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    Diseases & Conditions

    Easy-to-understand answers about diseases and conditions

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    • Acne

      Acne, a prevalent skin condition, arises when the hair follicles become obstructed by a combination of oil and dead skin cells. This leads to the formation of whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. Although teenagers are most commonly affected, individuals of all ages can experience this condition. While there are effective treatments for acne, it can persist and prove challenging to eradicate completely. The healing process for pimples and bumps is often slow, and just as one begins to fade, others tend to emerge. The impact of acne extends beyond physical manifestations, as it can also cause emotional distress and leave lasting scars on the skin. Initiating treatment at an early stage significantly reduces the likelihood of encountering such complications.

    • Age spots

      Age spots are small, flat dark areas on the skin that appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. They come in varying sizes and are called sunspots, liver spots, and solar lentigines. Although age spots are common in adults aged 50 and above, younger individuals can develop them if they spend time under the sun. It is important to note that age spots may resemble cancerous growths but do not require treatment. However, age spots are a sign that the skin has been exposed to a significant amount of sun and are an attempt by the skin to protect itself from further sun damage. For cosmetic reasons, they can be lightened or removed. It is recommended to regularly use sunscreen and avoid spending too much time under the sun to prevent age spots.

    • Agoraphobia

      Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder where individuals fear and avoid certain places or situations that may trigger panic. This may cause them to feel trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. These situations can include using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd. The fear is mainly caused by the belief that no easy way out or help is available if the situation becomes overwhelming. Individuals may avoid these situations due to the fear of getting lost, falling, experiencing diarrhea, or being unable to get to a bathroom. Most people who develop agoraphobia usually do so after experiencing one or more panic attacks. This causes them to worry about having another attack and eventually avoid the places where it may happen again. Agoraphobia can make it difficult for individuals to feel safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather and in unfamiliar locations. They may feel they need a companion, such as a family member or friend, to go to public places. In severe cases, individuals may feel unable to leave their homes. Agoraphobia treatment can be challenging as it requires individuals to confront their fears. However, with proper treatment, including cognitive-behavioural therapy and medication, individuals can overcome agoraphobia and live a more enjoyable life.

    • Adenomyosis

      Adenomyosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue, which usually lines the uterus, grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. This can lead to an enlarged uterus and painful, heavy periods as the displaced tissue thickens, breaks down, and bleeds during each menstrual cycle. The cause of adenomyosis is unknown, but it typically resolves after menopause. Hormonal treatments may benefit women experiencing severe discomfort, while a hysterectomy can cure the condition entirely.

    • Adjustment disorders

      Excessive reactions to stress that involve negative thoughts, strong emotions and changes in behaviour are known as adjustment disorders. People with this disorder experience a more intense response to stressful changes or events than expected, which can cause difficulties getting along with others at work or school. Various life changes such as work problems, going away to school, or illness can cause stress, which most people get used to within a few months. However, if someone has an adjustment disorder, they continue to have emotional or behavioural responses that can lead to increased feelings of anxiety or depression. Thankfully, treatment options are available to help individuals with adjustment disorders regain their emotional well-being.

    • Adrenal cancer

      Adrenal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the small triangular glands, also known as adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys. These glands produce hormones that influence the functioning of various organs and tissues in the body. Adrenal cancer, also called adrenocortical cancer, can affect individuals of any age, but it is more commonly found in children younger than 5 and adults in their 40s and 50s. If adrenal cancer is detected early, there is a chance for a complete cure. However, if the cancer has spread to other body parts, the chances of a cure decrease. Treatment options can help delay the progression or recurrence of the disease. Most growths in the adrenal glands are not cancerous (benign). Non-cancerous adrenal tumours, such as adenoma or pheochromocytoma, can also develop in the adrenal glands.

    • Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

      Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that causes persistent issues, like difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviour. It can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems. Although it’s known as adult ADHD, symptoms can start in early childhood and continue into adulthood. Sometimes, ADHD isn’t identified or diagnosed until the individual becomes an adult. Adult ADHD symptoms might not be as obvious as they are in children. In adults, hyperactivity may decrease, but struggles with impulsiveness, restlessness, and difficulty paying attention may persist. Treatment for adult ADHD is similar to that for childhood ADHD. It includes medications, psychological counselling (psychotherapy), and therapy for any mental health issues accompanying ADHD.

    • Adult Still disease

      Adult Still disease is a form of inflammatory arthritis that is quite rare. The symptoms include fevers, joint pain, and rash. Some individuals experience a single episode that eventually fades away, while others may have a recurring attack. Adult Still disease can negatively affect your joints, especially the wrists. Medical treatment is necessary to alleviate the pain and control the disease. Prednisone is usually prescribed when pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and others) are insufficient.

    • Atrial fibrillation

      A-fib, or atrial fibrillation, is an irregular and frequently very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can cause blood clots. A-fib makes stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related issues more likely. The atria, located above the ventricles and beat chaotically and irregularly during atrial fibrillation, are out of time with one another. A-fib may not show any symptoms in many people. However, A-fib may result in palpitations, a quick, pounding heartbeat, shortness of breath, or weakness. Atrial fibrillation episodes can be intermittent or recurrent. Although A-fib doesn’t pose a life-threatening hazard, it is a severe medical issue that needs to be treated appropriately to avoid a stroke. Medication, therapy to correct the heart rhythm, and catheter operations to obstruct incorrect heart signals are all possible forms of treatment for atrial fibrillation. A person with atrial fibrillation may also experience atrial flutter, a heart rhythm issue. Despite being a distinct arrhythmia, atrial flutter can be treated like atrial fibrillation.

    • Abdominal aortic aneurysm

      An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a condition where a part of the aorta, the main artery in the body, becomes enlarged in the lower part of the abdomen. The aorta carries blood from the heart to various parts of the body. If the aneurysm ruptures, it can lead to severe bleeding and pose a life-threatening situation. The course of treatment depends on the size of the aneurysm and its growth rate. It can range from regular health checkups and imaging tests to emergency surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.

    • Absence seizure

      Sudden, brief lapses in consciousness characterise absence seizures and are more commonly experienced by children than adults. During a seizure, the individual may appear to be staring blankly into space for a few seconds before quickly returning to an alert state. While these seizures typically do not result in physical harm, there is a risk of injury if the person loses consciousness while driving or riding a bike. Fortunately, anti-seizure medication can often effectively manage absence seizures. Some children may also experience other types of seizures, such as generalised tonic-clonic or myoclonic seizures, but many will outgrow absence seizures by their teenage years.

    • Acanthosis nigricans

      Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition that results in dark, thick, and velvety patches in areas where the skin folds or creases. It commonly appears in the neck, groin, and armpits. This condition primarily affects individuals who are obese. However, in rare cases, it could also indicate cancer in an internal organ, such as the liver or stomach. The skin’s usual colour and texture can be restored by addressing the underlying cause of acanthosis nigricans.

    • Achalasia

      Achalasia is a rare condition that causes difficulty passing food and liquid from the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach, into the stomach. This condition occurs when the nerves in the esophagus become damaged, resulting in paralysis and dilation of the esophagus over time. As a result, it loses its ability to squeeze food into the stomach, accumulating food in the esophagus. This can sometimes ferment and flow back into the mouth, giving a bitter taste. Some people may mistake this for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but the key difference is that the material in achalasia comes from the esophagus, not the stomach. Unfortunately, there is no cure for achalasia, as the esophagus muscles cannot function again once they are paralysed. However, symptoms can be managed through endoscopy, minimally invasive therapy, or surgery.

    • Achilles tendinitis

      Achilles tendinitis happens when the Achilles (uh-KILL-eez) tendon, which connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone, is overused. This injury is common among runners who suddenly increase the intensity or duration of their runs and middle-aged people who play sports like basketball or tennis on weekends. Typically, Achilles tendinitis can be treated with simple at-home care under a doctor’s supervision. It’s essential to follow self-care strategies to prevent future episodes. In more severe cases, Achilles tendinitis can result in tendon tears that may require surgical repair.

    • Achilles tendon rupture

      Achilles tendon rupture affects the back of the lower leg and is commonly seen in individuals who engage in recreational sports. However, it can occur in anyone. The Achilles tendon is a robust fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the calf to the heel bone. If the tendon is overstretched, it can tear wholly or partially, resulting in rupture. A popping sound followed by a sharp pain in the back of the ankle and lower leg is typical when the Achilles tendon ruptures. This can affect an individual’s ability to walk correctly. Surgery is often necessary to repair the damage, but nonsurgical treatment can also be effective for many people.

    • ACL injury

      An ACL injury happens when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is a band of tissue connecting the thigh bone (femur) to the shinbone (tibia), tears or sprains. This kind of injury is common during sports that require sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping and landing, like soccer, basketball, football and downhill skiing. People who suffer an ACL injury hear a pop or feel a “popping” sensation in their knee. The knee may also swell, become unstable and become too painful to support the weight. The treatment for an ACL injury depends on its severity. It could involve rest and rehabilitation exercises to recover strength and stability or surgery to replace the torn ligament, followed by rehabilitation. An effective training program may lower the likelihood of an ACL injury.

    • Acoustic neuroma

      Did you know an acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous tumour growing on the vestibular nerve? This nerve connects the inner ear to the brain and can affect balance and hearing. An acoustic neuroma can cause hearing loss, ear ringing, and balance problems if left untreated. People also refer to it as vestibular schwannoma. The tumour develops from Schwann cells that cover the vestibular nerve. While it usually grows slowly, in rare cases, it can increase and cause pressure on the brain, affecting vital functions. Fortunately, several treatment options for an acoustic neuroma are available, including monitoring, radiation, and surgical removal. Discussing these options with your doctor to determine the best course of action for your case is essential.

    • Acromegaly

      Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder when the pituitary gland produces excessive growth hormone during adulthood. This overproduction of growth hormone increases bone size, which in childhood results in taller stature, known as gigantism. However, in the majority, there is no change in height, but the bones of the hands, feet, and face enlarge, called acromegaly. As acromegaly is rare and the physical changes happen gradually over many years, recognising the condition may take a while. High growth hormone levels can affect other body parts if left untreated, leading to severe health problems, sometimes even life-threatening. However, with the proper treatment, the risk of complications can be reduced, and symptoms can be significantly improved, including the enlargement of facial features.

    • Actinic keratosis

      Actinic keratosis is a patch of rough, scaly skin that results from prolonged exposure to the sun. These patches typically appear on the face, lips, ears, forearms, scalp, neck, or back of the hands. Scaly spots or patches on the top layer of the skin are called actinic keratoses. These spots may become complicated with a wart-like surface over time. Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, typically develops slowly and is commonly found in people over 40. Minimising sun exposure and protecting your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays is essential to reduce the risk of this skin condition. If left untreated, actinic keratoses may turn into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, with a risk ranging from 5% to 10%.

    • Acute coronary syndrome

      Acute coronary syndrome refers to a group of conditions that occur when there is a sudden decrease in blood flow to the heart. These conditions include unstable angina and a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction. Heart tissue is damaged or destroyed during a heart attack, resulting in cell death. Unstable angina, on the other hand, happens when the blood flow to the heart is reduced but not severe enough to cause a heart attack or cell death. However, it can increase your risk of experiencing a heart attack. Symptoms of acute coronary syndrome usually include severe chest pain or discomfort, and it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Treatment aims to improve blood flow, manage complications, and prevent future problems.

    • Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)

      Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare but severe condition that affects the spinal cord, causing sudden weakness in the arms or legs, loss of muscle tone, and loss of reflexes, mainly in young children. Most children experience mild respiratory illness or fever caused by a viral infection one to four weeks before the onset of AFM symptoms. If you or your child experiences symptoms of AFM, seek immediate medical care, as symptoms can progress quickly. Hospitalisation is often necessary; sometimes, a ventilator may be required for breathing support. Since 2014 initial clusters were reported, outbreaks of AFM have occurred in the United States in 2016 and 2018, typically between August and November.

    • Acute kidney failure

      If your kidneys cannot filter waste products from your blood, you may experience acute kidney failure. When your kidneys lose their filtering ability, it can lead to dangerous levels of waste accumulation and an imbalance in your blood’s chemical makeup. Acute kidney failure, also known as acute renal failure or acute kidney injury, develops rapidly, usually in less than a few days. This condition is most common in hospitalised individuals, critically ill patients requiring intensive care. Acute kidney failure can be a life-threatening condition that requires intensive treatment. However, it may also be reversible, and if you’re otherwise healthy, you may recover normal or nearly normal kidney function.

    • Acute liver failure

      Sudden loss of liver function, known as acute liver failure or fulminant hepatic failure, can occur within days or weeks in individuals without pre-existing liver disease. Common causes include hepatitis viruses or drugs such as acetaminophen. Although less common than chronic liver failure, it can lead to severe complications such as bleeding and increased brain pressure and requires immediate medical attention and hospitalisation. Treatment may reverse the condition depending on the underlying cause, but in many cases, a liver transplant is necessary for a complete cure.

    • Acute lymphocytic leukemia

      ALL, short for Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood cells. It is referred to as “acute” because of its rapid progression and its tendency to produce immature blood cells instead of mature ones. The cancer affects white blood cells called lymphocytes, hence the term “lymphocytic” in the name. ALL is also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While ALL is most commonly found in children, it can also occur in adults, although the chances are significantly lower. Treatment for ALL has a good chance of success, making it a curable type of cancer.

    • Acute myelogenous leukemia

      AML, or acute myelogenous leukemia, is cancer affecting the blood and bone marrow. The bone marrow is where blood cells are produced in the spongy tissue inside bones. The term “acute” in AML refers to the rapid progression of the disease. It is called myelogenous leukemia because it affects a specific group of white blood cells called myeloid cells. These cells typically develop into various mature blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. AML is also known as acute myeloid leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

    • Acute sinusitis

      It’s called acute sinusitis, when the spaces inside your nose (sinuses) become inflamed and swollen. This can cause mucus to build up and interfere with drainage, making it hard to breathe through your nose. You may also experience swelling around your eyes and face, throbbing facial pain, or a headache. The common cold usually causes acute sinusitis and resolves within a week to 10 days without medical treatment. Home remedies can be effective in treating acute sinusitis. However, it may be considered chronic sinusitis if symptoms persist for over 12 weeks despite medical treatment.

    • Addison’s disease

      Addison’s disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, is rare when the body fails to produce enough hormones. This condition results in the adrenal glands producing inadequate cortisol and sometimes aldosterone. Addison’s disease can affect anyone and risk one’s life. To manage this condition, hormone replacement therapy is necessary to replace the missing hormones.

    • A-fib

      A-fib, or atrial fibrillation, is an irregular and frequently very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can cause blood clots. A-fib makes stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related issues more likely. The atria, located above the ventricles and beat chaotically and irregularly during atrial fibrillation, are out of time with one another. A-fib may not show any symptoms in many people. However, A-fib may result in palpitations, a quick, pounding heartbeat, shortness of breath, or weakness. Atrial fibrillation episodes can be intermittent or recurrent. Although A-fib doesn’t pose a life-threatening hazard, it is a severe medical issue that needs to be treated appropriately to avoid a stroke. Medication, therapy to correct the heart rhythm, and catheter operations to obstruct incorrect heart signals are all possible forms of treatment for atrial fibrillation. A person with atrial fibrillation may also experience atrial flutter, a heart rhythm issue. Despite being a distinct arrhythmia, atrial flutter can be treated like atrial fibrillation.