Friday, December 11, 2009

Adding Chemo to Tamoxifen Helps Some Breast Cancer Patients

Adding chemotherapy to traditional cancer-suppressing tamoxifen can increase survival in postmenopausal women with the most normal type of breast cancer, known as estrogen receptor-positive, also it's best given before the tamoxifen regimen starts, according to a new study.
"Chemotherapy with Adriamycin adds to your survival benefit over and above what tamoxifen would do if you are postmenopausal and have the positive lymph nodes and estrogen receptor-positive cancer [the most common type]," explained Dr. Kathy Albain, the lead researcher and professor of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
And in another study, Albain found that screening breast tumors with an available multi-gene test spots patients who may not need this form of chemotherapy, despite fitting the standard profile.
Both studies are published online Dec. 10, the first in the journal The Lancet and the second in The Lancet Oncology. Albain is also due to present her findings Thursday at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.
In estrogen receptor-positive cancer, tumor cells carry many receptors on their surfaces to which estrogen can attach, fueling tumor growth. Tamoxifen works by blocking the receptors.
Experts have long debated whether women with estrogen receptor-positive cancers -- whose growth is fueled by circulating estrogen -- would get more benefit from having a chemotherapy regimen on top of tamoxifen.
Albain led a research team from multiple centers that followed nearly 1,500 breast cancer patients for up to 13 years, with a median (half longer, half less) of nearly nine years. All were past menopause and had hormone receptor-positive cancer that had spread to at least one lymph node in the armpit area.
Albain's team assigned 381 women to tamoxifen alone, 587 to chemotherapy alone and 590 to both, with some receiving tamoxifen and chemo together and some in a sequential manner.
Tamoxifen was taken daily for five years. The chemo regimen used is called CAF, for "cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin and 5-fluorouracil."
In all, after accounting for study dropouts, 1,460 women received treatment.
The combined treatments of chemo plus tamoxifen increased the women's disease-free survival by 24 percent, Albain found. When her team looked at which delivery protocol worked best -- simultaneous tamoxifen and chemotherapy or chemo followed by tamoxifen -- the sequential approach was found to be better, giving slightly better disease-free survival.
Ten-year disease-free survival estimates were 57 percent for the combination group and 48 percent for the tamoxifen-only group, the researchers found.
However, women receiving chemo were more likely to have drops in white blood cells, important for fighting infections, the team noted. And they were also more prone to blood clots, congestive heart failure and other complications.
In a second study, Albain's team analyzed whether a gene test, called Oncotype DX, could predict which women would benefit from chemotherapy. Genomic Health, which makes the test, helped fund the study, along with the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
The test, which Albain said is already widely used, is done on the tumor itself. "This puts 21 genes together and comes up with a score," she said. The score -- low, intermediate, high -- predicts the risk of recurrence over 10 years if a woman used tamoxifen alone.
When the researchers performed the test on 367 specimens, they found a low score identified those women who may not need the chemo, despite the fact that they have cancer that spread to lymph nodes.
"This is a positive study, there's no question," said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, vice chair of medical oncology for the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., of the first study. "This study tells us [that] if you have positive lymph nodes [and are postmenopausal with estrogen receptor-positive cancer], you should have both chemo and tamoxifen, because the survival was better."
But, she added, "when you give everyone [who has the estrogen receptor-positive, node-positive breast cancer] chemotherapy, probably there are some who don't need it."
According to Mortimer, that's why the gene test looks promising -- it may spare some women from having to have chemo while ensuring that those who will benefit from the treatment get it.
More information
To learn more about breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New type of vaccine against allergies.

This may be the final effect of research at Uppsala University in Sweden. New result is presented by Ms. Anna Ledin in her doctoral dissertation. She vaccinated animals like dogs and rats against their own IgE antibodies, and appears that their allergic symptoms reduce.

The new type of antibody called IgE is part of the body’s defense against parasites, but today it is best known for its key role in allergic reactions. IgE is what brings about an allergic reaction. Normally it constitutes 0.02 % of all antibodies in the blood, but people with allergies can have up to ten times as much. The best way for a person with allergies to avoid reactions is to avoid the substance that triggers the allergies. But if you are allergic to pollen it is not easy to avoid all the pollen produced by blossoming birch trees, for example, which can lead to asthma, hay fever, and/or eczema.

Anna Ledin belongs to a team of scientists at Uppsala University that is developing vaccines against allergies, under the direction of Professor Lars Hellman. Her dissertation is part of this project. She presents a new form of treatment for allergies in her study. By producing and injecting an IgE vaccine that looks like IgE, she demonstrates that the body perceives the vaccine as something alien. Antibodies are then produced to fight both IgE and the vaccine, bringing down the levels of IgE in the blood and reducing the allergic symptoms. The allergy vaccine has been tested on rats and dogs, and the results indicate a clear reduction of IgE levels after vaccination. Dogs are one of the few animals that have allergic reactions like humans, but it has been unclear just how IgE levels are related to their symptoms. A new method for monitoring IgE levels in the blood of dogs was developed by the research team, and it was found that dogs have extremely high levels of IgE, regardless of whether they were healthy or had allergic eczema, autoimmune disorders, or skin parasites. This makes it problematic to diagnose allergies merely on the basis of IgE from dog blood. What’s more, IgE was measured from three sets of puppies, and, unlike mature dogs, the puppies evinced low levels of IgE.

What causes allergies then? It is certain that both environmental and genetic factors play a role. But it has not been determined exactly which genes are involved or to what extent they are involved. Therefore Anna Ledin and the research team examined how a part of one chromosome, containing many different genes, is involved in the regulation of IgE in rats. That particular chromosomal region has previously been implicated in the susceptibility of rats to developing pain in their joints in a model for arthritic rheumatism, and they found that it also affects IgE levels in rats. It remains to be studied whether this chromosomal region also impacts IgE levels in humans.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cryosurgery treatment for Cancer

Cryosurgery abides a novel method for treatment of cancer which has been accepted by the united states' food & drug administration (FDA) in 1998 also China's SFDA in 1999. Fuda cancer Hospital-Guangzhou has applied the method since 2000. To date, Fuda has the best amount of experience in this minimally invasive operation; usual Fuda trains doctors from around the world on the cryosurgery technique. recently, Fuda's number of cryosurgery cases has nearly topped 5,000 cases with a variety of malignant tumors (more than 34 different kinds of cancers). In this field, Fuda Cancer Hospital leads the world in experience and research.


Principle


Cryosurgery is an important ablation technique for tumors. It destroys tumors by cycles of freezing and thawing. Cryosurgery's destructive effects on tumors are due to two major mechanisms, one immediate, the other delayed. The immediate mechanism is the damaging effect of freezing and thawing the cells. The delayed mechanism is the progressive failure of microcirculation; ultimately, vascular stasis becomes operative as an important cause of tumor tissue destruction. Once the temperature falls below -40oC, ice crystals may form within the cells. Once it occurs, cell death is almost certain. During cryosurgery, progressive failure of microcirculation occurs due to a cascade of events: endothelial layer destruction causing vessel walls to become porous, interstitial edema, platelet aggregation, microthrombi, and ultimately vascular congestion and obliteration. It was theorized that during cryosurgery, the immune system of the host became sensitized to the tumor being destroyed by the cryosurgery. Any primary tumor tissue undamaged by the cryosurgery and the metastases were destroyed by the immune system after cryosurgery. This response was termed the "cryo-immunological response".


Procedure of cryosurgery


Cryosurgery is performed through intraoperative, endoscopic or percutaneous routes depending upon the location and size of tumor.

Cryoablation is performed by using argon-helium system. Two to three cycles of the freezing/thawing are performed. The freezing continues until the "ice-ball" formed at the tip if the cryoprobe is large enough to cover tumor. A 5-10 mm margin of normal tissue is included in the freezing process. For larger tumors, multiple cryoprobes were used. In some cases, it may become necessary to perform at least 2-3 sessions of the cryoablation procedure. This is possible because the procedure is minimally invasive, and often does not require cutting. The probes are simply inserted through the skin and guided by real-time ultrasound.

Advantages

  • Cryosurgery is a localized medical procedure. It can be used as the sole means of cancer treatment or it can be combined with other conventional treatment techniques such as surgical operation, chemotherapy, radiotherapy.

  • Combining cryosurgery with excision can be advantageous since freezing the tumor before excision minimizes the risk of spreading the cancerous cells during excision

  • In addition to sparing healthy tissue, cryosurgery is advantageous because it is not dose-limited can be repeated as necessary in order to destroy all cancerous tissue

  • In situations where the tumor is not removed after freezing, especially percutaneous cryosurgery, operative blood loss is small and post-surgical discomfort is minimized

  • Cryoprobes are relatively small (generally in the range of 24 mm in diameter) and therefore they may be used in minimally in-vasive surgical procedures

  • There are no major side effects which are commonly found in chemotherapy or radiotherapy

  • Cryosurgery is adaptable for treatment of tumor close to large vessel which cannot be removed by operation

  • Cryosurgery can treat small as well as large tumors, and solitary as well as multiple tumors

  • Cryosurgery per se aims at a local effect, namely, destruction in situ of neoplasms resistant to conventional treatments, but it also elicits an immunologic reaction (cryoimmunologic reaction) against cancer for eradication of residual or metastatic tumors

  • There is evidence that the recurrence rate of cancer after cryosurgery is lower than that of operation

Indication

Nearly all parenchymal cancers are prime candidates for cryoablation.

These malignancies include:

*Liver cancer
*Lung cancer(non-small cell lung cancer)
*Kidney cancer
*Ovarian cancer
*Pharyngeal cancer
*Testicular cancer
*Uterine tumors
*Vaginal cancer
*Pancreatic cancer
*Breast cancer
*Sarcoma and other benign or malignant lesions of bone
*Prostate cancer
*Skin cancer and melanoma
*Head and neck cancer
*Tumor of soft tissues

In addition, cryosurgery can be an effective treatment for the following:

* Retinoblastoma (a childhood cancer that affects the retina of the eye).
*Early-stage skin cancers (both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas)
*Precancerous skin growths known as actinic keratosis.
*Pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (abnormal cell changes in the cervix that can develop into cervical cancer).


For More information Visit:Fuda Cancer Hospital-Guangzhou


Monday, March 2, 2009

Early Abuse Affects Depression, Mental Health

It is no secret that children who have experienced abuse or neglect are at a high risk of developing a wide range of mental problems in life, and the range seems to cover the whole list of disorders and illnesses. Other problems include an increased likelihood of substance abuse and suicidal tendencies. While this is no longer surprising, even if it can be considered rather tragic, it has managed to raise a significant question.

It isn't unknown for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions to be influenced by biological factors. Levels of hormones in the brain, glands producing too much or too little of certain chemicals, and other factors can all cause someone to develop one of many psychological problems. The answer to the question of whether or not abuse can cause biological changes leading to mental health problems has never really been answered, let alone answered in a satisfactory manner. However, that doesn't mean researchers aren't trying.

Researchers have determined that affectionate parenting helps alter certain expressions in the genes of animals, and this allows them to dampen their psychological response to stress impulses. These buffers were also found to be passed on from generation to generation, particularly among primates. It was also found that species that were better suited to handle stress on a biological level were also more likely to care for their offspring.

There has never been any direct evidence linking this sort of mechanism to humans until recently. A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience indicated that people who were abused or neglected during their childhood years showed a number of alterations to their genes that made them more sensitive to stress than the average person. The data helped clarify an old question of whether or not a difficult childhood could affect one's mental resiliency.

Summary : For many years, it was unknown whether or not childhood abuse could have a biological effect leading to depression and other mental problems. Recent research has revealed that abuse during childhood does cause biological changes that could lead to various disorders.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Acknowledging The Benefits of Coffee

There are many people who have made coffee a regular part of their daily routine and lifestyle. They can't seem to live without it. They are those who look forward to their first cup of coffee as soon as they wake up in the morning. They are the habitu├ęs of coffee shops day-in and day-out.
The increasing number of coffee “addicts” have also raised concerns about the possible effects of coffee on the body, and whether or not caffeine causes harm to ones health. While some people acknowledge the beneficial effect of coffee when you have a headache, others claim that it's bad to drink coffee if you have stomach problems.

The general effects of coffee fall into the following categories:

  • as stimulant – caffeine makes coffee a well-established stimulant as it stimulates the nervous system, including the nerves controlling intestinal activity, blood pressure and airway size which may keep you alert and awake, yet may also impair sleep, cause jitters and anxiety.

  • as heartburn trigger – all types of coffee, even decaf, can stimulate secretion of stomach acid, which may lead to heartburn.

  • as diuretic – caffeine encourages the kidneys to produce urine to rid the body of excess fluid. However, coffee leads to urination so effectively that it may cause mild dehydration.

In addition to yellowing of teeth which are common among regular coffee drinkers, burn injuries from steaming hot coffee are very common. Some mental health professionals even suggest that regular caffeine users, including coffee drinkers, should be considered dependent, addicted or struggling with substance abuse.

The therapeutic effects of caffeine includes:

  • treating premature babies or those who have undergone surgery just after birth with caffeine to stimulate their breathing.

  • Some over-the-counter headache or pain relief medication include caffeine, acetaminophen and aspirin. The effectiveness of these agents may be linked, at least in part, to the treatment of caffeine withdrawal, a common cause of headaches.

  • Several studies found modest benefits with caffeine in the treatment of asthma as it gives dilating effects on airways. In fact, some recommend that coffee intake be avoided before breathing tests so as not to diminish the breathing abnormalities which the tests aim to detect.

  • During the Experimental Biology 2007, an American Society for Nutrition's annual conference, research experts reviewed evidence that moderate intake of coffee, say 3 to 5 cups per day, might reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, kidney stones, gallstones, and depression.
Since coffee causes minimal and rare health risks, the vast population of coffee lovers welcome the good news.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Erasing Fearful and Unpleasant Memories

People who survived the horrible memories of war may develop severe stress and anxiety, which can lead to other serious medical conditions. Most of them suffer from emotional and psychological disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

However, there are other incidents that may prove traumatic to an individual, such as rape, torture, being kidnapped or held hostage, child abuse, vehicular accidents, plane crashes, and even natural disasters, like floods or earthquakes.

PTSD is experienced when a terrifying ordeal involving physical harm or the threat of physical harm happens to a person. It could be that the person may have been the one who was harmed, or he may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to loved ones or strangers.

Doctors usually prescribe antidepressant drugs to help ease the ever-present aching wounds of war, or to induce sleep to those who are suffering from insomnia, as well as to relieve their daily stress and anxiety.
While various psychotherapy programs are being studied and developed to bring modest relief from stress and anxiety, a new study from the University of Amsterdam reported that a commonly used blood pressure medication may also help erase or subdue fearful memories.

According to the researchers, they have discovered that a beta-blocker drug prevents the return of unpleasant memories. This finding will benefit a lot of patients with PTSD and other emotional disorders.
Scientists said that propranolol, which is a beta-blocker, targets nerve receptors in the part of the brain called the amygdala while it is processing emotional information. The amygdala helps you learn and respond to fear, create memories, and perceive how you and other's feel. Some think that the use of beta-blockers during reactivation of fearful thoughts may cause the breakdown of the unpleasant memory in the amygdala while leaving other memories untouched.
However, medical ethics experts warn that the possibility of eliminating unpleasant memories is not without risk. Daniel Sokol, a lecturer in medical ethics at St. George's University of London said that personal identity, which is linked to memories, may change.

“It may perhaps be beneficial in some cases, but before eradicating memories, we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals, society, and our sense of humanity,” said Sokol.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Comparison Of Medical Treatments

It has been a long, long time since the government had a large-scale study intended to compare the medications designed to treat a single condition. This is coming after the onset of a new legislation, mandating $787 billion be allocated as economic stimulus. The substantial amount of money is intended for the federal government to find which medications are the best treatments for any given condition. The bill also includes cash to compare medical devices, surgical procedures, and other treatments for specific conditions.

The program was developed due to a concern that has been growing among doctors and patients recently concerning the lack of solid evidence on the effectiveness of numerous medications, procedures, and treatments. The basic idea was to use the research results as a way to determine which treatments really do work – or at least have a reasonable chance of working – and which ones don't, allowing people in both the public and private sectors to discourage the use of costly-but-ineffective treatments and drugs. With the soaring costs of health care becoming a potential economic problem, many believe cutting costs on ineffective medications would be a good idea. The plan involves the use of numerous systematic reviews of published studies, clinical trials, and detailed comparisons of existing treatments. It is worth noting that none of the money involved will go into researching new treatments.

There are, however, a few that worry about the implications of this. There are some groups that do not believe the enforcement of treatment guidelines would be a positive change for some patients. There are also others that contend that a single study may not be enough to truly verify how effective something is, or whether or not one treatment is more effective than another. However, the intention is simply cut down on the use of expensive treatments that are not as effective as others, rather than cut out these options entirely.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tips to Avoid Lumbago

Low back pain can affect anybody of any age, male or female, regardless of whether they are physically active or not. Commonly referred to as lumbago in the medical community, it can be caused by a lot of different factors, like sports injuries and strenuous work to name a few.

For most people, low back pain is not an issue until they actually experience it first hand. For severe cases, taking muscle relaxants or pain relievers does wonders in relieving the discomfort. For mild lumbago, massage and over-the-counter analgesics is enough to make it bearable. But wouldn't it be better if you didn't have to deal with all the hassles of lumbago at all?

There are things you can do as precautionary measures to avoid experiencing low back pain, like:

1.Be mindful of your posture. Having poor posture strains the back muscles as well. as the spine. Constantly slouching can cause the natural concave curvature of the lumbar vertebrae to flatten and cause pain.

2.Exercise your back. Your abdominal muscles work hand in hand with the back muscles to provide the spine with muscular support. Be careful not to strain yourself too much or you'll end up injuring yourself.

3.Injury-proof your home and workplace. One common cause of low back pain are injuries from accidents that could have been prevented. Always be on the look out for items that you can trip over, slip on, or fall off from.

4.Make your office back-friendly. Get ergonomically correct chairs that provide your back with proper support, as well as one of the proper height. Certain chairs are uncomfortable to sit on and make it difficult to get on or off it, causing discomfort and injury.

5.Make your home back-friendly as well. Choose mattresses that offer firm back support. Don't go with one that is too soft or too firm because both of them can cause your lower back to hurt.

There are more ways to avoid suffering from lumbago. Ask your doctor for more tips to prevent from having low back pain as well as to understand the different things that cause it. Always remember than prevention is better than cure.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Healing and Restoring Wholeness For The Sexually-Abused Person

Child sexual abuse may be hard to believe but it really happens and it is more prevalent than one would believe. Race, religion, and economic status notwithstanding, children are getting sexually abused. And its effects don't stop until the child grows through adolescence and into adulthood.

Victims of sexual abuse usually grow up insecure and have a hard time trusting people. They experience bouts of depression and self-hatred, that may lead to eating disorders and deviant behaviors such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and thoughts of suicide.

These children often feel hopeless. They experience nightmares and would wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. There is the feeling of being crazy, that there is something wrong with them. Once they get involved in a relationship, they find it hard to be sexually expressive. They shut off during sexual encounters and most of the time, they just feel empty, disconnected, and alone.

Sexual abuse comes in different forms. It could be an unwanted touch by a babysitter, a brother or sister, a parent, step-parent, friend, or even a minister. Recurring instances sexual abuse may last for a long period of time. For others, it could just be a one-time occurrence, such as date rape or coercive sex with a partner.

Survivors of sexual abuse don't speak about their experience, keeping it as a secret all their lives. They usually blame themselves, feeling shame, guilt, and depression. Some victims experience flashbacks as they live in fear. Others just try to block it all out. Their spiritual struggles and injuries are often deep and painful. They may feel abandoned by God, lose their faith, or feel a pervasive sense of spiritual isolation.

Healing and restoring wholeness from the trauma of sexual abuse may not come easy. But it is not impossible to regain a sense of wholeness once again. Spiritually-integrated therapy helps a lot in overcoming deep psychological issues and addressing wounded spiritual beliefs. It involves counseling on how sexual abuse creates deep feelings of shame, and how this shame covers the true beauty within. Spiritually-integrated therapy allows healing and empowerment for the sexually-abused person.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sex and How It Affects Your Health

For a lot of adults, sex can be considered the best physical activity in the world. Not only does it give you the opportunity to release sexual desires, but it also helps you form a sort of intimate bond with your partner. Little do people know that aside from being a fun activity shared by partners for intimacy purposes, making love also has its effects on your health.

Here are some of the effects sex has on your well-being:

Sex can act as an effective pain reliever. When one engages in sexual activities of any sort and gets sexually excited, the body releases more of the hormone oxytocin, which, in turn triggers the production of endorphin, a chemical that increases a person's pain tolerance. Some doctors believe that sex can be quite helpful in relieving minor headaches, while some believe that it works well with arthritis and whiplash pain.

Sex reduces stress and promotes sleep. Once a person reaches climax, a aura of calm and relaxation usually follows. This is the same reason why most individuals fall asleep after having sex. Also, a survey once found that people who have a regular dose of sex reported to sleep better at night and feel refreshed throughout the day.

Sex improves cardiovascular health. This is in relation to how sex increases blood flow all over the body. To begin with, the heart starts pumping blood faster when you get aroused, resulting to quicker blood flow to the brain and heart. With fresh blood constantly circulating through the brain and the heart, one can be assured of better performance in and out of the sexual arena.

These are only three of the most important health effects of having sex, there are still others left that aren't listed here. But it is important to note that these health effects can be obtained if the amount of sexual activity you have is moderated. If you have too much sex, you might end up with health complications instead.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Role Emotions Play In Man's Overall Wellness

It has always been said that a healthy body cannot be divorced from a healthy mind or a healthy spirit. Emotional health is considered an integral part of man's overall wellness. Neglecting your emotional health can damage your physical health in the process. Research has shown that one of the leading contributors to illness is stress caused by unresolved emotional issues.

Psychologists believe that emotions, such as fear, joy, sadness, or anger, are mental responses to events, circumstances, people, or our own thoughts and memories. They course through our conscious and unconscious beings at all times, whether at critical junctures or during seemingly inconsequential moments of our lives.

Biologists, on the other hand, tells us that our emotions are rooted in self-preservation, triggering physiological reactions that enable us to find food, escape danger, and reproduce. Author Daniel Goleman pointed out in his work, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam, 1995), “All emotions are, in essence, impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us.”

Emotions have also evolved into facial expressions and body language so that each member of the group can signal his or her wants and needs to other members. As John D. Mayer, a leading expert in the study of emotions, has remarked: “Emotions convey information...about relationships.”

Emotions are so powerful it has the ability to make us sick, as well as provide healing. Emotions are relayed to the immune system through the autonomic nervous system. When people experience anxiety, depression, and other painful emotions, the immune system can be affected and may cause risk for a whole host of illnesses. In the same way, having a healthy emotional outlook in life can boost the resistance against disease.

Mayer has emphasized, “People can reason with emotions in the same way they reason with cognitive information. So you can solve emotional problems just as mathematicians solve math problems.” However, he also acknowledged that some emotions, such as grief and anger, can be harder to reason effectively with than others. And oftentimes, identifying the various emotions at play can be extremely difficult.

The Kissing Disease Is Still Spreading

There is an infection known as mononucleosis, which is also given the name “the kissing disease.” Also known as Epstein-Barr, it is a variation of the herpes virus, and almost all Americans are known to have been infected with it at least once by the time they reach their late 30s. Teenagers and young adults are known to be the most susceptible age group to the condition, with an estimated 35 to 50% of all those who were affected developing severe fatigue, though other symptoms are not uncommon. There are physicians that worry that it has become severely trivialized, despite the fact that new medications and vaccines for it are lacking.

The symptoms of the condition are easily identifiable, but can easily disrupt a person's daily life. The disease can turn a previously active, athletic person into someone who sleeps as much as she can, at every available chance. The person in question may feel exhausted, and may feel as if they are never well-rested, despite getting regularly getting enough sleep. Some may just dismiss this as one thing or another, but other symptoms can make the possibility of a condition hard to ignore. One such symptom is when the glands in the neck become swollen, and areas of the abdomen become visibly enlarged, to the point that it is painfully clear something is wrong.

This condition is spread by close physical contact, and it is sometimes seen as a rite of passage for many young adults. The symptoms of the condition can last for months at a time, and there are patients who become infected with this and never display any of the symptoms of it. These include a sore throat, severe fatigue, fever, swelling of various glands, and an enlarged spleen. The disease is considered a common one, which makes experts fear that it may become trivial for the research community. The lack of studies going into treatments and vaccines for it is taken as an indication of the lack of interest.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Genetic Marker For Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is easily one of the foremost killers of women in the world today, and like other cancers, it can be very difficult to properly treat. The fact is, like any other cancer, it can be difficult to detect accurately, and treatments for it can range from being limited in scope to being potentially harmful to healthy areas of the body. So research delving into ways to detect, treat, or even prevent cancer can be considered among the most invaluable projects that medical science can undertake. One recent development in this area is very promising, as it has found what appears to be a genetic marker linked to breast cancer.

The team has found evidence suggesting that a single gene can play a crucial role in the development of breast cancer, and can increase the risk factor significantly. The metastasis gene metadherin or MTDH also displayed evidence of being able to increase the cancer's resistance to chemotherapy. The genetic mutation was found in people with aggressive cases of breast cancer. Drugs capable of blocking the gene are believed to potentially be able to keep localized tumors from spreading, increasing the chances of the patient's survival. The gene was also found to be one of the few such genetic alterations that have had their mode of action identified, making it an easier task to find a way to nullify it.

Stopping the spread of cancerous cells in a body is actually of critical importance. While an estimated 98% of all patients who have breast cancer will survive five years or more, only a smaller percentage of them – around 27% – who have had the condition spread to other areas of the body will survive. The survival rate for patients with breast cancer drops dramatically once it has spread to other areas or organs, though this is not a very common occurrence.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tips for Successful, Long-Term Weight-Loss

With obesity rates continuously climbing the charts, and more people leaning towards being overweight, it's no surprise that weight-loss clinics and other similar service providers are popping up left and right. Even on the Internet you'll find a lot of weight-loss how-to's and diet plans that will help you lose weight.

Sure they work. There's no doubt about that. However, a lot of people tend to have their weight loss go up and down like a yo-yo. It's difficult to say that you're successful in your goals of losing weight if you can't keep the weight off, now, can you?

The trick to successful weight loss is to find one that helps you keep it off for a long time, if not permanently. To help you get started on shedding those excess pounds and keeping them off, here are some tips:

1.See a doctor. Nobody else is best equipped to tell you how to go about losing weight safely and effectively but your doctor. They'll be able to give you helpful advise what to do and how to go about with your weight-loss goal.
2.Do it with your health in mind, not just to get thin. Thin isn't necessarily healthy. You may be able to trim your waistline down a couple of inches, but still be unhealthy because of your poor planned weight-loss program.
3.Commit yourself to the cause. Without commitment, you're bound to lay low on your weight-loss goals every so often. You may lose five pounds while you're in the program, but gain seven pounds after you slack off. If you're going to do this, see it through to the end. There's no use dieting and exercising for a few months if you're going to be pigging out and slacking off on the next few.
4.Incorporate exercise with your daily routine. You can either choose to set aside 30 minutes every day just for exercising, or look for ways that you can have physical activities at work, school, or even at home. A good example for this would be walking to work, doing some gardening, cleaning the house, etc.
5.Eat healthy. Avoid foods that are filled with artificial stuff. As much as possible, go with healthy, natural food items that are both delicious and nutritious. Take note that some food can even help in speeding up your metabolism to better burn those calories.

These tips may work for you or it may not. Again, the key to making you keep your excess weight off for the long haul is commitment and dedication. If you're truly focused on losing weight and becoming healthy, no amount of influence can sway you to veer away from your goals.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Cancer Center Checklist

Cancer is one of those conditions where any doctor would not fault their patient for seeking out a second opinion, or the help of a specialist. Certainly, no doctor would willingly deprive a patient with cancer of the necessary referral to get better help. Let's face it, not every medical practitioner or facility is prepared to handle a patient with cancer – any type of cancer. As such, patients will often find themselves being sent to cancer centers – facilities designed specifically to deal with patients with cancer. With that in mind, what sorts of things would a person going to such a place need to bring on their first visit?

Well, the obvious requirement would be medical records from their previous doctor. The new doctor, no matter what the skill level, would be unable to help a patient if the patient did not bring medical records with them. Without those records, the doctor would have to start things off from scratch, and while the new doctor can take the time needed to understand every medical nuance in the person's life, it would inevitably take a lot more time than the average cancer patient would theoretically have. In other words, be sure to bring complete and accurate medical records.

It would also be a good idea to have information on any tests that were recently taken – along with results – and the list of medications currently being taken. This includes any over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs that someone is taking currently, and any that may have been taken recently. Alternative medications, dietary supplements, and any medications introduced into the body through surgical procedures should also be included. Radiology exams like x-rays and ultrasounds should also be included, along with a review made by the primary physician in written form.

Referrals would also be a good idea. This includes a letter from the original physician referring the person to the cancer center, and documentation from the insurance company. Some insurance companies may require the first one, or a formal referral from the primary physician. Insurance companies and cancer centers may also require formal documentation of this nature to make sure that the visit is fully paid for by the insurance company.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Curious Case of Medicines

Medicines are developed to make us feel better and get well when we are sick. Most probably, there are a lot more medicines than there are illnesses to be cured. Yet not very many realize that medicines have risks aside from their usual benefits. It may cause unwanted side effects or drug interactions with food or with other medicines you may be taking.

There are strict standards and guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when it comes to approving the sale of medicines to the general public. Benefits of over-the-counter and prescription medicines must outweigh its known risk. Otherwise, the FDA can withdraw a medication from the market if found to cause harmful side effects.

The benefits of medicines are the positive effects you get when you take them, such as lowering blood pressure, curing bacterial infection or relieving back pain. The risks of medicines are the chances that something unwanted or unexpected could happen to you when you use them. Some risks could be less serious, such as a headache, or more serious, such as liver damage. In order to reduce the risks, always follow the directions carefully when taking medicines.

Medicines are chemicals substances or compounds that are used for the treatment and prevention of diseases and its symptoms. Advances in medications have enabled doctors to find cure to many diseases and save lives.
Today's medicines come from varied sources. Some medicines have been developed from substances found in nature, such as plant extracts. But most are produced and developed in laboratories using chemical mixtures, or by products of organisms, such as fungus. And a few medicines are even biologically engineered by inserting genes into bacteria that make them produce the desired substance.

Medications come in different forms, such as tablets, pills, liquids, drops, creams, gels, ointments, inhalers, patches, and injectables. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication to avoid further aggravating your condition. Inform your health care provider about all of the medicines and supplements you are using to avoid possible drug interactions. It is important to mention if you are pregnant or nursing to avoid harmful effects to the unborn.

Drug Resistant Staph Prevalent Among Children

A staph infection can become a major medical concern for most people, and especially so if the person infected is a child. The infection can do a lot of damage, but is easily treated by conventional antibiotics. However, recent reports have found that children are starting to break that trend. Staph infections were once considered to be rare in areas such as the ear, nose, or throat. However, reports indicate that children are starting to develop infections in those areas far more than before. Doctors are also discovering an additional problem: the infections are showing resistance to most antibiotics used to treat them.

The study that found this report only managed to obtain data from a limited number of facilities, but there was enough evidence to suggest an overall trend. The increase of drug resistant staph infections in children was not just a fluke, and the data suggests that it may spread further. The change was noted to have occurred in parallel to an increase in community-acquired cases of staph resistant bacteria among people who were found to be healthy and did not require any sort of hospitalization.

Statistics and data indicate that the number of drug resistant staph infections appearing on the heads and necks of children had seen a dramatic increase over a six-year period. The strains found were largely resistant to methicillin, the antibiotic most commonly used to treat staph, and that it was found to manifest the most in the ear, nose, sinus, and pharynx. About 60% of all head and neck infections detected were found on children, and all of them had been in medical settings prior to the infection. It was noted that they could potentially have encountered other infected people while in the outpatient section. The situation and the data suggested that the children may have been exposed to resistant strains from the community.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Turn Your Home Into A “Budget Home Gym”

In these times of global crisis, people have the tendency to shun away from expensive gym memberships and costly gym equipments. However, if you will just think outside the (treadmill) box, you'll be blown away at the idea of using household items as substitute for those premium fitness apparatus.

In place of those shiny gym dumbbells, you can make use of soup cans for weights to exercise your biceps and triceps.

A household bucket or jug filled with water or sand, rock salt or powdered detergent can also be used as weights. Make sure the top is secured by using some duct tape to seal it before you lift it up and down infront of you as you do your squats.

As for body sculpting equipment, try substituting it with paper plates to help your body slide on a carpet. This will simulate body sculpting moves that would ordinarily require workout equipment. Do the sliding lunge by putting the paper plate under one foot, and lunge forward. Skate with it to work your butt and thighs by attaching the plates to your feet with rubber bands and slide away. You can also get down on all fours, put the plates under your hands, and use them to work your chest by sliding your arms back and forth.

A push-up bench can be replaced by a mere countertop in the kitchen or bath.

Simply put both hands on the countertop, extend your legs behind you at an angle, lean down into the counter and then push back up.

Any exercise that makes use of a resistance band can do with an old pantyhose or tights. For example, while sitting on the floor with legs straight, loop a pair of pantyhose around the balls of your feet and pull back with both hands as if you were using a rowing machine.

These are just few of the many things you can do to turn your home into a “budget home gym.” Just be creative and workout your way to fitness and health without the big bucks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Myths About Coffee's Health Benefits

Caffeine, like any other foreign substance, has its own set of health benefits and side effects. However a lot of people have their information mixed up and base their knowledge about the effects of coffee to one's health solely on hand-me down information. To straighten things out, here are some coffee health myths and the actual fact behind it:

1.Drinking unfiltered coffee increases caffeine's health risks.

Studies suggest that drinking unfiltered coffee, those prepared in French Presses, can cause an increase in bad cholesterol (LDL) and homocysteine levels, leading to a 10% increase in risks of heart diseases. However, homocysteine levels in people who drink filtered coffee were found to be just the same as those who drank unfiltered coffee.

2.Three cups of regular coffee a day can help improve memory retention.

Studies have shown that caffeine in coffee can temporarily enhance a person's focusing and recalling ability. However, different results came up for different genders. Women aged 65 and older who took more than three cups of coffee a day showed 33% less decline in memory compared to those who drank only a cup a day. Men, on the other hand, did not show such promising results. It has been attributed to the fact that men and women digest caffeine differently.

3.Coffee causes stomach ulcers.

A lot of people, especially the elderly, are convinced that coffee can cause stomach ulcers supposedly because coffee can add to the stomach acids already upsetting your stomach. Coffee doesn't cause the ulcer on it's own, but it can add to your stomach acids and worsen an already existing ulcer.

You may think that you know a lot of things about coffee and its supposed health benefits and effects, but you might want to think that over again because you might actually be under the wrong impression.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Surgery Checklists Save Lives

The old adage that words can't hurt anyone tend to be true in many cases, but that is not the case with surgical theaters. The right words in the operating room can end up saving lives on the table, according to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine. It was found that the use of a simple checklist to make sure all the equipment is in order and everything is done correctly can save lives, as well as potentially cut complications because of a procedure by almost a third or more.

The study noted that death rates dropped from 1.5% prior to the inclusion of the checklist to 0.8% after it was instituted. Complications that arose form surgical procedures were also noted to have dropped, becoming 7% from the 11% it was prior. The numbers may seem small, but the study's authors said they had never expected any sort of dramatic reductions or changes. In fact, the results were revealed to be much larger than the initial estimates made by the team.

The checklist suggested included various items that were carried out over the course of an operation – seven of them prior to administering anesthesia, seven just before the first incision is made, and the remainder before the patient is allowed to leave the operating theater. The study included numerous basic safety issues, which have all been linked to one medical screw-up or another in the past. These include reminding doctors to double check the identity of the patient, the type of surgery that is required, whether or not there is an adequate supply of blood for excess bleeding, and whether all the equipment were accounted for after the operation.

The checklists had manage to improve compliance only by some teams, with some of them still not adhering to the list. Checklists could be credited with the improvement, but there's not enough data to confirm such an assumption. The change in behavior is considered trivial by many experts, and the reduction did not seem to be enough of a change to make the findings concrete.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weight Loss By Coffee – Does It Work?

The average American takes about three cups of coffee within the day. Some do it to jump start their day, while some drink it to wind down after a long day. Some take to keep themselves awake, while some take it improve endurance. But little did we know that coffee can also be helpful in shedding excess weight.

It might take a lot of convincing before people start letting go of their Xenicals and believe that coffee can be an effective weight-loss beverage, but here are some important pointers to explain how coffee can help you lose those extra pounds:

Caffeine, found in coffee, can help speed up metabolism. It if with a boosted metabolic rate that one burns calories faster and lose weight in the process. Because it is an effective metabolism booster, it is used as an active ingredients in a lot of over-the-counter diet pills.

Caffeine aids in fat oxidation. Fat oxidation is the process wherein fat is broken down, freeing fatty acids that the body can easily burn into energy. The said process of energy conversion is increased by 30 percent for people who take coffee or other caffeine-based products before exercise. The only thing is, the increased fat burn only occurs when you start working out.

Caffeine can act as an appetite suppressant. While you burn more fat because of the caffeine you took before working out, essential substances like glycogen, glucose, and amino acids remain reserved. This makes the blood sugar level remain constant for a longer period of time. When one has low blood sugar, you start feeling hungry. On the other hand, high blood glucose levels can help stave off hunger.

You must understand that it is the caffeine in coffee that aids in losing weight, not the coffee itself. And although coffee is our biggest source of caffeine daily, it would help to find other caffeine sources if you aim to use it to facilitate in your goals of weight loss.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Using The Internet To Find Another Doctor

The Internet is something that has helped the medical world to some extent, particularly with allowing patients to do research on doctors or on their own conditions. Sure, people may find it difficult to sift through all the information available on doctors, specialists, and diseases, but that's a small drawback compared to just how much one can learn off the Internet. However, most people who are looking for medical information on the Internet are likely not going to be planning on spending too much time looking for that data, and may even need it as quickly as possible. For those people, there are some bits of advice from medical professionals themselves on how to sift through the information faster.

Most doctors would actually give numerous suggestions based on common sense, such as urging patients to seek out doctors that their close friends had gone to. Or asking any prospective doctor questions related to how much experience they had and whether or not the doctor had any experience with the patient's specific condition or operation needed. Patients should also use that time to see if they're comfortable with the doctor in question, and if they feel they are being respected and understood by the doctor.

Doctors will also typically stress the fact that primary care physicians make great contributions to the well-being of patients, particularly when it comes to identifying the right specialists or pointing them to other, more specialized physicians. Every patient is advised to have one primary care physician they trust, to help them navigate the complicated health care system to find the right care. This is because most primary care doctors would be part of a network of local specialists and health care providers, or would at least know one or two reliable medical professionals that they can recommend.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Water and Why You Should Drink More of It

With a lot of drinks coming out in the market like sugary juices, carbonated sodas, caffeine-based beverages, and health drinks, it's no surprise that the one drink people take for granted is water. But little do people know that water is, in fact, the best drink there is.

Here are some background facts on water: our blood is made up of 83% water; our muscles, 75% water; the brain is 74% water; and our bones are made up of 22% water. Water is a part of us and a part of nature. Long before man created the first flavored beverage, we have been indulging ourselves in Mother Nature's famous concoction – clear and refreshing agua.

We may only take water as the quickest thirst quencher on a hot day, but there's a lot more to water than just that. Here are some benefits that water offers the body:

Water rids the body of its dirt.
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We all know that the main organs that help excrete toxins from the body are the kidneys and the liver. But without a sufficient amount of water, detoxification just won't be as effective. Water aids in the flow of excess salt and other toxins in the body. It makes directing such bodily wastes into the organs that do the job. Without it, you can expect major complications with your excretory system.

Water helps you lose weight.

Water can act as a very cunning appetite suppressant. If you drink a glass of water before a meal, the stomach is fooled into thinking it already has something in it, making you feel full after half the usual meal you eat. The less food you consume, the less fat you need to burn. Of course this is considering you keep your diet balanced enough to provide you with the necessary nutrients. Fiber, the digestive system's natural waste sweeper, won't work efficiently if you don't take it with enough water. Instead of having healthy bowel movement, you may end up with constipation instead.

Water keeps your blood flowing.
Water aids in better blood circulation. When you drink less water, your blood thickens, making it more difficult for the body to circulate fresh and used blood. In effect, your brain becomes less active, and your body feels fatigued.

More than the reasons mentioned above, there are more to water than what we know. It's health benefits are countless. If you think about it, why is 70% of the Earth covered in water if it wasn't good for us?






Thursday, January 8, 2009

Managing Narcolepsy with Eyes Wide Open

A lot of people complain about losing sleep, but there are those who suffer from too much shut-eye. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that is characterized by overwhelming drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep during the daytime. While the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute pegs the number of narcolepsy sufferers in the United States at 200,000, only 50,000 cases are diagnosed. As such, it means that there are about 150,000 people out there who are falling asleep in classes, at work, and in random places more than usual. If you are one of these people, read on for some tips on managing narcolepsy:

1.Read up information on narcolepsy.

When you have some free time in your hands – meaning you're not nodding off to sleep – read up about narcolepsy. Understanding your condition is key in finding the right solutions. For example, do you know that a person who suffers from narcolepsy is called narcoleptic and that imbalances in brain chemicals cause it? And one more thing – narcolepsy is incurable. It is a chronic disorder that needs a lifetime of management if you want to spend some time out of the bedroom. But despite it being incurable, it'll help you to know that there are medications and techniques that can actually keep you awake when you want to.

2.Be ready for symptoms.

A lot of narcolepsy symptoms get misdiagnosed as that of other more popular disorders such as anxiety, depression, and drug abuse so it is important to pay attention. Symptoms of narcolepsy rarely come singly; most often than not, these signs come in pairs or in progression. Some symptoms to watch out for include overwhelming drowsiness and an uncontrollable need to sleep during the day, cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone which results in slurred speech and general muscle weakness), sleep paralysis (temporary inability to move or speak while falling asleep or upon waking), and hallucinations. Restless nighttime sleep is also a symptom.

3.Address and treat symptoms.

Since managing narcolepsy largely depends in controlling its symptoms and causes, it is time to pay attention to these matters. Excessive daytime drowsiness or EDS can be prevented by establishing good nighttime sleep routines. If you are bothered by insomnia – which can make EDS worse – buying cheap sleeping aid drugs online can help. Just be sure to check with your doctor to ensure that no negative interactions will occur. EDS can also be fought off by using stimulants. On the other hand, antidepressants are also useful in preventing hallucinations. Just remember to follow your doctor's prescription religiously to avoid overdosing and other complications.

4.Practice preventive measures.

To stave off EDS, take short naps at strategic times during the day. These naps can help boost your alertness and prevent drowsiness for at least three hours. Avoiding nicotine and alcohol can also help a lot since they can cause other symptoms to worsen. It also helps to stick to a strict sleep schedule as this can help your body clock recognize between the right and wrong time to fall asleep. Exercising and eating a balanced diet can also prevent muscle loss and weakness.

5.Form a support group.

Having a support from your workplace or school can significantly boost your chances of coping with narcolepsy. The American with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against narcoleptic workers and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees. You can talk to your teacher or boss about taking short naps during the day, recording meetings and lectures, or breaking up monotonous tasks.


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Kristine Anne Gonzaga is a content writer and researcher who specializes in health topics and health-related issues. She delights in finding tips and ideas on simple and practical health care and sharing them through her writing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Relieve Yourself from the Pain of Sore Throat

Among the many body pains commonly experienced by men and women these days, sore throat is probably the most bothersome of all. Sore throat, which is also referred to as tonsillitis or pharyngitis, is a disease that is generally located around the tonsils. Health experts claim that sore throat is caused by a number of factors. It can occur due to viruses and bacteria. Other causes of sore throat are breathing polluted air, drinking alcohol, hay fever, allergies, and smoking.
Causes of sore throat: In-depth review.

As stated earlier, sore throat can occur due to a number of factors:

1.Viruses

Viruses, particularly the flu, are known to cause sore throat. These can cause blisters in the throat and mouth, thus, leading to sore throat.

2.Breathing through the mouth

Sore throat can also occur when one breaths through the mouth. This can dry the throat and produce soreness.

3.Bacteria

The most common sore throat causing bacterias are Streptococcus and the Arcanobacterium haemolyticum, which usually triggers young adults.

4.Treatments with antibiotics

Sore throats are also noted to occur among individuals who underwent antibiotic treatments such as chemotherapy.

Home treatments for sore throat

There are cures for sore throat that do not necessarily need a doctor's consultation. The following are some of the known easy-to-do treatments for sore throat that can be practiced at home:

1.Gargling salt water

One of the easiest sore throat pain relief tricks that can be done at home is to gargle salt water. Gargling water with salt brings temporary relief to a sore throat.

2.Lozenges and hard candy

Aside from gargling water with salt, eating lozenges and hard candy is also a good way to treat sore throat. However, lozenges and hard candy may be a choking hazard among children. Hence, avoid giving these to young children.

3.Humidifier

A humidifier is a perfect treatment in relieving sore throat that is caused by dry air and mouth breathing.

4.Nasal spray

Nasal sprays like Afrin are perfect for adults whose nose are plugged. These are used for two to three days in order to prevent mouth breathing.

When sore throat persists for weeks, it is best to consult medical consultation with a licensed healthcare expert. It is necessary to seek medical care if the following consequences occur:

1.If sore throat is related with fever, swollen glands, or white patches on the back of the throat.

2.If the front of the the neck is stiff and sore.

3.If there is difficulty in swallowing liquids.

Defining strep throat

Strep throat is generally caused by Streptococcus bacteria. Streptococcus is also the bacteria that causes rheumatic fever. Statistics show that some adult and children sore throat conditions are caused by strep. With this, healthcare professionals recommend a strep test to patients with sore throat conditions. It is important to diagnose and treat strep throat as this condition often leads to rheumatic fever, which is a grave illness that can lead to heart valve damage and joint pain.

Free yourself from the pain brought by sore throat. Choose and practice a treatment that is best suited for your condition.



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Rcon Franchesca V. Pascua is a web content writer and researcher who specializes in health and fitness topics. She enjoys reading health-related features and articles and sharing what she learns by providing tips and guidelines on how to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tips on Staging a Schizophrenia Intervention

If you are living with or taking care of someone who is suffering from schizophrenia, you know that the best way to prevent a full-blown episode from turning into a crisis is to head it off while it is just starting. If you are not sure how to approach the situation, read on for some tips on staging a schizophrenia intervention:

1.Pay attention to symptoms.

Schizophrenic episodes are rarely instantaneous. The episodes usually start off with a slow build up before the patient's paranoia boils over. While ritualistic obsessions and fixations, suspiciousness, restlessness, and aggressiveness are not threatening on their own, watch out for these symptoms as they are likely prelude to an episodes. Start the intervention process as soon as you notice these symptoms. Waiting for the actual episode will just make it doubly harder to get the patient under control.

2.Encourage the person to talk.

Before his paranoia takes over fully, set aside a time to talk with the patient in a non-threatening environment. Approach the patient gently and express your concerns in a manner that is caring and non-judgmental. This is an excellent opportunity to get the patient to open up to you about the things that bother him; regardless whether these are real or imagined. If the patient refuses to talk, do not badger or force him, but let him know that you can be trusted should he need help.

3.Get the patient to take his medications.

Anti-schizophrenia drugs like Geodon and Abilify can be easily bought as discount drugs from an online pharmacy as long as you have a prescription. These drugs can help stabilize the imbalances in the patient's brain which can help him cope and get out of his imagined reality. If the patient refuses to take or has stopped taking his medications, call his doctor to ask for alternative means of getting the patient to take the drugs. The longer the patient is off his medication, the harder it will be to manage the episode.

4.Keep the patient away from cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs.

Closer to the episode, the patient may exhibit signs of brooding and isolation. During this time, it is best to keep possibly dangerous objects out of sight like guns, knives, and other potential weapons. It is also best to get rid of cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, and other dangerous drugs. You can also keep them away from where the patient might get them. These substances can make episodes worse by furthering the hallucination and making the patient jumpy. Aside from these effects, these substances may also negate the effects of the medications.

5.Inform the doctor of your suspicions about an impending episode.

The crisis team at the local hospital can help you just in case an episode goes out of hand and the patient loses control. Informing the patient's doctor beforehand about your suspicions of an impending episode can help the crisis team get to the patient before the situation turns ugly. You and his doctor can even work together into luring or convincing the patient to get further treatment without him resorting to schizophrenia-induced violence.



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Kristine Anne Gonzaga is a content writer and researcher who specializes in health topics and health-related issues. She delights in finding tips and ideas on simple and practical health care and sharing them through her writing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tips on Managing PCOS

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition that affects about 10% of the female population of the United States. Characterized by the irregular menstrual periods, obesity, and excessive hair growth, PCOS can cause a wide variety of discomfort and problems for women.

Diagnosis for PCOS usually comes in three stages in order to eliminate other probable conditions that may have caused the symptoms. First up is a discussion of medical history to determine whether there are past medical and health conditions that can be linked to PCOS. After this, a physical examination is conducted to check for symptoms like excess weight, darkened skin, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A gynecologic exam is done last to check for other probable infections which may have caused the symptoms. Due to the long process of getting treatment, tips on managing the condition are particularly helpful. Some ways to manage PCOS include:

1.Open communication lines with your doctor.

It can take a long time before PCOS can be treated fully. As such, constant and open communication with your health care provider is necessary. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and if you have any questions about the disorder, he is the best person to ask about it. He may also have ideas on how to speed up your recovery.

2.Follow your doctor's prescription religiously.

Often, oral contraceptives are used to treat and correct the imbalance caused by PCOS. If you are worried about the costs, you can usually buy prescription drugs online at affordable prices. Just be sure to use the medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor to get the maximum benefit for them.

3.Be open to changes.

Managing PCOS and treating it will require several key changes in your lifestyle. This can cause you stress and anxiety if you are not willing to accept these changes. Instead of thinking of these lifestyle changes as nuisances, think of them as means and ways to get better. If you have trouble coping with these changes, it is wise to enlist the help of a counselor to help you understand and make sense of what is happening to you and why these changes are necessary. Understanding and acceptance are key factors in treating PCOS and you should have a great store of these things if you want to recover.

4.Treat accompanying symptoms.

Symptoms like excessive hair growth, skin darkening, and acne can easily be treated using prescription and over-the-counter medications. Anti-acne soaps and topical ointments are also good for treating breakouts. You can use depilatory creams and methods like shaving, plucking, and waxing to keep unwanted hair growth to a minimum. Lotions and rich, moisturizing creams are also useful in reducing skin darkening and thickened patches' scaly appearance. Be sure to seek your doctor's advice before using any of these treatments.

5.Do preventive and maintenance measures.

In the case of PCOS, preventive and maintenance measures are often one and the same. Following a balance and healthy diet and exercising regularly can control two major factors that contribute to the disorder – diet and obesity. By striving to reach your ideal weight, you lower your PCOS risks and improve your chances at recovery. With these measures and the right medications, you are well on your way to recovery.


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Kristine Anne Gonzaga is a content writer and researcher who specializes in health topics and health-related issues. She delights in finding tips and ideas on simple and practical healthcare and sharing them through her writing.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Re-writing The Book On Psychiatry

The revised edition is a good three years away from publication – if not more so. Yet, even as early as that, there are already debates raging about the content of the book. Psychiatrists the world over have engaged in arguments on what should and should not end up as recognized conditions in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The outcome of the debates and questions could determine changes to existing policies regarding insurance reimbursement, research, and even how to classify people's psychological profiles and histories. So it comes down to more than just which apparent mental illness gets to join conditions like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia in the text.

Should compulsive shopping be considered a mental problem? Is the so-called “post-nuptial depression” a real mental disorder, or just part of the transition from single life to married life? Should this fetish or that be considered a mental disorder, as many of them currently are? These questions need to be answered before the revised edition of the manual – arguably the main authority psychiatrists consult on mental illnesses – is put to the printers. It has become so contentious in some areas that contributors are being made to agree to a nondisclosure agreement for the first time since the book's inception.

The debates rage because the book is not merely a manual, but also serves as a medical guidebook and, according to some, a bit of a cultural institution. The text is designed to help doctors make an accurate diagnosis, provides insurance companies with codes that would help them reimburse for a patient's treatment claims, and serves as reference material for many mental health professionals. The manual typically organizes conditions under evocative names, with labels such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and clinical depression having strong connotations outside of the mental health profession.

One concern of the people behind the manual is that their field is not like other medical fields, where the conditions are relatively well-known. For the most part, prior to the introduction of Prozac, psychiatrists were uncertain about what, exactly, caused most mental disorders. The manual doesn't address all those concerns, but it does provide a good framework for the ones that medical science does have an understanding of.