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A Prescription for Healthy Living

A Prescription for Healthy Living

Treating Ringworm Infections

posted by Ranya Elguendy

Is there anything in this world that could possibly make your skin crawl more than finding out that an existing skin rash may have been caused by a worm?

For years, most people have pointed an accusing finger at an innocent worm being the evil culprit responsible for the circular-shaped skin infection when in fact it has nothing to do with a worm, but is actually caused by a fungus! Now, doesn’t that make you feel better?

Tinea, the fungus that causes ringworm, live on the outermost layers of the skin and are notorious for causing such skin conditions as the ever-popular jock itch. Tinea thrive in warm, moist locations such as the locker room and swimming pool. Tinea is highly contagious and can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. If you find yourself in either of these venues, protect yourself by refraining from sharing such personal effects as towels, jock straps, and items of clothing that lay closest to the skin.

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What are the Symptoms of Ringworm?

The most common symptom associated with ringworm is an itchy rash that may or may not form the shape of a circle. It is important to have such a rash looked at by your doctor or dermatologist, as the rash may simply present itself as a red, itchy patch. Many rashes present as such therefore in terms of treatment options it is important to know what exactly it is that you are dealing with. Jock itch often presents as a reddish-brown rash and extends outward from where the groin and thigh meet. Jock itch occurs less frequently in women because we know better than to share our undergarments! Ringworm does not ordinarily leave behind scars, and the rash remains in the upper layers of skin, however, ringworm can become a more serious type of infection for those people with HIV or AIDS who have a compromised immune system.

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Treatment for Ringworm

Anti-fungal creams such as clotrimazole, miconazole and terbinafine are effective in treating most ringworm infections and are available without a prescription. These topical solutions are also used to treat Athlete’s foot. Treating this type of infection with an anti-fungal cream should not exceed more than 14 days. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional if your skin rash does not respond to an over-the-counter topical medication such as the ones mentioned above, as you may need a stronger medication. If left untreated, ringworm can form blisters and become infected, warranting the need for an antibiotic. Ringworm is a very treatable condition; in fact, some people do not even know they have had it!

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How to Prevent Ringworm

– Do not share clothes, shoes or towels with anyone outside of your own family

– Men: Throw away the tightey-whiteys and stock up on boxers

– Women: Unless it is 30 degrees outside, can the pantyhose

– Make sure the gym equipment you use is clean

– Wear flip-flops or shower shoes in locker rooms

– If you have a household pet, check for any bald spots on its fur as this may be a sign of a fungal infection

– If you have Athlete’s foot, be sure to put on your socks before putting on your underwear as you may spread the fungus from your feet to the groin.

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Hyperthyroidism

posted by Ranya Elguendy

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland releases too much of the hormone it produces. Located in the lower portion of the neck, the thyroid gland functions to control how the body turns food into energy (metabolism). The thyroid gland also affects the heart, muscles, bones and cholesterol levels. The thyroid gland is responsible for the removal of iodine from the blood, and uses it to produce thyroid hormones. The two main hormones produced by the thyroid are thyroxine (T4) and triodothyronine (T3). Once these hormones are secreted from the thyroid gland, the majority of thyroxine (T4) is converted to (T3).

What Causes Hyperthyroidism?

There are several causes of hyperthyroidism. One of the causes of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that is believed to run in families. Graves’ disease is a condition that most commonly affects women, and it tops the list of hyperthyroidism culprits. Other causes of hyperthyroidism include the following:

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– Thyroiditis is another common cause for hyperthyroidism. Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland.

– Excessive iodine intake may also play a role in the development of hyperthyroidism.

– Hyperfunctioning of the thyroid nodules in which one or more nodules in the thyroid grow and increase in their activity may be responsible for hyperthyroidism.

What are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?

Many symptoms are associated with hyperthyroidism. In fact, so many of the symptoms listed above are also common to other medical conditions that it is often difficult to make a firm diagnosis because most other conditions must first be ruled out. The most common symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include, but are not limited to, the following:

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– Unexplained weight loss
– Rapid heartbeat
– Nervousness/anxiety (Many people who experience this particular symptom are wrongly prescribed anti-anxiety medication when it is actually the thyroid and not the serotonin that is responsible for the feelings of anxiety and nervousness).
– Increased sensitivity to heat
– Excessive sweating
– Fatigue
– Tremor
– Decreased concentration
– Increased bowel movements
– Difficulty sleeping
– Increased appetite
– Irregular menstrual flow
– Irregular heartbeat and heart failure (most often occurring in older people)

A person with hyperthyroidism may experience one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms, or he/she could experience no symptoms at all. Therefore, a blood test of the T3 and T4 hormone level is necessary in order to make a conclusive diagnosis of hyperthyroidism.

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What are the Complications of Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism can complicate existing physical conditions. Among these include the following:

– Heart problems
– Osteoporosis
– Opthalmopathy due to Graves’ disease. A patient who develops this condition can gain relief by applying cool compresses to the affected eye(s), use sunglasses when outdoors, keep eyes lubricated by using moisturizing drops, keep head elevated during the night.
– Graves’ disease can cause inflamed skin on the elbows and feet. Hydrocortisone cream can soothe the affected areas of the skin, reducing inflammation.
– Thyrotoxic crisis: This is a serious development that occurs when hyperthyroidism is left untreated for a long period of time. In cases of thyrotoxic crisis, a patient may develop fever, rapid pulse and can even experience spells of delirium.

On a happier note, hyperthyroidism can be treated. Treatment for this condition includes radioactive iodine and anti-thyroid medications. If warranted, surgical intervention may also be entertained.

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The Pain In The Back

posted by Ranya Elguendy

At some point in our lives, nearly every one of us will experience back pain on some level. For some people, the pain may be short-lived, and as a result of bending, twisting or lifting incorrectly. But for the majority of back pain sufferers, the pain is chronic, excruciating and can interfere with a person’s quality of life. Did you know that back pain happens to be the biggest of all physical complaints? But, back pain is not a disease; it is a symptom of an underlying condition, and until the root of the problem has been ascertained and addressed, the back pain will persist.

What Causes Back Pain?

Injury is the most common source of back pain. Sometimes a simple movement such as lifting an object with our back and not our legs, can have us on the floor writhing in pain! Some injuries have more serious etiologies, such as trauma, car accident, or slip and fall.

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Back pain can also be a symptom of such diseases and/or conditions as appendicitis, bladder and pelvic infections, kidney disease and diseases of the female reproductive system.

Nerve impingement is the compression of a nerve or a group of nerves, and depending on the location of this impingement, the pain could potentially affect any part of the spinal column. Disc herniation is one of the main causes of nerve impingement, and the pain can literally take your breath away. Other symptoms of impingement include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.

Fibromyalgia is a condition in which pain is the primary complaint, and back pain associated with this illness is quite common.

Cauda equina syndrome is a condition in which the disc material expands into the spinal canal and compresses the nerves. In this case, the pain can also be accompanied by loss of sensation, as well as bowel and/or bladder dysfunction (incontinence). A patient experiencing these symptoms must seek immediate medical attention and possible surgical intervention in order to avoid permanent damage to the bladder and bowel.

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Treatment

If your back pain occurs in the form of muscle strain or minor injury, then rest is the most effective means of alleviation. However, bed rest for 72 hours may prove more harmful than beneficial. In order to receive the greatest amount of relief from your back pain, lie down on the floor with pillows under you knees, hips and knees bent, and your feet resting on a chair. This position will take most of the weight off your back. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees while lying on one side may also help because it takes the strain off of hips and knees. Cold application working in tandem with an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may also help to reduce pain and inflammation.

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Exercises

It may seem like I am trying to torture you by suggesting this, but certain forms of exercise may actually help to reduce or even prevent back pain. The most beneficial types of exercise to engage in when suffering with back pain include the following:

Aerobic Exercise : Aerobic exercise helps to strengthen the heart and other muscles in the body. This form of exercise will help you to maintain health and speed up the recovery process.

Strengthening Exercise: Choose exercises in this category that specifically target the back, stomach and leg muscles.

Stretching Exercises: In order to keep muscles from injury, they must be supple and flexible. Once muscles are in this state, they become less prone to injury.

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Certain exercises should be avoided during exacerbation of back pain. These include the following:

– Straight leg sit-ups
– Bent leg sit-ups
– Leg lifts
– Lifting heavy objects above the waist
– Toe touches

Because the first words out of your mouth each day should be “Good Morning” and not “Ouch” it is vital to implement a regular stretching and strengthening regime that will keep your muscles strong, and put you in a better position of avoiding injury onset and/or exacerbation.

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Migraine Headaches

posted by Ranya Elguendy

Have you ever experienced pain in your head that was so intense all you could do was lay down in a dark room with a wet rag on your forehead and pray for the feeling to pass, or that the pain pills would kick in quickly and knock you out? Migraines, while not technically considered a headache, are often so severe that they are literally enough to make a grown man cry. But, what causes migraines and how can they be avoided?

What Causes a Migraine?

While the primary reason migraines occur in some people and not others is not fully known, it is believed that when blood vessels dilate, chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin can cause further dilation accompanied by intense, even violent, pain.

Migraine Symptoms

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Migraines can cause many symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with migraines include, but are not limited to, the following:

– Violent throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
– Nausea with or without vomiting
– Fatigue
– Feelings of intense cold or heat
– Blurred vision
– Stiff neck

The above list is not exhaustive. If you experience any other side effects not mentioned here, contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately.

Migraine Triggers

If you are prone to migraine headaches, you know there are certain things such as food and drink that can act as a trigger. Among these are the following:

– Foods such as chocolate, cheese, nuts, avocados, lentils, beans, figs, monosodium glutamate (MSG), onions, pickles, sauerkraut, soy sauce and canned or processed meat.
– Alcohol
– Stress
– Hormonal imbalance in women
– Birth control pills
– Smoking

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These are just a few of the more common triggers associated with migraine headaches. Again, if there is a certain food or drink that you know will spark an episode, avoid it like the plague. Eating canned meat is not worth the risk of experiencing the intense pain a migraine is capable of inducing.

Phases of a Migraine

Often, migraine sufferers are able to tell they are about to have an episode, as there are certain phases they experience prior to the onset of symptoms. These phases include the following:

Prodrome – This is the theme song from the movie Jaws that warns you something bad is about to happen. This could describe changes in mood, depression, irritability, feelings of fatigue, sleeping too much, and muscle tension.

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Aura – An aura is a visual disturbance that affects most migraine sufferers.

Headache – This pain can occur on one or both sides of the head. The pain is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting, and a sensitivity to light and sound.

Headache Termination – Migraine pain tends to subside when a person is sleeping.

Postdrome – This phase includes certain symptoms following the migraine episode such as feelings of tiredness, difficulty concentrating and no appetite.

Migraine Treatment

If you have experienced migraine pain long enough and are familiar with the symptoms leading up to an episode, then it is wise to take your medication at that time. Some over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are effective in treating migraine symptoms. Some people report that caffeine helps shorten the duration and severity of symptoms. Check with your doctor before you begin any pain relievers to make sure there are no contraindications. If your over-the-counter medication does not cover the pain, check with your doctor regarding pain medication that can be prescribed to get you through these intense episodes of pain.

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