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Back Pain Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Back Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Back pain normally happens due to a muscle stretch. It is a very painful condition which 60-70% of people suffer from once in their lifetime. Several reasons contribute to back pain, including absences from work and medical treatment.

It is often uncomfortable and debilitating because you can not do any work properly if you bend your back, it may create a problem. It may end up in injury, activity, and some medical conditions. Back pain can affect people of any age, for different reasons, but it can mostly be seen in old people.

As people become older, the chance of developing lower back pain increases, because of factors like previous occupation and degenerative disk disease or lack of exercise.

Lower back pain could also be linked to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs,  lower back muscles, nerves, abdominal and pelvic internal organs, spinal cord, and skin the lumbar area.

Pain in the upper back could also be due to disorders of the aorta, tumors in the chest, and spine inflammation.

Back pain home Remedies

Back pain is a common problem that can interfere with a person’s professional and personal life. Fortunately, many home remedies are available to help relieve back pain. The home remedies for Back pain are:

  1. Oils and ointments to ease the pain: Many skin creams and ointments will help relieve stiff and sore back muscles. Some of these products contain various ingredients such as menthol, camphor, or lidocaine.

These ingredients warm, cool, or numb the affected area. Put cream on the area that hurts. If you have trouble getting the cream on, ask someone to help you. Maybe ointments will not get the proper cure for your problems but they will help you to ease the pain.

  1. Try the Ice and Heat method: One might have heard that one is better than the other for relief from back pain. The short answer is that whatever works for you is the best option. Some people prefer heat and some prefer ice in the pain, but you might try both to see the better result.

If you’re having stiffness or muscle tension in your back, ice may be the best choice, while heating pads may be more effective at relieving swelling or inflammation.

  1. Maintain Good Posture: By keeping your head over your pelvis and not slouching your shoulders, you can ease the pressure with your lower back. If necessary, you can use tape, straps, or stretchy bands to help keep your spine straight.

You should get up from your chair every 30 minutes, stretch regularly, and walk every few minutes if you work in front of a computer or any screen.

  1. Stretch and Strengthen: Strengthening the muscles of your upper and lower body, especially your abdominals, can help relieve your back pain as well as prevent it. Stretching is the first thing that everyone should do in the morning.

It is okay to stretch and do your strengthening exercises later in the day after your body is warmed up if you are older or worried about overdoing it.

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  1. Keep Moving: During pain, you might not feel like it, but this is something your doctor will probably recommend first. You should continue to stay active daily, whether that is walking for 30 minutes or playing with your pet. Make sure you move at least three times a week.

Back pain causes

Many conditions, common to back pain, are not readily identifiable through a test or imaging study. Some of the common conditions that may cause back pain are:

  • Muscle or ligament strain: You may suffer painful muscle spasms from repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement. Your back muscles and spinal ligaments may be stressed by repeated heavy lifting. If you’re in poor physical condition, this can lead to stiff, sore back muscles.

  • Structured Problems:

  • Bulging or ruptured disks: In your back, disks serve as cushions to protect the bones (vertebrae). The soft tissue inside a disk can stretch or rupture, putting pressure on nerves. However, you can have a bulging or ruptured disk without having back pain. It is often discovered incidentally by X-rays taken for other reasons when you have disk disease.

  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis affects the hips, lower back, and other joints. It can narrow the space surrounding the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.

  • Sciatica: A bulging or herniated disk pushing on nerve results in a shooting pain running along with the boot and down the back of the leg.

  • Abnormal curvature of the spine: Spinal curvature can also cause pain in the back. Scoliosis is a health condition where the spine curves in an abnormal way.

  • Osteoporosis: When bones, including the vertebrae of the spine, become porous and brittle, compression fractures are more likely to occur.

  • Kidney Problems: Stones or infections can also cause back pain.

Back pain symptoms

Back pain can come with other symptoms, and some of them can be quite concerning. Radiating pain through the legs is one fairly common symptom that accompanies back pain, but other ones should alert you to speak with your doctor. The symptoms of back pain include:

  • Bowel or bladder issues
  • Fever
  • A recent injury
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness
  •  Tingling in legs
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fecal incontinence, or loss of control over bowel movements
  • Numbness around the genitals
  • Numbness around the anus
  • Numbness around the buttocks

Back pain diagnosis

It is very difficult to suspect the specific condition that causes back pain, here is some diagnosis that diagnosed back pain. The diagnosis of back pain are:

  • X-ray: The images measure the alignment of your bones and show whether you have arthritis or broken bones. These images won’t show if you have problems with your spinal cord, muscles, nerves, or disks.

  • MRI or CT scans: An MRI produces images of herniated disks as well as problems with bones, muscles, tissues, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.

  • Blood tests: Doctors use these tests to determine whether you have an infection or another condition that might be causing your pain.

  • Bone scan: A bone scan might be used in rare cases to look for conditions such as osteoporosis or tumors.

  • Nerve studies: An electromyogram (EMG) determines whether the nerves produce electrical impulses or whether the muscles respond to them. This can confirm whether you have nerve compression caused by herniated disks or a narrowed spinal canal (spinal stenosis).

How to prevent back pain

Back pain can be complicated to determine the cause of, but you can take many different actions to help relieve or prevent it from getting worse. You need to relieve pressure, reduce strain, protect your back, and strengthen your muscles to do so. The prevention for back pain are:

  • Increase your calcium and vitamin D intake: You can prevent osteoporosis by eating plenty of calcium and vitamin D.

Bone fragility is one of the main causes of back pain for women later in life. The food which has Calcium such as milk, yogurt, leafy greens, vitamin supplements. The foods that contain vitamin D are fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, etc.

  • Straighten up: Having a good posture contributes to your overall health as well as maintaining the integrity of the intricate pieces of your spine. You should avoid rounding your shoulders when standing, slouching, and bending sideways. Bad posture puts strain and stress on your back.

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  • Stretch: The long hours you spend standing, sitting, or lying in one place are harmful to your back, which makes it more difficult to perform tasks.

It will be helpful if you can get up from your desk, walk around, and do some simple stretches throughout the day. The exercise will also help to improve circulation to your back and ease any aches and pains caused by inactivity.

  • Sleep with a pillow under your knees: If you sleep on your back, it puts pressure on your spine. Elevating your legs as you sleep helps relieve the pressure on your back. By placing a pillow under your knees, you can reduce that pressure in half.

  • Quit smoking: The health risks of smoking are well-known, but smokers are also more likely to suffer from back pain than nonsmokers. This is because smoking restricts blood flow to the discs, which produces dryness, cracking, and rupture.

In addition, smoking reduces blood oxygen levels, which impairs the blood’s ability to nourish the muscles and tendons. If the back isn’t well-nourished, it is susceptible to strains and pulls that are detrimental to health.

Risk factors for back pain

Anyone can develop back pain children and teens can have back pain too. These factors may make you more likely to develop back pain:

  • Age. Getting older leads to back pain, which commonly begins around age 30 or 40.

  • Diseases. Back pain can be caused by arthritis and cancer.

  • Lack of exercise. Your back pain might be caused by unused, weak muscles in your abdomen.

  • Smoking. In smokers, there is a greater risk of back pain because coughing causes more disks to bulge, so they might be more likely to suffer herniated disks.

  • Psychological conditions. The risk for back pain seems to be higher in people who suffer from depression or anxiety.

  • Improper lifting. If you use your legs instead of your back, you can develop back pain.

Back pain treatment

Back pain is generally treated by taking pain relievers, staying active, and doing some specific exercises. However, some people may require additional medical attention. The treatment for back pain are:

  • Home Treatment: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are sometimes effective for reducing discomfort. Hot compresses or ice packs can also be applied to the painful area.

  • Medications: For back pain that is not treated well by over-the-counter painkillers, NSAIDs may be prescribed. Codeine or hydrocodone, as well as muscle relaxers, may be used for short periods. These drugs require careful monitoring by a doctor.

  • Physical Therapy: Back muscles and soft tissues may be relieved with heat, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and some muscle-releasing techniques.

As the pain improves, the physical therapist may introduce stretches and exercises specific to the back and abdominal muscles. He may also introduce techniques to strengthen the spine and improve posture.

  • Cortisone injections: The cortisone injections can be used only if other options have not worked. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory drug. It reduces inflammation around the nerve roots.

  • Traction: Stretching the back with pulleys and weights may result in the repositioning of a herniated disk. It may also relieve pain, but only while applying traction.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT aims to promote new ways of thinking and maintain a positive attitude to effectively manage chronic back pain. Studies show that patients with CBT work more actively and do exercise, resulting in a lower risk of back pain recurrence.

  • Complementary therapies: The use of complementary therapies is not limited to traditional medicine.

  • An osteopath is a medical specialty that treats skeletal and muscular problems.
    • A chiropractor specializes in treating joint, muscle, and bone problems.
    • A Shiatsu therapist applies pressure with their fingertips, thumbs, and elbows along energy lines in the body. Shiatsu can also be known as finger pressure therapy.
    • Acupuncture. In an acupuncture treatment, needles are inserted into specific points on a patient’s body to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers. Acupuncture can also stimulate nerve and muscle tissue.
    • Yoga. A variety of movements poses, and breathing exercises are done in yoga. It is important not to overdo the exercises and make the back pain worse. Yoga helps strengthen the back muscles and improve posture.

Exercises to help your back pain

The best way to reduce back pain is to choose an activity you enjoy; you will be more likely to stick to it. Many types of exercise have been proven to help with back pain. Examples include:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Going to the gym

According to research, a 12-week yoga program can be beneficial in helping people with low back pain live an active lifestyle and manage their health conditions better.

The feeling of discomfort and pain you may experience at the beginning of exercise is normal. These feelings should fade away within a few minutes after you finish. It is not a sign that you have injured yourself. Exercise will reduce that pain and will help you manage your back pain better. It is important to not overdo it when you exercise. If you experience pain that is unbearable during or after the exercise you should speak to a doctor. The key is to start slowly and to build up gradually.

Asthma- Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Asthma: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Asthma is a common disease in which a person faces some difficulty in breathing. It can usually be managed with rescue inhalers that clear the airways of breathing so that a person can breathe properly.

What is Asthma? 

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the airways and creates difficulty in breathing. It causes swollen airways and wheezing and can make people hard to breathe. Many triggers of asthma include exposure to an allergen or irritant, exercise, viruses, emotional stress, and various other factors.

Asthma attacks can make the walls of the airways, or the bronchial tubes, become swollen and inflamed. In an asthma attack, the airways of the lungs will swell, the muscles around the airways will tighten, and it becomes difficult for the air to move in and out of the lungs.

An asthma attack mostly begins when the symptoms of asthma become more severe. Asthma attacks can start suddenly and range from mild to high or life-threatening.

In some cases, swelling in the airways can prevent oxygen from reaching out the lungs. This means that oxygen cannot enter the bloodstream and reach through the vital organs. Therefore, people that experience severe symptoms need urgent medical attention.

A person with asthma may experience some symptoms like:

  • tightness in the chest
  • wheezing
  • breathlessness
  • coughing
  • increased mucus production 

Types of Asthma 

Asthma occurs in different types. Different types of asthma are classified by the time when attacks occur.

  • Intermittent asthma: In most people symptoms of asthma occur between intervening symptom-free periods. In some cases, the asthmatic symptoms resolve spontaneously. The symptom-free periods are usually quite long.

In such patients, viral infections of the respiratory tract like those which cause the cold are a common trigger of asthma symptoms. This is often very true in small children between 2-5 years of age who may get 8-12 viral colds and coughs a year. 

  • Seasonal allergic asthma: Seasonal allergic asthma is all about seasonal changes and has been observed in response to the seasonal release of allergens such as pollens that occur in the environment.

Mold spores are another common reason behind seasonal asthma. It’s important to know how your local climate and air allergen levels vary from season to season to determine whether you have this kind of asthma and prevent it by appropriate measures. 

  • Non-seasonal allergic asthma: In this case, exposure to cold or dry air, dust, pet hair, or pollen may set off an acute attack of asthma. additionally, there’s another kind of allergic asthma in which the asthma triggers aren’t associated with the season, but could also be due to a hyper-reaction of the airway mucosa to things that aren’t typically allergenic.

These include viruses, air pollutants or irritants like tobacco smoke or paint fumes, changes in the weather, heavy exercise, and certain chemicals in food or drugs. 

  • Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB): This term of asthma is used when a bout of exercise is followed by a narrowing of the airways. It may be found in up to 80% of individuals with asthma.

However, not all cases of Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction are found in asthma patients. It’s thought to be caused by the dehydration and/or heating up that happens with strenuous physical activity in a dry climate. In children with asthma, it’s often the first symptom to develop. 

  • Occupational asthma: In this form, the symptoms are worsened by chemical irritants or dust in the air. Pre-existing asthma can also lead to worse with such exposure to chemicals.

Related to the nature of an asthma patient may include the time of earliest symptoms coinciding with a change of workplace, an improvement in symptoms due to leaving the workplace, and the occurrence of breathing difficulty due to workplace chemicals. There are more than 250 occupational asthma triggers or promoters. 

  • Chronic asthma: It is also called persistent asthma, this condition is defined by daily symptoms or those which recur several times in a week. The intensity of symptoms may be quite variable, but there are not any long periods without symptoms.

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Acute chronic exacerbations may supervene at a time upon the chronic course of the disease. These could also be traced in some cases to seasonal increases in air allergens or viral pathogens that provoke airway inflammation. 

  • Adult-onset asthma: Most of the cases of asthma begin in childhood, but in many patients, the primary symptoms appear only in their adult life. Many people were not exposed to potential triggers for their asthma until they became adults.

For instance, they’re exposed to a house pet when their roommate brings one home, or they start to work in an environment containing chemical fumes, that trigger their latent hypersensitivity. It could even be a viral infection that triggers an asthmatic reaction for the first time in adulthood. 

What are the symptoms of asthma? 

The common symptoms of Asthma are:

  • Wheezing, a whistling sound created while you breathe
  • Coughing, especially at nights or during exercise
  • Increased mucus production
  • Pain or pressure
  • Losing sleep
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty talking
  • Anxiousness or panic
  • Fatigue 

What causes asthma? 

The exact cause of asthma is not known. Healthcare providers do not know the cause of asthma in some people while others don’t. But certain factors show a higher risk.

  • Allergies: Having certain allergies can increase the risk of developing asthma. 
  • Environmental factors: Infants can develop asthma after inhaling the things that irritate the airways. These substances include allergens, smoke, and a few viral infections. They will harm infants and young children whose immune systems haven’t finished developing or whose immune system is weak. 
  • Genetics: People with a family history of asthma will have a higher risk of the disease. 
  • Respiratory infections: Various respiratory infections, such as a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Common cold may damage young children’s lungs.
  • Physical activity.
  • Strong emotions and stress.
  • Certain medications, including aspirin, beta-blockers, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
  • Sulfites and other preservatives are added to various types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, wine, and beer. 

Risk Factors of Asthma 

Various factors are included to increase the chances of developing asthma. These are:

  • Having a blood relation with asthma, like a parent or with siblings
  • Having another allergic condition, like atopic dermatitis which causes red, itchy skin, or hay fever that causes a runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes
  • Being overweight
  • Being a smoker
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Exposure to fumes or other kinds of pollution
  • Exposure to chemical triggers, like chemicals used in farming, hairdressing, and manufacturing 

How is asthma diagnosed? 

The doctors will use some tests to diagnose asthma. Some tests show how well your lungs work. Others can tell if you’re allergic to pollen, mold, or other things.

All of these asthma tests help your doctor decide if you have asthma and other conditions that usually come with it, like allergies, GERD, and sinusitis.

Physical Exam:

You need to undergo some physical exam tests to diagnose asthma.

  • Look at your nose, throat, and upper airways if there are any kinds of swelling or other complications.
  • They use a stethoscope to listen for a whistling sound when you breathe.
  • They will check your skin for allergy symptoms like eczema or hives.

Medical History: 

Your doctor will ask a few questions to understand your symptoms and their causes.  Be ready to answer questions on your family history, the medicines you’re taking, and your lifestyle. This includes any current physical problems related to your health. Shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and tightness in your chest may show asthma.

This also includes all previous medical conditions. A family history of allergies or eczema may increase your chance of getting asthma. A case history of asthma, allergies, or eczema increases your chance of getting asthma, too. Tell your doctor about everything, home or work exposure to environmental factors that may worsen asthma.

For example, these might include pollen, pet dander,  dust mites, and tobacco smoke. The doctor can also ask if you get chest symptoms when you get a common cold.

Lung Function Tests: 

To diagnose asthma, doctors may prescribe you to take one or more breathing tests known as lung function tests. These tests measure breathing. Lung function tests are often done before and after taking a medication called a bronchodilator to open your airways, such as albuterol.

  • Spirometry: This test estimates the narrowing of your airways by checking what proportion of air you can exhale after a deep breath and how fast you can breathe out.
  • Peak flow: A peak flow meter is a simple device that measures how hard you can exhale. less than usual peak flow readings are a sign that your lungs might not be working as well and that your asthma may be getting worse. Your doctor will provide you with instructions on tracking and dealing with low peak flow readings.

Additional tests: 

Some other tests to diagnose asthma.

  • Methacholine challenge: It is known as asthma triggers. When inhaled, it will cause your airways to narrow down. If you react to the methacholine, you will likely have asthma. 
  • Imaging tests: In this, a chest X-ray helps identify any structural abnormalities or diseases that cause problems in breathing. 
  • Allergy testing: It can be performed by a skin or blood test. If allergy triggers are identified in the test, your doctor may recommend allergy shots. 
  • Nitric oxide test: This is used to measure the amount of the gas nitric oxide in your breath. 
  • Sputum eosinophils: This is a test that looks for white blood cells in the mixture of saliva and mucus you discharge during coughing. White blood cells or eosinophils are present when symptoms develop and become visible when stained in a rose-colored dye.
  • Provocative testing: This test will measure your airway obstruction before and after you perform any physical activity. 

How is asthma treated? 

There is generally no cure for asthma but various methods are available to treat or control asthma for the long term these are:

The most important ones for asthma are inhalers, they are also called lifesavers for asthma patients. Inhalers are the devices that let you breathe.

  • Inhalers: Inhalers can help to relieve symptoms when they occur, or can stop symptoms from developing. 
  • Reliever inhalers: Most people with asthma are going to be given a reliever inhaler. you use a reliever inhaler to treat your symptoms once they occur. they should relieve your symptoms within a couple of minutes. 
  • Preventer inhalers: If you need to use a reliever inhaler often, you’ll also need a preventer inhaler. you use a preventer inhaler daily to reduce the inflammation and sensitivity of your airways, which stops your symptoms from occurring. it is vital to use it even when you don’t have symptoms. 

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  • Combination inhalers: Usage of reliever and preventer inhalers does not control your asthma, you may need an inhaler that combines both. Combination inhalers are used every day to help to stop symptoms from occurring and give long-lasting relief if they occur. 
  • Medications or Tablets: If inhalers are not working then you may use the tablets with the inhalers. 
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs): These are the main tablets used in the treatment of asthma. They also come in syrup and powder form. You take them every day to help you to stop your symptoms from occurring. 
  • Theophylline: These tablets are used when other treatments are not helping to control your symptoms. It is prescribed to take every day. 
  • Steroid tablets: Steroid tablets are used when other treatments and tablets do not work. 
  • Other treatments: Other treatments may use if any of these medications are not working. 
  • Injections: The main injections for asthma are:
    • bevacizumab (Fasenra)
    • omalizumab (Xolair)
    • mepolizumab (Nucala)
    • reslizumab (Cinqaero)

These medicines are referred to as biologic therapies. They’re not suitable for everyone with asthma and may only be prescribed by an asthma specialist. 

  • Surgery: A bronchial thermoplasty is offered as a treatment for severe asthma. 
  • Complementary therapies: Several therapies are suggested for the treatment of asthma.
    • breathing exercise
    • traditional Chinese herbal medicine
    • acupuncture
    • ionizers
    • manual therapies
    • homeopathy 

Can asthma be prevented?

Well, there is no way to prevent asthma, but some prevention can control the occurrence of asthma.

  • Follow your asthma action plan.
  • Get vaccinated for influenza and pneumonia.
  • Identify and avoid asthma triggers.
  • Monitor your breathing.
  • Identify and treat attacks early.
  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • Pay attention to increasing quick-relief inhaler use. 

What are the complications of asthma? 

For most people with asthma, medicines can control the disease and stop occurring serious problems. However, this isn’t always the same case for people with severe asthma. Severe asthma generally means asthma that’s resistant to treatment. Those people whose having severe asthma typically use a high-dose inhaled corticosteroid plus another long-term control medicine. Despite this, their asthma remains difficult to regulate. Here are some severe asthma complications.

  • Severe asthma symptoms can disrupt daily life.
  • Severe asthma can disrupt sleep.
  • Severe asthma can lead you to visits the emergency room and hospitalizations. 
Arthritis: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Arthritis: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Arthritis is a common disease mostly affecting older and adults. It usually affects your joints by causing pain and inflammation. It can develop in both men and women, and in children of any age. Let’s understand in detail.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a common disease of inflammation of the joints. It can affect one or multiple joints. There are various types of arthritis, with different causes and conditions. Some common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The symptoms of arthritis may also appear suddenly or usually develop over time. Arthritis is commonly seen in adults and old age, but it can also develop in children, teens, and younger adults. It is most commonly seen in women than men and in people who are overweight.

Arthritis may cause permanent joint changes. And these changes are quite visible in the body, like knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the lungs, kidneys, heart, eyes, and skin, most importantly the joints.

Arthritis is very common in the areas of the body below:

  • Feet
  • Knees
  • Hands
  • Hips
  • Lower back

Types of Arthritis

There are five common types of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is considered to be the most common type of arthritis. It includes “wear and tear” damage to the joint’s cartilage (the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint). Cartilage helps to protect the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, but enough damage may result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricts movement.
    • Symptoms:
      • Deep, aching pain.
      • Having some trouble in combing hair, dressing, gripping things, bending over, squatting, or climbing stairs, depending on which joints are involved.
      • Morning stiffness typically lasts less than half-hour.
      • Pain when walking.
      • Stiffness after resting.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is the most painful type of arthritis; it can affect joints as well as other surrounding tissues, including organs. This inflammatory and autoimmune disease attacks healthy cells by mistake, causing painful swelling in the joints, like hands, wrists, and knees. This tissue damage can cause chronic, loss of balance, long-lasting pain, or physical changes and affect surrounding tissues, like the lungs, heart, or eyes.
    • Symptoms:
      • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in elbows, shoulders, hands, wrists, feet, jaw, and neck.
      • It usually affects multiple joints.
      • More than one swollen joint.
      • Morning stiffness can last for an hour or even for the whole day.
      • Symmetrical pattern.

  • Psoriatic Arthritis: People with this condition have inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (arthritis) that’s why it is called Psoriatic Arthritis. Psoriasis arthritis causes patchy, raised, red, and white areas of inflamed skin with scales. It mainly affects the tips of the knees, the elbows, the navel, the scalp, and skin around the genital areas or anus.
    • Symptoms:
      • Swelling in the fingers and toes.
      • Fingernails are pitted or discolored, too.
      • It usually affects one or a few joints.

  • Lupus: Lupus is like rheumatoid arthritis as it is an autoimmune and inflammatory arthritic disease. But it is different in other means, this type of arthritis can last for a long time and is also triggered when the body’s immune system begins to attack healthy, normal tissue. This inflammation and swelling can cause damaged joints, kidneys, and even blood.
    • Symptoms:
      • Headaches, fatigue.
      • Painful, swollen joints.
      • Swelling in the hands, legs, or around the eyes.
      • Mouth sores.
      • Sun sensitivity.
      • Hair loss.
      • Rashes, across the cheeks.
      • Chest pain.

  • Gout: Gout is also one of the most painful types of arthritis caused by a buildup, overflow, or inability to process uric acid. In this the symptoms come on quickly and acutely, starting on your big toe. These arthritis attacks can last from 3 -10 days but can occur months or maybe years apart. Left unmanaged, the problem of gout can become more severe, may occur more frequently, and may damage your joints and kidneys.
    • Symptoms:
      • Intense joint pain in the toe, ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, or fingers.
      • Inflammation and redness in the joints.
      • Hard to move.

What are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

The symptoms may vary from person to person. But if you think that you have arthritis, you will almost certainly have symptoms relating to your joints, such as:

  • Pain in the joints, fingers, hands, ankle, back, muscles, neck, or wrist
  • Swelling in a joint
  • Redness and warmth in a joint
  • Redness of the skin around the joint.
  • Stiffness or reduced movement of a joint
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty walking

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Most of the people who had arthritis notice their symptoms are worse in the morning. Some people also get other problems outside the joints. Other common symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling unwell
  • Fatigue

What Causes Arthritis?

The causes of various forms of arthritis are not fully known. Most types of arthritis are thought to be caused by a discontinuous immune system that causes the body to attack its tissues in the joints. This may be inherited genetically.

Other types of arthritis are often caused by problems with the immune system or by a metabolic condition, like gout.

Some environmental factors that may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis include:

  • Obesity, which puts added strain on joints
  • Activities that involve repetitive movements of a specific joint
  • Previous damage to a joint, like from a sports injury
  • You are also more likely to develop arthritis if you smoke and if you do not do enough physical activity.

Arthritis caused by an infection is named ‘reactive arthritis’. it is very difficult to diagnose and can develop at any age, but is more commonly seen in younger people. Reactive arthritis can last between a couple of weeks to six months.

Risk factors of Arthritis

Certain risk factors are associated with arthritis:

  • Non-modifiable arthritis risk factors:
    • Age: the risk of developing most forms of arthritis increases with age.
    • Sex: arthritis is more common in females, and almost 60 percent of all people with arthritis are female. But Gout is more common in males than females.
    • Lifestyle: the risk of arthritis is dependent upon the lifestyle. Lack of exercise and bad habits like smoking, drinking can increase your risk of arthritis.
    • Genetic factors: specific genes are associated with a higher risk of certain kinds of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

  • Modifiable arthritis risk factors:
    • Overweight and obesity: excessive weight can directly contribute to both the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
    • Joint injuries: damage to a joint can contribute to the growth of osteoarthritis in the joint.
    • Infection: many microbial agents can infect joints and trigger the development of various types of arthritis.
    • Occupation: various occupations that include repetitive knee bending and squatting are related to osteoarthritis of the knee.

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

Depending on the type of arthritis suspected in your body, doctors may suggest some of the diagnostic tests for the diagnosis of arthritis.

  • Laboratory Tests: The analysis of various forms of body fluids can help pinpoint the type of arthritis you may have. Fluids will be analyzed including blood, urine, and joint fluid. To get a sample of the joint fluid, the doctor will cleanse and numb that part before inserting a needle in your joint space to withdraw some fluid.

  • Imaging: This is used to detect problems within your joint that may be causing your symptoms.

  • X-Rays: A radiograph (x-ray) uses a low dose of radiation to form images of internal structures. X-rays show the structure of the bones and the way they interact with each other at the joints. they’re useful to evaluate the amount of cartilage at the ends of the bones, deformities and underlying conditions within the bones that may cause arthritis, and changes in the bones that may be damaged from arthritis.

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  • Computerized tomography (CT): In this, the scanners take the X-rays from different angles and combine the information to create cross-sectional views of internal structures. It can visualize both- the bone and the surrounding soft tissues.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a combination of radio waves and a strong magnetic field. It can produce more detailed cross-sectional views of soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.
    • Ultrasound: The last test is ultrasound in which high-frequency sound waves are used to image soft tissues, cartilage, and fluid-containing structures near the joints. Ultrasound is also used to guide the needle placement for joint aspirations and injections.

Complications of Arthritis

Possible complications of arthritis are:

  • A rapid, complete breakdown of cartilage leading to loose tissue material in the joint
  • Bone death (osteonecrosis).
  • Fractures (hairline crack within the bone)
  • Bleeding inside the joint.
  • Infection in the joint.
  • Deterioration of the tendons and ligaments around the joint, resulting in the loss of stability.
  • Pinched nerve.
  • Premature heart disease- higher risk for developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • Obesity
  • Rheumatoid arthritis RA can make work difficult.

Treatments of Arthritis

There’s no cure for arthritis, but some treatments can help you control the condition. Your treatment of arthritis will depend on the severity, its symptoms, and your overall health.

  • Medications: The medications may vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Commonly used arthritis medications include:
    • Painkillers: Painkillers are generally used to reduce pain. But they do not affect inflammation.
    • Counterirritants: Some kinds of creams and ointments contain menthol or capsaicin. rubbing these preparations on the skin over your joints may interfere with the transmission of pain signals from the joint itself.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): It is used to reduce body pain and inflammation.
    • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): These drugs are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, they slow or stop your immune system from attacking your joints.
    • Biologic response modifiers: Normally used in conjunction with Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs DMARDs, biologic response modifiers are genetically engineered drugs that focus on various protein molecules that are involved in the immune response.
    • Corticosteroids: It reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system. These drugs can be taken orally as prescribed or can be injected directly into the painful joint by professionals.

  • Therapies: Physical therapy can be helpful in arthritis. Exercises can improve health and improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding joints.

  • Surgery: If the therapies and medications could help then the last option is to treat arthritis is surgery.
    • Joint Repair: This type of procedure can be performed arthroscopically through small incisions over the joint.

  • Joint Replacement: In this method, your damaged joint is replaced with the artificial one. Mostly hips and knee joints have been replaced.

  • Joint Fusion: Joint fusion can be used for smaller joints, such as those in the wrist, ankle, and fingers. It removes the ends of the two bones in the joint and then attached those ends until they heal into one rigid unit.

Atherosclerosis- Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Atherosclerosis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Atherosclerosis is a common disease associated with aging. Why does this happen? This happens when arteries become hard and narrow because of the fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the wall of the arteries that block the blood flow into the body.

This all because of the buildup of plaque which consists of cholesterol, calcium, fat, and other substances, that can harden over time.

What Is Atherosclerosis? 

Atherosclerosis is a narrowing, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries caused by a buildup of plaque. Arteries are the long and narrow blood vessels that spread all over the body that carry oxygen and nutrients from our heart and transfer them to the rest of our body.

As we grow old, fats, cholesterol, and calcium collect in our arteries and form plaque. The formation of plaque in arteries makes it difficult for the blood to flow through the arteries. This buildup may occur in any artery in our body, including our heart, legs, and kidneys.

It can lead to a shortage of blood and oxygen in various tissues of your body. Pieces of plaque in arteries may also break-offs sometimes, causing a blood clot. If left untreated, atherosclerosis can cause heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

This is a common problem, mainly occurring with aging. This condition can be prevented and lots of successful treatment options exist. 

Types of Atherosclerosis 

Atherosclerosis is one of the most common and important patterns of arteriosclerosis because its consequence can be a harmful clot in the blood that may cause a heart attack or stroke or heart failure or disease of the peripheral blood vessels. There are mainly three types of Arteriosclerosis.

1. Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a type of Arteriosclerosis that typically doesn’t produce symptoms until the vessel’s luminal diameter has been decreased by 70 to 80 percent. Chest pain or  Angina pectoris brought on by exertion, are often caused by this blockage of the lumen.

In this condition, a person’s arteries may still have enough space for blood to travel when the person is at rest, but, when he or she works hard, the regulation of blood will increase therefore the heart pumps more blood, and the blocked arteries are unable to accommodate the extra blood, resulting in poor oxygenation and chest pain.

2. Monckeberg medial calcific sclerosis: Monckeberg medial calcific sclerosis is the third type of arteriosclerosis and is known for the deposition of calcium in muscular arteries in people over age 50.

While these calcifications could also be seen with imaging technologies, like X-ray, or maybe palpable, they do not decrease the size and dimensions of the arterial lumen. This can not be considered a clinically significant disease and doesn’t generally cause events such as heart attacks. 

3. Arteriolosclerosis: Arteriolosclerosis affects small arteries and arterioles which are very small arteries. It involves hardening of the walls of the vessel that narrows the lumen. It is almost like atherosclerosis within the larger vessels, the method of arteriolosclerosis can cause ischemia or insufficient blood flow to organs supplied by the blocked vessels.

Arteriolosclerosis is most frequently seen in those who have diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure, although it’s also a normal part of aging. 

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis 

Atherosclerosis is a common disease with aging, it usually affects older people, but not all people with old age need to have atherosclerosis. Also, it can start to develop in adolescence. They don’t show any symptoms until a bit of plaque ruptures, or the blood flow disrupts.

The symptoms of atherosclerosis depend upon the arteries that are affected.

Carotid arteries

The function of carotid arteries is to supply blood to the brain. Atherosclerosis can restrict blood supply which can lead to a stroke.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Weakness
  • Major headache
  • Facial numbness
  • Sometimes paralysis also has been seen 

Coronary arteries 

The role of coronary arteries is to supply blood to the heart. When the function is disrupted, the heart fails to work that can cause angina and heart attack.

Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Feeling of vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Faintness
  • Extreme anxiety

Renal arteries 

The role of renal arteries is to supply blood to the kidneys. If the blood supply to the kidneys becomes limited, chronic kidney disease may develop.

A person which experiences chronic kidney disease may experience some symptoms are:

  • Swellings in the hands and feet
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty in concentration

Peripheral arteries

The function of peripheral arteries is to supply blood to the arms, legs, and pelvis. If the supply of blood is restricted then a person may have a risk of a stroke or heart attack.

Symptoms include:

  • Facial numbness
  • Pain in limbs
  • Tissue death
  • Gangrene may occur

If a person has any of these symptoms due to any of the arteries, they need immediate medical attention. 

Causes of Atherosclerosis 

Atherosclerosis is a slowly progressive disease that grows up in childhood or adolescence and shows symptoms in older age. The exact cause of the atherosclerosis is still not known. Atherosclerosis first damages the inner layer of an artery. The damage may be caused by various conditions that include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High triglycerides, it is a type of fat or lipid in your blood
  • High cholesterol
  • It May caused by smoking and tobacco
  • Insulin resistance, obesity, or diabetes
  • Inflammation is caused by diseases like arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or inflammatory bowel disease.

When the wall of an artery is ruptured, the blood cells and other fluid substances may clump at the injury site and build up a hard inner lining of the artery.

Similarly, with time, fatty deposits which are called plaque made from cholesterol and other cellular products also build up at the wound and harden, narrowing your arteries. The organs and tissues connected to the blocked arteries now don’t receive enough blood to function properly.

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At the same time, some pieces of the fatty deposits may break off and enter your bloodstream into the blood. Besides, the smooth lining of the plaque may be damaged, then the cholesterol and other substances directly go into your bloodstream.

This might cause a blood clot, which may block the arteries and the blood flow to a specific part of your body, and when the blood supply is not appropriate then the heart may cause a heart attack. That blood clot also may travel to other parts of your body, blocking flow to a different organ. 

Risk Factors 

Narrowing and hardening of the arteries occur over time. Besides aging, there are some other factors that will increase your risk of atherosclerosis include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Bodyweight
  • High levels of CRP, a marker of inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Smoking and other tobacco use
  • A family history of early heart condition
  • Lack of exercise
  • An unhealthy diet 

Diagnosis of Atherosclerosis 

Diagnosis of atherosclerosis includes some tests, firstly you need to perform a physical exam in which the doctor asks you a few questions related to your family history and your health. You need to see a doctor specialized in heart diseases (cardiologist).

Depend on your physical exam, the result may suggest one or more tests, including:

  • Blood Tests: The doctor will advise on the blood tests to examine your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. High levels of blood sugar and cholesterol raise your risk of atherosclerosis. A CRP test (c-reactive protein test) also could be done to check for a protein linked to inflammation of the arteries.
  • ECG (Electrocardiogram) or EKG: This is used to record the electrical signals in your heart.
  • Echocardiogram: Sound waves can be used to record the movement of blood flow when the heartbeat, also through the arteries.
  • Exercise Stress Test: If signs and symptoms occur most often during exercise, then the doctor may recommend an exercise stress test. In the test, you have to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike while you’re connected to an ECG. Because exercise makes your heart pump harder and faster than it does during most daily activities, an exercise check can reveal problems within your heart that might rather be missed. If you’re unable to exercise, you’ll be given a medication that mimics the effect of exercise on your heart.
  • Doppler ultrasound: In this test, a special ultrasound device (Doppler ultrasound) is used to measure the blood pressure at various points along your arm or leg. These measurements can help to determine the degree of any blockages, as well as the speed of blood flow in your arteries.
  • Ankle-brachial index (ABI): In an ABI test, a doctor compares the blood pressure in an ankle with the blood pressure in an arm. An abnormal difference could also be a sign of peripheral vascular disease, which is usually caused by atherosclerosis. This test can tell if a person has atherosclerosis in the arteries in the legs and feet.
  • Cardiac catheterization and angiogram: In this procedure, a doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube which is called a catheter into a blood vessel and to your heart. The dye flows through the catheter. Because the dye fills your arteries, the arteries will appear on X-ray, revealing areas of blockage. The test can show only if your coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked.
  • Coronary calcium scan: It is basically a heart scan, this uses a CT scan (computerized tomography) to create a detailed structure of a heart. This test can show calcium deposits in the artery walls. The result will be given a score and the higher the score the higher will be the chance of heart disease.
  • Other imaging tests: There are various other imaging tests for the diagnosis of arteriosclerosis such as magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or positron emission tomography (PET) to study your arteries. 

Prevention for Atherosclerosis 

The prevention for atherosclerosis are:

Quit Smoking: Smoking is injurious to health, everyone must have heard this. But it’s true quitting smoke is the first step you can take to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and other heart disease risk factors. Smoking is the direct cause of illness and death. Cigarette smoke contains numerous toxic chemicals that enter your bloodstream and harm your body.

These chemicals can raise the risk of atherosclerosis in different ways that include:

  • Blood coagulation
  • Inflammation in arteries 

Eats Healthily: A healthy diet is a part of your healthy life. It is also a risk factor of atherosclerosis, and heart disease generally. A healthy diet includes vitamins, protein, iron, calcium that you get from fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, fish, and poultry, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes (dried beans and peas).

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This healthy food contains:

  • Vegetables: Vegetables are a good choice as they contain high amounts of iron, protein, etc. Green vegetables are rich in iron and calcium and are included in almost all diets. 
  • Fruits: Fruits contain a high amount of water which is very essential for our body. Avoid fruits that contain sugar or frozen ones with sugar added to it. 
  • Grains: Whole grains are high fiber protein food that includes:
    • Whole-grain bread and wraps
    • High-fiber cereals
    • Whole-grain pasta
    • Oatmeal
    • Brown rice
    • Barley
    • Quinoa 
  • Dairy products: Dairy products are rich in vitamins, minerals, calcium, proteins, etc. It includes low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
  • Oils and fats: Fats are important to include in a healthy diet. Healthy fats sources are:
    • Nuts and nut butter
    • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame)
    • Avocados
    • Olive, canola, sesame, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils 
  • Exercise daily: Exercise is also as important as taking a healthy meal. Exercise is good for your heart, body. Physical activity can help your muscles to stretch and use oxygen more effectively, and also improves blood circulation by promoting new blood vessel growth. It can also lower high blood pressure that is a key risk factor for atherosclerosis. 30 minutes of exercise is enough for all-day to stay active.

Aerobic is a good choice in physical exercise that raises your heart and breathing rate. Exercise includes:

  • Walking
  • Running or jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Jumba 
  • Keep Track of Your Numbers: While you can not control it but you can regularly take body measurements to correspond to the risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease such as:
    • Blood pressure
    • Blood cholesterol level
    • Bodyweight
    • Blood sugar level 

Treatment for Atherosclerosis (Medication and Complications) 

Complications of atherosclerosis include:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Coronary or carotid heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysms
  • Angina
  • Unusual heart rhythms

Treatments for atherosclerosis include:

  • Medications: Medications can slow down the effect of arteriosclerosis because it includes drugs for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They could also decrease the risk of heart disease. 
  • Lifestyle Changes: You can slow down arteriosclerosis by taking proper care and following the risk factors effectively. Lifestyle changes include: proper healthy diet, exercise daily, no smoking, etc. They cannot help to remove the blockage but can help to lower the risk. Other techniques that is used for the people who having major symptoms include:
  • Angiography and stenting: In this method, a doctor puts a thin tube into an artery in your leg or in your arm to get to diseased arteries. Blockages will be visible on a live X-ray screen. Angioplasty and stenting can often open a blocked artery by this method. Stenting helps to ease symptoms, but it doesn’t prevent heart attacks and strokes. 
  • Bypass surgery: In this technique, the doctor takes a healthy blood vessel from your leg or chest, and uses the vessel to go around the blocked section. 
  • Endarterectomy: Endarterectomy is a technique in which a doctor goes into the arteries to remove plaque and restore the flow of blood in the arteries. 
  • Fibrinolytic therapy: In this method, a doctor puts a drug that dissolves a blood clot that’s blocking your artery.
What Is Alzheimer's Disease - Basics, Symptoms, Causes, Cure, Stages

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease: Basics, Symptoms, Causes, Cure, Stages

No disease is a good disease, you should treat them before it gets complicated. Alzheimer’s is a progressive dementia disease.

Dementia is a complex term used for the symptoms of mental decline that interfere with a person’s daily life. It is not a part of normal aging. It is a memory loss disease that gets worse over time. Let’s understand it in detail. 

What is Alzheimer’s Disease? 

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition. It’s one of the foremost common kinds of dementia in older people, basically means a group of symptoms that cause a decline in mental function severe enough to disrupt lifestyle.

Alzheimer’s disease can create problems with a person’s memory and skill to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and perform daily activities.

It was first identified in 1907 by the German physician Alois Alzheimer, the illness afflicts about 5 million Americans. An estimated one in 9 adults aged 65 and older lives with the disease.

The actual reason for Alzheimer’s disease isn’t yet fully identified, although several things are thought to extend your risk of developing the condition.

These include:

  • Increasing age
  • A family history of this condition
  • Untreated depression, although depression can also be one of all the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lifestyle factors and conditions related to cardiovascular disease 

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease 

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease in which the symptoms get worse over time. Loss of memory is the major symptom of this disease.

The symptoms of Alzheimer disease include: 

  • Memory loss: In this disease, a person faces some problems in remembering new and previous things. Memory loss is a major issue, this can lead to:
    • Forget things quickly
    • Repeated conversation
    • Losing objects
    • Getting lost all the time 
  • Problems in recognition: A person with Alzheimer’s may have various problems in recognition. The person may become less able to recognize faces or objects. This is because of weak eyesight. 
  • Problems with speaking, reading, or writing: A person may develop severe difficulties with thinking of some common words, or they’ll make more speech, spelling, or writing errors. 
  • Cognitive deficits: A person may sometimes have difficulties in making judgments of simple tasks or complex tasks. This will lead to:
    • a reduced understanding of safety and risks
    • difficulty with money or paying bills
    • difficulty in making decisions
    • difficulty in completing any tasks that have several stages, like getting dressed or doing some work. 
  • Behavior changes: A person may experience several changes in their personality and behavior that include:
    • becoming upset suddenly, angry, or worried more often than before
    • Depression, mood swings
    • Changes in sleeping time
    • a loss of interest in or motivation for activities that sometimes enjoy
    • a loss of empathy
    • compulsive, obsessive, or socially inappropriate behavior 
  • Problems with spatial awareness: A person may have difficulty with their balance, trip over, or spill things more often, or they’ll have difficulty orienting clothing to their body when they are getting dressed. 

Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease 

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still not identified. Let’s understand in simple words, in this the brain proteins fail to function normally, which creates problems in the working of neurons i.e. brain cells that triggers a series of toxic events. Now the brain cell’s neurons are damaged, and lose connections to each other, and may eventually die.

Scientists believe that in many people, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a mix of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that affect the brain over a period.

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Chances of about 1% that Alzheimer’s is caused by specific genetic changes that virtually guarantee a person will develop the disease. These rare occurrences usually lead to disease onset in middle age.

The damages that Alzheimer’s disease causes most frequently starts in the region of the brain that controls memory, but the process of damaging begins years before the primary symptoms have shown. The loss of neurons spreads to other regions of the brain. At the late stage or the last stage of the disease, the brain has shrunk significantly.

Our scientists and researchers trying to find the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease and are focused on the two proteins:

1. Plagues: Beta-amyloid is a small fragment of a larger protein. When these fragments group together, they like to possess a toxic effect on neurons and disconnect cell-to-cell communication. These groups of fragments form larger deposits called plaques, which also include other cellular debris. 

2. Tangles: Tau proteins play a vital part in a neuron’s internal support and transport system to hold nutrients and other essential materials. In Alzheimer’s disease, tau proteins deform and organize themselves into structures called neurofibrillary tangles. These neurofibrillary tangles disrupt the transport system that creates problems in holding nutrients and are toxic to brain cells. 

Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease 

There are three main stages of Alzheimer’s in which diseases show different symptoms: Mild, Moderate, Major.

Mild Alzheimer’s: Mild Alzheimer’s stage is a first stage that usually lasts from 2 to 4 years. The symptoms are:

  • Having less energy to do things.
  • Less interest in work and social activities and spending more time in just sitting alone, eating, watching TV, or sleeping.
  • Loss of memories, like forgetting recent conversations and events that just happened.
  • Having some language problems, like trouble putting their thoughts into words or understanding others.
  • Mild coordination problems, like trouble, writing, or using familiar objects.
  • A hard time with everyday tasks, like following a recipe or balancing a checkbook.
  • Major mood swings that involve depression or a lack of interest.
  • Having trouble riding and driving, like getting lost on familiar routes.
  • Depression and stress also can cause Alzheimer’s.

Moderate Alzheimer’s: This one is the second stage of Alzheimer’s in which the memory loss gets worse. This can last up to 2-10 years. In this stage, someone can forget details about their life, like where they went to high school or when they got married. The more common symptoms include:

  • Rambling speech.
  • Trouble arising with the correct words and using the incorrect ones.
  • A hard time planning or solving problems.
  • Confusion about time or place. they’ll get lost in places they have been before. Once they’re there, they’ll not know how or why they got to that place.
  • Not dressing for the weather.
  • Gets angry and upset very easily, sometimes lashing out at family or caregivers.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Delusions, like thinking a caregiver is trying to harm them.

Severe Alzheimer’s: This is the last stage also known as late Alzheimer’s. It lasts up to 2-3 years. These includes:

  • Major confusion about what’s happened in the past and what’s happening in the present.
  • Can’t express themselves and their feelings, remember, or process information.
  • Problems in swallowing and control of their bladder and bowels.
  • Weight loss, seizures, skin infections, and other illnesses.
  • Major mood swings.
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling some things that aren’t there, called hallucinations.
  • Can’t move easily on their own. 

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease 

There is no such prevention of Alzheimer’s has been recognized to prevent the disease. But some of the steps may slow or delay the disease from getting worse. The steps are:

  • Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of dementia. Chain Smokers or those who smoked more than half a pack per day may have an increased risk. If you still smoke, it’s not good for you and your family, now is the time to quit smoking. Talk with your doctor and take prescriptions that could work for you. 
  • Do aerobics exercise daily: Exercise is the problem for every solution. Exercise can make your body fit, you will be energetic all day, you feel fresh and light. Aerobics is the best exercise for anyone who wants to get fit with an amazing start. Exercise can reduce the risk of getting any kind of disease same as with Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Maintain a healthy diet: With exercise, we also need to take a healthy diet, without it our workout is not complete. It has been observed that a healthy diet may decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The whole meal should contain:
    • whole grains
    • fruits and vegetables
    • fish and shellfish
    • nuts
    • olive oil
    • other healthy fats 
  • Keep up your mental exercise: Along with physical exercise, mental exercise is also very important. An active brain may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Activities that help to keep the brain active are:
    • Listening music
    • Reading newspapers
    • Playing puzzle games
    • Watching television
    • Visiting museums

Engaging in mental exercises seems to make or contribute to your cognitive reserve. We have to engage our brain in some activities so that it can function properly.

  • Increase your social engagement: Researchers research suggests people who spend most of their time in their immediate home environment are an almost higher chance to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who travel more.

These findings, however, can also reflect the overall health of an individual. Doctors advise that being engaged with your surroundings is good for your mental, physical, and emotional health. 

Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease 

Alzheimer’s is not a part of normal aging. Also, Alzheimer’s doesn’t have any particular symptoms, some of the warning signs to get checked are memory loss, behavioral changes,  trouble with speech, and decision-making.

An early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can give you or your loved one time to plan for the future. You’ll start using some medicines that help people in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s control a number of their symptoms for a while, as well.

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Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has not been introduced yet but they can use some tests to rule out other conditions that might cause the same symptoms.

  • Health History: This is the exam on which the doctor asks some questions about your past and current health. They’ll want to know:
    • Any medical condition you had in the past.
    • Your symptoms create any problems in everyday tasks.
    • Your personal family history like marital status, sexual history, living conditions, etc.
    • Doctors ask some questions to check your mental state.
    • Family history, including all illnesses in the family. 
  • Mini-Mental State Exam: This test is used to test the person’s mental state if problems with the areas of your brain involved in learning, memory, thinking, planning skills, or not. This includes:
    • Problem-solving skills
    • Attention span
    • Counting skills
    • Memory 
  • Precivity AD Test: A proclivity AD test is used to check the protein amount of beta-amyloid and ApoE protein in the blood. The presence or absence of the protein helps to determine the probability of having plaques in the brain that will lead to Alzheimer’s. 
  • Brain imaging tests:
    • CT Scan: A Computer Tomography (CT Scan) is a machine that takes X-rays of your body parts in a very short time. The computer turns the scans into images that look like “slices” through the body. CT scans can show changes in the brain that are common in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. 
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): You are all familiar with the word MRI, but what does it do? MRI makes a clear picture of your whole body using a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer. Tumors can also be detected with the help of MRI. MRI helps the doctors to see any changes in the brain. 
  • Neuropsychological Testing: It is a psychological test that includes the brain means the relationship between the brain and the behavior. Doctors give you a test along with an interview to examine your brain and behavior activities. 
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET): It is a kind of Precivity AD Test that is used to help map areas of your brain. It can detect the plaque areas which are associated with Alzheimer’s.  

Cure and Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease 

As you read in the entire blog, there is no cure and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. But there are things which will be done to keep up quality of life.

The doctor, family, and your beloved can work together to form a care plan. Care plans may include any of the following:

  • These may slow down symptoms for a short time and make the disease easier to live with. These medicines might not work for everyone or have an enormous effect. But most experts think they’re worth a try.
  • Regular visits to doctors to see the person’s response to medicine, look for any problems, see how symptoms are changing, and provide continuing education to the family.
  • Treating other health conditions, like depression or hearing and vision loss.
  • Planning how the person is often as independent as possible and managing his or her own life for as long as possible.

 

Facts You Need to Know About leukemia

Facts You Need to Know About Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

What is leukemia?

Leukemia is a cancer of blood-forming tissues which hinders the body’s ability to fight infection. It is caused by an increase in the number of white blood cells in the human body. These increased white blood cells sideline the platelets and the red blood cells that are required by the human body to be healthy.

Leukemia occurs as a result of malfunctioning of marrow leading to cancerous cell formation. These cells are found to overrun the normal blood cells interfering with the ability of the human body to control bleeding, deliver oxygen to normal working cells, and fight infections. The cancerous cells are known for invading the liver, spleen, and other organs.

What are the symptoms of leukemia?

Various symptoms of leukemia are visible in a patient, there is a possibility that not a single sign is visible in its early stage. However, some of the commonly found symptoms comprise fatigue, fever, bruising, chills, bleeding easily, joint pain, infections that keep returning back, headaches, seizures, vomiting, sweating at night, weight loss, swelling in lymph nodes, and shortness of breath.  

What are the different types of leukemia?

Leukemia is classified by its speed of getting worse and by the blood cell type which is involved in it.  By how fast it develops, leukemia is divided into acute and chronic leukemia. When maximum abnormal blood cells don’t mature and are not able to carry out normal functions, it’s considered acute leukemia. This type of leukemia has a tendency to get worse at an alarmingly increasing rate.

When a human body has a few immature cells while the other cells are working normally, this is termed chronic leukemia. It has a tendency to get worse at a slow rate. The other classification based on the type of blood cells consists of lymphocytic and myelogenous leukemia.

A lymphocytic or lymphoblastic leukemia comprises bone marrow cells that turn into a kind of white blood cell known as lymphocytes. Myelogenous or myeloid leukemia is one that involves marrow cells creating platelets, red blood cells, and various kinds of white blood cells.

Coming to types of leukemia, there are generally four types of leukemia, these are as follows – Acute lymphocytic leukemia, Acute myelogenous leukemia, Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic myelogenous leukemia. Let’s read about what these are.

ALL or Acute lymphocytic leukemia is a common form of leukemia found in children. This leukemia spreads to the central nervous system and lymph nodes. AML or Acute myelogenous leukemia is the second most common form of leukemia found in children. This one is most commonly found in adults.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL has some kinds which are stable for years without any requirement for treatment. But in other kinds of leukemia, the human body is not able to create normal blood cells, and treatment is required.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML doesn’t have any symptoms which are noticeable. A patient might not know that he/she is suffering from it until regular blood tests are run. This type of leukemia is most common in people who are aged 65 years and older.

What’s the difference between chronic and acute leukemia?

Chronic leukemia is one that progresses slowly and is not easily diagnosed until symptoms appear such as enlarged lymph nodes. This type of leukemia may be controlled by using chemotherapy, monoclonal antibodies, and corticosteroids.

The doctor may use transfusions such as platelet transfusions and blood transfusions for treatment. These treatments are used to decrease the platelets and red blood cells. Further, the radiations may help in reducing the size of the lymph nodes.

If you a patient is suffering from CML along with Philadelphia chromosome, the treatment given to you might be tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). These inhibitors block the protein and may also be used for stem cell therapy for replacing the cancerous bone marrow with a healthy one.

People suffering from Acute leukemia are quickly given treatment after the diagnosis is done. This is necessary because cancer may progress at a high rate. The treatments given in this type comprise targeted therapy, chemotherapy, or stem cell therapy which hugely depends on the type of acute leukemia.

The treatment given for acute leukemia is highly intense in the starting. Here, the main aim behind the treatment is to destroy the leukemia cells. There may or may not be any requirement for hospitalization. These types of treatments usually have side effects. Regular bone marrow and blood tests are run to examine the effect of this treatment on killing leukemia cells.

Various mixtures of drugs are used to see what works best in controlling the disease. In this, as soon as the blood returns to its normal state, leukemia goes into remission. However, a few tests will be conducted to see the chances of the return of the cancerous cell. Hope you now know the difference between chronic and acute leukemia.

How is leukemia diagnosed?

There are different types of leukemia that do not show any symptoms in the beginning phase, this is the reason that leukemia is diagnosed accidentally during a general physical exam. This exam may be a routine check-up or blood testing.

Doctors are required to check the symptoms present in the patient to ascertain that it is leukemia. Blood and bone marrow are checked for symptoms through various tests such as blood tests, bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap, and imaging tests.

Blood tests – A blood count or CBC is done to see the number and maturity level of various types of blood cells.

Bone Marrow Biopsy – In this test, the marrow is collected from the pelvic bone with the help of a long needle. This marrow sample when tested shows the kind of leukemia that the patient is suffering from along with its severity level.

Spinal Tap – Spinal tap comprises fluid collected from the spinal cord for examination. This test helps the doctors in knowing how much leukemia has spread inside the body.

Imaging Tests – In this, various scans are done such as CT, PET, and MRI that help in spotting the signs of leukemia.

Why are the tests expensive and are they really needed?

The doctors conduct the bone marrow test to find out the tissue and fluid in the marrow. The diagnosis test and treatment of leukemia are very expensive. An average treatment amount for six months in leukemia costs around 2.5 lacks; the drugs, tests, and treatment methods are rare and require high maintenance which makes it so costly.

These tests are essential as it helps in finding out if cancer has affected the blood cells or marrow. Along with this, it is done to find the extent of the disease. The marrow samples help in determining the blood cell changes even before they are seen in the blood sample itself.

You Can Read Also: GLAUCOMA- CAUSES, TYPES, SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS, AND TREATMENT

A bone marrow test comprises of two steps which are a bone marrow biopsy and a bone marrow aspiration. The bone marrow aspiration is used for removing a liquid marrow sample while a bone marrow biopsy is used for the removal of a small amount of bone that is filled with marrow.

How is leukemia treated?

Due to the advancement in chemotherapy, people are surviving for a longer time as compared to the previous years. A huge success rate has been observed in childhood leukemia, there has been an increase in the five-year survival rate for children with ALL.

In the case of acute leukemia, the instant goal of treatment given is to reach remission. Patients are given chemotherapy in a hospital where they are required to stay to help them reduce infection. As the count of healthy blood cells is extremely low in the case of acute leukemia patients, they are given platelet transfusions and blood to assist in stopping and preventing bleeding.

In this condition, patients are given antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infection. As the treatment given in cancer has side-effects, patients are put on medications to control these. In the case of acute leukemia, patients usually reach remission levels with the help of chemotherapy. This happens when chemotherapy is given as a primary treatment.

To control this disease further, consolidation chemotherapy is given to the patients for keeping the disease under control. This chemotherapy is given for 1-4 months to make the human body get rid of any malignant cells left. Patients diagnosed with ALL are generally given treatment for two years.

Even after complete remission, there are chances that patients suffering from acute myeloid leukemia may require a transplant of allogeneic stem cells. For this transplant, a donor is required who has compatible genetic characteristics and tissue type; in such cases, a family member is preferred. Any unrelated donor or umbilical blood are some of the other donor sources.

There are three stages of cell transplant which are induction, conditioning, and transplantation. Firstly, the white blood cells of the individual suffering are brought under control with the help of chemotherapy. A single dose of chemotherapy may be given to the patient before giving a conditioning regimen of a high dose of chemotherapy.

These therapies are given as they destroy the individual’s bone marrow or any residual leukemia cell that might be present. After this, the donor cells are infused. The patient is kept under observation until the donor marrow starts producing fresh blood cells.

This is necessary as, until the fresh production starts, the patient doesn’t virtually have any blood cells including red cells, white cells, or platelets. This situation may lead to the death of the suffered leading to bleeding or infection.

Once sufficient growth is observed in the donor stem cells in the bone marrow which generally happens in 2 to 6 weeks, a possibility of long-term remission arises. Additionally, chemotherapy is given to the patient who receives medication to treat and prevent graft versus host disease.

In such cases, the donor cells attack the patient’s normal tissue cells. Medical treatment is given to patients to prevent the rejection of the donor stem cells. The other treatment is allogeneic stem cell transplant which is not only expensive but also risky. The reason it is preferred by doctors is that it offers chances of best long-term remission in cases of high-risk AML and some cases of ALL.

In case, the treatments mentioned above don’t show any positive results in children or young adults suffering from B-cell type ALL or if cancer comes back then the doctors may want to try a new kind of treatment which is comprises gene therapy.

By using CART-cell therapy, some immune cells may be reprogrammed so that the cancer is attacked. There are severe side-effects of these treatments, therefore only some of the hospitals and clinics are given the certification to do this treatment.

The other form of leukemia is chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL which is a form that generally affects people of older age. This type of cancer is known for its slow progress and thus the procedure used for its treatment may be conservative.

Not all patients suffering from leukemia require treatment immediately. The ones who need treatment are those who show symptoms that require treatment including the ‘so’ called ‘B’ symptoms of night sweats for 14 consecutive days, fever, or 10% sudden weight loss in six months which is unintentional.

Symptoms other than mentioned above which require treatment are swollen lymph glands, evidence of the failure of bone marrow, and painful swelling in the spleen or liver. One of the treatments of leukemia is oral chemotherapy which is known for effectively controlling the symptoms of CML for many years.

Many cases of CML in the past years have eventually advanced to acute phases even after the treatment was provided. This is the reason that doctors advise bone marrow transplantation in the chronic phase.

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation for CML is one of the treatments which is considered for disease resistance to the treatment of patients in whom the disease has reached the acute phase. There is the drug imatinib or Gleevec which is considered as a radically changed treatment for CML. This is known as a molecular targeting drug as it attacks the genetic alterations that are known for causing white blood cells for out-of-control growth.

Gleevec when given to the patients doesn’t cure CML but may lead to long-term remission and survival of CML. The results provided by this drug have made it superior to the other therapies which were used priorly such as interferon-alpha, hydroxyurea, and busulfan.

There are four drugs comprising bosutinib, nilotinib, ponatinib, and dasatinib which may be used in CML in case leukemia becomes resistant to Gleevec. Nilotinib or Tasigna is FDA approved for its usage in the treatment of CML in the chronic phase.

Dasatinib or Sprycel is another FDA-approved drug that is used for first-line therapy given during the chronic phase of CML. Bosutinib or Bosulif and Iclusig or ponatinib may be used during various phases of CML, this is possible if the patient cannot tolerate or is resistant to various other drugs.

The other drug known as omacetaxine mepesuccinate or Synribo is a drug that is approved for use by those in whom the CML has progressed. This progression must be after treatment of two or more medications have been given to the sufferer.

Why do people with same cancer get different treatments and have different problems?

Patients suffering from the same cancer may or may not receive the same treatment. Several tests are done before ascertaining the treatment to be given to a patient. The treatment chosen depends on the severity of leukemia, its growth, and the patient’s body’s ability to respond to a particular type of treatment.

There is a possibility that one type of medication may show positive recovery results in one patient while showing no sign in the other. In such cases, different treatments are given to different patients.

Every human body is unique in some way and may or may not respond to a situation in the same way as others. This is the reason that people suffer from different problems owing to their family’s medical history, genes, and current medical situations that they might be facing. 

Can a change in diet or lifestyle alter the course of cancer? Can the so-called superfoods available in the market cure cancer?

Cancer is a result of genetic damage caused to cells, this is why it cannot be cured by any change in diet or eating the so-called superfood available in the market. A change in lifestyle may help in preventing cancer but once diagnosed, no lifestyle change can cure it.  

Can blood cancer be cured?

The curability rate of blood cancer is observed to be a little high; with the help of the right treatment and medicines, many patients have got rid of cancer. Many years of research have shown that the chance of survival has improved when it comes to patients suffering from blood cancer.

Reports by the National Institutes of Health state that two-third of people who were diagnosed with leukemia may live up to five years or more. When it comes to Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the curability rate is 85 percent and 70 percent.

Are the side effects of chemotherapy worse than cancer?

When a patient is going through the treatment of cancer, simultaneously he is also given medication for controlling the side effects caused as a result of treatment. Side effects caused during the treatment procedure can be cured and prevented with the help of drugs and therapies. These side effects are generally temporary and end once the treatment is completed.

Can leukemia be prevented?

There is no way to prevent leukemia as such. However, one may avoid tobacco and exposure to various industrial chemicals and pesticides as a precaution.

 

Glaucoma- Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Glaucoma: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Glaucoma is an eye disease that is related to eye disorders. Let’s have a look at a brief description of glaucoma, its types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is related to eye problems. It’s generally a group of eye disorders, it is a complex disease that can damage the optic nerve and can lead to loss of vision. In most cases of glaucoma, fluid material builds up in the front part of the eye. Then this extra fluid puts pressure on the eye, which sends images to your brain. If the damage worsens, it gradually damages the optic nerve. This pressure is called IOP which means intraocular pressure, or eye pressure.

In some cases, people have normal eye pressure and still get glaucoma. Untreated or poorly controlled glaucoma can lead to irreversible and permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years.

Most people with glaucoma don’t show early symptoms or any pain. It’s a good habit to visit your ophthalmologist regularly so that they can diagnose and treat glaucoma before you have long-term vision loss.

If you lose vision due to any disorder, it can’t be brought back. But if you have lowering eye pressure then they can help you to keep the sight you have. Most people with glaucoma who follow their treatment plan and have regular eye check-ups can keep their vision.

What are the Types of Glaucoma?

There are various types of glaucoma. Each type of glaucoma is different from the others, but most of them have no early symptoms or no post symptoms, so it’s important to get tested regularly, especially if you are at higher risk.

Primary Glaucomas:

When the doctors are unable to find out which causes a type of glaucoma, that type is called primary glaucoma.

  • Open-angle glaucoma: Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma according to the National Eye Institute (NEI). It can be called chronic or primary glaucoma also. It doesn’t show any signs or symptoms except gradual vision loss over time. The vision loss may be so slow that your vision may suffer irreparable damage.

    • Treatments: Laser treatment, surgery, medicines

  • Normal-tension glaucoma: It is also known as low-pressure glaucoma. It is also a rare type of glaucoma in which you have blind spots in your vision and your eye pressure isn’t above the normal range but still causes damage to the eye that affects the optic nerve. Many experts believe that this too is like open-angle glaucoma.

    • Treatments: Laser treatment, surgery, medicines

  • Angle-closure glaucoma: It is also called narrow-angle glaucoma or acute angle glaucoma. In this sort of glaucoma, the fringes of the iris (the colored part of your eye) block fluid from draining out of the front of the eye. The fluid builds up quickly, causing an increase in eye pressure. If it’s not treated, acute glaucoma can cause blindness in only a couple of days. 

    • Treatments: Laser treatment, medicines

  • Congenital glaucoma: Congenital glaucoma is not common it is a very rare inherited condition almost 1 in 10,000, that develops due to the incomplete or faulty development of the drainage canals of the eye. It’s mainly a type of disease that occurs in infants and young children due to abnormal development of the drainage angle of the eye. It encompasses a heterogeneous group of diseases.

    • Treatments: Surgery, medicines

Secondary Glaucomas:

Many times glaucoma is caused by some other medical condition then this is called secondary glaucoma.

  • Neovascular glaucoma: Neovascular glaucoma occurs when the eye makes extra blood vessels that cover the part of your eye where fluid would normally drain out. It’s mainly caused by another medical condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure. This kind of glaucoma is hard to treat. Doctors firstly have to treat the underlying cause (like diabetes or high blood pressure) and then use glaucoma treatments to lower the eye pressure that results from it.

    • Treatments: Laser treatment, surgery, medicines

  • Pigmentary glaucoma: Pigment dispersion syndrome or pigmentary glaucoma happens when the color from your iris (the colored part of your eye) flakes off. This loose pigment can block the fluid from draining out of your eye, which may further increase your eye pressure and can cause pigmentary glaucoma. Doctors may treat it by lowering the eye pressure, but it isn’t a proper way to prevent pigment from detaching from the iris.

    • Treatments: Laser treatment, surgery, medicines

  • Exfoliation glaucoma: Exfoliation glaucoma or may be called pseudoexfoliation glaucoma happens in those people most of the time who having exfoliation syndrome, a condition that causes extra material to detach from parts of the eye and block fluid from draining out. This kind of glaucoma can progress faster than primary chronic glaucoma or open-angle glaucoma and sometimes causes higher eye pressure. This means that it is very important for people that are at risk to get eye check-ups regularly.

    • Treatments: Laser treatment, surgery, medicines

  • Uveitic glaucoma: Uveitic glaucoma can happen in those people who have uveitis, a disorder type that causes irritation and swelling in the eye. About 2 in 10 people with uveitis disease will develop uveitic glaucoma. Uveitis can cause inflammation and connective tissue in the middle of the eye. This might damage or block the part of the eye where fluid drains out, causing high eye pressure and resulting in uveitic glaucoma.

    • Treatments: Surgery, medicines

What are the causes of Glaucoma?

The back part of the eye continuously makes a transparent fluid which is called aqueous humor. As this fluid is formed, it fills the front part of your eye. Then, it leaves the part through the channels in the cornea and iris. If these channels are blocked or partially obstructed, it puts the natural pressure in your eye, which is named intraocular pressure (IOP), may increase. As your intraocular pressure increases, it may have the chance to damage your optic nerve. As damage to your nerve progresses, you’ll begin losing sight of your eye.

Abnormally high pressure within the eye i.e. intraocular pressure is sometimes higher, but not always, associated with optic nerve damage. When the pressure inside the eye increases this is due to the eye’s fluid drainage system fails to function properly.

  • Chronic glaucoma or open-angle glaucoma – In this, the blockage of the eye’s drainage channels occurs gradually. It’s the foremost common form and is painless
  • Acute angle glaucoma – In this, the blockage in the drainage channels of the eye occurs suddenly. It’s painful and may end in permanent vision loss if not treated immediately.

There are different kinds of glaucoma, with a variety of characteristics and causes. Some of these include:

  • Primary chronic glaucoma – a partial blockage in the eye’s drainage system causes fluid to drain out of the eye too slowly, resulting in a gradual increase in pressure within the eye
  • Angle-closure glaucoma or Narrow-angle glaucoma– In this type, glaucoma occurs when the iris bulges and blocks the drainage system, causing inadequate fluid drainage and an increase in intraocular pressure
  • Normal-tension glaucoma – the optic nerve becomes damaged although the pressure within the eye remains normal. The reason is unclear but could be due to a scarcity of blood flow to the optic nerve.
  • Congenital glaucoma – this occurs in infants and children and usually without symptoms
  • Pigmentary glaucoma – pigment granules within the eye build up and block drainage channels.

Glaucoma tends to run in families. Recent studies have found sort of genetic variations in human DNA that each contribute a small amount to intraocular pressure and which could predict whether someone might develop glaucoma with 75% accuracy.

What are the glaucoma symptoms?

Both Open-Angle Glaucoma and Acute Angle-Closure glaucoma have completely different symptoms. Symptoms of glaucoma are:

  • Symptoms of Open-Angle Glaucoma: The various symptoms of open-angle glaucoma include-

  • Peripheral vision, usually in both eyes, is lost gradually (characterized by the development of patchy blind spots)
    • Advanced stages are characterized by tunnel vision.

  • Symptoms of Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma: The various symptoms of acute angle glaucoma include –

  • Pain in the eye, which may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting
    • Sudden development of visual disturbance
    • Blurred vision
    • Seen Halos (i.e. crowns or auras) lights
    • Reddening of the eye
    • Severe headaches
    • Unexpected vision problems, especially in poor lighting.

Regular eye checkups are very important to detect glaucoma in the early stages to successfully treat it and prevent further progression.

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

Glaucoma can be diagnosed by regular eye checkups. If it can be diagnosed early then glaucoma can be properly managed to prevent major loss. Here are the 6 steps used to help detect glaucoma.

  •  Tonometry: Tonometry is a common test used to measure the pressure inside the eye which is intraocular pressure (IOP). It is a measurement of determining whether you have glaucoma or not. Or it is not treated in time, it will lead to vision loss.

  • Ophthalmoscopy: Ophthalmoscopy is a diagnostic test that is used to examine the inside of the eye. Ophthalmoscopy is performed on a dilated or undilated eye. an eye doctor uses special magnifying lenses and medical devices to look at the optic nerve. The color, shape, and overall health of the optic nerve are vital in glaucoma assessment. The doctor can also use a photographic camera to photograph the optic nerve.

  • Gonioscopy: Gonioscopy is also a diagnostic test that uses a special mirrored device to gently touch the surface of the eye to look at the angle where the cornea meets the iris. Whether this angle is open or closed can tell the doctor what sort of glaucoma is present, and the way severe glaucoma could also be. Gonioscopy can also be done by using optical coherence tomography.

  • Visual Field Testing: It is also known as perimetry, is a test that is used to diagnose glaucoma that measures how sensitive a person’s vision is. In perimetry or visual field test, you’ll look straight ahead at a small light or any target and you will be asked to let the examiner know once you see a flashlight to the side in your sight. Visual field testing usually must be repeated several times before the doctor can make a valid assessment

  • Nerve Fiber Analysis: Nerve fiber analysis is a newer method of glaucoma testing during which the thickness of the nerve fiber layer is measured. Thinner areas of the eye may indicate damage caused by glaucoma. This test is especially good for those patients who may be considered to be a glaucoma suspect and also to point out if a person’s glaucoma is progressively becoming worse.

  • Pachymetry: Pachymetry is another test method used to measure the thickness of the cornea. Pachymetry is starting to play a huge role in glaucoma testing The thickness of the cornea seems to influence the pressure reading when tonometry is performed.

What is the treatment of Glaucoma?

Your treatment will largely depend upon the type of glaucoma you have. The most common type, primary open-angle glaucoma, is usually treated with eye drops. Laser treatment or surgery could also be offered if drops don’t help. Glaucoma treatment includes:

Medication or Eye drops: Medicines or eye drops are given in the treatment for glaucoma. Eye drops are prescribed to use 1 and 4 times every day. It is vital to use them as directed, although you haven’t noticed any problems with your vision. Your eyesight is at risk if you do not stick or follow the recommended treatment.

Laser treatment: Laser treatment is recommended when eye drops don’t work or improve your symptoms. This is where a high-energy beam of light is carefully aimed toward a part of your eye to prevent fluid from building up inside it. There are various laser treatments are available that includes:

  • Laser Trabeculoplasty: The eye surgeon uses a laser in this treatment to make the drainage angle work better. In that way, fluid flows out properly into the eye and hence eye pressure is reduced.
  • Cyclodiode Laser Treatment: In this treatment, the ophthalmologist uses a laser to lower the eye pressure drainage of a fluid called aqueous humor.
  • Laser Iridotomy: In this treatment, the ophthalmologist uses a laser beam to create a tiny hole in the iris. This hole helps fluid flow to the drainage.

Surgery: Surgery is recommended when the medicines and laser treatment haven’t been effective. The most common form of surgery for glaucoma is named trabeculectomy. It involves removing a part of the eye-drainage tubes to allow fluid to drain more easily. Glaucoma surgery could also be carried out under local anesthetic that means while you’re awake or general anesthetic when you’re asleep.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Question):

Q. What are the risk factors?

Ans. There are so many risk factors few of them are:

  • Having high eye pressure is also called intraocular pressure.
  • Over the age of 60.
  • Having certain medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
  • Having a family history of glaucoma.

Q. Is glaucoma preventable?

Ans. Glaucoma is not curable. As with any vision, blindness that is lost can not be brought back but glaucoma can be prevented if it is diagnosed in the early stage.

Q. Is it possible to become blind with glaucoma?

Ans. Yes, sometimes glaucoma can cause blindness also but it is very rare, about 5% of glaucoma patients become blind. However, sight impairment is common and occurs in almost 10% of glaucoma patients.

Q. Can glaucoma be cured?

Ans. Glaucoma can be cured if it is recognized in the early stages, otherwise, treatment and regular checkups can help to slow down or prevent vision loss but the damage caused by glaucoma can not be reversed. It is treated by lowering the eye pressure i.e. lowering the intraocular pressure.

Q. If I am diagnosed with glaucoma, how often should I go for an eye check-up?

Ans. A normal person should go for eye check-ups once or twice in 2 years. But the glaucoma patients should go for regular eye check-ups of a minimum of twice a year. You should do a visual field test at least once every 12 months, and some assessment of your optic nerve health at least once every 12 months.