31 January 2007

Erectile Dysfunction - Health Conditions - Conditions & Treatments - DrugDigest

In the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of advertisements regarding erectile dysfunction. You've probably seen former Presidential candidate Bob Dole or Baltimore Oriole Rafael Palmeiro in television commercials informing viewers of erectile dysfunction and the use of Viagra. Former professional football player and coach Mike Ditka has also been seen educating viewers about the once taboo subject of erectile dysfunction. With heightened awareness of this disorder, the attitudes of the public and healthcare professionals are changing with more individuals seeking help with the disorder.

Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes called "impotence", is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. Impotence can involve three aspects of erection development: the time to develop an erection, the strength of the erection, or the amount of stimulation needed to achieve an erection. Erectile dysfunction may be a result of a variety of factors, ranging from chronic diseases, medications, to psychological factors.

What causes it?

Before discussing the causes of erectile dysfunction, it is important to understand how an erection develops and how an erection is sustained. The penis is made of a mass of tissue composed of several structures of spongy networks that contain blood vessels and smooth muscle tissue. Normal nerve function and blood supply to these areas is essential to experience and maintain an erection. When sexual arousal takes place (whether it be a result of visual stimuli, touches, smells, or thoughts), the brain responds by communicating the arousal to the body's nervous system, which activates blood flow to the penis. As blood flow increases in the penile area, blood vessels supplying the penis dilate so the body of erectile tissue becomes engorged. When the erectile tissue engorges, an erection develops.

If something affects any of the factors responsible for an erection, erectile dysfunction may result. Psychological factors or nonphysical factors may also contribute to erectile dysfunction. Such factors may include depression, stress, anxiety, negative feelings toward a sexual partner, or even feelings of dissatisfaction with sexual function.

Although psychological and nonphysical causes are possible, there are several physical causes that may contribute to erectile dysfunction. Common diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), thyroid problems, and alcoholism may also cause erectile dysfunction. Spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or other diseases that may affect nerve conduction to the penile area can decrease the likelihood of achieving or maintaining an erection. Low hormone levels (for example, low levels of testosterone or prolactin) may also be a cause of erectile dysfunction, although the incidence of these causes is thought to be much less than the common diseases such as diabetes. Studies have even shown that the pressure obtained from riding a bike, which comes from sitting on a bicycle seat with a nose extension, restricts blood flow to the penis.

Certain prescription medications and illicit drugs may cause erectile dysfunction. Up to 25% of cases of erectile dysfunction result from medication side effects. Examples of prescription medications that may lead to erectile dysfunction include certain antidepressants, medications for high blood pressure, antipsychotics, medications used for anxiety disorders, anticholinergics (e.g. diphenhydramine, benztropine, and atropine), cimetidine, digoxin, and substances of abuse (e.g. alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you suspect that a medication you are taking may be the cause of erectile dysfunction



Endometriosis is a disorder in women that can cause painful menstruation, chronic pelvic pain, painful intercourse, and possible infertility. The disorder may worsen over time, resulting in scarring to the ovaries and fallopian tubes and leading to decreased ability to get pregnant. In fact, 30% to 40% of patients with endometriosis are infertile. This is two to three times the rate of infertility in the general population.

What causes it?
No single theory seems to explain all cases of endometriosis. Several theories, however, have been suggested:

  • The endometrial cells, which line the uterus, migrate from the uterus through the fallopian tubes into the pelvis. These cells implant on other pelvic organs and are stimulated by hormones released during menstruation. This can cause bleeding at these locations. Surrounding organs may then absorb the blood, leading to pain and inflammation. This theory fails to explain why women still have endometriosis after sterilization (sometimes called 'having their tubes tied') or after hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). It is possible that the endometrial tissue spreads from the uterus to the abdominal cavity through the lymphatic system or bloodstream instead of through the fallopian tubes.
  • The cause may stem from an abnormality in the immune system that allows normally shed endometrial cells to attach and grow in other areas.
  • The disease may be caused by a genetic birth defect as evidenced by its tendency to run in families.
  • Tissue in the abdominal cavity may change into endometrial tissue as a result of repeated inflammation.


30 January 2007

Attention Deficit- Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

At some point, everyone has experienced having trouble concentrating on the task at hand. Especially as children, most of us probably would have rather been outside on a nice day instead of sitting in a classroom concentrating on schoolwork. Even so, most of us could focus if we needed to. Now, imagine being a child or an adult who is not able to focus on or complete any task, no matter how hard he or she tries. Or imagine being hyperactive all the time and not having the ability to control it...this is what life is like for a person with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Documented cases of ADHD can be found as early as the 1930s, but it wasn't until the 1990s that ADHD gained notice as a true psychiatric condition. ADHD, or ADD as it is sometimes called, is defined as "a disorder of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that presents early in life." This condition is thought to be predominately genetic in nature. Most of the patients that are diagnosed with ADHD will have a family history of ADHD or another psychiatric condition. Risk factors play an important role in how this condition develops. Currently there is no cure, but treatment is available to help patients function better in society and in their daily lives.

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Conjunctivitis, often referred to as “pink eye”, is a general term used to describe irritation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is a thin, colorless membrane that lines the eyelid and a portion of the eyeball. There are several types and causes of conjunctivitis, but most involve first an irritant and then resulting inflammation of the conjunctiva.

Conjunctivitis may result from allergic, bacterial, and viral irritants.

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis usually stems from an air-born irritant such as ragweed, pollen, or mold. When the conjunctiva is exposed to the irritant, a chain of events leads to the swelling, itching, and redness often associated with this form of conjunctivitis. First, the irritant is detected and marked by the body’s immune system as foreign and unlike other cells. Then the target is marked for elimination. Combatant cells, called mast cells, arrive on the scene to remove the foreign attacker.

A similar chain of events occur when the conjunctiva is exposed to bacterial or viral irritants.


29 January 2007

Diabetes Conditions & Treatments

Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic disease characterized by high glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. Your body produces a hormone called insulin to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn't produce enough insulin (Type 1) or does not adequately respond to the insulin it is producing (Type 2).

There are three major types of diabetes:
1. Type 1: In type 1 diabetes, the body loses its ability to produce insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use sugar. Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood and helps transport it into the cells. In people with Type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. When this happens, beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans, which are tiny clusters of cells in the pancreas that manufacture insulin and glucagon, are attacked and destroyed by the body's own immune system in an autoimmune reaction. This is called an autoimmune response. Type 1 diabetes typically affects younger people, and symptoms may appear suddenly. This type of diabetes accounts for about 5 percent to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

2. Type 2: In type 2 diabetes, the body either becomes less responsive to the insulin it produces or does not produce enough insulin. Insulin helps the body use sugar, which is necessary for the cells in the body to live. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood and helps transport it into cells. The body can become resistant to insulin because of obesity, sedentary lifestyles, aging, certain drugs, or high glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes, which usually has its onset in adulthood after the age of 30, is much more common than type 1 diabetes. At least 90 percent to 95 percent of all people who have diabetes are classified as having type 2.
  • Pre-diabetes : A person is said to have pre-diabetes (also known as Impaired Glucose Tolerance - IGT) when his/her fasting blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. For example, it is considered normal if your fasting blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL. However, you’re considered to have pre-diabetes if your fasting blood sugar levels are between 100-125 mg/dL. It is estimated that 17 million Americans have pre-diabetes.
    3. Gestational diabetes: This form of diabetes is diagnosed in pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. High blood sugar levels occur in pregnancy and usually disappear after the mother gives birth. This type of diabetes occurs about 4 percent of all pregnant women - about 135,000 cases in the United States. In 40 percent of all cases, gestational diabetes leads to type 2 diabetes later in life.

  • Other types of diabetes include the following:
  • Secondary diabetes: High blood sugar levels result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other damage to or diseases of the pancreas. This type of diabetes may account for 1 percent to 2 percent of all cases of diabetes.

  • What causes it?

    The cause of type 1 diabetes is unclear; however, it is thought that autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors are involved in the development of this type of diabetes. The appearance of type 1 diabetes is suspected to follow an exposure to some type of "environmental trigger" - for example, a virus. It is thought that this stimulates an immune attack against the beta cells of the pancreas in genetically predisposed people.

    There are two important causes of type 2 diabetes:

    1. Heredity: Type 2 diabetes often runs in the family, but the onset of the illness doesn't occur until adulthood.
    2. Obesity: If you are overweight, your body may become less responsive to the insulin you have, resulting in type 2 diabetes.
    The cause of gestational diabetes is not completely clear. It is believed that the increase of hormones within the mother's body blocks the action of the insulin made in her body. When the action of her insulin is blocked, she is said to be "insulin resistant"; making it difficult for the mother's body to properly use insulin. As a result, the amount of insulin that she requires to function properly increases. Having a family history of diabetes (especially on the maternal side), being overweight, and being older during pregnancy can also predispose a pregnant woman to develop gestational diabetes.


28 January 2007

Deep Vein Thrombosis - Health Conditions - Conditions & Treatments

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the term used to describe blood clots (also called thrombi) that form in the veins, usually in the lower legs. These clots can grow in size and interfere with blood flow in the legs; and sometimes the clots break loose and travel to the lungs, brain, heart, or other areas of the body. When the clots lodge in other organs or tissues, they can block blood flow, and cause serious damage to these organs. As many as 50% of patients with DVT experience damage to their lungs caused by a clot. This condition is commonly known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).

What are the symptoms?

While it is common to not experience any symptoms at all, some people may experience any of the following symptoms of a DVT:

* Leg pain, usually in only one leg
* Leg tenderness, usually in only one leg
* Swelling (edema), usually in only one leg
* Increased warmth, usually in only one leg
* Changes in skin color (red or bluish), usually in only one leg
* Joint pain
* Sharp pain when the foot is bent upward

Laboratory tests:

The following lab tests are commonly performed to help diagnose a DVT:

* Ultrasound (used to detect DVT)
* Chest X-ray (used to detect clots in lungs)
* Antiphospholipid antibodies (indicators in the blood that a person has an increased risk of DVT)
* Venography (the most accurate test for detecting a clot in the leg)"


26 January 2007

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease, also termed coronary artery disease or ischaemic (ischemic) heart disease, is the most common form of heart disease and the most common cause of death in the western world. The coronary arteries are large blood vessels in the surface of the heart that deliver blood to the heart muscle. Fatty plaques can build up in the arteries and block blood flow - a process called atherosclerosis. If the arteries become blocked, the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen, bringing on a variety of symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, as well as heart muscle damage and even death.

The main mechanisms of angina (chest pain) are conditions that either decrease the supply of blood, or increase the demand for blood. Decreased supply is most commonly due to atherosclerosis (a build up of fatty deposits), or spasms in the arteries, which can limit the space through which blood flows to the heart.

An increase in demand takes place during exercise or exertion. The heart beats faster to supply the muscles and other organs with more oxygen in response to the increased demand. Chronic stable angina results when this increased demand for blood exceeds the supply to the coronary arteries. This can also occur during periods of stress, or extreme temperatures. Although spasms of the coronary arteries are the main cause of Prinzmetal's angina, approximately two thirds of people with this type of angina also have atherosclerosis in at least one vessel.

Coronary heart disease can result in:
* Angina pectoris
* Unstable Angina
* Acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack

There is no exact single cause of coronary heart disease but rather numerous factors that can contribute to or increase the risk of developing the condition. These factors can include lifestyle, heredity, age, and gender.


06 January 2007


Asthma is a chronic lung disease. Although everyone's airways react to irritants, the overly sensitive airways of the asthma patient exhibit an exaggerated response. This exaggerated response ultimately leads to inflammation, irritation, and swelling of the airways that causes limited airflow. The result is periodic attacks of coughing, wheezing-high pitched, whistle-like breathing noises that signify tight airways-and other breathing difficulties. Asthma can range from a mildly bothersome annoyance to a life-threatening medical emergency.