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ARTHRITIS AND ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS

We are all aware of arthritis and the pain and discomfort it causes but Ankylosing Spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects the spine. The symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis include a stiffness and severe pain from the neck to the lower back. The spine loses its flexibility and the vertebrae fuse together to result in a rigid spine. A condition like this affects the posture and the patient may stoop over. The only way is to have an early detection and treatment to control the pain and stiffness, so that deformity is reduced to the minimum.

WHO IS AT RISK?

Ankylosing Spondylitis is mostly seen in adults and it can occur at any age. In men the disease can strike between teenage and 20s. It is not so commonly seen in women but some people in the tribal belts and rural areas are seen to be affected by the disease.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

There are some common symptoms that can be seen at the early stages of the disease:

I Pain and Stiffness: You will experience a lot of pain and stiffness in the low back, buttocks and hips constantly and this will continue for months. Spondylitis starts at the joints, where the lowest part of the spine joins the ileum bone of the pelvis in the lower back region.

I Bony fusion: Ankylosing Spondylitis causes an overgrowth of the bones which leads to the abnormal joining of bones called the ‘bony fusion’. Fusion affects the bones of the neck, back and hips and affects the person’s ability to perform routine activities. The fusion of the ribs to the spine or breastbone may limit a person’s ability to expand the chest or take a deep breath.

I Pain in the ligaments and tendons: Spondylitis also may affect the ligaments and tendons that attach to bones. Inflammation of the tendon causes pain and stiffness in the area beneath the heel, like the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease that may not be limited to the joints. People with this condition will also have loss of appetite, fever and fatigue. Some people will show signs of eye infection and redness while in some cases it may cause lung and heart problems.

WHAT CAUSES ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS?

The exact cause of Ankylosing Spondylitis is unknown even though the genetic or family link is more prominent. Though people carrying the spondylitis gene are more likely to develop the disease there is a percentage of people affected who have no signs of the condition.

HOW IS ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS TREATED?

There is no certain cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis, yet treatments focus on reducing pain and discomfort. The goal is to improve the function and reduce the stiffness so as to be able to maintain a good posture, prevent any deformity and get back the ability to do normal activities. If properly treated and on time those suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis can lead a normal life. Physical and occupational therapy, exercises and medications are the right combination for treating Ankylosing Spondylitis.

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WHAT CAUSES SHAKY HANDS?

You must have felt the shaking recently or it has just grown worse and you started noticing it. Shaky hands is nerve disorder that experts call by the name ‘tremors’ and usually starts gradually and gets worse when you are stressed or angry. It can also be the result of illness in the recent past. Whatever the cause ‘tremor’ can affect the hands as well as the feet. They are common than we think and their effects are varied.

What are the causes for shaky hands?

Shaky hands is a condition which can have a single cause or multiple causes and here are a few more common reasons.

Essential Tremor

This is supposed to be the most common cause of all; the doctor calls it Essential Tremor. It begins with the hands and sometimes moves on to the arms, head, voice or other body parts. The main features of ET is that it gets worse when the hands are moving whereas other shaky hands condition that happens when a patient is still.

This condition can be the result of a genetic mutation, where a patient inherits the traits from any one of the parent. Toxins in the environment can also cause ‘tremors’. Age is another risk factor. It is more likely to affect people who are past 40 and the risk gets higher as a person ages.

ET is not life-threatening but stress, fatigue and too much of caffeine can make the condition worsen. Later at one stage the daily tasks like eating, drinking, writing etc may become extremely challenging.

Medications are partially useful to treat Shaky hands. A treatment called deep brain stimulation is found to be successful where the doctor implants a device in the brain to help control the tremors.

Parkinson’s Disease

Tremors can be an early stage symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Not every Parkinson’s patient gets shaky hands but most people in early states will have movement in the hand, foot or even a finger. Parkinson’s affects one side of the body and the tremors start once the patient is resting, so it is also called the resting tremor. Even moving a finger can stop the tremor and as it progresses it affects the healthy side of the body too.

Multiple Sclerosis

This disease targets the immune system, the brain, nerves and the spinal cord. As it targets these parts of the body it naturally causes tremors. Most of the tremors will be of the hand or the feet.

Overuse of Alcohol

Tremors occur when there is over use of alcohol and it can last anywhere between few days and over a year. Mostly occurs when alcohol is absolutely withdrawn.

B12 Deficiency

B12 is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system. It can also cause tremor. The vitamin is easily obtained from meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. If you are not getting enough of B12 from your food sources, then your doctor can give you a shot.

Low Blood Sugar

A low blood sugar or hypoglycaemic condition can trigger the body’s natural stress response and this makes the extremities shaky.

Continuous Stress

Life is full of stress from job worries, to relationship problems, health issues and financial worries and all these contributes to make you shaky. Intense anger, extreme hunger or sleep deprivation can also make you shaky. This is called physiologic tremor.

Overactive thyroid

When there is an overdrive of thyroid activity then the whole body speeds up. In such situation there will be trouble sleeping and heart starts beating faster and the hands start shaking simultaneously.

Nerve Damage

Any sort of injury, disease, or a problem with the central nervous system can cause tremors. This is also called the peripheral neuropathy which affects hands and feet.

Treatments vary widely for different types of tremors and doctors can guide in this.

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WHY DO YOU GET WATERY EYES?

Very often we feel that there is a grain of sand in our eyes, or the eyes may burn or itch without reason, then you may be having dry eyes. A person may be sensitive to light, have blurry vision or in some cases even the eyes will water. Such people will not be able to wear contact lens.

Eyes usually need moisture and this helps the eyes work like they are meant to and keeps them feeling comfortable. The body automatically produces moisture for the eyes, but when it is unable to do so or cannot produce enough or of good quality then your eyes is prone to hurt and feel dry.

What does tears do?

Tears actually soothe the surface of the eyes and safeguard them from foreign bodies and infections. Every time you blink, the tear drops wash over the eyes and then drain into the inner corners of the eyelids and to the back of the nose. If these tears are not enough and of good quality then eyes get dry.

Dry eye syndrome

When the body does not produce enough of quality tears then you have dry eyes and this condition is called the dry eye syndrome or Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). There could be many reasons for dry eyes and it can last for days and it can also go away on its own too.

What are the possible causes?

There are several possible causes which can include the following:

Age: The glands that make tears slowly stop working as well as they did, as you age. With age your eyelids also sag and that breaks the seal against the eyeball to keep the moisture int.

Illness: Certain autoimmune diseases, where the immune system attacks any part of the body can affect your body’s ability to make tears and cause dry eyes. Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are such conditions which can hinder tear production.

Eye Surgery:  Dry eyes can occur as a result of an eye surgery like LASIK or PRK, which is done to correct the vision. The nerves that make tears are sometimes damaged during these surgeries. Some eye drops and medicines help during post-operative period and it gets better as the eyes recover.

Oil less tears: If the tears don’t have enough of oil in them then they easily get evaporated or get absorbed in the air. The eyes will not get time to moisten and hence cause dry eye.

Medicines: Certain medicine for dry eyes such as antihistamines, beta-blockers and some anti depressants can affect the tears and dry out the eyes.

How dry eyes get worse?

Low Humidity: There are many reasons including low humidity as in an air-conditioned room or airplane then the eye gets dried. This condition can happen if there is lot of wind in your eyes too.

Too much Screen Time: When you look at a computer or phone screen for long hours then you don’t blink much and thus moisture does not get distributed in your eyes and they remain dry.

Contact Lens: When you wear a contact lens, then it is placed exactly in the tear film. If the eye is dry then the contact lens worn for long hours will cause irritation and an uncomfortable feel.

How can you avoid dry eyes?

You can take certain steps to avoid dry eyes. You can use artificial tears which is available in as drops or ointment. You can also enrich your diet with more of omega 3 fatty acid rich diet and take all precaution like staying away from air-conditoned rooms, wind, smoke and chemicals that irritate the eyes.

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HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HEARING LOSS?

Do not take your ear for granted. Loss of hearing is a very common health problem than most people think. It can totally affect your quality of life and even relationships. Reasons like age, illness and genetic play a major role in hearing loss, along with this modern life with its ear-damaging elements like noise pollution, constant working of ears and toxins even medications affects the hearing ability.

When there are so many untreatable cases of hearing loss which is prevalent, prevention is the best way to keep the hearing sensation intact and for long years.

What causes hearing loss?

The main causes are advanced age, noise and medications.

Advanced Age

This is most common cause of hearing loss. People in the age group of 65-74 experience some loss of hearing and after the age of 75, the probability gets quite high. This may be due to noise and other damaging factors that wear down the ear’s mechanism over the years.

Due to Noise

Noise can wear down hearing if it is beyond a threshold and continuous. Many people get exposed to noise at their workplace. This can include carpenters, construction workers, soldiers, miners, factory workers and even musicians. Nowadays musicians wear earplugs that allow them to hear music without harming the ear’s inner workings.

Medications

There are more than 200 drugs and chemicals that have a track record of triggering hearing and balance problems. Many commonly used antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, aspiring, loop diuretics, drugs that treat malaria and erectile dysfunction are few that have marked hearing loss causing effects.

 Sudden hearing loss

Over several hours of just 3 days there can be a rapid loss of 30 decibels of hearing ability. A normal conversation is 60 decibels and sudden hearing loss usually affects only one ear. But still it is not clear why this happens in most cases.

Due to Illness

Conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes all put ears to maximum risk by interfering with the ear’s blood supply. A disease known as Otosclerosis is a bone disease of the middle ear and Meniere’s disease of the inner ear and both causes severe hearing loss.

Hearing loss can also happen due to trauma like a fractured skull or punctured eardrum. Infections and severe ear wax can also block ear passage and cause hearing loss.

Symptoms of hearing loss

Mild hearing loss may be present when you can have a one to one conversation but not with a background sound. Moderate hearing loss may be when you ask people to repeat themselves and severe loss may be when you need a hearing aid to hear someone.

Treatments

More often surgery is the best way to reverse hearing loss caused by otosclerosis, scar tissue, infection etc. Meniere’s disease is sometimes treatable with medications and change of diet. Loss due to infection can be treated with antibiotics and permanent hearing loss can benefit a lot with a proper hearing aid.

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WHY DO YOU GET WATERY EYES ?

There are manifold reasons for a person to have watery eyes. They can be allergies due to body infections, a blocked tear duct and sometimes the very shape of our eyelids. Let us now see how these factors actually makes the eyes water continuously and make it difficult for you to keep the face tissues dry.

Allergies and watery eyes

People get allergies on a daily basis, but many ignore how it can affect the eyes. When you get exposed to pollen, pet dander, mites and fumes your eyes turn red, itchy and watery. If the condition persists then you look around for medication especially eye drops. If this does not help then you should visit for some prescription medicines and if the allergy is severe then you may even need an injection.

Infection like Conjunctivitis (Madras eye)

If the eyes look red along with watery eyes then you may be suffering from conjunctivitis or a kind of eye inflammation. You will also have blurry vision and pus or mucus in the eye with red inner eyelids. If you suspect Madras eye it is better to see a doctor immediately. The treatment will depend on whether the cause is bacteria or a virus or some other allergy. Try not to touch your eyes often, wash it with warm soapy water every time before you apply medicine and then wash your hands. Do not share your towels, clothes or anything that has touched your eye.

Blocked tear ducts

Watery eyes are caused by blocked tear ducts also. The eye has a mini plumbing system that makes tears. These tears wash across the eye and goes down a duct into the nose. When this duct gets narrow or blocked, the tears back up and the eyes get watery, irritated or infected. Signs of such a block may be crusty eyelashes, mucus, blurred vision and even blood in the tears. If you get watery eyes and eyes feel always irritated you should meet a doctor who will flush the duct with saline and insert tiny tubes in the duct to open the blockages. Sometimes a person may need surgery to build a new drain.

Due to dry eyes

When the eyes get irritated the immune system responds by making tears. The eyes may sting, burn and there will be redness. When too much of tears are produced, it will actually dry up the natural wetness of the eye. If it is a mild case then artificial tear drops can help. Other solutions include inserting artificial tear glands or therapies like light therapy and eye massage.

Eyelid shape and problems

Eyelids are important constituent of the eye’s drainage system. If one of the eyelids sags or turns outward, tears won’t drain properly and eyes will get watery. If it grows inward then it will rub against the eye and irritate it. All these will cause redness, mucus, dryness and sensitivity to light. If artificial tears and ointments do not bring improvement then surgery is the only option.

Problems with cornea

Cornea can also get inflamed and the condition is called Keratitis. There can also be minor

Scratches and open sores or ulcers on the cornea and this causes tears to work overtime. If the cornea is affected then the eye will be extra watery, painful and highly sensitive to light. When you close your eyes you’ll feel as if some particle is inside the eye. You can rinse the eye with saline solution or blink several times to get relief. You can also pull the upper eyelid over your lower eyelid; all these may flush out the object that’s causing the problem. If you suspect any infection it is better to see a doctor.

Other causes of watery eyes

There are few other causes for watery eyes like Bell’s palsy a nerve condition, eye injuries, exposure to chemical fumes, inflammatory disease, facial surgery and certain medicines.

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