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W: Conditions & Diseases

 

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Warts
West Nile Virus
Whooping Cough
Wilm’s Tumor
Wilson's Disease
 

Warts
Warts are caused by a viral infection of the upper layer of skin. Warts on the skin are not necessarily related to genital warts, even though the same virus causes them. In fact, there are more than 80 types of warts. Usually, warts are the same color as your skin and slightly rougher than your skin, although they can vary in shape, size and color. The wart grows its own capillaries and is supplied with blood. Warts that develop on the feet are called plantar warts and often lie below the surface of the thick skin on the foot.

Warts are contagious and can be passed indirectly among people. Warts don’t usually cause pain. Warts can be treated with over-the-counter medication, but a dermatologist may treat more severe cases of warts, especially if the wart is recurring, if there are multiple warts or if the wart is on the face. A dermatologist might recommend prescription medication, or removal through scraping, cauterizing or freezing.

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)

West Nile Virus
West Nile virus is a viral infection carried by mosquitoes. The virus is relatively new in the US, where the first case was reported in 1999. Since then, concern has surrounded the West Nile virus. Although West Nile virus can cause death in rare, severe cases, it is relatively mild and not fatal in most cases. In fact, most people who are infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms at all. Others will only develop West Nile fever, a mild illness that clears up within days. In less than 1 percent of the people who become infected with West Nile virus, the virus will develop into a severe disease such as encephalitis or meningitis. These cases usually occur in people over the age of 50, or those who already have medical conditions or a compromised immune system. Symptoms of mild cases of West Nile fever include:

  • Slight fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Decrease appetite
  • Rash
  • Swollen lymph glands

More severe symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Shaking
  • Convulsions
  • Coma or paralysis

West Nile virus can be detected with a blood test. See your healthcare provider if you experience these symptoms, especially if you have been around mosquitoes or have mosquito bites. If you have severe symptoms, you will be hospitalized and monitored to help prevent the development of any more serious conditions.

West Nile virus can be transferred to an infant during pregnancy or through breastfeeding. A small number of cases have been spread through organ transplants. Most of the cases are spread through mosquitoes, which also infect birds and horses. Be wary of sick or dying birds and steer clear of mosquito-laden areas. You can protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and keeping your yard and other surroundings free of still water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The virus is more prevalent in late spring, summer and early fall.

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)

Whooping Cough
Other name: Pertussis

Whooping cough is a childhood disease caused by a bacterial infection of the lungs and airways that results in coughing spells that last 20 to 30 seconds. These coughing spells are sometimes punctuated by bird-like “whooping” sounds between coughs.

Whooping cough usually affects those 12 years of age or younger and lasts about seven weeks. Between coughing spells, the child seems to be well and may not cough at all. This condition can be very dangerous for infants because their respiratory systems have not fully developed and whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and death. Symptoms, which may vary from person to person, include:

  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Intense cough
  • Mild fever
  • Runny nose

Most infants (or children) receive a series of vaccinations against whooping cough beginning at age two. It is part of the DTaP vaccine, which also includes diphtheria and tetanus.

Diagnosis usually involves swabbing the child’s nose and testing the sample for the bacteria that causes whooping cough. If the test results are positive, the physician will probably prescribe antibiotics that may shorten the course of the illness and prevent the infected child from spreading the infection to others. In severe cases, children are hospitalized, given oxygen therapy and given IV fluids to reduce the possibility of dehydration.

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)

Wilms’ Tumor
Other names: Nephroblastoma, kidney tumor
Wilms’ tumor is one of the most common tumors of the abdomen in children and is the most common type of kidney tumor. While the exact cause is not known, it is associated with some birth defects and is common among siblings, which suggests a genetic link. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Blood in the urine
  • High blood pressure
  • Constipation

Treatment may include surgical removal, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. There is a 90 percent cure rate for Wilms’ tumors with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy or combined radiation and chemotherapy.

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)

Wilson’s Disease
Wilson’s disease is a potentially fatal genetic disease unless identified and treated early. Wilson’s disease occurs when the liver does not turn copper into bile as it normally would. Bile is a substance made in the liver that aids in digestion.

When the liver does not convert copper to bile effectively, the copper accumulates in the liver and damages liver tissue. Eventually, the copper spills out of the liver into the bloodstream, which causes damage to many other organs if not treated. In extreme cases, Wilson’s disease can cause brain damage, liver failure and death. Symptoms usually appear during adolescence and include:

  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain and inflammation
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty walking, talking or swallowing
  • Behavioral changes such as depression or aggression
  • Vomiting blood

Some symptoms are not visible to the naked eye, such as a rust-colored ring around the cornea that is only visible during an eye exam, or an inflamed liver and spleen.

Wilson’s disease is diagnosed through blood, urine and liver tests that evaluate the amount of copper in each. An eye exam may also be required.

Wilson’s disease requires lifelong treatment with medications that regulate the amount of copper in the body. Physicians may also recommend adding Vitamin B6 supplements to the diet and eating a low-copper diet that limits consumption of mushrooms, nuts, chocolate, fruit and shellfish. If detected early, those with Wilson’s disease recover and live normal lives.

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)