Health Wire

Neck Pain

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Many daily activities, including driving and computer work, can contribute to neck strain and pain. When neck muscles are overworked, a person may experience pain and stiffness. The best way to avoid strained neck muscles is with good posture and stretching exercises. Neck pain is also part of the aging process. Normal wear and tear over the years can produce stiffness and decreased flexibility. Osteoarthritis often produces stiffness and pain as bone spurs form due to a loss of cushioning and elasticity in the disks. Neck pain is typically harmless and temporary. In some cases, though, it can indicate a health problem requiring medical attention. If pain is severe, shooting, or chronic, or when it occurs at night, consult a doctor.

P.S. Neck pain accompanied by loss of strength, bowel or bladder changes, or chest pain or pressure should be evaluated by a doctor.

Huntington’s Disease

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Huntington’s disease is a progressive, degenerative, neurological condition that affects about 30,000 Americans. A genetic condition, individuals need to inherit just one copy of the defective gene from either parent to produce the disease. Patients typically develop symptoms between the ages of 35 and 50. Younger patients often experience more severe symptoms and more rapid progression. As the disease progresses, nerve cells in the brain deteriorate. Death occurs between 10 and 30 years after the onset of symptoms. Huntington’s symptoms include a wider gait, speech disturbances, involuntary jerking of various body parts, clumsiness, moodiness or paranoia, and compromised cognitive skills. Treatment is aimed at managing these symptoms with medication and speech therapy. Some patients require long-term care as Huntington’s progresses.

P.S. There is currently no cure for Huntington’s disease.

All About Constipation

Health Wire

There seems to be plenty of interest around the topic of regularity, at least according to yogurt commercials on TV. The truth is, frequency of bowel movements is a personal issue in more ways than the obvious. Even though some people “go” three times a day, it’s also normal to have a bowel movement
once every few days. Once-a-day bowel movements are common, and there’s nothing wrong if the amount of movements varies somewhat from person to person. What is a problem is if there is no bowel movement after two weeks or if constipation comes on suddenly in a person who usually has regular movements. These instances warrant a timely trip to the doctor. You can prevent constipation by consuming lots of high-fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grain cereals and breads. It’s also important to drink
plenty of water. If you’re not used to eating as much fiber, add it to your diet gradually to help reduce gas and bloating. Regular exercise, such as walking, biking or swimming, can also help to stimulate intestinal function.

P.S. Whether bright red, maroon or black, blood in the stool is always a reason to call the doctor.


Health Wire

Cirrhosis of the liver is scarring that may be caused by alcohol abuse and different kinds of liver disease such as hepatitis. Cirrhosis can also be brought on by obesity and diabetes. Since cirrhosis is a
response to damage that occurs over a long period of time, it cannot be undone; however, if it’s caught early enough, damage caused by cirrhosis can be slowed down or halted. When cirrhosis gets to the advanced stage, the disease can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, there are often no symptoms of cirrhosis until the damage is major. Symptoms can include fatigue, bleeding and bruising easily, itchy skin, yellowed skin or eyes, fluid accumulation, loss of appetite, nausea, leg swelling and weight loss. The single best test for diagnosing cirrhosis is a liver biopsy. Treatment includes: preventing further damage to the liver,
treating the complications of cirrhosis, preventing liver cancer or detecting it early and liver transplantation.

P.S. Cirrhosis of the liver can be diagnosed with blood tests, imaging tests or a biopsy.

Mitral Valve Prolapse

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Mitral valve prolapse is a fairly common disorder of the heart. It happens when the valve between the heart’s lower left chamber, known as the left ventricle, and the heart’s upper left chamber, or left atrium, doesn’t close the way that it should. When a person suffers from mitral valve prolapse, the valve bulges up and back into the atrium. This can sometimes cause blood to leak back up into the atrium, which is a condition called mitral valve regurgitation. For most people, mitral valve prolapse, sometimes referred to as MVP, causes no symptoms and doesn’t require any treatment. Some people, however, do need treatment, which is why it is important to discuss MVP with your doctor or health care provider. Though most people with mitral valve prolapse don’t require surgery, your doctor may suggest it if you have severe mitral valve regurgitation with or without symptoms. Severe mitral valve regurgitation can eventually cause heart failure, preventing your heart from effectively pumping blood. Symptoms of mitral valve prolapse
can include a racing or irregular heart beat, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue and/ or chest pain.

Male Breast Cancer

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We are headed into the month of October or what has become “Pink-tober”; recognition and awareness of breast cancer. Of all the cancers, breast cancer may be the one to get the most press. Even professional football players wear pink athletic shoes in the month of October to show support for the dreaded disease. However, many people, probably including some of those aforementioned professional athletes, don’t realize that breast cancer isn’t just a woman’s disease. Men have breast tissue too, thus they are susceptible to
developing the cancer. The disease is most common in older men, but younger men can be diagnosed with breast cancer as well. The disease might be even deadlier in men since they tend not to check their
breasts routinely and may miss out on warning signs such as a lump in the breast tissue. Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt. Lumps in the breast aren’t always caused by cancer. For example, most breast lumps in men are caused by gynecomastia, a harmless enlargement of breast tissue. Still, if you notice any breast changes, you should see your health care professional as soon as possible. Men should see the doctor for any thickening, lumps, or changes in the appearance or skin texture, of the breast tissue/nipples.

Dangers of Artificial Sweetners

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With the staggering number of overweight and obese individuals in this country today, it’s no surprise that many switch from full calorie soft drinks to diet drinks. At first, the decision seems sound: consuming
fewer calories equals results in less weight gain. However, there are some new studies that say the dangers in drinking diet soda or foods with artificial sweeteners might be greater than the dangers associated with them regular sugar. The body is fooled by the sweetness in artificial sugars; thinking that sugar is coming into its belly. When no sugar appears, the metabolic response is tricked, and over time, the body might stop responding to actual sugar the way it should. Studies have shown that those who consume diet drinks regularly have a 200 percent increased risk of weight gain, a 36 percent increased risk of pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and a 67 percent increased risk of diabetes. So if you want
something sweet, have a small treat with real sugar, or better yet, grab a piece of fruit!

New Diet Drug Approved by FDA

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It has been over ten years since the FDA approved a new diet drug, but hopes are high for the prescription-only drug, Belviq. The drug is to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise program, and it works by targeting the area in the brain that controls appetite. The drug approval is for use in adults who have a body mass index that puts them in the obese range. It is also designed for those adults who are overweight according to the body mass index scale and who also have at least one weight related medical condition such as high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. Obesity is a major health problem. As with any medication, talk to your doctor to learn if Belviq may be right for you. Inform your doctor if you are taking any other medications and nutritional supplements (including vitamins), or if you’re pregnant, nursing or have any other health conditions. It is important to note that Studies are still required to be sure that the new drug Belviq does not cause heart attacks or stroke.

Low Blood Pressure and Brain Function

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No one wants to hear that he or she has high blood pressure. But, interestingly, low blood pressure can also be bad for the health for a variety of reasons. Most recently, a link was discovered between low blood pressure and brain function. Low blood pressure has been linked to a higher risk of brain atrophy, which is the death of brain cells or of the connections that exist between the brain cells. Normal, healthy blood pressure for adults is considered to be around 120/80. The systolic, or top, number measures the pressure of the blood in the arteries, and the diastolic, or bottom, is concerned with the pressure between heartbeats.
A diastolic number under 70 is considered low. As long as you’re not experiencing symptoms of low blood pressure, there is no need for concern. Most doctors consider chronically low blood pressure dangerous only if it causes noticeable signs and symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, unusual thirst, blurred vision, lack of concentration, nausea, fatigue, depression, and cold, clammy skin.

P.S. Lowering the pressure of people with high blood pressure can slow brain atrophy.


Health Wire

Cholesterol may sound like another one of those buzz words parried around when discussing health topics with the doctor – too high or too low, it can be confusing. But a little clarification can go a long way in
making sure that people understand cholesterol and how to control it. To begin with, cholesterol is a waxy
substance, similar to fat, that is produced by the liver and other cells. It is also found in animal foods such as eggs, dairy products and meat. Cholesterol is necessary for the body to maintain cell walls, hormones, vitamin D and the bile that digests fat. However, if one’s cholesterol level is too high, then problems, including heart disease can occur.

P.S. Have your cholesterol checked regularly, and come up with a plan with the doctor in order to keep high
cholesterol in check.