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 »

Blinded by the night

Poor night vision is the result of changes in the pupil, lens, and retina. Does eating carrots help? Probably not for well-nourished Americans. It's been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. At a more mundane level, they also say a lot about how old we are. With advancing years, we're prone to a number of serious — and less-serious (but bothersome) — conditions of the eye. The prime example of a serious age-related eye problem is macular degeneration, a retinal condition that's a leading cause of legal blindness among people over age 55 in the developed world. Age-related nuisances include a falloff in tear production that results in drier and itchier eyes. Eyelids also droop and sag, like other body parts. And starting around the fifth decade, almost all of us suffer from presbyopia (Greek for "old sight"), an inability to focus on objects close to our eyes. (Locked) 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 »

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 »