Diseases & Conditions

The human body is a remarkable structure. It's designed to efficiently manage the wear and tear of everyday life and fend off all sorts of threats. Most of us are healthy for most of our lives. But we're also susceptible to hundreds of injuries, diseases, and conditions. Some are quite common, others are extremely rare. Here are some of the most common conditions that affect humans.


Diseases & Conditions Articles

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is commonly called heartburn. This digestive disorder most often causes a burning and sometimes squeezing sensation in the mid-chest. In GERD, acid and digestive enzymes from the stomach flow backwards into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. This backward flow of stomach juices is called "reflux". These caustic stomach juices inflame the lining of the esophagus. If GERD is not treated, it can permanently damage the esophagus. A muscular ring seals the esophagus from the stomach. This ring is called the esophageal sphincter. Normally, the sphincter opens when you swallow, allowing food into your stomach. The rest of the time, it squeezes tight to prevent food and acid in the stomach from backing up into the esophagus. (Locked) More »

Hives (Urticaria)

Hives, also called urticaria, are circumscribed swellings on the skin that often are itchy. Often they are pink or red, but they don't have to be. Hives happen when the cells in the skin called mast cells release histamine, a chemical that causes tiny blood vessels (capillaries) to leak fluid. When this leaking fluid accumulates in the skin, it forms the swellings that we recognize as hives. Hives can be triggered by physical factors such as heat, cold, exercise, sunlight, stress, sustained pressure on a skin area (such as from a belt or shoulder strap), a sudden increase in body temperature (from a fever or a hot bath or shower) or from an irritating chemical, cosmetic or soap applied to the skin. Hives also can be one symptom of a whole-body (systemic) allergic reaction to something that was: Hives probably affect about 20% of people in the United States at some time in life, with the greatest number of episodes occurring in people aged 20 to 30. In rare cases, allergic reactions that trigger hives set off a chain reaction throughout the body, resulting in a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. Sometimes, hives last for six weeks or more, a condition called chronic (or idiopathic) urticaria. Often, no cause is found for this chronic condition, and it usually goes away on its own after several weeks. (Locked) More »

Retinal Vessel Occlusion

The retina is the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye that is responsible for vision. Blood circulation to most of the retina's surface is primarily through one artery and one vein. If either blood vessel or one of their smaller branches is blocked, blood circulation to the retina can be significantly disrupted. The blockage is called an occlusion. If a main vessel becomes occluded, the eye typically loses vision, often suddenly. If blockage occurs in a smaller branch vessel, there may be partial vision loss or no symptoms. The condition is often painless. Retinal Artery OcclusionThe retinal artery carries oxygen-rich blood to the retina. When a blockage occurs in the retina's main artery, or in one of its small branches, the retina's light-sensitive cells gradually begin to suffocate from lack of oxygen. Unless normal circulation to the retina can be restored promptly, these cells will die within a few minutes or hours depending on how completely the blood flow is obstructed. This can cause permanent and often substantial loss of vision. (Locked) More »

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is an illness that causes tiny islands of inflammatory cells to form throughout the body. These microscopic groups of cells are called granulomas. They are especially common in the lungs, lymph nodes, skin, eyes and liver. The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown. Sometimes, these granulomas cause very little damage, so a person with sarcoidosis does not have any symptoms of illness and may not even know they have it. In other cases, however, the granulomas produce large areas of inflammation and scarring that can interfere with an organ's normal functions. Although most people with sarcoidosis eventually recover, a few develop forms of the illness that are long-lasting (chronic) and get worse with time. Sarcoidosis can affect almost any organ in the body. But the most common targets are the lung and nearby lymph nodes. (Locked) More »

Are varicose veins a health risk?

Varicose veins aren’t typically considered a major health threat, but they are associated with a higher risk of leg swelling, blood clots, skin infections and ulcers. (Locked) More »

Did my partner get her bladder infection from me?

Men do not have to worry about getting bladder infections from their female partners. Women can get urinary tract infections after sex, but this is a result of irritation at the opening of the urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter. (Locked) More »

Top 7 reasons you have a headache

Migraine, tension, and cluster headaches can have many triggers. For example, stress can cause tight muscles in the shoulders and neck, which often leads to tension headaches; hunger can trigger a migraine or tension headache; and something in the environment may trigger a cluster headache. Understanding headache triggers can help people avoid headaches in the future. Keeping a diary to note the day, time, symptoms, and circumstances surrounding a headache may help; so can living a healthy lifestyle. (Locked) More »

Preventing the spread of the coronavirus

You've gotten the basics down: you're washing your hands regularly and keeping your distance from friends and family. But you likely still have questions. Are you washing your hands often enough? How exactly will social distancing help? What's okay to do while social distancing? And how can you strategically stock your pantry and medicine cabinet in order to minimize trips to the grocery store and pharmacy? The following actions help prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other coronaviruses and influenza: More »

Treatments for COVID-19

Most people who become ill with COVID-19 will be able to recover at home. Some of the same things you do to feel better if you have the flu — getting enough rest, staying well hydrated, and taking medications to relieve fever and aches and pains — also help with COVID-19. The antiviral drug remdesivir was FDA approved in October 2020 to treat certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19. And scientists are working hard to develop other effective treatments. Therapies that are under investigation include drugs that have been used to treat autoimmune diseases; additional antiviral drugs, and antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19. More »

COVID-19 basics

As we continually learn more about coronavirus and COVID-19, it can help to reacquaint yourself with some basic information. For example, understanding how the virus spreads reinforces the importance of social distancing and other health-promoting behaviors. Knowing how long the virus survives on surfaces can guide how you clean your home and handle deliveries. And reviewing the common symptoms of COVID-19 can help you know if it's time to self-isolate. Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and other upper respiratory infections. More »