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What Are The Endocrine Glands?

by on Friday, October 17, 2014 21:00 under Health.

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Endocrinology is the study of a strange set of organs that produce important chemicals called hormones. These are pumped directly into the bloodstream, and rapidly circulate to all parts of the system. Most of the glands produce more than one chemical. Indeed, some, such as the pituitary gland, can produce a large number. Each hormone has a specific function. The remarkable thing is that the hormones seem to know exactly where to go and what to do.

There is usually a fine balance between the activities of the various chemicals. This is all aimed at keeping the body as near to normal as possible, and functioning with the minimum amount of discomfort. Indeed, considering the huge number of chemicals involved in the function of the system, it is amazing. The endocrine glands are all largely under the control of the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. These two areas form part of the brain. near its base, and together act as “captain of the ship.” They produce hormones that in turn govern the production and activity of other hormones produced in other regions of the body. They can have an overriding effect. They are close together, and actually the hypothalamus is the reins that check, activate and regulate the pituitary.

Although there is no direct conscious control over these glands by the individual, certain mental states, such as tensions and stresses and other psychological conditions, may indirectly influence the hypothalamus, so in a sense there is some indirect form of control.

In ordinary health the normally functioning glands pump out measured amounts of their hormones each 24 hours. Sometimes there is a so-called circadian distribution of production. This means it may vary during the 24-hour cycle of the day. In other areas it may be on a longer-term basis, such as in the ovaries of the female, where a 28-day cycle tends to occur.

In indifferent health, usually due tosome disease process, the endocrines will produce an altered amount of chemical. There may be either overactivity or underactivity of production. In turn, this will have dire repercussions on the total system. With some, it will dramatically alter the production rate of other hormones or affect general bodily function in startling ways. The most serious cause for these irregularities is when tumours (grave if these are cancerous) commence growing in the glands.

The next gland coming down from the hypothalamus and pituitary is the thyroid. This is situated in the neck at roughly the level of the Adam’s apple. It produces thyroid hormones that in turn exert powerful influences directly on the body. They also affect the other endocrine glands of the system.

Located behind the thyroid gland, and indeed deeply embedded in its back wall, are four small, rounded organs called the parathyroids. These are concerned with calcium and phosphorus metabolism. In this way they radically affect the bones, their rate of growth and general solidarity – a vital factor to normal living.

Sitting on top of the kidneys at the back of the abdominal cavity are the adrenal glands. Each consists of an outer part or cortex, and an inner part or medulla. These two sections produce important hormones. Cortisone comes from the cortex and is well-known for its vital effect on the system. It also produces hormones that affect blood pressure, and the medulla produces adrenaline, essential in giving the body its ability to cope with situations demanding “fight or flight.” The gonads are the major differentiating glands of the sexes, and are commonly called the sex glands. In females they govern the onset of the secondary sexual characteristics, and also control menstruation and the ability to become – and remain – pregnant.

In males, apart from ensuring pubertal development, the testes produce male hormone and the sperms, the male cells of reproduction.

Finally. the pancreas is located in the abdominal cavity, and its main claim to fame is in producing insulin. Deficient supplies produce a disease syndrome called diabetes mellitus, commonly known as sugar diabetes. Unless treated. many cases could quickly end fatally. But treatment can now maintain a person in near-normal health for a good long life. Generally speaking, the study of the endocrines is a very complex one.

Doctors who study this aspect of medicine usually do so in special clinics attached to major hospital units equipped with full facilities to investigate patients. Diagnosis is often difficult. Treatment is no simple matter in most cases. It usually has to be regulated very carefully. The doctors who do this are called endocrinologists. Diabetes too, although often patient-treated, must be under strict medical supervision. but it is one of the few disorders in which the patient is encouraged to take a close part in the actual administration of therapy, such as giving insulin if this is needed. The endocrines are a fascinating study and have attracted some of the best brains in medicine.

As more research is being carried out, more knowledge is being gained. Recent development of sensitive methods for detecting very small quantities of hormones in the blood have been developed. One such method is radioimmunoassay. This is opening vast new areas, for often until the doctors know more about chemical levels in the blood, diagnosis and treatment are delayed.

There are many practical repercussions from all this. For example. infertility (the inability to conceive) is an increasingly common problem in many women after they have taken the oral contraceptive pill for awhile; there are also other unknown reasons. To date treatment had been poor and relatively ineffective. But radioimmunoassay revealed that these women often have a higher-than-normal level of prolactin in their bloodstream. This is a hormone produced by the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

With this knowledge, the doctors have developed a drug called bromocriptine that effectively lowers plasma prolactin levels. The result is that many infertile women may now become pregnant – often within a few months of diagnosis – by taking bromocriptine. This is merely one indication of the value of increased knowledge in this exciting and rewarding field.

It is pointed out that many cases of endocrine disorder give rise to odd symptoms. If any of these are recognised, do not try to treat yourself. Get along to a doctor, who in turn may refer you to an endocrinologist if it appears to be warranted. Here correct diagnosis and treatment will be readily available. Home therapy, as a general rule. has no place in the treatment of endocrine disorders


by on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 7:47 under Health.

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The uterus is a pear-shaped organ, with the narrow cervical part extending from the vaginal roof. It widens out into the vault. A narrow canal penetrates the cervix. This is called the cervical canal, and the external part that joins up with the vagina is called the external os (or hole), and the inner one is termed the internal os.

Inside, the cavity of the uterus widens out, although in normal everyday life its thick walls lie very closely together. The uterus measures about nine centimetres long, six centimetres in width at its widest part and four centimetres in thickness from front to back. It weighs about 40 grams to 60 grams, and its walls (when not pregnant) are one to two centimetres in thickness.

It sits in the pelvis in the midline, and tilts forward. Behind is the bowel, and in front is the bladder.

The uterus is lined with very special tissue called the endometrium. The thickness of this varies from day to day, according to the day of the menstrual cycle. This is under the direct control of

chemicals called hormones, which are produced by the ovaries, as well as by some other parts of the body. Every 28 days (this varies a little with each woman) menstruation takes place. During this time, which extends anywhere from two to nine days, the lining of the uterus is gradually shed. This is recognised by the woman in the form of bright red bleeding occurring on a regular basis. It is termed the menstrual period, but goes by many colloquial names. Whenever a woman uses quaint names for it, it is usually not difficult to understand what she is referring to.

The main part of the uterus is called the body, and the very uppermost part is referred to by doctors as the fundus. This part is often quoted during examinations in the course of a pregnancy, for the height of the fundus gradually rises as the pregnancy advances. It can give a rough estimation of the age of the developing foetus inside.

At the upper corner of the uterus (called the cornu or horn) on each side, a narrow canal leads out and joins with the oviduct. This is a tube, and on each side extends outwards for about 10 centimetres.

The oviduct is also known as the Fallopian tube. At the far end, the oviduct comes into close approximation with the ovary, a whitish-grey organ about the size and shape of an almond. The ovary is packed with microscopic, partially developed eggs, which have been present since birth. By the time puberty is reached (anywhere from nine years onwards), nearly a quarter of a million of these eggs are contained in the ovary. This is an enormous number, and only a fraction of the total will ever be utilised during a woman’s normal reproductive life cycle.

The far end of the oviduct has numerous fingerlike tentacles that largely overhang the ovary. They are present for a very special and important reason. Approximately each 28 days (this varies in different women, but averages this figure), a developing ovum suddenly works its way to the surface of the ovary, and bursts through the surface. It leaves a minute space on the surface of the ovary that quickly fills with blood, and this becomes known as the corpus luteum. Very rapidly this organ commences to produce a special hormone, or chemical, called progesterone, which is pumped into the general bloodstream, and has a profound effect on the uterus.


Meanwhile, the released egg, or ovum, is suddenly swept up by the fingerlike tentacles of the oviduct. It makes its way rapidly into the free end of the tube. The cells lining the tube have special hair like projections on them called cilia. These move with a sweeping motion in the direction of the uterus.

So the egg has little choice but to be carried along toward the uterus. Should the egg encounter a male reproductive cell (called a sperm) while in the tube, then fertilisation takes place as the two cells unite. At this instant, conception has occurred, and the woman is then pregnant.

The fertilised egg continues on its way to the uterus, which under the powerful influence of progesterone (from the corpus luteum of the ovary) is rapidly preparing for pregnancy.

The uterine walls thicken, its blood supply is increased, and all is in readiness. The single cell of the egg quickly subdivides, then redivides, and continues to divide, the number of cells doubling on each occasion. By the time it reaches the uterus it has developed into a mass of cells. This then becomes embedded in the thick lining (the endometrium) of the uterine walls, and the pregnancy is under way.

But if the egg fails to contact a male cell, a different situation occurs. It will reach the uterus, and fails to become embedded in the walls, even though they are ready to receive it.

Suddenly the whole process comes to an abrupt halt. The corpus luteum senses that pregnancy has not occurred, so it turns off its progesterone production. Suffering from this lack of chemical, the uterine wall gradually commences to crumble. At first this is represented by a tiny trickle of bright red blood, which escapes to the outside through the vagina.

Over the next several days, this increases, until finally the entire endometrial lining is shed in this manner. A normal menstrual period takes place; the uterine wall is reduced to its. normal state, and once more another cycle commences. Menstrual bleeding starts about 14 days following the release of the egg from the ovary, if pregnancy has not taken place.

Meanwhile, back at the ovary, another follicle gradually makes its way to the surface, and the whole process is repeated. Nature is very persistent. Even though the chances of pregnancy in any one menstrual month are very slim, the process is repeated from the time of the menarche (when menstruation occurs in young females, often around the age of 10 – 16 years) until it ceases, at the so called change of life, or menopause, which is anywhere from the age of 45 – 50 years, or maybe even later.

Ovulation, the moment the egg is released from the ovary, takes place 14 days before the onset of a menstrual period. Pregnancy may take place only in the 24 – 48 hours immediately following this event. This, of course, means that sexual intercourse must occur during that time.

With the enormous number of unplanned, and apparently unwanted babies that are conceived, it is incredible what can take place on a universal basis during that critical 24-48-hours time segment!

Nature’s chief aim is to guarantee reproduction of the species. Therefore, it uses every wile to ensure that this will take place. Just as the system’s hormones help to secure pregnancy internally, so they have profound psychological and emotional effects as well.

Many women have a heightened libido (a desire for lovemaking) at the crucial time when pregnancy is most likely. They are more responsive, more sensuous, more amorous, more “desirable,” as many a faltering male has later on discovered to his dismay (or joy, whatever his attitude to the outcome happens to be).

The act of intercourse means that the male organ of reproduction, the penis, penetrates the vagina. Erection occurs, and this is stimulated by psychological overtones, all inherent in the lovemaking process.

At the point of orgasm (frequently referred to as the climax), millions of male reproductive cells (called spermatozoa, or sperms for short) pour forth from the end of the penis, to be deposited high up in the vaginal tract.

The uterine cervix is bathed temporarily in the seminal fluid, and the cells actively swim up the cervical canal into the uterine cavity. Many are casualties by the way, but a few stalwarts ultimately penetrate into the oviducts (the Fallopian tubes), and work their way along the duct in the quest for an egg.

Should one be encountered, the remaining sperms will actively surround the egg. Finally, one with greater sustaining powers than his fellows will penetrate the outer layers of the egg, enter it, and immediately fuse with it inside to produce a fertilised egg. At this instant, conception has taken place, and the woman is then pregnant. The egg continues on its way down the tube as described previously.

Urinary Tract Infections

by on Thursday, October 9, 2014 18:12 under Health.

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What is Urinary Tract Infections?

In fact tests on large numbers of schoolchildren have indicated that many youngsters, especially girls, often harbour germs in the bladder. There are not necessarily any symptoms. –It is frequently called a silent bacteriuria. Apparently germs may lie there quiescent for some time. But if there is a sudden “chill,” or lowering of the body temperature, they multiply and make their unpleasant presence felt.

The child may experience a chill, and possibly shivering. The temperature may rise. There may be the desire to pass the urine often. This may be painful, or it may be worse as the last few drops are being voided. Often, when this has happened, the child may want to run off to the toilet again, frequently within a few minutes. Of course, only half a teaspoonful may be passed and this likewise may feel hot and burning. “Like powdered glass,” is a common way of expressing it. I’m not certain how children know what it is like to void powdered glass, but you get the idea, I’m sure.

Sometimes the urine may be foul smelling. It may be cloudy, or there may blood in it. This is not a very good sign. There may be tenderness over the bladder, or over the lower part of the back. The kidneys are just inside this part and they may be tender in the so-called “renal angle,” as the doctors say. The patient may feel generally unwell, may vomit, have loss of appetite, feel clammy and hot and may be weepy and depressed.

Urinary Tract Infections Treatment

With acute symptoms, it’s wise to have medical attention. The doctor will probably order a urine test. A “midstream” specimen is examined by the pathologist, who will check for abnormal components such as blood or albumen, which indicate that abnormal substances are being filtered by the renal mechanism.

The pathologist will also carry out a culture and sensitivity test. This means the germs responsible for the infection are grown so they may be identified. At the same time, they will be checked against the commonly used antibiotics to determine which is the most suitable one for checking the infection, and preventing a recurrence.

Often the doctor will give immediate treatment. But when the results are to hand, it may be changed. A wide variety of antibiotics is currently available. These are highly satisfactory for renal tract infections. Some doctors give a large single dose. Other doctors prefer to continue therapy for some time in an effort to eradicate all traces of infection, and hoping future ones will not take place.

Often urinary “alkalinising agents” are given. These convert the urine to an alkaline state, and this is believed to help kill off the germs. But some other antibiotics act more successfully in an acid medium. Usually a total package form of treatment is prepared for the individual patient.

Extra fluids are usually prescribed. Plenty of water-based fluids and fruit juices are a good idea. Repeat often. If the is a fever and aches and pains, paracetamol elixir often reduces both. Aspirin products are best not given for these symptoms.

Sucking bits of chipped-up ice s good if there is vomiting. Flavoured ones may be made, such as using lemonade. Often a quick, lukewarm sponge will make the youthful patient feel much better. Sometimes, if hot and miserable, a cold pack to the forehead can help improve feelings.

Infections of the urinary tract are extremely common, particularly in women and children. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential. If problems recur, then investigation to find the basic cause is imperative. Infections may be present without any symptoms. Progressive kidney disease may readily occur, and if this becomes well established and chronic, there is no suitable long term cure.

Infections of the Urinary Tract Symptoms suggesting infection of the urinary tract are very common. Surveys show that between 12 and 20 of every 1000 surgery consultations arc for this reason.

“Urinary tract infection is one of the most common disorders encountered by the practising clinician,” a Melbourne kidney specialist says. “At all ages, the female is more prone to develop urinary tract infection and in particular, symptoms of dysuria [difficulty in urinating] and frequency are very common in adult women, most of whom have no associated abnormality in the urinary tract.” Much research has taken place in the past few years, and more accurate ways of determining the cause have been worked out. Tests quite different from those used a few years ago are now being used widely in diagnosis and treatment.

Often urinary tract infections are present, yielding no symptoms. Also, other considerations, such as the so-called “vesico-ureteric reflux,” are being demonstrated by new X-ray methods.

This means that during voiding, in some cases the urine is moved back or refluxes into the urethras, the tubes conveying the urine from the kidneys to the bladder. The significance is that this may produce damage and scarring in the kidneys that may have long-term adverse consequences for the patient.


Often there are no symptoms, or there may be increased frequency of urination and discomfort. In a typical attack, there may be a feeling of being off-colour or quite ill. There may be a high fever with shivers, vomiting, headache and aches and pains all over, and probably constipation. There may be a dull, aching pain in the loin, and possibly marked tenderness over the lower part of the back. An attack may settle, to recur a little later on. There may or may not be associated elevation of the blood pressure.

Diagnosis is usually made on clinical grounds, and this may be confirmed by having a bacterial count carried out. The colonies of infecting organisms are actually checked, and it is accepted that a colony count of 100,000 per ml of urine is evidence of infection. Counts of 10,000 or less are usually considered to be due to contamination of the urine sample during collection.

The majority of urinary infections are due to organisms that are sensitive to sulfas, and these are usually given for at least 10 days. Infections resistant to sulfas should be treated with other suitable antibiotics following special sensitivity tests. These are special tests done in the laboratory in which the germ is cultured and subjected to various antibiotics. In this way the most appropriate antibiotic may be found, and used in subsequent treatment.

Often the cephalosporins, ampicillin, co-trimoxazole or tetracyclines are suitable and effective. Other drugs are available also, such as nitrofurantoin and nalidixic acid tablets. Follow-up bacterial tests are carried out to check the efficacy of therapy.

If the infection recurs or fails to be cured with simple therapy, further investigations will be ordered, such as a kidney X-ray. This is called an intravenous pyelogram (or IVP). Alternatively a CT scan or ultrasound investigation may be carried out. The aim is to discover if there is any obvious disorder of the kidneys, or if there are any anatomical structural anomalies present that could be the basic cause of the infection. Congenital defects, if present, may be an important cause for recurring infections, particularly in children. Prolonged courses of antibiotics may be necessary, especially in children, in an effort to prevent progressive renal damage. Some infections and organisms are very difficult to eradicate.

Surgery may be recommended. If investigation indicates that anatomical or structural faults are present, surgical measures may be recommended. When infections are successfully treated, vesico-ureteric reflux may disappear, but if it persists, it may indicate the need for corrective surgery. This may be in the form of a ureteric transplant or the relief of any obstruction to the bladder neck. The patient should also be instructed in sexual hygiene, and told how to reduce the risks of fecal contamination (eg using toilet tissues with a front-to back sweep, rather than vice versa). Suggestions on avoiding infections following intercourse may be offered. Particularly in newlyweds, and those indulging often in sexual intercourse, urinating as soon as possible afterwards is advisable. Treating any urinary infection promptly is essential, and adequate follow- up is wise. Any child with fevers for no obvious reason could he suffering from urinary infections, and the doctor will check this. Efforts should be made at preventive medicine, for the outlook for recurring infections is poor. It may become chronic, and for this there is no simple cure.

Underactive Thyroid Gland

by on Sunday, October 5, 2014 17:03 under Health.

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In infants and small children this may be a deficiency of iodine in the diet, producing a visible swelling in the neck called a goitre. be extremely important. It can affect the mental and physical development of the infant, and if undiagnosed and untreated may lead to a serious condition called hypothyroidism. This is also commonly termed cretinism.

Underactive Thyroid Gland Symptoms

Symptoms may set in fairly early in life. The first few weeks may seem fairly normal, but then an observant mother or physician may notice that baby seems sluggish and a bit slow mentally. The skin may appear to be cool and grey; the infant may be constipated, have a large tongue and flabby muscles on the abdomen. In time these become accentuated. The tongue may loll out, a swelling be present at the navel, called an umbilical hernia. There may be a hoarse little cry. Often the symptoms are vague, rather than clear-cut.

This may be at a slower rate than one would normally expect. Mental development especially becomes obviously much slower; the eyes seem to be set widely apart, and an abnormal appearance develops. With further increase in age, the skin becomes dry and coarse, the hair dry, coarse and brittle. There are the obvious signs of thyroxine lack.

Underactive Thyroid Gland Treatment

I’m happy to say treatment is often dramatic. The hormone that is lackingthyroxine – is administered, and can make a world of difference. If given sufficiently early, it can also prevent serious symptoms from developing. But if it’s so difficult to pick, how can the doctors start early therapy? Fortunately, in Australia, obstetrics hospitals now carry out a routine blood test at birth that can detect hypothyroidism. The complaint affects about one baby in 4,000. So in this manner it’s possible to commence treatment virtually from birth. It is done under medical supervision, and may be continued for many years. These services are now available in many countries of the Western world, and have virtually become an automatic procedure for babies.

Overactive Thyroid Gland

by on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 3:23 under Health.

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Overactive Thyroid Gland is referred to as an overactive gland or hyperthyroidism. Unlike the underactive state that may set in at birth, this is more common in the 12-14-years age group, and seems to affect girls more commonly than lads.
They may come on quite suddenly, and the symptoms represent a general speeding up of the system and its activity. It’s as though the accelerator has been shoved down to the floor, and everything is racing. So, the patient tends to be nervy and irritable. She fidgets and squirms around and simply cannot sit still for long. The skin tends to feel warm and clammy, and she may perspire more than normal. Occasionally there may be prominence of the eyes, although this is more common in advanced cases in adults.
The heart may race and palpitations may develop, which is a little scary. The child may eat well, but be quite thin, and often feel weak, for the food is being gobbled up at a fast rate. Growth may be above normal. Girls may commence menstruation later than normal, or might not commence at all.
A mother confronted with symptoms in her child along these lines should promptly seek medical attention. Exactly, and that is why I’ve named the most probable kinds of symptoms. The sooner special tests are carried out, the sooner the child will be restored to normal.
Overactive Thyroid Gland Treatment
This will vary with the individual patient. It will depend on the results of tests and assessments. In some cases, medication with tablets may be adequate. In more serious ones, surgery may be necessary. The doctor, usually a specialist, will prescribe a special medication routine for the patient and her particular problem. I might assure mothers that therapy is usually very satisfactory, and in the long run an excellent result will take place in most instances. The main object, however, is action if abnormal symptoms occur.

Plant Decoration

by on Saturday, September 13, 2014 8:44 under Do it Yourself.

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Herbaceous borders bring wonderful colour in summer but die down to next to nothing in the winter, so it is good to provide an evergreen structure of plants to get you through all the seasons. These can also contribute to the ‘architecture’ of the garden, creating levels, screens, and even sculpture. You can plan to have taller shrubs at the back of the borders, slowly graduating toward the front, or you can make more structured steps. You can arrange rows of small, lightly screening plants across the garden to create a living screen, and you can use specimen trees or neatly trimmed topiary as living sculpture.

The colour scheme can he planned against this basic structure. The decorative garden room is at its prettiest with plenty of colour. The structural shrubs and trees also can be chosen to make certain there is some colour all the year round — fruit trees for blossom in spring; shrub roses for summer colour and late-flowering clematis and wonderful berries, such as those of the pyracantha, in autumn, and of holly in winter. This display can he complemented by autumn-flowering bulbs such as colchicum, schizostylis, and cyclamen.

But the most variety of colours can be added with pots and containers. There is always a choice of seasonal colour at garden centres. By planting up in movable pots, you can easily put the colour where you want it and replant with new seasonal colour as the old blooms die.

Colour creates much more impact if it is kept to a theme — of blues and pinks, perhaps, or oranges and yellows. This theme can be strengthened with the use of paint and stain on nearby fences, garden buildings, furniture, or even the pots themselves.

Adding decorative colour

In a decorative garden, colour is very important. Not only can the paint you choose suggest mood and ambience, just as it does indoors, it can emphasize the colour scheme of the planting.

The surfaces you paint may be the house walls, walls of outside buildings, or the garden walls. Maybe you have a hopscotch of fencing and trellis work, all of slightly different woods and ages, that has resulted in a visual muddle. Paint them all in the same decorative finish, and you will have a much more coherent look. Or you may have newly erected trellis work that has a year or more to wait for a verdant covering of creepers. Paint it, and you will have a reasonable finish while you wait.

Colour can also be used to highlight areas. You may pinpoint an area destined for a particular colour scheme or you may wish to highlight the planting. Burnt-orange fencing would provide a stunning background for marigolds, while yellow picket would highlight the nodding heads of pansies. Painted fences and surfaces also lend colour throughout the year. They are particularly valuable in winter when many plants have died down.

Ideas with paint

Whether you want to paint your garden wall or a house wall that makes up part of the garden, there is plenty of inspiration to be had. Experiment not only with colour but with technique.

As well as straight colour, you can create depth by layering the colour. Try to add effects such as marble, stone, slate, or moss or by stenciling to a wall. The trick is to consider the scale of the garden.

These effects will have to be seen from much further away than they would be if used inside the house. Even a 10 m/30 ft garden is much larger than the average room, so everything has to be exaggerated a little.

An enchanting little pond, complete with fountain and cherub, adds colour and interest to a shady corner of the garden.

Although you may spend less time in the front garden, colourful plants growing by the door will create a welcoming impression.

Paint Practicalities

Any outdoor paint job has to be able to withstand a lot of beating from the weather, such as frosts, strong winds, torrential rain and the summer sun.

For this reason, it is best to use exterior-quality products. They are less likely to peel and flake, their colours are less likely to fade and they are specifically designed to protect the surface they are covering.

Alternatively, when decorating items such as pots and containers, which are not crucial to the garden structure, you can achieve a reasonably hard-wearing finish using a wider variety of paints over a primer, finished with a varnish.

Whatever you plan to paint or stain, it is important to use primers and varnishes that are compatible with each other, otherwise they may react adversely. Remember too that, if you have the patience and time, several thin layers of paint always produce a more enduring and better-looking finish than one thick one

Illness and Child Care

by on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 7:25 under Do it Yourself.

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Abdominal pain

This can be caused by indigestion, colic or wind, and antacids or charcoal tablets will help to relieve the symptoms quickly. Anyone suffering from abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting or fever should be seen by a doctor.

Bad breath

Bad breath may simply be the result of smoking or eating spicy foods, but can also be caused by gum disease. Cleaning teeth regularly and using dental floss will ensure the health of gums and, with the use of antiseptic mouth washes, the problem should disappear. If gums are not the problem, there may be a digestive disorder and you should seek the advice of a doctor.


In the first few days a slight fever may occur, which can be treated with paracetamol. Try to prevent a child from scratching the spots, as this may lead to infection. A daily bath or shower will prevent the spots from becoming infected, and calamine lotion applied afterwards will help to reduce and relieve the itching.


Resting as much as possible and taking plenty of fluids will help to clear up a cold quickly. Aspirin or paracetamol will help to reduce the discomfort and lower fever, and medicines containing decongestants will ease congestion.

The herbalists’ traditional standby is an infusion of equal amounts of peppermint (Memiku piperita),elderilower (Sumbucus nigra) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Taken hot just before going to bed, this will induce a sweat, and if the cold is caught early enough, may stop it altogether.

Cold sores

After the initial infection, the virus that causes cold sores lies dormant in nerve cells until, under the right conditions, it re-activates and causes the familiar blistering. The blisters are highly contagious, so avoid touching them as the virus can easily be transferred. Cold-sore creams are available from chemists (drugstores). They should be applied when the symptoms of prickling start, but before blisters appear.


Lack of dietary fiber and exercise, and an insufficient fluid intake can cause constipation. Eat plenty of foods containing bran, whole meal (wholegrain) bread, vegetables, pulses and fruits. If the problem persists, it would be advisable to see a doctor.


The main launches of alternative medicine are: acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice of inserting needles into the body to restore the balance of vital energy, which can be used for a wide range of conditions, including headaches, sprains and even strokes. The others are osteopathy and chiropractic, which involve the manipulation of bones and joints; and homeopathy, which takes into account the patient as a whole rather than just the physical symptom and treats them accordingly. You may wish to try some of the homeopathic remedies, available at many chemists (drugstores) and health food shops, for nesting simple complaints at home, but for a full diagnosis of a serious complaint, it is essential to see a qualified homeopathic doctor.

If you do try alternative medicine for treating more serious conditions, let both your orthodox doctor and the alternative practitioner know about each other. Tell each of them what the other has prescribed and about any medicines or treatments you are already having. Make sure you see a fully qualified practitioner before embarking on any new treatment.


Convulsions usually affect small children and are often the result of a high fever. These are known as febrile convulsions, and will only last for a few minutes at a time. Reduce the child’s temperature by sponging with tepid water. Once the convulsion has passed, paracetamol elixir will help to reduce the fever. Always call a doctor even when the convulsion has stopped.


Numerous cough remedies are available, depending on the type of cough, ask your pharmacist for advice. Whichever treatment you use, if a cough does not improve within a few days, seek professional help, especially for children. Breathing in steamy air can help to loosen phlegm, and inhaling a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of hot water can have a cleansing effect.

This is an area where herbs are of special benefit; if in doubt get qualified treatment. Choose from one or a mixture of the following, taken as warm infusions. Coltsfoot (Tictsilagofatfara), one of the best cough remedies, particularly for irritating, spasmodic coughs, will soothe, loosen mucus and reduce the spasm. llyssop(1-1,tssopus officinalis) is a calming and relaxing expectorant for a cough that is associated with restlessness and irritation. For a harsh, dry and painful cough always include marshmallow (Althea ojicinalis) in a mixture, to ease the soreness. Thyme (Thymus valgaris) is powerfully antiseptic and relieves a dry cough linked with a respiratory infection. As an expectorate, white horehound (Manubiunt valgare) frees up thick, sticky mucus.

Aromatherapy oils used in a steam inhalation can help a cough do its job mote effectively; they can be chosen to soothe the lining of the air passages, fight infection if needed, and loosen mucus to make it easier to be removed. Soothing oils include benzoin and lavender; thyme and eucalyptus are antiseptic; and frankincense or marjoram increase expectoration. Choose a blend that you like the smell of. Essential oils have an ancient link with water and have been used since classical times.


Loose, frequent bowel movements can happen as a short term reaction to infection, inflammation or food poisoning, and as such are quite a positive, cleansing action. A common experience is holiday diarrhea, and this is usually a response to exposure to unfamiliar bacteria.

As a herbal treatment if mild food poisoning or infection has upset the bowels, try eating garlic as a natural gut disinfectant. Agrimony (Aggiimontacapawria), astringent and healing to the inflamed and swollen membrane lining the gut, is helpful in mild gastro-enteritis. Chamomile, (Chamomillarecutiut), one of the first herbs for many digestive disorders, is calming and anti-inflammatory, and so reduces the impact of tension on the digestive tract. Meadowsweet (Filipenduio ulmaria) will help to settle an acidic stomach. Ribwort (Amigo lanceolaut) has excellent toning, soothing and healing properties for use in diarrhea from many causes where there is inflammation. Thyme (Thymuscalgaris) will fight infections and improve digestion generally, settling churning, loose bowels and killing harmful bacteria.

Massage of the abdomen with antiseptic and relaxing oils like chamomile, lavender and neroli can ease diarrhea caused by minor upsets and also by anxiety and nervousness. Eucalyptus can be used in the same way if an infection is definitely suspected as the cause. Add fennel or ginger if there are griping pains with the diarrhea. For all these oils, dilute to 3 per cent in a base oil.

Causes of diarrhea vary, some foods have a laxative effect naturally, for instance prunes or figs, so over indulgence will give temporary diarrhea. Stress and anxiety often increase peristalsis and hurry bowel contents through. Repeated diarrhea may indicate more complex digestive problems and should be treated professionally. Prolonged diarrhea, especially in young children, can be quite serious as it causes dehydration; ensure adequate fluid intake and seek professional advice.

A simple yet dramatically effective rehydration drink can be made by dissolving 5 ml/1 tsp salt and 15 ml/ 1 tbsp sugar in 600 m1/I pt/21/2 cups of boiled water. Keep in the refrigerator in a screw-topped bottle and give small amounts frequently, use for a short time only.


This can be the result of a heavy cold, or of an infection of the inner or outer ear causing pain and deafness. Aspirin or paracetamol will help the pain. See a doctor if fluid builds up behind the ear causing it to rupture and the fluid to seep out.

Hot compresses over the ear are the most effective home herbal treatment; chamomile (Chamontitla recutita) maybe used as an infusion for this purpose. Taking garlic internally will help to reduce any catarrh and fight infection. If on professional examination the eardrum is not perforated, then crush some garlic into 5 m1/1 tsp of olive oil; this is warmed to blood temperature and a few drops gently inserted into the ear for a local antibiotic.

Two very good essential oils to draw the inflammation outwards as hot compresses are chamomile and lavender; or try a combination of both. The pungency of garlic and other bulbs and fruits, speeds up the metabolism and acts as an antiseptic.

Ear ache in children

Ear aches, especially in children, need to be treated quickly as an infection within the middle ear can be both painful and damaging. Speedy home help can be very useful to avoid these problems, but get medical help if the ear ache worsens or persists.

Eye infections

Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection that results in sticky eyelids and sore, bloodshot eyes. Make up a dilute solution of 1 part bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to 20 parts of boiled and then cooled water, and use cotton-wool (absorbent cotton) swabs to gently ease the sticky ‘glue’ from the eyelids. Always use a fresh swab on each eye.

Food poisoning

The sufferer should have plenty of rest and only be given fluids for 24 hours. With an adult, call a doctor if the condition does not improve within this period. Food poisoning can be more serious with children and the elderly, so they should be watched carefully. Call a doctor straight away if a baby or young child is suffering from sickness and diarrhea.

Hay fever

Hay fever symptoms can be similar to those of a common cold. Antihistamine medicines can be prescribed by your doctor, and air purifiers in the house can help to reduce airborne irritants.


A doctor should be seen for long-lasting, acute and recurring headaches, as they could be caused by another ailment. However, a rest in a quiet, and possibly darkened, room, a cold compress on the forehead and an analgesic will be sufficient to deal with most headaches.


This can be caused by eating too large a meal or rich and spicy foods, or by eating in a hurry or just before going to bed. For immediate relief take antacids. Alternatively, 2.5 ml/1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) dissolved in a glass of water will relieve indigestion.

Herbal teas may well sort out indigestion. Choose from the following. Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) relieves the effects of over-eating, and being in a stressed state. Lemon balm settles a churning stomach due to nervous indigestion, whether related to meals or not. Meadowsweet is good for acid indigestion, especially if accompanied by some looseness in the bowels. Peppermint (Meruha piperita) is good for indigestion coupled with flatulence and bloated abdomen, or even nausea. Also think of taking slippery elm (Minus fiduct) if indigestion pains are persistent, either 5 ml/1 tsp of the powder thoroughly blended in a cupful of water, or the pure tablets, with one or more meals, to soothe the stomach.
A warm compress of some essential oils, including chamomile or lavender, may give some relief. For mild indigestion, try gently massaging a 2 per cent dilution of either of these into the abdomen.


The symptoms of influenza often include fever, aching muscles, nausea, headaches, a cough, a sore throat and a running nose. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection from causing additional problems. Otherwise, rest in bed, plenty of fluids and an analgesic: taken every 4 hours should help.

Note: the first symptoms of meningitis can be similar to those of influenza. If the symptoms shown are accompanied by vomiting, a stiff and sore neck and joints, a skin rash, bruising or some patchiness of the skin and an aversion to bright lights, call a doctor at once.


Irregular working hours, depression, stress or being in an unfamiliar room can lead to sleeplessness. A doctor can prescribe drugs to help, but try to restrict their use as it is easy to become dependent on them.

A milky drink before going to bed can be relaxing, avoid alcohol and stimulants, such as coffee and tea, as these will all only exacerbate the problem. A walk during the day in fresh air and a warm bath before going to bed may also help.


All children should be immunized against measles, but can suffer from the disease before then if they come into contact with an infected person. A blocked nose, fever and conjunctivitis are the first symptoms, followed a few days later by a red, blotchy rash spreading from the head down wards. Call your doctor to see whether the child should be examined. Otherwise, give plenty of fluids and paracetamol elixir to reduce the fever.


This is a viral infection of the parotid glands, which are situated just in front of and below the ear. Discomfort and fever can be reduced by giving either paracetamol or aspirin, or paracetamol elixir to young children. The virus is usually infectious for up to 6 days before the swelling appears, and for 10 days after the onset of the swelling. Adult men can suffer from swollen testes and should visit a doctor.

Nausea and vomiting

The remedy of first choice is probably ginger (Zingher officinalis); either take frequent sips of a weak tea, or 10 drops of tincture in a little water, or chew a small piece of fresh ginger. Another possibility, say, for travel sickness, is to chew a little crystallized ginger, or drink flat ginger ale. Other potentially useful herbs to settle the stomach are chaitunnile (Chamomilla recurita), croon balm (Melissa officinalis) and peppermint (Mentha piperita); try weakish herb teas. All these herbs aid digestion and so can help to sort out the causes of nausea as well as the symptoms themselves.
Causes of nausea or vomiting can usually be linked to specific things, eating too much rich food, or drinking too much alcohol, anxiety or travel are common triggers. Continual feelings of nausea indicate greater disturbance; again this may be obvious as in 1110Minp, sickness of pregnancy. Where the cause is not obvious, and if symptoms are not quickly cleared up with self help, get medical advice as soon as possible. Children in particular can easily become dehydrated.

Occupational hazards

Many occupations involve excessive use of the voice, e.g. teaching, and sore throats are common place. The regular use of herbal gargles can ease this discomfort, and help you prevent loss of voice or an actual infection. Keep the throat moist by drinking liquids.


At one time or another, most children and some adults suffer from parasites.
Fleas: are usually passed on to their host by cats, birds or other pets, or in infected bedding, carpets or upholstery. Treat animals with a veterinary insecticide. Where flea bites have occurred on your skin, use an antiseptic wash to prevent infection. Spray throughout the house with a flea killer and vacuum thoroughly.

Head lice: these are tiny brown insects with 6 legs. They feed on blood and lay eggs (known as nits) which are attached to the base of the hair shaft. They are usually found behind the ears and cause irritation. If head lice are detected, the whole family should be treated with insecticidal shampoo.

Tapeworm: eggs can be seen in feces. Consult your doctor, who will prescribe a suitable medicine.

Threadworms: live in the lower bowel and lay eggs around the anus, causing itchiness. The eggs are minute, but occasionally a fine, thread-like worm may be seen around the anus or on bedding. A doctor will prescribe a suitable medicine to eradicate them.

Ticks: these live in long grass and will latch on to humans and animals to suck blood. Remove with tweezers, using a rocking motion to release them then wipe the area with an antiseptic.

Sore throats

With increased airborne pollution, smoky, dry atmospheres in air-conditioned buildings and so on, sore throats are more and more common. The irritation can range from an annoying tickle to a rasping soreness, and may be linked to other infections. Where the throat inflammation, or pharyngitis, also extends down to the larynx, the voice may be affected.

If possible, use the following herbs as tinctures for gargling; if unavailable then use cooled infusions: agrimony (Agrimorda eupatoria), sage (Salviaofficinalis) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris) are all astringent, toning up the membranes, the latter two also being quite antiseptic. For a more powerful effect try using a tincture of myrrh (Cutraniphura mulmol), together with one or more of the others. If making infusions, add two liquorice sticks to give a more soothing effect, or else use marshmallow (Althea officinalis) leaf in equal amounts with the other herb(s).

With essential oils such as benzoin or thyme, use steam inhalations. One drop only of essential oil of lemon on2.5 ml(1/2, us!) of honey acts as a local antiseptic, as well as being soothing.

Preparing for Paperhanging

by on Thursday, September 4, 2014 17:45 under Home & Garden.

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Unrestricted access is a must for paperhanging. When working on just the walls, move all the furniture to the centre of the room and cover it with dust sheets (drop cloths). When tackling the ceiling too, it is best to remove all the furniture completely if there is space to store it elsewhere in the house; otherwise group it at one end of the room so that most of the ceiling can be done, and then move it to the other end to complete the job.

Next, take down curtains and Hinds (drapes and shades) and remove wall-or ceiling-mounted tracks. Turn off the electricity supply at the mains, then disconnect and remove wall or ceiling light fittings as necessary, covering the bare wire ends thoroughly with insulating tape before restoring the power supply to the rest of the house. In the USA, ceiling roses, wall switch plates and socket outlets can be unscrewed and removed without disconnecting the wall receptacles or switches. Isolate, drain, disconnect and remove radiators, and unscrew their wall brackets. Call in a professional electrician or plumber for these jobs if you are unsure of how to do them safely.

Take down pictures, and remove other wall-mounted fittings such as shelves and display units. To make it easy to locate the screw holes afterwards, push a matchstick (wooden match) into each one.

Start paper hanging at the centre of a chimney beam (fireplace projection) if the wall covering has a large, dominant pattern. Otherwise start next to the door so the inevitable pattern break can be disguised above it.

Work outwards from the centre of a dormer window so the design is centred on the window recess.

If the walls and ceiling are at present painted, they need washing down to remove dirt, grease, smoke stains and the like. If they are decorated with another wall covering, this will have robe removed and any defects in the surface put right. Finally, they need sizing — treating with a diluted coat of wallpaper adhesive to even out the porosity of the surface and to help to improve the ‘slip’ of the pasted wall covering during hanging.

Measuring up

The next job is to estimate how many rolls of wall covering will be needed to decorate the room. If using a material that comes in standard-sized rolls, simply measure the room dimensions and refer to the charts given here for the number of rolls needed to cover the walls and ceiling. They allow for atypical door and window area; fewer rolls are needed for a room with large picture windows or wide door openings. If using a paper-backed cloth covering which comes in a non-standard width, measure up each wall, and ask the supplier to estimate what length of material you will need; such materials are too expensive to waste. Walls are sufficient roils with the same hatch coverings in the USA vary in width number; colours may not match exactly and length but arc usually available in-between hatches.


by on Thursday, August 28, 2014 15:14 under Health.

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The pelvis contains two ovaries in the female, each measuring about 3 cm in length by 1 – 1.5 cm in width. Until the onset of puberty, they remain inactive, but then come to life, being stimulated by hormones called gonadotrophins produced by the pituitary gland. These start to act on the ovaries about two years before the menarche, the time when puberty occurs.
The gonadotrophins consist of two separate hormones. one called the follicle- stimulating hormone (FSH), and the other the luteinising hormone (LH). Both are necessary for the natural progression of ovulation that occurs each month. and pregnancy.
The ovaries contain a large number of Graafian follicles. Each menstrual month, under stimulation from FSH, one of these matures, comes to the surface of the ovary and ruptures in the process known as ovulation. The cavity left fills with fluid, and under the influence of both FSH and LH develops into a white organ called the corpus luteum, which itself starts to excrete a hormone called progesterone. The aim of this hormone is to prepare the uterus for a possible pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum tends to atrophy after 10 days, but it persists for about seven months if pregnancy ensues.
FSH and LH are both produced by the anterior lobe of the pituitary, an endocrine gland located at the base of the brain. Both of these hormones may be measured by the modern methods of radioimmunoassay. They are in peak concentrations at the time of ovulation.
In the past gonadotrophins have been used in women with infertility problems. Their use has sometimes resulted in multiple foetuses in the resulting pregnancies. The use of these hormones for infertility has been largely replaced by bromocriptine that lowers plasma prolactin. a hormone known to prevent ovulation. With prolactin levels reduced, ovulation can return to normal and pregnancy ensue, if this was the basic cause of the infertility problem. LH is very similar to chorionic gonadotrophin, a hormone produced during pregnancy by the placenta (later the afterbirth).
This product can readily be measured in the urine of the pregnant woman. Indeed, most of the simple home  “do-it-yourself” immunochemical pregnancy tests depend on detecting this substance in the woman’s urine. It may be detected about six weeks after the last menstrual period in the event of pregnancy having become established. The ovary secretes important hormones itself.
Oestrogens arc produced by the ovary and corpus luteum in direct response to FSH and LH. Oestrone and oestradiol are the primary hormones, and they readily convert into oestrogen. Oestriol is a breakdown product of oestrogen, and has its main effect on the vagina and cervix, whereas oestrogen mainly acts on the uterus.
During pregnancy, oestriol is secreted, and its detection in the urine is a handy guide as to the efficiency of the placenta in carrying out its work. These hormones have confusing names,but although they are only of academic interest to the reader, they are very important in gynaecology and obstetrics, for they give excellent guidance to the obstetrician as to the progress of the pregnancy. Progesterone is secreted by the corpus luteum under stimulation from LH.
Progesterone has a depressive effect on the higher centres, and has often been incriminated for the common sensations of irritability and depression that trouble many women in the week or so prior to normal menstruation. It may also increase the risk of attacks in epileptics, and even bouts of kleptomania or suicide in susceptible women.
Fortunately, medication is now able to overcome most of these problems. It is also responsible for the outcropping of acne and facial pimples that is notorious at this time, and complained about most volubly by teenage girls. Although the contraceptive pill will often reduce the mental changes, it will tend at the same time to make the skin problems worse, particularly if the pill has a fairly high level of progesterone.
Tests for ovarian function are possible. The vaginal smear takes cells from the upper walls of the vagina, and shows a typical pattern if hormonal secretions are normal or otherwise. The urine may be checked for the metabolites (breakdown products) of oestrogen. The cervical mucus can be examined, and cells will show a typical pattern if hormonal secretions are normal. Similar tests are available for a check on progesterone secretion, the pregnanediol test, and others.
Often taking scrapings from the walls of the uterus (as during a D and C examination) can also yield valuable information on the hormonal levels of the ovaries.

Plaster Wall Repair

by on Monday, August 25, 2014 14:02 under Do it Yourself.

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Plasterboard (gypsum board) is an immensely versatile material for lining walls and ceilings, as it provides a smooth surface for any finish and also has useful sound-deadening and fireproofing properties. The one thing it does not do very well is to resist impacts, and resulting holes cannot simply be patched with filler (spackle)because the board’s strength will have been lost at the point of damage. The solution is either to strengthen the board or to replace it section altogether.

Very small holes can he disguised with self-adhesive scrim rape and cellulose filler, but holes more than about 5 cm/2 in across need a more substantial repair. Use an off cut of plasterboard and cut a piece slightly narrower than the hole width and twice as long as its height to use as a patch. Pierce a hole in it, thread through a piece of string, tie one end to a nail and pull this against the face of the patch. Then hurter some plaster or filler on to the other face of the patch and push it into the hole, keeping hold of the string with the other hand. Position the patch against the inner face of the plasterboard, pulling on the string to help the filler stick it in place. When it has stuck fast, fill the hole and cut off the string.

For larger holes — a foot through the ceiling, for example — in plasterboard and (in older properties) lath-and-plaster surfaces, the only solution is to cut out the damaged piece and nail on a new section in its place. You will need to fix supports around the edges of the opening where you have cut out the damaged section. Fill the cut edges, apply joint tape to hide them and then skim over the patch with a little plaster to complete the repair.

Patching Small Holes in Plasterboard

1 Cut a plasterboard patch slightly longer and narrower than the hole, and thread a length of string with a nail tied on through it hole in its centre.

2. Butter some plaster or filler (spackle) on to the edges of the patch and feed it end -on into the hole, keeping hold of the string with the other hand.

3. Pull the string to hold the patch against the rear face of the board, then fill the recess with either plaster or filler and cut off the string.

4. Complete the repair by applying a skim coat of plaster over the patch. Flick water on to the plaster with a brush and polish it smooth with a steel float.

Patching a Larger Hole in Plasterboard

1. It the plasterboard surface is more extensively damaged, cut through it with sharp knife back to the adjacent wall studs or ceiling joists.

2. Cut across to the stud or joist centres, then make 2 vertical cuts down the centre of the stud or joist to free the damaged panel and remove it.

3. Cut 2 strips of wood to fit between the studs/joists, and screw or nail them into place so that they will support the edges of the main board and the patch.

4. Cut a plasterboard patch to match the section removed, and nail it into place. Fill and tape the joints and skim plaster over the repair, then polish with a steel float.

5. If the wood laths are split or broken, pull them away from the surface. Remove any loose sections of plaster from around the site of the damage.