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Rheumatoid Arthritis: How To Take Your Life Back

2014 April 8
by Leslie Vandever

“You have rheumatoid arthritis.”

Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be a profound shock. Even as relief washes through you—there’s finally an explanation for your sometimes excruciating joint pain and deadening fatigue—the denials and questions well up in your mind like unshed tears. “But I’m not old enough for arthritis!” and “will I end up disabled?” and “it can be cured, right?”

Eventually, you get explanations and answers. You are old enough for RA. It can strike at any age. With treatment, your disease may be slowed down so much you’ll never experience any lasting disability, but no. As of today, RA remains incurable.

So, treatment begins. RA drugs don’t take effect immediately. You might have to take them for three to six months before you can pinpoint any change in your symptoms and your doctor can detect positive changes in your blood tests. It could turn out that the drug you’re taking doesn’t work for you. RA is a notorious for its unpredictability. What works for one person may not work for another.

In the meantime, you’re still living with RA’s pain and fatigue. Your rheumatologist may have prescribed narcotic analgesics to help reduce your pain, but you’re understandably reluctant to take them unless you have to, fearing dependence or addiction. How, you wonder, am I ever going to live with this disease?

Fortunately, there are things you can do that will help.

Lifestyle Changes

RA imposes a lot of unwanted change. Take control and take action! Embracing the following positive changes can make your RA easier to live with.

 

  • Adopt a healthy diet. Eating well will make you feel good and provides the energy and strength you’ll need to cope with RA.  Choose plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grain breads, pastas and cereals, unsaturated fats like olive and canola oil, eggs, and lean meats and fish for your daily diet. Stick to low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.  Avoid processed foods, and only indulge in sweets for special treats or on special occasions.
  • Rest and sleep. Both RA and the drugs you take to fight it can sap your energy. This makes getting a good night’s sleep every night absolutely vital. You’ll also need to learn to pace yourself and take mandatory rests during the day. If pain interrupts your sleep, talk to your doctor. She’ll have some ideas for how to address it. Some general rules for good sleep: go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on weekends; sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room; leave the TV, computer and cell phone somewhere else in the house; and avoid caffeinated drinks after 5 p.m. and all drinks after 7 p.m.
  • Move Your Body. Fit a half-hour of gentle, low-impact exercise into your day at least four days a week. Walking, stretching and range-of-motion (ROM) movements, swimming, water exercise, and (when you’re not flaring) weight-bearing resistance exercises at the gym with machines, or a home with resistance bands, are the best for people who have RA. Tai Chi, a Chinese form of slow, flowing movement, breathing and meditation is excellent for people with RA. So is yoga, but it’s important to check before taking a class that the instructor knows how to alter positions to accommodate painful or disabled joints. The goal of exercising with RA is to maintain full ROM in all your joints while strengthening and maintaining the muscles that support them. If you’re out of shape, start slowly. Stick with it and be patient with yourself.

 

Living well with RA means staying active, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, seeing your doctor regularly and protecting your joints. You can do it.

Leslie Vandever—known as “Wren” to the readers of RheumaBlog, her personal blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis—is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.

 

Tips for a healthy Urinary System

2014 March 21
by Neal
  1. Drink plenty of fluids – a minimum of 8 glasses of water in a day
  2. Reduce the intake of excess salt in your diet
  3. Eat a diet with substantial amount of roughage. This will help in easy bowel movement and remove constipation. Severe constipation is sometimes linked with incontinence
  4. Maintain good personal hygiene
  5. Avoid synthetic undergarments and harsh, perfumed cleansers in the genital area
  6. Women must not wipe from back to front after bowel movement as it forces germs into the urethra

Incontinence is caused by problems in the muscles and the nerves that help to hold or pass urine. During pregnancy there is pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor which may lead to leakage and problems in passing urine. Labour during childbirth also weakens the pelvic floor and many women may experience incontinence for a while till the muscles heal and get back in shape.

The loss of estrogen in a woman’s body after menopause also reduces the strength of the urethral muscles.
Treatment for incontinence varies. In some cases medication is helpful and some may require surgery. For those suffering from incontinence due to menopause, an estrogen supplement proves to be helpful.

Neeri is an ayurvedic formulation which helps prevent and treat urinary stones, UTI, kidney stones, stones after surgery, prevent recurrence of urinary tract infections (UTI) and helps in treating burning urination.

Punarnava – Boerhavia is a pure herb, known to have excellent Diuretic properties which has been found effective in relieving UTI and an effective supplement in treatment of Oedema.

Bangshil is a safe herbal formula for Genito-Urinary Tract Infections, Burning Micturition, and Bladder Disturbances. Especially useful in BPH.

Aluretic is a Safe Herbal Diuretic, it stimulates onset of diuresis within one hour of administrating the first dose. It improves function of Kidneys, Heart, Liver & Lungs.

Kidney Problems

2014 March 6
by Neal

More often than not kidney ailments show no symptoms till an advanced stage. Most kidney diseases damage the nephrons – the millions of tiny filtration units which make up the kidney – leaving the kidney incapable of removing waste.

Chronic Kidney Disease or CKD is a condition where the kidney function deteriorates over time. This may be congenital or may be caused by diabetes, blood pressure or old age. Most often the loss of kidney function is mild to moderate and goes unnoticed by the patient. In advanced cases it leads to kidney failure. Medical practitioners manage CKD by controlling in cause of CKD, which may be High blood pressure or diabetes. Medicines and diet restrictions are prescribed to reduce protein in the urine and prevent further deterioration of the kidneys. In extreme cases of kidney failure, Dialysis or kidney transplant may be required.

Kidney Stones or Renal Calculi are particles of salts and minerals which solidify over time to form crystals or stones within the kidney. Kidney stones are much more common in men than in women and tend to form in hot weather when the urine gets concentrated.
Kidney stones may also be caused due to hormonal imbalances which cause high levels of minerals and salts to collect in the urine. Bacterial infections in the urinary system, high salt and insufficient fluids in the diet has also been linked to kidney stones.
Depending on the size of the kidney stone, smaller stones may easily pass out unnoticed with urine. Some stones may cause a lot of pain and the patient may suffer for excruciating pain and nausea. In such cases the patient requires pain killers and anti-sickness medication along with a lot of fluids which help to flush out the stones. Larger stones get lodged in the ureter and block the passage of urine. In such cases the patient may need to undergo surgery or Ureterorenoscopy to remove the stone.

Urinary Tract and Kidney Health

2014 March 5

The Urinary System, Renal System or Urinary Tract plays a crucial role in keeping our body healthy and free from toxins and unwanted fluids.

Two kidneys, the urethers, urinary bladder and the urethra constitute the urinary system. All the blood in our body is filtered through the kidneys and the waste matter, toxins and excess water is filtered out. The waste liquid is then transported from the kidneys to the urinary bladder through thin muscular tubes called ureters. This waste liquid or urine collects in the bladder till it is passed out the body through the urethra during urination.
The Urinary Tract is susceptible to a large number of dysfunctions and ailments. Although the symptoms of urinary system problems differ depending on the ailment there are some common indications :

  • Any change in the amount, frequency, colour and smell of urine.
  • Pain and burning sensation during urination.
  • The urge to urinate all the time even though there is very little urine which is passed each time.
  • Fever which does not subside after 4-5 days.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Swelling or oedema in the body. Swelling on your face, hands, feet ankles.
  • Weakness, extreme fatigue, dizziness and nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath.
  • Pain in the sides or lower back.
  • Severe skin rashes, metallic taste in the mouth.

Digestive Disorder and Remedies

2012 July 26
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Complications:

  • Regular occurrence of heart burn is considered as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) disease. If GERD is untreated, it can lead to serious conditions like scarring and stricture of oesophagus.
  • Many Americans suffer from the pain associated with peptic ulcer. Gastrointestinal bleeding is one of the major complications of peptic ulcer. Black stools, blood in stools and vomiting with blood are the symptoms of the gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Chronic constipation can cause bloating and pain in the stomach. Haemorrhoids or piles is the first complication of constipation. Impaction (tools that are accumulated and are hard to pass naturally) and lazy bowel syndrome (bowels will stop functioning without laxative) are the other complications. To avoid lazy bowel syndrome, start using natural laxative like bananas and other fibrous fruit.

Remedies and Home Remedies:

  • Sip chamomile tea to relieve stress that inflames the stomach lining.
  • Take Amla or also known as Indian Gooseberry to reduce dyspepsia and stomach burning.
  • Ginger extract can be taken in the form of tea to ease acidity.
  • Asparagus is good for stomach cramping.
  • To ease stomach upset, chew fennel seeds
  • Avoid drinking coffee and chocolate beverages, instead opt for milk.
  • ripe banana taken with milk is a good laxative
  • Take licorice powder and mix with honey and ghee. This mixture can be taken two times a day before meal.

Common Digestive Disorders

2012 July 18
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by Neal

Ulcers:  The stomach and duodenum lining usually have mucous to avoid the effect of acidic digestive juices. However, if this lining which acts as a barrier is damaged, acids can erode the lining and cause inflammation. Eroded areas are referred as peptic ulcers.
Peptic ulcer is found in the lining of the stomach and duodenum where stomach acids such as hydrochloric and pepsin are present.  Peptic ulcers found in the duodenum are known as duodenal ulcers and peptic ulcers found in the stomach are called gastric ulcers.

Constipation: This is one of the digestive disorders caused when you strain to pass faeces.  When the faeces are small and hard, it is difficult to pass and one needs to strain. Infrequent bowel movement is also considered as constipation. Chronic constipation is a bad condition as it causes discomfort and would makes one feel heavy, bloated and sluggish  Laxatives help to pass stool in such cases. Try to use the natural laxative to pass stools as they do not make one’s bowel dependent on it.

Heart burn:  Burning sensation, discomfort, feeling of tightness and pain in the chest is called as Heart burn. This condition can result in Acid reflux, a medical condition that damages the oesophagus. Imagine swallowing acid and keeping it in the lining of the oesophagus. This is exactly how you would feel when affected by heart burn. The pain is unmanageable when you bend or lie down. If heart burn is occasional, it is not considered serious. However, when it occurs regularly, seek the help of your medical practitioner.

Acidity: The food we eat gets digested with help of acids secreted from the stomach. These acids enhance the digestion process, when there is an excess production of these acids, it is called acidity. Eating lots of junk and spicy foods is the foremost reason for acidity. Besides this, eating fast, not chewing the food properly, skipping breakfast, smoking, alcohol consumption and heavy meals are the other reasons of acidity.

Digestive disorders – Introduction

2012 July 18
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Diseases that are associated with the gastrointestinal tract are called digestive disorders. The Digestive System is made up of various organs that work in harmony. Stress and bad lifestyle can easily disrupt this harmony.

Recent studies reveal that half of the American population is affected by some form of digestive disorders. Digestive disorders can be disturbing and can affect one’s quality of life. Minor irritations caused by digestive disorders can become unmanageable and compel one to miss work. Major digestive complications can have serious complications and may sometimes turn fatal.

Causes of digestive disorder 

Bad diet

  • Processed Food: Refining foods takes away all the important nutrients and fiber. Consuming refined carbohydrates on a regular basis deprives the body of essential minerals. Depletion of the minerals results in poor digestion of carbohydrate leading to indigestion, bloating and gas.
  • Low fibrous food: Though fiber is a non nutritive food, it helps to pass faeces from the intestine. Avoiding fibrous food leads to slow transit time (constipation). This condition is dangerous as some of the toxins from the faeces may get absorbed in to the blood.
  • High intake of highly cooked food: Food enzymes which facilitate digestion are   present in raw food apart from food supplements. Cooking food at high temperatures destroys the food enzymes.
  • Food allergies: Allergy to gluten, dairy products and any of the fruits may also trigger the digestive disorder.
  • Fast food: These are high in calorie, fat and sugar. Moreover, the highly refined carbohydrates lack nutritional value and can cause digestive disorders.

Management of menopause

2012 March 16
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Coping with menopause

To relieve these symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is often recommended. But synthetic hormones often lead to breast cancer, strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots. More and more doctors recommend lifestyle changes and natural remedies to cope with menopause. These are primarily related to diet, exercise, and mental outlook.

Diet

  • Add soy to your diet. A half cup serving of soy milk and tofu gives out about 35 to 50 mg of soy isoflavones.
  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, spicy food to keep hot flushes under control.
  • Include herbal treatments such as ginkgo biloba, evening primrose oil, and black cohosh.
  • Have whole grains in your diet. Brown rice, corn, pasta, crackers and other whole grain foods contain antioxidants and multi-vitamins.
  • Include flax in your diet. Flaxseed lengthens the menstrual cycle. In doing so, it increases the estrogen-progesterone ratio and alleviates hot flashes. This is also rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and stabilizes cholesterol levels.
  • Cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts are good for you.
  • Green tea has antioxidants and phytochemicals. Three to six cups of green tea daily has reportedly contributed to weight loss.
  • Tomatoes and yellow fruits such as mangoes, oranges and vegetables like carrot are also recommended.
  • Drink lots of water
  • Consume at least three servings of low-fat dairy products every day for your daily calcium intake. Dark leafy greens are also a good source of calcium. This is important for building bone density.

Exercise

Exercise is particularly important for women as they age. Exercise is essential to the development of strong bones and a strong heart. Exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, helps to keep weight in check and contributes to a sense of well being and mood improvement. People who are not physically active tend to suffer with a variety of diseases such as coronary disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Depression, and even dementia, can be traced back to lack of physical activity.

Your routine should include:

    • Walking
    • Yoga for flexibility/toning
    • Weights for building bone density

A word of caution: consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

Mental outlook

Be positive. Menopause is inevitable so there’s no point getting depressed. Chances are if you follow the correct diet and exercise routine, you will be upbeat and cheerful. Join a hobby class, go on a trip, get a new wardrobe… do what makes you happy.

Perimenopause and Post-Menopause – Problems

2012 March 16
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Perimenopause problems

Perimenopause is the transitional period from normal menstrual periods to zero periods. This transition may take up to ten years. During the perimenopausal phase, you may experience a combination of PMS and menopausal symptoms. During this phase, many women undergo bodily changes resulting from hormonal fluctuation. Hot flashes may leave the sufferer feeling weak and break out in heavy sweating. Despite the discomfort, hot flashes are not considered harmful. Flashes can, however, be eased through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and herbal remedies.

Common problems are

  • mood changes
  • changes in sexual desire
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • headaches
  • night sweats
  • hot flashes
  • sleep disturbances
  • joint and muscle aches
  • extreme sweating
  • frequent urination
  • similar symptoms as experienced with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Even women who are free of the troublesome physical effects of perimenopause may suffer from psychological stress. Many women feel they will no longer be desirable once menopause has set in.

Post-menopause problems

Once the last period of a woman’s life is over, many new problems crop up. Many women start experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance anywhere from their early 30s to their late 40s. Levels of estrogen and progesterone – the essential female hormones – dip, triggering a range of problems.

Common problems are

  • Weight gain
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Increase in facial hair as testosterone is now able to exert more power
  • Incontinence as muscles surrounding the bladder weaken
  • Slowing down of mental processes
  • Reduced bone density

In the long term, post-menopausal women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis and more prone to heart attacks. Problems associated with menopause can be greatly reduced by taking herbal supplements.

Perimenopause and Post-Menopause – Introduction and Symptoms

2012 March 16
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by Neal

General description

According to Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstruation. It marks the end of a woman’s fertility and therefore, ability to conceive and bear children. Menopause is derived from the Greek words pausis -cessation and the word men -month. It means the end of monthly cycles

In the West, the typical age for attaining menopause is between the ages of 45 and 55 and the average age for last period ever is 51 years. In the East, however, the median age of natural menopause is considerably earlier, at about 44 years. Genetics has a lot to do with the age “when” menopause hits. If your grandmother got hers in the late 40′s, chances are you will too.

Common symptoms

Common symptoms: Menopause, or the period after the last period, is marked by some physiological and psychological changes. The most well-known symptom of impending menopause is the “hot flash” or “hot flush”, a sudden, temporary increase in body temperature. The “flash” sensation occurs as the body temperature rises sharply and almost instantaneously begins to slowly return to normal.

Along with the hot flushes is irregular, heavy, or prolonged periods and severe stomach cramps.

All of these combine to create mood swings and even depression.