Health Topics

Symptoms

Dual Diagnosis
National Library of Medicine

A person with dual diagnosis has both a mental disorder and an alcohol or drug problem. These conditions occur together frequently. In particular, alcohol and drug problems tend to occur with

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders

Sometimes the mental problem occurs first. This can lead people to use alcohol or drugs that make them feel better temporarily. Sometimes the substance abuse occurs first. Over time, that can lead to emotional and mental problems.

Someone with a dual diagnosis must treat both conditions. For the treatment to be effective, the person needs to stop using alcohol or drugs. Treatments may include behavioral therapy, medicines, and support groups.

NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse


Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
Mental Health and Behavior
Substance Abuse Problems
A person with dual diagnosis has both a mental disorder and an alcohol or drug problem. These conditions occur together frequently. In particular, alcohol and ...
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
National Library of Medicine
CFS
ME/CFS
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
SEID
Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease
What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems. Another name for it is myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). CFS can often make you unable to do your usual activities. Sometimes you may not even be able to get out of bed.

What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?

Scientists don't know what causes CFS. There may be more than one thing that causes it. It is possible that two or more triggers might work together to cause the illness.

Who is at risk for chronic fatigue syndrome?

Anyone can get CFS, but it is most common in people between 40 and 60 years old. Adult women have it more often that adult men. Whites are more likely than other races to get a diagnosis of CFS, but many people with CFS have not been diagnosed with it.

What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome?

CFS symptoms can include

  • Severe fatigue that is not improved by rest
  • Sleep problems
  • Post-exertional malaise (PEM), where your symptoms get worse after any physical or mental activity
  • Problems with thinking and concentrating
  • Pain
  • Dizziness

CFS can be unpredictable. Your symptoms may come and go. They may change over time - sometimes they might get better, and other times they may get worse.

How is chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosed?

CFS can be difficult to diagnose. There are no tests for it, and other illnesses can cause similar symptoms. Your health care provider has to rule out other diseases before making a diagnosis of CFS. He or she will do a thorough medical exam, including

  • Asking about your health history and your family's medical history
  • Asking about your current illness, including your symptoms. Your doctor will want to know how often you have symptoms, how bad they are, how long they have lasted, and how they affect your life.
  • A thorough physical and mental status exam
  • Blood, urine or other tests
What are the treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome?

There is no cure or approved treatment for CFS, but you may be able to treat or manage some of your symptoms. You, your family, and your health care provider should work together to decide on a plan. You should figure out which symptom causes the most problems, and try to treat that first. For example, if sleep problems affect you the most, you might first try using good sleep habits. If those do not help, you may need to take medicines or see a sleep specialist.

Strategies such as learning new ways to manage activity can also be helpful. You need to make sure that you do not "push and crash." This can happen when you feel better, do too much, and then get worse again.

Since the process of developing a treatment plan and attending to self-care can be hard if you have CFS, it is important to have support from family members and friends.

Don't try any new treatments without talking to your health care provider. Some treatments that are promoted as cures for CFS are unproven, often costly, and could be dangerous.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic
Bones, Joints and Muscles
Infections
What is chronic fatigue syndrome? Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems. Another name for it is ...
Eosinophilic Esophagitis
National Library of Medicine
EoE
Eosinophilic Oesophagitis
What is eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)?

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic disease of the esophagus. Your esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from your mouth to the stomach. If you have EoE, white blood cells called eosinophils build up in your esophagus. This causes damage and inflammation, which can cause pain and may lead to trouble swallowing and food getting stuck in your throat.

EoE is rare. But because it is a newly recognized disease, more people are now getting diagnosed with it. Some people who think that they have reflux (GERD) may actually have EoE.

What causes eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)?

Researchers are not certain about the exact cause of EoE. They think that it is an immune system/allergic reaction to foods or to substances in your environment, such as dust mites, animal dander, pollen, and molds. Certain genes may also play a role in EoE.

Who is at risk for eosinophilic esophagitis(EoE)?

EoE can affect anyone, but it is more common in people who

  • Are male
  • Are Caucasian
  • Have other allergic diseases, such as hay fever, eczema, asthma and food allergies
  • Have family members with EoE
What are the symptoms of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)?

The most common symptoms of EoE can depend on your age.

In infants and toddlers:

  • Feeding problems
  • Vomiting
  • Poor weight gain and growth
  • Reflux that does not get better with medicines

In older children:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Trouble swallowing, especially with solid foods
  • Reflux that does not get better with medicines
  • Poor appetite

In adults:

  • Trouble swallowing, especially with solid foods
  • Food getting stuck in the esophagus
  • Reflux that does not get better with medicines
  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
How is eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) diagnosed?

To diagnose EoE, your doctor will

  • Ask about your symptoms and medical history. Since other conditions can have the same symptoms of EoE, it is important for your doctor to take a thorough history.
  • Do an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. An endoscope is a long, flexible tube with a light and camera at the end of it. Your doctor will run the endoscope down your esophagus and look at it. Some signs that you might have EoE include white spots, rings, narrowing, and inflammation in the esophagus. However, not everyone with EoE has those signs, and sometimes they can be signs of a different esophagus disorder.
  • Do a biopsy. During the endoscopy, the doctor will take small tissue samples from your esophagus. The samples will be checked for a high number of eosinophils. This is the only way to make a diagnosis of EoE.
  • Do other tests as needed. You may have blood tests to check for other conditions. If you do have EoE, you may have blood or other types of tests to check for specific allergies.
What are the treatments for eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)?

There is no cure for EoE. Treatments can manage your symptoms and prevent further damage. The two main types of treatments are medicines and diet.

Medicines used to treat EoE are

  • Steroids, which can help control inflammation. These are usually topical steroids, which you swallow either from an inhaler or as a liquid. Sometimes doctors prescribe oral steroids (pills) to treat people who have serious swallowing problems or weight loss.
  • Acid suppressors such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which may help with reflux symptoms and decrease inflammation.

Dietary changes for EoE include

  • Elimination diet. If you are on an elimination diet, you stop eating and drinking certain foods and beverages for several weeks. If you are feeling better, you add the foods back to your diet one at a time. You have repeat endoscopies to see whether or not you are tolerating those foods. There are different types of elimination diets:
    • With one type, you first have an allergy test. Then you stop eating and drinking the foods you are allergic to.
    • For another type, you eliminate foods and drinks that commonly cause allergies, such as dairy products, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts and fish/shellfish.
  • Elemental diet. With this diet, you stop eating and drinking all proteins. Instead, you drink an amino acid formula. Some people who do not like the taste of the formula use a feeding tube instead. If your symptoms and inflammation go away completely, you may be able to try adding foods back one at a time, to see whether you can tolerate them.

Which treatment your health care provider suggests depends on different factors, including your age. Some people may use more than one kind of treatment. Researchers are still trying to understand EoE and how best to treat it.

If your treatment is not working well enough and you have narrowing of the esophagus, you may need dilation. This is a procedure to stretch the esophagus. This makes it easier for you to swallow.


Eosinophilic Esophagitis
Digestive System
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Immune System
What is eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)? Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic disease of the esophagus. Your esophagus is the muscular tube that carries ...
Lupus
National Library of Medicine
SLE
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid lupus
Subacute cutaneous lupus
What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues by mistake. This can damage many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.

There are several kinds of lupus

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type. It can be mild or severe, and can affect many parts of the body.
  • Discoid lupus causes a red rash that doesn't go away
  • Subacute cutaneous lupus causes sores after being out in the sun
  • Drug-induced lupus is caused by certain medicines. It usually goes away when you stop taking the medicine.
  • Neonatal lupus, which is rare, affects newborns. It is probably caused by certain antibodies from the mother.
What causes lupus?

The cause of lupus is not known.

Who is at risk for lupus?

Anyone can get lupus, but women are most at risk. Lupus is two to three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women. It's also more common in Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women. African American and Hispanic women are more likely to have severe forms of lupus.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Lupus can have many symptoms, and they differ from person to person. Some of the more common ones are

  • Pain or swelling in joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever with no known cause
  • Red rashes, most often on the face (also called the "butterfly rash")
  • Chest pain when taking a deep breath
  • Hair loss
  • Pale or purple fingers or toes
  • Sensitivity to the sun
  • Swelling in legs or around eyes
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Swollen glands
  • Feeling very tired

Symptoms may come and go. When you are having symptoms, it is called a flare. Flares can range from mild to severe. New symptoms may appear at any time.

How do I know if I have lupus?

There is no single test to diagnose lupus, and it's often mistaken for other diseases. So it may take months or years for a doctor to diagnose it. Your doctor may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • Medical history
  • Complete exam
  • Blood tests
  • Skin biopsy (looking at skin samples under a microscope)
  • Kidney biopsy (looking at tissue from your kidney under a microscope)
What are the treatments for lupus?

There is no cure for lupus, but medicines and lifestyle changes can help control it.

People with lupus often need to see different doctors. You will have a primary care doctor and a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in the diseases of joints and muscles). Which other specialists you see depends on how lupus affects your body. For example, if lupus damages your heart or blood vessels, you would see a cardiologist.

Your primary care doctor should coordinate care between your different health care providers and treat other problems as they come up. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan to fit your needs. You and your doctor should review the plan often to be sure it is working. You should report new symptoms to your doctor right away so that your treatment plan can be changed if needed.

The goals of the treatment plan are to

  • Prevent flares
  • Treat flares when they occur
  • Reduce organ damage and other problems

Treatments may include drugs to

  • Reduce swelling and pain
  • Prevent or reduce flares
  • Help the immune system
  • Reduce or prevent damage to joints
  • Balance the hormones

Besides taking medicines for lupus, you may need to take medicines for problems that are related to lupus such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or infection.

Alternative treatments are those that are not part of standard treatment. At this time, no research shows that alternative medicine can treat lupus. Some alternative or complementary approaches may help you cope or reduce some of the stress associated with living with a chronic illness. You should talk to your doctor before trying any alternative treatments.

How can I cope with lupus?

It is important to take an active role in your treatment. It helps to learn more about lupus - being able to spot the warning signs of a flare can help you prevent the flare or make the symptoms less severe.

It is also important to find ways to cope with the stress of having lupus. Exercising and finding ways to relax may make it easier for you to cope. A good support system can also help.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases


Lupus Erythematosus, Discoid
Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic
Immune System
What is lupus? Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues by mistake. This can damage many parts ...
Reflux in Infants
National Library of Medicine
GER in Infants
GERD in infants
Pediatric Gastroesophageal Reflux
What are reflux (GER) and GERD?

The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. If your baby has reflux, his or her stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Another name for reflux is gastroesophageal reflux (GER).

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is a more serious and long-lasting type of reflux. Babies may have GERD if their symptoms prevent them from feeding or if the reflux lasts more than 12 to 14 months.

What causes reflux and GERD in infants?

There is a muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter) that acts as a valve between the esophagus and stomach. When your baby swallows, this muscle relaxes to let food pass from the esophagus to the stomach. This muscle normally stays closed, so the stomach contents don't flow back into the esophagus.

In babies who have reflux, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle is not fully developed and lets the stomach contents back up the esophagus. This causes your baby to spit up (regurgitate). Once his or her sphincter muscle fully develops, your baby should no longer spit up.

In babies who have GERD, the sphincter muscle becomes weak or relaxes when it shouldn't.

How common are reflux and GERD in infants?

Reflux is very common in babies. About half all babies spit up many times a day in the first 3 months of their lives. They usually stop spitting up between the ages of 12 and 14 months.

GERD is also common in younger infants. Many 4-month-olds have it. But by their first birthday, only 10 percent of babies still have GERD.

What are the symptoms of reflux and GERD in infants?

In babies, the main symptom of reflux and GERD is spitting up. GERD may also cause symptoms such as

  • Arching of the back, often during or right after eating
  • Colic - crying that lasts for more than 3 hours a day with no medical cause
  • Coughing
  • Gagging or trouble swallowing
  • Irritability, especially after eating
  • Poor eating or refusing to eat
  • Poor weight gain, or weight loss
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Forceful or frequent vomiting

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

How do doctors diagnose reflux and GERD in infants?

In most cases, a doctor diagnoses reflux by reviewing your baby's symptoms and medical history. If the symptoms do not get better with feeding changes and anti-reflux medicines, your baby may need testing.

Several tests can help a doctor diagnose GERD. Sometimes doctors order more than one test to get a diagnosis. Common tests include

  • Upper GI series, which looks at the shape of your baby's upper GI (gastrointestinal) tract. Your baby will drink or eat a contrast liquid called barium. The barium is mixed in with a bottle or other food. The health care professional will take several x-rays of your baby to track the barium as it goes through the esophagus and stomach.
  • Esophageal pH and impedance monitoring, which measures the amount of acid or liquid in your baby's esophagus. A doctor or nurse places a thin flexible tube through your baby's nose into the stomach. The end of the tube in the esophagus measures when and how much acid comes up into the esophagus. The other end of the tube attaches to a monitor that records the measurements. Your baby will wear this for 24 hours, most likely in the hospital.
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy and biopsy, which uses an endoscope, a long, flexible tube with a light and camera at the end of it. The doctor runs the endoscope down your baby's esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine. While looking at the pictures from the endoscope, the doctor may also take tissue samples (biopsy).
What feeding changes can help treat my infant's reflux or GERD?

Feeding changes may help your baby's reflux and GERD:

  • Add rice cereal to your baby's bottle of formula or breastmilk. Check with the doctor about how much to add. If the mixture is too thick, you can change the nipple size or cut a little "x" in the nipple to make the opening larger.
  • Burp your baby after every 1 to 2 ounces of formula. If you breastfeed, burp your baby after nursing from each breast.
  • Avoid overfeeding; give your baby the amount of formula or breast milk recommended.
  • Hold your baby upright for 30 minutes after feedings.
  • If you use formula and your doctor thinks that your baby may be sensitive to milk protein, your doctor may suggest switching to a different type of formula. Do not change formulas without talking to the doctor.
What treatments might the doctor give for my infant's GERD?

If feeding changes do not help enough, the doctor may recommend medicines to treat GERD. The medicines work by lowering the amount of acid in your baby's stomach. The doctor will only suggest medicine if your baby still has regular GERD symptoms and

  • You already tried some feeding changes
  • Your baby has problems sleeping or feeding
  • Your baby does not grow properly

The doctor will often prescribe a medicine on a trial basis and will explain any possible complications. You shouldn't give your baby any medicines unless the doctor tells you to.

Medicines for GERD in babies include

  • H2 blockers, which decrease acid production
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which lower the amount of acid the stomach makes

If these don't help and your baby still has severe symptoms, then surgery might be an option. Pediatric gastroenterologists only use surgery to treat GERD in babies in rare cases. They may suggest surgery when babies have severe breathing problems or have a physical problem that causes GERD symptoms.


Gastroesophageal Reflux
Digestive System
Children and Teenagers
What are reflux (GER) and GERD? The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. If your baby has reflux, his or her stomach ...
Vaginitis
National Library of Medicine
Bacterial Vaginosis
Vaginal Yeast Infection
What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis, also called vulvovaginitis, is an inflammation or infection of the vagina. It can also affect the vulva, which is the external part of a woman's genitals. Vaginitis can cause itching, pain, discharge, and odor.

Vaginitis is common, especially in women in their reproductive years. It usually happens when there is a change in the balance of bacteria or yeast that are normally found in your vagina. There are different types of vaginitis, and they have different causes, symptoms, and treatments.

What are the different causes of vaginitis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44. It happens when there is an imbalance between the "good" and "harmful" bacteria that are normally found in a woman's vagina. Many things can change the balance of bacteria, including

  • Taking antibiotics
  • Douching
  • Using an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Having unprotected sex with a new partner
  • Having many sexual partners

Yeast infections (candidiasis) happen when too much candida grows in the vagina. Candida is the scientific name for yeast. It is a fungus that lives almost everywhere, including in your body. You may have too much growing in the vagina because of

  • Antibiotics
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes, especially if it is not well-controlled
  • Corticosteroid medicines

Trichomoniasis can also cause vaginitis. Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by a parasite.

You can also have vaginitis if you are allergic or sensitive to certain products that you use. Examples include vaginal sprays, douches, spermicides, soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners. They can cause burning, itching, and discharge.

Hormonal changes can also cause vaginal irritation. Examples are when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or when you have gone through menopause.

Sometimes you can have more than one cause of vaginitis at the same time.

What are the symptoms of vaginitis?

The symptoms of vaginitis depend on which type you have.

With BV, you may not have symptoms. You could have a thin white or gray vaginal discharge. There may be an odor, such as a strong fish-like odor, especially after sex.

Yeast infections produce a thick, white discharge from the vagina that can look like cottage cheese. The discharge can be watery and often has no smell. Yeast infections usually cause the vagina and vulva to become itchy and red.

You may not have symptoms when you have trichomoniasis. If you do have them, they include itching, burning, and soreness of the vagina and vulva. You may have burning during urination. You could also have gray-green discharge, which may smell bad.

How is the cause of vaginitis diagnosed?

To find out the cause of your symptoms, your health care provider may

  • Ask you about your health history
  • Do a pelvic exam
  • Look for vaginal discharge, noting its color, qualities, and any odor
  • Study a sample of your vaginal fluid under a microscope

In some cases, you may need more tests.

What are the treatments for vaginitis?

The treatment depends on which type of vaginitis you have.

BV is treatable with antibiotics. You may get pills to swallow, or cream or gel that you put in your vagina. During treatment, you should use a condom during sex or not have sex at all.

Yeast infections are usually treated with a cream or with medicine that you put inside your vagina. You can buy over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections, but you need to be sure that you do have a yeast infection and not another type of vaginitis. See your health care provider if this is the first time you have had symptoms. Even if you have had yeast infections before, it is a good idea to call your health care provider before using an over-the-counter treatment.

The treatment for trichomoniasis is usually a single-dose antibiotic. Both you and your partner(s) should be treated, to prevent spreading the infection to others and to keep from getting it again.

If your vaginitis is due to an allergy or sensitivity to a product, you need to figure out which product is causing the problem. It could be a product that you started using recently. Once you figure it out, you should stop using the product.

If the cause of your vaginitis is a hormonal change, your health care provider may give you estrogen cream to help with your symptoms.

Can vaginitis cause other health problems?

It is important to treat BV and trichomoniasis, because having either of them can increase your risk for getting HIV or another sexually transmitted disease. If you are pregnant, BV or trichomoniasis can increase your risk for preterm labor and preterm birth.

How can I prevent vaginitis?

To help prevent vaginitis

  • Do not douche or use vaginal sprays
  • Use a condom when having sex
  • Avoid clothes that hold in heat and moisture
  • Wear cotton underwear

Vaginitis
Vulvovaginitis
Women
Female Reproductive System
What is vaginitis? Vaginitis, also called vulvovaginitis, is an inflammation or infection of the vagina. It can also affect the vulva, which is the external ...
Celiac Disease
National Library of Medicine
Gluten Intolerance
Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy
Nontropical Sprue
Celiac sprue

Celiac disease is an immune disease in which people can't eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. If you have celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, your immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It may also be in other products like vitamins and supplements, hair and skin products, toothpastes, and lip balm.

Celiac disease affects each person differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Some people have no symptoms.

Celiac disease is genetic. Blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also need to examine a small piece of tissue from your small intestine. Treatment is a diet free of gluten.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Celiac Disease
Digestive System
Metabolic Problems
... lip balm. Celiac disease affects each person differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in ...
Migraine
National Library of Medicine
Vascular Headache
What are migraines?

Migraines are a recurring type of headache. They cause moderate to severe pain that is throbbing or pulsing. The pain is often on one side of your head. You may also have other symptoms, such as nausea and weakness. You may be sensitive to light and sound.

What causes migraines?

Researchers believe that migraine has a genetic cause. There are also a number of factors that can trigger a migraine, including

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Loud noises
  • Strong smells
  • Medicines
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Sudden changes in weather or environment
  • Overexertion (too much physical activity)
  • Tobacco
  • Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
  • Skipped meals
  • Medication overuse (taking medicine for migraines too often)
  • Certain foods and food additives such as
    • Alcohol
    • Chocolate
    • Aged cheeses
    • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
    • Some fruits and nuts
    • Fermented or pickled goods
    • Yeast
    • Cured or processed meats
Who is at risk for migraines?

About 12 percent of Americans get migraines. They can affect anyone, but you are more likely to have them if you

  • Are a woman. Women are three times more likely than men to get migraines.
  • Have a family history of migraines. Most people with migraines have family members who have migraines.
  • Have other medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and epilepsy.
What are the symptoms of migraines?

There are four different phases of migraines. You may not always go through every phase each time you have a migraine.

  • Prodome. This phase starts up to 24 hours before you get the migraine. You have early signs and symptoms, such as food cravings, unexplained mood changes, uncontrollable yawning, fluid retention, and increased urination.
  • Aura. If you have this phase, you might see flashing or bright lights or zig-zag lines. You may have muscle weakness or feel like you are being touched or grabbed. An aura can happen just before or during a migraine.
  • Headache. A migraine usually starts gradually and then becomes more severe. It typically causes throbbing or pulsing pain, which is often on one side of your head. But sometimes you can have a migraine without a headache. Other migraine symptoms may include
    • Increased sensitivity to light, noise, and odors
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Worsened pain when you move, cough, or sneeze
  • Postdrome (following the headache). You may feel exhausted, weak, and confused after a migraine. This can last up to a day.

Migraines are more common in the morning; people often wake up with them. Some people have migraines at predictable times, such as before menstruation or on weekends following a stressful week of work.

How are migraines diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will

  • Take your medical history
  • Ask about your symptoms
  • Do a physical and neurological exam

An important part of diagnosing migraines is to rule out other medical conditions which could be causing the symptoms. So you may also have blood tests, an MRI or CT scan, or other tests.

How are migraines treated?

There is no cure for migraines. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing additional attacks.

There are different types of medicines to relieve symptoms. They include triptan drugs, ergotamine drugs, and pain relievers. The sooner you take the medicine, the more effective it is.

There are also other things you can do to feel better:

  • Resting with your eyes closed in a quiet, darkened room
  • Placing a cool cloth or ice pack on your forehead
  • Drinking fluids

There are some lifestyle changes you can make to prevent migraines:

  • Stress management strategies, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback, may reduce the number and severity of migraines. Biofeedback uses electronic devices to teach you to control certain body functions, such as your heartbeat, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
  • Make a log of what seems to trigger your migraines. You can learn what you need to avoid, such as certain foods and medicines. It also help you figure out what you should do, such as establishing a consistent sleep schedule and eating regular meals.
  • Hormone therapy may help some women whose migraines seem to be linked to their menstrual cycle
  • If you have obesity, losing weight may also be helpful

If you have frequent or severe migraines, you may need to take medicines to prevent further attacks. Talk with your health care provider about which drug would be right for you.

Certain natural treatments, such as riboflavin (vitamin B2) and coenzyme Q10, may help prevent migraines. If your magnesium level is low, you can try taking magnesium. There is also an herb, butterbur, which some people take to prevent migraines. But butterbur may not be safe for long-term use. Always check with your health care provider before taking any supplements.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Migraine Disorders
Brain and Nerves
... of your head. You may also have other symptoms, such as nausea and weakness. You may be ...
Parkinson's Disease
National Library of Medicine
Paralysis Agitans
Shaking Palsy

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a type of movement disorder. It happens when nerve cells in the brain don't produce enough of a brain chemical called dopamine. Sometimes it is genetic, but most cases do not seem to run in families. Exposure to chemicals in the environment might play a role.

Symptoms begin gradually, often on one side of the body. Later they affect both sides. They include

  • Trembling of hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Stiffness of the arms, legs and trunk
  • Slowness of movement
  • Poor balance and coordination

As symptoms get worse, people with the disease may have trouble walking, talking, or doing simple tasks. They may also have problems such as depression, sleep problems, or trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking.

There is no lab test for PD, so it can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors use a medical history and a neurological examination to diagnose it.

PD usually begins around age 60, but it can start earlier. It is more common in men than in women. There is no cure for PD. A variety of medicines sometimes help symptoms dramatically. Surgery and deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help severe cases. With DBS, electrodes are surgically implanted in the brain. They send electrical pulses to stimulate the parts of the brain that control movement.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Parkinson Disease
Seniors
Brain and Nerves
... chemicals in the environment might play a role. Symptoms begin gradually, often on one side of the ...
Acute Flaccid Myelitis
National Library of Medicine
AFM
What is acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a neurologic disease. It is rare, but serious. It affects an area of the spinal cord called gray matter. This can cause the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak. Because of these symptoms, some people call AFM a "polio-like" illness.

Researchers are trying to better understand AFM. They are working to learn more about what causes it and how to treat it.

What causes acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?

There are a variety of possible causes of AFM, including viruses and environmental toxins (harmful substances in the environment).

In recent cases, most people had a mild respiratory illness or fever (like you would get from a viral infection) before they developed AFM.

Viruses that may cause AFM include

  • Enteroviruses such as poliovirus and enterovirus A71
  • West Nile virus (WNV)

In many cases, it is not possible to identify what caused AFM.

Who is at risk for acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?

Anyone can get AFM, but most of the recent cases have been in children.

What are the symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?

Most people with AFM will suddenly have arm or leg weakness and a loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Some people also have other symptoms, including

  • Facial drooping/weakness
  • Trouble moving the eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurred speech

Sometimes AFM can weaken the muscles that you need for breathing. This can lead to respiratory failure, which is very serious. If you get respiratory failure, you may need to use a ventilator (breathing machine) to help you breathe.

If you or your child develops any of these symptoms, you should get medical care right away.

How is acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) diagnosed?

AFM causes many of the same symptoms as other neurologic diseases, such as transverse myelitis and Guillain-Barre syndrome. This can make it difficult to diagnose. To make a diagnosis, a doctor will

  • Do a neurologic exam, including looking at where there is weakness, poor muscle tone, and decreased reflexes
  • Look at pictures of the spinal cord and brain. This may include images from an MRI.
  • Do lab tests on the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Check nerve speed (nerve conduction velocity) and the response of muscles to the messages from the nerves (electromyography)

It is important that the tests are done as soon as possible after the symptoms start.

What are the treatments for acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)?

There is no specific treatment for AFM. A doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses (neurologist) may recommend treatments for specific symptoms. For example, physical and/or occupational therapy may help with arm or leg weakness. Researchers do not know the long-term outcomes of people with AFM.

Can acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) be prevented?

You can take steps to help prevent infections of some of the viruses that may cause AFM:

  • Make sure that you and your children are up to date on polio vaccinations
  • Protect yourself and your children against bites from mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus
  • Protect yourself and your children from enteroviruses by
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water
    • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
    • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you frequently touch, including toys

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Children and Teenagers
Infections
Brain and Nerves
... the body to become weak. Because of these symptoms, some people call AFM a "polio-like" illness. ... cases have been in children.What are the symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)? Most people with ...