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

Dry eyes and what you can try

If our eyes are healthy, we're producing tears all the time and not noticing it very much, if at all. We need a thin layer of tears to lubricate, protect, and nourish the fronts of our eyes. That "tear film," as ophthalmologists call it, isn't just salty water but a complex mixture of substances produced and maintained by several glands and structures in and around the eyes. If the tear film degrades, we experience dry eyes. The symptoms are familiar to many of us: irritation, scratchiness, a burning sensation. Sometimes vision is affected, getting blurry off and on. Mild cases — and many are — can be treated rather easily with any of over a dozen different over-the-counter products. In a change from the past, dry eyes are now seen as having an inflammatory component, not just a loss of moisture. To combat the inflammation, some ophthalmologists prescribe drops that contain a very small amount of cyclosporine if the over-the-counter products don't work. Cyclosporine is a drug that organ transplant recipients take to suppress the immune system so the organ is less likely to be rejected. Dry eyes used to be thought of as a simple problem of not enough tear production, too much tear evaporation, or some combination of both. Dry eyes may still begin that way, but now the thinking is that localized inflammatory processes get started as the tear film loses moisture. More »

What to do about tennis elbow

Tennis elbow is the common term for lateral epicondylitis, an inflammatory condition of the tendon that connects the extensor muscles of the lower arm to a bony prominence on the outside of the elbow called the lateral epicondyle. The condition causes pain at the point where the tendon attaches to the epicondyle. The pain may radiate to the forearm and wrist, and in severe cases, grip strength may lessen. It can become difficult to perform simple actions like lifting a cup, turning a key, or shaking hands. As many as half of all people who play racket sports have the condition, but most people who have tennis elbow didn't acquire it by playing tennis, squash, or racquetball. It can result from any activity that involves twisting or gripping motions in which the forearm muscles are repeatedly contracted against resistance, such as pruning bushes or pulling weeds, using a screwdriver, or playing a violin. Tennis elbow is an occupational hazard for professional gardeners, dentists, and carpenters. There are many treatments for tennis elbow but not much high-quality evidence about their effectiveness. More »

Recovering from an ankle sprain

Ankle sprains are common, but they require proper treatment to heal correctly. You should rest for one or two days and use ice to reduce swelling, then begin exercising to regain strength and range of motion. (Locked) More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Removing a Speck From the Eye

Occasionally, an eyelash or speck of dirt gets into the eye and causes irritation. If tears that form do not wash out the object, it can sometimes be removed by pulling the upper eyelid down over the lower eyelid. The lashes of the lower eyelid may brush out any foreign object that is caught under the upper lid. If this does not work, try either of the procedures described below. Place a cotton-tipped swab behind the upper eyelid and carefully roll the eyelid back onto it. If you can see the object, remove it with the moistened end of another cotton swab or a facial tissue. More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Acoustic Neuroma

Do you have trouble hearing out of one ear or both? Do sounds seem distorted in one ear? Are sounds different between your two ears? Is the hearing loss getting progressively worse? Do you have difficulty understanding others when they are talking? For example, do you have trouble hearing people on the other end of the telephone? Do you have ear pain? Have you been dizzy or lightheaded? If so, does it seem as if the room is spinning? Do you feel unsteady when you walk? Have you heard ringing or unusual noises in one or both of your ears? Do the muscles on one side of your face feel weaker compared to the other side? Is there any weakness of your face? Have you lost your ability to taste certain foods? Have you had headaches? Nausea? Vomiting? Have you had double vision or unusual eye movements? Ear, nose, and throat exam, including a screening test of your hearing in each ear Neurological exam Audiometry (formal hearing test) by a certified audiologist Brain-stem auditory evoked potentials MRI or CT scan of the head   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Over the past month, how often have you had a sensation of not emptying your bladder completely after you finished urinating? Over the past month, how often have you had to urinate again less than two hours after you finished urinating? Over the past month, how often have you found you stopped and started again several times when you urinated? Over the past month, how often have you found it difficult to postpone urination? Over the past month, how often have you had a weak urinary stream? Over the past month, how often have you had to push or strain to begin urination? Over the past month, how many times did you most typically get up to urinate from the time you went to bed at night until the time you got up in the morning? If you were to spend the rest of your life with your urinary condition just the way it is now, how would you feel about that? Have you had blood in your urine, or urinary tract infections? Have you ever had surgery on your prostate, bladder, or kidneys? Do you have gastrointestinal problems such as diverticulitis or constipation? Do you have diabetes? Does anyone in your family have diabetes? Have you been unusually thirsty or had unintentional weight loss? Have you ever had a stroke or nervous system disease? Have you ever had a back injury or back surgery? What medications are you taking (prescription and over-the-counter)? What do you know about medical and surgical treatment options used in the treatment of benign prostatic enlargement? Do you know the side effects that can occur with medications? Do you know the complications associated with surgery? Do you know how much benefit you can expect from each type of treatment? Do you know the risks of waiting, and doing nothing at all? Abdominal examination Neurological examination Digital rectal examination Genital examination Urinalysis (for glucose, red blood cells, white blood cells, and bacteria) Blood tests (for kidney function and prostate-specific antigen or PSA) Cystoscopy Ultrasound of the bladder after you urinate (post void residual) Ultrasound of the kidneys Pelvic CT scan   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Crohn's Disease

Do you have abdominal pain or cramping? Do you have diarrhea, fevers, fatigue, rectal pain, or bloody stools? Have you recently lost weight? Is there a family history of inflammatory bowel disease? How many times a year do you get pain flare-ups? Do you have episodes of joint pain or swelling? Are you taking any medications? Temperature, blood pressure, heart rate Careful abdominal exam Rectal exam Sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy Stool sample to look for the presence of blood, white blood cells, and to culture Complete blood count and other blood tests CT scan or MRI of the abdomen   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding

Do you have regular menstrual cycles? When was your last period? Is your bleeding always heavy or prolonged? How old were you when you started menstruating? How long ago did you develop abnormal bleeding? Are you sexually active? How many times have you been pregnant? What was the outcome of each pregnancy (live births, miscarriages, cesarean sections)? Have you ever had difficulty getting pregnant? What medications are you taking (including over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies such as ginseng)? Are you taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills? Have you ever had medications injected (Depo-Provera or Norplant) for birth control? Have you ever taken estrogen or tamoxifen? Are you taking warfarin or other blood thinners? Have you ever had an abnormal Pap smear? Blood pressure, heart rate, weight Abdominal examination Pelvic exam Pregnancy test Blood tests such as complete blood count, coagulation (clotting) studies, and certain hormone tests (such as thyroid stimulating hormone, cortisol, prolactin, follicle stimulating hormone, testosterone) Pelvic ultrasound Pap smear Endometrial biopsy.   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor — Acne

At what age did your problem with acne begin? Do you have blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, or cysts? If so, what areas are involved: your face, chest, back? What is your skin-care routine? What products do you use? Do any of them help? What medications have you tried (e.g., benzoyl peroxide, Retin-A, antibiotics, Accutane)? If you are female, does your acne get worse around the time of your menstrual period and do you have regular menstrual periods? What medicines do you take, including over-the-counter medicines and birth-control pills? Have you been developing extra body or facial hair? Skin exam Blood tests (liver function tests, cholesterol, or if you are female, perhaps a pregnancy test if you are taking the medicine Accutane)   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor — Bell's Palsy

Do you have weakness or paralysis of the muscles in your face? Can you still raise your eyebrows? Can you close your eyelids? Have you had ear pain? If so, on which side? Are your eyes watery? Have you noticed any change in your sense of taste? Have you had problems hearing? Have you had problems chewing? Over what period of time did your symptoms develop? Have you had a recent upper respiratory tract infection (for example, a cold)? Could you have had a tick bite in the recent past? Do you have diabetes? Neurological exam focusing on the strength of the facial muscles Examination of the ears, nose, and throat Blood tests for blood sugar and possibly Lyme disease Hearing test (if you report difficulty hearing) MRI computed tomography (CT) of the head (if your history and exam are concerning for a stroke or tumor)   More »