Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Can't Sleep? Try These Insomnia Treatment Alternatives!

If you are one of the many people who have always found sleep elusive, you might probably want to check out these alternative treatments to insomnia.

Behavioral Therapy

Usually, undergoing behavioral therapy is the next resort for most insomniacs who have already tried all sorts of common methods to no avail. The objective is to alter one's perception of sleep, as well as how he takes charge of his sleep environment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When most nights find you struggling to sleep but can't, it is not unusual for you to develop a kind of anxiety due to your frustration. However, developing anxiety could only further compound your sleep woes. To deal with this, some people try cognitive behavioral therapy—it aims to help them take control of their negative thoughts and attitude toward sleep.

Sleep Restriction Therapy

For some insomniacs, taking sleep restriction therapy works better than the other alternatives. The objective behind this method is simple: If you can't sleep, then don't. However, this does not mean staying up all night until the next day without doing anything to induce drowsiness. This therapy requires that you do any sleep-stimulating activities like deep breathing or reading boring materials.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Multiple Sclerosis: Doctors Find Bio-Marker That Indicates MS

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers have found the first bio-marker for multiple sclerosis (MS). Bio-markers are genetic codes that indicate whether an MS patient will respond to standard therapy or not.

The UAB team discovered that patients with a specific type of T helper immune cells respond well to the usual first-line therapy for the disease while those patients with a different type of T helper immune cells do not and even experience worsening symptoms.

For those patients who don't respond well to conventional MS treatments, there is a personalized medicine in which therapies are based on an individual's physiology and genetic makeup and the nature of disease.

According to Chander Raman, Ph.D., lead investigator of the study, their findings, in both animal and human models, indicate that the type of T helper cell present is the determining factor in predicting whether interferon-ß will be effective. He suggests this might be another rung on the ladder leading to personalized medicine. A simple blood test could be used to determine which type of T helper cell is predominantly responsible for the disease in an MS patient, enabling clinicians to provide the proper therapy from the beginning of treatment and eliminate the guesswork.

by: Kristine Gonzaga

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

From The Neck To The Lips

There are different ways to make your lips look fuller. One of the recent discoveries in lip augmentation makes use of muscles and connective tissues grafted from the neck.

Many aging women opt for lip augmentation when the groove of their upper lip starts to flatten and lesser amount of pink tissue remains visible. To create fuller lips, the procedure requires injection with collagen or with fat from another site of the patient's body. When the collagen or fat is absorbed, maintenance requires repeat treatments. Implants, however, provide longer-lasting options compared to injections.

According to Anurag Agarwal, MD. of The Aesthetic Surgery Center in Naples, his team conducted a study involving 25 patients who underwent lip augmentation using sternocleidomastoid, the muscle and connective tissue at the side of the neck.

In two years time, results of the study are as follows:

  • an average of 20% to 24% increase in the amount of pink tissue showing on both upper and lower lips
  • an increase of 0.9 to 0.99 millimeters on the average projection of upper and lower lips
  • no deformities in lip contour
  • no limitations in head movement
  • no neck pain
  • no nerve injuries associated with the procedure
Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New System For Blood Sugar Control

There's a new diabetes management system from Medtronic that has been approved by the FDA. It's the MiniMed Paradigm REAL-time Revel System with predictive blood sugar level alerts and smaller insulin delivery rates to help patients and physicians come up with a customized therapy for individual needs.

This system makes use of a device to be plugged into a USB port of a computer and uploads information from the glucose monitor and insulin pump. The link reduces the risk of blood sugar crashes by improving blood sugar control. Tracking blood sugar control is done by the patient through a Wev software applications. According to Medtronic, the system simplifies the complexities of most daily diabetes regimen.

Based on the research study, there is a 36% improvement in the detection of low blood sugar condition, while detection of high blood sugar condition has only decreased by 4%. It is now available for $6,500 with reimbursement plan for those with medical indication.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Monday, April 5, 2010

Early Detection Of Tumors In Just One Scan

Technological advancement revolutionizes brain scanning method through the utilization of highly sensitive camera in detecting brain tumors with just a single scan.

The project, known as ProSPECTus, aims to improve the technology of next generation SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging devices. It is a collaboration of the Nuclear Physics Group from the University of Liverpool and the Technology Department of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Daresbury Laboratory.

This cutting-edge medical imaging will allow the early detection and effective diagnosis of tumors resulting in fewer patient-doctor appointments and a better probability of effective treatment. The new generation camera also has the advantage of lower radiation exposure due to shorter imaging time. This will benefit a lot of patients who normally need to be scanned frequently. With patients having fewer trips for scanning treatment, clinics will have more time to accommodate more patients who need medical imaging.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Predicting Prostate Cancer With 98% Accuracy

Most often, conventional methods of diagnosing cancer are inadequate because cancer usually spreads at a microscopic level. In a new study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, researchers found a new blood biomarker that can predict the spread of prostate cancer with 98% accuracy.

The new procedure could help medical practitioners in predicting the spread of prostate cancer from the solid tumor site into the regional lymph nodes by measuring endoglin levels in a patient's blood. The same endoglin is the plasma biomarker that has previously helped predict the spread of colon and breast cancer.

Methods currently used to predict spread of prostate cancer are Gleason grade, prostate specific antigen, and rectal exam. However, these procedures are not adequate enough to predict which cancer will spread when lymph nodes metastases are small, but clinically significant.

While pelvic lymphadenectomy is a procedure that can provide significant staging and prognostic details, it is not universally practiced on all patients. This procedure may take so much time with potential morbidity. That is why it is important to have an accurate blood marker to identify patients who will be qualified to undergo lymphadenectomy, thus sparing patients who are at low risk.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Friday, March 26, 2010

Detecting Alzheimer's Disease With High Accuracy

It's sad to think that as we get older, there is a chance that we may get afflicted with Alzheimer's disease – the loss of memory and mental abilities. While the condition is not a regular component of normal aging, the risk of acquiring it increases with old age.

There is no known cure yet for Alzheimer's disease, only treatments that can help improve the quality of life for those with the disease. In 2009, major advances were made in the area of accurate diagnosis of the condition. Experts from UCLA have come up with a reliable blood test for detecting Alzheimer's. Over at Mayo Clinic, MRI imaging of changes in brain activity has been analyzed with an accuracy of almost 80%.

The most accurate method, however, is developed at West Virginia University where defective memory enzymes are detected with 98% accuracy by just pricking a finger. Also, they discovered that low doses of bryostatin, a drug used in chemotherapy, can help reactivate the defective enzymes. The stage is now being set for human clinical trials to start this 2010.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Heart Surgery Procedures

When serious heart conditions occur,surgeons require heart surgery to correct the problem before it becomes too late. Some of the reasons for heart surgery are:

1. Repair or replacement of heart valves that control blood flow
2. Repair of abnormal or damaged structures in the heart
3. Implant of medical devices to regulate heart rhythms or support blood flow and heart function
4. Replacement of a damaged heart with a healthy heart from a donor

One of the most commonly performed heart procedures is open heart surgery, whereby the chest wall is opened to expose the heart and the patient is connected to a heart-lung bypass machine.

Some heart surgery procedures don't require cutting open through the breastbone. Instead, only smaller incisions are made on the chest directly on top of the heart area. Other procedures don't use heart-lung bypass machine. Recently, surgeons perform heart surgery outside of the patient's body.

Experts are comparing these non-traditional procedures with the traditional method of open heart surgery to know which is better in reducing risks and faster recovery time.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tips To Ease Computer Vision Syndrome

In this advanced age of information highway, computer eye strain is fast becoming a major health concern among office workers. Based on studies, computer-related visual problems comprised 50% to 90% of ailments complained about by computer workers such as decreased productivity, physical fatigue, and increased numbers of work mistakes.

To reduce chances of experiencing computer vision syndrome (CVS) and other symptoms of computer eye strain, here are some practicals:

1. For upstart, have an eye exam before starting on the job and do it in an annual basis.

2. Proper lighting means reducing interior and exterior light sources. Use blinds or drapes to eliminate exterior lights. Minimize bulbs and fluorescent tubes and use low-intensity lighting fixtures.

3. Installing anti-glare screen on your monitor can reduce, if not eliminate, reflections on walls and surfaces with glossy finished. Better yet, repaint these surfaces with dark hues and a matte finish.

4. Upgrade your monitor to a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD) with at least 19-inch (diagonal) screen size.

5. Adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen in relation to the lighting of the work surroundings. Optimize text size and color for eye comfort.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Removing Uterine Fibroids Without Major Surgery

As women get older, their bodies undergo a lot of changes. By the time they reach the age of 40 to 50, most African American women are at risk of having uterine fibroids. These are tiny muscular tumors found in the wall of the uterus. Usually, they are as small as apple seeds, but in rare cases can grow as big as a baby's head. Uterine fibroids are not cancerous and seldom have symptoms. But for those who gets heavy bleeding, enlargement of the lower abdomen, painful and disruptive symptoms, they can have them remove through surgery known as hysterectomy.

Statistics show that every year, about 600,000 women undergo hysterectomy. A third of these cases are due to uterine fibroids. Recently however, a new treatment is developed involving minimal surgery. UFE, or Uterine Fibroid Embolization, is a procedure that makes use of real-time imaging to guide a catheter in releasing tiny particles into the uterine arteries, blocking blood flow to the fibroids that eventually die and shrink.

Almost 90 percent of women who undergo UFE experience relief and improvement of symptoms. However, this procedure is usually offered to women who no longer wish to become pregnant.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Friday, February 12, 2010

Treating Scoliosis With Stem Cells

Scoliosis is a condition of the spine whereby the natural curve of the spinal column becomes deformed. Depending on the severity of the condition, doctors may recommend surgery to correct the curve. Usually, a spinal fusion is done by grafting a bone taken from the iliac crest. The problem with this procedure is that it is very painful and the pain can become permanent.

A new procedure in treating scoliosis is said to be less painful. Using stem cells taken from the patients' own bone marrow, they serve as catalyst for the growth of the new bone. Permanent screws and rod are then fused together to correct the curve.

It is important that scoliosis is detected on its early stage. People with severe scoliosis may experience difficulty in breathing and heavy pressure in their lungs. If the curvature of the spine is more than 70 degrees, the ribs press against the lungs and reduce oxygen level. As it reaches 100 degrees or more, the lungs and the heart become prone to injury, which may lead to infections and pneumonia.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Painless Vaccines: No Need For Needles

I'm afraid of needles. I knew I'm not the only one who have a phobia on needles. I guess, even those who say that they are afraid of doctors or hospitals are actually afraid of the possible administering of injections for treatment. Obviously, needles are always associated with illness, medicine, and pain.

When it comes to vaccine, it seems that the only procedure is to get a shot. Not anymore. A team of medical researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University have collaborated to develop a painless flu vaccine.

The technology is called microneedles which, unlike the traditional syringe and needle, allows the vaccine to penetrate into the skin and muscles intra-dermally. It is a patch-like device that contains microscopic needles coated with the flu vaccine. The patch can be used like a regular bandaid, and after awhile, it can be disposed. It is convenient, hassle-free, and painless.

The technology is very promising and potentially effective in eliminating “belonephobia,” the fear of needles.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Merging Of Man And Machine

Creating better prosthetics could benefit not only the many wounded soldiers from war missions, but also millions of civilian survivors from tragic accidents. Today's prosthetics have become interactive that it becomes like the real thing.

While traditional prosthetic limbs remain static as the patient moves, the latest bluetooth technology allows for interaction between the patient and his bionic part. It is designed with advanced sensors to detect the patient's movement, so much so that it loosens or tightens as it adjust to the patient's stride. Electrodes are attached to the end of the patient's limb which pick up signals from the muscles around it and are sent to a computer chip inside the patient's limb.

To give patients even more control, a new technology is being developed that will allow these prosthetics to detect pressure and feel hot and cold temperatures. The success of these technologies definitely opens up a whole new possibilities in the future of amputees.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Friday, February 5, 2010

Immunotherapy To Stop Prostate Cancer

One of the most common diseases to hit the male population is prostate cancer. While some cases seem harmless as they develop so slow, about 30 percent of those who've been diagnosed carry a more aggressive type of prostate cancer. Meaning to say, the cancer has already started spreading throughout the body.

Based on studies, the cancer grows more rapidly in the presence of testosterone. That is why hormone treatments help in stopping the production of testosterone, if not outright removal of the testicles by surgery. If these treatments don't work, chemotherapy comes in next.

As scientists continue to find ways to treat prostate cancer, a new option is being developed through immunotherapy, a treatment that allows the immune system to fight against cancer cells with the help of a vaccine. In an experiment involving 125 male adults, those who were treated with the PRSTVAC-VF vaccine lived eight to nine months longer than those who were given placebo.

While it is still too early to conclude about the validity of the experiment, the success of this phase 2 stage should lead to an experiment with a larger population to further test the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Treatments For Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is said to affect more than 220 million people all over the world, with type 2 diabetes, known as late-onset diabetes, comprising 90% of the statistics. Type 2 diabetes develops later in life when body tissues become resistant to insulin.

In a study involving 125,000 volunteers, scientists discovered a set of genes responsible in controlling the body's reaction to blood glucose.

According to Edinburgh University geneticist Jim Wilson, the discovery of nine new genes associated with type 2 diabetes can help develop new therapies for the condition. In five to 10 years from now, scientists are looking forward to easily identify which persons are genetically susceptible to develop type 2 diabetes. They are also hoping that new treatments will be available to prevent the onset of the disease. Genes influencing blood sugar levels and insulin levels are those included in the nine new genes, with a subset linked to diabetes itself.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Treating Urinary Incontinence

When we drink, we pee. However, there's more to urine than just the drink we had earlier. We urinate in order to get rid of the toxins, waste, and excess water that our body doesn't need. Urinary control is a function of the smooth muscle tissue of the urethra and bladder in coordination with the skeletal muscle and the autonomic nervous system.

When muscles of the bladder become too weak or too active, urinary incontinence occurs. There are two types of urinary incontinence:

Stress incontinence – loss of bladder control may happen when you laugh, sneeze, or lift heavy objects.

Urge incontinence – overactive bladder makes you feel like going to the bathroom even if you have little urine in your bladder.

Causes of urinary incontinence may be congenital or acquired disorders, such as prostate problems and nerve damage.

In addition to medication, treatment includes simple exercises, special devices and procedures, depending on your lifestyle. A relatively new procedure in treating men with incontinence resulting from prostate cancer treatment is the Male Sling. It's an out-patient procedure that can take less than half an hour to one hour. This minimally invasive procedure allows men to regain urinary control.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Play Attention: A New Treatment For ADHD

We all know that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a common childhood illness considered to be a neuro-behavioral developmental disorder. While regarded as a childhood disease, ADHD can continue throughout adulthood. Many adults with ADHD have developed coping mechanisms. However, many aspects of our daily living becomes difficult due to ADHD symptoms.

In the UK, a new thought-operated computer system aimed to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children will be rolled out this month. The system, called Play Attention, is supplied by Games for Life, a non-profit community interest company. It allows kids to play a fun educational computer game using a helmet just like a typical bicycle helmet. This helmet picks up the brain activity related to attention, and controlling the game depends on the child's concentration. It stops the moment the attention waivers.

In a study involving 10 kids, researchers learned that the kids' impulsive behavior was reduced compared to a control group who had not used the system. According to Professor Karen Pine at the University of Hertfordshire's School of Psychology and assistant Farjana Nasrin, the Play Attention method may prevent long-term problems by helping the children to be less impulsive and more self-controlled.

Contributed By: Monch Bravante

Monday, January 18, 2010

Immunotherapy Proving Effective Against Melanoma

Some people may not be aware of it, but the skin is the largest organ in the body. Its purpose is to cover and protect the different organs inside the body. Without it, the muscles, bones, and other organs will be exposed. We need the skin to hold everything together. That is why when something happens to our skin, we could be in real jeopardy.

Skin cancer is the most common form of all cancers. And melanoma is a skin cancer that is considered a deadly disease. While it only accounts for less than five percent of all skin cancers, it is the one responsible for more than 75% of skin cancer deaths.

The good news, however, is that new forms of treatment are underway which make use of the body's immune system to attack the cancer cells. While immunotherapy has had a limited role in treating cancer, it shows great potential as far as treatment for melanoma is concerned.

Survival rates for melanoma are low because it does not respond well to traditional radiation and chemotherapy once it has spread. But in rare cases, melanoma simply goes away which make scientists believe is due to an immune reaction against the cancer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Modes Of Chronic Pain Relief

In the past, many have actually believed that “chronic pain is all in the head.” However, today's pain specialists understand how the sensation of pain occurs. According to Rollin M. Gallagher, MD, MPH, director of pain management at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, the nervous system, including the spinal cord, interacts with the brain to create the sensation of pain.

Learning how to manipulate the neurotransmitter system paved the way for new modes of chronic pain relief, antidepressants, and other drugs that work with specific brain chemicals that affect emotions and help with the perception of pain.

Advances in MRI imaging allow researchers to demonstrate that the changes are very real in the brain, showing exactly where the sensation of pain is occurring in the brain when it is activated by stimuli. MRI imaging clearly shows the effects of pain on emotion, and vice versa.

These insights help pain specialists to develop treatments that attack moderate-to-severe chronic pain from different angles -- innovative drugs, targeted nerve-zapping procedures, and drug pumps that deliver strong painkillers to the nerve root.