Swollen Legs and Feet ! Could it be something serious ?

kidney disease
Edema, swelling in legs

Many of us have swollen limbs, especially legs , ankles, feet which feel soft and cushiony due to water retention.

More often swollen legs and feet can be due to inactivity, sitting and standing at one position without moving.

This pulls the fluid down towards lower limbs, making them swell.

The swelling due to water retention is called edema.

However swollen legs and feet are often a sign of serious health problems such as kidney disease, cardio vascular problems or heart disease, liver disease, hormones being taken during HRT, deep vein thrombosis and sometimes even medication for diabetes and anti depressants.

Chronic pulmonary embolism may also lead to thromboembolism where a blood clot may travel to other parts of the body.

Incase the blood clot travels to the brain, it could lead to partial paralysis and even a stroke. Blood thinners may be advised to reduce risk of clotting.
As a 1st check, your doctor may prescribe diuretics and ask you to cut down on salt.

Then a few diagnostic tests such KFT( Kidney Function test), LFT( Liver function test), Echo, ECG may be advised.

Do watch out for signs like pain in one limb, heat generated in one limb, loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, fast or rapid heart beat and rush to the doctor as you may be experiencing thromboembolism.

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Do you know which disease Steve Jobs died of ? Spot Early Sign of Trouble in your Pancreas!

Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer

The pancreas are a small gland situated near the stomach that secretes digestive fluid into the intestines through one or more ducts and also secretes insulin – a hormone which regulates the amount of glucose in blood. Pancreas are responsible for secreting enzyme which aid in digestion,
Pancreatic problems are usually hard to detect and one of the most dangerous pancreatic problems is pancreatic cancer.

Unfortunately pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose as it gives few early signs and most patients already reach an advance stage before being diagnosed.

Post prognosis, due to detection at an advanced stage when the cancer is in metastasis, the 5 year survival rate is 1%. Compare this to a 5 year survival rate for patients when diagnosed early with the cancer in a resectable stage( when surgery can be done) , at a whopping 61% . Therefore early diagnosis is critical in pancreatic cancer.

Even if there are few early signs, self awareness is often the key to diagnosis.

Given below are a few warning signs which indicate that your pancreas may be in trouble :

Sudden Onset of Diabetes : Diabetes and Pancreas have a direct relationship. Pancreas contain cells called the Islets of Langerhans which secrete the hormone insulin. Insulin helps regulate the glucose in the body. If you have sudden onset of Type 2 diabetes, do visit the doctor.
If you existing diabetes,which suddenly becomes unmanageable it warrants a visit to the doctor as instability in blood sugar levels can also be an early sign of pancreatic cancer

Light coloured, Floaty Stools, with or without an oil layer : Pancreas our responsible for secreting enzymes, which help in digestion. When optimum functioning is affected, sometimes there is an oil layer on top which indicates fats not digested properly. Because the pancreas help the intestines break down fats with the help of enzymes which does not take place,it leads to stools become greasy.

Light coloured, floaty stools also indicate sub optimal digestion which happens when the pancreas become affected.

Dark Coloured Urine : Pancreatic cancer usually begins near the top of the bile duct. Since the bile duct is unable to drain the bilirubin produced in the liver, it results in dark coloured urine. As the cancer spreads, it affects the liver and results in liver cancer. Pancreatic cancer led to the liver being affected for Steve Jobs and a liver transplant was carried out which gave him a new lease of life for a few years.

Stomach Ache : Abdominal pain especially pain in the middle of the abdomen is also a sign of pancreatic cancer. The cancer starts presses on surrounding organs causing pain. If pain is intense and persists for weeks, does not wear off even after prescription medication, do ask your doctor to check your pancreas.

Weight Loss : It is a common sign of pancreatic cancer – it usually occurs because the pancreas do not secrete enough enzymes to digest food so nutrients are not absorbed normally.
Though there are several other reasons for weight loss, sudden, progressive weight loss coupled with intense pain in the abdomen does call for a visit to the doctor.

Poor Appetite : Nausea and lack of appetite can be directly linked to problems in the pancreas. The pancreas are responsible for the secretion of enzymes which break down the fats in the digested food and hence, if your body is unable to digest fatty foods, it may be a sign of trouble with the pancreas.

Usually a ultrasound, CT Scan, endoscopy or an endoscopic biopsy are the initial diagnostic tests.

A PET CT along with cancer markers is used for cancer staging.

If diagnosed early, while the cancer is resectable, a procedure called Whipple is carried out to remove the cancerous part and whipple procedure is followed by chemotherapy and or radiation depending upon spread.

Sometime, TACE ( trans arterial chemo embolisation, TARE ( Trans arterial radio embolisation) or TAE ( trans arterial embolisation) may also need to be used depending upon the type of cancer and cancer staging.

At times RFA( radio frequency ablation) or cryoablation may also be used to treat the cancer.

Incase the cancer has spread to the liver, a liver transplant may be needed.

It is important to take a 2nd opinion, while you have time in hand to know that you are getting the right medical treatment based on the your prognosis.

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Stop that Kidney Damage !

The kidneys are two fist shaped organs and they are located on each side of the spine.
Kidneys play an important role in our body functioning. They act as filters, flush out toxins from the body and maintain the acid, alkaline balance in the body. Kidney trouble leads to water retention, swelling, oedema and affects quality of life.

Kidney Disease
Kidney Damage

It is very difficult to detect kidney damage till the last stage as kidneys can continue to function well even when they are 80% damaged, which leads to discovery when the patient has reached end stage kidney disease post which dialysis followed by kidney transplant is the only option

Are there any habits that damage the kidneys every day?

Even though we barely realise it, some of our daily habits contribute to kidney damage. Below is a list of some common habits, taking care of which can help us, prevent the damage to our kidneys.

Being a Pill Popper : Popping medicines without prescription or medicine abuse is dangerous for the kidney and can lead to a condition called rhabdomyolysis which is defined as a breakdown of muscle tissues that releases a damaging protein into the bloodstream – causing it to be transported to the kidneys and in turn, damaging the kidneys causing a need for dialysis.

Drinking too much Soda : 2 cans a day is too much ?According to a study presented in the kidney week in 2013, two cans of soda are enough to cause damage to your kidneys. Researchers from a leading university in Japan divided participants into three groups- one that drinks a can of soda a day, one that drinks two cans of soda a day, and one that does not drink soda. The results were startling – by the end of three years, more than 10% people from the second group developed a disease called proteinuria – a disease that may lead to End Stage Kidney disease.

Eating too much salt : Loading up on too much salt in our diet leads to excess of sodium in our body. Sodium is one of the most abundant elements on earth and is one of the main constituents of salt. However, in high amounts sodium causes kidney damage. This is because kidneys cannot eliminate excess fluid and sodium from the body. The built up sodium and fluid causes high blood pressure which in turn reduces kidney function.

Protein overload : Although protein intake is a must as proteins are the building blocks, a very high protein diet may cause a decline in kidney function in people especially with declining kidney function or kidney disease as the body may not be able to eliminate all the waste products of protein metabolism.

Not drinking enough water : Not drinking enough water also leads to kidney damage. Drinking enough water not only prevents kidney stones but also urinary tract infection because kidney stones are prevented from sticking to together in the presence of hydration while water helps dissolve the antibiotics used to treat UTI’s which makes it more effective in treatment. It also helps the kidneys flush out more toxins and infection causing bacteria by producing more urine.

Not exercising enough : Lack of exercise, promotes kidney damage while exercising increases mobility and circulation in the body causing more absorption and reabsorption by the kidneys; thus, increasing renal function.

Smoking : It promotes kidney damage because increases blood pressure, reduces blood flow to the kidneys, narrows the blood vessels in the kidneys by doubling the endothelium cells in the vessels, and accelerates loss of kidney function. According to statistics, smoking is a cause that can lead to end stage renal disease.

Lack of Magnesium in our diet: High magnesium levels in the body help prevent kidney stones, by preventing the formation of calcium oxalate. This is because kidney stones are formed by the binding of calcium onto oxalate; however, high levels of magnesium cause it to compete with calcium and bind to the oxalate instead – preventing the same.

Not getting enough sleep : Researchers from Brigham and the women’s hospital in Boston evaluated thousands of women and concluded that lack of sleep has a direct correlation with declining kidney function. It has also been suggested that less sleep changes the physiology of the kidney causing kidney damage.

Drinking too much Coffee : Caffeine is a stimulant which increases blood pressure causing more pressure on the kidneys. According to a study in 2002, long term caffeine consumption resulted in kidney failure in obese and diabetics – causing people to conclude that caffeine results in kidney damage.

Holding your pee for too long also affects the kidneys and leads to kidney damage.

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Bloodshot Eyes ? Ever Wondered Why ?

cornea transplant
Bloodshot eyes

Ever wondered why many of us have blood shot eyes ?

Is this indicative of a serious medical problem , glaucoma, cataract or retinal detachment or are there any other reasons ?

Read below to know more on possible reasons for why we have red eyes.

Lack of sleep : A primary reason for blood shot eyes is not getting enough sleep.
When we sleep, our eyes get rest and are refreshed. Lack of sleep over a period of time leads to redness in the eyes. Resting up, catching up on sleep and using artificial tears helps take care of the problem

Too much Alcohol : Excess alcohol in the blood causes blood vessels to dilate which means more blood flowing through, which leads to redness in the eyes.

Smoking, both active and passive : Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke causes blood vessels to constrict and leads to dry eyes. Overtime, the irritation may lead to macular degeneration, cataract and even vision loss.

Eye infection : Eye infections even though mild lead to redness. Antibiotics and tear drops can help deal with redness and once infection clears, the redness goes away.

Pollution : Excess pollution levels and toxic gasses in the environment also lead to irritation, subsequent redness in the eyes and overtime vision problems.

Allergies : Being allergic to pollen, paint and other allergens also leads to irritation and often blood shot eyes. Worse still using anti allergens also leads to dryness and red eyes.

Dry eyes : Dry eyes are often a result of hypothyroidism, working on the computer screen the entire day also leads to dryness. Managing thyroid levels is a long term solution Using tear drops helps with dryness.

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Heart Disease -Stuff you must know !

open heart bypass surgery
open heart bypass surgery

Heart disease kills more people than any other disease. Over 30% of deaths across the world are due to heart disease as per WHO estimates.

Ignorance, lack of awareness, refusal to get basic routine checkups, account for the high mortality rate.

Unhealthy dietary habits, alcohol abuse, use of tobacco, lack of exercise, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and genetics are the primary reasons for developing heart disease.

Most cases go undiagnosed till the patient suffers a heart attack.

Here is a list of types of heart disease which we should all know about.

Clogged Arteries: Fat and cholesterol build up in the arteries leads to plaque and mineral deposits which restricts or blocks blood flow to the heart. Usually clogged arteries are not diagnosed unless one gets chest pains or gets breathless. An angiography is often carried out for diagnosis. Stenting or an angioplasty takes of blocked arteries. A surgeon may insert a balloon or a wire mesh to open up your arteries. If the blockage is severe, a CABG or open heart bypass surgery may be required. In CABG, or open hear bypass surgery, blood vessels from other parts of the body are taken and damaged blood vessels of the heart are replaced or bypassed.

Arrhythmia: Irregular heart beat can either be too slow or too fast. Although rarely fatal, arrhythmia increases pre disposition to heart attack, heart failure and even stroke.
An ICD  detects irregular heart beat and send electric impulses to takes care of Arrhythmia.

Hole in the heart :  PDA, VSD, ASD, Mitral Valve Defects,  commonly known as hole in the heart, sometimes congenital heart defects are not diagnosed even till adulthood. Growth milestones may be compromised and problems may persist later in life.
Serious defects require surgical intervention however some can be managed with medical management.

Heart Muscle Disease: Our heart is a muscle which weakens due to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and hence the heart struggles to pump blood in the body.
Heart muscle disease or cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure.

A Pacemaker is implanted to take care of heart muscle disease.

Enlarged Heart: As the heart muscle becomes weak, the heart enlarges in order to pump blood and the rhythm increases. However the heart also becomes weaker and consequently it leads to decreased blood flow.

Heart Attack: Clogged arteries can restrict and even stop blood flow to the heart. Without blood flow, our heart doesn’t get the oxygen required which damages the heart and this is what is known as a heart attack. The more restricted the blood flow, the more life threatening and severe, the heart attack.

Heart Failure: Failure of the heart to pump blood to the body is known as heart failure and this can lead to death.

Without surgical intervention or medical management as may be required, heart disease progresses and even post diagnosis and surgical intervention, drastic life style changes are required for managing the medical condition.

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Hammer Headaches ?

Brain Tumour
Severe headache, needs medical attention

Headaches are defined as a pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the head, or in the back of the upper neck.
Most headaches are not taken seriously as they seldom cause death, however a some headaches do call for immediate medical attention.

Headaches are usually caused by a variety of reasons ; however, some forms of a headache are more representative as warning signs. These include :

Hammer Headaches or Thunderclap Headache : A headache which feels like your head has been hit by a hammer suddenly is a cause for worry. Onset of these headaches is often sudden and the pain doesn’t go away after a few minutes but lasts. These headaches can be caused by aneurysm or by a subarachnoid haemorrhage . Subarachnoid haemorrhage refers to bleeding within the subarachnoid space, which is the area between the brain and the tissues that cover the brain. Such a condition is dangerous, and one must consult the doctor immediately.
Headaches accompanied with fever : Headaches accompanied with fever are usually a reason for worry especially if you feel forgetful and less alert mentally. This is because these headaches may be warning signs for encephalitis, or meningitis. Encephalitis is defined as the inflammation of the brain due to an allergic reaction or an infection whereas Meningitis is defined as the inflammation of the meninges due to bacterial or viral infection. Both meningitis and encephalitis can be fatal.
Headaches due to pain behind or around the eyes :  This kind of a headache is also a worrying discovery.  This is because these  head aches usually serve as warning signs for acute glaucoma, which is defined as Increased pressure in the front chamber (anterior chamber) of the eye due to sudden (acute) blockage of the normal circulation of fluid within the eye. This condition may lead to blindness; hence, it is important to consult the doctor if a sudden headache manifests itself behind or around the eyes.
You knock your head : If you have knocked your head somewhere and on blood thinners and have a headache, it may indicate subdural hematoma which is defined as the slow bleeding of the brain due to the inability of the blood to clot due to blood thinners. Incase you’re on blood thinners and accidentally bump your head, you must consult a doctor to rule out an internal bleed. A knock on the head which results in a concussion could also lead to a severe headache which needs medical attention.
Severe, Splitting, Persistent headaches: Such headaches can also be a sign of a brain tumour. Incase movement in any part of the body or speech gets affected or there is loss of balance, numbness, it may need craniotomy or a brain surgery calls for an urgent visit to a neurosurgeon or an ER.
Headaches caused by a stroke: If you have a headache accompanied by a paralysis of one side, slurry speech, tongue is not straight, droopy smile, it indicates a stroke and calls for a visit to the ER.
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