Tag Archives: Signs

Medicine: Symptoms & Signs Of Lung Cancer

DR. C’S JOURNAL: SIGNS OF A SILENT HEART ATTACK

Heart attacks are something that most people know about; the sudden severe chest pain, radiating into the jaw or left arm,  associated with shortness of breath, nausea, and the like. However there’s a lot of confusion also; not all heart attacks have typical symptoms (silent heart attacks). Some significant chest pain is not due to a heart attack, and some significant cardiac disease is something different from a heart attack.

I will cover these three scenarios one at a time, beginning with the most dangerous, the silent heart attack.

The silent heart attack has the same effect as the more typical variety, and is caused by blockage in the coronary arteries,  which interferes with oxygen and glucose delivery, and causes death of heart muscle. It occurs under physically or emotionally stressful circumstances, particularly in the cold. It may be more common in women, and accounts for at least half of all heart attacks.

Risk factors are identical to those of a regular heart attack, and include being overweight, diabetic, not exercising regularly, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking cigarettes.

The symptoms may be Flu like, fatigue, indigestion, and perhaps a soreness in the chest, upper back, arms or jaw. My mother-in-law died in my house after a stressful incident, and was heard to be vomiting in the middle of the night. My father had inordinate fatigue and paleness, which caused my mother to take him to the doctor, who sent him by ambulance for a bypass operation.

Many silent heart attacks are discovered when the doctor takes an electrocardiogram in the course of an  examination. This is a good argument for the regular physical examination, since having a silent heart attack increases the likelihood that you will have another.

The frequency and seriousness of heart attacks is of course an excellent argument for proper sleep, diet, exercise, and other good preventative habits.

—Dr. C.

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DR. C’S JOURNAL: SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF NARCOLEPSY

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder with daytime drowsiness, sudden episodes of falling asleep, sometimes sudden loss of muscle control, and occasionally hallucinations.

If this sounds like the bad, overbearing, uncontrolled brother of REM sleep, that is because it is. The features of REM sleep are there; sleepiness, muscle paralysis(cataplexy) and Hallucinations(dreams). This combination of symptoms can often disrupt jobs, and can be dangerous, leading to accidents.

The cause of narcolepsy is unknown, but there is an association with decreased blood levels of the neurochemical hypocretin. The disease starts in youth, and sometimes occurs and families. The patients are often overweight, and can have sleep apnea in addition.

The Diagnosis is usually made in specialist sleep centers, which find an unusually rapid entrance  into sleep, beginning in the REM stage. Normally REM sleep occurs later in the 90-minute sleep cycle.

There are a lot of different stimulants and some sleep-restoring and paralysis-reducing medications used to treat narcolepsy. This and other information may be found on the accompanying Mayo clinic article.

—Dr. C.

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DR. C’S JOURNAL: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF APPENDICITIS

The appendix is a finger like projections at the origin of the colon in the right lower part of your abdomen. It may become inflamed, especially if there is a blockage. Appendicitis is best considered a medical emergency, since it may rupture and infect the entire abdominal cavity.

When I was a practicing pediatrician, appendicitis was one of the two conditions I refused to allow myself to overlook; the other one was meningitis, which is now mostly prevented by immunization.

Pain in the abdomen is almost invariably present as the main symptom of appendicitis. This pain often begins around the belly button and then migrates to the right lower part of the abdomen. The patient should try to notice whether jarring the abdomen by walking makes the pain worse; if so, this finding would favor an inflammatory condition like appendicitis.

A similar condition, diverticulitis, may cause similar symptoms in the left lower part of the abdomen, and other conditions may cause confusion. The doctor checks to see if it is more painful in the right lower belly area, and she may pull her hand away suddenly. If the pain intensifies, there may be inflammation around the appendix. Sometimes a vaginal examination or rectal examination will be needed to help with the diagnosis; the appendix is close to these areas.

Other symptoms and signs may be a low-grade fever, vomiting, add an elevated white blood cell count. In the modern medical era, ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs are sometimes used to visualize the appendix to evaluate its size and possible inflammation.

Treatment used to consist only of surgery, but with imaging techniques available to prevent disaster, the condition can be treated with antibiotics. 30 to 50% of those so treated will still eventually require surgery. Removal of the appendix is now sometimes performed through a fiberoptic scope, leading to more rapid recovery.

A dilemma is present for individuals who go to the south pole to live for several months, and where weather may prevent them from getting proper medical help. Such  people may have their appendix removed as a preventative. Of course they also can take antibiotics if appendicitis develops, but it’s really scary to use medical treatment only, without the aid of modern imaging techniques.

Please consult the following Mayo clinic article for more information.

—Dr. C.

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