Joint Pain: Some Useful Information


Most, if not all, who suffer from joint pain are faced with much discomfort throughout their day. Joint pain can be mild, causing some soreness each time you move your joint. Or joint pain can be severe, making it impossible to use your joint altogether. This medical condition is rarely an emergency and most mild cases can be successfully managed at home. 

What Causes Joint Pain? 

There are many causes someone may develop joint pain. The two most frequent cause of joint pain are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 27 million individuals in the United States have this chronic condition. Most often the knees, hips and hands are affected. Joint pain due to osteoarthritis results from a breakdown of the cartilage that serves as a cushion and shock absorber for the joints. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1.3 million Americans and can deform and debilitate the joints over time. This type of arthritis can cause pain, inflammations and fluid buildup in the joints as the membrane that lines them is attacked by the body’s immune system. Other conditions that may cause joint pain include:

• Bursitis (inflammation of the cushioning pads around the joints)

• Lupus

• Gout

• Infection of the bone

• Overuse

• Cancer


Who is at Risk for Joint Pain? 

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of joint pain. Those who struggle with excess weight may be putting stress on their joints. If a person is overweight, ordinary activities such as walking or going up and down stairs puts a strain on their joints. Those who have certain structural abnormalities, such as having one leg shorter than the other, misaligned knees and even flat feet, may be caused with joint pain. A lack of strength and flexibility are among the leading causes of knee injuries and joint pain. Tight or weak muscles offer less support for your knee because they do not absorb enough of the stress exerted on the joint.  Those who play certain sports, such as skiing, basketball and running, may be putting strains and stress on their joints, specifically their knees. Lastly, if someone has had a previous injury, they have a higher risk of injuring his or her joint again.


How to Manage Joint Pain. 

Both of these forms of joint pain are considered as a chronic condition and nothing can completely eliminate the joint pain. However, there are ways to manage the pain. It may be helpful to:

•Use topical pain relievers

•Take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce the pain, swelling and inflammation

•Stay physically active and follow a fitness program focusing on moderate exercise

•Stretch prior to exercising to maintain a good range of motion in your joints

•Keep your body weight within a healthy range, which will lessen stress on the joints


If your pain is not caused by arthritis, you may try general pain relief measures, which include taking a warm bath, stretch frequently, get a massage, get adequate rest or take nonprescription anti-inflammatory medicine. In some cases, your joint pain will require you to see a doctor. You should make an appointment if:

•You do not know the cause of your joint pain and are experiencing other unexplained symptoms

•The area around the joint is swollen, red, tender or warm to the touch

•The pain persists for three days or more

•You have a fever but no signs of the flu


Protect Your Joints. 

If you have discomfort in your joints and want to take control over the pain yourself, there are ways to do so.

•First, you should choose the strongest joint available for the job. For example, carry objects with your palm open, distributing the weight equally over your forearm.

•Slide objects along a counter or workbench rather than lifting them. Use your thigh muscles to rise from a chair instead of pushing off with your hands.

•Another way to protect your joints is to use good body mechanics. If you position yourself correctly and use the muscles best suited to a physically demanding task, you can minimize the stress on your joints. For example, carry heavy objects close to your chest, supporting the weight on your forearms.

•If you arrange your work area wisely you can help release tension or stress on your joints.

•Make sure while you are sitting you have hood back and foot support.

•If you are typing on a keyboard for long periods and your chair does not have arms consider using a wrist or forearm support.

•If you stand while working make sure the work surface enables you to work comfortable without stooping.  

There are many ways to protect you from joint pain. You must take precautions and be aware of how you are using your body. You should learn ways to help alleviate stress on your joints and follow through with those instructions daily, before your pain worsens.



What is Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) ?


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an illness characterized by prolonged, debilitating fatigue that does not improve with rest and worsens with physical or mental activity. It is also characterized by multiple nonspecific symptoms such as headaches, recurrent sore throats, muscle and joint pains, and memory and concentration difficulties.

CFS can be hard to diagnose, and its cause or causes are unknown. Even its name can be confusing: CFS is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME or ME/CFS or CFS/ME), as well as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS).

Profound fatigue, the hallmark of the disorder, can come on suddenly or gradually and persists or recurs throughout the period of illness. Unlike the short-term disability of an illness such as the flu, by definition CFS symptoms must have lasted for at least six months. They often linger for years.

CFS affects women at about four times the rate that it affects men, and the illness is diagnosed more often in people in their 40s and 50s. It can affect any sex, race or socioeconomic class. Research shows that it is at least as common in Hispanics and African Americans as it is in Caucasians. And although CFS is less common in children than in adults, children can develop the illness, particularly during the teen years. It can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The prevalence of CFS is difficult to measure because the illness can be difficult to diagnose, but, in general, it is estimated that at least 1 million people in the United States have CFS, according to the CDC. CFS is sometimes seen in members of the same family, suggesting there may be a genetic link; more research is needed to prove this link.

CFS does not appear to be a new illness, although it only recently was assigned a name. Relatively small outbreaks of similar disorders have been described in medical literature since the 1930s. Furthermore, case reports of comparable illnesses date back several centuries.

The international group organized by the CDC named the illness chronic fatigue syndrome because the name reflects the most common symptom: long-term, persistent fatigue. It is important to note, however, that the word “fatigue” may be extremely misleading. Fatigue is but one symptom among many that make up this illness, and it doesn’t reflect the significance of other disabling symptoms. The word also adds to generalized misunderstanding and trivialization of the illness..

There are no indications that CFS is contagious or that it can be transmitted through intimate or casual contact. Research continues to determine the safety of blood donation by people with CFS. The AABB, an organization representing blood banking centers in the United States and around the world, has recommended the indefinite deferral of potential blood donors with a past or current history of CFS. This recommendation has been adopted by the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers, the two largest blood collectors in the United States.

CFS may begin suddenly or come on gradually. The sudden onset frequently follows a respiratory, gastrointestinal or other acute infection, including mononucleosis. Other cases develop after emotional or physical traumas such as serious accidents, bereavement or surgery.

Although CFS can persist for many years, long-term studies indicate that CFS generally is not a progressive illness. Symptoms are usually most severe in the first year or two. Thereafter, the symptoms typically stabilize, then persist chronically, wax and wane, or improve. For some people with CFS, however, symptoms can get worse over time.

It appears that while the majority of people with CFS partially recover, only a few fully recover, while others experience a cycle of recovery and relapse. There’s no way to predict which category you might fall into. There is some evidence that the sooner a person is diagnosed with CFS and symptoms are managed and treated, the better the chances of improvement, which illustrates the importance of early diagnosis and treatment

Source: Healthywomen

What are the symptoms of swine flu?


Symptoms of swine flu are similar to most influenza infections: fever (100 F or greater), cough, nasal secretions, fatigue, and headache, with fatigue being reported in most infected individuals. Some patients may also get a sore throat, rash, body aches, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.The incubation period from exposure to first symptoms is about one to four days, with an average of two days. The symptoms last about one to two weeks and can last longer if the person has a severe infection.

Some patients develop severe respiratory symptoms and need respiratory support (such as a ventilator to breathe for the patient). Patients can get pneumonia (bacterial secondary infection) if the viral infection persists, and some can develop seizures. Death often occurs from secondary bacterial infection of the lungs; appropriate antibiotics need to be used in these patients. The usual mortality (death) rate for typical influenza A is about 0.1%, while the 1918 “Spanish flu” epidemic had an estimated mortality rate ranging from 2%-20%.

People with migraine twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s


A new study has revealed that migraine suffers may be at greater risk for developing Parkinson’s disease or other movement disorders later in life. According to the study, those who have migraine with aura may be at double the risk for developing these disorders.

Study author Ann I. Scher said that migraine is the most common neurologic disorder in both men and women and it has been linked in other studies to cerebrovascular and heart disease. This new possible association is one more reason research is needed to understand, prevent and treat the condition.

The study found that people with migraine with aura were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s as people with no headaches. A total of 2.4 percent of those with migraine with aura had the disease, compared to 1.1 percent of those with no headaches. People with migraine with aura had 3.6 times the odds of reporting at least four of six parkinsonian symptoms, while those with migraine with no aura were 2.3 times the odds of these symptoms. Overall, 19.7 percent of those with migraine with aura had symptoms, compared to 12.6 percent of those with migraine with no aura and 7.5 percent of those with no headaches. Women with migraine with aura were also more likely to have a family history of Parkinson’s disease compared to those with no headaches.

The risk of RLS was increased for people with all types of headache. A total of 20 percent of those with no headaches had RLS, compared to 28 percent of those with headaches with no migraine symptoms and 30 percent of those with migraine with aura.

The study was published online in Neurology. (ANI)

Source: ANI News

What is the ice bucket challenge and ALS ?


The internet has gone viral with videos of celebrities and other popular personalities taking the “Ice Bucket challenge” and daring three others to do the same. Here is what you need to know about it:

What is the ice bucket challenge?
It’s an effort to raise awareness of ALS where participants must dump a bucket of ice cold water and then dare someone to do the same. If they can’t, the alternative is to donate $100 to the ALS association

How did it start?
The ice bucket challenge went viral on social media after a US baseball player and ALS patient, Pete Frates, floated the idea of the challenge in a video on a social networking site. He got the idea from a friend

The impact
More than 1.2 million videos were shared on Facebook between June 1 and August 13. The challenge was mentioned more than 2.2 million times on Twitter since July 29, after Frates’ appeal

The funds
According to the ALS website, it has so far received nearly $23 million

What is ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord

ALS is thought to be affect 2 people every 1 lakh of the global population

Life expectancy
About 20% people with ALS live 5 years or more, up to 10% live more than 10 years and about 5% live up to 20 years after diagnosis

They took the challenge
Lady Gaga
Mark Zuckerberg
Brian Vickers
Satya Nadella

Videos of some the celebrities taking the ice bucket challenge:

Seven Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk


This year, almost 240,000 women in USA will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and close to 40,000 will die of the disease. One out of every eight women will develop the disease in her lifetime. Pretty scary statistics, but it also means that seven out of every eight women won’t get breast cancer.

Here are seven things you can do to reduce your own risk of breast cancer:

1. Exercise. Dozens of studies have found a correlation between exercise and reduced risk of breast, colon, and other cancers. Working up a sweat for at least a half hour per day, 4 times a week, does wonders. Physical exercise improves energy balance, hormone metabolism, and insulin regulation, all of which reduce the unhealthy cell production that leads to cancer. It also helps control weight, maintain healthy bones, keep muscles and joints working, and reduce the risk of death from heart disease. Find a friend and commit to motivating each other, or simply tell yourself “no more elevators or escalators.” The stairs are an excellent way to get your heart rate up and burn calories.

2. Eat a healthy diet. It is proven that diets rich in fiber, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish reduce your risk of breast cancer, while those heavy in refined sugars and animal fats increase it. Carry healthy snacks like fresh fruit, fresh veggies, almonds, KIND bars, or yogurt with you to work, school, or travel, so that you don’t resort to fast food when the hunger pangs arrive.

3. Get at least 6 hours of sleep each night. A Japanese study showed that those who regularly had six hours of sleep or less every night were much more likely to develop breast cancer than those who got more sleep.

4. Maintain a BMI (body mass index) under 26. More than 30 percent of women are considered obese and another 30 percent are considered overweight when body mass is measured. Obesity is not just linked to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, but also to cancer. A new study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology shows that young women who are obese have a 34 percent increased risk of dying of breast cancer. Fat contains estrogen, and in young women who are premenopausal and have breast cancers with estrogen hormone growth receptors, their cancers grow at a faster rate in the presence of fat. Too many fat cells can produce the extra hormones such as estrogen and insulin growth factors that have been linked to unhealthy breast cell growth.

5. Stop smoking. Researchers at the American Cancer Society have found an increased breast cancer risk among women who smoke, especially those who start smoking before they have their first child.

6. Reduce stress. Occasional psychological stress has not been found to cause cancer, but psychological stress that lasts a long time may affect a person’s overall health and ability to cope with cancer by activating a specific gene that could compromise the body’s immune system.

7. Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol reduces the liver’s ability to metabolize (reduce the potency of and eliminate from the body) the hormone estrogen. Studies have shown that even one to two drinks a day over a long period of time could increase your risk of breast cancer. In one study, the amount of alcohol in three 4-ounce glasses of wine more than tripled the amount of estrogen in women’s bodies.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome- Some Useful Information


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of infertility in reproductive-age women and an important harbinger of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and heart disease. It affects an estimated 5 to 10 percent of females and is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and obesity, and as a result, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The syndrome is generally characterized by the presence of polycystic ovaries, hyperandrogenism (the condition caused by excess male hormones or male-like traits) and irregular ovulation and menstruation. The symptoms of PCOS can vary.

The syndrome was previously called Stein-Leventhal Syndrome after the physicians who first characterized it in the 1930s. It usually presents in young women or adolescents, and the main symptoms are irregular or absent periods and excess unwanted facial and/or body hair growth (hirsutism). As the term polycystic ovary syndrome suggests, the syndrome often is accompanied by enlarged ovaries containing multiple small painless “cysts” or tiny follicles about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter.

During a normal menstrual cycle in which a woman ovulates (called an ovulatory cycle), a small number of follicles begin to grow. One becomes the biggest, or dominant, follicle. This dominant follicle then ruptures and releases the egg.

In women with PCOS, however, high levels of hormones called androgens (commonly known as “male hormones”) halt the normal hormonal process and the egg’s development. These halted or arrested follicles––whose appearance (via an ultrasound) is sometimes likened to a “string of pearls” on the outside border of the ovary––form the “cysts” observed in PCOS. These cysts are not tumors and do not require removal. Treatment of PCOS, instead, is through the use of lifestyle modifications and medication to treat symptoms.

Many, but not all, women with PCOS will have the polycystic-looking ovaries (which are often two to five times larger than normal ovaries) for which the syndrome is named, but it is possible to be diagnosed with the syndrome without having this sign. And not all women with polycystic-appearing ovaries will have PCOS.

While the biochemical imbalances that cause symptoms are becoming better understood, the trigger for PCOS is unknown. Some researchers believe that abnormal levels of the pituitary hormone LH and high levels of male hormones (androgens) prevent the ovaries from functioning normally. Others believe that the origin is in abnormalities in the genes that regulate the production of androgens or the action of insulin.

Some patients with PCOS experience excess insulin production from the pancreas, which can result from insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. The high levels of insulin in these women help stimulate the ovaries to overproduce androgens and may be the cause of PCOS in some women.

Insulin resistance in women with PCOS results from the fact that in these women the body’s cells don’t respond well to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It regulates a range of functions, including controlling blood sugar and fats. With insulin resistance, the pancreas produces excessive amounts of insulin, leading to a condition called hyperinsulinism or hyperinsulinemia.

In addition to stimulating the ovaries to overproduce male hormones (called androgens), high levels of insulin can cause darkening of the skin around the neck and other crease areas, a condition called acanthosis nigricans, often accompanied by skin tags in these areas.

If the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to compensate for the insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes.

About 80 percent of obese women with PCOS have insulin resistance by age 40 and about 10 percent develop type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes is also a problem for normal weight women with PCOS, although less so than for obese women. For obese women with PCOS, their treatment plans should incorporate diet and exercise.

Obesity in women with PCOS tends to be centered on the abdomen, a fat distribution pattern linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Up to 50 percent of women with PCOS also have sleep apnea, a condition that causes brief spells where breathing stops during sleep. Sleep apnea can worsen the degree of insulin resistance.

The most visible symptoms of PCOS stem from excessive levels of androgens, such as testosterone, produced by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Androgens often are called “male hormones,” even though they are found in both men and women. They are usually present at higher concentrations in men and are an important factor in determining male traits and reproductive activity. Androgens include testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) or the HS sulfated form (DHEA-S).

Excessive levels of these hormones, a condition called hyperandrogenemia, or their exaggerated action, called hyperandrogensim can lead to some of the most common symptoms of PCOS in women, including:

  • Excess body or facial hair (hirsutism)
  • Oily skin and acne
  • Oligo-ovulation (irregular ovulation and menstruation)
  • Scalp hair loss and balding (male pattern balding and androgenic alopecia)

But such symptoms alone are not enough to support a diagnosis of PCOS. They may only indicate the presence of hyperandrogenism, which can result from several conditions.

Women with PCOS ovulate irregularly and/or infrequently and often have irregular menstrual periods. Inducing a period is important because the hormone progesterone promotes the normal shedding of the uterine lining (i.e., menstruation), preventing the buildup of the uterine lining and reducing the risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer. However, progesterone is secreted by the ovaries only after ovulation occurs.

PCOS often is a cause of infertility due to failure to ovulate.

Women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, although the exact relationship is unknown. Excess weight worsens PCOS, but researchers do not yet know whether or not having PCOS makes patients more prone to obesity.

It is not surprising that women with PCOS often suffer from poor self image and may experience depression or anxiety.

PCOS is mostly a genetic disorder. For example, an estimated 50 percent of sisters and 40 percent of mothers of patients with PCOS can be affected.

To date there is no cure for PCOS. Health care professionals usually address the most bothersome symptoms. Because of the complexity of the hormonal interactions, you may need to see an endocrinologist or a reproductive endocrinologist (especially if you are infertile and trying to conceive).



Poorly Packed Lunches Can Cause Food Poisoning


Each year, about one in six Americans suffers from foodborne illness, resulting in about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To protect you and your family from food poisoning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service offers the following advice:

  • If your lunch includes perishable items such as luncheon meats, eggs and yogurt, use at least two freezer packs to keep these foods at cool temperatures where harmful bacteria can’t multiply rapidly.
  • Frozen juice boxes can be used as freezer packs. Freeze a juice box overnight and use it with at least one freezer pack. By lunchtime, the juice should be thawed and ready to drink.
  • Pack perishable lunch items and freezer packs in an insulated, soft-sided lunch bag. If you use a paper bag, perishable foods may be unsafe to eat by lunchtime, according to the food inspection service.
  • If your children’s school has a refrigerator, they should put their lunch in there as soon as they arrive. Have them leave the lid of their lunchbox or bag open in the fridge to improve the circulation of cold air around the food.
  • When packing hot lunches such as soup, stew or chili, use an insulated container to keep those foods hot. Before putting the food in the container, fill it with boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes before emptying the water. Then put in the hot food and keep the container closed until lunchtime.
  • After lunch, throw away all leftover food, used food packaging and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause illness, the safety experts said in an agency news release.



Ebola virus — causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention


What is it?

The Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe condition caused by a virus from the Filoviridae family. Known to be a condition that is transmitted from animals to humans, this virus spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal.

How is it transmitted? What are its causes?

According to scientists there are five different types of the virus, all of which have the potential to infect humans. According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) this disease can be transmitted from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals. In humans the disease can be transmitted by the following methods:

  • Coming into contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of an infected person.
  • Healthcare workers may contract the disease through transmission as well through contact with infected bodily fluids.
  • Handling the meat from infected animals.
  • Contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who has passed away.

Who is most likely to get infected?

Dr Ratan Kumar Vaish, Senior Consultant, Department of Internal medicine, Rockland Group of Hospitals, Delhi-NCR says, ‘The condition is contagious, so migratory populations are most likely to get infected and transmit the virus. Interestingly, this condition is also a hospital acquired infection and is commonly transmitted to hospital staff. Apart from that, high risk individuals include diabetics, immunocompromised patients, patients with kidney and liver failure and HIV infected people.’

What are the symptoms?

The incubation period (or the time between when the actual infection takes place to the time when a person sees symptoms of this condition) for this disease is about one week. After this period a person will commonly see the signs that are considered as ‘early symptoms’. According to Dr Ratan, the early symptoms include fever, rashes, headache, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. Apart from that a person may also experience symptoms like pain in the lower back, arthritis like pain all over the body, diarrhea and a sore throat.

Once the condition has progressed a person may notice symptoms like:

  • Bleeding from the mouth, ears, nose and ears.
  • Increased sensitivity to pain on the skin,
  • Genital swelling
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Rashes all over the body,
  • And reddening of the roof of the mouth.

How is it diagnosed?

Usually a doctor will be able to diagnose the condition with the symptoms alone, but in order to confirm the diagnosis he/she may prescribe tests like CBC (Complete Blood Count), coagulation studies (a test to check for the amount of time a person’s blood needs to clot), viral antigen testing (a test to check for the presence of the viral antigen) and a liver function test.

Once diagnosed, what kind of treatment does the disease have?

Dr Ratan says, ‘There is no definitive treatment, and common anti-viral therapies do not work on the Ebola virus. Therefore the goal of the treatment is to treat the symptoms and prevent secondary infections or complications like pneumonia and liver failure.’

What is the prognosis?

According to the WHO reports, on an average, 80% of the people infected with this virus do die. Their death is usually due to a drop in their blood pressure and failure of organs.

How can it be prevented?

According to Dr Ratan, ‘There aren’t any vaccinations available as of now, so basic hygiene is of importance and a must be followed in order to prevent the onset of the condition. Simple activities like washing your hands well, drinking water from a clean source, maintaining general hygiene and cooking your meat well, can all serve as precautionary measures. Apart from that people should avoid crowded places, or those that are known to have an outbreak. It is also important that if they notice any early symptoms, they should visit a doctor immediately.’

Should people in India worry?

‘It s not prevalent in India, but people living in remote areas, where living conditions are poor, are always at risk of getting infected. But largely there is no need to worry as such.


What Causes Migraines?


Suffering from migraines can have a seriously negative impact on both your work and social life, but what exactly causes those splitting headaches?

Men, women and children can suffer from migraines. Some people may have a migraine as often as a few times a week, whereas others might only experience them occasionally.

According to the NHS, there are several types of migraine. These include:

Migraine with aura – where there are warning signs before the migraine begins, such as seeing flashing lights.
Migraine without aura – where the migraine occurs without warning signs.
Migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine – where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache does not develop

Although the exact cause of migraine is unknown, triggers are thought to include hormonal, emotional, physical, dietary, environmental and medical changes to your usual routine.

If you suffer from regular migraines it is important to visit your doctor, as some experts have found migraines to indicate other underlying health issues such as abnormal blood vessel structure in the brain.

Migraine remains undiagnosed and under-treated in at least 50% of patients, and less than 50% of migraine patients consult a physician – but your GP could really help you to reduce your suffering.
GPs can help you to identify the triggers of your migraine and also prescribe medication to help you manage your condition like painkillers, triptans (medications that can help reverse the changes in the brain that may cause migraines), or anti-emetics (medications often used to reduce nausea and vomiting).