Blurry Vision? It Could Be a Sign of Macular Degeneration

Blurry Vision? It Could Be a Sign of Macular Degeneration

Fridar Gichuki |Nov 5, 2020

What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is an eye disease, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD). This condition can lead to loss of vision, especially for those over 60 years old. The disease is characterized by the thinning of the macular, a subsection of the retina, situated at the back layer of the eye and transmits what the eyes see in the brain through the optic nerve.

There are two types of AMD: wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is characterized by yellow deposits, also known as drusen, in the macula. The drusen become bigger, increase in number as the disease advances, and then they begin to distort and blur your vision. The light sensitive cells in your macular thin out and die. As the disease progresses, you may develop a blind spot at the center of your vision until you lose central vision.

Wet macular degeneration is characterized by the growth of blood vessels form under the macula. The blood vessels leak blood and other fluids into your retina. This distorts your vision and causes straight lines to look bent. Eventually, the bleeding blood vessels scar, and cause a permanent loss of central vision.

90% of the people with AMD have the dry form even though, in some cases, it develops into the wet form.

Common Symptoms

Macular degeneration usually occurs progressively. Most patients with AMD have no pain, which means the disease is often caught at an advanced stage, having affected both eyes.

Common symptoms can include the following:

  • Blurry and dark sections at the center of your vision
  • Difficulty recognizing faces
  • Distorted visions are causing wrong color perception and objects to appear bent or deformed
  • An increasing need for light when reading and increased blurriness of printed text
  • Difficulty visually adjusting when you move from a well-lit area to one that’s dimly lit

There are three stages of macular degeneration as follows:

  • Early AMD: There is no vision loss. This stage is diagnosed in people with AMD risk factors. Early AMD is characterized by yellow deposit below the retina.
  • Intermediate AMD: At this stage, there may be noticeable color changes in the retina, and the yellow deposits beneath it are larger than those in the early stage.
  • Late AMD: With late AMD, the patient experiences noticeable vision loss.

Some of the risk factors for macular degeneration include:

  • Age: As the name suggests, age is the most significant risk factor for AMD.
  • Genetics: People with a family history of AMD are likely to also get it.
  • Sex: Women are at a greater risk for developing macular degeneration compared to men.
  • Smoking: Smoking and other poor lifestyle choices (such as having high cholesterol, being obese, and consuming saturated fats) can double your risk of developing macular degeneration.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Regular eye tests are necessary to diagnose AMD. The presence of drusen or pigment clumping beneath the retina is an indication of the disease.

The doctor may also show you an Amsler grid to look at. If any of the lines appear wavy, then it can indicate macular degeneration.

If the cause of your AMD is age-related, then the doctor may carry out an angiography or an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) procedure.

With an angiography, the doctor injects dye into a vein in your arm. As the dye reaches and flows through your retina, the doctor uses special equipment to take photographs. The photos will show any new vessels or vessels leaking blood into the macula. With the OCT procedure, the doctor can make the same observations without the use of dye.

Treatment and Management Options

Macular degeneration has no cure. However, there are a few measures you can take to mitigate the progression of the disease. One key step you can take is avoiding smoking, and make sure you have a healthy diet and exercise. You could also protect your eyes from ultra-violet light.

Treatment options for patients may include the following:

  • Medications: Drugs prescribed may include ranibizumab (Lucentis), pegaptanib (Macugen), Aflibercept (Eylea), and bevacizumab (Avastin). These are anti-angiogenesis drugs used to inhibit the creation of blood vessels and leaking from the vessels beneath the retina. These drugs are particularly useful for wet macular degeneration and can restore the sight of the patients. However, the patient must take the treatment every time the blood vessels re-occur.
  • Laser therapy: This procedure helps destroy abnormal blood vessel growth.
  • Photodynamic laser therapy: With this procedure, a doctor injects a light-sensitive drug called verteporfin (Visudyne) into the blood, which is then absorbed into the damaging blood vessels. The doctor then shines a laser into your eye, which destroyed the medication and subsequently damaging the vessels.
  • Low vision aids: These are electronic lenses that enlarge the images of things near your vision.

The type of treatment you receive will be based on your individual needs. Always be sure to speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns, and they will help you create the best treatment plan to help manage your symptoms.

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Top 4 Types of Arthritis and Their Treatment Plans

Krista Bugden | November 5, 2020

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 | November 5, 2020

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 | November 5, 2020

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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