MedicineNet Daily News

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Achondroplasia: a birth defect for height

If you have ever seen an adult who is about four feet tall, the odds are good that she or he is subject to a birth defect called achondroplasia. The signs of this birth defect may be detected early on during an ultrasound examination when bones do not appear to meet the growth markers expected for the point of gestation. After birth, the following tell tale signs are observed:
The infant’s muscles are not as well developed and strong as those of other infants of similar age. This is the reason why infants with this birth defect will lag behind their peers when it comes to reaching such milestones as holding their heads up, sitting, and also walking.
§ If the infant does not receive proper back support when being transported, the odds are good that she or he will begin to develop what might be termed a smaller version of a dowager hump.
§ During the toddler years, when the child will put more weight on its knees and angles, the legs will tend to bow out while the lower spine will alter its curvature.
§ As the child becomes older, she or he will complain from recurring back pain and also leg pains. This is associated with the pressure generated on the weakened joints but also with the spinal cord that is attempting to rest within the awkwardly curved spine.

While there is no cure for the condition, the effects of this birth defect can be lessened with the help of surgery. Furthermore, with physical therapy, exercise regimens, and also nutritional counseling, children with achondroplasia will receive the help needed to improve their muscle tone and also control their weight gain, so as to not put extra pressure on the already weakened joints.

At this point in time it is theorized that the birth defect is due to a gene mutation but that it may also be inherited if one of the parents suffers from the condition. Interestingly, inheriting the birth defect is far rarer than the mutation of the otherwise healthy gene. The severity of the birth defect is hard to predict. Some forms are so severe as to be deadly to the child, while others will require multiple surgeries just to keep an acceptable form of quality of life for the child. Still others will only have minor inconveniencies and will continue on to live a healthy, full life, albeit with a head or two shorter than their peers. Since this birth defect is largely due to a gene mutation, there is precious little that may be done to avoid it, but genetic counseling prior to conception will adequately predict the odds of a child’s inheriting the disease.

Please remember that there are other conditions that may cause a short stature in children and not all of them can be traced back to genetic mutations. Thus, proper diagnosis is vital to ensure that an affected child will receive the treatment needed to remain healthy and to learn to live with this birth defect in the best ways possible.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Herpes Imapct on Health; a brief overview

A Brief Look at Herpes and Its Impact on Health

Herpes is often viewed as a sexually transmitted disease and indeed that is true. Did you also know that there is a huge contingent of herpes viruses but only eight of them typically cause illness in humans? It’s also disappointing to find out that herpes outbreaks can recur many times, depending on how your immune system is functioning. There are no cures for viruses right now.

Two Common Herpes Viruses

While there are eight of these human based herpes viruses, two of them particularly stand out because of their frequency of occurrence in the population. The herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1) and the herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) are the two predominant ones that most people seem to get.

These two herpes simplex viruses cause both oral herpes and genital herpes. Oral herpes arrives in the form of fever blisters or cold sores while genital herpes generally causes sores in the sensitive genital region. Both the herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 can infect both oral and genital regions. However, for the most part, oral herpes is cause by type 1 of the virus while genital herpes is caused by type 2 of the virus.

Symptoms of Herpes

Herpes is transmitted by intimate contact, primarily sexual intercourse. However, it is possible to transmit it by kissing if you or someone else has open sores in their mouth or on their lips. It takes skin to skin contact for sure to spread this viral disease.

Symptoms can take up to a month to show once exposed to the virus. Some people have few symptoms while others get actual sores or lesions. The skin will first become sensitive and red in color and then the blisters appear at the site. The blisters eventually burst and ooze so it is important to clean these broken blisters promptly and do not pick unopened ones so as not to spread the infection to others or even to other parts of your body.

New skin growth forms once the blisters “pop” and drain. Most do not leave a scar. Swollen glands, muscle pain, fever, and other flu-type of symptoms may present themselves as well. Herpes in the genital area can be painful, especially in the urethra when you try to urinate. These blisters may itch and “throb” but do not try to scratch or pick at them. There is no need to share the wealth of infection with anyone else.

Treatment Options

There are no vaccinations or cures for the herpes virus, or any virus for that matter. However, some pharmaceutical companies have produced some drugs that can lessen the severity of outbreaks, especially for genital herpes. Former prescription drugs for recurring cold sores are now available over the counter.

Diet and nutrition can actually help with outbreaks of the herpes virus. Foods like fresh garlic have anti-viral properties which could combat the frequency of outbreaks. Choosing foods high in the lysine amino acid is also beneficial. A nutritionist is your best resource for an anti-herpes outbreak diet while your doctor can help you with anti-viral remedies.

If you suspect that you might have herpes, get checked out by a doctor. Also, practice safe sex with your partners to avoid contracting or spreading the virus. Just remember, skin to skin contact is the predominant way that herpes is spread.

CAUTION: Anthaquinone in your colon cleanse

Are you familiar with anthraquinone? Unless you work in the chemical field, the odds are good that you have not become formally acquainted with this substance, yet if you have a colon cleanser in your medicine cabinet that touts its natural ingredients on the label, the odds are good that you have it in your possession! Anthraquinone is famous for its laxative properties, and since it naturally occurs in a variety of plants it is not surprising that it has found its way into colon cleansers that are made up of natural ingredients.

Take a look at the label of your colon cleansing product and see if contains aloe derivatives, senna, and cascara sagrada which is also known as buckthorn bark. Virtually all of the natural colon cleansers currently on the market contain one or more of these substances and thus the levels of anthraquinone are quite frequently much higher than you would anticipate. In the chemical field, the substance is used as an additive to seed shells which is supposed to repel eager birds in search of a quick and easy meal. Similarly, paper production companies rely on this derivative of the various plants for both its coloring properties as well as its accelerant abilities that will move the chemical processes along.

While the laxative properties of this substance cannot be denied, it is the fact that the reason why bowel movements and the evacuation of excess fecal matter is accomplished so quickly may be found in the fact that anthraquinone is actually an irritant that causes the gut flora to react to a perceived disturbance, thus leading to sometimes severe cramping, discolored urine, a sudden onset of uncontrollable diarrhea and also a loss of the beneficial bacteria that reside inside the gastrointestinal tract and which protect the colon from the attacks of dangerous bacteria. In addition to the foregoing, the gut flora ensures the proper absorption of nutrients, yet when irritated and decimated, there is a danger of decreased digestion of such nutrients.

Furthermore – and this probably will not apply to you, but nonetheless it is important to know – the abuse of colon cleansers as quick diet supplements has created an underbelly in the alternative health care industry, and as such it has become well known that an abuse of colon cleansers containing anthraquinone has been linked with a serious electrolyte deficiency that expresses itself in uncontrollable muscle spasms and twitches. Granted, this is only associated with abuse of the substances and is in no way considered to be a valid side effect of the proper use of a natural colon cleanser; yet it is imperative to realize that such an ingredient may be traced back to a number of sources, and if your natural colon cleanse is manufactured with one or both eyeballs on the bottom line, the odds are good that you will have more substances contained therein that ensure a laxative effect, thus a higher dose or anthraquinone. It is logical that it takes a lot less of this colon cleanser to constitute abuse of the substance, even if it is only an accidental overdose due to a misreading of the instructions.

CAUTION: magnesium in your colon cleanse

Exercise Caution When Using Colon Cleansers Containing Magnesium

When it comes to magnesium, how much you use is not as important as what kind you find. While most everyone is familiar with the tried and true laxative known as “milk of magnesia” the fact that this kind of magnesium is actually harsh and not as safe as many would have thought is giving pause to those who are using colon cleansers containing magnesium products. At the same time, when you take a good look at your multivitamin, you will find that magnesium features prominently on the list of minerals contained therein and it is considered vital to the proper functioning of your body. This begs the question: is all magnesium created equal?

Generally speaking, in the world of magnesium there are the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good form of magnesium – the kind that you won’t mind taking as part of your colon cleanse regimen – is magnesium oxide. This form of magnesium will enable you to cleanse your colon yet it relies on oxygenation to do so, which will make the process of the colon cleanse longer, but at the same time more natural and thus gentler on your body as a whole.
The bad kind of magnesium is magnesium sulfate. It will not kill you, and you might actually know it as Epsom salt. Once in a while it is being used as a laxative mixed at home in a pinch but for the purpose of a colon cleanse it will not provide the decimation of the compacted fecal matter that has built up in your colon. Instead, it will simply flush out whatever fecal matter would have evacuated during your next bowel movement anyways – thus simply rushing things along a bit.
The ugly kind of magnesium is the one that is most popular: magnesium hydroxide. Do not be fooled into thinking that magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide are the same substance or even share similar qualities! You most likely know this product as milk of magnesia and it is indeed a powerful laxative but at the same time it depletes your intestines of vital salt, thus interfering with the electrolyte balance in your body. If you have ever noticed a friend or loved one undergoing a colon cleanse and instead of looking refreshed and vitalized they are tired, moody, and seem to run out of energy quickly, you must know that you are probably looking at someone who uses a colon cleanser that relies on magnesium hydroxide to get things moving along.

As is the case with any colon cleanser you are using, make sure you educate yourself on the product and its ingredients. In addition to the foregoing, understand how the ingredients work together to achieve the colon cleansing effect. Just because one cleanser contains 10 ingredients while another only contains three, does not mean that either one is better or worse. It is the harmony between the ingredients, and the forms they take that decide the quality of the substance.