Inflammatory Disease

Arthritis

In arthritis one or more joints become inflamed, resulting in local tenderness, swelling, redness, and pain with movement. Arthritis is much less common in children than in adults. Its occurrence is nearly always an acute condition and not the result of the long-term wear and tear that goes with aging.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)

This is the most common cause of chronic arthritis in children, occurring generally between the ages of three and six or early in puberty. (It is uncommon before the age of one or after the age of sixteen.) In JRA, for reasons not clearly understood, the child’s own immune system begins to damage joints and in some cases other tissues as well. There are a number of different forms of JRA:

  • The polyarticular form involves multiple joints.
  • The pauciarticular form, which is more common, involves only one or two joints. It may be associated with inflammation of structures within the eye that can lead to glaucoma or cataracts.
  • The systemic form involves not only joints but also other tissues such as the lungs or heart or the fibrous linings that surround them.

A combination of persistent swelling and pain within one or more joints, often accompanied by fever, may lead a child’s physician to consider this diagnosis and order laboratory tests. If JRA is diagnosed, treatment will focus on containing the inflammation for prolonged periods of time. Because it is effective and inexpensive, aspirin is sometimes used on an ongoing basis – one of the few occasions when aspirin is specifically recommended in childhood, although it must be discontinued during any flulike illness or chicken pox because of its association with Reye’s syndrome. Other anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may be used as an alternative, and in severe cases more unusual drugs are given (often under the supervision of a rheumatologist).

Lyme Disease

This is the most common disease spread by tick bites. It is caused by bacteria carried by the pinhead-size deer tick. In untreated cases, arthritis may develop weeks or months after the initial infection. Symptoms primarily involve painful, swollen joints – especially of the knees – that become chronic in 10 percent of children.

Transient Synovitis

This inflammation occurs most commonly in the hip and much more frequently than septic arthritis. The child may have all the symptoms of septic arthritis – especially a limp or unwillingness to walk because of pain, and a slight fever – but she does not appear as ill as a child with septic arthritis. Medical evaluation will be necessary to make a diagnosis. If the physician is confident that the child does not have an infected joint, he or she may recommend rest, quiet activities, and ibuprofen

Hyperlipidemia

Hyperlipidemia is high blood level of cholesterol that can cause high heart-attack risk factor. The higher it is, the greater the risks.

However, the two key blood fats, cholesterol and triglycerides, can readily be measured. The doctor can remove a certain amount of blood (following a 12-hour starvation regimen), and have this checked by the pathology department. The normal level is widely said to be: Cholesterol: 3.5-5.2 mmol per litre of blood (130-200 mg per dL, or 100 ml of blood). Triglyceride: 0.10-1.60 mmol per litre of blood (150 mg per 100 ml of blood).

Blood fats are normal constituents of blood, but as the figures climb above these levels, so does the risk. It has been found that many farmers in underdeveloped countries often have cholesterol levels as low as 150 mg per 100 ml – and virtually no heart attacks.

Many trials have been carried out to see the distribution of the cholesterol levels in an average community. The accompanying table graphically illustrates this.

It is quite well established that the greater the national affluence, the higher are the lipid levels. These also tend to increase with advancing years.

Fats are either saturated or unsaturated. The greater the intake of saturated fats, the greater the risk factors. In a diet, the greater the proportion of unsaturated fats, the safer it will be.

Generally speaking, the chief source of fats in the diet comes from red meats and dairy products (about 80 percent). This has a high proportion of saturated fats.

The tables set out the nature of food consumed by an average person each day, and show the content of that food in regard to the principal ingredients, protein, fat and carbohydrate (starches). It also shows the caloric distribution. This is how an average man consuming about 12,600 kJ (3000 calories) a day gains his nutritional intake.

Lung Collapse

Lung Collapse occasionally takes place, most frequently after surgical operations, due to obstruction occurring in a bronchus. The air in the portion of lung on the far side of this is absorbed, and the lung simply collapses. It tends to occur chiefly in the right lower lobe, and it may come on one to four days after surgery.

Lung Collapse Symptoms

If the collapse is major, there is pain in the lower part of the chest behind the sternum (breastbone), accompanied by severe breathlessness, restlessness and a bluish tinge to the face. An increased rate of breathing, increased heart rate and fever may follow. This may be followed by considerable infection in the affected part. Unless relief is forthcoming soon, it is possible for permanent bronchiectasis to develop in the affected portion of lung.

Lung Collapse Treatment

In patients intending to undergo surgery, lung collapse can often be prevented by sensible measures taken beforehand. These include cessation of smoking, the doctor not operating on any patient with a chest infection, for there is a much higher risk of a mucus plug becoming lodged in an air passageway during or after the anesthetic. The patient should be encouraged to move about and cough as soon as possible after the operation, to dislodge any impending obstruction, such as mucus in the airways.

If collapse does occur, physiotherapy by a skilled practitioner may assist. Otherwise, investigation with the bronchoscope is essential. Antibiotics are needed if there is any delay in initiating therapy.

Emotional Symptoms During Second Trimester Pregnancy

Most women find the second trimester to be a more positive experience that the first, as they are now beginning to feel the movements of the life with them. Most husbands by now have accepted the existence of the pregnancy, and are as excited as the woman about the movements of the baby. During the second trimester, men frequently also become more aware of their wife’s growing dependence on them. As the pregnancy progresses, the woman may feel more vulnerable and may need her mate’s attention more. She may want him to become more involved with the pregnancy and the baby. In addition, she may become overly concerned for her husband’s safety. Meanwhile, the husband may share the woman’s interest in the pregnancy, or he may feel an increased creative interest in his work or hobby. He may gain weight or show other symptoms of pregnancy. These are all ways in which expectant mothers and fathers deal with the stresses and changes that are occurring. It is important for both partners to be aware of and to talk about their feelings, especially when friction arises between them.

A woman’s dreams may become very real during this trimester and are sometimes disturbing. Dreams are a way of bringing fears to consciousness, where they can be dealt with more easily. If a woman refuses to acknowledge her fears, she may suffer increasing anxiety.

Loss of Consciousness

Unconsciousness occurs when the oxygen supply to the brain becomes inadequate. There is not enough oxygen for the nervous system to control normal activities. So there may be a slow or gradual dulling of senses, often precipitated by a slowing of movements, general vagueness and finally dizziness, maybe drowsiness and finally a total lack of consciousness. Often this may be simple, due to fainting, where a momentary lack of oxygen occurs, and recovery is usually quick. However, there may be other serious underlying causes present as well. The patient may be a diabetic suffering from excessively high sugar levels (diabetic coma) that require urgent treatment to prevent death. Or there may be too much insulin as a result of treatment undertaken when the patient may have missed meals or over exercised, or some other condition.

Epilepsy is a well-known cause of unconsciousness, and the patient may have a series of convulsions prior to lapsing into the unconscious state. The situation may have occurred as a result of accident, in which case there is usually some other indication at the same time. It may have been due to trauma to the brain.

Many drugs and poisons may produce unconsciousness, and this includes alcoholic excesses. There may be evidence of these about the patient. A heart attack may have occurred, or the patient may have been electrocuted, in which case there is usually some obvious evidence.

When first confronted with an unconscious patient, they will have little knowledge of what has taken place. Therefore, a quick, preliminary assessment is essential.

After this, attention to general principles of treatment is urgently needed. The brain is unable to withstand oxygen deprivation from vital cells very long, and unless this is restored within a few minutes, irreversible brain damage is likely. If the heart has stopped beating, and breathing is diminishing or has also ceased, immediate steps at resuscitation are vital. Unless these two centers commence operating again, so allowing the blood flow to recommence and the blood to become reoxygenated, then the patient’s life is in grave peril.

Every first aider must have an intimate knowledge of the simple, effective methods of resuscitation and know how to commence these in a few moments. The first alder must know when they are needed, then how to carry them out. As these are fairly tiring, it is always advisable to have an assistant also conversant with the methods available to take over, so allowing periods of rest.

Loss of Consciousness Causes

It is always worth checking in the patient’s pockets, briefcase or handbag to see if there are any clues relating to possible disabilities. Sometimes patients with known chronic diseases (particularly diabetics, epileptics, heart cases) carry notification cards:

  • Stating their disease, with phone numbers and instructions regarding emergency care or medical warning medallions or bracelets. These may be vital, so always check.
  • Some cars have stickers with similar information, and glove boxes of cars may carry records.

Sometimes bystanders may be able to offer some indication of what occurred prior to the attack, and this may assist, such as in epileptics who may throw convulsions before lapsing into unconsciousness. See the sections on head injuries, stroke, fainting, epileptic fits, drunkenness, diabetic coma and hypoglycemic coma for some of the probable causes of unconsciousness. The treatment will be basically the same in each case but in some instances further treatment may be available

There are many causes of unconsciousness, but the immediate emergency treatment is the same. As soon as this has been carried out, the basic cause may be found, and sonic further treatment offered.

In any case, the sooner the patient is taken to expert medical attention (such as the emergency centre of a large hospital) the better. Many causes of unconsciousness are serious, necessitating urgent treatment.

Loss of Consciousness Symptoms

  1. The patient’s unconscious, and does not respond to normal stimulation, such as when spoken to or touched.
  2. There may be obvious causes present, such as hemorrhaging, vomiting, fluid loss from burns, diarrhea, or the obvious result from an accident.
  3. There may be eyewitness accounts of fits preceding the loss of consciousness. The patient may be a known diabetic, epileptic or heart patient. He or she may be an alcoholic.
  4. There may be evidence of what has caused the problem: sleeping-pill bottles, other medication containers, poison, drugs, bottles of alcohol, knives, guns etc.

What to Do in the Case of Unconsciousness

  1. Act promptly but remain calm and efficient. If you are scared and feel incompetent, call for immediate assistance. In any case, summon an ambulance for transport to hospital.
  2. Remove patient from the cause if further danger is imminent (e.g. electrical accidents).
  3. Turn patient on side. Make certain air passages are not blocked. If they are, remove any debris as a matter of urgency. Check for breathing and commence expired air resuscitation if necessary.
  4. Feel for pulse at neck if not present, immediate external cardiac compression is essential.
  5. If breathing and pulse are present, place the patient in the stable side position. This excellent position allows unwanted secretions (such as blood, vomitus, mucus or food) to drain from the body and reduces the risk of breathing obstruction.
  6. Check for bleeding and other injuries. Manage these.
  7. Under no circumstance give anything by mouth. This applies to fluid or alcoholic beverages. Oral administration could choke.
  8. Watch the patient’s color. A bluish color means inadequate oxygenation. A normal pink color means the patient is getting adequate amounts, and is in a far better position.
  9. Never leave the patient unless under adequate supervision of somebody with first aid or professional skill.
  10. Get medical aid as promptly as possible. Often, in serious cases, the emergency ward of a hospital is imperative. At this stage you do not know the cause, so plan for transportation promptly.
  11. Check in pockets, handbags or glove boxes for any identification of disease, as many chronics carry identification cards (or some other medical-warning device) setting out their disease, plus measures to be used in an emergency. These are often valuable.

Spinal Cord Facts

  • The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves running down the middle of the backbone.
  • The spinal cord is the route for all nerve signals traveling between the brain and the body.
  • The spinal cord can actually work independently of the brain, sending out responses to the muscles directly.
  • The outside of the spinal cord is made of the long tails or axons of nerve cells and is called white matter; the inside is made of the main nerve bodies and is called grey matter.
  • Your spinal cord is about 43 cm long and I cm thick. It stops growing when you are about five years old.
  • Damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis.
  • Injuries below the neck can cause paraplegia — paralysis below the waist.
  • Injuries to the neck can cause quadriplegia — paralysis below the neck.
  • Descending pathways are groups of nerves that carry nerve signals down the spinal cord – typically signals from the brain for muscles to move.
  • Ascending pathways are groups of nerves that carry nerve signals up the spinal cord – typically signals from the skin and internal body sensors going to the brain.

Symbiosis Facts

  • Living things that feed off other living things are called parasites.
  • Living things that depend on each other to live are called symbiotic.
  • Many tropical rainforest trees have a symbiotic relationship with fungi on their roots. The fungi get energy from the trees and in return give the trees phosphorus and other nutrients.
  • A phyte is a plant that grows on another plant.
  • Epiphytes are plants that grow high up on other plants, especially in tropical rainforests.
  • Many plants rely on bees and butterflies to spread their pollen. In return, they give nectar.
  • Saprophytes are plants and fungi that depend on decomposing material, not sunlight, for sustenance.
  • Most orchids are saprophytic as seedlings.
  • Corsiaceae orchids of New Guinea, Australia and Chile are saprophytic all their lives.
  • Various ants, such as leaf-cutter and harvester ants in tropical forests, line their nests with leaves which they cut up. The leaves provide food for fungi which, in lure, provide food for the ants.

Chemical Compound Facts

  • Compounds are substances that are made when the atoms of two or more different elements join together.
  • The properties of a compound are usually very different from those of the elements which it is made of.
  • Compounds are different from mixtures because the elements are joined together chemically. They can only be separated by a chemical reaction.
  • Every molecule of a compound is exactly the same combination of atoms.
  • The scientific name of a compound is usually a combination of the elements involved, although it might have a different common name.
  • Table salt is the chemical compound sodium chloride. Each molecule has one sodium and one chlorine atom.
  • The chemical formula of a compound summarizes which atoms a molecule is made of. The chemical formula for water is H 20 because each water molecule has two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (0) atom.
  • Table salt, or sodium chloride, forms when sodium Hydroxide neutralizes hydrocloric acid.
  • There only 100 or so elements but they can combine in different ways to form many millions of compounds.
  • The same combination of elements, such as carbon and hydrogen, can form many different compounds.
  • Compounds are either organic (see organic chemistry), which means they contain carbon atoms, or inorganic.

Allergic Rhinitis

What is Allergic Rhinitis?

Allergic rhinitis refers to allergy of the nose. Allergies are basically caused by the interaction between the body’s immune system and irritants or agents referred to as allergens within the external world. Allergic reactions occur when the immune system sees a simple agent as a harmful intruder and reacts with chemical processes that are inappropriate hence they negatively affect the body. Symptoms of allergies are varied and can be mild or severe, some even being fatal.

Allergic rhinitis is among the most prevalent forms of atopic (skin) disorders. It is assumed that its prevalence is due to the nose’s constant exposure to airborne allergens, oftentimes being the initial point of contact between the body and these external stimuli. Airborne allergens are among the most common triggers of allergic reactions. The condition is impartial to gender with both males and females experiencing equal incidence rates.

Symptoms of allergic Rhinitis

Symptoms of this kind of allergy include runny nose and stuffiness, redness of the lower eyelid, sneezing, nasal congestion and other cold-like symptoms, snoring, heavy mouth breathing, the constant clearing of the throat, allergic creases (lines across the nose caused by frequent wiping of the nose in upward swipes made by the index finger often referred to an “allergic salutes”), headaches, nose bleeds or secretions that are tinted with blood, earaches and dark circles under the eyes.

Types of allergic Rhinitis

Allergies of the nose fall under two main categories; these are “perennial’ and “seasonal”. Perennial allergies tend to get worse during the winter months especially for children but are experienced year round. Winter months are associated with increases in allergic reactions in children because they tend to spend more time indoors hence exposures to airborne irritants around the house are more frequent and prolonged.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis results mainly from exposure to plant pollen being circulated by winds. Different irritants exist in different regions since plant life will vary based on natural habitat. The season of attack will differ as well based on the location of those affected. On average, trees produce common allergens during late winter going into early spring months, while grass is a leading cause through-out the rest of spring and the early summer period. Weeds (mainly ragweed) dominate late summer. Mold can trigger allergic rhinitis, so too can perfume and strong fragrances, pollution (unclear air), weather changes, humidity, tobacco smoke, dry air and cosmetics.

Treatment of allergic Rhinitis

Treatments include antihistamines, decongestants (in solid, liquid and nasal sprays), Immunotherapy (also called hyposensitization or more commonly know as allergy shots) and Cromolyn or steroid nasal spray. Strength, type, frequency and duration of treatment will vary based on the condition, allergen and severity of each attack although preventative measures are best. Airborne allergens can be avoided for the most part especially those that are found around the home. For those that cannot be avoided, reducing exposure should be attempted.

Reactions that are persistent or affect natural functions (like breathing or swallowing) should be brought to the attention of a doctor. Mild cases can be treated at home with drugs that can be obtained from local pharmacies without a prescription.

Fox Facts

  • The larder of one Arctic fox was found to contain 50 lemmings and 40 little auks, all lined up with tails pointing the same way and their heads bitten off.
  • African bat-eared foxes have huge ears for radiating heat away from the body.
  • Arctic foxes live only 480 km from the North Pole.
  • The grey fox of North and Central America is the oldest surviving member of the dog family, first appearing 9 million years ago.
  • The African fennec fox’s 15-cm long ears are the largest of any carnivore.
  • The American grey fox leaps with ease between tree branches.
  • Some foxes roll about and chase their tails to ‘charm’ rabbits, which seem fascinated and come closer, allowing the fox to make a grab.
  • The red fox has adapted with great success to urban life, even moving into houses via cat flaps.
  • When locating insects beneath the ground, the bat-eared fox cups its large ears, gradually pinpointing the exact position of the prey before digging.
  • In early autumn, up to 90% of the red fox’s diet may consist of apples, blackberries and other fruits.
  • Basically a night hunter, the red fox is often seen during the day, and shows up sharply against winter snow.