Brown files labeled with schizophrenia medical terms.

Schizophrenia Treatment

3 Methods Used to Treat Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness categorized by a series of symptoms that can be described as “losing touch with reality”. The disease is typically diagnosed between the late teens and early 30s. While there is a big stigma surrounding this disease, advances in understanding mental health and improving schizophrenia treatment have revolutionized the outcome for these patients.

Schizophrenia Symptoms

Everyone experiences the disease in very different ways. Symptoms can generally be broken down into three categories.

Psychotic Symptoms

These are sometimes referred to as “positive symptoms”, as they are behaviors and feelings which are added to normal behavior. These can be things such as perceptual abnormalities like visual hallucinations, hearing voices, or irrational thoughts (such as thinking you are being hunted down or have magical powers).

Negative Symptoms

Negative symptoms refer to significant “losses” in behaviors. These would be things such as loss of motivation, emotional expression, happiness, or interest in daily life—many people experiencing these symptoms exhibit “flat affect”, which is reduced emotional expressions. At the most extreme, victims may be catatonic, meaning they are virtually unmoving and still.

Cognitive Symptoms

Schizophrenia can impact mental performance. Cognitive disruptions to attention, concentration and memory can range in severity. These are also common side effects for many medical treatments.

What Causes Schizophrenia?

While there is a lot of research exploring the underlying mechanisms of schizophrenia, the exact causes of the disease are poorly understood. There is a lot of evidence that suggests the culprit is a mix of environmental and genetic influences. Research also indicates that there is a strong hereditary component, meaning you are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia if one of your close relatives have it.

Can You Cure Schizophrenia?

As of yet, there are no cures for schizophrenia. Medical advancements have created pharmaceutical interventions and therapeutic techniques that allow one to manage their symptoms.

Schizophrenia Treatment

Most often, someone suffering from schizophrenia will have to take medication. Namely, these medications are part of the broad pharmaceutical category of “antipsychotics”. How these medications work will depend on the exact chemistry behind the prescription.

Do You Need Medication to Treat Schizophrenia?

Unfortunately, schizophrenia is a condition that requires lifelong treatment. This is even true when symptoms are not being exhibited. Treatments are there to help you manage the disease at all stages of the illness. They work through interacting with transmitters that promote symptoms. Namely, this works by blocking a specific dopamine receptor. These generally teach positive symptoms.

These can be administered orally, through pills, or through regular injections. There are no “perfect fit” treatments and it often takes some time to experiment with finding medication and dosage, which is right for you. Doctors often start at the lowest dose possible and work their way up until symptom management is optimized.

Side effects to antipsychotics range in severity and affect everyone differently:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Movement disorders

Please keep in mind that antipsychotics, like many other psychological medications, take some time to work properly. It can be weeks before you experience any changes in feeling or behavior.

Second-Generation Antipsychotics

These medications tend to have less intense side effects in comparison to earlier treatments:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Asenapine (Saphris)
  • Brexpiprazole (Rexulti)
  • Cariprazine (Vraylar)
  • Clozapine (Clozaril)

First-Generation Antipsychotics

These medications are often replaced by the second-generation varieties. These medications are stronger and often come with serious, irreversible side effects:

  • Chlorpromazine
  • Fluphenazine
  • Haloperidol
  • Perphenazine

Non-Pharmaceutical Approaches

While medication is generally recommended, there are some other psychosocial interventions that are used in combination. These can include different things, such as general therapy, social skills training and family therapy. These therapies help teach individuals how to recognize the signs their symptoms are coming back and teach them and their loved ones how to handle the situation.

Additional therapies teach individuals how to manage their symptoms so that they can function in everyday society. It emphasizes how to maintain a job and find employment.

What to Do If You Believe You Are Struggling With Schizophrenia

If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from schizophrenia, contact a medical professional immediately. Receiving a definitive diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist is a crucial step in receiving the treatment you need. They will be able to formally answer any questions or concerns you have regarding your treatment options. They are also the resource to use when you encounter problems with your current treatment plans.

Brown eggs against a blue background.

Foods to Avoid With Asthma

10 Foods That Can Trigger Asthma

There are several medical conditions that have such a high prevalence they’ve established a sense of notoriety. Asthma is a very common health condition, so many people around the world are familiar with it.

About one in every 13 people have asthma, according to CDC measurements. That means that over 25 million adults and children suffer from the disease in the U.S. alone. Luckily, there are many medications to help treat symptoms, and living with asthma is manageable for most individuals.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that is characterized as the swelling of airways. It’s a long-term disease that can make it incredibly difficult to breathe at times.

Having asthma doesn’t mean your airways will always be swollen, but certain triggers can irritate your symptoms and cause acute problems.

Everyone experiences the disease in different levels of severity, and in response to different triggers. Some of the more notable triggers include weather and activity level. Many people who suffer from asthma are limited to the level of strain they can put on their bodies as an intense workout could cause severe problems.

Likewise, bad weather, mostly due to pollen count, can also trigger symptoms. What is not as apparent to many patients is that what you eat can also lead to problems.

How Do Diets Impact Asthma?

There are several ways in which diet can impact your asthma symptoms. Indirectly, taking care of your body and keeping your fitness up can help reduce how asthma impacts you. This doesn’t mean that fit people can’t experience asthmatic symptoms but exhibiting a healthy body weight can reduce the strain on your airways and give you the best fighting chance.

Diets can also have a direct impact on asthma in some individuals.

Certain foods may act as an allergen on your body. This means that eating certain foods can have critical repercussions. Having an asthma attack in response to an allergic reaction can incredibly dangerous, especially to children.

Foods That Can Trigger Asthma

Foods that trigger your asthma symptoms will vary between yourself and other individuals. Allergens are not a universal thing. Having just a sensitivity to a certain product can trigger an asthmatic attack.

There are some food allergens that are more common than others. Some of the major allergens include:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Peanut
  • Wheat
  • Seeds
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Mustard
  • Salicylates

Common sensitivities (which don’t trigger as severe reactions as food allergens do) include products that incorporate:

  • Histamines: This substance naturally occurs in many food and beverages. This is especially true for any products which undergo an aging process, such as wine, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Sulfites: Sulfites are a substance that is often used as an additive ingredient aimed at keeping food fresher longer. This preservative is found in many processed foods such as lunch meats, cider, and beer.

Remember, there are many allergies that people can experience that are not found on this list. It may even be difficult to make the connection between an ingredient and an allergic reaction without having the proper tools.

Getting a Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you believe that you or a loved one are allergic to a specific food product, visit a doctor immediately. Even if you don’t know what you could be allergic to a doctor can offer some insight. A licensed physician can conduct the appropriate test to safely determine whether a food allergen is responsible for asthmatic responses.

In some cases, a different underlying medical condition may be responsible for your symptoms. Acid reflux is an example of such a misleading condition.

Always be sure to let people know about your allergies before they cook for you. It’s also a smart idea to examine the ingredients of any ready-made food from stores. In cases where you want to eat out at a restaurant, it’s a good idea to call ahead or let the staff know to make your food separately.

If one is deemed “allergic” or “sensitive” to a specific food, avoid it. If you have a particularly intense allergic reaction to ingesting such food, consider carrying around some medications as a precaution.

In some cases, a physician may be able to offer “preventative” medications. By taking these preventative medications, you may be able to enjoy the food you love without suffering the consequences later. Allergy medicine or an EpiPen can help treat an allergic reaction in an emergency.

It’s important to keep in mind that new allergies can develop (or disappear) as you age. Your physician can help you develop a nutrition plan when an unexpected allergy eliminates something major for your diet.

While there is currently no cure for asthma, taking steps to avoid triggers can greatly improve how you live with it and manage your symptoms.

A woman holding a hot water pack on her abdomen

Menstrual Pain

Managing Menstrual Pain

Menstrual pain can be mild or debilitating, and makes daily life for women very difficult. There are many ways to manage it proactively. This article will define what exactly menstrual pain is, and offer proactive, natural, and traditional pain relief solutions to ease it.

What is Menstrual Pain?

It is the throbbing or cramping of the lower abdomen caused by contractions of the uterus. Women experience it in varying degrees and intensities. It is believed that up to 20% of women suffer from menstrual cramps that are so severe that their daily lives are impacted.

The symptoms are not necessarily confined to the abdominal area, either; nausea and fainting can also be associated with menstrual pain. Some women also experience acne breakouts on their skin, or sensitive breasts before or during their menstrual cycle.

Eating Habits

A healthy diet, consistent exercise regimen, dietary supplements, and hydration can proactively minimize menstrual pain. Foods high in boron are beneficial in reducing the length and severity of menstrual pain. Bananas, peanut butter, prunes, chickpeas, and avocados contain high concentrations of boron. Dietary supplements associated with minimizing period pain include fish oil, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and magnesium.

Because retaining water is a fact of life during the menstrual cycle, it is especially important for women to drink plenty of water to counteract it. When suffering from cramps, considering drinking warm or room temperature water because cold weather can make the cramps more intense. Water-dense foods such as lettuce, celery, watermelon, and cucumbers can also be consumed.

Natural Remedies

Among the many natural pain relief remedies available, acupuncture is one of the most popular for easing the pain that comes with menstrual cramps. Acupuncture has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, which relaxes the nervous system and stimulates blood flow. Acupressure, which stimulates the body without the use of needles, produces similar results.

Herbs can also be helpful. Ginger and basil have pain killing properties. Cinnamon and fennel are anti-inflammatory herbs. Chamomile can relax the uterus, and parsley can assist in the regulation of irregular menstrual cycles.

CBD oil, a compound found in marijuana, is one of the newest natural remedies. In fact, it is considered new age relief to the age old problem of menstrual pain. Since CBD has been shown in clinical trials to be extremely effective in managing pain, using it for menstrual pain is a natural extension.

Traditional Treatments

Traditional over-the-counter medications can also help alleviate menstrual pain. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen sodium, and aspirin have long been used. Midol is a brand name medication containing acetaminophen and caffeine that is specifically marketed for helping with the cramps, aches, and fatigue associated with menstrual periods.

Heat in the form of warm baths or hot water bottles can help ease menstrual cramp pain. Pain relief pads are portable, drug-free methods of managing pain. Thermacare pain relief pads cover the entire abdomen, discreetly stick to underwear, are air-activated, and last for up to eight hours.

Final Notes

As awareness has increased about menstrual pain, the remedies available have multiplied. Women have many alternatives and should try as many as possible until they find something that works for their bodies. Consulting a doctor is also a wise course of action as menstrual pain may have an underlying cause related to hormonal issues or irregular cycles that only a physician can address.

Woman suffering from migraine


Understanding Migraines

Headaches are a common feature of modern life, but sometimes your head pain can be more than just a passing inconvenience.

Migraines are moderate to severe headaches that follow certain patterns and that often do not respond to conventional over-the-counter pain medication. Migraine headaches may require more specialized medicines to deal with head pain and related symptoms.

If you’re wondering what is a migraine regarding your symptoms, here are some important facts you should know.

Migraine vs. Headache

What is a migraine and what is an ordinary headache can be confusing. Both migraines and headaches may involve head pain, neck stiffness, and irritability.

However, a migraine may have additional symptoms, such as an “aura” of feeling unwell 30 to 45 minutes before the head pain begins, and nausea or vomiting. Individuals sometimes see flashing lights before a migraine or unusual lines in their field of vision. Individuals may have numbness or tingling in the face or hands. They may have an unusual taste in the mouth or experience odd smells or tactile sensations. Some people experience food cravings or depression before a migraine.

Generally, in the migraine vs. headache question, the location on one side of the head and additional accompanying symptoms indicates a migraine. A recognizable pattern in when the head pain occurs can also help to diagnose migraine headaches.

Types of Migraines

The common types of migraines can have many different features that put them into different categories.

  • The “classical” migraine sufferer experiences the “aura” before the pain begins and may have visual disturbances, vertigo, or other physical symptoms.
  • The “common” migraine does not include the “aura,” but with visual symptoms, nausea, vomiting, and severe pain that can interfere with an individual’s everyday activities.
  • Chronic migraine may occur multiple times per month, for three months or more. Brainstem aura migraine involves problems with vision, speech problems, dizziness, and severe sensitivity to sound.
  • A hemiplegic migraine causes paralysis on one side of the body for up to 72 hours.
  • Menstrual migraine occurs a few days before menstruation and may be accompanied by other types of migraines.
  • Ocular migraines can cause temporary vision loss. Vestibular migraine causes a spinning sensation that can last for several hours.

Treatment Options

Numerous treatment options are available for individuals who suffer from frequent migraine headaches. Such migraine treatment options include:

  • Pain relievers that combine aspirin, Tylenol, and caffeine can be helpful.
  • Triptans are medications that are effective for some people with migraines.
  • Dihydroergotamine in nasal spray or injectable form can help when a migraine has already begun.
  • Anti-nausea medications can also be helpful for those with troubling nausea and vomiting.
  • Opioid pain medication is sometimes used, but these drugs are highly addictive.

New treatments for migraine headaches are being developed currently. For example, one new treatment is a band work on the head that delivers electrical stimulation to reduce pain and other symptoms.

Botox for Migraines

One of the newer treatments for migraines involves Botox injections that are administered at various points in the head and neck at 12-week intervals.

The Botox injections work by blocking the pain signals that occur with migraines. The treatment can help to reduce the frequency of migraines and allow individuals to continue their usual activities more effectively. Results of Botox for migraines can be seen as early as two to three weeks after the first treatment.


If you are wondering about the migraine vs. headache diagnosis, or need more effective treatment options, make an appointment with your doctor. Today’s treatments for migraine headaches can help you to manage your pain and allow you to continue your normal activities.

Topical cream being applied to hands

Atopic Dermatitis Treatment

Important Facts About Atopic Dermatitis

What is atopic dermatitis? To many people, an uncomfortable disorder that produces numerous untoward symptoms. This brief blog will provide an overview of this condition, particularly regarding treatment options.

What is Atopic Dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, impacts a stricken individual’s skin and causes said bodily structure inflammation. Though most common in young people, the disease can occur at any age. In most instances, the ailment is also widely labeled at chronic atopic dermatitis because the condition tends to recur once someone is afflicted with their first attack.

Causes Of Chronic Atopic Dermatitis

Researchers believe atopic dermatitis is directly related to a genetic flaw that renders an impacted person’s skin unable to protect itself against certain pollutants and airborne irritants adequately. In other instances, the ailment might be related to foodborne allergies.

Moreover, certain substances are believed to precipitate or exacerbate attacks. Chemicals contained in commonly used hygiene products like soaps, creams, and lotions might irritate sensitive skin. In other cases, airborne pollutants like pollen or other allergens could elicit manifestations of the illness. Temperature extremes like excessively cold or warm weather have also been known to trigger attacks.

Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

The associated physical manifestations can vary from case to case. However, certain common symptoms can include the presence of excessively dry skin, itching, crusty bump-like structures that might ooze fluid, especially when scratched, brown skin patches appearing on the various bodily regions, cracked skin and a feeling of rawness or pain in impacted areas.

If left untreated, atopic dermatitis could result in complications like skin infections that could require treatment with antibiotics and sleep loss (eczema-related itching is typically more intense during the evening hours).

Atopic Dermatitis Treatment Options For Children

In young persons, the disease typically begins by age five but might commence as early as infancy. It is important to note that the malady has no known cure. That said, specific therapeutic protocols might provide relief.

A physician will typically determine the most appropriate treatment options for children based upon several factors. These factors include the child in question’s age, said individual’s general health, the severity of the condition, and any specific underlying triggers.

In many instances, treatment is geared towards identifying and eliminating potential triggers, moisturizing the skin, and providing relief of presenting manifestations.

Said goals might be reached by employing remedial efforts, including the use of less irritating cleaning products, avoiding any diagnosed triggers, applying moisturizing lotions to impacted skin, and employing infection preventing measures.

Preventing infection might necessitate the administration of antibiotics.

Other medications used to control eczema might include antihistamines and corticosteroids.

Atopic Dermatitis Treatment Options For Adults

Remedial endeavors employed are often similar to those utilized for impacted children.

In severe manifestations, treatment options for adults might include more advanced forms of treatment like proto (light) therapy or the administration of medications like immuno-suppressing drugs that relax the body’s immune system response and potential exacerbation of eczema symptoms.

Home Remedies

In certain circumstances, both adults and children might find relief from eczema after employing any one or more noted home remedies.

Therapies may include aloe vera gel, oatmeal baths, skin applications of apple cider vinegar, coconut oil skin lotions, rubbing honey on impacted skin, the avoidance of foods known to stimulate inflammation such as processed, frozen or canned goods and limiting one’s exposure to excessive heat or cold.

Woman using asthma inhaler

Eosinophilic Asthma Treatment

What is Eosinophilic Asthma?

Eosinophilic asthma is a severe form of asthma that occurs in an estimated 5% of adults.

It is identified as having an abnormal concentration of eosinophils, which are a white blood cell that works within the lung’s immune system. These cells cause a defensive reaction in the lungs, causing them to swell up from inflammation. This restricts the air passageways, making it difficult to breathe.

Most people contract this form of asthma as adults in their twenties and thirties. Currently, scientists and physicians do not know what eosinophilic asthma is triggered by or how to control the eosinophil cells.

Eosinophilic Asthma Symptoms

Symptoms of eosinophilic asthma include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, wheezing, difficulty with either inhaling or exhaling, dizziness, tightness and/or soreness in chest, mental confusion, or fogginess from low oxygen levels.

Symptoms may become increasingly exacerbated from anxiety due to exhaustion or frustration over the effort that it takes to breathe.

Medical Treatments for Eosinophilic Asthma

Severe asthma is very dangerous and must be treated with prescription medication as the main method of treatment. Inhalers and corticosteroids are the two main methods.

Inhalers serve as an emergency treatment when breathing attacks occur and work within seconds by relaxing the lungs and opening up airways.

Corticosteroids are a long-term treatment that is meant to strengthen the lungs. Weakened lungs are more prone to irritation, and the corticosteroids help to prevent or lessen the occurrence of asthmatic episodes.

Physical Treatment Options and Exercises

Other treatment options can include physical exercises – like breathing exercises.

Breathing exercises involve pulling in a full breath of air, holding it, and then letting it out slowly, taking care to push the air out of the lungs completely.

Breathing exercises help to utilize the full capacity of the lungs and discourage shallow breathing. Posture is also important; keeping a straight posture takes the pressure off of the lungs and makes it easier for them to fill up and exhale air.

Natural Treatment for Eosinophilic Asthma

Coffee and the ingredients often used in tea, such as honey and lemon, can serve as natural treatments for nonemergency asthma relief. The warmth from the beverages helps to dissolve mucus obstructions and soothe the muscles of the throat. More importantly, it’s the caffeine that plays the starring role by reducing inflammation. Add a little lemon and honey to the tea to help internally cleanse and for a boost of vitamin C. Ginger, and licorice root may also provide aid with respiratory relief.

Curcumin, which is found in many herbs and vegetables, speeds up the metabolism and reduces inflammation. Herbs that are known to be highly concentrated in curcumin include cayenne pepper and turmeric. Many vegetables contain some level of curcumin. Dark green and leafy vegetables such as kale and mustard greens have a high amount, along with orange and yellow vegetables, such as bell peppers and carrots.

You can find numerous major tea brands that sell tea to support better breathing in major grocery stores, drug stores, or whole foods stores. Green tea is also known to be high in curcumin and can provide effective relief when taken warm with honey and lemon.



What is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia is a genetic medical disorder that affects the body’s natural clotting ability. Blood clotting, medically known as coagulation, is necessary because it prevents fatal blood loss. When you get a cut or wound, blood clots to helps preserve as much blood as possible by using specialized blood cells called platelets and proteins to form a gel-like clot that stops more blood from leaving your body.

A reduced ability to form blood clots can lead to joint damage and, in serious cases, internal bleeding.

Symptoms of Hemophilia

The severity of hemophilia varies, so the symptoms and side-effects will also vary among patients. You may notice you have a few of these signs or all of them. You probably won’t suspect you have hemophilia until you experience some sort of wound, or experience heavy bleeding after some type of injury or surgical procedure.

In some cases, people with hemophilia have spontaneous bleeding that is difficult to manage.

Some other signs that may indicate hemophilia include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Heavy blood loss from minor cuts and scrapes
  • Significant and continuous bleeding after surgery or dental work
  • Painful, swollen knees and elbows
  • Blood found in urine or stool
  • Inexplicable nosebleeds
  • Large, deep bruises

The signs of hemophilia may not always indicate the disorder, but if any of these symptoms resonate with you, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician.

Types of Hemophilia

There are three sub-types of hemophilia: A, B and C. Each type is characterized by its different blood clotting abilities. Hemophilia A and B are the most common type of genetic disorder.

Hemophilia typically affects males, but females can inherit the disorder as well. Hemophilia A and B are also marked by the blood clot factor deficiency they represent. A lack of factor VII indicates hemophilia type A, while low levels of factor IX signify hemophilia type B.

Factors are proteins that allow the blood to form clots through different chemical reactions. The third type of hemophilia, also known as Rosenthal syndrome, results from a lower factor X1.

The severity of hemophilia types range from mild to severe. Those with the most severe type of hemophilia are at a greater risk of internal bleeding and even brain bleeding if they hit their head. Spontaneous joint bleeding is not a significant risk if you have mild to moderate hemophilia, but it’s important to be accurately diagnosed as the severe form of the disorder impacts about 60 percent of all people with hemophilia.

What Causes Hemophilia?

Because it is a genetic disorder, hemophilia is typically inherited. Many people wonder what causes hemophilia when they are diagnosed, especially if they do not know about their family’s medical history.

In around 70 percent of all known cases, patients inherited the condition from their family. However, there are some people who randomly develop hemophilia after surgery or trauma.

Hemophilia is passed on through the X chromosome, so it can be inherited from a mother or father. The different types of hemophilia relate to the blood factors they affect, not how they are inherited.

Treatment Options

If you’ve ever asked yourself “what is hemophilia?” you will also undoubtedly want to know if and how it can be treated. Parents whose infants or children have recently diagnosed are often worried about their child’s wellness as they grow, but the good news is that hemophilia is, in most cases, highly treatable.

Sometimes, factor injections are prescribed to help serve as a preventative measure against wounds. Injections can be done routinely or only after experiencing bleeding. Some patients with mild hemophilia type A can take desmopressin (DDAVP), a tablet, or nasal spray.

You may also wish to investigate gene therapy: a new treatment option to treat hemophilia A. While this treatment option is currently limited to hemophilia A, future advancements may help create gene therapy and enhanced forms of treatment for types B and C as well.

Woman holding red ribbon


What You Need to Know About HIV

In the late 1970s, doctors across the US were dumbfounded by a sudden proliferation of “strange cancers” and opportunistic pneumonias afflicting mostly young men who, until that time, exhibited no health problems.

The insidious culprit was finally identified in June 1981, as the previously-unknown human immunodeficiency virus, and the name AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, was first coined. Since that time, HIV has waged a quiet war across our planet, claiming a staggering thirty-two million lives thus far.

Through tireless research and massive public health campaigns, however, modern medicine has begun to turn the tide on this blight.

Once a death sentence, people living with the virus today can expect near-normalcy, as advancements in HIV treatment and medications have begun not only to neutralize it, but prevent its spread.

What Is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus is an infectious, disease-causing virus that is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids. Its primary mode of transmission is through unprotected intercourse with an infected partner.

The disease is slow to develop, and people often do not exhibit any real signs of illness until many years after it has taken root. This has the unfortunate effect of allowing the virus to be spread to many people before it is detected or sickens its host.

What are the Symptoms of HIV?

Early symptoms are brief and flu-like, such as body aches, fatigue, fever, or chills. If caught early, HIV treatment is much more effective at delaying the development of the disease.

Chronic symptoms develop months or years later, and include:

  • Frequent upper / lower respiratory infections
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma, a rare type of spotty skin cancer
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Profound fatigue
  • Non-healing sores on the tongue, lips, or genitals

How Does HIV Make You Sick?

Your immune system relies heavily on one type of white blood cell, called CD4. The virus targets a specific receptor on CD4 to gain entry into the cell, then hijacks the genetic machinery in the nucleus to generate millions of copies of itself. The process ultimately ruptures the white blood cell, which unleashes the copies onto millions of other CD4 cells. Over time, as cells die off, the victim begins to experience the effects of a diminished immune system and subsequently succumbs to commonplace illnesses that healthy people are normally able to resist.

Is There a Treatment for HIV?

HIV medicine has improved dramatically over the years. Numerous antiviral therapies, called “HAARTs,” have been developed over the last three decades, with increasingly better results. These types of HIV medications block the receptors on the CD4 cells that the viruses need to gain entry, preventing them from being able to replicate. These meds are not a free ride, though, and carry a whole host of side effects that can make them very difficult to take.

The best public defense against HIV is knowledge. Many public health departments and worldwide health organizations have spent countless hours and dollars spreading the word about the virus, busting myths that complicate its treatment, neutralizing the stigma that plagues its victims, and teaching people how to avoid contracting it.

What Should I Do If I Feel I’ve Been Exposed?

If you feel you may have been put at risk for contraction, you need to seek medical treatment right away. If the exposure is a needle stick injury, a blood exposure to an open wound or mucous tissue, or through intercourse, prophylactic HIV medicine can be used to prevent infection within the first twenty-four hours.

If you discover that you may have been exposed some time in the past, see your doctor immediately. Serial blood testing can be performed to screen for the virus for a year, and you may be advised to use condoms and inform your partner(s) of the risk until you have been cleared.

Woman experiencing pain in her pelvic area


Endometriosis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Endometriosis is a disorder where the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. The tissue can affect the pelvic cavity, intestines, urinary bladder, and ovaries. The disorder gets its name because this tissue is called the endometrium. It tissue thickens, bleeds, and is shed during a menstrual period.

What Causes Endometriosis?

Doctors don’t know why some women develop endometriosis. However, there are a few theories.

One theory is that the menstrual blood and endometrial tissue backflows through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of being flushed out of the body.

Another theory is that other doctors believe that cells in the pelvic cavity are transformed into endometrial cells by hormones or that stem cells in the abdomen turn into endometrial cells.

Also, some doctors believe endometrial tissue may escape into the pelvic cavity because of a surgical scar or that the lymphatic system takes the cells out of the uterus and deposits them in the pelvic cavity.

Lastly, some medical researchers believe that the disorder is even a type of autoimmune disease, that the seeds of the disease begin when the woman is still a fetus or that her genetic background or toxins in the environment predispose her to it.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis symptoms vary from one patient to the other. Some women have severe symptoms while in other women, they are mild or even silent. The severity doesn’t correlate to the degree of the disease. A woman who has a disease that is considered mild can still experience excruciating pain.

Many women experience:

  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Discomfort in the lower part of the abdomen that starts before menstruation and continues during menstruation
  • Cramps that begin in the week or fortnight before the menstrual period
  • Heavy periods or spotting
  • Painful intercourse
  • Infertility
  • Uncomfortable bowel movements
  • Lower backache

Treatment for Endometriosis

Though there’s no cure for this condition, it can be treated in several ways.

One can begin with over-the-counter painkillers, but these may not fully erase the experienced pain. The doctor can prescribe stronger painkillers, if needed.

Some doctors start their patients on hormone therapy. Hormone therapy not only eases the discomfort but regulates the monthly cycles. Other doctors prescribe birth control pills or patches to their patients since hormonal birth control stops the endometrial tissue in the pelvis from building up. Some women have found relief through injections of medroxyprogesterone.

Other women are prescribed gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists, and agonists. These stop the body from producing estrogen, which results in false menopause.

If these conservative treatments don’t help, the doctor may recommend a conservative form of surgery. This is an option for women who want to get pregnant (at some point in their life) or who experiences debilitating pain. During these conservative surgeries, the doctor removes the endometrial tissue by vaporizing it with a laser.

If the woman does not wish to become pregnant, and nothing else is significantly easing her problems, the doctor may perform a total hysterectomy. During this surgery, not only the uterus but the estrogen-producing ovaries are removed. The surgeon also takes away the endometrial implants.

A young woman looking anxious and fearful


What Is Schizophrenia?

With a variety of symptoms that could be disabling, a diagnosis of schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the people in the United States. However, while this mental disorder is less common in comparison to others, this is a complex disease that impairs daily functioning.

This brain disorder affects an individual’s ability to think, feel, and behave.

What are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is generally diagnosed in teens but can be diagnosed in adulthood as well.

The signs of schizophrenia may vary, and this can be a challenging disorder to diagnose early on in life. The first signs may intertwine with typical adolescent behavior, including irritability, withdrawal, insomnia, and academic decline. However, with a thorough evaluation, this condition could be diagnosed and treated accordingly.

Some of the signs evaluated include the following:

  • Delusions – Fictional beliefs that are not based on reality are considered delusions. This often results in irrational thinking and issues concentrating.
  • Hallucinations – People who hallucinate may report seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling things that are not witnessed or perceived by others. The most common is hearing voices that can be demanding or even threatening.
  • Disorganized behavior – This may be evident in a variety of elements. This may include childlike behavior, lack of response, unusual posture, excessive movement, or resistance to commands.
  • Disorganized speech – In this case, communication may be impaired, leading to unrelated responses or an inability to put together comprehendible statements.
  • Negative symptoms – This involves an individual’s diminished abilities, including emotional flatness, social disconnection, neglect of personal hygiene, loss of interest, and social isolation.

What are the Types of Schizophrenia?

Now that we identified what schizophrenia is, we can discuss the different classifications.

  • Paranoid schizophrenia – An induvial experiencing irrational thoughts of conspiracy or threats aimed towards themselves or loved ones. They are typically preoccupied in devising plans to protect themselves from perceived harm. Negative traits tend to be less frequent.
  • Catatonic schizophrenia – This includes strange, excessive, or extreme behaviors. This may involve resistance, rigid posture, grimacing, rocking, and nail-biting.
  • Disorganized schizophrenia (hebephrenia) – This is identified by disorganized traits such as incoherence, flat facial expressions, inappropriate behavior in social situations, and an inability to effectively communicate.
  • Undifferentiated schizophrenia – An individual who does not fit in any of the above categories may be experiencing a host of vague signs. However, they will exhibit behaviors that may apply to at least two of the other types of schizophrenia.

What are the Causes of Schizophrenia?

The specific causes of schizophrenia are uncertain. However, researchers have found that the brain structure differs in people who have schizophrenia in comparison to individuals who don’t. It is believed that environmental factors combined with genetics and the brain’s chemistry may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.

Is there Treatment for Schizophrenia?

The goal of treating schizophrenia is maintaining the illness as there is no cure. Treatment is generally facilitated by a psychiatrist as well as a team of other professionals.

Medication in the form of antipsychotics is typically prescribed to control the areas of the brain that are affected. Often, a variety of medication is prescribed, sometimes in combination, to reach the most desired outcome in terms of the patient’s response and tolerance to the drugs.

Psychotherapy is another crucial component of treating this disorder. There are different focuses of therapy, but overall, they’re geared at normalizing thought patterns, identifying triggers, teaching how to cope with life stressors, improving social encounters and communication, providing support to families, and organizing vocational and employment opportunities.

With the right care plan, an individual with schizophrenia can manage the disorder and live a productive life.

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