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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).

Diabetes: Information and Explanation

Diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases where the amount of glucose (blood sugar) in your blood is too high either due to inadequate insulin production, or body cells that do not properly respond to insulin, or both. 

People with high glucose level usually experience polyuria or frequent urination, polydipsia or increased thirst, and polyphagia or increased hunger. There are three different types of diabetes, which are: Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes causes your blood glucose level to become higher than normal. Also referred to as Juvenile Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your pancreas lost its ability to make insulin due to your own immune system attacking and destroying the cells in it. Once the cells in your pancreas are destroyed, it can never make the hormone insulin again.

About 10% of diabetes cases are Type 1 Diabetes. Having this type of diabetes requires you to take insulin injections for the rest of your life and you will need to have a special diet and regular blood tests to ensure that your body has the right amount of blood glucose level. 

Symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Dry mouth or extreme thirst
  • Possibly increased hunger
  • Weight loss

Type 2 Diabetes

In Type 2 Diabetes or also known as Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes, your pancreas still has the ability to produce insulin, but your body is no longer responding to it normally (insulin resistance). This causes your blood glucose level to rise, making your pancreas to produce even more insulin. When this happen, your pancreas will eventually wear out from producing extra insulin, which overtime, will lose its capability to produce enough insulin to keep your body's normal blood glucose level.

There is about 90% of diabetes cases which are Type 2 Diabetes worldwide. And although this type of diabetes may be controlled by exercising, losing weight, having a healthy diet, and monitoring blood glucose level, it's still a progressive disease that may gradually gets worse and you may still need to take tablet form insulin.

Being overweight or obese makes you more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes as body fats, particularly belly fats, release chemicals that may destabilize your body's metabolic and cardiovascular systems. 

Experts say that aging also puts you at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes because you may tend to gain more weight and be less physically active as you age. It also runs in the family so having a relative with Type 2 Diabetes gives higher risk of developing the disease.

Symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred Vision
  • Spots of darkened skin
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow healing of wounds/sores

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects some women during pregnancy. It's considered as one of the most common health problems among pregnant women as 2 out of 10 mothers may develop this health condition.

Because there's an increased insulin demand during pregnancy, your pancreas may not be able to keep up with the demand, making your blood glucose level to rise too high.

Good thing is, women with gestational diabetes don't remain diabetic after the baby is born. However, when you've had this type of diabetes, you may still have it again in your future pregnancy.

Symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision

Because pregnancy causes frequent urination and increased hunger, experiencing symptoms of gestational diabetes doesn't always mean that you have the disease; speak with your doctor and yourself tested.

How Diabetes is Diagnosed

If you have been experiencing common symptoms of diabetes such as frequent urination, extreme thirst, and increased hunger, your physician may run a diabetes test to determine your condition. Such tests may be:

  • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test
  • Blood Glucose Test
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Hemoglobin A1c Test
  • Other Diabetes Tests (Dilated Eye Exam, Foot Exam, etc)

Treatment for Diabetes

Treatment for diabetes varies for every individual, depending on the type of diabetes that you have. Some of the most common treatments include: 

  • Medications that include glucose-lowering pills, insulin (injection or tablet form).
  • Regular exercise to control blood sugar level, weight, and high blood pressure.
  • Meal planning controlling the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake.
  • Self-testing of blood glucose level
  • Foot care as your diabetes decreases your body's ability to fight infection.
  • Alternative medicine to control blood sugar level.

Diabetes Prevention

Prevention is always better than cure. If you know that you have higher risk of developing diabetes (i.e. with family history of the disease; overweight), prevention such as the following should be one of your priorities:

  • Get more physically active to lose weight, to lower blood sugar, and to boost your sensitivity to insulin.
  • Eat food rich in fiber 
  • Go for whole grains
  • Maintain proper weight
  • Have a healthy-eating plan (avoid fad diets)

When to Seek Medical Help

Symptoms of extremely low blood sugar level (hypoglycemic coma or severe insulin reaction) and symptoms of ketoacidosis should be taken more seriously and it's recommended to call your local emergency number if any of the following occurs:

Extremely Low Blood Sugar Level Symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness or convulsion
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination

Ketoacidosis Symptoms:

  • Deep and rapid breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea
  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Sweet-smelling breath

Summary

Any type of diabetes that hasn't been treated may lead to other serious medical conditions including heart attack and stroke. That's why it's extremely important to be aware of your symptoms, your risk factors, and if possible, take the necessary steps to prevent it.

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.

The Pain of Fibromyalgia

Constant pain, tenderness of the muscles, tendons, and joints and is usually characterized by sleeplessness, fatigue, and depression. These are some of the complaints of people who suffer from a condition called Fibromyalgia.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is defined by people who experience it as a chronic pain disorder that causes pain not just in a specific part of the body, but all over. Your body may have some trigger points where you may feel like your muscles have been overworked even though you haven't done any exercise. There are times where you will experience twitching, burning, or stabbing pain in your muscles, or aches around the joints in your neck, shoulders, back, and hips. Pain suddenly comes in, which may range from acute to severe pain. 

Signs and Symptoms

  • Chronic muscle pain, spasm, and tightness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Migraine headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Facial tenderness
  • Tingling in the face, hands, arms, feet or legs
  • Feeling of swelling in the hands or feet
  • Insomnia
  • Stiffness after staying in one position for a long period
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression

Where Are The Tender Points?

Tender points are areas around your joints that gets hurt when pressed. These are not the actual joints, but are superficial areas that are under the skin's surface. People who suffer from fibromyalgia usually have more than 11 tender points out of 18. 

Although it may seem like these tender points are inflamed, researchers haven't found any signs of inflammation on these areas. Fibromyalgia may cause sleep deprivation and frequent waking at night due to pain in tender areas as shown in the following image:

How Fibromyalgia Affects Your Life

In fibromyalgia, the pain may seem unending. And since it causes sleep deprivation, you may always experience fatigue, which may also bring anxiety and depression. Fibromyalgia, like in the case of arthritis, prevents you from doing even just a small activity like simple exercising or doing a simple household chore. 

Frequent pain could also bring irritation and exhaustion, making it hard for you to deal with other people. The overwhelming pain the you're experiencing may also cause you to isolate yourself totally even from your own family or friends.

Constantly living in pain takes lots of energy that it affects your daily life including your career and most importantly, your relationship with the people around you. It's also frustrating to know that you will have to deal with it for the rest of your life. 

Getting Relief

For a lot of people with fibromyalgia, conventional medicine is not an option as these drugs have some side effects and becoming more complicated. For this reason, more and more people are trying alternative solutions to treat fibromyalgia symptoms. With these alternative treatment for pain, you should be able to find relief and get your active life back again.

Warning: Liver Disease Can Be Fatal!

Liver is one of the biggest organs in your body and plays a very important role to your health. One of its functions is that it filters toxins from your blood – except in your kidneys – and filters body toxins brought by food, medicines, and alcohol.

Liver also has a major role in the production of proteins, which are necessary for transporting nutrients and for blood clotting. It also produces bile, which helps in the digestion of fats and carbohydrates from what you eat. Many nutrients are also stored in your liver such as:

  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Fat-soluble vitamins
  • Certain fats
  • Vitamins A, D, and K
  • Vitamin B12

Our liver is one of our body's most important organ. And just like any other organ in our body, once abused, our liver also gets tired and worst, die. When this happens, you can never bring your liver back to its normal state.

Understanding Liver Disease

A liver disease (or also referred to as 'hepatic disease') is any disorder of liver function that causes an illness. It's actually a broad term that may cover all potential problems, which causes the liver not able to perform its duties and functions. 

There are various of reasons as to how the liver loses its ability to perform its functions. These are:

  • Alcohol abuse – One of the most common causes of liver disease is alcohol abuse. Frequent alcohol intake brings lots of toxins to liver cells, thus, causing liver inflammation, which is referred to as alcoholic hepatitis.
  • Hepatitis B or C virus – Another cause of liver inflammation is acquiring infections such as Hepatitis B or C virus. These viruses are spread through blood transfusion, exposure to body fluids, and sexual contact. 
  • Fatty liver – In some cases, accumulation of fats cause damage to the liver, thus, causes inflammation and decreased function.
  • Some medications – Some medications such as Tylenol, Panadol, etc, can cause temporary liver inflammation, but could also cause permanent ( through drug overdose) liver damage.
  • Hereditary diseases – Hemochromatosis and Wilson's Disease are hereditary diseases that can damage the liver. The diseases involves accumulation of iron and inability to metabolize copper.
  • Other diseases and conditions – Such diseases and conditions include portal hypertension

Common Signs and Symptoms

Most common signs and symptoms of liver disease are the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Persisting fever

Symptoms Due to Certain Condition

  • For people with gallstones – vomiting after eating fatty foods, right upper abdominal pain, and fever (infected gallbladder).
  • Cirrhosis – itching, easy bruising, muscle wasting, enlarged breast (in men), erectile dysfunction, and lethargy.

Treatment

There's a specific treatment for every liver disease. For example, people with gallstones may need to undergo surgery to remove the gallbladder; and medications may be required to people with cirrhosis. But in any case, the best way to avoid liver diseases is to prevent it from occurring. You can do this by changing your lifestyle (avoiding too much alcohol), eating proper diet, exercising, and taking health supplements to help improve liver function.

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.