Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Warning Signs & Tips for Stroke Prevention

Warning Signs & Tips for Stroke Prevention

What is a stroke ?
Most strokes are caused by a blockage in an artery that carries blood to thebrain. This can cause that part of the brain to be damaged, and you may losecontrol of a function that is controlled by that part of the brain. Forexample, you could lose the use of an arm or leg, or the ability to speak.The damage can be temporary or permanent, partial or complete. Doctors havefound that if you get treatment right away after symptoms start, there is abetter chance of getting the blood moving to your brain, and less chance of damage.

How do I know if I'm having a stroke ?
If you have any of the following symptoms, call for emergency helpimmediately. The sooner you get help, the more doctors can do to preventfurther or permanent damage.
* Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of thebody
* Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
* Loss of speech, trouble talking or understanding what others are saying
* Sudden severe headache with no known cause
* Unexplained dizziness, unstable walking or falling, especially along withany of the other symptoms

Another warning sign of a stroke is called a transient ischemic attack(TIA). A TIA is a "mini-stroke" that can cause the symptoms listed aboveand may only last a few minutes, but should not be ignored. People who havea TIA are at greater risk of having a stroke later. Call your doctorimmediately if you think you are having a TIA.

Risk factors for a stroke
* Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
* Uncontrolled diabetes* High blood pressure
* High cholesterol level* Smoking
* Previous transient ischemic attack (TIA)
* Heart disease
* Carotid artery disease (the artery that carries blood to your brain)

How can I avoid having a stroke ?
Talk to your family doctor about your risk factors for a stroke and how toreduce your risk. Here are some other things you can do to avoid having astroke :
* If your blood pressure is high, follow your doctor's advice to control it.
* Avoid foods that are high in fat and cholesterol, and eat less sodium(salt), to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
* If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar level under control.
* Limit how much alcohol you drink.
* Quit smoking. If you don't smoke, don't start.

Ask your doctor for advice on making these lifestyle changes, and askfriends and family for support. Regular checkups are important to findproblems that can increase your risk of having a stroke. Talk to your doctorabout whether taking aspirin in low doses would help reduce your risk ofstroke or TIA. Aspirin can help keep your blood from forming clots that caneventually block the arteries. (AAFP)

Preventing The Flu

Preventing the Flu

What is influenza? Influenza (also called "the flu") is a viral infection in the nose, throatand lungs. About 10% to 20% of Americans get the flu each year. Some people get very sick. Each year, about 130,000 people go to a hospital with theflu, and 20,000 people die because of the flu and complications.The flu may cause fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose,headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Some people describe the flu as beinglike the worst cold of their life. Most people feel better after 1 or 2weeks. But for some people, the flu leads to serious, even life-threatening,diseases, such as pneumonia. Influenza vaccine (the flu shot) is recommendedfor people who are more likely to get really sick to protect them from theflu.

Who is at higher risk? Some people have a higher risk of flu complications, like pneumonia. If youare in any of these groups, you should get the flu vaccine every year:
* All children aged 6 to 59 months
* All adults aged 65 years and older
* All women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season
* Residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities
* Individuals who have long-term health problems
* Children aged 6 months to 18 years who are on chronic aspirin therapy
* Health care workers who have direct contact with patients
* Caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age

How can I avoid getting the flu ?
The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the influenza vaccine eachfall, before the flu season. The vaccine is available by shot or by nasalspray. The vaccines work by exposing your immune system to the flu virus.Your body will build up antibodies to the virus to protect you from gettingthe flu. The flu shot contains dead viruses. The nasal-spray vaccinecontains live but weakened viruses. You cannot get the flu from the flu shotor the nasal-spray vaccine.Some people who get the vaccine will still get the flu, but they willusually get a milder case than people who aren't vaccinated. The vaccine isespecially recommended for people who are more likely to get really sickfrom flu-related complications.

Is there anyone who shouldn't get the flu shot ?
Yes. The following people should talk to their doctor before getting the flushot :
* People who have had an allergic reaction to a flu shot in the past
* People with an allergy to eggs
* People who previously developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a reversiblereaction that causes partial or complete loss of movement of muscles,weakness or a tingling sensation in the body) within 6 weeks of getting aflu shot

Is there anyone who shouldn't get the nasal-spray vaccine ?
Yes. The following people should talk to their doctor before getting thenasal-spray vaccine :
* Children less than 5 years of age
* Adults 50 years of age and older
* People with long-term health problems
* People with weakened immune systems
* Children aged 6 months to 18 years who are on chronic asprin therapy
* People with a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome
* Pregnant women
* People who have had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past orto eggs

If I get the flu vaccine, can I still get the flu ?
Yes. Even with a flu vaccine, you aren't 100% protected. Each year, the fluvaccine contains 3 different strains (kinds) of the virus. The strainschosen are those that scientists believe are most likely to show up thatyear. If the choice is right, the vaccine is 70% to 90% effective inpreventing the flu in healthy people under 65 years of age. If you're olderthan 65, the vaccine is less likely to prevent the flu. Even if you get theflu after being vaccinated, your flu symptoms should be milder than if youdidn't get the vaccine. You'll also be less likely to get complications fromthe flu.

Is the vaccine safe ?
Yes. The flu vaccine is safe. There are very few side effects. If you gotthe flu shot, your arm may be sore for a few days . You may have a fever,feel tired or have sore muscles for a short time. If you got the nasal-sprayvaccine, you may have a runny nose, headache, cough or sore throat.

Can I get the flu vaccine if I am pregnant or nursing ?
If you are pregnant during flu season, you cannot get the nasal-sprayvaccine. However, it is recommended that women who will be pregnant duringflu season get the shot. Pregnancy can increase your risk for complicationsfrom the flu.It is also safe to get the flu shot while breast feeding your baby. The flushot cannot cause you or your nursing baby to get sick.

What are antiviral flu drugs ?
Antiviral flu drugs are prescription medicines that can be used to helpprevent and/or treat the flu. There are four antiviral flu drugs:amantadine, oseltamivir, rimantadine and zanamavir. All 4 of these antiviraldrugs have been approved to treat the flu. If you take one of these drugswithin 2 days of getting sick, it can lessen your symptoms, decrease theamount of time you are sick and make you less contagious to other people.

However, most healthy people who have the flu get better without using anantiviral flu drug. Your doctor will decide whether one of these medicinesis right for you.

Three of the antiviral flu drugs have also been approved to prevent the flu.
These drugs are not a substitute for the influenza vaccine. They are mostoften used for flu prevention in institutions where people at high risk forflu complications are in close contact with each other, such as nursinghomes or hospitals. For example, during a flu outbreak in a nursing home,residents and staff might be given the flu vaccine and an antiviral drug toprevent the flu until the vaccine takes effect. (AAFP)

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Lymphadenitis is inflammation of one or more lymph nodes, which usuallybecome swollen and tender.

Lymphadenitis is almost always caused by an infection, which may be due tobacteria, viruses, protozoa, rickettsiae, or fungi. Typically, the infectionspreads to a lymph node from a skin, ear, nose, or eye infection or fromsuch infections as infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus infection,streptococcal infection, tuberculosis, or syphilis.

The infection may affectmany lymph nodes or only those in one area of the body.

Symptoms and DiagnosisInfected lymph nodes enlarge and are usually tender and painful. Sometimes,the skin over the infected nodes looks red and feels warm. Occasionally,pockets of pus (abscesses) develop. Enlarged lymph nodes that do not producepain, tenderness, or redness may indicate a serious disorder, such aslymphoma, tuberculosis, or Hodgkin's disease.

Such lymph nodes require adoctor's attention. Usually, lymphadenitis can be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms, and itscause is an obvious nearby infection. When the cause cannot be identifiedeasily, a biopsy (removal and examination of a tissue sample under amicroscope) and culture may be needed to confirm the diagnosis and toidentify the organism causing the infection.

Treatment and PrognosisTreatment depends on the organism causing the infection. For a bacterialinfection, an antibiotic is usually given intravenously or orally.

Warmcompresses may help relieve the pain in inflamed lymph nodes. Usually, oncethe infection has been treated, the lymph nodes slowly shrink, and the painsubsides. Sometimes the enlarged nodes remain firm but no longer feeltender. Abscesses must be drained surgically. (Merck)