Managing Money Problems in Alzheimer’s Disease

 

People with Alzheimer’s disease often have problems managing their money. In fact, money problems may be one of the first noticeable signs of the disease.

Man with Alzheimer's writing checks while caregiver supervisesEarly on, a person with Alzheimer’s may be able to perform basic tasks, such as paying bills, but he or she is likely to have problems with more complicated tasks, such as balancing a checkbook. As the disease gets worse, the person may try to hide financial problems to protect his or her independence. Or, the person may not realize that he or she is losing the ability to handle money matters.

Signs of Money Problems

Look for signs of money problems such as trouble counting change, paying for a purchase, calculating a tip, balancing a checkbook, or understanding a bank statement. The person may be afraid or worried when he or she talks about money. You may also find:

  • Unpaid and unopened bills
  • Lots of new purchases on a credit card bill
  • Strange new merchandise
  • Money missing from the person’s bank account

A family member or trustee (someone who holds title to property and/or funds for the person) should check bank statements and other financial records each month to see how the person with Alzheimer’s disease is doing and step in if there are serious concerns. This can protect the person from becoming a victim of financial abuse or fraud.

Take Steps Early

Many older adults will be suspicious of attempts to take over their financial affairs. You can help the person with Alzheimer’s feel independent by:

  • Giving him or her small amounts of cash or voided checks to have on hand
  • Minimizing the spending limit on credit cards or having the cards cancelled
  • Telling the person that it is important to learn about finances, with his or her help

To prevent serious problems, you may have to take charge of the person’s financial affairs through legal arrangements. It’s important to handle the transfer of financial authority with respect and understanding.

You can get consent to manage the person’s finances via a durable power of attorney for finances, preferably while the person can still understand and approve the arrangement. You can also ensure that the person finalizes trusts and estate arrangements. For more information, see Legal and Financial Planning for People with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Guard Against Financial Abuse and Fraud

People with Alzheimer’s may be victims of financial abuse or scams by dishonest people. Sometimes, the person behind the scam is a “friend” or family member. Telephone, email, or in-person scams can take many forms, such as:

  • Identity theft
  • Get-rich-quick offers
  • Phony offers of prizes or home or auto repairs
  • Insurance scams
  • Health scams such as ads for unproven memory aids
  • Threats

Look for signs that the person with Alzheimer’s may be a victim of financial abuse or fraud:

  • There are signatures on checks or other papers don’t look like the person’s signature.
  • The person’s will has been changed without permission.
  • The person’s home is sold, and he or she did not agree to sell it.
  • The person has signed legal papers (such as a will, power of attorney, or joint deed to a house) without knowing what the papers mean.
  • Things that belong to you or the person with Alzheimer’s, such as clothes or jewelry, are missing from the home.

If you think a person with Alzheimer’s may be the victim of a scam, contact your local police department. You can also contact the State consumer protection office or Area Agency on Aging office.

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

For More Information About Managing Money Problems in Alzheimer’s

NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center
1-800-438-4380 (toll-free)
adear@nia.nih.gov
www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers
The National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Center offers information and free print publications about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for families, caregivers, and health professionals. ADEAR Center staff answer telephone, email, and written requests and make referrals to local and national resources.

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Nutrition Therapy and Crohn’s Disease

 

What Is Nutrition Therapy?

Nutrition therapy is way to treat health conditions or their symptoms with a special diet. Sometimes, nutrition therapy is used instead of standard treatments, such as medicine. A doctor or registered

can create these diets.

Nutrition therapy is also called medical nutrition therapy.

What Is Enteral Nutrition Therapy for Crohn’s Disease?

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes

of the intestines. Enteral (EN-tur-ul) nutrition therapy uses a drinkable
formula, such as Boost or Pediasure, to control inflammation and promote healing in Crohn’s disease.

Why Is Enteral Nutrition Therapy Done for Crohn’s Disease?

Enteral nutrition therapy is an alternative to steroids and other medicines that ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Steroids can have serious side effects, including poor growth and increased chance of infections.

Enteral nutrition therapy can help improve nutrition and growth, ease inflammation, and heal the gastrointestinal tract (or “gut”).

How Does Enteral Nutrition Therapy Work?

The two types of nutrition therapy used to manage Crohn’s symptoms are:

  • exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN), also called total enteral nutrition (TEN): Formula is used for all meals. Plain water and some other liquids may be allowed.
  • partial enteral nutrition (PEN): Some food is allowed along with the formula. This makes the diet easier to follow.

Some kids drink the formula, while others get it through a nasogastric (NG) tube that runs from the nose into the stomach.

Enteral nutrition therapy helps improve nutrition for people with Crohn’s disease. But it’s not clear why and how it works. Providing balanced nutrition with these formulas might give the gut a chance to heal. It may also work by changing the mix of

that live in the gut. Good bacteria in the gut can help protect the intestinal lining and regulate the immune system.

How Long Do People Need Enteral Nutrition Therapy?

Kids with Crohn’s disease will need to follow this diet for at least 8–12 weeks. Enteral nutrition therapy can begin at the time of diagnosis or during flare-ups (when symptoms get worse). This is called induction therapy. Its goal is to relieve symptoms.

What Happens After Enteral Nutrition Therapy?

After induction therapy, food is slowly added to the child’s diet. The amount of formula decreases as more food is given.

When symptoms are under control, you’ll make a plan with your child’s doctor to help keep symptoms under control and prevent flare-ups. On maintenance therapy, your child may:

  • have a balance of regular food, special diets, and formula
  • take maintenance medicines

Your child’s doctor and dietitian will help you choose the diet that works best for your child.

Are There Any Risks From Enteral Nutrition Therapy?

Enteral nutrition therapy is very safe. But it can be hard for kids and teens to stick with the diet because:

  • They have to drink the same thing every day without much variety. Allowing some food may help to keep kids on the diet.
  • The formula might cause stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Children with Crohn’s disease may become malnourished because:

  • belly pain, nausea, and other problems decrease their appetite
  • the body needs more calories, especially during flare-ups
  • digestion is poor and nutrients aren’t absorbed

Not eating enough food or getting enough nutrients from food can lead to poor growth. So doctors check all children with Crohn’s disease for malnutrition.

Children with severe malnourishment have shifts in fluids and electrolytes during nutrition therapy. Rarely, this can lead to a problem called refeeding syndrome, which causes:

  • irregular heartbeats
  • breathing problems
  • seizures

To help prevent this, these children get enteral nutrition therapy in a hospital, where the care team can watch them closely.

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Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease

 

What Is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a small gland below the skin and muscles at the front of the neck, at the spot where a bow tie would rest.

It’s brownish red, with left and right halves (called lobes) that look like a butterfly’s wings. It weighs less than an ounce, but helps the body do many things, such as get energy from food, grow, and go through sexual development.

What Is Hyperthyroidism?

Thyroid hormone problems happen when the thyroid gland makes either too much or too little hormone for the body.

If the thyroid is overactive, it releases too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, causing hyperthyroidism. The body use up energy more quickly than it should, and chemical activity (like metabolism) in the cells speeds up.

If the thyroid is underactive, it makes too little thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism. The body uses up energy more slowly, and chemical activity (metabolism) in the cells slows down.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?

High thyroid hormone levels (hyperthyroidism) can cause:

  • nervousness
  • irritability
  • increased sweating
  • bulging eyes
  • trouble sleeping
  • a fast heartbeat
  • irregular menstrual periods in girls
  • weight loss

Sometimes the thyroid gland grows and forms a bulge in the neck called a goiter.

Medicines and other techniques can effectively treat hyperthyroidism. It’s important to work with an

(a doctor who specializes in hormone problems) or other doctor who knows how to treat thyroid conditions.

What Causes Hyperthyroidism?

The three main causes of hyperthyroidism are:

  1. Graves’ disease. This is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in children. It happens when the body produces antibodies that make the thyroid gland overactive. Antibodies usually help the body fight infection, but these antibodies stop the body from controlling the thyroid gland correctly (like a car without brakes). As a result, the thyroid hormone levels in the blood can get very high. Doctors don’t know why the body starts making these antibodies. Graves’ disease can affect health for the rest of a person’s life. So it’s important to get medical treatment to control it.
  2. Thyroid gland inflammation (thyroiditis). This causes the thyroid gland to leak too much thyroid hormone into the blood. Thyroiditis can be caused by a lots of things — for example, a blow to the thyroid gland, infections, and
    diseases (like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). Hyperthyroidism from thyroiditis usually lasts for a few months and then gets better on its own. The thyroid usually recovers, but sometimes is damaged and can’t work normally again. This causes hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
  3. Thyroid nodules (growths in the thyroid gland). These can sometimes make large amounts of thyroid hormones, causing symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Overactive thyroid nodules are usually large (an inch or more in size) and can be big enough to feel in the neck. Most overactive thyroid nodules are
    and treated with surgery.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Graves’ Disease?

Kids and teens with Graves’ disease might notice that:

  • they’re more tired than usual
  • they have lots of trouble sleeping
  • they lose weight
  • their heart is beating very fast
  • their hands shake (called tremor)
  • they have a lot of trouble focusing

Girls with Graves’ disease sometimes notice that they have fewer (or less regular) menstrual cycles. Over time, many people notice that their thyroid glands are enlarged.

Some people with Graves’ disease have troubles with their eyes — itching, burning, redness, and sometimes trouble seeing normally. Sometimes they feel pressure behind the eyes, feel their eyes bulging, or see double. This is because the antibodies that make the thyroid overactive also cause

and swelling behind the eyes. When this happens, it’s called Graves’ eye disease.

How Is Graves’ Disease Diagnosed?

Graves’ disease is diagnosed based on a visit with a doctor who will review the symptoms and examine the patient.

It’s important to do lab tests too, because many people can have some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism for other reasons. Sometimes the blood tests aren’t enough to be sure of the diagnosis and other tests are needed, like a thyroid scan or ultrasound.

How Is Graves’ Disease Treated?

Doctors usually treat Graves’ disease with anti-thyroid medicines. These medicines slow the release of thyroid hormones from the gland. They usually bring hormone levels down to normal within a couple of months.

Many people with Graves’ disease need to take anti-thyroid medicines for a long time to control the condition — sometimes for the rest of their lives.

Some might need other treatment if anti-thyroid medicines don’t help or cause side effects, or if the disease is very hard to control. In these cases, two permanent treatment options can be used: radioactive iodine treatment and surgery.

Radioactive iodine (RAI) is the most commonly used permanent treatment for Graves’ disease. RAI damages the thyroid gland so that it can’t make too much thyroid hormone. This doesn’t harm other parts of the body. The RAI treatment is taken in capsules or mixed with a glass of water. The thyroid gland quickly absorbs the RAI from the bloodstream and, within a few months, the gland shrinks and symptoms slowly disappear.

Surgery to remove most of the thyroid gland is called a thyroidectomy. It’s done in a hospital under general anesthesia, so the person is asleep and feels nothing. A small incision (cut) in the lower central part of the neck usually leaves a thin scar. It’s common to have some pain for a few days after the surgery, but most people feel much better within a few days.

After treatment for hyperthyroidism, hormone production often slows down to hypothyroid (underactive) levels. So the person needs to take a thyroid hormone replacement tablet each day. This treatment is a lot easier to manage than taking pills to control the hyperthyroidism — fewer blood tests, doctor visits, and medicine changes are needed.

As the body adjusts to the hormone replacement tablets, a doctor may increase or reduce the dosage until the levels of thyroid hormone are normal. When the doctor finds the proper dosage, people usually feel well and free of symptoms. The doctor will continue to check hormone levels to make sure the dosage is right, especially for growing teens whose levels might change over just a few months.

What Else Should I Know?

We don’t know why people develop Graves’ disease. But with good medical help, kids and teens can be healthy and do all the things other kids and teens can do.

Graves’ eye disease can develop at any time in someone who has Graves’ disease. Smoke can make this eye disease much worse, so it’s very important to not smoke and to avoid secondhand smoke.

Women with Graves’ disease need to be very careful to keep their hormone levels in balance. Uncontrolled thyroid hormone levels in a pregnant woman can lead to problems during pregnancy and harm her baby.

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Managing Celiac Disease-Mayo Clinic

Wheat is the grain on which Western civilization was built. It’s been used for thousands of years as the foundation of our diet. But 1 out of 100 Americans has a condition called celiac disease, which is an intolerance to wheat, barley and rye. Its symptoms can be subtle, but if you don’t stick to a gluten-free diet you could be damaging your body and not even know it. More from Mayo Clinic.

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Lyme Disease Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What are Lyme disease tests?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria carried by ticks. Lyme disease tests look for signs of infection in your blood or cerebrospinal fluid.

You can get Lyme disease if an infected tick bites you. Ticks can bite you anywhere on your body, but they usually bite in hard-to-see parts of your body such as the groin, scalp, and armpits. The ticks that cause Lyme disease are tiny, as small as a speck of dirt. So you may not know you have been bitten.

If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause serious health problems affecting your joints, heart, and nervous system. But if diagnosed early, most cases of Lyme disease can be cured after a few weeks of treatment with antibiotics.

Other names: Lyme antibodies detection, Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies test, Borrelia DNA Detection, IgM/IgG by Western Blot, Lyme disease test (CSF), Borrelia antibodies, IgM/IgG

What are they used for?

Lyme disease tests are used to find out if you have a Lyme disease infection.

Why do I need a Lyme disease test?

You may need a Lyme disease test if you have symptoms of infection. The first symptoms of Lyme disease usually show up between three and 30 days after the tick bite. They may include:

You may also need a Lyme disease test if you don’t have symptoms, but are at risk for infection. You may be at a higher risk if you:

  • Recently removed a tick from your body
  • Walked in a heavily wooded area, where ticks live, without covering exposed skin or wearing repellent
  • Have done either of the above activities and live in or have recently visited the northeast or midwestern areas of the United States, where most Lyme disease cases occur

Lyme disease is most treatable in its early stages, but you may still benefit from testing later on. Symptoms that may show up weeks or months after the tick bite. They may include:

  • Severe headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Severe joint pain and swelling
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Memory and sleep disorders

What happens during Lyme disease testing?

Lyme disease testing is usually done with your blood or cerebrospinal fluid.

For a Lyme disease blood test:

  • A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

If you have symptoms of Lyme disease affecting your nervous system, such as neck stiffness and numbness in hands or feet, you may need a test of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear liquid found in your brain and spinal cord. During this test, your CSF will be collected through a procedure called a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. During the procedure:

  • You will lie on your side or sit on an exam table.
  • A health care provider will clean your back and inject an anesthetic into your skin, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. Your provider may put a numbing cream on your back before this injection.
  • Once the area on your back is completely numb, your provider will insert a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine. Vertebrae are the small backbones that make up your spine.
  • Your provider will withdraw a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. This will take about five minutes.
  • You’ll need to stay very still while the fluid is being withdrawn.
  • Your provider may ask you to lie on your back for an hour or two after the procedure. This may prevent you from getting a headache afterward.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a Lyme disease blood test.

For a lumbar puncture, you may be asked to empty your bladder and bowels before the test.

Are there any risks to Lyme disease tests?

There is very little risk to having a blood test or a lumbar puncture. If you had a blood test, you may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly. If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.

What do the results mean?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a two-test process of your sample:

  • If your first test result is negative for Lyme disease, you don’t need any more testing.
  • If your first result is positive for Lyme disease, your blood will get a second test.
  • If both results are positive for Lyme disease and you also have symptoms of infection, you probably have Lyme disease.

Positive results don’t always mean a Lyme disease diagnosis. In some cases, you can have a positive result but not have an infection. Positive results may also mean you have an autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

If your lumbar puncture results are positive, it may mean you have Lyme disease, but you might need more tests to confirm a diagnosis.

If your health care provider thinks you have Lyme disease, he or she will prescribe antibiotic treatment. Most people who are treated with antibiotics in the early stage of disease will make a complete recovery.

Is there anything else I need to know about Lyme disease tests?

You can reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease by taking the following steps:

  • Avoid walking in wooded areas with high grass.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Wear long pants and tuck them into your boots or socks.
  • Apply an insect repellent containing DEET to your skin and clothing.

References

  1. ALDF: American Lyme Disease Foundation [Internet]. Lyme (CT): American Lyme Disease Foundation, Inc.; c2015. Lyme Disease [updated 2017 Dec 27; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://www.aldf.com/lyme-disease
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease [updated 2017 Nov 16; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 1 screen]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Preventing Tick Bites on People [updated 2017 Apr 17; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/on_people.html
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Signs and Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease [updated 2016 Oct 26; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Transmission [updated 2015 Mar 4; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Treatment [updated 2017 Dec 1; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/treatment/index.html
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lyme Disease: Two-step Laboratory Testing Process [updated 2015 Mar 26; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/diagnosistesting/labtest/twostep/index.html
  8. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth’s Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Lyme Disease Serology; 369 p.
  9. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis [updated 2017 Dec 28; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/cerebrospinal-fluid-csf-analysis
  10. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Lyme Disease [updated 2017 Dec 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/conditions/lyme-disease
  11. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Lyme Disease Tests [updated 2017 Dec 28; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/lyme-disease-tests
  12. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2017. Lyme Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment; 2016 Apr 3 [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374655
  13. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Lyme Disease [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/bacterial-infections-spirochetes/lyme-disease
  14. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2017. Tests for Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/diagnosis-of-brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/tests-for-brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders
  15. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  16. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Borrelia Antibody (Blood) [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=borrelia_antibody_lyme
  17. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Borrelia Antibody (CSF) [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=borrelia_antibody_lyme_csf
  18. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Diagnostic Tests for Neurological Disorders [cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=85&contentid=P00811
  19. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lyme Disease Test: Results [updated 2017 Mar 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 8 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lyme-disease-test/hw5113.html#hw5149
  20. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lyme Disease Test: Test Overview [updated 2017 Mar 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lyme-disease-test/hw5113.html
  21. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lyme Disease Test: Why It’s Done [updated 2017 Mar 3; cited 2017 Dec 28]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lyme-disease-test/hw5113.html#hw5131

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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Understanding a Difficult Joint Disease

 

When you hear about someone who has arthritis, you might think of an older person with pain or stiffness in his or her joints. But that’s not always the case.

There are many types of arthritis and millions of people in the U.S. have some form of it. One type of arthritis that affects more than 1.5 million people in the U.S. is rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the tissues that line your joints instead of fighting infections.

RA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints. It usually affects your wrists, hands, and knees, preventing them from working properly. While RA is more common in women age 30 or older, RA can affect all people.

RA is different from the more common osteoarthritis, which is the arthritis that many older people develop over time. No one knows what causes RA. While there is no cure, it can be treated.

What to look for

Symptoms of RA range from mild to severe. Sometimes RA affects one joint at a time, but more typically it presents as pain, warmth, and swelling in the joints on both sides of the body at the same time or on alternating sides.

It can also affect body parts that are not joints, including your eyes, mouth, heart, and lungs. Symptoms can last for only a short time or they can come and go.

It’s important to recognize the signs of RA and see your health care provider as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis. Your provider will use tests  to help diagnose you and then refer you to a rheumatologist, who focuses on autoimmune illnesses–many of which target the musculoskeletal tissues. You and your rheumatologist can determine the treatment that is best for you.

Symptoms of RA include some or all of the following:

  • Swollen, tender, or warm joints
  • Symmetric swollen joints (on both sides of the body), such as in both your right and left wrists
  • Swollen joints in the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
  • Other swollen joints such as the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and feet
  • Feeling tired and having low energy
  • Fevers
  • Pain and stiffness that lasts for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
  • Symptoms that last for many years

SOURCE: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Rheumatoid Arthritis Opens new window

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One Day at a Time: Living with an Unpredictable Disease

 

Multiple sclerosis patient finds strength in family, friends

Kim Bench likes routines. Every morning, she gets out of bed, does her stretches, and makes breakfast. That is, if she is feeling well enough.

Kim has multiple sclerosis (MS), an often debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).

“MS is very unpredictable,” Kim says. “I can feel great one day and wake up another day and temporarily not be able to see.”

Kim is 48 years old and lives in Norfolk, Massachusetts.

Her MS symptoms began when she was about 21 years old. She felt a numb sensation in her legs at times and extreme exhaustion. She even passed out from the pain of a sprained ankle and had double vision when driving one day.

Kim didn’t know these were symptoms of MS.

“My doctors kept telling me it was stress-related,” she said.

But Kim wasn’t convinced. She switched primary-care providers four times until one doctor listened to her symptoms.

“He turned out the lights and looked into my eyes. Then he scheduled an MRI,” she said.

The MRI showed lesions on her brain and in her spine, indicating that she had MS. She began seeing a neurologist for treatment and medications.

Once the neurologists told her it was MS, she felt relieved she had a diagnosis.

Over the past 20 years, Kim has had various symptoms. She says her most recent symptoms make her feel like an elastic band is being pulled around her ribcage. She also now needs a walker or scooter to help her get around.

Kim says she has been on different medications and treatments with varying success and side effects. Some medications had side effects similar to the flu.

Despite her MS symptoms and the side effects of treatment, Kim still considers herself lucky.

“I don’t feel bad for myself and I don’t complain,” she says. “There are much worse situations in the world. If I need help, I ask for help.”

That help comes from family and friends. They help keep her company now that she can no longer work due to her symptoms. Even strangers in a grocery store offer to help her.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for my friends and neighbors,” she says. “If I’m having a down day, I call a friend.”

Kim’s advice to someone with MS: “Be open to anything. Go on medication right away. Explore your diet and surround yourself with positive people all the time.”

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Reaching New Heights with Joint Disease

 

Patient doesn’t let rheumatoid arthritis slow her down

BJ Pessia is a jack of all trades and master of all.

A real estate agent, carpenter, painter, landscaper, ski instructor, soccer coach, and caregiver, she is always engaged in a hands-on project or busy caring for someone.

Physical work hasn’t always been easy for BJ. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 24 years ago, when she was 30 years old.

“One day I noticed I had wrist pain. The pain moved to my other wrist and would fluctuate from each wrist with no consistency,” she says.

Health care providers told her it was carpal tunnel syndrome, but she didn’t do any repetitive work and was not convinced that was the problem.

After several blood tests and a visit to a rheumatologist, BJ was diagnosed with RA. By then the inflammation symptoms were also in her shoulders and her hips—but again, never consistent, and always moving from one side to the other with no pattern.

The original RA medications she was prescribed had serious side effects, including stomach issues and liver damage. Eventually she found a medication that worked for her.

Now, BJ rarely has big flare-ups.

“The new medication changed my life, and I can usually feel inflammation coming on when it does happen,” she says. “I can paint and do light construction to get houses ready to go on the market to sell.”

BJ says RA can be as much of a mind problem as it is a physical problem.

“I got tired of people telling me that my pain was caused by me doing too much—or people would try to figure out what I did wrong to make my wrists or shoulders hurt,” she says. “It’s nothing that I did. It’s my body reacting to an autoimmune disease and attacking a joint.”

In addition to finding the right medication to treat her RA, BJ also attributes her wellness to sticking to a healthy diet, keeping her weight down, and staying active.

She is currently training for the Pan Mass Challenge fundraiser, a 191-mile bicycle ride across Massachusetts that raises money for cancer research. She also plans to hike all the 4,000-foot mountain peaks in New Hampshire.

Her advice to those who have or suspect they have RA: “Go to a major rheumatology treatment center and talk to a rheumatologist who will really listen to you. Know your body and stay active.”

Source link

CJD Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease – Mayo Clinic

There is a disease that strikes just 300 Americans each year. Yet, it is a nightmare that some have described as a lightening quick version of Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s diseases combined. For families losing loved ones, research holds the only hope.
Here’s Dennis Douda for Medical Edge.

source

Lyme disease – Genetics Home Reference

 

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. The bacteria are transferred to humans by tick bite, specifically by blacklegged ticks (commonly known as deer ticks). The condition is named for the location in which it was first described, the town of Lyme, Connecticut.

If not treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease follows three stages: early localized, early disseminated, and late disseminated infection. A small percentage of individuals have symptoms that persist months or years after treatment, which is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

A characteristic feature of Lyme disease, and the key feature of early localized infection, is a slowly expanding red rash on the skin (called erythema migrans) at the site of the tick bite; the rash is often bull’s-eye shaped. Flu-like symptoms and enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) are also early signs of infection. Most people who are treated at this stage never develop further symptoms.

The early disseminated stage of Lyme disease occurs as the bacteria is carried throughout the body in the bloodstream. This stage occurs a few weeks after the tick bite. Signs and symptoms can include additional rashes on other parts of the body, flu-like symptoms, and lymphadenopathy. Some affected individuals develop neurologic problems (referred to as neuroborreliosis), such as paralyzed muscles in the face (facial palsy); pain, numbness, or weakness in the hands or feet; difficulty concentrating; or memory problems. Rarely, the heart is affected (Lyme carditis), causing a sensation of fluttering or pounding in the chest (palpitations) or an irregular heartbeat.

The late disseminated stage of Lyme disease can occur months to years after the tick bite. The most common feature of this stage, Lyme arthritis, is characterized by episodes of joint pain and swelling, usually affecting the knees. In rare cases, the late disseminated stage also involves neurological problems.

Individuals with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome report ongoing exhaustion (fatigue), muscle and joint achiness, headache, or difficulty concentrating even after treatment with antibiotics, when there is no evidence of the bacteria in the body. Very rarely, individuals have joint pain and swelling for months or years after successful antibiotic treatment. This complication is called antibiotic-refractory Lyme arthritis.

Source link

Know Your Numbers – 8675309 Parody – Mayo Clinic

This is a parody of 8675309/Jenny, produced by the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media to promote healthy heart awareness.

source


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12 Signs Your Gray Matter Needs a CheckUP!

My buddy had fallen off the radar.  After years of at least chatting on our birthdays and around the Army-Navy Game (Go NAVY!) and USNA homecoming, I wasn’t able to reach him and had not gotten a call from him the entire football season.  As the Chief Information Officer for a major medical center, he had taken a low profile on social media, and so had his spouse.  They were sometimes difficult to reach when they went dark.

Luckily, I knew I’d be traveling in his area, so I was not going to let too busy or too secretive get in the way of seeing him.  I went to the facility where he worked, which was more secure than most of the bases we’d served on in our Navy careers.  After finally getting his assistant on the phone, I was getting the sense there was something more to the runaround.  The last time we did actually speak, he told me he had not been feeling too great – headaches that wouldn’t go away and occasionally blurred vision.

I asked her to have someone – anyone – call me to let me know how to get hold of him after explaining how I’d known him so many years. I received a call from his wife about fifteen minutes later.  She told me how to get to his room, that she’d cleared me with security in the building where he was, and prepared me for what I would be walking into.

The funniest, sunniest man I knew was in a comma after surgery on a brain tumor.  The surgery had gone great.  It was the weakness he suffered after which caused him to fall and brought him, then me, to this room.

On this World Brain Tumor Day, and many days of the year, I lift up and hope to honor my dear friend.

WHAT IS A BRAIN TUMOR?

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function. Doctors refer to a tumor based on where the tumor cells originated, and whether they are cancerous (malignant) or not (benign).

  • Benign:The least aggressive type of brain tumor is often called a benign brain tumor. They originate from cells within or surrounding the brain, do not contain cancer cells, grow slowly, and typically have clear borders that do not spread into other tissue.
  • Malignant:Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells and often do not have clear borders. They are considered to be life threatening because they grow rapidly and invade surrounding brain tissue.
  • Primary:Tumors that start in cells of the brain are called primary brain tumors. Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the spine, but rarely to other organs.
  • Metastatic:Metastatic or secondary brain tumors begin in another part of the body and then spread to the brain. These tumors are more common than primary brain tumors and are named by the location in which they begin.

There are over 120 types of brain and central nervous system tumors. Brain and spinal cord tumors are different for everyone. They form in different areas, develop from different cell lines, and may have different treatment options.

Causes

Brain tumors that begin in the brain

 Primary brain tumors originate in the brain itself or in tissues close to it, such as in the brain-covering membranes (meninges), cranial nerves, pituitary gland or pineal gland.

Primary brain tumors begin when normal cells acquire errors (mutations) in their DNA. These mutations allow cells to grow and divide at increased rates and to continue living when healthy cells would die. The result is a mass of abnormal cells, which forms a tumor.

In adults, primary brain tumors are much less common than are secondary brain tumors, in which cancer begins elsewhere and spreads to the brain.

Many types of primary brain tumors exist. Each gets its name from the type of cells involved. Examples include:

  • These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord and include astrocytomas, ependymomas, glioblastomas, oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
  • A meningioma is a tumor that arises from the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord (meninges). Most meningiomas are noncancerous.
  • Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas).These are benign tumors that develop on the nerves that control balance and hearing leading from your inner ear to your brain.
  • Pituitary adenomas.These are mostly benign tumors that develop in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. These tumors can affect the pituitary hormones with effects throughout the body.
  • These are the most common cancerous brain tumors in children. A medulloblastoma starts in the lower back part of the brain and tends to spread through the spinal fluid. These tumors are less common in adults, but they do occur.
  • Germ cell tumors.Germ cell tumors may develop during childhood where the testicles or ovaries will form. But sometimes germ cell tumors affect other parts of the body, such as the brain.
  • These rare, noncancerous tumors start near the brain’s pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that control many body functions. As the craniopharyngioma slowly grows, it can affect the pituitary gland and other structures near the brain.

Tumors that begin elsewhere and spread to the brain

Secondary (metastatic) brain tumors are tumors that result from rogue cells that go awry  elsewhere in your body and then spread (metastasizes) to your brain.

Secondary brain tumors most often occur in people who have a history of cancer. But in rare cases, a metastatic brain tumor may be the first sign of cancer that began elsewhere in your body.

In adults, secondary brain tumors are far more common than are primary brain tumors.

Any cancer can spread to the brain, but common types include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma

Risk factors

In most people with primary brain tumors, the cause of the tumor is not clear, but doctors have identified some factors that may increase your risk of a brain tumor.

Risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radiation.People who have been exposed to a type of radiation called ionizing radiation have an increased risk of brain tumor. Examples of ionizing radiation include radiation therapy used to treat cancer and radiation exposure caused by atomic bombs or nuclear powered vessels.  My friend was a submariner, so this was likely his contributing environmental risk.
  • Family history of brain tumors.A small portion of brain tumors occur in people with a family history of brain tumors or a family history of genetic syndromes that increase the risk of brain tumors.

12 POTENTIAL Symptoms

There are times a person may have no symptoms when their brain tumor is discovered.  Brain tumor symptoms vary according to tumor type and location. These may include:

New onset or change in pattern of headaches

If you’re not the type to usually have headaches and suddenly find you are dealing with them regularly, it could be many things – including early signs of a brain tumor.

Headaches associated with brain tumors don’t respond to over-the-counter remedies the same way other headaches do. However, you shouldn’t panic if you’re having headaches: “Keep in mind that most headaches are unrelated to brain tumors,” according to WebMD.

Speech Challenges

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America note that depending on the location of the brain tumor, it can affect areas that are normally responsible for clear communication.

That being said, speech itself may become difficult for the affected person, or they may experience “language difficulties”. This typically means the person can’t find the right words to express something or is unable to comprehend what someone is telling them.

Hearing Loss

While the ability to choose the right words to be heard can be affected by a brain tumor, so can the ability to hear, according to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. While the ear is obviously important for hearing, it’s the brain the ultimately processes sound, notes the source. That means your ear and its inner structures could be fine, but the pathways and receptors in your brain are not.

One type of tumor that can impact hearing is called an acoustic neuroma, which may affect one or both ears. Tests for this generally show hearing loss in high frequencies, as well as poor recognition of words, it adds. Tumors can affect a smaller area where auditory relay systems are, or by “mass effects” such as creating pressure or even causing the brain to move depending on the size of the tumor.

Weakness in One Side

You may experience weakness in 1-side of the body, affecting the arm and leg on that side. On top of that, you may become confused about which side of your body is left or right, which are all linked to a tumor in the frontal or parietal lobe of the brain.

Another symptom of this type of brain tumor is an “altered perception” of touch or pressure, it adds. Sources note this could affect your ability to feel pain or different temperatures.

Muscle Twitches

Tumors sometimes form on the membranes covering the brain and nearby spinal cord. It says the tumor pressing against these 2-essential areas can cause involuntary movements of muscles – these are called convulsions, which are also sometimes referred to as motor seizures, adds the source.

While this can present as full-blown seizures with loss of bodily function, it can also be in the form of single/multiple muscle twitches, jerks or spasms, known as myoclonic seizures.

Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision

Cancer Treatment Centers of America notes that a tumor located near the optical nerve could result in blurred or double vision, and some other types of tumors can actually result in abnormal eye movements.

The American Brain Tumor Association paints a slight less rosy picture when it comes to the relation of brain tumors and vision: the source notes you may develop blind spots, loss of peripheral vision (seeing out of the corner of your eyes), or sudden blindness – which could indicate pressure from the tumor on the brain, it adds. If you’re experiencing sudden blindness, seek medical assistance immediately.

Seizures

Brain tumors can also trigger seizures, which “might be the first clue that something unusual is happening in the brain,” according to the American Brain Tumor Association. It notes seizures are more common with particular types of brain tumors, such as slow-growing gliomas, meningiomas (affecting the membranes of the brain and spinal cord), and metastatic brain tumors (cancer that starts elsewhere and spreads to the brain).

Characteristics of tumor-related seizures include a sudden onset of the problem, loss of body function, arrested breathing (for 30-seconds or so) that could lead to a “dusky blue” skin color, an overall short episode of 2 or 3-minutes, and weakness or numbness afterwards.

Personality Changes

Family members and caregivers could notice a change in your behavior if you’re dealing with a brain tumor. CureToday.com explains that personality changes in a patient can put extra burden on those already dealing with the illness.

As the frontal lobe of the brain is the “command center” for personality, tumors in this area of the brain will have a more severe impact. However, other locations of tumors can cause hormonal imbalances and severe frustration for the patient, especially if their ability to speak has been impacted. “A brain tumor patient that has lost their speech might desperately want to tell a grandchild how much they love them, but not be able to get the words out,” Cure offers.

Depression

Along with personality changes that could involve risky behavior, a person’s mood may drop due to the presence of brain cancer.  In some cases, this may result in a misdiagnosis of a psychiatric problem, when in fact it’s a physical change in the brain region causing the depression or other unusual mood or behavior, it adds

Cognitive Decline

A host of problems with the brain’s ability to process information might be a result of a brain tumor. Cancer Treatment Centers of America notes brain cancer (tumors) can make it difficult for a patient to remember things, concentrate on a task, or communicate clearly.

A variety of the symptoms – such as being confused and not being able to think clearly – may be subtle or show up gradually. These could be early red flags to prompt your doctor to have a closer look at the root cause.

Trouble with Balance and Coordination

Cancer.net explains there could be some telltale signs of a brain tumor that show up in physical ways, whether from the cancer itself or the treatments. As the brain and spinal cord are part of the central nervous system, brain cancer patients can experience a variety of these unwanted side effects.

Aside from the cognitive decline already mentioned, brain tumor patients may find they have trouble with walking and balance, and they could experience vertigo, which is the sensation of the room spinning. Problems with coordination (e.g. something simple like tying your shoelaces) might also be impacted.

Fatigue/Lethargy

TheBrainTumorCharity.com based in the UK discusses tumor-related fatigue, noting it is “the most common side effect” of brain tumors and brain cancer. Those with non-cancerous brain tumors may also experience fatigue (defined as tiredness that’s not relieved by resting), it adds. You may also feel like your limbs are heavier and it’s generally tougher to move around.

This tumor-related fatigue can disrupt your sleep patterns and vary in intensity day-to-day or even during the same day, it adds. Other sources note fatigue is also a side effect of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy – so if the tumor itself isn’t causing you to feel endlessly tired, the treatment might be. 

Get Help Today

Whatever symptoms you have, make an appointment and discuss them fully with your physician so everyone has the most accurate information.  Though working at a renowned cancer center, my good friend waited a little too long to talk to someone.  Too busy and too secretive, right?

Diagnosing a brain tumor can be a complicated process and involve a number of specialists, depending on where you live or where you seek medical attention.  One of the factors of survival is early detection and treatment. A brain scan, most often an MRI, is the first step. A biopsy may be necessary, so a pathologist can be brought in to help identify the brain tumor type.

Whatever health concerns you have today, making sure you are connected to the right physicians and they have all of your most up to date information is what HealthLynked is all about.  It is the first of its kind social ecosystem designed to “Lynk” patients with their healthcare team in new ways to ensure they receive the best possible care and are restored to the best health possible.

Ready to get “Lynked”?  Go to HealthLynked.com, right now, and get signed up for free.  Your brain will thank you!

Sources:

MayoClinic.org

ABC2.org

ActiveBeat.com

Emedicinehealth.com

 

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12 Signs Your Gray Matter Needs a CheckUP!