Posts Tagged ‘Medicine’
Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Diverticulitis is a disorder that comes from diverticulosis, which is characterized by small, bulging pouches in the digestive tract.
These pouches are also called diverticula, and they are common in the United States. Over half of the population older than 60 years of age has them; however, it is not limited to just those over the age of 60 as those younger can get the disorder as well. The pouches don’t always cause problems and many times, people do not know that they are there; however, the pouches can become infected or inflamed (diverticulitis). This can cause severe pain in the abdomen, fever, nausea, and changes in bowel habits. Diverticulitis happens when the diverticula become infected. Cases can range from mild to severe; the milder cases can be treated with antibiotics for the infection as well as rest and diet changes. The more severe cases require hospitalization and in some cases, removal of the affected part of the colon (bowel resection).
There is good news-most people with diverticulosis do not develop diverticulitis. This condition can be prevented by eating a well-balanced diet with food rich in fiber.
Symptoms of diverticulitis include:
- Pain in abdomen and lower left side
- Diarrhea and constipation
Other signs considered less common are:
- Rectal bleeding
- Frequent urination
- Pain while urinating
- Tender abdomen
So what causes this in the first place? Diverticula are formed in weak places in the colon that give way under pressure. Then the pouches, which are about the size of a marble, protrude through the colon wall. The pressure in the colon can lead to infection of the diverticula. It was once thought that nuts, seeds, corn, and popcorn were to be avoided by those who had diverticulosis; however, recent research has shown that not to be the case and in fact, a higher intake of nuts and corn could possibly help to avoid diverticulitis in male adults.
Diagnosis is usually by CT scan and its 98% accurate in diagnosing diverticulitis. Other diagnostic studies include barium enema and colonoscopy; however, these are only done when the inflammation has subsided due to the possibility of perforation.
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Elderly citizens age 60 and over should receive a vaccine to protect them against shingles, or herpes zoster. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta recommends a single dose of the zoster vaccine, Zostavax, for adults age 60 and over. This is even if they have had a previous outbreak of shingles.
A new recommendation that was published in the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity recently replaced a former provisional recommendation made in 2006. This provisional recommendation was made after the vaccine was licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
In those ages 60 and over that received the vaccine, the occurrence of shingles was reduced greatly. Particularly with those ages 60-69, it reduced the occurrence rate by 64 percent.
Side effects of the vaccine from those that had it seem to be redness, pain and tenderness, swelling at the injection site, itching and headache.
It is reported that half of the people living to age 85 have had or will get shingles.
Shingles is characterized by clusters of painful blisters which develop on one side of the body in a band-like pattern and can cause severe pain that may last for weeks, months or years. Shingles is caused by the childhood disease chickenpox that becomes dormant within the nerves and reactivates later in life. It is said that over 95 percent of people are infected with the varicella zoster (chickenpox) during their lifetime. About one in three persons will develop shingles during their lifetime, resulting in about one million cases of shingles per year.
Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants and adults. The risk of contracting shingles increases with age starting at around 50 and is highest in the elderly.
Saturday, October 9th, 2010
The flu puts the elderly and those with chronic diseases at risk for problems associated. Those 84 and older are at the greatest risk, age 74 and older, the second highest, and children age 4 and under is the third highest risk.
The flu symptoms in the elderly may include:
- Fatigue (can last 2-3 weeks)
- Extreme exhaustion
- General aches and pains
- Chest discomfort, cough (can become severe)
- Sore throat (not always)
- Runny or stuffy nose (not always)
Although more common in children, the elderly can also suffer from symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea with the flu; however, these symptoms tend to be more common with the swine flu.
Complications of flu in the elderly may include:
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and heart disease (Congestive Heart Failure)
It’s important to see your doctor immediate if you have any of these flu complications. The sooner you start medical treatment, the faster it can work to treat the more serious symptoms.
The best way to prevent the season flu is to get a flu vaccine annually. Getting a season flu shot helps reduce the risk of being hospitalized due to serious complications, however, the season flu viruses change each year, so the elderly need to get a new flu shot each fall. Flu shots can be obtained at your doctor’s office, drug stores, and various other locations.
The American Lung Association offers an online flu shot. Please visit here and enter your zip code and a date and you will receive information about flu shot clinics in your area.
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
As people get older, body systems do not seem to work as well as they did at a younger age. This makes it important to take care of ourselves the best we can; diet, exercise, and rest will all help to keep our bodies working well. Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how well we take care of ourselves, illness and disease can take hold of us. In the elderly, it seems that heart problems are prevalent.
Here are a few tips to help keep your heart in tip-top shape:
- Loose weight~Your heart will not have to work as hard to send blood to all parts of a slimmer body.
- Avoid hard exercise~This puts a sudden pumping demand on your heart.
- Engage in mild exercise~Walking or joining a doctor approved cardiac rehab program could help strengthen your heart.
- Wear loose clothing~Wear clothing that encourages good blood flow in the legs; tight socks or hose with tight tops could slow blood flow to your legs thus causing clots.
- Avoid extreme temperatures~The body works harder to keep the body temperature normal when you are too hot or too cold.
- Avoid colds/flus~Try to stay away from those who are sick; also ask your doctor about yearly flu shots and the pneumonia shot.
- Limit alcohol~Talk with your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you (though it should be avoided altogether) as alcohol weakens the heart; heart failure could improve if alcohol is eliminated.
- Get plenty of rest~Your body needs 8 hours of sleep a day.
- Drink plenty of water~8 (8oz) glasses per day is recommended.
- Keep legs elevated when sitting~This will help to increase circulation. Having your legs hanging down for extended periods of time can cause the blood to pool in your lower extremities thus putting you at risk for blood clots.
- Most importantly, LISTEN to your body and on days you feel well, do more and on days you feel sick, do less.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Mental health concerns exist for many individuals; however there are specific concerns in the area of geriatrics (pertaining to the study of elderly or the aging). Issues such as dementia, delirium, psychosis, and depression seem to rate the highest. In general, elderly folks are more sensitive to mental health medications and their side effects; especially women.
- Dementia comes in many forms that are known to occur in elderly individuals. Alzheimer’s seems to be the most prevalent. Mental deterioration due to Alzheimer’s dementia can last 5-20 years and can occur with the following symptoms: delirium, delusions, depressed mood, and behavioral disturbances. Other symptoms such as memory loss, language difficulties, and difficulty in performing motor skills or failure to identify objects or people are all classic signs of the early stages of dementia. Dementia itself is untreatable; however, medications can be given to treat other symptoms such as depression or aggressive behavior.
- Delirium can often be misdiagnosed and can be caused by an extreme sensitivity to surgery and anesthesia, drug toxicity and infections. Some common symptoms include inability to focus, disturbed consciousness, impaired judgment, or a decrease/increase in motor activity. Diagnosis can be made by doing an EEG (electroencephalogram) which will show slowing in brain activity. Treatment can be effective once the underlying cause can be found. Medications can be given to try to reduce the symptoms.
- Psychosis is usually another term for schizophrenia or bipolar disorders. Schizophrenia is a group of mental disorders that involve disturbances in thinking, mood, and behavior. Bipolar disorders involve periods of depression followed by periods of mania. Mania can be accompanies by the feeling of being 10 feet tall and bullet proof, lack of sleep, and excessive activity. A well-known bipolar disorder is manic depression.
- Depression is a common condition among elderly women. Statistics have shown that many depressed patients will go untreated due to improper diagnosis. Common symptoms include but are not limited to: disturbances in sleep, self esteem, sexual desire, appetite, energy, concentration, memory and movement, feeling guilty, thoughts of suicide (planned or attempts), or pain. Depression can be caused by several personal losses experienced in rapid sequence, which happens often with the elderly. Certain medical condtions seem to be associated with depression such as Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, CHF (congestive heart failure), diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and sexual dysfunction. Some medications are known to be associated with depression such as anticancer drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs or progesterone. Psychotherapy along with certain medications is often a good treatment route. These drugs include tricyclics (imipramine, amitryptyline), heterocyclics, SSRI’s (Prozac), or MAOIs. Along with these drugs come a list of side effects such as blurred vision, dry mouth, confusion, or sexual dysfunction to name a few.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of mental health issues in the elderly; it is merely a summary. It is the hope that information will arm you with the ability to seek out help for a loved one if needed.
Friday, September 10th, 2010
By 2050 the elderly population will grow by a huge percentage and there will be a total of 90 million Americans out of the total population that is 65 and older. There are no industries that won’t be effected by this, and many are looking into ways to make sure that the growing percentage won’t be negatively impacted by so many in their peer group.
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Spending Qaulity Time
Pneumonia, even for the healthiest individuals is a dangerous disease. While most people get stuck in bed and miserable for a while, it can post much more severe issues for those with certain risk factors. In the elderly, pneumonia can be absolutely disastrous. Even if the disease itself is treatable, it can easily create much more serious issues very quickly.