Carpal Tunnel-Stop the Pain

Experiencing pain, soreness, numbness, swollen feeling or a loss of strength in your hand and fingers? If yes, then you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. What is this syndrome and how does it affect you? Read on to find out.

A condition that is best treated early, carpal tunnel syndrome affects your hands and fingers by causing them to become numb, tingly or outright painful even after moderate work. If left untreated, the syndrome can persist and affect your productivity for a few days at least.

If you work nine to five, then don’t let this problem persist too long or you may be seeing a loss of hours on your next pay stub. Save yourself the trouble by treating your carpal tunnel syndrome right away. How can you do that? HealthFaire will provide you the details and provide you a solid understanding of carpal tunnel syndrome, its causes, and the limitations it brings.

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Our hands are susceptible to repetitive strain injuries. Considering that we spend a considerable amount of time each day operating a computer or smartphone, this should not come as a surprise. A repetitive strain injury affecting your hands, carpal tunnel syndrome causes a pinch or compression in the median nerve running through the carpal tunnel, leading to pain, numbness, weakness or tingling in the hand. Does this sound familiar? If so, continue reading to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome.

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A narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrists, the carpal tunnel is comprised of bones and ligaments. It is the passageway for the median nerve—the nerve controlling the movement and sensation in the thumb and first three fingers. In addition to the median nerve, the tendons to the thumb and fingers also pass through the carpal tunnel.

What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Following are symptoms you need to look out for to detect carpal tunnel syndrome.

Pain and Tingling

We love taking advice from our best friends, but if your best friend is telling you that carpal tunnel syndrome occurs suddenly or out of the blue, ignore them. Contrary to what your best friend says, CT syndrome develops gradually. You may first notice this syndrome in the night or after waking up in the morning as a feeling of tingling and numbness in your hand or fingers.

Typically, you will feel pain and tingling in all your fingers except the little finger. Has a younger sibling or an annoying kid at school ever poked your skin with a pin or a needle when you weren’t looking? If yes, then this is the exact sensation you get in carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

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Going through the day with this syndrome can be annoying. You’ll notice pain as soon as you hold a phone, or a book, or start driving. Shaking your hands will help relieve this problem, but only temporarily.

Weakness

If you notice weakness in the hands, then this could be a sign that you’re suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. As it progresses, the syndrome will start to cause weakness in your thumb and first two fingers, making it difficult for you to grasp things. Additionally, you’d have problems buttoning your shirt or holding a utensil and may even start dropping things, like perhaps a plate of spaghetti in the lap of your annoying coworker. You wouldn’t want that to happen.

On a more serious note, get yourself checked for CT syndrome as soon as you notice this symptom develop. If you don’t, you may be facing work hours lost and a bank account that mirrors the Death Valley.

Sensation Problems

No need to feel embarrassed about this issue. You can talk about these problems with your spouse, a friend, or even your neighbor. The sensations of CT syndrome aren’t embarrassing, but they can pose a health risk. CT syndrome causes numbness in the hand, often leading to swelling in the area. In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish hot and cold, which poses a burn risk for those afflicted with the condition.

On occasion, the syndrome may cause an electric shock-like sensation in your fingers. It will travel from your wrist up your arm and may occur while you’re holding a newspaper, phone, or steering wheel. Also, these sensations may wake you in the middle of the night. ‘Shaking it off’ will temporarily relieve the problem, but if left untreated, in time, it may become a constant part of your life.

What Are the Causes of CT?

What causes CT? Not being careful about how you use your hands and fingers is the main consideration. A less generic explanation would be that certain activities performed during the day such as typing, writing, housework or DIY can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. In cases where the median nerve passing through the carpal tunnel is badly squeezed, inflammation may occur causing symptoms throughout the day. Though symptoms typically appear in the dominant hand first, CT syndrome can affect both hands at the same time. In order to prevent CT syndrome, it is important to modify work activities so as not to damage the carpal tunnel.

The truth is that there is no one, definitive cause of this syndrome. Instead, anytime there is inflammation or swelling in the narrow and rigid carpal tunnel, the median nerve will become compressed and cause pain.

Some people are more at risk of developing this syndrome than others. As a matter of fact, compared to men, women are three times more at risk of developing CT syndrome. Others at higher risk of developing the syndrome include those with:

● A sprained or fractured wrist
● Pregnancy
● Rheumatoid arthritis
● Diabetes
● Hypothyroidism
● Gout

What Limitations Does CT Cause?

So, what limitations can this condition cause? As it progresses, carpal tunnel syndrome can affect you even when you’re not performing any activity. You’ll start to lose grip strength, which will make it harder for you to grasp objects—especially the smaller items. You’d find typing on your smartphone, fastening buttons, or opening your favorite drink challenging to say the least.

As if that wasn’t bad news, CT syndrome may cause your thumb’s base to wither away if it is left untreated. What are the repercussions of this? You will no longer be able to distinguish hot and cold with your fingers and thumb. Also, CT symptoms will get worse after you perform an activity using the affected hand.

Moreover, if you keep the affected hand static for too long, the pain, weakness, and tingling in the hand will worsen. While keeping your hand active is important to relieve the symptoms of CT, don’t overuse your hand, at least not till you’ve tried the home treatments for your condition. What are the home treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome? Let’s find out.
What Are CT Home Treatments?

Want to get rid of CT symptoms?

Then try CT home treatments virtually every day for at least a month. You could go to a therapist for your condition, but this would cost you some money.Try some carpal tunnel home remedies before you start counting the money in your savings account to know if you can afford CT therapy or not. The carpal tunnel home remedies will work as effectively—if not more, than CT therapy. Following are CT treatments that you can perform at home and at a fraction of the cost you’d pay to a therapist.

Cold Compress

Want to prevent your condition from flaring up? Then place an ice pack on the affected wrist to try and relieve the carpal tunnel symptoms. However, make sure you don’t apply ice directly onto the skin.

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Medication can help relieve a host of health problems and this includes carpal tunnel syndrome. A common over-the-counter medicine used for this condition is Ibuprofen—a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. However, take this medication only if your symptoms are worsening because Ibuprofen can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, itching, and bloating.

Hand and Wrist Exercises

Want to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel? Then try hand and wrist exercises that target areas affected by this condition. These exercises strengthen muscle and promote good circulation to help alleviate the symptoms. Examples of these exercises are forearm extensor exercise, finger exercise, wrist stretch, tendon glides, grip strengthening, and wrist flexion exercise. You can get more information about these exercises at HealthFaire.com.

Rest Your Wrist and Hand

Ask any health expert, and they’ll tell you that the best way to give relief to your body is allowing it to rest. The more rest you give to your wrist and hand, the greater chance you have of relieving the CT symptoms. So, practice using your hands and wrist less often at home as this is the only place you have the luxury to do that.

Generally, it is recommended that you get treatment for CT syndrome as soon as you notice the symptoms. However, calling in a doctor or seeking medical help becomes necessary when this syndrome starts to affect your ability to accomplish daily activities. If the symptoms and signs of CT syndrome interfere with your normal activities and sleep patterns, get help right away. If left untreated, CT syndrome can lead to permanent nerve and muscle damage.

The Future of CT Syndrome Treatments

Of late, considerable research has been done to find treatments that relieve the symptoms of repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. One such research was carried out by scientists funded through the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

They investigated the effects of acupuncture on pain, loss of median nerve function, and changes in the brain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, a randomized clinical trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment in conjunction with standard medical care is underway. Evaluations of these and other therapies will help to tailor individual treatment programs.

When Is Surgery the Only Option For CT?

To overcome the syndrome, many people consider carpal tunnel surgery, but it has been proven time and again that surgery is not a good option for relieving symptoms of carpal tunnel. Only when the carpal tunnel home treatments have not been effective and the symptoms have lasted for at least half a year, consider CT surgery. Carpal tunnel surgery cost will drain your savings accounts at the very least.

Can I Prevent CT?

Of course you can. Carpal tunnel prevention is very much possible if you:

● Take breaks from repetitive tasks
Wear splints on your wrists
● Keep your hands warm
● Avoid activities that flex your wrists to the extreme
● Maintain correct posture to avoid straining your wrist and hands
Use a comfortable computer mouse or typing board
● Reduce tour force and relax your grip

Is CT More Prevalent Now?

CT affected people in the past as well but it is more prevalent now. Today, carpal tunnel is more common than it was a decade or two ago, prompting researchers to find out if more can be done to prevent or alleviate this condition. In early stages, carpal tunnel can affect your ability to perform daily activities but if you allow this problem to progress, then there may come a time when your median nerve is permanently damaged and you are left with no option but surgery.

So, be sensible and treat your carpal tunnel syndrome as soon as you start noticing the symptoms. This is in your own best interest!

*https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072780/
*https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Carpal-Tunnel-Syndrome-Fact-Sheet
*https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/

Essential Oils

Essential Oils for Health—An Introduction

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Aromatic oils, ethereal oils, volatile oils, also known as essential oils are highly concentrated liquids which contain fragrant components naturally found in various parts of plants, herbs, and fruits such as their leaves, barks, roots, petals, stems, flowering tops, or zests/rinds.

Essential oils are called “essential” because they contain what is called the essence of the plants’ aromatic constituents—which are characteristically different for each source. Each essential oil can and does contain over one hundred various chemical aromatic compounds, with every single one of them exhibiting a different and highly specific therapeutic property.

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History of Essential Oils

Essential oils have, in recent years, become more popular than ever, especially within the cosmetic industry where the oils are lauded for their versatility and extensive benefits. However, it is important to note that essential oils and their use is by no means a new concept or practice. Rather, the use of essential oils and various plant components dates back at least a thousand years.

Today, essential oils are frequently used as part of what is known as “aromatherapy”—a wellness practice of utilizing the various volatile liquids and fragrances for their physical as well as psychological health benefits. However, aromatherapy is a term that was not even coined and used until the beginning of the twentieth century, while the existence and use of the essential oils can be traced all the way back to the earliest Chinese civilizations who utilized aromatic and particularly fragrant plants and plant components to burn as incense. This was done as a means to create and promote societal and individual balance and harmony.

The most detailed records and evidence of the use of essential oils date as far back as 4500 B.C.E. to ancient Egypt. The various scented barks, spices, aromatic oil pastes and balsams all were used for cosmetic, medicinal, spiritual and fragrant purposes. Egyptians were recorded to have used aromatic oils from cinnamon, myrrh, clove and even cedarwood to embalm and preserve the deceased.

The Indian subcontinent has a 3000-year-old history of the use and incorporation of various volatile oils into Ayurveda, a traditionally Indian medicinal practice, as well. Literature dictates the use of hundreds of plant-based substances, their uses and advantages targeted at spiritual and physiological purposes.

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According to early recorded findings of Greek mythology, Greeks learned what they knew of aromatherapy—the make and use of essential oils—from the Egyptians and the Indians. Greeks are the masters of modern medicine as we know it. Hippocrates is recorded to have practiced aromatherapy by using various plants, herbs, and flowers for their medicinal benefit. He is known to have documented the use of over 300 different plants and their uses.

Taking the teachings of the Greeks and the Egyptians even further were Roman emperors who built their empire based on the previous knowledge and detailed recordings of medicine and aromatherapy. Discorides, the Roman, actually wrote a book that prescribed the various properties, advantages and uses of over 500 plant species. Furthermore, he is also known to have extracted floral waters from the various plants.

Taking the accumulated knowledge on the subject multiple steps further in advancement was Avicenna or Ali-Ibn Sana, a Persian child prodigy who mastered medicinal botany to become the youngest known physician at the tender age of twelve. Avicenna’s thirst for knowledge and his extensive research led to the discovery of the coiled pipe in the eleventh century, which is used primarily for the modern method of distillation—a process which is regularly used to extract the purest of aromatic components for the essential oils.

From then until the twentieth century there were multiple alchemists, medical doctors, and physicians who contributed extensively to the progression of the distillation of essential oils and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. In the middle of the twentieth century, a French chemist called Rene-Maurice Gattefosse became intrigued by the use of essential oils for physical healing following an accident at a cosmetic laboratory. The use of lavender oil to cool his hand after an accidental burn led to the coining of the term “aromatherapy.”

The years that followed saw a massive resurgence of new and improved techniques for the extraction of essential oils and their uses for medicinal, aromatic, and therapeutic benefits.

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How Essential Oils Are Made

Initially, the aromatic components of the plants, herbs and fruits were extracted either by burning them, pressing them, mixing them into thin pastes or by infusing their aromas into other extracted fatty-oil constituents. It wasn’t until Avicenna’s discovery of the coiled pipe which allowed the development of the extraction process of steam distillation, which is still primarily used today for the extraction of the purest of aromatic oils.

Apart from steam distillation, there are a number of different processes also in use today. They include but are not limited to cold pressing, chemical extractions by use of solvents, enfleurage and extraction by use of carbon dioxide. An overview of these processes is given below.

Steam Distillation

One of the most popular extraction methods, steam distillation, is widely used today to extract essential oils. In this process, plants, stems and flowers are suspended over a significant amount of boiling water. The steam basically pulls the oils from the plant components, which rises and is then collected in a cooling vessel where it is rapidly cooled and condensed into water again. Because the oils and water are of different consistencies, they do not mix and can easily be separated to leave behind pure essential oils, ready for use.

Cold-Pressing

Cold-pressing or expression is the mechanical means of extracting pure essential oils directly from within the skins of the plants or fruits. The fruit skin is cut up into minutely small segments, mixed with water, and then pressed using a significant mechanical force. Once the oils leave the skins, they are separated out by the water.

Chemical Extraction

Chemical extraction involves the plants being dissolved in various solvents such as benzene. This helps pull the essential oil out from the plant component. The solvents are then either evaporated or mechanically separated by using a centrifuge. The essential oils which are obtained in this manner are not commonly used by true aroma therapists due to fear of solvent remnants. Often times the resultant oils are known as absolutes.

Enfleurage

Enfleurage, perhaps the oldest known extraction method for essential oils, is quite a time consuming and expensive process. It is, however, still used today to extract the purest of essential oils from various flowering stems and petals. Enfleurage involves flower petals or complete blossoms being carefully set on a sheet of warm, layered fatty acids. Originally, lard or animal fat was used, but it has now been replaced by vegetable fats.

The blooms are left untouched for a number of hours or even days. This allows their aromatic essence to seep and settle into the fats. After some time, the flowers are replaced with fresh ones until a substantial amount of fat is infused with the fragrant floral aroma. The process is repeated a number of different times after which the fat components are chemically separated to leave behind the purest form of essential oil.

Extraction Using Carbon Dioxide

One of the newer methods of extracting essential oils is to use carbon dioxide. A very complex and extensive process, the extraction of essential oils via carbon dioxide is also quite expensive. The process involves applying high pressures of the gas to convert it into a liquid. The liquid is then used to extract the oils from the plants themselves in a process that is quite similar to the extraction of essential oils via the use of chemical solvents. The only difference is that when evaporated, there is no residue of carbon dioxide left in the extracted essential oil. This process is preferred over steam distillation because it expresses a more intense essential oil by breaking down the plant cells far better than regular water.

The Marketing of Essential Oils

Though generally essential oils have a very long shelf life and can last for a number of years without going bad or expiring like most cosmetic or medicinal products do, they do have a few limitations that can affect their quality.

Oxygen and light both have a very strong effect on the quality of an essential oil. As such, it is often marketed in small dark colored bottle with dropper holders that are designed to minimize both the exposure to daylight and air.

Essential oils can actually be aged to make their essence stronger. In case an expressed essential oil has weak properties, or has a sharpness to it that dispels its natural beneficial properties, it can be aged artificially by exposing the oil to a controlled environment of light and air.

The best essential oils though are those that are naturally aged and kept for three to four years before being sold.

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Essential Oils and the Various Health Benefits

Essential oils are primarily extracted from various plants, fruits, and herbs which have known medicinal or therapeutic properties. Often made of a completely natural mix of various plant components, the essential oils can be used for the improvement of a number of different ailments.

As concentrated extracts of plants and herbs, the aromatic oils have the unique benefit of promoting not just physical or physiological health, but also emotional and mental balance. Used for massages, as bath oils, as compresses, in steam inhalations, and through vaporizers, essential oils can be employed to treat a number of ailments.

Depending on their quality and beneficial properties, essential oils have been incorporated within cosmetics, lotions, creams, shampoos and other skin and hair care products.

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Different essential oils are used for different purposes. Some of the most commonly used essential oils include the following:
• Rose petal oil – Rose petals have anti-inflammatory properties and are used for soothing and smoothing out the skin.
• Oil of lemon – The acidic essence of lemon is particularly beneficial for purging the body of various toxins from the inside out. It is also an important component of homemade cleaning products.
• Oil of myrrh – Myrrh is known to have strong antibacterial and antiseptic properties and thus is used in the preparation of concoctions used in Ayurveda to reduce or eliminate infections. It is also known to promote hormonal imbalance.
• Frankincense oil – A particular favorite of the current cosmetic industry, this oil is often used in anti-aging products due to its ability to heal age spots on the skin. It is also known to promote individual immunity and fight toxins.
• Grapefruit oil – Grapefruit is known to eat away at unwanted fatty acids in the body. It also promotes metabolic activity. Food-grade grapefruit oil is often safe for consumption and is recommended to be taken by adding a couple of drops to a small glass of water.
• Peppermint oil – The strong essence of peppermint is known to have a very soothing and relaxing effect overall. This oil is often used in massages to soothe aching muscles.
• Sandalwood oil – The oil extracted from the bark of sandalwood is a well-known aphrodisiac. It is commonly burned as incense to improve libido.
• Rosemary oil – Derived from the natural herbs, rosemary oil is quite beneficial for hair and is often used in shampoos and conditioners to aid hair growth.
• Oregano oil – In case you have a cold, try burning some oregano oil-infused incense, or using it for steam inhalation. You may find that you recover from your bout of the sneezes quite quickly.

Nasal Polyps

Understanding Nasal Polyps

Issues associated with Nasal Polyps have been a plague for many people, worldwide. Between the headaches, sneezing, drippy noses, and watery eyes, it can be a challenge just to get through the day.

It doesn’t matter if there’s a wedding, a graduation, or some other special event, sinus problems can show up anytime. Nasal polyps are no exception. Let’s take a moment to look at just what this condition is, its causes, symptoms, and surgical concerns.

nasal polyps

What Is a Nasal Polyp?

Nasal polyps are minor, non-cancerous growths which cultivate inside the nose and/or sinus zones. Nasal polyps are typically located in the areas where the sinuses are exposed in the nasal cavity. While immature polyps form a teardrop shape, more established nasal polyps look like skinned grapes. Nasal polyps aren’t life threatening. As a matter of fact, most people don’t even realize that they’re there—especially if they’re small. Nasal polyps are most often brought on by asthma or common allergies. They may seem frightening, given that polyps in other parts of the body could indicate the presence of cancer, however, when it comes to nasal polyps, cancer is not a concern.

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What Are the Causes of Nasal Polyps?

If you’ve been diagnosed with nasal polyps or suspect you may have the condition, you’re probably wondering how this happened. The following are the most typical and common causes for nasal polyps:

1. long-lasting or recurrent sinus infections, sensitive rhinitis or hay fever;
2. asthma;
3. cystic fibrosis;
4. Churg-Strauss disease;
5. sensitivity to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or even aspirin;
6. genetic predisposition.

Common Symptoms of Nasal Polyps

As mentioned earlier, nasal polyps usually aren’t a threat to health, but just like anything else, nasal polyps do come with some common problems. To begin with, nasal polyps are associated with the irritation of the lining of one’s nasal passageways as well the sinus areas. This irritation could last several months. Some of the most common signs of nasal polyps include the following: runny nose, congestion, post nasal drip, reduction in or lack of smell, loss of taste, facial discomfort or headache, pain in your upper teeth, a sense of heaviness in your forehead and face, and an upsurge in snoring.

More serious symptoms requiring immediate medical care include: difficulty while breathing, unexpected escalation of existing symptoms, double vision, abridged sight or loss of eye movement, inflammation around the eyes, or a severe headache which may be accompanied by a high fever or the inability to bend your head forward. These symptoms are rare but serious, and most people suffering with nasal polyps don’t experience symptoms to this degree, but there are exceptions, so it’s good be aware.

Despite the array of symptoms associated with the condition, often times it can be difficult to detect that you have nasal polyps. Generally, nasal polyps are quite soft and may remain undetected for some time. If your nasal polyps remain small, you may not even realize you have them at all. Larger nasal polyps or numerous growths present themselves differently. Your nasal passages or sinuses may become congested with enlarged polyps.

Children and Nasal Polyps

One segment of the population often overlooked when considering nasal polyps, are children. Nasal polyps in children have been noted to be more common an occurrence. Young children are constantly fighting off bacteria throughout the body, especially in the nasal and sinus zones. That’s one reason we see so many runny noses in that age level. How many of us have seen a group of young children playing outside? Now, how many of those children were sneezing or suffering with a runny nose? At least half of the group will probably have a runny nose, which if not treated effectively, may develop nasal polyps. Nasal polyps in children may become a more serious concern because young children with underdeveloped immune systems usually have a harder time fighting illnesses off.

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Facts About Nasal Polyps Surgery

Limitations, in general, tend to be aggravating, especially if you’re a person who is used to that get-up-and-go behavior. Sometimes, nasal polyps can curtail that activity. The majority of nasal polyp cases aren’t serious, but there are exceptions. In some instances, you may require surgery to remove the nasal polyps if they grow too large. Enlarged polyps may pose more serious health risks, and sometimes even life-threatening ones, making surgery necessary.

Let’s say that you and your doctor have been treating your nasal polyps with minor, noninvasive methods and found that it hasn’t been working. Your doctor mentions that you are a candidate for surgery. You’ll probably have some questions about the procedure in general as well as what your limitations will be afterward. That’s absolutely normal.

After undergoing nasal polyps surgery, you may wake feeling a bit queasy due to the sedatives, but everyone’s tolerance and experience will be different. You’ll generally be released within a few hours. Typically, there is a two-week recovery period. Keep in mind that everyone is different, but a couple of weeks is the average for most patients. After surgery, you may feel very congested, like you have a bad cold, but that should only last a day or two. Nasal polyps surgery is quite different from a typical nasal surgery in that it involves working within the already inflamed tissues of the nose. This makes the procedure a bit more extensive than a typical nasal surgery. That’s why you’ll have that congested feeling.

In addition to a feeling of congestion, fatigue is very common as well. This may last a few days, so your physician may recommend rest. Try not to move around too much if you can avoid it. This might be difficult to achieve if you live by yourself, but try to take it slow and only perform the necessary tasks at home. Skipping laundry for a couple of days may be a good idea. After a nasal polyps surgery, there aren’t many stringent personal limitations, but the key is to take things slow and pace yourself whenever doing a household routine.

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There are some key elements you’ll be asked to do the first two weeks after a nasal polyps surgery.
1. Do not blow your nose. You’ll need to avoid blowing your nose during the first two weeks after surgery to help prevent nosebleeds.
2. Stop smoking for the first two weeks after your surgery to keep the miniature vessels in your nose from decreasing, which will delay the healing procedure. Consider it a jumpstart to permanently kicking the habit.
3. Avoid hot showers or drinking hot liquids, as either could lead to a nosebleed.
4. Take only the pain medications prescribed by your surgeon. Any other pain medication—even if it’s a simple Tylenol—can actually increase the risk of bleeding.
5. A saline rinse may be recommended to keep the tissue moist.
There aren’t many patient limitations when it comes to having a nasal polyps surgery. The key component is to take things slow, avoid undue strain on the nose, avoid hot drinks and baths, and don’t pick up a cigarette within the first two weeks after surgery.

Don’t Ignore the Health Signals

If you are currently experiencing persistent sinus infections, see your medical practitioner. When your body is dealing with an impurity or a minor annoyance, that’s a red sign that something isn’t right and it’s time to find the source of the problem. Our bodies are very easy to read, despite what you’ve been told. Yes, we are complicated, but if you pay attention to the warning signs, it’s easy to pick up on issues. It may not be easy to know what exactly is wrong—that’s for the doctor to determine—but it is easy to know when something is wrong.

Angular Cheilitis

What Is It, Is it Contagious and What Are the Causes?

Is angular cheilitis contagious?

First things first. This is the main question asked when it comes to Angular Cheilitis. Because of the condition’s symptoms and the fact that it is often misconceived to be cold sores, there is a misconception about how contagious angular cheilitis is.
 
Angular cheilitis is absolutely not contagious. There is no evidence to support that the condition can be passed on from one individual to another.
Since cold sores can be contagious, people have developed the misconception that angular cheilitis is as well, but that is not the case.
 
That being said, a point worth noting is that angular cheilitis may spread from one side of the mouth to the other. Due to its location, it makes it very difficult for the bacteria to spread to other parts of the body.
 

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Back to what is Angular cheilitis? It is a condition that affects one or both corners of the mouth.

The area may appear red and inflamed and will often be crusty and very itchy. It can be a painful and extremely irritating condition because of its location around the mouth.

Angular cheilitis can last anywhere from a few weeks to years. There are numerous causes, though all involve the presence of fungi and bacteria. However, there are usually a number of different factors that contribute to its onset.

 

 angular cheilitis (cutaneous disease) diagnosis medical concept on tablet screen with stethoscope.

Exactly what is angular cheilitis?

Although it is referred to here as angular cheilitis, it is also known as perleche and angular stomatitis.

It is a condition that causes swollen patches in the area where your mouth and lips meet. It does not necessarily affect both corners of the mouth; it’s well documented that many people are afflicted only on one side.

When you have the condition, it will often appear very dry and crusty. It is particularly uncomfortable as it affects your day-to-day life. From eating your lunch to talking with your friends, it can be embarrassing and irritating at every turn.

It’s important, therefore, to be able to identify whether you have it and investigate the causes behind it, so you are able to get effective angular cheilitis treatment and prevent it from reoccurring.

 

Stages of Severity

When just a mild case of angular cheilitis, it could be mistaken for chapped lips.

Patients will experience tightness when stretching their mouth open, some dryness in the corner or corners of the mouth and slight discomfort. As the condition progresses there will be increased discomfort when eating and speaking.

The affected area will become red and swollen. When you reach a severe stage of the condition, there will be pain when eating and speaking. Severe blisters may appear, and the wounds in the corners of your mouth will be open and unable to heal on their own.

Problems associated with angular cheilitis

In addition to hindering your everyday life by making conversation painful, angular cheilitis can also cause other health problems and limit your quality of life. If it is particularly uncomfortable, it can make eating painful. This can create obvious problems.
You may end up losing weight at an unhealthy rate. It may affect your consumption of the nutrients your body needs. This is troublesome, as common sense tells us when you’re unwell, your body needs these nutrients to fight off anything threatening your immune system.

While it is a condition that can seem a minor irritant, it is important to get it identified. It’s even more desireable to practice prevention—to ensure you don’t suffer any of the limitations which may occur.

 

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Symptoms of angular cheilitis

Before we answer the question of how you contract angular cheilitis, let us first identify whether you are suffering from it. There are a number of angular cheilitis symptoms to identify. There are the obvious signs of discomfort and soreness such as blistering, cracked or scaly skin, and redness or bleeding.

If you feel pain in the corners of your mouth when you open and close it or while speaking, this too could be a symptom of angular cheilitis. It has also been reported that individuals have felt like they had burning around the lips and mouth. You can also have an unusual or bad taste in your mouth. All of the aforementioned angular cheilitis symptoms could be an indicator that you are suffering from this condition.

What causes angular cheilitis?

So how do you get angular cheilitis? There are a number of different causes. The very location of it makes it a warm and moist environment. The nature of environments like these means they are prone to fungal growth. Once the fungus grows, it then multiplies and bingo! All of a sudden, healthy, 35-year-old Joe has a fungal infection. This is, in fact, the most common cause: the saliva that gets stuck in the corners of your mouth when you moisturize your dry lips by licking them. It is most commonly a type of yeast called Candida, which is found in saliva that causes the fungal infection.

There’s a misconception that lack of vitamins may cause angular cheilitis. This is simply not true. Perhaps the misconception was born because it is accepted that fungi and bacteria cause angular cheilitis, and our immune system is usually the defense mechanism to fight off these invaders.

When we haven’t consumed enough vitamins and minerals, our immune systems are less prepared and able to win a battle against the encroaching bacteria. A more accurate way to look at it would be that when our immune systems are weaker and we lick our lips excessively, or saliva gets trapped in dry cracks of skin at the corners of our mouths. That’s when we’re more likely to contract the condition.

So when looking at how you get angular cheilitis, it’s best to identify how bacteria and fungi are coming into contact with your mouth. Common causes could well be chewing on dirty pens or chewing your nails. The bacteria could also be picked up from touching your mouth and lips with dirty hands, feet, or any other body part.

In answering what causes angular cheilitis, it is sensible to look at the circumstances after contracting the condition. Did it flare up when you spent the evening on the sofa biting your nails after taking out the trash an hour beforehand? Or did slightly unhygienic-looking Gary, at work, lend you a pen that you chewed absentmindedly for the remainder of the day while trying to get that spreadsheet completed.




Angular cheilitis versus cold sore

A common problem that arises from sufferers of angular cheilitis is that they have misdiagnosed themselves, thinking they have the common cold sore. However, there are a number of different criteria to compare to determine whether you are suffering a cold sore or angular cheilitis.

Location

People often get sores around the mouth and on the lips, but there is a clear distinction between angular cheilitis and a cold sore. Cold sore sufferers will experience discomfort and swollen patches often on and around the lips. Angular cheilitis sufferers, however, will only experience discomfort and swollen patches on the crease where the lips meet. Locating precisely where your discomfort lies can help you rule out cold sores.

Duration

Cold sores usually last less time than angular cheilitis. Cold sores often last around the two- to three-week mark. Angular cheilitis, on the other hand, usually lasts for a month or longer. If your pain or swollen area is improving after a week or two, you probably don’t have angular cheilitis.

Outbreak

Cold sores appear visibly different to the way in which angular cheilitis first manifests itself. Cold sores usually appear in a clump of small blisters that are particularly itchy. Angular cheilitis, on the other hand, will start as dry, cracking skin in the corners of the mouth. If left to deteriorate it will grow into very swollen red sores.

Development

As both conditions get worse there becomes a more straightforward way to identify which condition you may have. With cold sores, eventually the patch of soreness and blisters will culminate into one large blister. This will scab over as it heals on its own accord.
Angular cheilitis, however, develops differently. With angular cheilitis—left untreated—the cracked corners of your lips may well break into open wounds where blood will flow. This causes discomfort and pain. Angular cheilitis must be treated to prevent this. You can rely on cold sores to heal on their own, but angular cheilitis isn’t that forgiving.

What should be avoided while suffering from angular cheilitis?

Because of the bacterial nature of angular cheilitis, a number of things should be avoided while suffering from the condition. First and foremost you should avoid using lip balm. This may seem peculiar if you have dry and cracked lips, but you are more likely to irritate the skin further or, even worse, spread the bacteria around your mouth and lips, passing it to the other corner of your mouth.
It is also sensible to keep your hands and face clean. It is the contact of bacteria with your mouth that you want to limit. If you’re a nail-biter, keep your nails clean, and if you’re a pen-chewer, don’t borrow unhygienic-Gary’s pen, from work.
You want to keep the area around the mouth dry and uncontaminated as much as possible so that any treatments will be most effective. It is best to think of these measures as damage limitation. Your mouth will thank you for it when you get the all clear two weeks earlier than you might have had you continued to make the problem worse.




Are there natural remedies to treat angular cheilitis?

When it comes to angular cheilitis treatment, there are home remedies for angular cheilitis that could be worth exploring, but remember each person’s results will vary . It is important to watch the angular cheilitis healing stages. If there is no improvement then these options are by no means the solution. The home remedies may well serve to limit the damage and slow down the progression of the condition.

First, it’s been suggested that simply adding salt to warm water and holding your lips in the glass is good for the sore areas. This may be your cure for an angular cheilitis infection, because salt has properties that kill bacteria.

This method could be effective in limiting the spread of the condition to the other corner of your mouth. It has also been said that the properties of salt water can limit the formation of scars and scabs.

One other alternative worth considering is mixing white wine vinegar with salt water and using a cotton swab to apply it to the affected area. This may also help kill bacteria. It could be used to first cleanse the area before applying an effective angular cheilitis treatment cream.

These methods are all natural remedies that can be tried at home. Though not a substitute for medical treatment, they may help. Natural remedies and home treatments are the first choice for many and these options may help you.

Information on Bow Legs

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Bowed legs are a unique and troublesome condition that many individuals may suffer from at a fairly young age. This condition can be very common during childhood, but is generally outgrown. However, this is not always the case. Some individuals may suffer from bowed legs throughout their lives. This can not only be an annoyance, but may also lead to related problems with their physical health later in life. Most bowed-leg individuals normally have no issue with walking, but it may lead to other social and occupational problems, such as bullying, self-esteem issues and employment limits (depending on the jobs).

Common Symptoms

Bowed-leg individuals are instantly noticeable. Bowed legs are recognizable as they tend to represent the shape of a bow when the individual stands up straight with their feet together. There will be a distinct gap between the two knees, so much so that the calves face inwards when compared to the outward facing thighs. The gap can vary in size and both legs do not have to be bent. Sometimes, individuals may have one leg that is bow shaped and others may have both. It has also been identified that bowed legs prevent a wide range of motion in the hips. Either way, if bowed legs are present at a young age there may not be anything to worry about because bowed legs (or genu varum, as it is called in the medical profession) is very common during early years of life.

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Bowed Legs in Childhood

Bowed legs are very common during the first years of life, but many parents aren’t aware of this. Frequently, parents seek out a doctor’s assurance that their child is alright and will often be told the same thing as everyone else: it is perfectly normal. Bowed legs can occur as soon as babies are born, and bowed legs in children under the age of 18 months are well documented. Bowed-leg children may have the condition for years, and it is still common to have a child with bowed legs up to the age of three. Usually, around the ages of 12-18 months (when the child begins to crawl and stand), the legs will be subject to more tension from the weight of the child. As a result, they tend to straighten out. However, there are cases where the child may never grow out of it. It is at this point when they are officially deemed as bowlegged.

Causes of Bowed Legs in Childhood

Bowed legs in children between the ages of 0-3 years is well researched and there is a pretty clear cause to the condition. It can be found that the bowed legs occur because of the way the infant is folded in the womb. The legs tend to be arched slightly and this can still persist once the child has been born. Of course, there is nothing to worry about unless they surpass the age of three and still have their bowed legs. It’s not serious, but it may lead to later problems in relation to their physical health as previously mentioned.
Causes of Bowed Legs in Adulthood

As mentioned in the previous point, bow-legged children who persist through the age of three are most likely going to have the bowed legs for the majority of their lives. There may be a chance that they straighten out as time goes on, but more often than not, they’re stuck with them. There is a range of proposed causes for adult bowed legs, but there is no general consensus. There are, however a number of bowed leg corrections available. It is believed that bowed legs are the result of some other underlying condition or illness. Below are a number of considered causes for bow legs in adulthood.

Blount’s Disease

Bowed legs are sometimes automatically called Blount’s disease, and it is believed by many that there is a strong association between the two. Blount’s disease is a growth disorder that can be present in both toddlers and adolescents. So even if you grew out of the bowed structure by three years of age, it can still come back to haunt you when you hit puberty. The disease is indistinguishable from genu varum before the age of three, so it is a bit of a waiting game before you find out which one it is. This disease specifically targets the upper shin and causes the growth plates in the tibia to bend and deform, resulting in bowed legs. Blount’s disease is common and treatable, but the treatment varies depending on the age of the individual. Different precautions will be taken if the disease is discovered in infancy compared to adolescence.

Rickets

Rickets has also been seen to have an impact on the bowlegs in childhood and onwards. Rickets is a much rarer case than Blount’s disease and is the result of malnutrition. Rickets is a bone disorder that occurs from a lack of essential vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D, calcium, and phosphate. Rickets causes the bones of the individuals to soften and weaken and this can lead to the bowing of the legs if the problem persists into something critical. This is why bowlegs are common in neglected children who are not fed properly. Saying this, vitamin D is known as the “sunlight vitamin” because it is created through the sun. However, many processed and man-made foods contain the vitamin, thus linking it to malnutrition. There are several types of rickets, but nutritional rickets is by far the most common. If not treated it can not only result in bowed legs, but also death.

Abnormal Bone Growth (Other than Blount’s Disease)

Abnormal bone growth can occur not only through Blount’s disease and rickets but also through infections and tumors. One of the more well-known bone infections that causes bowlegs is osteomyelitis. This is a bacterial infection that is very common in children. It causes the bones to become sore, red and it is often accompanied by a fever. The infection can commonly occur because of a fracture or broken bone and develops through either the bloodstream or directly from an exposed bone. Anyone can get this infection at any age and it has been seen to cause bowed legs if left for a prolonged period of time.

Lead Poisoning

This is incredibly rare and is not seen often as a cause of bowlegs. This is only present in young children, and an x-ray and blood sample will often be able to identify whether the child has lead poisoning. If they have, this may be a cause of their bowed legs.
Wrongly Healed Fractures

This is fairly common and can be a cause for both childhood and adulthood bowlegs. If the child fractures their tibia and it is not seen as a serious injury, it may heal incorrectly, resulting in bowed legs. This is also true for an adult. People break bones all the time, and if an individual were to fracture their shin awkwardly and not do anything about it, they may develop bowlegs when the bones begin to heal. If the fracture is particularly bad, surgery may become a possibility.




Occupational Causes

It is not uncommon for bowed-leg individuals to get their condition from occupational hazards. One such observation can be made with jockeys. They are constantly bent around a horse and because of this, they tend to walk a little different when they get off. Prolonged riding can cause a lot of problems both with the back and legs. Other occupational causes include physical trauma associated with the shin.

The Tests and Examinations for Bowed Legs

If your child is still bowlegged after the age of three and the problem seems to be getting worse, you may need to consult a pediatrician. There are a number of tests and examinations that a pediatrician or doctor can do to assess whether your child is still in the genu varum phase or whether they have an underlying problem. Common methods of examination including X-rays of the bone to check if there is any abnormal growth; blood tests to check the vitamin D levels as well as to identify whether the child has lead poisoning; observation of how the child walks; and they can also measure the gap between the knees to identify if the child is bowlegged.

Through these methods, deductions can be drawn. If your child is found to have bowed legs, they may need immediate treatment.

What Are the Repercussions If Left Untreated?

If the bowed legs are left untreated, they may lead to further issues in later life. These are related more to physical issues involved with movement. The most common issue that bowlegged individuals face in late life is arthritis. There are hundreds of different types of arthritis because many bone and joint conditions tend to fall into the category. However, the main type of arthritis that is felt from individuals with bowed legs is inflammatory arthritis. This is where the joints and bones of the individuals with bowed legs become inflamed, which can cause a significant amount of pain. Inflammation is a method the body employs to heal and help itself, but the immune system is triggered without explanation and essentially attacks the bones. There is no definitive answer to what causes arthritis, but bowlegs have been correlated with the disorder.

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Treatment

There are a lot of ways to fix bowed legs and bowleg correction varies depending on the age of the individual and at what stage they are in the bow-legged process. If the individual in question is a child, then milder and less serious methods are used to correct the issue, which are usually non-invasive. However, if the bowed legs are very serious and are in need of immediate remedy, then invasive procedures will need to be considered in order to correct the legs.
There are also a number of exercises you can do to help with bowed legs. They can be incredibly effective if used correctly. Some classes also help straighten bowed legs, and if you stay committed you may see some good results. One of these courses is Pilates, which is great for stretching your muscles and bones in order to achieve increased flexibility. Yoga is also another great way to remedy bowlegs, and if you find the right class you can also find great results. Of course, the internet is a great resource, and there are plenty of online courses available which enable you to correct your bowlegs.

Conclusion

Bowed legs are incredibly frustrating and are caused for a variety of reasons. Many reasons are still not verified, and it is very difficult to distinguish genu varum and Blount’s disease at a young age, which leads to diagnostic problems. Some of the other causes of bowed legs include occupational and infection, but those are much more rare. Thankfully, there are a number of tests that a doctor can perform to identify whether you have bowlegs and treat you accordingly. However, treatment can be incredibly expensive, and you may want to investigate other methods until you opt for surgery. Join clubs and try a few online courses. Through perseverance, you may succeed in straightening your own legs.

 

 

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