Painful Joints and Body Weakness? It Could Be Lupus

Painful Joints and Body Weakness? It Could Be Lupus

Peace Nwoha |Apr 1, 2021

Do I Have Lupus?

Your body has an immune system that defends it from germs and foreign bodies. Sometimes, your body’s defense system mistakes some of the cells in your body for germs and begins to fight them. This is called an autoimmune disease, and lupus is just one example.

Lupus is a long-term autoimmune condition with alternating periods of mild to severe symptoms that cause pain and inflammation within your body. The most commonly affected areas include the skin, organs such as the lungs, kidneys, heart, and joints.

The Lupus Foundation stated that about 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with the condition. However, the figure might be higher if you consider cases that have not been reported. Lupus affects all age groups but has been found to have a higher incidence among women between the ages of 15 to 44, individuals with a family history of other autoimmune conditions or lupus, and some ethnic groups, including Hispanic, Native American, African American, and Asian American.

Types of Lupus

This article focuses on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), as it is the most common type. When someone is talking about lupus, they are usually referring to SLE. However, there are four different types:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) — the most common type, affecting 70% of people with lupus.
  • Cutaneous — limited to the skin, causing rashes or sores (lesions). Approximately two-thirds of people with lupus will develop a form of cutaneous lupus.
  • Drug-induced — a lupus-like disease caused by certain prescription medications. This type is more common in men.
  • Neonatal — not true lupus, but a rare condition that affects the fetus and infant of a mother with lupus.

Symptoms of Lupus

The symptoms associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) include:

  • Body weakness
  • Loss of hair
  • Pain and swelling in the joints
  • A characteristic rash that spreads across the nose and cheeks commonly referred to as a “butterfly rash”
  • Headaches
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon in which the fingers turn blue or white when exposed to cold

The symptoms may develop slowly, and no two cases are exactly alike. They may be temporary or permanent, and they can range from mild to severe. The signs and symptoms are similar to those of other systemic conditions, so careful assessment is needed to diagnose properly.

Causes

The cause of this condition is still unknown, but some factors have been linked to the condition.

Estrogen Hormone

Lupus has been noted to occur more in females than males with worsened symptoms during menstruation and pregnancy. These findings have prompted clinicians to link estrogen with the condition.

Heredity

Although no gene is associated with the condition so far, it has been observed that individuals with this condition tend to have members of their family who also have other autoimmune issues.

Environmental Triggers

These can be from physical or emotional trauma, infections, medications, and radiation.

How to Manage Lupus

Management begins with an appropriate diagnosis. This usually includes your doctor taking a medical history to determine when the symptoms started, their frequency, duration, and severity.

A thorough physical examination is then conducted to identify the signs of the condition, such as:

  • Thinning or loss of hair
  • Tenderness and joint swelling
  • Butterfly or malar rash
  • Oral or nasal ulcers
  • Pain or difficulty breathing which may indicate lung involvement
  • Irregularities in heartbeat or function which could indicate heart involvement

Several screening tests may be done, including a chest x-ray, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), urinalysis, blood tests, and tests for other specific areas that could be affected, such as the abdomen.

Treatment Options

As of today, there is still no cure for lupus. The condition can only be managed long-term through:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and antimalarial medications to relieve joint pain and tenderness
  • Corticosteroids to stabilize the immune system
  • Steroid-based creams for butterfly rashes
  • In severe cases, medications that specifically target the immune system are often prescribed

You may also get referred to specialists who will help manage affected parts of your body, such as a cardiologist or rheumatologist. You should also ensure that you modify your lifestyle to reduce stress and environmental triggers and drink lots of water.

Complications

Lupus can cause severe pregnancy complications, sometimes resulting in miscarriage, so it is essential to involve your doctor throughout your pregnancy and delivery process. Since the condition affects the immune system in various parts of the body, long-term effects can manifest in several ways, such as:

  • Blood clots could get dislodged and block narrow blood vessels leading to loss of function of the affected organ
  • Inflamed blood vessels, lungs, and kidneys
  • Lung or Kidney failure
  • Memory loss
  • Alopecia or baldness
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizures

What is the Prognosis?

The prognosis for lupus varies because it affects everyone differently. Nonetheless, it is crucial that you begin managing the condition early. Do not hesitate to let your health care provider know about any new symptoms, pregnancy, or issues that may be bothering you.

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a long-term condition, and managing it can sometimes negatively affect mental health. Make sure to seek counseling and support when necessary, and try not to work under stressful conditions or in environments that can be detrimental to your health and well-being.

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Top 4 Types of Arthritis and Their Treatment Plans

Krista Bugden | April 1, 2021

How to Treat Arthritis Generally, arthritis refers to the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. The term arthritis is actually used to cover over 100 conditions that impact the joints and the tissues around the joints of the body. When it comes to knowing how to treat arthritis, the options can differ between the various types, which we will explain. Overall, arthritis can be uncomfortable. Pain and inflammation may come and go. Individuals with arthritis can also experience flare-ups at certain times. This condition can make it difficult to move or participate in regular activities. However, for the most common types of arthritis, there are treatment options available. In this article, we are going to explore the most common types of arthritis, their symptoms and their treatments. 4 Most Common Types of Arthritis The four most common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), psoriatic arthritis and gout. In the following sections, we examine these arthritic conditions in more detail. 1. Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis, RA, is technically an autoimmune condition. This type of arthritis happens when a person’s own immune system attacks healthy cells. This creates pain and inflammation at the joints, commonly impacting the hands, wrists and knees. However, RA can also impact various systems throughout the body, such as the skin, heart, lungs, eyes and blood vessels. RA Symptoms Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis typically include: Tender, warm and inflamed joints. Joint stiffness, fatigue. Fever. Loss of appetite. In most cases, symptoms happen to both sides of the body. These symptoms may further vary in their severity and involve flare-up periods and remission periods. RA Treatment Options Treatment frequently involves medications to help reduce inflammation, as well as physical therapy and occupational therapy to help an individual continue to perform their daily tasks with as much ease as possible. Common medications include NSAIDs, steroids and DMARDs. 2. Osteoarthritis (OA) Osteoarthritis, OA, is the most common type of arthritis. Often referred to as the wear-and-tear arthritis, OA happens as the cartilage at the end of the bones wears down over time. This usually happens to the knees, hips, hands and spine. While it is impossible to reverse the damage caused by osteoarthritis, there are various options to help manage it and reduce the associated symptoms. Osteoarthritis Symptoms Typically, OA develops gradually over time. Symptoms may include: Painful joints. Stiff joints. Tender joints. Decreased range of motion and flexibility. Grating sensations. Swelling. Bone spurs. Eventually, these symptoms become worse and worse, making it difficult to perform one’s regular activities and daily tasks. OA Treatment Options OA treatment usually involves a combination of methods. Depending on your circumstances, treatment may include a weight loss regime, increased physical activity and strengthening of the areas and muscles around affected joints. Treatment may also consist of medications, physical therapy and supportive devices. In severe phases of osteoarthritis, your doctor may recommend a hip or knee replacement. [youmaylike] 3. Psoriatic Arthritis Psoriatic arthritis happens in individuals who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that leads to patchy red and scaly skin. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is when the body’s own immune system attacks healthy cells, causing damage, pain and inflammation at the joints. This type of arthritis most commonly affects the toes, fingers, knees, hips and elbows. Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are also similar to rheumatoid arthritis, including: Swollen fingers and toes. Painful joints that are warm to touch. Lower back pain. Foot pain. Nail alterations. Eye inflammation. Although rare, some individuals with psoriatic arthritis may further develop arthritis mutilans, which can destroy the small bones in the hands and feet. Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment Options Similar to other types of arthritis, there is no cure. Thus, treatment also focuses on controlling and managing the associated symptoms to maintain a person’s quality of life. Medications, such as NSAIDs, DMARDs and more may be used. Your doctor may further recommend steroidal injections or joint replacement surgery. Additionally, physical therapy and occupational therapy can help improve strength and flexibility and help you lead a relatively normal life. 4. Gout Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs quite suddenly. A gout attack usually impacts one joint at a time, with some individuals claiming it feels as though the joint is on fire. Most often, it impacts the big toe, with flare-ups lasting a few days or weeks. Gout Symptoms Common gout symptoms include: Intense joint pain (most common in the big toe, knees, ankles, elbow, fingers and wrist). Inflammation of the joint. Redness at the joint. Reduced range of motion. Gout is frequently due to the build-up of urate crystals accumulating at the joint, leading to the above symptoms. Gout Treatment Options Usually, doctors prescribe medications to treat gout. These may include NSAIDs, colchicine, corticosteroids, or medications blocking uric acid production or helping with uric acid removal. For those who experience gout attacks, it is further recommended to drink plenty of healthy beverages and avoid alcohol and sweetened drinks. Avoiding foods with purines, such as red meat and organ meats, can also help prevent flare-ups. Lastly, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help strengthen your joints, reducing gout incidences.

7 Cold and Flu Remedies

Staff Writer | April 1, 2021

Cold and Flu Remedies to Help Symptoms Having a cold or the flu can make you feel miserable. Between the body aches, coughing and congestion, you might not feel like yourself for a week or so. When it comes to the common cold and the flu, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is there is no cure. The good news is most people feel better within a week or two. In the meantime, there are several things you can do that may help you feel better. Consider the following cold and flu remedies to help alleviate your symptoms. Antiviral Medication Prescription antiviral medication is available to treat the flu. It is not prescribed for a cold. Common medications include Tamiflu and Relenza. Antiviral medications do not cure the flu, but they may help you get over the flu faster, and symptoms may be milder. The drugs work by preventing the flu virus from continuing to multiple. Antiviral flu medications must be taken within the first 48 hours of developing flu symptoms to be effective. Antiviral flu medications can have side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and a headache. Although they may be prescribed to anyone, antiviral drugs might be needed most for people that are at high risk of developing complications, such as the elderly or people with lung disease. Zinc Zinc lozenges may help decrease the duration of a cold. Although research is mixed on their effectiveness, the theory is it might help prevent the rhinovirus from multiplying. One study published in the journal JRSM involved seven clinical studies with 575 participants. The study indicated that participants who took 75 milligrams of zinc daily decreased the duration of their cold symptoms by 33%. Zinc is available as a lozenge, syrup or tablet. It can have side effects, such as nausea and stomach pains. As with any supplement, talk with your doctor before taking zinc. Decongestants Decongestants help reduce common nasal stuffiness, which is typical with a cold and can also occur with the flu. Some decongestants are combined with other medications, such as a pain reliever or an antihistamine. Side effects can include increased heart rate, nervousness and problems sleeping. Decongestants are typically not recommended for people who have heart problems, uncontrolled hypertension or are pregnant. Honey Honey is thought to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which might help fight viruses and bacteria. Honey may also be soothing for a sore throat and might help reduce coughing. According to the Mayo Clinic, a few studies indicate honey was as effective at suppressing a cough as some over-the-counter cough medications. Take a teaspoon of honey or add it to warm tea to soothe coughing or a sore throat. However, do not give honey to children under the age of one. It’s possible for honey to contain botulism spores. Adults and older kids who ingest botulism spores have a developed immune system that prevents them from getting sick. But an infant’s immune system is not as mature, and they are at a higher risk of contracting botulism after ingesting spores. [youmaylike] Gargling with Salt Water Gargling with salt water may decrease a sore throat, which is a typical cold and flu symptom. Salt water may reduce inflammation and help loosen mucus from the throat. Plus, there are virtually no side effects of gargling with salt water. So even if it does not provide a lot of relief, it won’t hurt. To do a salt water gargle, dissolve about a half teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water. Gargle three or four times a day. Nasal Irrigation Nasal irrigation involves rinsing out the nasal passages to remove mucus. It can help decrease congestion and may make it easier to breathe. Nasal irrigation is done using a neti pot, bulb syringe or a squeeze bottle. It should only be performed using saline. Over the counter, premixed packets of saline are available at most drug stores. Do not use tap water since it can introduce bacteria into the nasal cavity and lead to a serious infection. To do nasal irrigation, tilt your head to one side while leaning over a sink. Use the neti pot, bulb syringe or squeeze bottle to pour the saline into the nostril. Let the solution pour out of the other side of the nose. Repeat on the opposite side. Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can reduce fever, aches and pains that may occur with the flu or a cold. Acetaminophen is considered an analgesic, which is a pain reliever. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are available over the counter and also larger dosages by prescription. Both types of medication can have side effects, including nausea, stomach pain and headaches. Combining some of the remedies above may work best to get the most relief from a cold or the flu. But use caution when taking medications. Even over-the-counter medications may be contraindicated for certain people depending on their medical history. In most cases, cold or flu symptoms will gradually get better over a week or two. If symptoms persist longer or become severe, it’s best to see a doctor to prevent complications.

4 Foods to Boost Growth Hormone Levels

Tooba Pasha Waqar | April 1, 2021

Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults Contrary to popular belief, our bodies do not stop growing once we exit our pubescent years. Even as adults, our bodies grow in more ways than one. Sure, the growth hormone our body creates doesn’t make us grow taller, but it allows us to build our muscles and helps the body collect fat. It also contributes to healthy brain function. Sometimes, growth hormone deficiency in adults can happen. This growth hormone is secreted by our pituitary gland and released directly into our blood. From there, it is transported to all corners of the body. This process continues throughout our lives and is an essential component of any person’s healthy body function. That’s why a growth hormone deficiency in adults can be reasonably alarming and should be dealt with promptly. Is There Any Way to Increase Hormone Levels Naturally? To put it simply, no. As we grow older, our body functions level off and work at a steady pace. If your body does not create any hormones, it requires more than a basic food cleanse to get its levels up. Nevertheless, some foods can improve your hormone levels if you take them regularly with your treatment. Here’s a shortlist you should include in your diet: 1. Melatonin-Rich Foods This includes cherries, goji berries, eggs, milk, fish, nuts and raspberries. Melatonin-rich foods improve growth hormone levels by providing essential nutrients, such as vitamin D and more. 2. Pineapple Increasing your hormone levels is a job for multiple characters. In this case, this duty falls on other hormones to increase your body’s growth hormone levels. Pineapples provide the body with one essential hormone, serotonin, which relaxes you and allows your body to create growth hormones. 3. Proteins Proteins are generally crucial for your overall health. In terms of growth hormone production, proteins, such as beef, contribute a compound called synthesise L-orthinine, which raises your hormone levels way over baseline levels. 4. Vegan Options That’s right; nothing works better than dependable soybeans if you want to improve your growth hormones quickly. Soybeans provide an amino acid called L-arginine that works quickly to increase your growth hormone levels. A Note on Growth Hormone Production Despite all these details, there is only one thing that truly works magic on your growth hormone levels, and that is sleep. Our body releases growth hormones during sleep, particularly in the early hours of the night. So, if your body is aching all over and feeling stiff and tired, a good night’s sleep might just be what the doctor ordered. [youmaylike] Determining Growth Hormone Deficiency A deficiency in growth hormone production dramatically affects your health and well-being in more ways than one. Remember, every component of your body is interconnected. If there is a severe deficiency, this will present in your physical and mental state. Some symptoms you may experience include: Less muscle mass. Less stamina and ability to exercise without resting. Anxiety and depression. Reduced sexual function. Fatigue. Higher levels of fat around the stomach area. Sensitivity to cold and heat. A feeling of isolation from people. Decreased bone density and susceptibility to bone fractures. Changes in blood cholesterol. Higher than normal levels in low-density lipoproteins. High triglyceride levels. Children Can Be Affected Too A lack of growth hormones is not necessarily limited to adults. Even children can experience a decrease in growth hormone production. If there is any damage to the pituitary gland through trauma or tumor, that can impact your hormone levels. Diagnosing Growth Hormone Deficiency Typically, if you experience symptoms related to growth hormone therapy, your first step should be to go to the doctor. Your doctor may recommend you to an endocrinologist to confirm the prognosis. They may order an MRI to get an accurate reading. Once that is done, that is when your doctor may diagnose you with growth hormone deficiency and prescribe further tests to determine how advanced your condition is. Treating Growth Hormone Deficiency Once the doctor confirms a growth hormone deficiency, they will form a treatment plan. They may prescribe you a daily dose to get your growth hormones on a stable level. This is generally done through hormone injections. Once the course is complete, the patient must attend a monitoring and blood test to see whether the injections work. Doctors usually do not prescribe injections that may take your growth hormone levels above the average level. However, if you begin experiencing swelling, joint or muscle pain, numbness and general pain in your hands from carpal tunnel syndrome, tell your doctor straight away so they can lower your dosage. Conclusion Remember that our bodies experience a range of common symptoms, so you might mistake your growth hormone deficiency for something else. Your best chance is to get a doctor’s appointment and get a check-up done. Only then will you be able to correct your body’s hormone levels and live life as fully as you want.

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