Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a lung disease that can result in scarring of the lung tissues for no evident reason. Over a period of time, the scarring gets worse and it becomes difficult to breathe. Since the lungs are damaged, they cannot take in enough oxygen, leading to shortness of breath. The disease involves the tissues and space around the lungs and does not directly affect the blood vessels. There are various diseases that cause inflammation or fibrosis and each one is treated differently.
The cause of this medical condition is not completely understood. There is no single cause or reason why some people suffer from this disease. There are risk factors such as genetics, cigarette smoking, age, acid reflux, and more. It affects more men than women. Most individuals infected with IPF have another family member with a lung disease. About 75 percent of the patients are men and almost 75 percent of patients are or were previously cigarette smokers.
There are two main symptoms of IPF.
Breathlessness or short breath first appears during exercise. It can have an impact on the day to day activities like climbing stairs. It increases as scarring in the lung gets worse and it could prevent all daily activities.
Majority people with IPF have a chronic cough which lasts longer than eight weeks. This is a dry cough.
There are other symptoms which include unexplained weight loss, tiredness, loss of energy, chest pain, loss of appetite, and change in the shape of fingers and toes (clubbing).
There is no cure for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and there are no definite procedures that can remove the scarring from lungs. However, there are treatments that slow down the progression of lung scarring but may not lessen the symptoms of cough and breathlessness.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis cannot be identified in the first instance. As it gradually progresses, the patient will notice short breath and will feel the need to approach a doctor. Although there is no specific treatment that can cure the disease, it can reduce the symptoms of the condition and show a slight improvement in the lung tissues. The scarring cannot be removed but the progression can be slowed down. It is important to consult a doctor when the signs and symptoms are noticed. Based on the progression of scarring, the doctor will be able to provide medication for the same. For every patient, it is important to understand the disease first and not to panic. Smokers sometimes experience short breath which could not necessarily be due to the presence of IPF. Prepare a list of questions for the doctor to answer so that there is clarity with regard to the disease. If the patient is already on medication for some other medical condition, the information about the same should be provided to the doctor in order to consider the treatment options.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is an irreversible, progressive disease which has no treatment. Hence, good coping skills and education about the disease is a must for every patient.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that strikes roughly 1.3 million Americans. RA attacks the synovial tissues surrounding the joints, causing chronic pain and disability if left untreated. RA is considered an autoimmune disorder because it causes the body to attack itself, mistaking healthy synovial joint tissues as a threat, thereby destroying the joint themselves. While rheumatoid arthritis usually develops mainly in older adults, the disorder can occur at any age. According to research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by the existence of inflammation in five or more joints.
What occurs during a Rheumatoid Arthritis attack?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) attacks, or flare ups, typically come and go for a period of weeks to months. During an attack, the immune system attacks the joint tissues via antibodies, which are meant to protect the body from infection. However, in RA patients, immune antibodies mistake healthy joint tissues gradually eroding the healthy integrity and function of the joints.
RA flare ups range from mild inflammation of the joints to extreme pain and swelling that impacts movement and simple joint function, and can even affect the liver, lymphatic system, bones, heart, skin, and lungs of patients.
Rheumatoid arthritis progression
For many rheumatoid arthritis patients the disorder is progressive, meaning they will experience recurring flare ups that affect almost every part of the body. These attacks often gradually worsen with time with periods of remission, or subsiding symptoms in between.
While no cure for RA is known, treatment of the disease is important to slow the progression and relieve symptoms. Doctors will typically prescribe a combination of medication (usually NSAIDS and/or Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs to prevent disease progression), lifestyle changes, physical therapies, and dietary treatments.
Patients are impacted by rheumatoid arthritis very differently. For instance, attacks can be mild for some patients and disabling for others. During the earliest stages of RA, most patients experience telltale joint pain and swelling. Early detection and treatment is important to prevent serious and life-threatening disability.
In the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, doctors typically recommend a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, dietary goals, exercise, and physical therapy aimed to address the following:
– Relieve painful RA symptoms to put the disease in remission.
– Prevent any further joint damage and disability.
– Improve joint function and overall well-being.
To attain these goals, medical professionals will often recommend these strategies to treat rheumatoid arthritis:
Physical therapy is a tool often recommended to improve joint function and overall range of movement for RA patients. Therapeutic exercises will often be used to help make movement in the hands and feet pain free. Therapists will often also introduce assistive tools—such as emergency alarms, reaching sticks, buttons to open doors, walking assists (i.e., canes), buttonhooks for dressing, and cooking and food preparation aids (i.e., grasping aids to help open jars and protective knife handles to protect the wrist and fingers).
Diet can impact the lives of rheumatoid arthritis patients in a positive or negative manner. With the primary goal of managing pain and encouraging improved joint function, doctors will often prescribe patients consume a well-balanced diet consisting of lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains while avoiding inflammatory foods such as red meat, refined sugar, processed foods, and fatty fried foods. Health professionals may also introduce supplementing with fish oil and/or plant oils (i.e., evening primrose oils) known for their natural pain-relieving benefits.
Daily, low-impact exercise is important for RA patients in order to promote regular movement and improved range of motion. Good examples of RA-approved exercise includes swimming, Tai Chi, yoga, and walking, which is gentle on swollen joints.
Medications prescribed to treat RA focus on relieving symptoms while slowing the progression of the disease. However, many medications used to treat RA often carry serious side effects (i.e., mood swings, weight gain, and bone loss), which is why patients should be closely monitored by a doctor and adhere to drug frequency and dosage to prevent an overdose. To treat painful RA symptoms, doctors often prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDS) such as over-the-counter ibuprofen (i.e., Advil) or naproxen sodium (ie., Aleve). To reduce inflammation, prednisone (a corticosteroid) is often prescribed either via oral pill or injection. Lastly, doctors aim to prevent the progression of RA with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (or DMARDS) paired with a “biologic agent” (i.e., etanercept, batacept, adalimumab, certolizumab, etc.).
Surgical intervention is considered only for RA patients with severely damaged mobility in instances where a joint or tendon can be saved or replaced entirely. For instance, joints may be fused or removed via a synovectomy (removal of inflamed joint lining) performed on a knee, hip, finger, wrist, or elbow. Joints can also be surgically replaced with prosthetics created from metal or plastic.
Managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) so that you lead a healthy, comfortable life often requires patients to make changes to their lifestyle. Part of living with a chronic condition means planning ahead and building a healthcare team to support you and help reduce pain and minimize the symptoms of RA flare ups.
Here are six proactive things rheumatoid arthritis patients can do you can do to decrease the severity of RA symptoms and prevent the frequency of RA attacks:
Being gentle on your joints often means switching up the way you do things. For instance, avoiding high impact movements and activities can both prevent and decrease joint inflammation and pain. Allow time for pampering your joints—including warm baths, soaking joints, using joint assists (i.e., orthopedics, braces or canes), and using heating pads.
Unfortunately, research indicates that rheumatoid arthritis patients are prone to atherosclerosis (or plaque in the arteries), which also impedes RA treatments. However, if smoking significantly increases the risk even more.
Living with a chronic disease like RA means that symptoms will literally put stop gaps on your daily, weekly, and even monthly routines. It’s important to take breaks when you’re experiencing symptoms and also to help prevent the onset of an RA attack so allow for lots of stress free rest and downtime in your day.
Diet can both negatively and positively impact health, especially for patients with RA. In fact, several studies link calcium and vitamin D deficiency to bone loss, weight gain, overweight, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and worsening rheumatoid arthritis pain.
Exercises, including those prescribed by your physical therapist and doctor, can help promote better mobility, muscle strength, and flexibility while lessening pain in arthritic joints. Try gentle, low impact exercise (i.e., swimming, walking, and gentle yoga).
Fatigue and living with an autoimmune disorder often go hand-in-hand for a reason. Dealing with chronic pain and inflammation is bound to wear you down both physically and mentally. So give yourself permission to rest when you experience an attack or feel one coming on.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or more commonly called ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is synonymous with several behavioral symptoms:
While many associate ADHD with children between the ages of 6- to 12-years old. Adults can also display symptoms. In fact, roughly 5-percent of Americans are diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. Even though many are familiar with the term “adult ADHD”, according to research from the Mayo Clinic, patients either displays symptoms in early childhood and continues to show them as an adult, or the patient remains undiagnosed until adulthood even though ADHD symptoms were always present. According to statistics, approximately 60-percent of children with ADHD continue to show symptoms as adults.
Individuals experience ADHD very differently. Although many of the same symptoms are present, they can manifest in various ways among patients. For instance, while one ADHD patient may have trouble staying focused when experiencing exterior stimulation; other ADHD patients can seem antisocial or totally withdrawn.
Child or adult, male or female, ADHD patients often display symptoms in the same manner, however, they often struggle with similar difficulties, including:
ADHD symptoms often present and intensify with transitions, such as beginning school or a new job, moving, divorce, death of a loved one, or a job loss.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, patients can experience ADHD symptoms very differently, however, a significant life change often causes the display of early ADHD symptoms. For instance, while children often begin showing signs of ADHD when they start school, adults can show similar issues with focus and impulse control if they experience a major life change, such as the death of a loved one.
Regardless of age, ADHD occurs in 3 subtypes, according to the American Psychiatric Association:
The predominantly hyperactive-impulsive subset often fits the societal stereotype of wild, uncontrolled ADHD. However, this disorder subtype only makes up 5-percent of all ADHD patients, most of which are preschool children. Patients that fall under this subset must show a minimum 6 of the following signs for a duration of at least 6-months:
This ADHD subtype is often mischaracterized as a daydreamer. Predominantly inattentive ADHD patients are diagnosed after displaying at least 6 of the following symptoms for a period of more than six months:
The hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive subset are patients who experience multiple symptoms from both the inattentive and the Hyperactive-impulsive categories. Again, symptoms must present for at least 6-months to make a formal diagnosis. This child or adult may be:
ADHD is characterized as a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts a patient’s behavior and brain. While ADHD can’t be cured, doctors typically recommend a combination of prescription medication and lifestyle changes to keep behavioral symptoms under control. Keep in mind that ADHD affects every patient differently, so no one treatment works for everyone.
Here are the most common treatment options for ADHD:
Cognitive behavioral therapy is often recommended in combination with other ADHD treatments to teach patients to manage their symptoms. Therapy can teach patients techniques for dealing with stress, memory retention, time management skills, anger control, and even improve self image.z
ADHD stimulants, such as Methylphenidates (i.e., Ritalin, Concerta, and Quillivant), Amphetamines (i.e., Zenzedi, Dexedrine, and ProCentra), and mixed salt single-entity amphetamines (i.e., Mydayis) are prescribed to help manage symptoms while altering the brain to help patients focus better and control impulsive behavior. These drugs are typically prescribed at low doses in short acting (that work for up to 4-hours) and long acting forms (that work for up to 12-hours) to see how the brain responds, and increased as necessary. Many of these medications come in both short- and long-acting forms. Stimulants of any kind should be taken according to doctor’s orders and never stopped suddenly. Many ADHD stimulants causes side effects, such as headache, dry mouth, and lack of appetite.
If your body doesn’t respond well to stimulant drugs, non-stimulants (i.e., atomoxetine) provide another option. Non-stimulants alter brain chemicals to manage impulse control and hyperactive behavior. Like, stimulants, non-stimulants also often cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and headache.
Participating in an ADHD support group can help patients with feelings of isolation. Many of these groups offer discussion and activities that focus on improving self esteem while teaching participants anger management, positive social skills, and techniques to deal with impulsive behavior. They may also feature stress management tools, or yoga and meditation to help with anxiety.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (or BPH) refers to an enlarged prostate gland. BPH stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate gland, a common condition among aging males. In fact, BPH occurs in 50% of all men between 51- and 60-years of age, while approximately 90% of males 80-years and older have enlarged prostates. An enlarged prostate can be troublesome in nature because it squeezes and narrows the urethra and causes the bladder to become weak, sensitive, and unable to empty completely, leading to urinary retention and frequency.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, hence the name, although benign in nature (or non-cancerous) doesn’t increase the risk of cancer development, even though BPH and cancer can develop in patients simultaneously. Throughout a man’s life, the prostate gland will undergo 2 growth periods—the first occurs during puberty when the prostate typically doubles in size. The second growth period (when BPH can also develop) occurs at approximately 25-years of age and can continue to growing with age.
Urinary retention (when the bladder doesn’t fully empty) should be considered extremely concerning because it can leave a patient at risk for several health issues, including:
Therefore, the following symptoms of an enlarged prostate or BPH should be brought to the attention of a medical professional as soon as possible:
This could include trouble when starting to urinate, or urinary strain to complete urination (i.e., continued dribbling).
This is the inability to drain the bladder completely and may feel heavy, create urinary urgency when you don’t have to go, or weight in the bladder because it isn’t completely drained.
Urgency to urinate that occurs without warning during the night, and reoccuring moments after just urinating.
Can present in a urine stream that starts and stops, or a too slow or weak urine stream.
Much can change in a decade, including treatments for certain types of cancer. Lung cancer is no exception with scientists continuing their tireless work on new advancements in the research of cancer tumor growth, targeted therapies, and emerging fields of cancer research (i.e., immunotherapy) that are able to diagnose lung cancer earlier, and provide successful treatment even in the advanced stages of the disease.
These recent therapies are having a significant effect on the survival of lung cancer patients:
Cancer researchers at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, are making advancements in targeted therapies designed to analyze the genetic makeup of cancer, and limit the genetic mutations that drive cancer cell growth. As such, new and more precise molecular tests are being developed so proper treatment can be mapped for the patient at the point of diagnosis to improve the success of their cancer therapy.
Recent clinical trials over the past few years are making chemotherapy drugs (and chemo and radiation used together) safer and more effective by studying patterns of the specific genes within the cancer cells. Ongoing lab studies are testing the response of chemo drugs (i.e, carboplatin and gemcitabine) on once thought unresponsive tumors (with high levels of ERCC1 and RRM1 proteins).
A new form of image guided radiation therapy (or IGRT) promises advancements as far as targeting cancerous tumors, and producing few harsh side effects. IGRT makes use of imaging scanners, which allow for minor adjustments and precisely guided radiation therapy.
Advancements in cancer surgery have introduced video-assisted thoracic surgery (or VATS), a type of robotic-assisted surgery, in the treatment of small lung tumors. During surgery, a surgeon will sit at a control panel and use robotic arms with long surgical instruments to remove abnormal cells in lung. VATS means less pain, shorter hospital, and less invasive cancer surgery.
Immunotherapy has gained a lot of attention with reason. This cancer treatment trains and uses a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approved the new immunotherapy drug, Pembrolizumab, to treat the 85% of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with tumors that express PD-L1. This form of immunotherapy boosts the ability of the immune system to pinpoint and fight the binding PD-L1 protein, which blocks PD-1 immune receptors, and allows tumors to grow. According to oncologists at NYU Langone Medical Center, clinical trials of Pembrolizumab have shown promise, decreasing further cancer growth by 50% and reducing patient fatalities by 40% compared to patients treated with traditional chemotherapy.
While only in the clinical trial stage, lung cancer are being tested in patients unable to withstand the harsh side effects of other cancer treatments. These vaccines (i.e., TG4010) are created using components of lung cancer cell proteins (i.e., MUC1), and aim to treat, not prevent lung cancer, by strengthening immune response.