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Nerve Damage: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Your nervous system is also responsible in everything that your body does. From sense of touch (Sensory Nerves) to governing actions and movements (Motor Nerves) to controlling involuntary body functions such as blood pressure, digestion, heart rate, and temperature regulation (Autonomic Nerves), the nerves play a very important role in your body functions.

What is a Nerve Damage?

Nerve damage is any kind of injury no matter how mild or severe it might be. There three main forms of nerve damage. These are: Neurotmesis, Axonotmesis, and Neurapraxia.

  • Neurotmesis – Most severe form of nerve damage, resulting to complete loss of nerve function.
  • Axonotmesis – Less severe form of nerve damage, resulting from crush or too much pressure from injuries.
  • Neurapraxia – Mildest form of nerve damage, allowing complete recovery within just days, weeks, or months.

Causes of Nerve Damage

There are at least 100 types of damage to the nerves, and these have various causes. However, most nerve damage cases are more common with age and in people with diabetes. Other possible causes may also include:

  • Autoimmune diseases such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome where immune system attacks peripheral nerves
  • Cancer
  • Trauma/Compression
  • Toxic substances and Drug side-effects (i.e. medications such as chemotherapy; toxic substances such as mercury, lead, arsenic, etc)
  • Infectious diseases (i.e. HIV, Hepatitis C, etc.)
  • Motor-Neuron diseases (i.e. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)
  • Nutritional deficiencies including Vitamins B6 and B12 deficiency

Symptoms of a Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can have various symptoms, depending on the location and the type of affected nerves. (note: Nerve damage may occur in ANY part of your body including your brain, your spinal cord, and etc.)

Sensory nerve damage symptoms:

  • pain 
  • numbness 
  • sensitivity
  • burning sensation
  • tingling sensation
  • problems with positional awareness

Motor nerve damage symptoms:

  • muscle atrophy
  • twitching 
  • weakness
  • paralysis

Autonomic nerve damage symptoms:

  • dry eyes and mouth
  • sexual dysfunction
  • inability to feel chest pain (stroke)
  • too little/too much sweating
  • bladder dysfunction
  • lightheadedness
  • constipation

Treatment for Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can't be entirely cured in most cases. However, there are number of treatments that can possibly reduce its symptoms which are:

  • pain relievers
  • tricyclic anti-depressant drugs
  • anti-seizure drugs

In many instances, your doctor may prescribe treatment for underlying diseases that may cause nerve damage. Goals of these treatments include:

  • regulating your blood sugar level (if you have diabetes)
  • correcting your nutritional deficiencies
  • changing your medications (if it's causing nerve damage)
  • surgery or physical therapy for nerve compression/trauma
  • providing medications (for autoimmune diseases)

Alternative medicines that repairs nerve damage are also considered as one of the best approaches that greatly helps in alleviating pain and discomfort on the affected area(s).

Getting to Know Cancer

Human body is made up of cells. At a microscopic level, you will see trillions of cells divided into about 200 different types. Cells are our basic unit of life; all our body processes, from absorption of food to excreting our body's waste products, occur through cells.

All the cells in your body, those trillions of cells, work together as a community. However, when one cell acquires gene mutation, multiplying it when it shouldn't, it becomes abnormal causing uncontrolled growth.

How Cancer Starts

A healthy functional cell does not immediately turn into cancer cell just because of one cell acquiring gene mutation. The abnormal cell will first start to grow uncontrollably and multiply; this cell will not die, instead, they grow into other tissues.

The difference between cancer cells and normal cells is that cancer cells has lost its vital control systems so instead of repairing itself or dying when damaged (just like what the normal cell does), cancer cells make new cells that the body don't actually need. 

Causes of Cancer

Cancer is a complex group of more than 100 diseases with many different possible causes. Although there are many different types of cancer, causes may be due to a lot of factors including the following:

  • Genetic Factors where some types of cancer run in the family as people can inherit abnormal DNA from parents.
  • Lifestyle Factors such as alcohol and tobacco use, diet and physical inactivity (obesity).
  • Certain Type of Bacteria/Infection where (some infections) may cause long-term inflammation that may directly affect a cell's DNA.
  • Exposure to Chemicals/Radiation such as ultraviolet lights, radon gas, etc.
  • Other Carcinogens such as pollution, some medical treatment, etc.
  • UV Exposure or too much sun exposure.

Factors stated above causes some of the most common types of cancer according to National Cancer Institute such as:

  • Skin Cancer 
  • Lung Cancer 
  • Breast Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer 
  • Renal Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Leukemia

How Cancer Spreads

Cancer cells often begin to grow and form new cancer cells to other parts of the body. The process of spreading the cancer cell is called "metastasis". There are three main ways on how cancer cells are spread. These are:

  • Local spread – cancer grows directly into nearby body tissues.
  • Through blood circulation – cancer cells are moving through the wall of a blood vessel to get into the bloodstream where it's swept along by the circulating blood until it grows and multiply again somewhere, usually in capillaries.
  • Through lymphatic system – cancer cells travel in circulating lymph fluid until it grows and multiply again in small channel inside a lymph node.

How Cancer is Detected

In early stages of some cancer, regular screening can already detect if there are abnormal cells growing and forming in some parts of a person's body so it becomes a lot easier to treat and cure. These regular cancer screening includes mammograms that detects breast cancer, and smear test for cervical cancer. Other methods used to detect cancer are:

  • Imaging (X-ray, CT Scan, MRI Scan, PET Scan, and Ultrasound)
  • Endoscopy 
  • Tissue samples (biopsy)
  • Blood tests and other samples (includes sugar, protein, fats, and DNA)

How Cancers Differ

A type of cancer is named for the place it started no matter where it spread. So a breast cancer will still be called a breast cancer even if the cancer cells have already spread to the liver. Each types of cancer behave very differently and each type grows at a different rate as well. For this reason, cancers are treated depending on its kind as they respond differently to every different treatments.

Cancer Treatment

Because there are different types of cancer, treatment for each type is also different. Once a cancer is detected, the doctor will provide you the best treatment for your specific situation, taking account the stage and type of cancer, where it's located, where it has spread, as well as your general health.

The following are the main methods used to treat cancer:

  • Surgery (removing cancer cells)
  • Chemotherapy (using medicines to kill cancer cells)
  • Radiotherapy (radiation treatment to kill cancer cells)
  • Hormonal Therapy (lowering hormones in body)
  • Monocional Antibody Therapy (directly targets and attacks cancer cells)
  • Immunotherapy (medicines that encourages immune system to attack and kill cancer cells)
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitor Therapy (interfere with the development of blood vessels that delivers oxygen, which the tumor needs to survive)
  • Alternative and Complementary Therapy (treatment other than conventional treatments such as traditional Chinese medicines that help control cancer cells)

How Common Cancer Is

Men or women, adult or children may have the possibility of developing cancer. It's one of the leading causes of death in the world no matter how young or old a person is.That is why early cancer detection and cancer awareness is very important especially if you have risk of acquiring it (i.e genes, lifestyle, etc). It is therefore recommended to go see a doctor regularly even without experiencing any signs and symptoms. Remember that the best weapon for this problem is to find it out earlier.

Enlarged Prostate: A Complex Health Problem

The image above shows the difference between a normal prostate and enlarged prostate. Notice that the image of enlarged prostate shows swelling, which actually causes the problems. 

Enlarged Prostate

The prostate gland is just about the size of a walnut, that is attached to the base of the bladder. The tube (Urethra) that carry out the urine out of the body goes through the prostate gland. 

Prostate gland grows slowly as most men age. This growth is called benign prostatic hyperplasia and not considered life-threatening like cancer. It only means tissue growth, which occurs in about 90% of men 70 years old and older.

In this case, many men, even without knowing it, may actually have enlarged prostate. They may not notice it until swelling occurs, which is the main cause of the problem. Because urine flows from the bladder through the urethra and the prostate wraps around the urethra, an enlarged prostate blocks the flow of urine out of the body. This causes the bladder to fill up, while harder to empty at the same time. 

Causes of an Enlarged Prostate

No one has fully understand yet the exact main cause of prostate to enlarge. However, there are factors linked to it such as age, hormone level, and other factors.

Age – As men get older, the risk of developing an enlarged prostate becomes higher. A lot of men 50 years and older may have enlarged prostate even without experiencing the symptoms.

Hormone levels – Again, as men get older, the balance of hormone in the body also changes. This may cause growth of the prostate gland.

Other factors – Studies show that obesity and diabetes among men gives a greater risk of developing an enlarged prostate. 

Symptoms

  • Slow urinary stream
  • Feeling of not fully emptied bladder
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty in urination
  • Urgency to urinate
  • Urinary stream that starts and stops
  • Dribbling of urine
  • Straining to urinate

Problems Associated with Enlarged Prostate

Due to enlarged prostate, urine are not completely emptied from the bladder. This may cause urinary tract infections that may eventually develop to other problems such as incontinence, blood in the urine, bladder stones, or total inability to urinate (acute urinary retention).

Erectile dysfunction is also being linked to enlarged prostate. In more severe cases, kidney damage and renal failure may occur resulting to the need for dialysis.

What You Can Do

Understanding the symptoms of having an enlarged prostate is the key to keep you healthy. Remember that a sudden inability to urinate is a serious medical condition, so it's advisable to visit your physician immediately if you happen to experience this. It may not always obvious what's going on, but an enlarged prostate must be examined carefully to fully understand the severity of the problem. Generally, a prostate examination is performed by a gloved, lubricated finger into the anus for internal examination that is done by your doctor.

Treatment

Treatment for enlarged prostate may differ from person to person; treatment for a 65 years old man may not be applicable to a 90 years old. This is because the age, the size of the prostate gland, and the overall health are to be considered before any treatment should be given.

There are various treatments for an enlarged prostate, depending on the person's condition. These are:

  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Lifestyle change

Your doctor will recommend the best possible treatment for your condition. You may also want to prevent enlargement of prostate with health supplement products that are safer with no serious side-effects. 

Summary

Having an enlarged prostate doesn't necessarily mean that you'll automatically have prostate cancer. However, it's still possible to have both an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer at the same time. For this reason, early detection is very important especially if you have risk of developing it. Visit your doctor and have yours checked.

Understanding Impotence

Impotence is a problem that is most common among older man, but can still affect younger ones. It is a very frustrating medical problem, but what's more problematic is that most men that are suffering from this condition are too embarrassed to face their condition. This makes the situation more difficult, making impotence harder to treat and diagnose possible underlying more serious medical condition.

What is Impotence?

Man's erection is achieved through a proper blood flow to the penis. However, when the blood flow has been interrupted, impotence or erectile dysfunction occurs.

Impotence, also known as Erectile Dysfunction or ED, is when a man has no ability to sustain or achieve an erection well enough to complete a sexual intercourse. Most men experience an occasional erection problem some time in their lives, but failure to achieve an erection MOST of the time may indicate other serious health issues. 

In the past, it is believed that psychological problem alone is what causing impotence. It was then later discovered that there may be other factors that affects it such as various medical problems as well as the person's lifestyle.

What Causes Impotence?

Impotence may occur due to numbers of reasons. One is psychological cause, which may bring temporary impotence mostly among men 35 years old and under; and the other one is physical or health problem, which is usually the most common cause of impotence among men 35 years old and above.

Psychological factors that causes impotence may include:

  • Stress
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Guilt
  • Bereavement
  • Sexual boredom
  • Worry
  • Exhaustion (both physical and mental)
  • Depression

Most common physical or health problems that contributes to impotence are:

  • Diabetes
  • Injury or surgery in the hip area
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Low testosterone level
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug abuse
  • Some medications

Impotence may also be an early sign of heart ailment which may lead to heart attack and stroke

When to See a Doctor?

An occasional sexual problem is normal. However, when there's persistent erection problem that it already affects your relationship with your partner, and when you have been experiencing pain associated with this problem, then it is advisable that you should consult your doctor immediately as there may have underlying physical or health problems involved.

What are the Treatments for Impotence?

There are many available treatments for impotence. If the cause is due to psychological problem, you may just need to change your lifestyle like giving up smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Try to relax and avoid stress, or see a psychologist if the problem is guilt, depression, worry, or anxiety.

Impotence may also be treated with therapies such as hormone and transurethral therapies or may be used with some mechanical devices that would be applied to the penis. There are also some drugs available, but most men prefer to take alternative treatments as it has less side effects and complications.

Summary

Impotence or erectile dysfunction can brings frustration and strain on a couple. It also brings emotional pain brought by embarrassment of being impotent, and the fear of having other illnesses such as heart ailment, liver disease, and other medical disorders. For this reason, men should see a doctor to discuss the symptoms to be able to detect more serious health conditions.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of Arthritis. It's also called degenerative joint disease which mostly affect older people, causing joint pain. This medical condition involves gradual loss of cartilage, a connective tissue responsible in covering ends of your bones at a joint.

A healthy cartilage allows your bones to smoothly move over another. It acts like an elastic gel to provide low-friction surface for joints during movement. In osteoarthritis, though, the cartilage that covers the end of your bone breaks and wears away. This causes your bone to rub together resulting to swelling, pain, and decrease in joint function. And over time, these joints can lose its shape and osteophytes (bone spurs) could form along the edges of the joints due to an increased damage in joint's surface area. This usually causes more pain and stiffness of the joints. 

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis gradually develops over time. Most common factors that could cause it include the following:

  • Getting older
  • Obesity
  • Endocrine problems (Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, Hyperparathyroidism, etc)
  • Joint injury or other fracture 
  • Other Inflammatory Joint Diseases (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, etc)
  • Congenital defect 
  • Genetic defect
  • Bleeding disorder (Hemophilia)
  • Jobs or sports that would require squatting or kneeling for a long period of time or would involve direct impact on your joint.

Signs and Symptoms

It is possible for some individuals to might not have any signs of having osteoarthritis even though the X-ray shows evidence of it. For most people, however, the following are its most common symptoms:

  • Pain in one or more joints which usually gets worst at night or after a physical work.
  • Stiffness and swelling, making your joints difficult to move.
  • A noticeable crunching, rubbing, or crackling sound during movement.

Joints Affected

Osteoarthritis may affect any joint. But it often affects the joints in the following areas:

  • Hands and Fingers – fingers are enlarged which may be painful and stiff.
  • Knees and Feet- one of the most common areas to be affected which can actually lead to disability; symptoms show pain, stiffness, and swelling, making it difficult to run, climb, or even just to sit and walk.
  • Hip – most common area to be affected as well that could greatly limit the person's movements due to pain and stiffness. 
  • Spine – pain and stiffness which are mostly felt in the neck or lower back which may result to numbness or weakness up to the arms or legs areas. 

Diagnosis and Tests

Doctors usually use the following to diagnose or to rule out osteoarthritis:

  • Physical exam
  • Medical history
  • X-ray
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • Other medical tests such as blood tests

Treatment

Successful osteoarthritis treatment programs include the following:

  • Life-change which includes weight control and exercise to help reduce your risk of getting osteoarthritis or in maintaining joint movement.
  • Medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers and/or alternative medicines.
  • Non-drug pain relief such as physical therapy to improve joint function.
  • Surgery to repair or even replace damaged joints.
  • Rest to relieve stress and/or pressure on your joints.

Who's At Risk?

Millions of people from around the world suffer from osteoarthritis. And although it's most common among seniors, younger individuals, men or women, may still develop it as a result of congenital or genetic defects, fracture or injuries, or those who are overweight

Summary

Osteoarthritis is a debilitating disease that affects many. Symptoms may be different from one person to another, causing others to still perform any physical activity while others may not be capable of doing even just a simple daily task.

Yes, having osteoarthritis can actually be a burden as it limits your movement or your ability to function and live a normal life. So it's important to stay informed about the various treatments available to help you cope with osteoarthritis.