Saturday, July 10, 2010

Epilepsy and Seizures

 Epilepsy is a disorder that causes seizures. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. There are many causes for seizures such as fever, alcoholism, head trauma, electrolyte imbalances, hyperventilation, sleep deprivation, and certain medications. Epilepsy can be another cause for the abnormal brain activity.

Over 2 million people have seizure disorders, About 120 per 100,000 people will have newly diagnosed seizure disorder. Of these, about 30% are under the age of thirty.

In epilepsy, there are different types of seizures that can be experienced. Partial seizures involve one side of the brain and one side of the body. Generalized seizures affect the entire brain and both sides of the body. These seizures can be either simple or complex. With simple seizures, there is no loss of consciousness. Complex seizures cause loss of consciousness or awareness. There are also tonic-clonic seizures ( grand mal ). In this type of seizure, you have two phases. The first phase is the tonic phase that causes increased muscle contractions. This lasts less than one minute. In the clonic phase, the muscle contractions decrease and jerking movements begin. Profuse sweating and hyperventilation also occur.

Status epilepticus can also occur. This is when seizure activity lasts for more than 30 minutes or there are repeated seizures with no recovery in between. This is always considered a medical emergency and is associated with increased risk of death or permanent disability if not treated immediately.

 If you are experiencing any type of seizure, you must see a doctor right away. There are many very good anti-seizure medications that can help control the abnormal activity in the brain. These medications should be taken exactly as prescribed and may require adjustments in dosing periodically. You must visit with your doctor about safety issues such as employment or driving a motor vehicle. Always keep a log of seizure activity to present to your doctor at every visit. Most people with seizure disorders live a relatively normal life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weight Loss- Difficulty Losing Weight

  It can be very challenging to lose weight when it seems as though you are getting nowhere. There are several reasons for not being able to lose weight. It is important to determine the cause and make sure there isn't a medical cause. Diseases, such as hypothyroidism, can cause difficulty losing weight and may even cause weight gain. There are special blood tests your doctor can perform to determine if you have a medical cause for not losing weight.

  Often, the cause of difficulty losing weight is not making the appropriate lifestyle changes. You must create a 500 calorie deficit daily to lose 1 pound per week. It is important to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Lots of fruits and vegetables are a good addition to your diet. A diet that is low in fat and carbohydrates is best. Your body does need some fat and carbs in order to function properly. Moderation is key to losing weight. Choosing appropriate portions will also go a long way toward reaching your goal.

  You must incorporate an exercise plan into your routine. At least 3 days per week of cardio is essential. You also need at least two days per week of strength training. This will help tone your muscles and provide a longer lasting metabolism boost.

  If you have tried eating a well-balanced diet and appropriate exercise and are not losing weight, you may need to switch up your routine a little bit. Try doing a different type of cardio than you were previously doing or making more adjustments to your diet. If this doesn't work, a visit to your doctor may be warranted!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Is It Menopause? Know The Signs

  Menopause usually occurs between 45 and 50 years of age. It can occur suddenly or, more commonly, it can occur gradually over a long period of time.

  It is possible for women who have had a hysterectomy( removal of the uterus ), with the ovaries left in place, to have early menopause because the ovaries can stop functioning. This doesn't usually occur but it is possible.

  Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing hormones and eggs. Menstrual periods become more spaced out until they eventually stop altogether. This can occur over a period of a few years.

  Symptoms of menopause can include hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, decreased  libido( sexual interest), vaginal dryness, and irregular periods. Some women may experience difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

  Most women transition into menopause with minimal problems. If symptoms are present and extreme, medication can be prescribed by your physician. Estrogen replacement therapy can be instituted. It is important to remember that if you still have your uterus, you will need a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen helps protect against osteoporosis but does carry risks for heart disease and stroke, so it is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in detail. Ask questions and be sure that you feel comfortable with the treatment plan your doctor has suggested.

Cholesterol And You

 Cholesterol can be both good and bad. Our bodies produce about 75% of our cholesterol and the other 25% comes from eating animal products. Our body needs some cholesterol to remain healthy. There is "good " cholesterol, which is HDL, and there is "bad " cholesterol, which is LDL. Healthy HDL levels for men should be higher than 40mg/dL and for women it should be higher than 50mg/dL. The HDL helps keep the LDL from getting in the arteries and causing blockages. Lower levels of HDL may increase the risk of heart disease in adults. LDL is produced in the body as well, but we get a lot of it from eating a high cholesterol, high saturated fat diet derived from animal products. This type of cholesterol is " bad " because it can clog up arteries and increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.

 Sometimes, high cholesterol runs in families. With this condition, diet changes may not be successful at lowering cholesterol making medication necessary. Lifestyle modification is still very important, but a little help is needed to control the problem.

 Triglycerides are another from of fat in the body. They are formed by fat with a sugar attached to it. High carbohydrate diets can cause triglycerides  to be elevated in the body. Many people with diabetes also have high triglycerides. Being overweight, sedentary, smoking, drinking alcohol, and unhealthy eating habits can all cause triglycerides to become elevated.

 Your doctor can run blood tests to check your cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Lifestyle changes such as a low cholesterol, low fat diet and regular exercise can go a long way at helping reduce LDL and increase HDL. Medications sometimes are needed. These medications can be statins ( such as Lipitor or Pravachol ), or other types of cholesterol lowering medications. You may also be prescribed a combination drug for lowering both LDL and triglycerides.

 With lifestyle modifications and medications if needed, you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke significantly. So, be sure to ask your doctor about a blood test to check your cholesterol at your next visit. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Depression: What you need to know

 Many people experience some form of depression in their lives. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, loss of interest in activities, and weight changes ( gain or loss ) are some common symptoms.
  While it is normal to have these symptoms for short periods of time, depression lasting for more than a few weeks may be a sign of clinical depression. In this type of depression, symptoms are usually present pretty much all day most of the time.
   There are other types of depression such as bipolar disorder ( manic-depression ). This type of depression usually has periods of extreme euphoria followed by severe depression. Marked mood swings are a very important sign.
   It is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or someone you know has thoughts of hurting themselves or someone else. Depression carries a high risk for suicide. Proper diagnosis and treatment is essential for severe depression and/or suicidal thoughts.
   You need to know that you don't have to live with depression. There are very good treatment options available to help you live a normal, productive life. Being on medication doesn't mean you are not a good person or are not very strong, it just means that sometimes people need a little help to get over the hurdles that life brings. Many people are treated for depression every day. Medications for bipolar depression can dramatically change a person's life and help them function normally in their day to day activities.
  Just remember that there are trained professionals that are there to help you. You are not alone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Women's Health- The Truth About Sexually Transmitted Diseases

 Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise and it is important to know the signs, so you can seek treatment if you are infected.
  Chlamydia is a very common STD that can cause a discolored or yellowish discharge. Burning and itching in the genital area is common. Some people do not have any symptoms for quite some time, which can delay diagnoses.
  Gonorrhea is another type of STD. It usually causes a discharge that can be purulent and greenish in color. It too can cause burning and itching. Like Chlamydia, sometimes symptoms are mild or absent.
  Other types of STD's are Herpes, Trichomonas(trich), Syphilis, and HIV/Aids. Human Papilloma Virus, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C can also be spread through sexual contact.
 It is important to see a doctor right away if you experience any vaginal/ penile discharge, burning or itching around the genitalia or rectum, or any sores or bumps in the genital area.
  There are other vaginal infections that may be mistaken for an STD that are very common. These are bacterial vaginosis and candida(yeast). Bacterial vaginosis causes a thin, watery discharge that can have a foul odor. Yeast infections usually cause a white,cottage cheese-like discharge and there is usually no odor. Burning and itching are common in yeast infections.
 Abstinence is the only way to completely prevent STD infection. Barrier methods, such as codoms, are very good for protection if used properly.
 It is important to see a doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above. Proper diagnosis and treatment is necessary for your health and safety. Always remember that you must let any sexual partner know if you are diagnosed with an STD so they, too, can seek immediate treatment.

Friday, July 2, 2010


 A migraine is very different than just an average headache. It is very intense and usually last up to 3 days. Some people have occular migraines that can cause visual disturbances, usually in the period of time just before the headache sets it. This period time is known as the aura stage. Not all migraine sufferers have the type of migraine associated with auras. Some just have the headache by itself.
 Migraine auras occur just before the headache and can include seeing spots, wavvy lines, halos; blurred vision; temporary visual loss in half of visual field; dizziness; numbess and tingling; and "crawling" sensation on your scalp. This usually lasts about 30 minutes and is followed by a headache, which is often severe.
 Migraines are vascular headaches. They are caused by enlargement of the blood vessels(vasodilation) in the brain. As the arteries continue to enlarge, the pain becomes intense. Many people are also very sensitive to light and sound during this time.
 Migraines affect women more than men. Many women notice an increase in frequency of migraines at times of hormonal change, such as during menstruation.
 There is no cure for migraines, but there are some very good treatment options. There are medications to abort the migraine once it has occured. There are also prophyllactic medications to try to prevent migraines.
 Recent studies suggest that some migraine suffers that also experience auras may be at a higher risk of stroke than those without auras. So, it is imperitive to see a doctor soon if you are experiencing any of the symtoms mentioned so proper treatment can be started right away.