Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, the most common area it affects is the small intestine right before the large intestine/colon. Currently, IBD affects an estimated 3 million men and women in the United States. While there is a genetic component to increased risk of IBD, family history cannot accurately predict who will contract Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease affects each patient differently during periods where it’s active—also known as a “flare.” With this in mind, these are some of the most common symptoms and long-term complications caused by Crohn’s Disease:

  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Constipation, which can lead to bowel obstruction
  • Kidney stones
  • Loss of normal menstrual cycle
  • Mouth sores
  • Night sweats
  • Osteoporosis
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Rare liver complications
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Redness or pain in the eyes/vision changes
  • Sensation of incomplete bowel movements
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Urgent need to move bowels

Unfortunately, Crohn’s Disease can also affect your overall health in the following ways:

  • Delayed growth and development in children
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Weight loss

In more severe cases, Crohn’s Disease can also cause the following complications:

  • Anal fissures, which cause pain and bleeding—especially during bowel movements.
  • Fistulas, which is an abnormal channel that forms between one part of the intestine and another, or between the intestine and the bladder, vagina, or skin. Most commonly fistulas occur in the anal area and require immediate medical attention.
  • Strictures, or a narrowing of the intestine as a result of chronic inflammation.

Diagnosing requires a combination of endoscopy; imaging studies like contrast radiography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT); stool sample testing to rule out an infection; and blood testing to confirm the diagnosis.

In order to reduce symptoms, paying special attention to your diet and maintaining good nutrition is encouraged. For example, soft, bland foods tend to cause less discomfort in people with the disease than spicy or high-fiber foods. You may also need to restrict your diary intake if you’re found to be lactose-intolerant.

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Hepatitis B & C

Hepatitis B & C, or HPB and HPC, are infections that cause liver inflammation. The two diseases are spread through contact with an infected person—though in different ways.

Ninety-five percent of adults who are exposed to HPB fully recover within six months without medication. However, five percent develop chronic HPB and have it their whole lives, which can cause cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and liver failure. Symptoms of acute HPB are:

  • Fever
  • Dark Urine
  • Joint Pain
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

HPC often produces no symptoms or very mild ones during the early stages, which makes it difficult to detect. In fact, some people have acute Hepatitis C—HPC that lasts up to six months and gets better on its own. For 75-80 percent of patients, however, HPC is chronic and will require treatment. Without treatment, people with chronic HPC can develop cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Some chronic HPC symptoms are:

  • Lethargy
  • Sore muscles
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice

HPB is diagnosed through blood tests to reveal if you have antibodies present in your body.

Acute HPB is treated through bed rest, drinking fluids, a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol. However, chronic HPB may require medication, and your doctor will create a treatment course that works best for you.

HPC tests involve two main blood tests—a screening test to see if you’ve ever had HPC, and one to see if you currently have HPC. If you ever had it, the blood test will result in a positive reading because of the antibodies present in your body. Positive tests require another test—the Hepatitis C RNA test (also known as the polymerase chain reaction test)—to determine if the virus is still active and present in your body. If this second test reveals a positive result, you have HPC.

Currently, there is no cure for HPC. However, there are medication options. Consult your healthcare provider today for more information.

In most cases, a special diet isn’t necessary for HPB/HPC. However, being overweight can lead to a fatty liver, and when combined with HPC causes cirrhosis of the liver. Also, alcohol can increase damage to the liver, so those with HPB/HPC should stop drinking alcohol or decrease their intake.

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks healthy cells that help a body fight off infection—and causes a person to be vulnerable to other illnesses. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)—the late stage of HIV when the body is badly damaged.

There are three stages of HIV. In Stage 1, about two-thirds of the people who are infected with HIV will have flu-like symptoms within 2-4 weeks after infection. These symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers

Stage 2 of HIV is known as the latency period where the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. During this period, you may not notice any symptoms, but you can still transmit the virus.

In the final stage, HIV will progress into AIDS. At this time, symptoms include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
  • Extreme and unexplained tiredness
  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
  • Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
  • Pneumonia
  • Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
  • Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders

In order to get diagnosed, you should talk to your healthcare provider about being tested for HIV/AIDS. Many doctors, medical clinics, substance abuse programs, and other entities offer tests.

If you test positive for HIV/AIDS, your doctor will come up with a treatment plan for you to adhere to keep you in clinical latency where you are asymptomatic.

While a modified diet isn’t required if you have HIV/AIDS, eating healthier can help manage symptoms and improve medication efficacy.

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The immune system protects the body from antigens that include bacteria, toxins, cancer cells, viruses, and foreign blood or tissues. However, sometimes the immune system is weakened and is unable to protect the body effectively. This is referred to as immunodeficiency. Immunodeficiency includes more than 400 rare, chronic disorders in which part of the body’s immune system is missing or functions improperly.

While not contagious, immunodeficiency is caused by hereditary or genetic defects. Some symptoms of immunodeficiency are:

  • Frequent infections or infections that won’t clear up in the skin, the sinuses, the throat, the ears, the lungs, the brain or spinal cord, and urinary or intestinal tracts
  • An unusual infection caused by an uncommon organism
  • If a family member has had a similar recurring infection

In order to diagnose immunodeficiency, the standard screening tests measure immunoglobulin levels (IgG, IgA and IgM levels) in the blood serum and are then compared to similarly aged people without immunodeficiency.

Through treatment, many patients with immunodeficiency are able to live healthy and independent lives. If you have recently been diagnosed with immunodeficiency, talk to your healthcare provider about a treatment plan.

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Movement Disorders

Movement Disorders (MD) are neurological conditions that cause problems with movement. This can include increased voluntary/involuntary movement, or decreased or slow voluntary movement. There are a wide range of causes of MD, from genetics, infections, to brain damage.

Some common examples of MD are:

  • Chorea and Huntington’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Tardive Dyskinesia
  • Tourette Syndrome

Some symptoms of movement disorders are:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling or numbness in arms, legs, hands, feet, and/or face
  • Muscle cramps, spasms, and/or twitching
  • Muscle paralysis

An electromyography (EMG) test—which measures the electrical activity of muscles and nerves—is used to diagnose MD. Since nerves send out electric signals to make your muscles react in certain ways, the test studies the signals they give off to identify if your nerves and muscles are responding correctly. If your nerves and muscles aren’t responding properly, it helps your healthcare provider diagnose if you have MD.

Treatments will vary depending on which MD you have. Your healthcare provider will guide you on the best course of action once your diagnosis is confirmed.

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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological condition that affects the central nervous system (comprised of the brain and spinal cord). In MS, overactive immune cells cause inflammation and reduce the ability for nerve signals to travel properly. Lesions begin to develop and cause hardened scar tissue and may develop at multiple sites, disrupting the transmission of nerve signals that communicate a desired action.

People with MS can experience symptoms in various ways that affect their senses, mind, and body. Some symptoms are:

  • Double vision, blurred vision, partial vision loss
  • Central auditory processing impairment
  • Diminished sense of smell
  • Diminished or altered sense of taste
  • Numbness, tingling, burning sensations, itching
  • Impaired short-term memory or concentration, slower processing of information
  • Depression, personality changes, inappropriate laughing or crying
  • Facial pain (neuralgias), partial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy), headaches, speech changes
  • Muscle spasms, squeezing sensation (“MS hug”), foot drop, swallowing difficulties
  • Vertigo, dizziness, balance changes
  • Incontinence, constipation, urinary retention
  • Tremor, weakness, fatigue, heat sensitivity, seizures
  • Erectile dysfunction, diminished sensation, decreased desire

Currently, several strategies are used to determine if you have MS. This begins with a careful review of your medical history, then a neurologic exam, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), spinal fluid analysis, blood tests, and other tests. These are done to rule out other conditions.

At this time, there is no cure for MS. However, through medication and treatment, you can manage your symptoms. Consult your healthcare provider for your best treatment course.

A healthy diet habit can help MS patients manage their symptoms. Therefore, we suggest modifying your diet and incorporating daily exercise.

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Cancer is defined as a class of diseases where malignant or abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and form lumps or masses known as tumors. Tumors can grow and impact circulatory, digestive and nervous systems, and can release hormones that can affect body functions. In cancerous tumors, cells can break off the tumors, or metastasize, to invade and grow in different parts of the body.

Cancer is defined by the area of the body it originates in. The main categories of cancer are:

  • Carcinoma—affects the skin, lungs, breasts, pancreas, and other organs and gland
  • Sarcoma—affects bone, muscle, fat, blood vessels, cartilage, or other soft or connective tissues of the body
  • Melanoma—affects cells that make skin pigment
  • Lymphoma—affects lymphocytes
  • Leukemia—affects the blood

Some cancers may have symptoms that are mistaken as less serious conditions like the flu. Others may not show symptoms in the early stages. When present, here are some of the symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss/gain
  • Fever
  • Pain that does not go away
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Rashes, redness, tenderness or swelling
  • Blood in the stool, urine, semen or sputum
  • Persistent cough or hoarseness
  • Difficulty emptying the bowel or bladder

Cancer can be detected when there is a noticeable lump—a tumor—felt through routine self-examination. In other cases, it can be diagnosed through a doctor physical or lab work like blood, urine, and stool samples. A lymph node or bone biopsy, computed tomography (CT) scan, fluorescence in situ hybridization test, or CEA test can also help medical professionals detect cancer.

Your healthcare provider will help you chart the best treatment course.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) causes joint inflammation and pain—and occurs when the immune system doesn’t work properly and attacks the joints. RA typically affects more women than men, and it usually develops in middle age. Also, if you have a family member with RA, your likelihood of having it increases.

People with RA begin to experience tenderness and pain in their joints. Additional symptoms include:

  • Joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness that lasts for six weeks or longer
  • Morning stiffness that lasts for 30 minutes or longer
  • Multiple joints affected
  • Small joints—wrists, certain joints in the hands and feet—are typically affected first.
  • The same joints on both sides of the body are affected
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever

To see if you have RA, you should schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist. During this appointment, there will be a physical examination, a review of your medical history, and blood tests performed to get a diagnosis.

Your healthcare provider will come up with a treatment course to help manage the symptoms of RA.

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