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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are ravaging the health of Americans of all ages.  The evidence is usually visually obvious, especially around the waistline, but less obvious consequences of unhealthy eating behaviors are common, too.  And sometimes an eating disorder is a symptom of other medical conditions.

For example, adolescent girls with attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are 10 times more prone to eating disorders than ADHD boys of the same age.  ADHD is characterized by behavioral problems that lead to poor relationships with family and friends.  These issues of behavior are often associated with low self-esteem and extreme feelings of self-consciousness.

This lack of personal confidence, especially at adolescence, triggers eating disorders that include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.  Girls with these eating disorders are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders, too, especially when ADHD compounds the diagnosis.

Fibromyalgia

Approximately one of every 50 Americans suffers from fibromyalgia but it’s one of the most baffling medical conditions known.  The musculoskeletal disorder causes excruciating, debilitating pain but leaves no organic evidence of its presence, a situation that gives it its nickname – the invisible syndrome.

Fibromyalgia feels like intense arthritis pain in the joints but doesn’t produce inflammation like arthritis does.  Some doctors think it’s a physical manifestation of depression but antidepressants don’t ease the pain.  It’s usually misdiagnosed for many years and over- or under-treated along the way.

The disorder, affecting mostly women, is so maddening that one out of 20 fibromyalgia patients admit to wanting, from time to time, to kill their doctor because nothing’s working to ease the pain.  A recent report in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, however, suggests hope is on the way.

Researchers using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), discovered an abnormality in cerebral blood flow at the part of the brain associated with pain.  In a study of 30 women, only the 20 with fibromyalgia showed evidence of hypoperfusion (decreased cerebral blood flow).

This finding is the first-ever physical evidence of this disease that causes such devastating pain.  With an organic clue to work from, there is hope effective therapies can be developed.

 
Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a visual disorder caused by increased pressure inside the eye.  When the pressure becomes extreme, visual impairments, including blindness, result.  In fact, glaucoma is the #1 leading cause of blindness throughout the world, affecting mostly the elderly.

Pressure can be relieved by medications but sometimes surgery is required to drain the over-pressurized fluid inside the eyeball.  There’s even a ‘smart’ contact lens in the development stage that might make glaucoma treatment much less troublesome some day.

At the University of California-Davis, biomedical engineers have developed a material, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which can be shaped and worn like any other contact lens.  What makes this lens different is that it’s fitted with precise patterns of powdered silver, an antimicrobial agent that will act as a sensor to detect intraocular pressure.

The PDMS lens will be able to detect when and how much medication is needed to maintain optimum eye pressure and dispense glaucoma-fighting medications as needed.  It’ll also relay pressure readings and other statistics needed to further the study of the disease.


Heart Attack

If you don’t like daylight savings time, it may be more than a case of simple grouchiness.  It may be a matter of survival.

Swedish doctors recently reported they’d studied the number of heart attacks occurring on Mondays in the fall, before and after daylight savings time ended, and on Mondays in the spring, when the time change begins.  It seems the time changes affect our hearts as well as our schedules.

In the springtime, when daylight savings time begins, the number of heart attacks spike rather dramatically, by 6% to 10%, on the first Monday after the change, compared to other Mondays in the spring.  In the fall, the opposite is true.  With the extra hour of sleep in the fall, the number of heart attacks the following Monday drop at about the same rate they rise in the spring.

This spike, up or down, in heart attacks immediately after these time changes even lingers a few days.  The same fluctuation in the number of Monday heart attacks happens on the Tuesdays and Wednesdays following the time changes, too.

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