Medical Information



Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.

AD begins slowly. It first involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. People with AD may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. A related problem, mild cognitive impairment(MCI), causes more memory problems than normal for people of the same age. Many, but not all, people with MCI will develop AD.

In AD, over time, symptoms get worse. People may not recognize family members or have trouble speaking, reading or writing. They may forget how to brush their teeth or comb their hair. Later on, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, they need total care. This can cause great stress for family members who must care for them.

AD usually begins after age 60. The risk goes up as you get older. Your risk is also higher if a family member has had the disease.

No treatment can stop the disease. However, some drugs may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited time.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Cancer

Cancer begins in your cells, which are the building blocks of your body. Normally, your body forms new cells as you need them, replacing old cells that die. Sometimes this process goes wrong. New cells grow even when you don’t need them, and old cells don’t die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass called a tumor. Tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren’t cancer while malignant ones are. Cells from malignant tumors can invade nearby tissues. They can also break away and spread to other parts of the body.

Most cancers are named for where they start. For example, lung cancer starts in the lung, and breast cancer starts in the breast. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis. Symptoms and treatment depend on the cancer type and how advanced it is. Treatment plans may include surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Chronic Pain

Pain is a feeling set off in the nervous system. Acute pain lets you know that you may be injured or have a problem you need to take care of. Chronic pain is different. The pain signals go on for weeks, months, or even years. The original cause may have been an injury or infection. There may be an ongoing cause of pain, such as arthritis or cancer. But in some cases there is no clear cause.

Problems that cause chronic pain include:

  • Headache
  • Low back strain
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Pain from nerve damage
Chronic pain usually cannot be cured. But treatments can help. They include medicines, acupuncture, electrical stimulation and surgery. Other treatments include psychotherapy, relaxation and meditation therapy, biofeedback, and behavior modification.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Diabetes Metitus

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With Type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes may include fatigue, thirst, weight loss, blurred vision and frequent urination. Some people have no symptoms. A blood test can show if you have diabetes. Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal plan can help control your diabetes. You should also monitor your glucose level and take medicine if prescribed.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Dystonia

Dystonia is a movement disorder which causes involuntary contractions of your muscles. These contractions result in twisting and repetitive movements. Sometimes they are painful.

Dystonia can affect just one muscle, a group of muscles or all of your muscles. Symptoms can include tremors, voice problems or a dragging foot. Symptoms often start in childhood. They can also start in the late teens or early adulthood. Some cases worsen over time. Others are mild.

Some people inherit dystonia. Others have it because of another disease. Either way, researchers think that a problem in the part of the brain that handles messages about muscle contractions might cause dystonia. There is no cure. Instead, doctors use medicines, surgery, physical therapy and other treatments to reduce or eliminate muscle spasms and pain.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. The seizures happen when clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain send out the wrong signals. People may have strange sensations and emotions or behave strangely. They may have violent muscle spasms or lose consciousness.

Epilepsy has many possible causes, including illness, brain injury and abnormal brain development. In many cases, the cause is unknown.

Doctors use brain scans and other tests to diagnose epilepsy. It is important to start treatment right away. There is no cure for epilepsy, but medicines can control seizures for most people. When medicines are not working well, surgery or implanted devices such as vagus nerve stimulators may help. Special diets can help some children with epilepsy.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia makes you feel tired and causes muscle pain and "tender points." Tender points are places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms or legs that hurt when touched. People with fibromyalgia may have other symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, morning stiffness, headaches, and problems with thinking and memory, sometimes called "fibro fog."

No one knows what causes fibromyalgia. Anyone can get it, but it is most common in middle-aged women. People with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases are particularly likely to develop fibromyalgia. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medicines can help you manage your symptoms. Getting enough sleep and exercising may also help.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Gastrointestinal Disorders

When you eat, your body breaks food down to a form it can use to build and nourish cells and provide energy. This process is called digestion.

Your digestive system is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube. It runs from your mouth to your anus and includes your esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines. Your liver, gallbladder and pancreas are also involved. They produce juices to help digestion.

There are many types of digestive disorders. The symptoms vary widely depending on the problem. In general, you should see your doctor if you have:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Heartburn not relieved by antacids
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Gliomas/Other Cancers

Cancer of the brain is usually called a brain tumor. There are two main types. A primary brain tumor starts in the brain. A metastatic brain tumor starts somewhere else in the body and moves to the brain. Brain tumors can be benign, with no cancer cells, or malignant, with cancer cells that grow quickly.

Brain tumors can cause many symptoms. Some of the most common are:

  • Headaches, usually worse in the morning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in your ability to talk, hear, or see
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Problems with thinking or memory
  • Muscle jerking or twitching
  • Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
Doctors diagnose brain tumors by doing a neurologic exam and tests including an MRI, CT scan, and biopsy. People with brain tumors have several treatment options. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Many people get a combination of treatments.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is one type of hepatitis - a liver disease - caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It usually spreads through contact with infected blood. It can also spread through sex with an infected person and from mother to baby during childbirth.

Most people who are infected with hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms for years. A blood test can tell if you have it. Usually, hepatitis C does not get better by itself. The infection can last a lifetime and may lead to scarring of the liver or liver cancer. Medicines sometimes help, but side effects can be a problem. Serious cases may need a liver transplant.

There is no vaccine for HCV.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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HIV/Aids Infection

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It kills or damages the body’s immune system cells. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the most advanced stage of infection with HIV.

HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.

The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go a month or two after infection. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Hypertension

Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure.

Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures. Usually they are written one above or before the other. A reading of:

  • 120/80 or lower is normal blood pressure
  • 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
  • Between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is prehypertension
High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. You can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines, if needed.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is loss of bladder control. Symptoms can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting. It can happen to anyone, but it becomes more common with age.

Most bladder control problems happen when muscles are too weak or too active. If the muscles that keep your bladder closed are weak, you may have accidents when you sneeze, laugh or lift a heavy object. This is stress incontinence. If bladder muscles become too active, you may feel a strong urge to go to the bathroom when you have little urine in your bladder. This is urge incontinence or overactive bladder. There are other causes of incontinence, such as prostate problems and nerve damage.

Treatment depends on the type of problem you have and what best fits your lifestyle. It may include simple exercises, medicines, special devices or procedures prescribed by your doctor, or surgery.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Bowel incontinence is the inability to control your bowels. When you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, you may not be able to hold it until you get to a toilet. More than 5.5 million Americans have bowel incontinence. It affects people of all ages--children and adults. It is more common in women and older adults, but it is not a normal part of aging.

Causes include:

  • Constipation
  • Damage to muscles or nerves of the anus and rectum
  • Diarrhea
  • Pelvic support problems
Treatments include changes in diet, medicines, bowel training, or surgery.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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MSRA

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It causes a staph infection (pronounced "staff infection") that is resistant to several common antibiotics. There are two types of infection. Hospital-associated MRSA happens to people in healthcare settings. Community-associated MRSA happens to people who have close skin-to-skin contact with others, such as athletes involved in football and wrestling.

Infection control is key to stopping MRSA in hospitals. To prevent community-associated MRSA:

  • Practice good hygiene
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed
  • Avoid contact with other people‚Äôs wounds or bandages
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels, washcloths, razors, or clothes
  • Wash soiled sheets, towels and clothes in hot water with bleach and dry in a hot dryer
If a wound appears to be infected, see a healthcare provider. Treatment may include draining the infection and antibiotics.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nervous system disease that affects your brain and spinal cord. It damages the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects your nerve cells. This damage slows down or blocks messages between your brain and your body, leading to the symptoms of MS. They can include

  • Visual disturbances
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble with coordination and balance
  • Sensations such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles"
  • Thinking and memory problems
No one knows what causes MS. It may be an autoimmune disease, which happens when your body attacks itself. Multiple sclerosis affects women more than men. It often begins between the ages of 20 and 40. Usually, the disease is mild, but some people lose the ability to write, speak or walk. There is no cure for MS, but medicines may slow it down and help control symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy may also help.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and more likely to break. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is common in older women. As many as half of all women and a quarter of men older than 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Risk factors include:

  • Getting older
  • Being small and thin
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Being a white or Asian woman
  • Having osteopenia, which is low bone mass
Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You might not know you have it until you break a bone. A bone mineral density test is the best way to check your bone health. To keep bones strong, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, exercise and do not smoke. If needed, medicines can also help.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Pruritus

Itching is skin tingling or irritation that makes you want to scratch the itchy area. It’s a symptom of many health conditions. Common causes are:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Eczema
  • Dry skin
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Irritating chemicals
  • Parasites such as pinworms, scabies and head lice
  • Pregnancy
  • Rashes
  • Reactions to medicines
To soothe itchy skin, you can try cold compresses, lotions and lukewarm baths. Avoid scratching, wearing irritating fabrics and high heat and humidity. Most itching is not serious. However, if you itch all over, have hives that keep coming back or have itching without an apparent cause, you might require medical attention.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers.

More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts in middle age and is most common in older people. But children and young adults can also get it. You might have the disease for only a short time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime.

Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, the common arthritis that often comes with older age. RA can affect body parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your body's own tissues.

No one knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. Genes, environment and hormones might contribute. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes and surgery. These can slow or stop joint damage and reduce pain and swelling.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Severe Arthritis

If you feel pain and stiffness in your body or have trouble moving around, you might have arthritis. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Over time, a swollen joint can become severely damaged. Some kinds of arthritis can also cause problems in your organs, such as your eyes or skin.

Types of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It's often related to aging or to an injury.
  • Autoimmune arthritis happens when your body's immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of this kind of arthritis. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a form of the disease that happens in children.
  • Infectious arthritis is an infection that has spread from another part of the body to the joint.
  • Psoriatic arthritis affects people with psoriasis.
  • Gout is a painful type of arthritis that happens when too much uric acid builds up in the body. It often starts in the big toe.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Sleep Apnea

Is it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep though the night? Do you wake up feeling tired or feel very sleepy during the day, even if you have had enough sleep? You might have a sleep disorder.

  • Insomnia - a hard time falling or staying asleep
  • Sleep apnea - breathing interruptions during sleep
  • Restless legs syndrome - a tingling or prickly sensation in the legs
  • Narcolepsy - daytime "sleep attacks"
Nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, head banging, wetting the bed and grinding your teeth are kinds of sleep problems called parasomnias. There are treatments for most sleep disorders. Sometimes just having regular sleep habits can help.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries usually begin with a blow that fractures or dislocates your vertebrae, the bone disks that make up your spine. Most injuries don’t sever your spinal cord. Instead, they cause damage when pieces of vertebrae tear into cord tissue or press down on the nerve parts that carry signals. In a complete spinal cord injury, the cord can’t relay messages below the level of the injury. As a result, you are paralyzed below the level of injury. In an incomplete injury, you have some movement and sensation below the injury.

A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment can reduce long-term effects. Later treatment usually includes medicine and rehabilitation therapy.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Tourette's Syndrome

If you have Tourette syndrome, you make unusual movements or sounds, called tics. You have little or no control over them. Common tics are throat-clearing and blinking. You may repeat words, spin, or, rarely, blurt out swear words.

About one of every 100 people has Tourette syndrome. It often occurs with other problems, such as:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
The cause of Tourette syndrome is unknown. It is more common in boys than girls. The tics usually start in childhood and may be worst in the early teens. Many people eventually outgrow them.

No treatment is needed unless the tics interfere with everyday life. Excitement or worry can make tics worse. Calm, focused activities may make them better. Medicines and talk therapy may also help.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Other

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