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 »

Thyroid deficiency and mental health

Researchers are exploring a potential link between thyroid deficiency and mental health problems. Though the findings are inconsistent, there is evidence that thyroid medication can help those with depression, even if their thyroid function is normal. 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 »

By the way, doctor: Does lysine prevent cold sores?

For years, I was plagued by cold sores and took antiviral drugs to treat the outbreaks. But at a friend's suggestion, I started taking lysine every day, and it seems to prevent them altogether. What do you know about this supplement? (Locked) More »

What to do about cataract

For people with cataracts, surgery is common and safe, and is typically covered by insurance. Depending on need and other eye issues, various types of lenses are available. 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 — 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 »