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Anaemia describes a group of conditions in which there is a lower-than-normal count of red blood cells (so less oxygen carrying pigment haemoglobin) in blood. The most common types of anaemia are haemolytic, macrocytic and microcytic and they share similar symptoms. Anaemia that is due to the lack of iron is called iron deficiency anaemia.
The three main causes of anaemia:
This is the most common cause of dementia. It is a progressive degenerative brain condition and is a result from the loss of nerve cells in the brain, a reduction in neurotransmitter levels and the development of ‘protein tangles’ around the nerve cells. The underlying cause is not known but studies have shown that it may be genetic.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medication can be provided to give relief from symptoms. Support from carers and families is what is mainly required from patients as their condition progressists. Psychological treatments (e.g. cognitive simulation therapy) may help to improve memory and language ability.
This condition is characterised by inflammation that causes pain and stiffness in one or more of the body’s joints. The condition may be chronic (a constant dull ache) or acute (typically sharp, severe and short-lived pain). There are several different types of arthritis and each type has its own characteristics. The two most prevalent are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This is when the smooth cartilage lining of the joints is worn away. Once the cartilage starts to thin out, the tendons and ligament have to work harder which can cause swelling as well as the formation of bony spurs called osteophytes. Further, it may lead to bone rubbing on bone which can alter the shape of the joint and move bones out of the normal position. It often affects weight-bearing joints such as knees and hips and also the hands.
This is when the synovial membrane (outer covering of the joint) becomes inflamed. The joints become swollen and stiff and ultimately deformed. People suffering with this condition may also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body.
There is no current cure for the condition however treatments are available to reduce the amount of pain in the joints and to prevent any further damage. These include:
Asthma is the result of swelling (inflammation) of breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This condition affects the respiratory system with the main focus being the smaller airways (bronchi and bronchioles). These airways have an inner lining called the mucosa that’s surrounded by a layer of smooth muscle. In people who suffer from asthma, their airways are chronically inflamed (so they temporarily narrow) making them hyper-responsive to certain triggers. These triggers include pollen, tobacco smoke, dust, fragrances, exercise, environmental factors stress and the flu. When exposed to these triggers, an exacerbation or asthma attack (period attacks of wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath) can take place. During the attack, the muscles surrounding the airways tighten and narrow, thus the flow of air reduces, and the swelling of the airways increase. Furthermore, the flow of air is impeded as mucus is also produced when inflammation occurs.
Tablets are sometimes orally taken however, the primary treatment for asthma is an inhaler which is a small device that lets you breathe in medicines, transporting medication along the affected airways and they come in two forms.
It is a condition when the arteries narrow due to a build-up of fatty plaques called atheroma. This restricts blood flow and oxygen supply to the body’s tissues which further increases the risk of blood clots that prevent blood flow to brain and heart. Atherosclerosis often has no symptoms and the first sign may be a heart attack or stroke, hence it is vital to minimise the risks. If left untreated, the condition lead to a number of serious other ones which include:
Chance factors (non- modifiable factors which increase your risk) include:
Choice factors (changeable factors to decrease your chance of getting the condition):
This describes any condition affecting the heart or blood vessels. It is one of the leading causes of death all across the world and there are 4 main types.
In the early stages of heart disease there may be no symptoms however later on, the first symptom is usually chest pain (angina) on physical exertion or a heart attack. Some people may also develop arrhythmias (this is when you have abnormal heart rhythms i.e. when the heart beats too quickly, too slowly or irregularly) and suffer from associated palpitations and dizziness.
Though chance factors such as genetics, gender, ethnicity and age are non-modifiable, having a healthy lifestyle compromising of a balanced diet and regular physical activity can reduce the risk of CVD by a significant amount.
This is a condition when a lens become cloudy or opaque, causing blurred vision. The most common cause is aging, as fibres that make up the lens deteriorate naturally over time. Other causes also include diabetes, rubella, eye injury, prolonged exposure to sunlight, ionising radiation, long term steroid therapy and smoking.
If it appears in only one eye the sufferers will be more aware of a difference in vision
This is an eye condition which is due to the inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin layer of cells that lines the front of the eye and the inside of the eyelids. It is also known as red or pink eye and often looks worse than it actually is. It is usually caused by infection, allergies such as hay fever or irritants in products such as make up.
An infection such as conjunctivitis is easily spread from hand to eye so close attention should be pain to hygiene. To ease symptoms:
It refers to the deterioration in mental ability due to a disorder of the brain. It occurs because of damage in the nerve cells and where this damage takes place determines the symptoms. Dementia indicates a group of symptoms – memory loss, confusion and intellectual decline and it is becoming increasingly common as an ageing population develops, affecting those over 70 generally. The most common cause of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and multi-infract dementia. Other causes can include vitamin deficiency, anaemia and adverse reactions to certain drugs.
There is no cure for dementia and symptoms progressively worsen with time. For improvement of symptoms in the short term, new drugs have become available but long term no specific treatment is available. Caring for the dependent patient is the most important with most sufferers requiring full – time supervision and nursing care for the remainder of their life.
This condition is also known as multi-infract dementia and it is the most common form after Alzheimer’s disease. It occurs as the result of small ischaemic episodes, meaning there is a lack of blood supply reaching a part of the body. This reduced blood flow results in being deprived of oxygen around the areas of the brain, causing progressive death of nerve cells and thus control. The underlying cause is often atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries), which is usually the consequence of factors such as a high-fat diet, lack of exercise, smoking and high blood pressure.
Some may also deal with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as it is possible to suffer from both.
Similar to many other forms of dementia, there is no cure as there is no possible way to reverse any loss of brain cells or repair multiple infarcts. Treatment is therefore focused on slowing down the progressive condition and most importantly the risk of a potentially fatal major stroke.
Glucose (sugar) is your body’s principal source of energy and it is obtained from your diet. Insulin, which is a hormone, helps the glucose into the cells to provide energy. Diabetes is a condition that causes your blood glucose (sugar) levels to become too high. Having elevated glucose levels can cause a number of health problems such as heart disease, kidney damage and eye damage. Diabetes comes in two forms: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, your body’s immune system destroys the cells in our pancreas, meaning you can’t produce enough insulin (a hormone which controls blood glucose). With type 2 diabetes, either your body doesn’t utilise insulin well or the pancreas makes some insulin but not enough to carry sufficient glucose into your cells. Both forms of diabetes results in your glucose (sugar) levels in your blood to become too high.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition where your body is unable to make insulin (hormone which controls blood glucose) resulting in blood glucose levels becoming too high. This form of diabetes is not controlled by factors such as age or being overweight. It is currently still not clear of the definite cause of type 1 diabetes, genetics and environmental factors has appeared to play a crucial role in its development.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where your body doesn’t utilise insulin (hormone which controls blood glucose) well or the pancreas makes some insulin but not enough to carry sufficient glucose into your cells, resulting in high blood glucose levels. This condition is also known as insulin resistance. It is caused by diet, age, being overweight as well as genetics.
Glycated haemoglobin (A1C) test (indicates one’s glucose levels 2 to 3 months prior to the test)
Despite decades of research, there is still no permanent solution for this condition. However, it can be dealt with abstention and treatments. It involves a meticulously calculated diet, certain forms of physical activity, and blood glucose testing. With type 1 diabetes, a number of daily insulin injections are also performed. Prescribed medicines such as metformin is also given to those with type 2 diabetes.
This refers to a family of conditions which involve skin inflammation making it dry and itchy, with small blisters sometimes occurring. Its exact causation is still ambiguous, but an allergy may have an effect. Eczema can affect any part of the body but it is most commonly found on the hands, legs and feet. There are several different types of eczema:
This is a common neurological condition (affects the brain) and cause epileptic seizures/fits to occur. Seizures occur when part or all of the brain’s nerve cells create electrical signals in an uncontrolled manner and can result in a wide range of symptoms. Though this condition can affect a person at any age, it often commences either in early childhood or in people over 60. There is still no obvious case for most people but there are certain links to hereditary. Some other causes of seizures include brain trauma or surgery, brain tumour, drugs and alcohol and Alzheimer’s disease.
These are non-cancerous growths that develop within the wall of the uterus (womb). They occur most frequently in women aged 35 and 55 during their childbearing years and when oestrogen levels are at their highest. Some fibroids are very small and can cause no symptoms but when they occur in multiples or grow to the size of a grapefruit, they can cause heavy periods and pain. In some cases, infertility or miscarriage may occur.
Small fibroids causing no pain can be left untreated. For larger growths, drugs may be used to reduce size or may need to be removed which can be done in a number of ways:
Flu (also referred to as the common cold) is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract and are among the most common reasons for people to visit their doctors. It is caused by the influenza virus, with type A and B being the most common. These are spread by airborne droplets of mucus, expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes into the air and also can be passed on by physical contact. Approximately half the population catches a cold once a year, most often in colder months of autumn and winter.
An appointment is advised if you have an infection that seems to be lasting longer than usual or if symptoms severely worsen. If you are in the at-risk groups which include the elderly, new-born babies, asthmatics, people with weakened immune systems due to diabetes or AIDS etc. or people with poor nutrition, it is important to see a doctor.
With proper medication and care, recovery from a flu can be attained within 1 or 2 weeks. There are number of ways you can bring relief and soothe the symptoms yourself:
Annual flus can also be prevented with flu jabs. The immunisation is different each year because it targets the strains predicted to be most widespread that particular season and those who in the at-risk group are recommended to have them.
This is a rare condition where you lack an essential clotting factor in their blood. When exposed to an injury, clotting factor mix interact with platelets to make your blood sticky and form a clot, which eventually halts the bleeding. Thus, without the clotting factor VIII, severe bleeding can occur after injury or surgery or maybe even spontaneous.
These are crystalline and stone-like deposits in the kidneys which are formed if the urine becomes saturated with waste chemicals. They come in various sizes: small ones may travel down the urinary tract and simply pass out in the urine; larger stones tend to stay within the kidney but can move into the ureter, where they can cause severe pain. People living in a hot climate have a higher chance of developing them if they don’t drink enough fluid to replace that is lost through sweating. Some may inherit a predisposition towards the condition as well.
The treatment for this condition is dependent on the size of stones
This condition describes the inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain (the meninges) and is usually a result of an infection. It can become life threatening if not treated quickly by causing septicaemia (blood poisoning) and result in permanent damage to brain or nerves. The condition can be classified into three types: bacterial, viral or fungal. Viral meningitis is the most common and least dangerous form, generally affecting young adults. Bacterial meningitis is the most serious that mainly affects children. Although most people make a full recovery from meningitis when treated, some are left with long-term problems following it, especially bacterial meningitis, which include hearing loss and impaired memory.
Viral meningitis generally requires no specific treatment beyond analgesics to provide pain relief and reduce fever. With bacterial meningitis, prompt administration of intravenous antibiotics is essential. Corticosteroids may also be given to reduce inflammation. However, certain issues of meningitis can be prevented with vaccinations. These include:
This is an autoimmune condition which affects the central nervous system which consists of the spinal cord and the brain. Due to an abnormal activity of the immune system, damage is caused to myelin sheaths (a fatty substance that insulates the nerve cells and speeds signals along the nerves). This results in the nerve cells not functioning properly and therefore problems in communication between the brain and the rest of the body occur. It’s a lifelong disease that can cause serious disability but can be occasionally mild, with most experts thinking a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a part.
There is no long-term cure for this condition, but a number of treatments can help control it. These treatments will depend on the specific symptoms and difficulties.
This is a common condition in which the bone tissue loses calcium meaning the bones become brittle and increasingly liable to fracture. Many people are unaware that they have the condition until they have a fall that results in a fracture, often in the wrist or hip. Other osteoporotic fractures include spine and femur (thigh bone) fractures, which can result in disability in elderly. The stage before osteoporosis is called osteopenia in which you have a lower bone density than the average for your age. Osteopenia does not always lead to osteoporosis and a number of steps can be taken to reduce your risk of developing it such as ensuring you take sufficient calcium and vitamin D in your diet along with exercise.
These are fluid-filled sacs that develop within the ovary and are very common during a woman’s reproductive years. There may be just one or several (which is known as polycystic ovary syndrome). They are usually non-cancerous, but some do have potential. Sometimes the symptoms either come and go or not at all present thus may be difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms (generally occurs with larger, persistent cysts)
This is characterised by multiple fluid-filled ovarian cysts. It is caused by a relative excess of luteinising hormone and testosterone, and those suffering from this condition are at increased risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and suffering ovulatory failure. The condition may result in infertility if untreated.
This is a serious chest infection that causes inflammation in the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This could potentially be a life-threatening condition especially if both lungs are affected as oxygen is required to pass through the walls of the alveoli in order to reach the bloodstream. It occurs most frequently among the very young and the elderly. Certain factors such as smoking, being malnourished, diabetes or AIDS sufferers can make a person more likely to develop pneumonia. In most cases, effective treatment with antibiotics (bacterial infections being the most common cause of pneumonia) leads to a full recovery with no lasting effects. The many types include:
If the cause is viral, symptoms may develop gradually but rapidly development (over the course of several hours) can happen with bacterial pneumonia.
More vulnerable people who rapidly become seriously ill can receive intravenous fluids and antibiotics, also may be provided oxygen via an oxygen mask. A ventilator may also be required to maintain adequate levels of oxygen until they recover
This is a common skin condition which produces areas of red, thickened skin known as plaques which may have a covering of silvery scales which are often itchy and painful. They can be found anywhere but often appear on backs of the elbow, knees and in the scalp. The cause of this skin problem is unknown but stress, physical injury, infection and some drugs such as lithium and beta blockers can trigger psoriasis. It’s also thought to be related to a problem with the immune system as people psoriasis sufferer’s immune system attacks healthy skin cells by mistakes. In some cases, the condition can be associated with an arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis which is similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
There is no cure for the condition, but a range of treatments are aimed at improving symptoms and appearance of skin patches.
This is common neurological condition in mainly the elderly and is characterised as the degeneration of nerve cells in a part of the brain (substantia nigra) that controls movement. This leads to a reduction in a chemical neurotransmitter called dopamine which plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. The underlying cause is unknown, but many believe family history plays a part and that men are more likely to develop the condition. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is somewhat similar to that of Parkinsonism, which is a condition that is due to identifiable factors such as certain drugs or by head injuries.
There is no cure for the condition, but treatments are available to help relieve the symptoms.
This is the inflammation/ swelling of the sinuses (air-filled cavities around the eyes and nose, within the bones of the skull). It is often associated with an infection in the upper respiratory tract, such as a cold or hay fever. It is a common condition and usually clears up on its own within 2 to 3 weeks and can go away quicker with the aid of medications. You should seek medical advice if symptoms recur again with increased pain and fever. This ‘secondary sickening’ is due to an infection by bacteria.
These occur often in people and are pus filled swellings of the eyelash hair follicles. They can cause the eyelid to become inflamed and painful. A stye can be a small, painful lump on or inside the eyelid or the skin may be red/ swollen and filled with yellow pus like a pimple. Most styes are caused by infection with staphylococcus aureus bacteria and can be prevented with improved adequate hygiene.
If no lump is present, the condition is more likely to be conjunctivitis or blepharitis.
To ease the discomfort and speed up recovery, these measures can be taken;
It is also crucial not to intentionally burst a stye has this can spread infection.
This is an infection that is confined to the tonsils and it is a common condition in children (their tonsils are larger than adults so are more prone to infections). The tonsils are large lymph nodes that are situated either side of the back of the tongue and serves to intercept any invading viruses or bacteria.
They are usually easy to spot as the tonsils become red and inflamed with a white coating. A swab test may be further taken if the doctor suspects it is a bacterial sore throat (white pus filled spots on the tonsils may be seen with this) rather than the viral one.
In the past, many removed the tonsils surgically (tonsillectomy) to prevent recurrent infections. Nowadays, doctors are more reluctant as the tonsils play a useful function as part of the body’s defences as well as the procedure having possible complications. Mild tonsillitis can be treated yourself and you can ease the symptoms in these ways: