A Prescription for Healthy Living

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:

– 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:

– 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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

For most people, using the bathroom is a relief. But for those people who have hemorrhoids, just the thought of having a bowel movement is enough to send shock waves up and down a person’s spine! Hemorrhoids can cause such excruciating pain that most sufferers would rather deal with constipation than experience the pain of a bowel movement. While some hemorrhoids are largely painless, others can actually interfere with a person’s quality of life.

What are Hemorrhoids?

A hemorrhoid is a swollen vein that is located in the anus and/or rectum. Sometimes hemorrhoids will produce a mass of tissue and blood vessels that protrude from the anus, and are often the genesis of the pain.

What Causes Hemorrhoids?

While it is not clearly known why a hemorrhoid protrusion occurs, it is believed that the straining associated with having a bowel movement may be the culprit. Likewise, hemorrhoids are a common complaint from pregnant woman. It is assumed that the greater pressure in the pelvic area is largely to blame. Therefore, sitting on the toilet for long periods of time can create hemorrhoids because of the amount of pressure being produced.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

The following is a list of the most common side effects associated with hemorrhoids. This is not an exhaustive list of side effects. If you experience any side effects not mentioned here that are particularly troublesome, contact your physician.

– Bleeding during a bowel movement
– Itching in anal area
– Rectal pain or discomfort
– Swelling of the tissue surrounding the anus
– A lump near the anus that may be sensitive and/or painful

Types of Hemorrhoids

The symptoms of hemorrhoids listed above may vary according to the type of hemorrhoid you have. The names of the types of hemorrhoids correspond with the set of hemorrhoidal veins they happen to affect.

Internal Hemorrhoids: This type of hemorrhoid involves the veins inside the rectum, and is usually painless, although it is known to bleed during bowel movements.

Prolapsed Internal Hemorrhoids: This type of hemorrhoid occurs when the hemorrhoid stretches down until it protrudes from out of the anus. Prolapsed internal hemorrhoids are painful.

External Hemorrhoids: External hemorrhoids involve the veins around the anus and are known to bleed easily due to rubbing and/or straining.


Treatment of Hemorrhoids

There are a number of over-the-counter topical pain relievers that work effectively for the type of hemorrhoid you happen to have.

Local anesthetics – Benzocaine, Lidocaine and Dibucaine fall into this category. Unfortunately, some people experience burning and itching upon application of these products. If you experience either of these symptoms, discontinue use immediately as this may be the sign of an allergic reaction.

Vasoconstrictors – This category of medication helps shrink the blood vessels which in turn reduces the amount of swelling. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid problems, do not use this medication without first getting approval from your doctor or healthcare professional.

Astringents – Believe it or not, many people experience relief from the pain and itching associated with hemorrhoids by using such products as witch hazel, calamine lotion and zinc oxide.

Corticosteroids – This type of medication can help reduce the amount of inflammation as well as the itching, but is not recommended for extended use. Prescription corticosteroids contain a much higher potency than those available over-the-counter.

Sitz Baths – Provides temporary relief of pain and itching.

While hemorrhoids can be a real pain in the behind, there are many treatments available in addition to the ones listed above. Check with your doctor or healthcare professional to find out the best treatment available for you.