Ailments and Health Conditions

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Allergies & Asthma

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung condition. Air passages narrow and become inflamed. This leads to breathing difficulties and wheezing. Asthma ranges from mild to severe. Some people have only occasional, mild symptoms. Others have nearly constant symptoms with severe, life-threatening flare-ups. 

An allergy is an immune system reaction to something that is normally harmless. The reaction to the allergen (allergy-triggering substance) results in the release of histamine and other body chemicals. These chemicals cause the symptoms of allergies, which are usually mild but annoying.

Blood Pressure & Heart

Blood pressure has two components:

  • Systolic pressure is the top number. It represents the pressure the heart generates when it beats to pump blood to the rest of the body.

  • Diastolic pressure is the bottom number. It refers to the pressure in the blood vessels between heartbeats.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). So blood pressure would be expressed, for example, as 120/80 mm Hg.

High blood pressure is diagnosed when one or both of these numbers is too high. High blood pressure is also called hypertension.

Cholesterol & Lipid Regulators

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that occurs naturally in the body. It performs several vital functions. It is needed to make the walls surrounding the body's cells and is the basic material that is converted to certain hormones. Your body makes all the cholesterol you need. You need only a small amount of fat in your diet to make enough cholesterol to stay healthy.

The fat and cholesterol you eat are absorbed in the intestine and transported to the liver. The liver converts fat into cholesterol, and releases cholesterol into the bloodstream. There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).

High levels of LDL cholesterol are linked to atherosclerosis, which is the accumulation of cholesterol-rich fatty deposits in arteries. This can cause arteries to narrow or become blocked, slowing or stopping the flow of blood to vital organs, especially the heart and brain. Atherosclerosis affecting the heart is called coronary artery disease, and it can cause a heart attack. When atherosclerosis blocks arteries that supply blood to the brain, it can cause a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic, long-term disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. It can be caused by too little or no insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar, resistance to insulin (when cells in the body cannot effectively use insulin), or both of these issues.

Diabetes can lead to serious health complications including:

  • heart disease
  • blindness
  • kidney failure
  • lower-extremity amputations, such as a foot or lower leg.

Type 1 diabetes results from an absolute deficiency of insulin due to autoimmune beta cell destruction in the pancreas, while type 2 diabetes results from a progressive loss of insulin secretion coupled with insulin resistance.

Patients with type 1 diabetes require injected insulin, while patients with type 2 diabetes may be able to use oral agents only, or may need to combine injectable insulin with oral medications, too.

In the U.S., being overweight or obese is the most common modifiable risk factor for type 2 diabetes. With attention to diet, exercise, education, and medication treatment you can learn to control your diabetes, still enjoy many of the foods you love, and maintain your health over the long-term. Playing an active role in your treatment is key.

Gastrointestinal Health

Gastrointestinal disorders is the term used to refer to any condition or disease that occurs within the gastrointestinal tract.

The gastrointestinal tract (also called the GI tract) is a series of hollow organs that form a long continuous passage from our mouth to our anus. The organs that make up our GI tract are our mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. 

Insomnia

Insomnia is difficulty getting enough sleep or trouble sleeping without interruption. You may have difficulty falling asleep, may wake up too early, or may wake up periodically during the night. Insomnia of any kind can keep you from feeling rested and refreshed during the day.

Almost all of us have episodes of insomnia at some time, but insomnia is not a short-term problem for everyone. Insomnia is classified as chronic when it happens almost every night for at least one month. Insomnia can be related to a medical or psychiatric illness, can be caused by mental stress or excitement, or can be caused by your daytime and bedtime habits.

Men's Health

Mental Health

Mental health disorders are common affecting tens of millions of people each year in the United States. However, overall, only about half of those affected receive treatment. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) defines a mental illness (AMI) as:

  • A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance use disorders)
  • Diagnosable currently or within the past year
  • Meets diagnostic criteria specified within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

A mental illness does not mean one cannot function and live a productive life; treatments can have a profound effect. AMI can range in impact from limited impairment to significantly disabling impairment, such as in individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). A serious mental illness is defined as individuals with a mental disorder with serious functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

Pain & Arthritis 

You have pain receptors throughout your body, both outside and within. These receptors send electrical messages through your spinal cord to the brain. You only become aware of pain after your brain receives and interprets these electrical messages. In some cases, such as when you touch a hot stove, the body can spring into defensive action even before the brain knows what is happening. That's because pain messages that reach the spinal cord can cause an automatic reflex response, making muscles near the source of the pain contract to get away from the pain.

Pain receptors and nerve pathways differ throughout the body. Therefore, the sensation of pain differs, too, depending on where the message comes from and how it travels. At times, the source of pain is difficult to locate. For example, some people feel the pain from a heart attack in the neck or jaw. People also differ in their ability to tolerate pain and how they respond to pain medication.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory disease that causes pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling in joints. Over time, the affected joints may become misshapen, misaligned and damaged. Tissue lining the joint can become thick, and may wear away surrounding ligaments, cartilage and bone as it spreads. Rheumatoid arthritis usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that if one knee or hand has it, the other usually does, too.

Thyroid

You have pain receptors throughout your body, both outside and within. These receptors send electrical messages through your spinal cord to the brain. You only become aware of pain after your brain receives and interprets these electrical messages. In some cases, such as when you touch a hot stove, the body can spring into defensive action even before the brain knows what is happening. That's because pain messages that reach the spinal cord can cause an automatic reflex response, making muscles near the source of the pain contract to get away from the pain.

Women's Health

Editorial Review & References

Medically reviewed by USARx Medical Writing Team Last updated on 2/5/2020.

Source: Drugs.com for Ailment Definitions.