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Abdominal pain associated with IBS affects around one in three people in the UK. The pain is often described as the most troublesome symptom of the condition, with 49% of sufferers experiencing abdominal cramping at least once a week and 79% suffering at least once a month.
Attention deficit disorder (A.D.D)/ attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition which is estimated to affect approximately 1 % of children in the U.K. The first behaviours are often found in early childhood, most children start to become recognised as having A.D.D. between the ages of 5 and 9 years. The condition continues throughout the school years and it is thought that 60 % of children will carry some symptoms through to adulthood.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in the United Kingdom. According to the UK Dementia report, AD is responsible for at least 60% of the 700,000 cases of dementia currently being treated.
Anaemia is the name for a range of disorders affecting red blood cells. Red blood cells contain a substance called haemoglobin, a combination of a protein and iron, which is responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood.It is thanks to haemoglobin that oxygen can reach every living tissue in the body, keeping us alive.To produce red blood cells, the body needs iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. If one or more of these is lacking, the number of red blood cells fall, anaemia develops and the ability of the blood to carry oxygen is reduced.
An anal fissure is a small tear in the skin surrounding the anus. It can be extremely painful and will often bleed, especially when going to the toilet and passing faeces. Anal fissures should not be confused with haemorrhoids or piles that are usually painless when going to the toilet and tend to itch. Anal fissures are fairly common, occurring in about 1 in 350 adults, Although the incidence peaks in the 3rd decade overall, women tend to have a peak incidence in their 20's.
Angina is a chest pain – an uncomfortable feeling in the chest that is usually brought on by exercise or emotional upset. For some people it is hardly a pain at all, but for others severe. Angina is a built-in warning device that your heart is trying to do too much and that you must rest. Also called angina pectoris. Many people wrongly imagine that angina and related heart disease affect men only. One in four women die through heart disease.
Arthritis - Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis, called RA for short, is an autoimmune disease which can affect people of any age; some 12,000 children in the UK have the juvenile form, although the most common age for developing rheumatoid arthritis is between 40 and 50. The disease affects three times as many women as men. Rheumatoid arthritis is often confused with osteoarthritis, a quite different condition, which is due to wear and tear of joints and more commonly occurs in older people. RA is also a systemic disease meaning it can affect the whole body including the lungs, heart and eyes, although thankfully this is not the case for everyone. RA is a chronic long-term condition, but for the vast majority of people this does not mean it has to have a long term devastating effect on their life.
Asthma is a condition that affects your airways. With Asthma your airways become inflamed and sensitive. When you come across something that irritates your airways eg a chest infection or allergy, they become narrower, tighter and start to swell and as a result of this you may suffer from symptoms that include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing.
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection affecting the skin and toenails on the foot. It is unsightly, irritating and contagious. It affects people of all ages and not just ‘athletes’.
Back pain is a loose term referring to any complaint affecting the spine or the muscles and tissue connected to it. Common forms of back pain include lumbago, sciatica and slipped discs but back pain can also affect the neck, arms and even the legs. Lumbago affects the lower back and is the most common form of back pain. Problems affecting the spinal column also account for many cases of back pain, especially slipped discs. These occur when the cartilage that separates and cushions the bones in the spine (the vertebrae) pops out of place. Sciatica is a pain in the lower back that can be felt down the legs and is caused by nerves that have been twisted or pushed out of place.
Bad breath or halitosis is a condition where your breath smells unpleasant to other people.
Bed-wetting or nocturnal enuresis is a common childhood problem and can be as common as asthma in young children (20% of four year olds and 10% of eight year olds will wet the bed twice a week or more). In the UK over half a million children aged 5-12 years regularly wet the bed every year. The problem is more common in boys than girls. If your child is wetting the bed you may often wonder if there is anything you are doing wrong or if it is normal for a child to continue to wet the bed. Children can often feel that they are the only ones with the problem because it is not something they can easily share with friends.
What is bird flu? A form of influenza. All bird flus are influenza A. Influenza A is primarily a respiratory virus, causing coughing, congestion, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, and fever in most species it infects. In 1997 many humans reportedly developed antibodies to the virus and did not get sick. There was concern that if the virus mutated, it could cause a pandemic because we do not have built-up immunity to it. This mutation could occur either at random or if the virus mixes its DNA with a human flu virus inside a pig or a human. But it's also quite possible (in fact it's even more likely) that it may never mutate at all or that if it does mutate, the mutated virus would result in a much less severe illness in humans.
Bites & Stings
Bites & Stings are quite different attacks on our skin. Stings result when an insect is protecting itself when it feels threatened. Other than the initial pain of the attack, the venom can cause varying degrees of allergic reaction. A bite is different as the insect seeks out their victim in order to feed from their blood. After the initial bite, it injects a saliva that allows the blood to flow, it is this that causes inflammation and itching.
Bladder weakness causes accidental leakage of urine from the bladder or, in extreme cases, faeces from the bowel. Unsurprisingly, people tend to regard it as an embarrassing problem but bladder weakness is very common and invariably it can be controlled and often cured. These days, there is a wide choice of products specifically designed to manage the condition comfortably and discreetly, giving people with even heavy bladder weakness the confidence to carry on with everyday activities.
Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways of the lungs (bronchi), which causes them to become inflamed. It is more common in winter and often follows flu, a cold or sore throat.
Bunions, Blisters, Corns & Calluses
A bunion is where the big toe curves outwards and the joint is swollen and tender. Blisters are a bubble-like swelling on the skin filled with a watery fluid.Corns develop on the feet and can be soft or hard. Hard corns are small areas of hard skin, usually the size of a small pea. Soft corns are rubbery and white and usually develop between the toes. A callus is a larger area of thickened skin on the feet.
Burns & Scalds
When heat or fire damages the skin cells it results in burns and scalds. This damage is classified according to how severe the burn is. First-degree or minor burns only affect the top layer of skin, the epidermis, while second-degree or partial burns extend below the epidermis. Thirddegree burns damage the entire layer of skin, and there is a greater risk of infection and shock with these more serious burns.
People often mistakenly think a cataract is a skin that grows over your eye. In fact, it is a clouding of the lens in the eye that focuses the image onto the retina - the back of the eye. When you have a cataract, the lens clouds over and your vision becomes blurred or dim because light cannot pass through the lens. A cataract is fairly common and over half of people over 65 years have a cataract of some form or other. Most of the time this can treated successfully with surgery.
About,800 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. Cervical cancer is a cancer of the cervix and is the second most common malignant disease in younger women. The cervix is the part of the womb at the top of the vagina, often called the “neck of the womb”. The cervix is covered with a layer of skin-like cells; if these cells become abnormal it is called Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN). This can vary in severity, the more advanced it is, the more likely it is to progress to cancer over time. Usually the body can spot these changes and prevent them from developing further and the skin-like cells return to normal. If the abnormal cells are not cleared by the body then sometimes they may go deeper below the skin-like cells, at which point it is called a cancer.
Chapped lips are caused by dryness of the lips with consequent scaling and cracking. Severely chapped lips may become infected.
Chickenpox is usually a mild but highly infectious disease. It can be spread from one person to another very quickly through direct contact with the broken chickenpox blisters and also when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes. Usually you will have chickenpox only once during your lifetime because your body produces antibodies to the virus to protect you against reinfection.Shingles is an infection of a nerve by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past may go on to develop shingles, however shingles is not infectious.
Chlamydia is caused by a tiny bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK. It is responsible for human eye as well as genital infections. This sexually transmitted infection continues to be on the increase, with women aged 16-24 and men aged 20-34 most often having the infection at greatest risk.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance, which is produced in the body. The liver makes it from the saturated fats in food. Very little cholesterol is found in foods, except for eggs, liver and kidneys. Cholesterol plays a vital role in ensuring every cell wall works, throughout the body. The body also uses it to make other vital chemicals. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of getting coronary heart disease. High blood cholesterol is now recognised as one of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease, closely followed by lack of exercise. In fact 70% of adults in the UK have blood cholesterol levels that are too high. Men and women are at equal risk and this is not just a worry for older people anymore.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia
Although it is the most common form of adult leukaemia, CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia) is rare, developing mostly in people over 60 years old. It is seen more often in men than women, and occurs in most races. Many people with CLL will not develop the disease to the point where it needs treatment, but in most it will eventually need to be treated.
Chronic pancreatitis can cause abdominal pain, poor digestion, diabetes and other complications.Alcohol is the common cause. Treatment includes painkillers, other medication and, most importantly,stopping alcohol drinking for good. Surgery is sometimes needed. About 1 person in 100,000 develops chronic pancreatitis each year in the UK.
Cleft Lip & Palate
Cleft means ‘split’ or ‘separation’. During early pregnancy separate areas of the face develop individually and then join together. If some parts do not join properly the result is a cleft, the type and severity of which can vary. A cleft lip is an opening in the upper lip between the mouth and nose. It looks as though there is a split in the lip. It can range from a slight notch in the coloured portion of the lip to complete separation in one or both sides of the lip extending up and into the nose. A cleft on one side is called a unilateral cleft. If a cleft occurs on both sides it is called a bilateral cleft.
Coeliac Disease is a chronic and permanent autoimmune disease caused by gluten intolerance.Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some coeliacs are also sensitive to oats.
Many different viruses cause the common cold. In fact there are hundreds of different viruses that change every year, which is why people catch colds year after year. Children suffer more than adults, averaging about six colds a year. Adults, on the other hand, have built up immunity to cold viruses throughout their life.
A cold sore is a blister that appears on or around the lips or the mouth. It is caused by a viral infection and is highly contagious.
A baby is described as having infant colic if he or she has episodes of irritability and inconsolable crying but is otherwise healthy and well fed. Colic generally occurs in the early months of a baby’s life and is also extremely stressful and emotionally draining for parents. It does, however, usually ease by the time a baby is three months old. It is estimated that colic affects between 10 and 15 per cent of all babies.
Concussion is an injury to the brain that usually occurs following a blow or jolt to the head. In some cases you may become unconscious. Temporarily, the nerve cells in your brain do not function properly because of the blow. If you do suffer a blow to the head it is important you look out for any possible signs of concussion and take the necessary action or precautions.
Conjunctivitis is the commonest cause of red eyes. Conjunctivitis happens when the conjunctiva, the membrane lining the inside of the eyelids, becomes inflamed and infected. It can be contagious and is easily spread to the other eye and to other people, especially children.
There are varying degrees of constipation, and people with constipation can experience a range of symptoms as part of the constipation spectrum, from painful poo symptoms through to chronic constipation. Essentially, these bowel problems can be described in two main ways: frequency (how often you go) and consistency (how hard or soft your poo is).
Coughs are one of the most bothersome symptoms associated with the common cold. They make sleep difficult and the bouts of coughing are a source of continuous embarrassment and advertise that we may be sick.
Cradle Cap (seborrhoeic eczema) is a disease of the scalp and can occur in any baby, most commonly beginning sometime in the first 3 months of life.In fact, it is reported that approximately 50% of babies suffer from this condition at some time, usually during the first couple of weeks. In most children however, cradle cap is gone by 12 months. It is harmless, temporary and not contagious.
Cramp is the involuntary spasm of a muscle, or group of muscles, that often occurs in the calf muscles of the legs. Cramp can happen during vigorous activity, after repeated movements, while resting or following a large meal. Excessive sweating in very hot weather can also cause it. Cramp that occurs mainly in bed at night, known as night cramps, is particularly common in the elderly and may be sufficiently severe as to disturb sleep. About 1 in 3 people over the age of 60, and about half those over 80 regularly experience leg cramps.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is the UK’s most common life-threatening inherited disease affecting 7,500 children and adults. People who have CF produce a thick sticky mucus which clogs their lungs and digestive systems making it difficult to breathe and absorb food properly. Each week five babies are born with Cystic Fibrosis in the UK.
Cystitis occurs when the lining of the bladder becomes inflamed. It is a common condition, which affects nearly 50 % of women at sometime or another. The information given here refers to cystitis in women. If the sufferer is a man or a child, they must see their doctor.
Dandruff is a term used to describe excessive scaliness of the scalp. The cells on the scalp are constantly being renewed and usually you can’t see the dead cells being shed. However, in people with dandruff, the cell turnover is faster and the dead cells are larger and so more visible.
Diarrhoea describes uncontrollable bowel movements that produce loose, watery stools. These bowel movements tend to be very frequent, although they occur randomly, and stomach ache and vomiting often accompany them. Although diarrhoea is a common problem which often gets better by itself, sufferers should be careful they do not dehydrate, as large amounts of water can be lost during a bout of diarrhoea. The very young and the elderly are most vulnerable to dehydration.
Each time we blink the eye is coated with a film of tears that help keep the surface of the eye smooth and ensure good, clear vision. A condition called dry eyes occurs when too few tears are produced to lubricate the eye. This film of tears is made up of three layers. One is an oily outer layer produced by glands in the eyelids, this layer helps to stop fluid evaporating from the eye. Another is a watery middle layer produced by the tear (lacrimal) gland, this layer of tears cleans the eye and washes out any foreign particles. The third is an inner layer of mucus produced by the conjunctiva, the thin lining inside the eyelid, this layer helps tears to spread evenly across the eye.
Pain in the ears is particularly uncomfortable and is usually an indication that the middle ear has become infected. Children are more likely than adults to get middle ear infections and earache. This is because the tube that links the throat and the ear, called the Eustachian tube, is much shorter in children than adults and so allows infections to pass more easily to the middle ear.
Excess wax in the ears is a common cause of easily treatable deafness. Earwax is a natural, waxlike substance that is produced by special glands in the skin lining the ear canals. Earwax keeps the ear canal clear by repelling water, and trapping dust particles and small foreign bodies such as insects. The wax then works its way to the outside where it is wiped away or flakes off.
Eczema & Dermatitis
The term ‘eczema’ describes a number of skin conditions that have similar symptoms. It is also commonly referred to as dermatitis. The most common form of eczema is called atopic eczema, which often occurs in childhood and is part of a family of other allergic or ‘atopic’ conditions such as hayfever and asthma. Another common type of eczema is contact eczema, caused by direct contact with a substance that causes the skin to react badly.
Having an erection problem means that you regularly cannot achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to have sex. Referred to as erectile dysfunction (ED), erection problems are extremely common and affect around 10% of the adult male population. It may not mean total loss of sexual satisfaction for some men, but for many it creates anxiety and stress that adversely affects personal relationships and quality of life. Any man can experience problems, regardless of age, so you are not alone.
Feeling tired all the time, also known as daily fatigue, is a common, medically recognised symptom estimated to affect almost two thirds of adults in the UK at some point in their lives. In many cases, daily fatigue can be so severe that it can affect people’s daily lives. In surveys, more than one in ten people admit that they have taken time off work because they are too tired. Over one in four adults are too tired to tackle everyday jobs such as shopping and paying the bills. Over one in three are too tired to go out and socialise, while nearly one in five adults surveyed are too tired for a relationship.
Influenza occurs mainly during the winter months (November to March). People often use the word ‘flu’ to describe a bad cold, but there are a number of ways you can distinguish influenza from a cold or other respiratory infection. For one thing, influenza truly knocks you flat. ‘Soldiering on’ becomes virtually impossible – even for the most determined – and most people find they are confined to bed rest.
Genital warts appear as small lumps on the genital or anal skin. They usually feel slightly rough and may itch.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and as it becomes damaged vision is lost. Glaucoma affects about two per cent of people over the age of 40 in the UK.
Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden and extremely painful inflammatory attacks in the joints – most commonly the big toe, ankles and knees but any other joint too. It is a common joint disease affecting over five times more men than women. It is rare in children. In men, it can occur any time after puberty, whereas in women it is uncommon before the menopause. In around 10 percent of cases there is a family history of the disorder.
In the UK there are around 4.8 million women and 7.6 million men who suffer from hair loss problems.Hair drops out naturally at the end of the growing cycle, at approximately 100 a day. Hair loss occurs when the old hairs are shed and no new hair is growing from beneath to replace it. There are three main types of hair loss which affect both men and women; alopecia areta (immune system attacks the hair as if it were a foreign agent and results in bald patches), alopecia totalis (very rare – total hair loss) but the most common (around 95% of hair loss) is hereditary hair loss, androgenetic alopecia. With this type of hair loss the hair follicles shrink in size, the hair produced is shorter, finer and much less visible. Eventually, the hair follicle will shut down completely.
Hayfever is an allergic reaction to pollen. The effects of hayfever can range from being quite mild through to having serious effects on your daily life. Hayfever affects up to 20% of the population.
Head lice are small wingless insects that feed on blood from the scalp. Fully grown adult head lice are greyish-brown in colour and about the size of a sesame seed. The adult head louse lives for about 30 days and the female louse can lay eggs for all of her adult life. Head lice eggs are creamy brown in colour and the female head louse glues them tightly to the base of the individual hairs close to the scalp so that the young lice are able to feed as soon as they hatch. The eggs are very small (less than 1mm long). It takes approximately 7 days for a head louse to hatch and after this the young louse goes through 3 “nymphal” stages lasting approximately 10 days in total until they are mature enough to be capable of laying their own eggs. Head lice only live on the human scalp. A magnifying glass can be useful in identifying these small insects since it is possible to mistake dirt, flakes of skin or hair muffs for an infestation. “Nits” or empty egg cases remain glued to the hair unless they are physically removed using the fingers or a fine toothed comb therefore the presence of these empty egg cases does not necessarily indicate a current infection.
Most of us get headaches from time to time and they are usually relieved with a couple of overthe- counter painkillers, a rest or something to eat. However, some headaches are more frequent or severe and can cause concern and disrupt family, social and working life. There are various types of headache with different ways of treating them.
Hearing loss is a recognised medical condition and is one of the most common health problems in the world today. One in five of all adults, and more than 50% of people over 60 suffer from hearing loss. Whether it is noise related or part of the natural ageing process, many people find it embarrassing or difficult to accept they are becoming hard of hearing.
Coronary heart disease is the single most common cause of death in the UK. It is the term used to describe the gradual narrowing of the coronary arteries which can lead to angina or a heart attack. The coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen and can become narrowed by a gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls. This process is called ‘atherosclerosis’ and the fatty material is called ‘atheroma’. In time, the artery may become so narrow that it cannot deliver enough oxygen-containing blood to the heart muscle when its demands are high – such as when you are doing exercise. The pain or discomfort that happens as a result is called angina. The heaviness or tightness is caused by the heart muscle becoming short of oxygen.
Heartburn & Indigestion
Indigestion, also called dyspepsia, is a general term which refers to discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen or chest, usually after meals. Heartburn is a form of indigestion, which is felt as a burning discomfort behind the breastbone.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus which is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact and principally affects the liver. 20% of people spontaneously clear the virus from their body within 6 months; the remaining 80% go on to develop chronic hepatitis C, which can go unnoticed for many years. Liver damage typically occurs slowly over 20-30 years and can lead to liver scarring (fibrosis), cirrhosis and ultimately to liver cancer or liver failure and death. People sometimes only become aware of it when they develop liver cancer or advanced cirrhosis by which time it can be too late. There are an estimated 200 million people worldwide infected with hepatitis C; in the UK 500,000 are thought to be infected but only 50,000 have currently been diagnosed. The virus was first discovered in 1987 and a test for the hepatitis C virus was first introduced in the UK in 1991. Before this its existence was deduced from the fact that something, other than the hepatitis A or hepatitis B viruses, was causing liver inflammation (hepatitis),
If there is a weak area of muscle or ligaments surrounding the gut in the abdomen, part of the gut can push through and will appear as a lump under the skin. This lump is called a hernia. Hernias commonly occur in the groin area but can occur on the stomach or under some other weak point, like an operation scar.
HIV stands for Human Immunodefiency Virus. HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system – the body’s defence against diseases. A person infected with HIV may not have symptoms to start with, but eventually without effective treatment the immune system will become very weak and they will no longer be able to fight off infections.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a painful condition affecting the gut and is extremely common in developed countries. A third of people in Britain have occasional symptoms of IBS and one in 10 have symptoms bad enough to require medical attention. IBS commonly starts between the ages of 15 and 40, but may occur at any age.
The organs and tissues of the body are made up of tiny building blocks called cells. Cancer is a disease of these cells. Rather than dividing in a normal and controlled manner, cancer cells are abnormal cells which carry on dividing and develop into a malignant tumour.Each year, about 6200 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney (renal cell) cancer. It affects more men than women and becomes more common as people get older. It is rare for people under 40 to get kidney cancer, but there is an uncommon type (Wilms’ tumour – also known as nephroblastoma) that affects very young children.Cancer of the kidney isn’t infectious and can’t be passed on to other people. Usually only one kidney is affected.
Lactose intolerance is the term used to describe a failure to break down a sugar called lactose that is found in milk and dairy products. As milk and dairy products are used extensively in the food industry, many people are also intolerant to a wide range of foods. Lactose intolerance is a very common digestive disorder, estimated to affect about three quarters of the world’s population.
Most people’s legs will get tired and ache at some time in their lives, often from standing or sitting for long periods, but the discomfort usually goes once the legs are rested or moved. However, for those whose occupation requires them to be on their feet for much of the day, for example shop assistants and hairdressers, or who have to be sitting for a long time while they are working, for example bus, taxi and lorry drivers and desk workers, the discomfort can be more frequent and become more of a problem. Typical feelings are of tired, aching, heavy legs.
Leukaemia, or more accurately the leukaemias, is uncontrolled growth of blood cells. These cells are made in the bone marrow, a finely tuned factory in the centre of our bones producing 200 billion red cells, 10 billion white cells and 400 billion platelets every day. Leukaemia generally refers to the overproduction of white blood cells, which play an essential role in our immune systems. In extreme cases this causes the patient's blood to take on a milky appearance; leukaemia is the Greek word for 'white blood'. According to the type of blood cell affected and the way in which the disease progresses, leukaemias are divided into four main groups: • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) There are about 5,300 cases of leukaemia in the UK each year. Like most cancers, the disease occurs more often in older people. The exception to this rule is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the most common cancer in childhood, diagnosed in 450 children in the UK every year.
Lice are small, wingless, insects that feed on blood from the human body. There are three types of lice that live on different parts of the body: the head louse, body louse and pubic louse. Fullygrown adult head lice are greyish-brown in colour and are about the size of a sesame seed, they feed on blood from the human scalp. Head lice eggs are creamy brown in colour and are glued tightly to the base of individual hairs close to the scalp. The eggs are very small (about 0.8mm long) and oval-shaped. After 7-10 days the eggs hatch and leave empty egg cases (nits). These are white and shiny and are usually found further down the hair shaft. Once hatched it takes a further 7-10 days for the growing louse to be capable of laying its own eggs. Body lice are slightly larger than head lice and they live in cloth fibres rather than on body hair. Pubic lice, which are 1-2 mm long, live in pubic hair and sometimes eyelashes.
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a complex network of tubes (lymphatic vessels), glands (or lymph nodes) and other organs including the spleen. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, or the body’s natural defence against infection. It carries white blood cells called lymphocytes, which help us to fight infection. When a person has lymphoma, some of their lymphocytes become cancerous. These cancerous lymphocytes divide in an abnormal way, or do not die off when they should. They can collect in the lymph nodes, which then grow to form tumours. Lymphoma usually starts in the lymph nodes but it can affect other parts of the body. It is quite common for lymphoma to affect the bone marrow. It can also affect the gut, the skin, or the liver. The cause of lymphoma is not known, but some forms of lymphoma are more common in people with reduced immunity for example, people who have taken drugs to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ or people with HIV or AIDS.
Measles, Mumps & Rubella
We used to think of measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) as common childhood diseases that everybody catches and recovers from easily. But, in fact, the effects can be very serious and even fatal, which is why most children in the UK today are routinely immunised against them. Measles is a serious infection and rare in the UK today but is still a major cause of childhood death in developing countries. Mumps is a milder infection but can cause serious complications – it is the most common cause of viral meningitis in children and can cause deafness and in men, sterility. Rubella is also a mild infection for the sufferer but if a pregnant woman who has not been immunised catches rubella during pregnancy the baby may be born deaf, blind or brain damaged.
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges, which is the lining around the brain and spinal cord. This inflammation is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Meningitis is a serious condition that can be fatal if it is not caught early enough so it’s important to react swiftly if you suspect you or another member of your family has the infection. Children and young adults are particularly vulnerable and the government is now running a vaccination programme to target them.
The word Menopause comes from the Greek 'meno’ meaning month with 'pausis' meaning 'ending'. Strictly speaking the 'menopause' refers to the last day of the final period. The term is commonly used though to refer to the time before, during and after this event. It is a time when women may experience many changes. The menopause is often called "the change".
Migraine is a term used for episodes of ‘sick’ headaches without apparent cause. During these episodes, or attacks, a range of symptoms can occur that vary from person to person. Attacks may be completely disabling, forcing you to abandon everyday activities for up to three days. If you have two or more of the symptoms described below, it is probable that you are suffering from migraine.
Muscular Pains, Sprains & Strains
A sprain happens when the ligaments of a joint are over-stretched or torn. How bad a sprain is depends on the degree of injury and the number of ligaments involved. A strain is when a muscle or tendon is either over-stretched or torn. Common areas for strains are the back and the hamstring muscle. Muscular aches (myalgia) may affect a single muscle or a group of muscles.
Nappy rash is a term which describes any irritation in the nappy area that causes the skin to become red and sore. Nappy rash is very common, and is likely to affect most babies at some time in their first year.
Healthy bones have a thick outer shell mostly made up of calcium salts and a strong inner mesh. The inner mesh is made up of a protein called collagen, calcium salts, and other minerals. The inner mesh has a hollow down its middle where the blood vessels and bone marrow can be found. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones as it controls how much calcium gets into our bodies and how much of that gets into our bones. So two factors are vital for growing and maintaining healthy bones: 1/ an adequate supply of calcium in our diet and 2/ adequate levels of vitamin D in our bodies. Osteoporosis means ‘porous bones' and occurs when calcium and minerals in the bone mesh are lost so the mesh size becomes bigger, making it spongy and weak. This results in loss of bone density and when this happens bones become fragile. Osteoporosis can affect the whole skeleton but is most important when it affects the bones in the wrist, spine and hip making them fragile and more likely to collapse or break or fracture.
Being overweight can mean many things to different people. In medical terms, being overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25kg/m2 and being clinically obese as having a BMI greater than 30. To calculate your BMI, you need to divide your body weight measured in kilograms by the square of your height in metres. So, for example, a person weighing 70kg who is 1.6 metres tall will have a BMI of 27.3 (70 divided by 1.6 x 1.6). Your doctor or practice nurse will be able to help you calculate your BMI.
Panic attacks are very common. Everyone knows what panic is. You might panic if you hear a burglar downstairs during the night or if you think you are being followed. A panic attack is this same feeling but seems to come from nowhere, is much stronger and the cause is often unclear.Panic attacks may also be part of a phobia or obsessive compulsive disorder. When panic occurs in isolation it can be very distressing for the sufferer because there appears no logical reason why it should occur.
Menstruation is bleeding from the vagina and occurs in adolescent girls and women. It normally happens once a month (every 28 days although between 24 and 35 days is common). Periods are part of the menstrual cycle and help your body prepare for the possibility of becoming pregnant. Your periods will usually start between the ages of 12-13 but can occur anywhere between 9- 16 years and will continue until the menopause. Your first menstrual cycle is known as the Menarche. The menstrual cycle begins on the first day of bleeding until the first day of your next period. The bleeding can last up to 10 days but 4-5 is more common with the first couple of days heaviest. The amount of blood loss can vary from period to period and woman to woman. You may think blood loss is heavy but it will normally only fill about 4- 12 teaspoons in total (80ml). Some period pain is common and normal. In the past, menstruation has been considered a taboo subject by some people however, it is important to discuss the subject with girls before their teens so they do not experience the potential embarrassment or trauma if they start their first period without knowing what to expect.Try and prepare this discussion or speak to a health professional.
A lot of women experience period pain. Often taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, can control the pain and discomfort but for some the symptoms are more severe and prolonged cramps can make day-to-day activities difficult to manage. In some cases, the extreme period pain is the result of a condition called endometriosis, which occurs when fragments of the womb lining escape into the abdominal cavity instead of being flushed out with a period. These fragments will behave much as the womb does every month and can cause severe pain.
Piles are swollen veins in the anal area and exist in 2 forms; internal and external. Internal piles occur in the anal canal and external piles occur when piles swell to the extent that they are visible outside the anus. External piles can be visible to the naked eye and may look like small lumps of skin or, in extreme cases, like very small bunches of grapes. Both internal and external piles can be very uncomfortable and even painful and passing stools can be a particularly painful experience.
Pneumococcal disease is the term used to describe a variety of conditions caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae or the pneumococcus. Older people over 75 and very young children under 5 are most at risk. The pneumococcus is responsible for disabling and potentially life-threatening diseases, such as meningitis, septicaemia (blood poisoning), and invasive pneumonia which together are known as Invasive Pneumococcal Disease (IPD). It is also the leading cause of common, non-invasive childhood illnesses such as otitis media, sinusitis and common chest infections.
Polio (Poliomyelitis) used to be called Infantile Paralysis. It is an infectious disease caused by one of three viruses and can affect people of any age. In a minority of cases it can cause paralysis of any part of the body, but especially the legs. Many people who survived the earlier polio epidemics of the last century are still living today having led active and independent lives. Twenty or more years later some of these people experience new symptoms known as the late effects of polio (LEP) or Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) for which they need to seek help.
Normally most men ejaculate within two minutes of penetration, but there are some men who last much longer than this, just as there are men who regularly ejaculate much quicker. Premature ejaculation is when a man ejaculates (or comes) quicker than he or his partner wishes, causing problems in their sexual relationship. Generally it is nothing to worry about and only becomes a problem when it occurs during most sexual interactions. In the worst case, the man ejaculates before any direct stimulation of the penis occurs.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is now widely recognised as a medical condition that affects many women. PMS describes a range of symptoms that occur before your period. PMS usually improves when your period starts.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition resulting in thickened, scaly patches caused by an increase in production of skin. It generally affects the knees, elbows and scalp but can occur anywhere on the body. Over 1.5 million people in the UK and Ireland suffer from psoriasis.
Rabies is a disease that makes dogs and other animals sick and mad. Consequently, all dogs in many northern European countries are vaccinated against it. However, it can affect all mammals and is passed on through bites from animal to animal and then from animal to man. About 10 million people are treated for Rabies exposure each year. Most commonly found in India and South East Asia, Rabies is present throughout Asia, the Americas and Africa killing over 50,000 people annually. Scandinavia, Northern Denmark, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are Rabies free and there has only been one reported case in the UK in the last 100 years which was caused by a bite from a bat.
Ringworm is an infection of the skin, which can affect any part of the body, but is more commonly found around the scalp, nails, feet and groin.
Rotavirus is a virus that infects the stomach and intestines and is the most common cause of gastroenteritis (stomach upsets) in children. The virus is passed on via faeces and there are many ways in which this can happen. Hands are commonly implicated in the spread of rotavirus, with the virus being picked up when using the toilet, by touching a child’s potty, or cleaning up body secretions such as vomit from a sick child. It is so infectious that it can even be spread by small droplets in the air, which can then be breathed in through the mouth or nose. Rotavirus gastroenteritis is extremely common in young children, usually affecting those aged 3 months to 3 years, with most children being infected at least once by the age of five. As natural immunity to rotavirus builds up with each infection, repeat infections tend to be less severe and adults rarely become ill from rotavirus. Infection is most common in the winter and spring months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression which affects people in winter, but not in summer. Many people find that they sleep slightly more and dislike the dark mornings and early evenings. For some however the symptoms are enough to disrupt their lives and cause considerable distress. These people have SAD.
Scabies is a skin infestation of mites. It is caught from direct contact with someone with the condition, which is why the hands are the most commonly affected areas. Symptoms are not usually apparent until one or two months after infestation occurs. Scabies can affect people of any age.
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness characterised by changes in perception, thoughts and behaviour. It affects one in a hundred people during their lifetime and in about a quarter of cases there will eventually be a full recovery. The illness is more common during the late teens and early twenties than at any other stage of life. A diagnosis of schizophrenia is likely to be very difficult for the person affected and their family to come to terms with.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are caught and spread through sexual contact. Anyone who is sexually active can get infected with an STD, so it’s not just those who have a lot of sexual partners. However, your chances of getting an STD increase with the more sexual partners you have. Using a condom can protect you from catching an infection.
Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) is a painful condition, which appears as an outbreak of a rash of blisters on an area of skin and is caused by the varicella zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles. Shingles cannot be caught from chickenpox. Some people however, can catch chickenpox from shingles, if they have not had chickenpox before. A person usually develops shingles only once.
Sickle Cell Anaemia
There are three common types of sickle cell disease: • Sickle cell anaemia or haemoglobin SS - this is the most common. • Haemoglobin SC, where the genes for sickle cell and thalassemia are both inherited - this is generally milder than sickle cell anaemia. • Sickle-beta thalassemia, where there is both a severe and mild form of the disease. Most people who 'carry' the disease do not generally experience any problems, often remaining healthy and leading normal lives. For those who develop the condition, it is both serious and painful. A child born to parents who carry or have the disease, will have a one in four chance of inheriting and developing the condition.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, which are the air filled spaces in the bones of the face. These spaces can be found in the cheeks, forehead and between the eyes and nose. The sinuses produce mucus or ‘catarrh’. With sinusitis, the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed and filled with mucus, which can then become infected.
Insomnia is when you can’t fall asleep or your sleep is disrupted. Individual sleep needs can vary from person to person, and will also vary according to age, but getting enough sleep is essential to health - it keeps the immune system strong and helps our brains work efficiently. The average amount of sleep a newborn baby needs is 16-20 hours; an adult will need seven to eight hours on average, while for an 80-year-old it’s five hours. But we all tend to have less sleep than we actually need – on average we sleep 60-90 minutes less than we should, and almost everyone experiences sleeping problems at some point in their lives. There are two intermittent stages of sleep which are vital for our bodies – rapid eye movement (REM), where the brain restores itself, and non-REM sleep where hormones are released and the body gets a chance to repair itself.
Snoring & Sleep Apnoea
Snoring is a sign that breathing is being obstructed during sleep. The typical sound you hear is actually the sound of the walls of the throat, the roof of the mouth and the base of the tongue vibrating. Normally, when you lie down and sleep the muscles behind the tongue that hold the throat open relax and collapse on themselves. This leads to the airway narrowing and restricting the airflow in and out of the lungs. In most people, this narrowing has no effect and goes unnoticed. However, in others this narrowing becomes too much and leads to snoring. If the muscles completely collapse, no air can pass through and the person stops breathing altogether. This condition is called obstructive sleep apnoea. Fortunately, the body has a natural mechanism which detects this and forces you to wake up before you suffocate. However, this becomes an ongoing cycle of suffocation and waking, happening hundreds of times a night without you realising it.
A sore throat or ‘pharyngitis’ is a very common condition caused by a viral infection. It can be very uncomfortable for the sufferer but it usually only lasts a few days and should be over within a week.
Stress is a normal reaction to the everyday challenges in life. It evolved over thousands of years to help us respond to danger. It is not all bad – stress helps to keep us alert and helps with our performance. However, stress starts to have a negative effect when it becomes too intense and when we don’t know how to deal with it.
A stye is a small spot in the root of an eyelash, which forms a small swelling on the inside or the outside of the lid. They are more common on the upper lid but can form on the lower lid too. Styes don’t cause any problems with vision and can occur at any age. A stye should be distinguished from another type of painful swelling in the eyelid, a chalazion, caused by enlargement of a blocked oil gland in the eyelid. A chalazion looks like a stye for the first few days but is further back from the edge of the lid. It then turns into a painless hard round bump that lingers for several weeks or even months.
Overexposure to the sun without adequate sun protection will result in sunburn, where the skin becomes red and tender. However, this is an avoidable condition. By applying sunscreen frequently and covering up in the sun and shade, the risk of sunburn is substantially reduced.
Your baby’s first tooth usually arrives at around six months of age but all babies are different and teeth can arrive earlier or later. Very occasionally a baby is born with a tooth. The first teeth to appear are the two central teeth in the lower jaw, the incisors, followed by the two upper incisors a month or so later. The other teeth will appear periodically over the next year or so and eventually your baby will have 20 milk teeth. You may notice a hard ridge on the gum for many weeks or months before the tooth actually breaks through the gum. Milk teeth begin to fall out at about six years of age and are replaced by permanent teeth.
Because normal body temperature is 37°C or 98.4°F, anything higher temperature means you have a ‘temperature’ or ‘pyrexia.’ A high temperature is usually a sign that your body is fighting an infection.
Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, which are the strong, cord-like, white fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. The tendons generally run through a sheath or canal called the synovial sheath, which commonly becomes inflamed as well. Inflammation of the synovial sheath is called synovitis, while inflammation of the sheath and tendon together is called tenosynovitis.
Thrush is an infection caused by a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus is present throughout the body and is normally quite harmless. A candidal infection happens when the pH, or acid balance, in the body becomes disturbed. Vaginal thrush in particular occurs when the pH balance of the vagina changes. Thrush can also develop in the mouth (oral thrush); this is common in new babies.
The tonsils lie at the back of the throat. Normally tonsils appear as two pale and flat circles of tissue on either side of the throat. If the tonsils are infected they become red, swollen and painful. Attacks of tonsillitis usually only last about a week.
Travel sickness or motion sickness is believed to affect about a third of the population and is common in children. You can be affected by travel sickness while travelling by sea, road or air. We don’t know why some people are more affected by travel sickness than others and it affects both men and women equally.
Varicose veins appear as raised, blue and lumpy blood vessels in the skin, usually on the legs but they can also occur in the anus, the vulva or the scrotum. They seem to be more common in women and the problem tends to run in families.
Warts & Verrucae
Warts are small growths on the skin, which are usually harmless. There are a number of different types of warts. Common warts are round with a rough surface and are usually the same colour as the skin or brown in colour. Plane or flat warts are smaller and flatter than common warts and tend to occur on the face and hands. Warts situated on the soles of the foot or around the toes are called plantar warts or verrucae. A verruca starts as a tiny pink area speckled with black dots but can become dark with a rough crumbly layer of skin with a ‘pepper pot’ appearance. Verrucae vary in size and can be as big as half an inch (1.25cm). They can also be grouped together or spread around the foot. Genital warts are pink in colour and often have a cauliflower appearance. If you have a number of small warts they can mass together to form a mosaic wart.
Gases that are produced in the stomach pass into the small intestine where the food we eat is digested and absorbed; the residues, such as dietary fibre and some carbohydrates, pass on to the colon. The colon contains many different kinds of bacteria, which ferment these residues producing large volumes of gases in the process. Most of these gases are absorbed into the blood stream and eventually excreted in the breath but the rest is passed as wind or ‘flatus.’
When people refer to worms, they are usually talking about threadworms, which look like small pieces of white thread about two millimetres long. Threadworms live in the intestines and the female worm lays her eggs at night around the back passage (the anus). Worms themselves aren’t usually harmful, but they are very irritating and cause itching which can disturb sleep. Both adults and children can have worms, but they are more common in children.
Your Home First Aid Kit
Adhesive tape to secure bandages & dressings Alcohol wipes Disposable gloves Elastic bandages Facemask for CPR First aid guide Flashlight (car)Gauze pads - various sizes Ice bag Non-adhering dressings Plasters - assorted sizes Paper & pencil Safety pins Scissors - round ends Thermometer Triangular bandages Tweezers - flat ends Waterproof tape.
Your Home Medicine Chest
Antacids for indigestion Anti-diarrhoeal to relieve stomach upsets Antiseptic cream or liquid for cleaning cuts and grazes Adhesive tape to secure bandages and dressings Aspirin/paracetamol/ibuprofen to relieve pain.