Hypertension

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s your heart pumps blood through your arteries, the force of the blood flow exerts pressure on the arterial walls, just as air pumped into a tire exerts pressure on its lining and surface. And just as too much air pressure is bad for the life of the tire, so too much blood pressure eventually damages your arteries. If your heart pumps blood through your circulatory system most of the day with a force that is much greater than necessary to maintain a steady flow, you have hypertension, or high blood pressure that never returns to normal range.

 

Two types of pressure, systolic and diastolic, are measured. Systolic pressure is the peak pressure at the moment when your heart contracts and pumps out the blood into the arteries. Diastolic pressure is the lowest pressure in the arteries just before the next contraction of the heart. Therefore, the systolic figure, which represents the moment of greatest pressure, is always higher than the diastolic figure. If someone tells you that your blood pressure is 120 over 80, this means that your systolic is 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and your diastolic is 80 mmHg. Those figures are within normal range for a healthy young adult.

 

But for instance, if you are over 40 and your blood pressure reading is 140 over 90 mmHg, your physician may consider this to be normal pressure for you, since blood pressure tends to rise slightly with age.

 

There are actually two types of high blood pressure, essential or primary and secondary or non-essential hypertension. Primary hypertension is high blood pressure that is not due to another underlying disease. The precise cause is unknown, but a number of definite risk factors have been identified and these include heredity, cigarette smoking, stress, obesity, excessive use of stimulants such as coffee or tea, drug abuse, high sodium (salt) intake, and use of oral contraceptives. In secondary hypertension, the cause of the disorder has been identified by your physician. Some possible causes are kidney disease, hormonal disorders and aldosteronism. A person may also have secondary hypertension because the blood vessels are chemically constricted or have lost elasticity from a build up of fatty plaque on the inside walls of the blood vessels, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

 

 

What are the symptoms?


High blood pressure is almost always a symptom less disease. If you have hypertension, you may feel fine, without the slightest indication of physical problems.

Such symptom as severe headache, nape pain, blurring of vision, palpitations, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, and a feeling of ill health usually occur only when some damage has already taken place from the hypertension in your retinas, brain, heart or kidneys. So it is risky to wait for treatment until symptoms develop.

 

What should be done?


While medical advances have helped, much of the credit goes to lifestyle changes,such as quitting smoking and changing diet to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

For normal individuals, have your blood pressure checked once a year and remember what your blood pressure is. Even if you show signs of high blood pressure during a first examination, your physician may want to check your pressure a couple of times before treating you.

 

What is the treatment?


Self help: In many cases, changes in your weight, diet, and lifestyle can lead to satisfactory lowering of the blood pressure without the use of drugs. Here are some suggestions of how to change your life-style.


• If you smoke, quit! There’s a direct correlation between cigarettes and high blood pressure, by giving up smoking you can reduce the risk instead of increasing it.

• If you are overweight, choose a sensible weight loss diet, stick to it until you reach an appropriate weight for your age, sex, height, and then try to maintain it.

• Do not add salt to your food.

• Try to make your work schedule and recreation less demanding. Avoid stress.

• Try to avoid using alcohol. Alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure and can interact with blood pressure medications.

• Very mild hypertension can often be treated without drugs.

 

Professional help:


If self-help does not lower your blood pressure to a normal range, you need drug treatment. The drugs used to treat high blood pressure must always be administered under the supervision of a physician. Your physician will base the decision in choosing the best medications on a number of considerations, such as your age, general state of health and sex. When the decision on which medications to try has been made, it is important that you and your physician agree to the treatments and that you follow his or her instructions carefully and completely.


Always remember, your own heart’s health depends on you – the choices you make, the habits you create, and the lifestyle you adopt.

Cholesterol

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holesterol is a lipid (fat-soluble naturally-occurring molecule, such as fats, oils, sterols, etc.) found in the cell membranes of all tissues, and is transported in the blood plasma of all animals. It comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75% and the other 25% comes from the food you eat. It plays a central role in many biochemical processes, such as the composition of cell membranes and the synthesis of steroid hormones (steroids which act as hormones).


Insoluble in blood, it is transported in the circulatory system bound to one of the many varieties of lipoproteins. Lowdensity lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as “bad cholesterol” and high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, known as “good cholesterol”.


These two types of lipids, along with triglycerides and Lp(a) make up your total cholesterol count, which can be determined through a blood test.


LDL: Low-density lipoproteinWhen too much LDL circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis and can result in a heart attack or stroke.


HDL: High-density lipoprotein About onefourth to one-third of lipoproteins is carried by HDL which seems to protect against heart attack. Medical experts think that HDL tends to travel away from arteries and back to the liver where it is passed from the body.


TriglyceridesTriglyceride is a form of fat made in the body. Elevated levels can be due to overweight/obesity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and a diet very high in carbohydrates (60% of total calories or more). Many people with heart disease and/or diabetes also have high triglyceride levels.

 

 

When should you have your levels checked?


Men aged 35 and older and women aged 45 and older should have their level checked yearly. Depending on what your level is and on what other factors for heart disease you have, you may need to have it checked more often.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus is a disease in which blood sugar (glucose) levels are abnormally high because the body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin or the body fails to respond to insulin. When sugar from food is absorbed into the bloodstream, the pancreas responds by producing insulin. Insulin plays a key role in moving the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is then converted into energy. The body uses this energy to function; sugar is the fuel on which the body runs. If the body cannot adequately produce or respond to insulin, sugar cannot enter the cells, instead, sugar accumulates in the blood, and the cells must turn to other sources for energy.


Diabetes is extremely common in older people, of whom about 15 to 25% have the disease. Statistically, there are about 500 daily diagnosed cases of diabetes in the Philippines . Diabetes can lead to such complications as chest pain (angina pectoris) and heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, blurred vision and blindness, pain and loss of sensation in the hands and feet, and amputation. Many of these complications arise because elevated blood sugar leads to narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels, which impairs circulation and damages tissues. These complications are even more likely in people who smoke or have high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, both of which often accompany diabetes. Fortunately, many complications can be prevented by quitting smoking and by taking steps to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as blood sugar levels.




Causes of Diabetes

Diabetes is categorized as Type I or Type II, each with a different cause. Type II diabetes is the main form of diabetes among older people. Obese older people with a family history of diabetes have the highest risk of developing type II diabetes which accounts for 90% of the entire diabetes population worldwide. In type I diabetes, the type that usually becomes evident in childhood or young adult, the pancreas cannot produce insulin or produce tiny amount of insulin. Symptoms include intense thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, and rapid weight loss. It can be controlled by regular lifetime doses of insulin in the proper amounts. Keeping the balance between insulin dose and sugar intake is one of the major challenges faced by people with Type II diabetes, also known as adultonset diabetes usually doesn’t appear until the early to mid forties. In most cases, the problem is not a simple lack of insulin, but a defect in the receptors for insulin in the cell walls. The body does not respond normally to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Long term complications of Type II diabetes are similar to those of Type I, but include higher incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. So it’s worth it to have blood sugar monitoring regularly.


The main risk factor for Type II diabetes is obesity. Obesity causes insulin resistance, possibly by increasing the blood levels of building blocks of fats and certain proteins that interfere with the action of insulin.


Aging itself puts people at higher risk of developing diabetes. As people age, insulin secretion tends to decrease slightly and insulin resistance tends to increase slightly, even among people without obesity or diabetes.


Heredity is a risk factor as well.




Signs and Symptoms

People with Type II diabetes may have no symptoms for months or even years before the disease is diagnosed. When the blood sugar level raises too high, sugar spills into the urine. The kidneys then must excrete additional water to dilute the sugar. Therefore, a person with high blood sugar urinate large volumes (Polyuria). The loss of water due to excessive urination also creates abnormal thirst (Polydipsia). Also, the body cannot use sugar as energy, a person with diabetes may experience excessive hunger and thus eat more (Polyphagia) and yet still lose weight. Other symptoms include blurred vision, drowsiness, light headedness, irritability, fatigue and weakness, decreased endurance during exercise, numbness in the hands and feet, body itchiness, hard to heal wounds, frequent vaginal discharges, recurring skin infections, hard to maintain or achieve an erection in men.




Diagnosis and Screening

A simple blood test called Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) or Glucose test is most commonly used to make a diagnosis. The level of sugar (glucose) in the blood is measured, usually after the person has fasted for at least 8 hours. Sometimes the blood sugar level is measured randomly without regard to when the person last ate, but this is not as accurate.


In a person who does not have diabetes, blood sugar levels after fasting range from 70 to 110 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood. Diabetes is the likely diagnosis if the blood sugar level is 126 mg/dl or higher if the person fasted before the test or 200 mg/ dl or higher if the test was performed at random. People who have two or more fasting blood sugar levels between 110 to 125 mg/dl (a condition called impaired fasting glucose) should repeat the test yearly.

Benign Prostatic Hyperlasia (BPH)

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early every man over 45 has some degree of enlargement of the prostate gland, which slowly progresses throughout the aging process. The prostate gland is the male organ that produces semen, the milky-colored fluid that nourishes and transports sperm during ejaculation. It sits beneath your bladder and surrounds your urethra — the tube that drains urine from your bladder. When it becomes enlarged, the prostate can put pressure on your urethra and cause difficulty urinating.


Most men have a period of prostate growth in their mid- to late 40s. At this time, cells in the central portion reproduce more rapidly, resulting in prostate gland enlargement. As tissues in the area enlarge, they often compress the urethra and partially block urine flow. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the medical term for prostate gland enlargement.


Treatment of prostate gland enlargement depends on your signs and symptoms and may include medications, surgery or non-surgical therapies. Prostate gland enlargement is not related to the development of prostate cancer.


Prostate gland enlargement varies in severity among men and doesn’t always pose a problem. Only about half the men with prostate gland enlargement experience signs and symptoms that become noticeable or bothersome enough for them to seek medical treatment.




Causes

At birth, the prostate gland is about the size of a pea. It grows slightly during childhood and then at puberty undergoes a rapid growth spurt. By age 25, your prostate is fully developed and is about the size of a walnut.


The exact cause of prostate enlargement is unknown. As with age, changes in the ratio of male hormone (testosterone) and female hormone (estrogen) levels in men stimulate the prostate to grow. Another theory is that with aging, the testosterone hormone is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which increases the size of the prostate. Theoritically, drugs that inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT or decreasing DHT could reduce the symptoms of BPH. While conventional drugs are available, these have high potential for serious side effects such as impotence and dizziness. Recently, these drugs have been associated with increase death rates in patients with hypertension and heart diseases.


If your symptoms are mild and tests indicate that immediate surgery is not necessary, your physician may take no action. But if the problem does not improved, if it gets worse, or if tests show that urine flow is seriously blocked, the affected tissue must be removed.




Signs and Symptoms of BPH

• Urgent need to urinate
• Blood in the urine (hematuria)
• Urinary tract infection
• Straining while urinating
• Frequent need to urinate
• Weak urine stream
• Dribbling at the end of urination
• Not being able to completely empty the bladder
• Difficulty starting urination no matter how strong the urge
• Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia)


Treatment

The operation is called prostatectomy. It may be performed by surgery through an abdominal incision or by a method known as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). Either method requires anesthesia. In transurethral resection, no incision is made. Instead, a thin tube is passed up the penis to the prostate. In the tip of the tube is an electric cutting loop that removes the enlarge tissue. The electric cutting loop is guided with the help of a miniature telescope that is also in the tube.


Regardless of the technique that is used, prostatectomies are successful. They relieve urinary difficulties, and the prostate problems seldom recur. Occasionally the man becomes impotent after operation. Almost all men who have had surgery become sterile because their semen is expelled backward into the bladder instead of being ejaculated, but they are still able to have orgasm. Semen in the bladder causes no harm. It is simply eliminated in the urine.


Making some lifestyle changes can often help control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and prevent your condition from worsening. Consider these measures:


Limit beverages in the evening. Don’t drink anything for an hour or two before bedtime to help you avoid wake-up trips to the bathroom at night.


Limit caffeine or alcohol. These can increase urine production, irritate your bladder and worsen your symptoms.


Limit diuretics. If you take water pills (diuretics), talk to your doctor. Maybe a lower dose, a milder diuretic or a change in the time you take your medication will help. Don’t stop taking diuretics without first talking to your doctor.


Limit decongestants or antihistamines. These drugs tighten the band of muscles around your urethra that control urine flow, which makes it harder to urinate.


Go when you feel the urge. Try to urinate when you first feel the urge. Waiting too long to urinate may overstretch the bladder muscle and cause damage.


Schedule bathroom visits. Try to urinate at regular times to “retrain” the bladder. This can be done every four to six hours during the day and can be especially useful if you have severe frequency and urgency.


Stay active. Inactivity causes you to retain urine. Even a small amount of exercise can help reduce urinary problems caused by BPH.


Keep warm. Colder temperatures can cause urine retention and increase your urgency to urinate.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

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remenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of physical and psychologic symptoms that occur before a menstrual period begins. The type and intensity of symptoms vary from woman to woman and the various symptoms of PMS can temporarily upset a woman’s life. It is a collection of emotional symptoms, with or without physical symptoms, related to a woman's menstrual cycle. While most women of child-bearing age (up to 85%) report having experienced physical symptoms related to normal ovulatory function, such as bloating or breast tenderness, medical definitions of PMS are limited to a consistent pattern of emotional and physical symptoms occurring only during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle that are of "sufficient severity to interfere with some aspects of life". In particular, emotional symptoms must be present consistently to diagnose PMS. The specific emotional and physical symptoms attributable to PMS vary from woman to woman, but each individual woman's pattern of symptoms is predictable, occurs consistently during the ten days prior to menses, and vanishes either shortly before or shortly after the start of menstrual flow.


Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome:

Physical Symptoms: Awareness of heartbeats (palpitation); backache; bloating; breast fullness and pain; changes in appetite and craving for certain foods; constipation; cramps, heaviness, or pressure in the lower abdomen (dysmenorrhea); dizziness; easy bruising; fainting; fatigue; headaches; hot flushes; insomnia; joint and muscle pain; skin problems such as acne; swelling of the hands and feet; and weight gain.



Psychologic Symptoms:

Agitation; confusion; crying spells; depression; difficulty concentrating; emotional hypersensitivity; forgetfulness and memory loss; irritability; mood swings; nervousness; and short temper.



What causes the symptoms?

The female hormones estrogen and progesterone seem to play an important role in premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but the exact relationship is unclear. Some evidence indicates that women with full-blown PMS have lower than average blood levels of serotonin – a chemical found in the brain.



What should be done?

No single treatment is effective for all PMS sufferers since the types and severity of the symptoms vary a great deal. There is no known cure, but the most helpful strategies in the prevention of premenstrual problems include:



Exercising regularly. Women who exercise are less likely to have PMS. Walking, even if only one-half to one mile a day, can be very helpful. Eating complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain, breads, pasta, cereals, and potatoes can help boosting serotonin levels.



Cutting down salt. If you stop using salt, you may gain less weight premenstrually, feel less bloated, and suffer less from headaches and irritability.



FEMMA PLUS sofgel capsule contains Salmon Oil and Evening Primrose Oil (EPO), which are good sources of Gamma Linoleic Acid, proven to be effective against premenstrual syndrome and other menopausal signs & symptoms.

Peripheral Neuropathy

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amage to peripheral nerves, which are nerves throughout the body leading from the brain and spinal cord, is called peripheral neuropathy.

The damage sometimes occurs as a complication of a generalized illness such as diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, certain vitamin deficiencies, or tumors in distant parts of the body. There are many other possible causes of peripheral damage, including some hereditary conditions, toxic effects of some drugs, and exposure to toxic chemicals (especially arsenic, mercury, lead, and the organic phosphates found in insecticides. Avoiding toxic chemicals, injuries, and excessive intake of alcohol, along with observing good nutritional and exercise habits, can help you prevent neuropathy. Try taking vitamin b1, b6 and b12 (Nervital), 1-2 capsules twice daily after meal.




What are the symptoms?

In most forms of peripheral neuropathy, symptoms begin gradually, over many months. The typical pattern is a tingling sensation that begins in the feet and later in the hands, spreading slowly along the arms and the legs to the trunk. In the same way, numbness may develop. Often the skin becomes very sensitive, and you may have pain. In some cases there is a gradual weakening of the muscle power throughout the body, usually in the muscles of the feet, legs, and hands.




What are the risks?

Peripheral neuropathy is relatively common among alcoholics and people with diabetes. Cases caused by a build-up of toxic chemicals are rare in the general population, but occur often among farm workers and others who work where there is considerable exposure to chemicals.

One of the risks associated with peripheral neuropathy is that if a numbed part of your body is injured, you may be unaware of the injury until infection or ulceration occurs. Numbness in the fingers can make you more susceptible to accidents and injuries. A gradually wasting away of the muscles can eventually progress to the point where it impairs its function severely.




What should be done?

If your hands and feet are tingling, and especially if any of the factors that cause this condition are applicable to you, see your physician, who will probably refer you to a neurologist. The neurologist will take your medical and personal history and will examine you for signs of numbness, muscle weakness, and changes in your reflexes. The neurologist will test you for any correctable vitamin or metabolic deficiencies that can affect nerve function. He or she may send you for electromyography (EMG), a procedure that tests nerve and muscle function, a nerve conduction velocity measurement.

If any of your family members have had similar symptoms, the neurologist may want to review their medical records or examine them to look for possible hereditary conditions that might be involved.




What is the treatment?

If the cause of the nerve damage is a vitamin deficiency or another treatable disorder, control of the underlying problem can halt or reverse the progress of the neuropathy. If toxic chemicals or drugs are the cause, you will be advised to stop your exposure to those substances. This may require a change of occupation or a change in medications.

In severe cases where muscles have been badly weakened, aids to mobility and independence, such as physical therapy, walking with a cane or other support, and bath rails may be prescribed. You will also be warned to be alert to any wounds on your numb arms and legs and to consult your physician immediately whenever you have a severe bruise or an open sore. Be sure to take good care of your feet and toe nails and wear shoes that fits well to prevent pressure sores and infections. Vitamin B Complex (Nervital). Take 1-2 capsule every day after meal. This is available at all leading drugstores nationwide.

Sleep Disorder

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ack of sleep accelerates the aging process and yet, ironically, many of us find a good night’s sleep more difficult to achieve as we get older. The quality of sleep is important. The better we sleep, the better we feel. After one bad night you probably ache all over and feel irritable, clumsy and miserable. Chronic sleep loss can reduce the capacity of even young adults to perform basic metabolic functions such as processing and storing carbohydrates or regulating hormone secretion, report researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center in the October 23 issue of The Lancet. Cutting back from the standard eight down to four hours of sleep each night produced striking changes in glucose tolerance and endocrine function -- changes that resembled the effects of advanced age or the early stages of diabetes -- after less than one week.




Combat your lack of sleep:

Think about setting fixed bedtime and waking times and banning afternoon naps (unless you’re playing catchup, in which case have them before 3 pm) so that you adopt good sleep habits.


Research shows that getting even a small amount of daily activity can improve the ability to get a good night’s sleep. Exercise!


Caffeine intake should be limited. Caffeine is also in tea, chocolate and cola. Some other form of hot drink, however, can aid restorative sleep by reducing anxiety – hot milk.


Alcohol should also be limited because although it might help you to fall asleep (or knock you out in some cases!), it disturbs your sleep later on, as it breaks down in your system.

Eat earlier. Finish your evening meal at least two hours before bedtime. Digesting your meal can keep you awake.


One obvious but important point to help with restorative sleep is to ensure that your bed is comfortable. Is the mattress supporting you well and are the covers keeping you warm enough? Are your pillows the right height and firm enough for your comfort?


You need minimal light and noise in your bedroom. Have you considered black-out blinds for instance or a sleeping mask? You may also find ear-plugs help to keep out uncontrollable noise.


Watching television in bed is not a good idea as it stimulates the brain in a way which is not conducive to sleep. On the other hand, listening to calming music or reading a novel (something not too challenging!) does seem to help switch your mind off the worries of the day.


Your bedroom should be warm but not stuffy. If possible leave a window open and let fresh air circulate.


If your mind is still actively working out some problem or other and you wake again with new ideas, keep a pencil and paper pad next to the bed so that you can write them down. Then you’ll find it easier to put them to one side and fall asleep again. As a last resort for lack of sleep (and instead of popping conventional sleeping pills) think about taking a melatonin tablet when you go to bed – but check with your doctor beforehand. Studies show that, after taking it, you can expect to fall asleep quicker than usual and to sleep for a little longer but without any of the debilitating side effects of conventional sleeping tablets.


The Importance Of Vitamins

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he body needs a minimum amount of vitamins and minerals each day to remain healthy and function properly. A balanced diet normally supplies sufficient vitamins. However, serious disorders can still develop if the diet does not meet your body’s needs. Symptoms of a deficiency in vitamins and minerals usually appear when the lack is already in a relatively advanced level. For instance, people who do not have enough of the vitamins A, B1 and B2 suffer from recurring tiredness, mental or emotional disturbances, loss of appetite and chapped lips, among others.


The common causes of these vitamin deficiencies include poor eating habits, alcoholism, emotional stress, the improper absorption of vitamins and minerals (usually due to liver or intestinal disorders), the intake of medicines that interfere with the ingestion of vitamins and lack of exposure to sunlight. If you constantly feel sluggish and suffer from chronic healthrelated inconveniences, you might be short of the vitamins your body needs to function properly. Doctors will usually prescribe supplements that address the lack of vitamins and minerals in the body. However, also keep in mind not to overdo it, as an excess of vitamins can also be harmful. Do you still need to take vitamins even if you maintain a healthy diet? The answer is yes.


Proper food consumption should be accompanied by the right vitamins and minerals. Vitamins serve as buffers in the event that your diet does not meet your daily requirements fully. Surely you can’t calculate how much vitamins and minerals your body takes in with every meal you consume. And while most people take vitamins to avoid common deficiency-related diseases, not all products available cater to what your body requires. There are those that still lack what you need.


The key components you must look for in a supplement are the vitamins B6, B12, D, E and folic acid. Aside from being dietary supplements, these so-called B vitamins have been known to help combat certain types of cancer and heart ailments. While there remains no hard-lined link between cancer and a daily intake of B vitamins, studies that suggest their preventive powers have helped raise the importance of daily doses of vitamins and minerals into our system.


Standard RDA-level vitamins can easily be bought over the counter at a reasonable price. Yes, the old belief that a proper diet is enough to keep you going has become a myth. It is time to invest in our health. Whether we admit it or not, we need vitamins. Sure, it does lead to added costs; but when we really think about it, vitamins are probably the cheapest type of insurance readily available in the market right now. Who are we to say no?


Geriamin is a multivitamin and mineral specially formulated for 40 yrs old and above. Take 1 tablet daily or as prescribed by the physician. This is available at all leading drugstores nationwide.

Osteoarthritis

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steoarthritis is a common degenerative disease of the joints. Also known as the wear and tear disease, it is characterized by areas of destruction of articular cartilage, sclerosis of the underlying bone and hypertrophy of soft tissues. This type of arthritis affects more people than any other type. Patients usually know this disease best as old age arthritis.

Treatment generally involves a combination of exercise, lifestyle modification, and analgesics. If pain becomes debilitating, joint replacement surgery may be used to improve the quality of life. OA is the most common form of arthritis, and the leading cause of chronic disability in the United States. It affects about 8 million people in the United Kingdom and nearly 27 million people in the United States.




Why does Osteoarthritis occur?

In a normal joint a smooth, elastic material called cartilage covers the ends of your bones where they meet. Cartilage enables the bones to glide smoothly across each other and gives joints their flexibility. When the cartilage wears away, it becomes painful to move the joint. The ends of the bones may develop spurs or outgrowths, and ligaments and membranes around the bones may thicken. It usually becomes apparent in older people, in the larger, weightbearing joints including the hips, knees, and spine.




What are the symptoms?

Episodes of pain, swelling and stiffness in the affected joint occur at intervals of months or years. The major symptom is pain, in and around the joints. In different individuals the type of pain varies. It may be a constant aching, a feeling of soreness, or a more severe pain when you move your joints. The pain occurs because the pressure is placed on the nerve endings due to the deterioration of the smooth cartilage between the bones. Tense muscles may radiate to other muscles that seem unrelated to your sore joint.




How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Often if a person complains of pains in joints, the physician will order x-rays because damage to a joint may be seen that way. However, x-rays are only part of the procedure to diagnose Osteoarthritis. The history of your symptoms and the findings of the complete physical examination also will be valuable factors in the diagnosis. Your explanation of how you feel will be very important. For example, persons with Osteoarthritis usually do not have a feeling of being ill, do not experience severe weight loss, and do not have poor appetite or fever. Also, the pain in the involved joint is usually maximal with activity (walking; etc.) and decreased by rest in patients with Osteoarthritis.




How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Often if a person complains of pains in joints, the physician will order x-rays because damage to a joint may be seen that way. However, x-rays are only part of the procedure to diagnose Osteoarthritis. The history of your symptoms and the findings of the complete physical examination also will be valuable factors in the diagnosis. Your explanation of how you feel will be very important. For example, persons with Osteoarthritis usually do not have a feeling of being ill, do not experience severe weight loss, and do not have poor appetite or fever. Also, the pain in the involved joint is usually maximal with activity (walking; etc.) and decreased by rest in patients with Osteoarthritis.




How is Osteoarthritis treated?

There is no cure for Osteoarthritis. The goal of therapy is to control the disease and possibly slow its progress by keeping the affected joints mobile, preventing further disability, and relieving pain.


In some cases special exercise, rest and heat therapy are effective. Resting decreases stress on the sore joints, and relieves pain and swelling. Pain relievers such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to relieve pain and inflammation. However, oral pain reliever has its side effects particularly in the gastrointestinal system.


If you are over-weight, your physician will probably suggest a weight-reducing diet. Reducing weight will help reduce strain on your joints, particularly if your Osteoarthritis is in the hips or knees.






Gouty Arthritis

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RIC acid, one of the body’s waste products, normally passes out through the kidneys in your urine. If there is more of it than the kidneys can process, gout is a likely outcome. Gout is a common form of joint disease in which uric acid accumulates and forms crystals that may become lodged in certain areas of the body. When uric acid crystals are caught in the spaces between one of your joints, the tissue surrounding the joint becomes inflamed and irritates the nerve endings, which causes extreme pain. Crystals also accumulate in the kidneys, which may cause kidney failure.




What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of gout is severe pain, sometimes in your elbow or knee but more often in your hand or foot, frequently at the base of your big toe. The pain usually occurs without warning. Within a few hours your joint is swollen and tender, there is often a low-grade fever and the inflamed skin over the joint is often reddish-purple, shiny, and dry.


Gout affects males more than females after puberty. The first attack usually involves only one joint and last only a few days. Sometimes no more attacks occur, but there is usually a second, which may not come on for months or years. After the second attack, the gout may occur at short intervals, last longer, or involve more joints.




What are the risks?

Gout is one of the most controllable of the metabolic disorders. If untreated, it can lead to joint deformity, death from kidney disease, or high blood pressure.




What should be done?

Even though your first attack will subside on its own in a few days and there will be no immediate recurrence, see your physician. Do not try to ease the pain with aspirin, which slow down the excretion of uric acid. Your physician may advise you to make changes in your eating and drinking habits. A high daily water intake is important in controlling uric acid levels, particularly in the urine where uric acid crystals accumulate to form stones.




What is the treatment?

There are three lines of treatment. The first is to control of pain. The second is control of joint inflammation caused by uric crystals. For these objectives your physician may prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs), or colchicines, a drug to reduce joint inflammation.


Since the symptoms may disappear after the first attack, or the disease may be dormant for months or years, your physician may not prescribe any additional drugs at first. If the symptoms recur, however, you may need the third line of treatment, which involves two drugs to control your metabolic problem.


One drug increases the excretion of uric acid, but you won’t receive this drug if tests show you are already excreting large amounts of uric acid. Your physician may recommend that you help this process by increasing your intake of non-alcoholic fluids. The second and most widely used kind of drug reduces the amount of uric acid produced by your body. if you take the drugs exactly as prescribed, the disorder should not occur.




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