoms of depression related to seasonal variations of light. Most of those who suffer from SAD tend to experience their most severe symptoms during January and February.

Those who suffer from SAD experience symptoms of depression during the winter and no similar symptoms during the spring and summer. It is believed that more melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by a gland in the brain, is produced in the dark. Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Fatigue
  • Oversleeping
  • Irritability
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Lowered resistance to infection
  • Anxiety
  • Craving for sugary or starchy foods

Bright light therapy has shown evidence of reducing the amount of melatonin produced by the brain during winter months. Those who suffer mild symptoms may find that spending more time outside during the day is helpful. Antidepressant medication may also be prescribed by your physician, but you should discuss the potential side effects of these drugs.

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)

Seizure Disorder
A seizure disorder is any condition in which a person suffers from repeated seizures. A seizure is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and more than 20 types of seizure disorders exist.

The most common seizure disorder is epilepsy, which affects 1 to 2 percent of the US population.

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)

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a potentially fatal respiratory illness that caused a major health scare in 2003 in Asia and Canada. SARS is caused by a newly discovered virus related to the coronavirus family, which includes viruses known to cause the common cold.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 8,000 people worldwide became sick with SARS in 2003, and more than 700 died. In the US, only eight people were diagnosed with the illness that year, and all of them had contacted the disease in other countries. The mortality rate among those diagnosed with SARS is 3 percent.

SARS is spread by close contact with an infected person. It is believed that SARS is transmitted through respiratory droplets, which are released in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and then enter another person through mucous membranes of the mouth, nose or eyes. Touching contaminated surfaces may also cause transmittal of SARS. Symptoms include:

  • Fever of 100° F or more
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Mild respiratory symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Chills

Several laboratory tests are available to diagnose SARS; however, definitive laboratory diagnosis can take nearly a month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends treating SARS with antibiotics used to treat pneumonia. Those diagnosed are asked to wear surgical masks during close contact with others to reduce the number of droplets emitted into the air. Activities outside the home should be limited until days after the fever is gone. In addition, you should not share silverware, towels, bedding or other items with others until those items have been cleaned with soap and hot water. Surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs should be cleaned with household disinfectant. Disposable gloves should be used during cleaning and thrown away after use. These instructions should be followed for 10 days after the fever and respiratory problems have gone away.

If you think you have SARS, see your physician as soon as possible.

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)

Shin Splints
Other name: Tibial stress syndrome

Shin splints are a common injury experienced by many athletes and exercisers. Shin splints are characterized by pain in the front of the lower leg – the tibia or shin. Shin splints are due to inflammation of the area surrounding the tibia, particularly the membrane that attaches your muscles to your tibia. Shin splints are characterized by inflammation of one or both shins, pain and swelling in the front of the lower legs. Most of the time, shin splints are simply caused by over-exercising, taking up too intense of a regimen when your legs aren’t ready for it. You can prevent shin splints by gradually working toward a goal and increasing your exercise regimen at small intervals. Stretching and warming up are also integral to preventing shin splints.

If you experience shin splints, you can treat yourself through rest, application of ice packs to the affected area, and perhaps the use of pain relief or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes, a healthcare provider can prescribe orthotics for shoes that may help to relieve some of the stress in recurring cases of shin splints.

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)

Shingles
Shingles is a recurring disorder caused by the virus varicella zoster, which also causes chickenpox. this virus lives in your nerves after you are infected with chickenpox and never leaves your body. Shingles is the reactivation of this virus, usually due to severe stress, immune deficiency, chemotherapy or cancer.

Shingles is characterized by a sensitive, burning area on the skin, which forms along nerve paths. These blisters will ooze and then heal in a month-long process that can be uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing. Shingles is contagious among people who have not already had chickenpox only when the blisters are not already crusted over or healing. Shingles can be contained through the use of antiviral medications or steroids. Shingles usually heals after a period of time with no complications. Sometimes, shingles may include intense pain at the site of the blisters that persists after the blisters are gone, a condition called postherpetic neuralgia.

Although many of the same medications are prescribed for it, shingles is not the same as genital or oral herpes. These infections may be treated or prevented by antiviral 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)

Sickle Cell Anemia

People with sickle cell anemia are usually diagnosed with this lifelong disease as infants. Sickle cell anemia is a disease inherited from parents in which red blood cells are abnormally sickle shaped.

The abnormal shape of the cells results in small blood clots that cause painful episodes. Those with sickle cell anemia may suffer only one episode every few years, while others may have numerous episodes each year.

Sickle cell anemia is one of several diseases caused by abnormal hemoglobin, which makes it difficult for blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. It is common among certain ethnic groups, affecting one out of 500 African Americans and one out of every 1,000 Hispanics in the US each year. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Bone pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain
  • Anemia
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Frequent infections
  • Stunted growth
  • Vision problems

A baby with sickle cell anemia inherits a gene for the disease from each parent. Those born with a single gene have the sickle cell trait and do not develop the disease but pass that potential along to their children. Genetic counseling is suggested for carriers of the trait.

There is no cure for sickle cell anemia, but treatments are available to relieve pain and prolong life expectancy. Regular visits to a physician are recommended to ensure that patients are receiving sufficient nutrients, maintaining physical activity and getting proper vaccinations.

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)

Sjörgen’s Syndrome
Sjörgen’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease, meaning it affects the immune system. Sjörgen’s syndrome occurs when the immune system attacks healthy moisture-producing glands, resulting in dryness of the eyes and mouth. The condition is much more common in women than it is in men. Sjörgen’s syndrome may also affect other areas such as the stomach, pancreas, nose, lungs, kidney, liver and reproductive organs. Sjörgen’s syndrome is often associated with rheumatic diseases, such as arthritis, because both affect connective tissue. Sjörgen’s syndrome may accompany lupus or polymyositis.

The cause of Sjörgen’s syndrome is unknown, although some cases seem to run in families. Some researchers think it is caused by bacterial or viral infection, while others think it is related to hormonal changes. Still others believe specific genes control the development of the condition.

The most common symptoms of Sjörgen’s syndrome are dry eyes and a dry mouth. Other secondary symptoms include dry skin, a rash on the skin, thyroid issues, joint pain and vaginal dryness. The condition affects patients in varying degrees and can range from mild bouts of dry eyes to more serious health problems. For example, Sjörgen’s syndrome may cause mouth infections, blurred vision, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and eating, debilitating joint pain and insomnia.

The disorder is diagnosed through a thorough medical history review and physical exam, blood tests and a full analysis of symptoms. There is no known cure for Sjörgen’s syndrome. Treatment is for symptoms, including moisture therapy and treatments for other forms of dryness – depending on the area affected. If internal organs are affected, more complex treatments 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)

Sleep Apnea
Other names: Sleep-disordered breathing, SDB, obstructive sleep apnea, OSA

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person repeatedly stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer while sleeping. Sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep-disordered breathing, and it affects about 20 million people.

Sleep apnea affects people of all ages, and symptoms may vary from person to person. The condition occurs when the throat becomes blocked and causes snoring and interruptions in breathing. Hypopnea is another type of sleep-disordered breathing in which breathing is reduced by 50 percent.

Sleep apnea occurs due to gravity, which may pull the tongue into the throat and prevent normal breathing, and lack of muscle tone. Muscles in the mouth and throat relax during sleep and may cause the obstruction.

When airflow is obstructed, the patient awakens enough to regain control and goes back to sleep. Each time airflow is cut off and the patient awakens, her heart rate and blood pressure increase and the body’s response system becomes less sensitive to the obstruction, allowing more episodes to occur. Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring
  • Obesity
  • A family history of sleep apnea or hypopnea
  • Gasping or choking while sleeping
  • Sudden awakening
  • Long pauses in breathing while sleeping
  • Sleepiness and fatigue during the day
  • Headaches

Sleep studies are conducted to determine if a person has sleep apnea. During a sleep study, the person spends the night in a hospital sleep lab where monitors record heart rate, respiratory function and airflow. A video camera records snoring and body position.

Treatment may include lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding smoking and avoiding excessive use of alcohol. Sleeping on your side, rather than your back, also decreases the likelihood of sleep apnea. Some people require continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP can be given by mask or nasal tube, which keeps the airways open at night and supplies the body with a sufficient amount of oxygen. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

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

Snoring
Snoring is the sound that occurs when one breathes through an obstructed airway during sleep. It is not usually a harmful condition, but it can be a symptom of a more serious problem such as sleep apnea, in which a person actually stops breathing for up to two minutes.

Most people snore periodically, but men are 50 percent more likely to snore than women. And, those who snore regularly tend to be overweight and middle-aged.

Snoring is caused by a vibration in the soft part of the roof of the mouth that occurs when the lungs are working extra hard to inhale oxygen through obstructed airways. The smaller the airway , the louder the snoring. Airway obstruction is typically caused when the muscles that keep the airways open become too relaxed or when there is a buildup of fatty tissue. The use of alcohol, sleeping pills, some cold medicines, antihistamines, poor muscle tone or obesity can cause these problems. Other factors that may play a role in snoring include nasal deformities and, in children, enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

If snoring is related to sleep apnea, a person may not be getting enough oxygen into the blood and frequently wakes up feeling tired. Sleep apnea also can cause sudden death.

If your snoring is severe or you are exhibiting other symptoms of sleep apnea, your doctors will want to examine your throat, neck, mouth and nose. A sleep study in a laboratory may also be recommended. For cases that may not involve sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may help reduce snoring. For instance, if you are overweight, you should try to lose weight, exercise to improve muscle tone, avoid using alcohol or sedatives, sleep on your side instead of your back or sleep with your head raised about four inches with extra pillows.

In some cases, your physician may recommend using devices such as nasal strips, dental appliances or a continuous positive airway pressure device to help reduce snoring. If excess tissue is blocking the airway, surgery may be required.

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

Spina Bifida
Other names: Myelomeningocele, meningomyelocele, spina bifida aperta, open spina bifida, neural tube defect (NTD)

Spina bifida is a serious birth defect that occurs when the spinal cord and the backbone do not develop properly in a fetus. The cause of spina bifida is not fully understood; however, a lack of folic acid in the mother is thought to be a major factor.

Paralysis usually occurs below the area that has formed abnormally. This leads to other issues such as bowel and urinary incontinence. Some infants also develop excess fluid in the brain, which causes the lower part of the brain to push down into the top of the spinal cavity.

Diagnosis of open spina bifida is usually based on an external evaluation of the spine. Paralysis below the affected area and fluid on the brain will contribute to the diagnosis. In cases where the abnormality is not obvious, it may take a few weeks, months or even years for symptoms to develop. Usually the diagnosis can be made with an ultrasound examination after the first trimester of pregnancy. A blood test of the mother may also be used to diagnose spina bifida a few weeks later.

The survival rate among infants with spina bifida may be improved significantly with surgery and medical management. Surgery is usually performed just a few days after the infant is born. Additional surgeries may be necessary later in life to ensure that the spine develops correctly and to implant a shunt to decrease the pressure and fluid in the brain. Physical therapy and braces may also be needed.

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)

Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord that results in a loss of sensation and motor control. Spinal cord injuries may include bruising or compression of the spinal cord, tearing of nerve fibers or a condition called central cord syndrome, which involves specific damage caused to the spinal cord or nerves in the cervical area. Symptoms, which vary based on the location of the injury, include:

  • Paralysis or loss of sensation below the injury
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to sensation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Frequent infections
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Spinal cord injury will most likely be diagnosed using a CT scan, MRI or X-ray, which allow the physician to determine the location and extent of the damage.

Advances in medicine make survival from spinal cord injury possible for most people, but reversing the damage or related symptoms is limited. Ideally, treatment should be administered within eight hours of the injury.

Treatment includes relieving compression if present, drug therapy and stabilization of the spine to prevent further injury. Most of those with spinal cord injury will regain some functions in a week to six months.

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

Sprains & Strains
Sprains and strains are common injuries that sound alike but are actually different. A sprain occurs when a ligament, a fibrous cord that helps hold bones together, is stretched or torn, while a strain occurs when a muscle or a tendon, which attaches muscle to bone, is overstretched or torn.

Sprains tend to occur when people fall and twist a knee or ankle. They may involve one or more ligaments, and the severity of the injury depends on the number affected. Sometimes people feel a pop or tear when a sprain occurs. Improper lifting or overstressed muscles usually cause strains and most often affect the back and hamstring.

Symptoms of sprains include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Decreased movement

Symptoms of strains include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Cramping
  • Inflammation

See a doctor for a sprain if you cannot put any weight on the affected joint; it is tender to the touch; it looks lumpy, bumpy or crooked; or you cannot move the injured joint. A strain will usually heal in a couple of weeks. If the pain is severe, your physician may recommend a splint to prevent movement of the injured tissue until it heals.

Both sprains and strains may benefit from at-home treatment using RICE therapy – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest the injured area for 48 hours. Apply an ice pack to the area for 20 minutes at a time for several days. Apply compression by using elastic wraps or splints. And elevate the affected area, if possible, above the heart to reduce swelling.

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)

Still’s Disease
Still’s disease is a type of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in which the joint inflammation that is typical in arthritis also is accompanied by symptoms of an illness that affects the whole body. It affects about 50,000 children in the US annually.

The cause of Still’s disease is unknown, but symptoms normally run their course in a few months. Unfortunately, the arthritis may be a long-term condition. It is important for those who suffer from Still’s to realize that they will have good and bad days with this disease. Still’s disease can cause damage to the joints and impair the function of the heart and lungs. Symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Rash
  • Swollen glands
  • Inflammation of lungs and heart
  • Abdominal pain

Still’s disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, including the presence of arthritis for six weeks or longer. Tests may be conducted to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. Blood tests may also aid in the diagnosis since some patients with Still’s disease have high white blood cell counts and no infection. Low red blood counts are also common with Still’s disease.

Treatment is geared toward managing the inflammation. Most symptoms are treated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or other non-steroid drugs. Prescription-strength medications such as prednisone and rheumatoid arthritis medications may be used for more severe 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)

Strep Throat
Strep throat is caused by Group A streptococci bacteria, which can cause a throat infection and can be spread easily from person to person through bodily fluids, such as those passed through coughing and sneezing. You may prevent the uncomfortable and aggravating illness by staying away from infected persons, washing your hands thoroughly and refraining from sharing utensils and drinks with others.

Strep throat is characterized by many symptoms that are similar to other throat infections and sicknesses, such as tonsillitis. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Swollen tonsils
  • Red tonsils
  • Tender lymph glands
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches

Because so many symptoms of strep throat aren’t distinct, a throat culture is performed during a physical exam to identify the problem. Strep can be treated with an antibiotic and is usually cleared up quickly if the antibiotic is taken correctly. It’s important to see your healthcare provider for treatment if you suspect you have strep throat, because it can lead to more severe complications if left untreated.

If you have strep throat, take care of yourself and remember to rest and drink enough fluids. The sore throat pain associated with strep throat can be extremely uncomfortable, and it is often recommended that you gargle with warm salt water to clean and soothe the infected throat.

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)

Stroke
A stroke is the sudden death of brain cells and related loss of body functions due to a lack of blood supply to the brain. The disrupted blood supply may be due to a total blockage of an artery or a ruptured blood vessel. The type or degree of body function that is lost depends on the area of the brain that is damaged. Symptoms include:

  • Weakness, numbness or loss of function in the face, arm, leg or one side of the body
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty understanding
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Headache
  • Vision problems

Risk factors for strokes, which are not causes but are factors that increase the likelihood of having a stroke, include high blood pressure, diabetes, a high-fat diet and smoking. Preventative steps that may help reduce the likelihood of having a stroke include taking medication as prescribed, eating a low-fat, low-salt diet, avoiding tobacco use, and maintaining a safe blood pressure and normal weight.

To diagnose a stroke, a physician may order several diagnostic tests such as an MRI or CT scan, which will identify where damage in the brain has occurred. An ultrasound may also be used to identify blocked arteries that may be limiting blood flow to the brain.

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)

Stump Pain
Stump pain occurs when a person who has had a limb amputated experiences a painful burning sensation at the end of the amputated limb’s stump. Stump pain is due to nerve damage in the stump region. Nerves that try to heal after amputation may form abnormally sensitive areas called neuromas.

Stump pain is described as a sudden burning or stabbing sensation and is common in the phase immediately following the amputation. However, stump pain may also continue to occur for many years with little to no stimulation of the stump.

Various treatments are used to alleviate stump pain, including drugs used to treat nerve pain, nerve blocks, electrical nerve stimulation, surgical revision of the stump or removal of a neuroma.

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)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Other names: Crib death, cot death, sudden infant death unexplained (SIDU)

Sudden infant death syndrome occurs when a seemingly healthy baby one year old or younger dies unexpectedly and without an identifiable cause.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incident of SIDS has declined dramatically – from about 5,000 to 2,500 since the mid-80s. Research has indicated that the decline is largely due to education on the best ways to prevent SIDS is to put a baby to bed on its back rather than its side or stomach. Additional steps that may be helpful in preventing SIDS include removing all other items from the bed, including a pacifier and blankets that may interfere with breathing, not smoking around the baby and not allowing the baby to sleep in the same bed as the parents.

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)

Syndrome X
Other names: Insulin resistence syndrome, metabolic syndrome X

Syndrome X is an increasingly common condition that can lead to heart disease and diabetes. More than 30 million people in the US are believed to have syndrome X.

Syndrome X occurs when glucose no longer penetrates the muscle cells, which need insulin as fuel or energy. As a result, the pancreas releases more insulin, a hormone that aids the body in the absorption of glucose, and ultimately creates an excessive amount of insulin in the blood.

Syndrome X is often characterized by the presence of other related diseases or conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity. Patients with syndrome X often go undiagnosed and may have the condition for 10 years or longer before being diagnosed with diabetes.

Syndrome X is diagnosed through blood tests that measure glucose and insulin levels, triglycerides and cholesterol. Blood pressure and weight also may be considered as part of the diagnosis.

Treatment includes daily exercise, weight loss, increased consumption of dietary fiber, stopping smoking and avoiding excessive alcohol use. By exercising and losing weight, you decrease your triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Medications may also be prescribed, but lifestyle changes are usually recommended first.

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)

Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacteria, and it begins with symptoms similar to the flu. If left untreated, syphilis can lead to any number of serious illnesses, insanity and death.

Symptoms of syphilis develop in stages, with the first symptoms being a painless sore that develops on the genital area a few weeks after the initial infection. Women may have an especially difficult time noticing the early symptoms of syphilis, because the sores may occur inside the vagina. If left untreated, more symptoms will appear, and at the 10-year point syphilis may even be fatal. Symptoms include:

  • Sore in genital area
  • Itching and pain in the affected area
  • Rash on palms of hands and soles of feet
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Mild fever
  • Pain in joints and muscles
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Sores on tongue or in mouth

Syphilis is usually diagnosed with a blood test and physical exam. If you are diagnosed with syphilis, you need to tell your partner so that he or she may seek treatment also.

The disease is curable and in most cases can be treated with penicillin. Many medical professionals will recommend those diagnosed with syphilis also be tested for HIV. Follow-up appointments are very important to ensure that the disease is completely 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)