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

When You Visit Your Doctor - Insomnia

Are you particularly stressed at work or at home? Are you depressed or anxious? Do you have any underlying medical problems such as hyperthyroidism or sleep apnea? Do you snore? Do you have chronic pain or difficulty breathing at night? Do you have restlessness or twitching of your legs at night? Do you drink caffeine-containing beverages after noon (such as coffee or sodas)? Do you use stimulants? Drink alcohol? Take sedatives? Smoke cigarettes? Do you take any medications? What time do you usually go to bed? What time do you get up in the morning? Do you eat or work before going to bed? Have you noticed changes in your sleep patterns? Do you wake frequently at night? Do you feel tired during the day? How long do you stay in bed before you fall asleep? Do you have worries about not sleeping? Blood pressure, heart rate, weight General physical exam Complete blood cell count Thyroid function Sleep study with monitoring of heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen level, eye movements, and brain waves   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Do you have pain or cramping in the lower stomach? How often do you get the pain? Is the pain related to meals? Do you suffer from constipation and small bowel movements? Do you have diarrhea that alternates with constipation? Do you have frequent bloating and gas? Do you have a feeling of fullness in the rectum? Is there a family history of inflammatory bowel disease? Do you have a history of mental illness or depression? Are there any things causing unusual stress in your life? Please describe your diet in detail. Careful abdominal exam Rectal exam Stool testing for blood and cultures Conventional abdominal X-rays Endoscopy or sigmoidoscopy Barium enema Complete blood count and other blood tests   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Macular Degeneration

Have you noticed a change in vision in one eye or both? Do you have trouble reading, even with reading glasses? Do you have difficulty seeing fine details? Do you see a gray patch in the middle of the words when you read? Do straight vertical lines appear "wiggly" when you look at them? Is your side or peripheral vision affected? Do you have diabetes? Do you smoke? Do you have a family history of macular degeneration? The inside of your eye, using an ophthalmoscope (see p. 417) Referral to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) who will do a complete eye exam with drops to dilate your pupils.   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Mitral Valve Prolapse

Have you had an echocardiogram? What did it show? Does your mitral valve leak? Do you get chest pain? What brings it on? How long does it last? What relieves it? Do you ever get a rapid or pounding heartbeat (palpitations) for no reason? How long does it last? Do you feel faint or develop chest pain or shortness of breath? Have you ever fainted? Do you get short of breath when you lie down or exert yourself? Have you ever taken any medications for your heart? Did you develop any side effects from these medications? Heart rate, blood pressure, and weight Heart (sometimes while you are standing, squatting, or performing other maneuvers) Lungs Electrocardiogram Echocardiogram Holter monitor or event monitor   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Multiple Myeloma

Have you had any recent infections? Do you know when to call your doctor with symptoms of infection? Do you have pain in any of your bones? If so, is it constant, or does it occur only when you move? Have you had any recent fractures? Do you have pain in your spine? Does it radiate to another part of your body? Have you noticed a decrease in sensation or strength in your hands or feet? Have you had loss of bladder or bowel control? Do you know when to seek medical attention for back pain? Have you been fatigued? Have you been lightheaded? Have you been short of breath with minimal exertion? Do your gums bleed when you brush your teeth? Do you bruise easily, or get nosebleeds? Have you been weak, nauseated, constipated, or confused? Have you had a headache or a change in your vision? Can you feel any lumps or masses under your skin? Are you aware of the possible complications that can develop from multiple myeloma? Do you know which symptoms should cause you to call your doctor? Skin Heart Lungs Arms and legs Spine Neurology examination (to check for strength and sensation in your hands and feet) Lymph nodes (neck, axilla, and groin) Blood tests for complete blood count, electrolytes, kidney function, uric acid, calcium, and beta-2 microglobulin Serum protein electrophoresis or SPEP Urine protein electrophoresis or UPEP Quantitative immunoglobulin levels in the urine and blood Immunoelectrophoresis 24-hour urine collection for protein Bone marrow biopsy Skeletal radiographs CT scan MRI scan   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Multiple Sclerosis

Do you have cloudy or double vision? Do you ever have eye pain or involuntary jumping of your vision? Do you have problems with clumsiness or poor coordination? Have you ever had numbness or tingling in your arms or legs? Tremors? Do you ever have hearing loss or vertigo? Do you have difficulty concentrating or problems with memory loss? Do you have any problems with bladder or bowel control? Do you have constipation? Do you have any family history of multiple sclerosis? Are you taking any medications? Complete neurological exam focusing on reflexes, strength, gait, sensation, and vision Lumbar puncture for removal and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Osteoarthritis

How long have you had painful joints? Which joints are involved and which are most painful? Is the pain worse or better after walking or other exercise? Does the pain wake you at night? Does it occur at rest? Do you have swelling or deformities in any joints? What activities can you no longer do because of the arthritis? How long ago did you stop doing them? How far can you walk? Do you have difficulty opening jars or grasping objects? Do you have any other conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that also limit your ability to function? What have you done to treat your osteoarthritis? What therapies help the most? Do you use a cane (for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip)? What medications do you take (over-the-counter and prescription) to treat the pain? How effective are they? Do you know the side effects of each medication? Joint examination Muscles Gait Blood tests if your symptoms are atypical for osteoarthritis X-rays of the involved joints CT scans of the involved joints MRI scans of the involved joints   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Parkinson's Disease

Do you have a tremor of the hands at rest? Have you noticed a slowing of your movements? Do you have a stooped posture or a slow, shuffling gait? Are you becoming more unsteady? Are your muscles becoming more rigid? Have you noticed your handwriting is getting smaller? Do you have any problems with speech? Are you depressed? Do you have problems with memory, concentration, or problem-solving? Do you have a family history of Parkinson'’s disease? Are you taking any medications? Complete neurological exam focusing on gait, muscle tone, strength, and vision Mini Mental Status Exam (to test memory and concentration) The diagnosis is made based on medical history and physical exam SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) Response to drug treatment, such as a trial of levodopa   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Peptic Ulcer Disease

Do you have diffuse or localized abdominal pain? Does the pain ever travel to the back or chest? Do you have nausea associated with the pain? Does eating make the pain better or worse? Do you have black or bloody stools? Do you ever vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds? Do you take any medications (for example, pain relievers)? Do you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol? Do you drink caffeine-containing beverages? Have you ever been tested or treated for a bacteria called H. pylori that can infect the stomach lining? Do you have a family history of peptic ulcer disease? Careful abdominal exam Rectal exam Stool testing for blood Blood or breath test for the presence of H. pylori Upper endoscopy (internal examination of esophagus, stomach, and duodenum) Upper GI series   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Peripheral Artery Disease

Do you develop pain, cramps, aches, fatigue, or numbness in your leg muscles when you walk? At what distance do you develop symptoms? Do they go away when you stop walking? Do you ever develop these symptoms at rest? Do you have decreased sensation in your feet? If you are a man, do you have erectile dysfunction? Are you doing everything possible to modify the risk factors that can worsen this disease (smoking cessation, treating elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and controlling diabetes)? Are you exercising regularly and at progressively more strenuous levels? Are you taking an aspirin every day? If you have diabetes, do you practice meticulous foot care (cleaning, applying moisturizing lotions, and wearing well-fitting protective shoes)? Do you know when to seek emergency medical care for peripheral artery disease (if your leg becomes suddenly painful, pale, cold and numb)? Do you get chest pain or pressure with exertion or at rest? If so, you may have coronary artery disease. Do you have sudden brief episodes of blindness (like a shade being pulled over your eyes) or sudden episodes of weakness in an arm or leg, or difficulty speaking? These could be warning symptoms of stroke. Heart rate, blood pressure, and weight Pulses in your feet and groin, and behind your knees Listen with the stethoscope over your carotid arteries in your neck Heart and lungs Neurologic exam (reflexes and sensation in your legs) Muscles (looking for atrophy in leg muscles) Skin, looking for changes related to reduced circulation Blood tests, including glucose and cholesterol levels Ultrasound of your carotid arteries Doppler Ankle-Arm Indices Exercise Stress Test MRI/MRA Angiography   More »