Tag Archives: inflammation

Know The Signs of Encephalitis

Encephalitis is a medical term meaning inflammation of the brain. While some cases are mild and quickly resolved, it can be a very serious condition, especially in children. There are many causes of encephalitis, but the most common causes are viral infections. Let’s take a look at some of the other causes, symptoms to look out for, complications and treatment:

Symptoms of Encephalitis

Some cases of encephalitis are asymptomatic, but others may exhibit a variety of symptoms such as cold-like ones. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Severe headache
  • Confusion or mental fogginess
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Aches and pains
  • Hallucinations
  • Vision, speech or auditory interruptions
  • Fainting
  • False smells (smelling foul or rotten scents that aren’t really there)

Small children or babies may exhibit these symptoms:

  • Bulging of the soft part of the skull in infants
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Inconsolable fussiness
  • Stiffness
  • Irritability
  • Problems feeding

Babies or children exhibiting any of these symptoms should receive urgent medical attention.

Causes of Encephalitis

  1. Childhood infections such as rubella or the mumps.
  2. Herpes simplex virus (genital herpes is actually the most common cause of encephalitis).
  3. Animal-spread viruses such as rabies.
  4. Arboviruses – these are viruses that are carried and spread by insects, most commonly, mosquitos or ticks.
  5. Having a growth – a cancerous or noncancerous tumor.
  6. Being immunocomprimosed – If you have a weakened immune system due to disease or medications you are at greater risk of picking up an infection.

Complications of Encephalitis

There may be temporary or long-term complications such as fatigue, memory, auditory, speech or thought problems or paralysis. It may also cause brain damage, a coma or even death in instances of severe brain inflammation. Untreated or severe encephalitis has even surprisingly been linked to dementia in children.

Encephalitis Prevention and Treatment

Treatment for encephalitis varies and depends on the severity and root cause. It often includes a combination of anti-inflammatories, antiviral and antibiotic medications. There is no way to prevent encephalitis completely, but the best precautionary measure you can take is to be safe about mosquitoes and bugs, and practice good hygiene and try to avoid sick people or contaminated areas.

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8 Facts About Rosacea

Rosacea is a common, chronic auto-inflammatory skin condition that causes red facial flushing and acne-like bumps. Even though nearly 16 million Americans have the condition, many of them are completely unaware of it. People often tend to attribute their constant rosacea blushing to sensitivity, allergies or rashes. Let’s take a closer look at rosacea so people can better identify the condition:

  1. The main symptoms of rosacea include: red or pink flushing of the facial skin (predominantly the nose and cheeks) from dilated blood vessels, small bumps and cysts or rashes.
  2. The tiny red lines that appear on the faces of many rosacea sufferers are called telangiectasias. Telangiectasia is a prominent feature of other types of skin conditions such as scleroderma as well.
  3. Rosacea cannot be cured but it can be easily managed with medications and creams such as antibiotics. Laser surgery may help in some cases.
  4. Other complications or characteristics of rosacea may include: an enlarged, bulbous nose, intermittent facial inflammation and frequent eye problems such as conjunctivitis.
  5. Rosacea ‘flares’ are often brought about by certain triggers such as medications, temperature fluctuations, alcohol, certain foods (like strong spices) or stress.
  6. Famous people that have rosacea include former president Bill Clinton, Renee Zellweger and Prince William.
  7. Rosacea predominantly occurs in fair-skinned people. It strikes women more often, but men more severely. Rosacea can hit at any age but it most often surfaces between 30 and 50.
  8. Though it is most often an independent condition, there have been correlations drawn between rosacea and various autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. It has also shown links with such disease as heart disease, depression and high cholesterol.

That concludes our closer look at this widely misunderstood skin condition. If you have questions about rosacea or any other medical inquiries, our board-certified DocChat physicians are standing by 24/7/365. Thanks for visiting!

5 Causes of Fluid Retention

Fluid retention, medically know as edema, is a type of swelling that occurs when something malfunctions in the body and causes a build up of fluid in the tissues. We’ll be checking out 5 of the most common causes of edema today:

  1. Lymphatic problems – Because the lymphatic system is responsible for draining fluid from the tissues and sending it into the bloodstream, if it backfires or can’t work quickly enough, excess fluid begins accumulating in the body. Lymphatic disorders such as lymphedema can result in massive buildups of fluid in the lower limbs.
  2. Heart conditions – Many heart conditions such as congestive heart failure can cause swelling in the lower limbs, markedly the legs and ankles. This occurs because the heart isn’t strong enough to circulate blood around the entire body, resulting in neglected lower limbs.
  3. Kidney disorder – One of the common signs of kidney disorders such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) is fluid retention in the lower limbs because kidneys that aren’t working properly fail to filter or remove excess fluid.
  4. Allergies – In response to an allergen, your mast cells trigger the release of histamine, a chemical that causes surrounding blood vessels to leak fluid in the area which causes swelling.
  5. Diabetes – If left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to poor circulation which often causes swelling of the legs, ankles and feet. In extreme cases, blood supply may be almost completely cut off to a lower limb, causing nerve damage and dead tissue, leading to terrible sores or amputation.

Other Causes of Edema

Other medical issues can cause swelling as well, such as:

  • An injury (typically causes a different type of swelling)
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Sodium-rich diet
  • Certain medications
  • Thyroid or hormonal issues
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Pregnancy

When to Seek Medical Attention

Swelling is usually cause for concern, as it is often your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Because it can be a symptom of serious underlying health problems like heart or kidney disease, you should consult your doctor (or one of ours!) if you have been experiencing edema so he or she can perform the necessary tests.

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Gout Fast Facts

Gout is an excruciatingly painful form of inflammatory arthritis caused intermittently by excess uric acid buildup in the body.

Facts About Gouty Arthritis

  • Approximately 1 in 200 American adults is afflicted by gout.
  • Approximately 9 out of 10 gout sufferers are adult males.
  • How does gout work? Uric acid spikes (hyperuricemia) or uric acid buildup sometimes causes acidic crystals to form in the affected joint.
  • These uric acid crystal deposits are called tophi, and make the skin around the joint look lumpy.
  • Not all people with hyperuricemia develop gout – only if the excess uric acid causes crystals to form.
  • Uric acid is derived from the body’s absorption of purines (substances found within bodily tissues and in many foods we eat). Therefor, ingesting foods high in purines may bring on an attack of gout.
  • Gout attacks usually originate in the base joint of the big toe, but can occur in other joints such as the ankles, foot arches, wrists or knees (usually occurring in one joint at a time).
  • Symptoms of gout include: redness, swelling, agonizing pain, a bumpy appearance, warmth, significant stiffness and inability to bear weight.
  • Gout risk factors include: being of male gender, being overweight or obese, consuming too much alcohol, consuming too many purine-rich foods, taking certain medications or supplements such as diuretics or niacin, or having certain other health conditions such as high blood pressure or other forms of arthritis.
  • Gout affects different sufferers differently, attacks may occur months or years apart, or much more frequently. Treatment depends on the frequency and severity of attacks.
  • Gout attacks usually occur for 3-11 days, but some may be longer. While some people don’t experience a subsequent attack, up to 60% of sufferers will have another attack within a year.
  • Some sufferers who sustain uric acid elevation have a chronic form of the disease and require daily medication to prevent frequent attacks.
  • Some foods for gout sufferers to avoid include: high-fructose drinks such as soda, too much alcohol and purine rich foods. Sufferers should also be careful not to injure problematic joints.
  • Gout treatment varies per patient, but often includes anti-inflammatories to control swelling, corticosteroids as well as Colchicine (a plant-based medication that has been used to control gout for hundreds of years). In chronic cases, a daily uric-acid-reducing medication such as Allopurinol.
  • Other tips for those suffering an attack include: lower your stress (it aggravates the condition), rest, modify your diet to include anti inflammatory and low purine foods, apply ice to the area if possible and stay well hydrated (this can help lower uric acid).
  • Lastly, those who are prone to gout should consider adding tart cherries to their daily diet, as the medicinal properties of cherries for gout have been time (and research) proven. Read more about tart cherries and gout in our post about anti inflammatory foods.

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5 Less Common Types Of Arthritis

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis encompasses over 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions, affecting nearly 1 in 5 American adults. The three most prevalent types of arthritis that account for most cases are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Some of the less common, but equally as troublesome forms of arthritic conditions are:

         1. Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that predominantly affects the vertebrae of the spine, sometimes fusing them together creating chronic pain and swelling. The condition usually comes on in early adulthood and is more prevalent among males. It can also affect the hips, ribcage, breastbone, tendons in shoulders or heels, and the eyes. Medical science has discovered that people with the HLA-B27 gene may have a genetic vulnerability to developing the disease. If symptoms are present, doctors often do bloodwork and x-rays to help diagnose the condition.

  1. Palindromic Rheumatism

Palindromic rheumatism (PR) is a rare type of cyclical inflammatory arthritis (symptoms come and go) that often turns into rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both conditions have many similarities, but RA causes lasting joint damage, whereas PR does not. It is equally as prevalent between males and females, and usually starts in early to mid adulthood. PR consists of periods of symptom-free lulls, and periods of days, weeks or months where 2-3 joints will become inflamed and painful, as well as the surrounding connective tissue. No one laboratory test can diagnose this condition, but may help rule out others. Treatment usually consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) or antimalarials.

  1. Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis is usually the result of an infection that changes the body’s ability to defend itself against other infections or environmental factors. It can be a one-time occurrence causing joint inflammation for a period of days or weeks before subsiding organically, or it can become a chronic form of arthritis that may require treatment and managing by a rheumatologist or another arthritis specialist. Reactive arthritis can affect multiple joints, causing significant pain and swelling.

  1. Scleroderma

Scleroderma is another disease that crosses over between an arthritic condition and autoimmune disease. It works by hardening the skin and the organs, which creates many inflammatory and pain problems within the body. Scleroderma affects the skin, connective tissue and organs and can be quite debilitating and pervasive. As with many autoimmune diseases, there is no cure but different medications are available to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. Only about 500,000 American people are afflicted by Scleroderma, and while it isn’t technically a genetic disease, it tends to be more prevalent within certain family pools.

There you have a few lesser known arthritic conditions! Keep and eye out for more less known types of arthritis in the future. If you suffer from these diseases or have any questions about arthritis in general feel free to sign up to DocChat today to begin a video consultation with one of our highly qualified physicians! Thanks for visiting, we hope you’ll be back soon.