Health and Medicine Encyclopedia - Vol 1

Health and Medicine Encyclopedia

Abdominal Wall Defects - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Abdominal wall defects are birth (congenital) defects that allow the stomach or intestines to protrude. Many unexpected and fascinating events occur during the development of a fetus inside the womb. The stomach and intestines begin development outside the baby's abdomen and only later does the abdominal wall enclose them. Occasionally, either the umbilical opening is too large, or it devel…

2 minute read

Abortion, Partial Birth - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results

Partial birth abortion is a method of late-term abortion that terminates a pregnancy and results in the death and intact removal of a fetus. This procedure is most commonly referred to as intact dilatation and extraction (D & X). Partial birth abortion, or D&X, is performed to end a pregnancy and results in the death of a fetus, typically in the late second or third trimester. Althou…

3 minute read

Abortion, Selective - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results

Selective abortion, also known as selective reduction, refers to choosing to abort a fetus, typically in a multi-fetal pregnancy, to decrease the health risks to the mother in carrying and giving birth to more than one or two babies, and also to decrease the risk of complications to the remaining fetus (es). The term selective abortion also refers to choosing to abort a fetus for reasons such as t…

3 minute read

Abortion, Therapeutic - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results

Therapeutic abortion is the intentional termination of a pregnancy before the fetus can live independently. Abortion has been a legal procedure in the United States since 1973. An abortion may be performed whenever there is some compelling reason to end a pregnancy. Women have abortions because continuing the pregnancy would cause them hardship, endanger their life or health, or because prenatal t…

12 minute read

Abscess - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

An abscess is an enclosed collection of liquefied tissue, known as pus, somewhere in the body. It is the result of the body's defensive reaction to foreign material. There are two types of abscesses, septic and sterile. Most abscesses are septic, which means that they are the result of an infection. Septic abscesses can occur anywhere in the body. Only a germ and the body's immune re…

8 minute read

Abscess Incision Drainage - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results

An infected skin nodule that contains pus may need to be drained via a cut if it does not respond to antibiotics. This allows the pus to escape, and the infection to heal. An abscess is a pus-filled sore, usually caused by a bacterial infection. The pus is made up of both live and dead organisms and destroyed tissue from the white Although abscesses are often found in the soft tissue under the…

3 minute read

Abuse - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Abuse is defined as any thing that is harmful, injurious, or offensive. Abuse also includes excessive and wrongful misuse of anything. There are several major types of abuse: physical and sexual abuse of a child or an adult, substance abuse, elderly abuse, and emotional abuse. Physical abuse of a child is the infliction of injury by an other person. The injuries can include punching, kicking, biti…

7 minute read

Acetaminophen - Definition, Purpose, Description, Recommended dosage, Precautions, Side effects, Interactions

Acetaminophen is a medicine used to relieve pain and reduce fever. Acetaminophen is used to relieve many kinds of minor aches and pains—headaches, muscle aches, backaches, toothaches, menstrual cramps, arthritis, and the aches and pains that often accompany colds. This drug is available without a prescription. Acetaminophen—or APAP—is sold under various brand names, including …

3 minute read

Achalasia - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Achalasia is a disorder of the esophagus that prevents normal swallowing. Achalasia affects the esophagus, the tube that carries swallowed food from the back of the throat down into the stomach. A ring of muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter encircles the esophagus just above the entrance to the stomach. This sphincter muscle is normally contracted to close the esophagus. When the sphincte…

3 minute read

Achondroplasia - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Achondroplasia is the most common cause of dwarfism, or significantly abnormal short stature. An x-ray image of an achondroplastic person's head and chest. (Custom Medical Stock Photo. Reproduced by permission.) Achondroplasia is one of a number of chondodystrophies, in which the development of cartilage, and therefore, bone is disturbed. The disorder appears in approximately one in …

4 minute read

Acid Phosphatase Test - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Normal results, Abnormal results

Acid phosphatase is an enzyme found throughout the body, but primarily in the prostate gland. Like all enzymes, it is needed to trigger specific chemical reactions. Acid phosphatase testing is done to diagnose whether prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized), and to check the effectiveness of treatment. The test has been largely supplanted by the prostate specific antig…

3 minute read

Acne - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Acne is a common skin disease characterized by pimples on the face, chest, and back. It occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Acne vulgaris, the medical term for common acne, is the most common skin disease. It affects nearly 17 million people in the United States. While acne can arise at any age, it usually begins at puberty and worsens during a…

10 minute read

Acoustic Neuroma - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor involving cells of the myelin sheath that surrounds the vestibulocochlear nerve (eighth cranial nerve). The vestibulocochlear nerve extends from the inner ear to the brain and is made up of a vestibular branch, often called the vestibular nerve, and a cochlear branch, called the cochlear nerve. The vestibular and cochlear nerves lie next to one another. They a…

14 minute read

Acrocyanosis - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

Acrocyanosis is a decrease in the amount of oxygen delivered to the extremities. The hands and feet turn blue because of the lack of oxygen. Decreased blood supply to the affected areas is caused by constriction or spasm of small blood vessels. Acrocyanosis is a painless disorder caused by constriction or narrowing of small blood vessels in the skin of affected patients. The spasm of the blood ves…

2 minute read

Acromegaly and Gigantism - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

Acromegaly is a disorder in which the abnormal release of a particular chemical from the pituitary gland in the brain causes increased growth in bone and soft tissue, as well as a variety of other disturbances throughout the body. This chemical released from the pituitary gland is called growth hormone (GH). The body's ability to process and use nutrients like fats and sugars is also altere…

7 minute read

Actinomycosis - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Actinomycosis is an infection primarily caused by the bacterium Actinomyces israelii. Infection most often occurs in the face and neck region and is characterized by the presence of a slowly enlarging, hard, red lump. Actinomycosis is a relatively rare infection occurring in one out of 300,000 (1/300,000) people per year. It is characterized by the presence of a lump or mass that often forms, drai…

3 minute read

Acupressure - Definition, Purpose, Description, Precautions, Research and general acceptance

Acupressure is a form of touch therapy that utilizes the principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In acupressure, the same points on the body are used as in acupuncture, but are stimulated with finger pressure Therapist working acupressure points on a woman's shoulder. (Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.) instead of with the insertion of needles. Acupressure is …

10 minute read

Acupuncture - Definition, Purpose, Description, Precautions, Research and general acceptance

Acupuncture is one of the main forms of treatment in traditional Chinese medicine. It involves the use of sharp, thin needles that are inserted in the body at very specific points. This process is believed to adjust and alter the body's energy flow into healthier patterns, and is used to treat a wide variety of illnesses and health conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends …

12 minute read

Acute Kidney Failure - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Hemodialysis, Hemofiltration, Peritoneal dialysis, Prognosis, Prevention

Acute kidney failure occurs when illness, infection, or injury damages the kidneys. Temporarily, the kidneys cannot adequately remove fluids and wastes from the body or maintain the proper level of certain kidney-regulated chemicals in the bloodstream. The kidneys are the body's natural filtration system. They perform the critical task of processing approximately 200 quarts of fluid in the …

9 minute read

Acute Lymphangitis - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Acute lymphangitis is a bacterial infection in the lymphatic vessels which is characterized by painful, red streaks below the skin surface. This is a potentially serious infection which can rapidly spread to the bloodstream and be fatal. Acute lymphangitis affects a critical member of the immune system—the lymphatic system. Waste materials from nearly every organ in the body drain into the …

4 minute read

Acute Poststreptococcal Glomerulonephritis - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN) is an inflammation of the kidney tubules (glomeruli) that filter waste products from the blood, following a streptococcal infection such as strep throat. APSGN is also called postinfectious glomerulonephritis. APSGN develops after certain streptococcal bacteria (group A beta-hemolytic streptococci) have infected the skin or throat. Antigens from t…

2 minute read

Acute Stress Disorder - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Acute stress disorder (ASD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by a cluster of dissociative and anxiety symptoms occurring within one month of a traumatic event. (Dissociation is a psychological reaction to trauma in which the mind tries to cope by "sealing off" some features of the trauma from conscious awareness). Acute stress disorder is a new diagnostic category that was introd…

3 minute read

Addiction - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Addiction is a dependence on a behavior or sub-stance that a person is powerless to stop. The term has been partially replaced by the word dependence for substance abuse. Addiction has been extended, however, to include mood-altering behaviors or activities. Some researchers speak of two types of addictions: substance addictions (for example, alcoholism, drug abuse, and smoking); and process addic…

7 minute read

Addison's Disease - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

Addison's disease is a disorder involving disrupted functioning of the part of the adrenal gland called the cortex. This results in decreased production of two important chemicals (hormones) normally released by the adrenal cortex: cortisol and aldosterone. The adrenals are two glands, each perched on the upper part of the two kidneys. The outer part of the gland is known as the cortex; the…

5 minute read

Adenoid Hyperplasia - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Adenoid hyperplasia is the overenlargement of the lymph glands located above the back of the mouth. Located at the back of the mouth above and below the soft palate are two pairs of lymph glands. The tonsils below are clearly visible behind the back teeth; the adenoids lie just above them and are hidden from view by the palate. Together these four arsenals of immune defense guard the major entranc…

4 minute read

Adenovirus Infections - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Adenoviruses are DNA viruses (small infectious agents) that cause upper respiratory tract infections, conjunctivitis, and other infections in humans. Adenoviruses were discovered in 1953. About 47 different types have been identified since then, and about half of them are believed to cause human diseases. Infants and children are most commonly affected by adenoviruses. Adenovirus infections can oc…

5 minute read

Adjustment Disorders - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

An adjustment disorder is a debilitating reaction, usually lasting less than six months, to a stressful event or situation. It is not the same thing as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which usually occurs in reaction to a life-threatening event and can be longer lasting. An adjustment disorder usually begins within three months of a stressful event, and ends within six months after the stre…

3 minute read

Adrenal Gland Cancer - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Adrenal gland cancers are rare cancers occuring in the endocrine tissue of the adrenals. They are characterized by overproduction of adrenal gland hormones. Cancers of the adrenal gland are very rare. The adrenal gland is a hormone producing endocrine gland with two main parts, the cortex and the medulla. The main hormone of the adrenal cortex is cortisol and the main hormone of the adrenal medull…

3 minute read

Adrenal Gland Scan - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results, Abnormal results

The adrenal gland scan is a nuclear medicine evaluation of the medulla (inner tissue) of the adrenal gland. The adrenal glands are a pair of small organs located just above the kidney, which contain two types of tissue. The adrenal cortex produces hormones that affect water balance and metabolism in the body. The adrenal medulla produces adrenaline and noradrenaline (also called epinepherine and n…

2 minute read

Adrenal Virilism - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

Adrenal virilism is the development or premature development of male secondary sexual characteristics caused by male sex hormones (androgens) excessively produced by the adrenal gland. This disorder can occur before birth and can lead to sexual abnormalities in newborns. It can also occur in girls and women later in life. In the normal human body, there are two adrenal glands. They are small struc…

3 minute read

Adrenalectomy - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks

Adrenalectomy is the surgical removal of one or both of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are paired endocrine glands, one located above each kidney, that produce hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, androgens, estrogens, aldosterone, and cortisol. Adrenalectomy is usually performed by conventional (open) surgery, but in selected patients surgeons may use laparoscopy. With laparoscop…

5 minute read

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone Test - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Risks, Normal results, Abnormal results

Adrenocorticotropic hormone test (also known as an ACTH test or a corticotropin test) measures pituitary gland function. The pituitary gland produces the hormone ACTH, which stimulates the outer layer of the adrenal gland (the adrenal cortex). ACTH causes the release of the hormones hydrocortisone (cortisol), aldosterone, and androgen. The most important of these hormones released is cortisol. The…

3 minute read

Adrenoleukodystrophy - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Adrenoleukodystrophy is a rare genetic disease characterized by a loss of myelin surrounding nerve cells in the brain and progressive adrenal gland dysfunction. Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is a member of a group of diseases, leukodystrophies, that cause damage to the myelin sheath of nerve cells. Approximately one in 100,000 people is affected by ALD. There are three basic forms of ALD: childhood, …

3 minute read

Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), also called acute respiratory distress syndrome, is a type of lung (pulmonary) failure that may result from any disease that causes large amounts of fluid to collect in the lungs. ARDS is not itself a specific disease, but a syndrome, a group of symptoms and signs that make up one of the most important forms of lung or respiratory failure. It can develop…

7 minute read

Aging - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Expected results, Alternative treatment, Prevention

Starting at what is commonly called middle age, operations of the human body begin to be more vulnerable to daily wear and tear; there is a general decline in physical, and possibly mental, functioning. In the Western countries, the length of life is often into the 70s. The upward limit of the life span, however, can be as high as 120 years. During the latter half of life, an individual is more pr…

10 minute read

Agoraphobia - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

The word agoraphobia is derived from Greek words literally meaning "fear of the marketplace." The term is used to describe an irrational and often disabling fear of being out in public. Agoraphobia is just one type of phobia, or irrational fear. People with phobias feel dread or panic when they face certain objects, situations, or activities. People with agoraphobia frequently also e…

3 minute read

AIDS - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is an infectious disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It was first recognized in the United States in 1981. AIDS is the advanced form of infection with the HIV virus, which may not cause recognizable disease for a long period after the initial exposure (latency). No vaccine is currently available to prevent HIV infection. At present, …

24 minute read

AIDS Tests - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results, Abnormal results

AIDS tests, short for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome tests, cover a number of different procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV patients. These tests are sometimes called AIDS serology tests. Serology is the branch of immunology that deals with the contents and characteristics of blood serum. Serum is the clear light yellow part of blood that remains liquid when blood cells form …

20 minute read

Alanine Aminotransferase Test - Definition, Purpose, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Normal results, Abnormal results

The alanine aminotransferase test, also known as ALT, is one of a group of tests known as liver function tests (or LFTs) and is used to monitor damage to the liver. ALT levels are used to detect liver abnormalities. Since the alanine aminotransferase enzyme is also found in muscle, tests indicating elevated AST levels might also indicate muscle damage. However, other tests, such as the levels of t…

2 minute read

Albinism - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Albinism is an inherited condition present at birth, characterized by a lack of pigment that normally gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. Many types of albinism exist, all of which involve lack of pigment in varying degrees. The condition, which is found in all races, may be accompanied by eye problems and may lead to skin cancer later in life. Albinism is a rare disorder found in fewer than …

8 minute read

Alcohol-Related Neurologic Disease - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Alcohol, or ethanol, is a poison with direct toxic effects on nerve and muscle cells. Depending on which nerve and muscle pathways are involved, alcohol can have far-reaching effects on different parts of the brain, peripheral nerves, and muscles, with symptoms of memory loss, incoordination, seizures, weakness, and sensory deficits. These different effects can be grouped in three main categories:…

11 minute read

Alcoholism - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Symptoms Of Co-Alcohol Dependence, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis

The essential feature of alcohol abuse is the maladaptive use of alcohol with recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to its repeated use. Alcoholism is the popular term for two disorders, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The hallmarks of both these disorders involve repeated life problems that can be directly attributed to the use of alcohol. Both these disorders can have seri…

15 minute read

Aldolase Test - Definition, Purpose, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Normal results, Abnormal results

Aldolase is an enzyme found throughout the body, particularly in muscles. Like all enzymes, it is needed to trigger specific chemical reactions. Aldolase helps muscle turn sugar into energy. Testing for aldolase is done to diagnose and monitor skeletal muscle diseases. Skeletal muscle diseases increase the aldolase level found in a person's blood. Skeletal muscles are those muscles attached…

3 minute read

Aldosterone Assay - Definition, Purpose, Description, Preparation, Risks, Normal results, Abnormal results

This test measures the levels of aldosterone, a hormone produced by the outer part (cortex) of the two adrenal glands, organs which sit one on top of each of the kidneys. Aldosterone regulates the amounts of sodium and potassium in the blood. This helps maintain water balance and blood volume, which, in turn, affects blood pressure. Aldosterone measurement is useful in detecting a condition called…

3 minute read

Alemtuzumab - Definition, Purpose, Description, Recommended dosage, Precautions, Side effects, Interactions

Alemtuzumab is sold as Campath in the United States. Alemtuzumab is a humanized monoclonal anti-body that selectively binds to CD52, a protein found on the surface of normal and malignant B and T cells, that is used to reduce the numbers of circulating malignant cells of patients who have B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). Alemtuzumab is a monoclonal antibody used to treat B-CLL, one of …

5 minute read

Alexander Technique - Definition, Purpose, Description, Precautions, Research and general acceptance

The Alexander technique is a somatic method for improving physical and mental functioning. Excessive tension, which Frederick Alexander, the originator, recognized as both physical and mental, restricts movement and creates pressure in the joints, the spine, the breathing mechanism, and other organs. The goal of the technique is to restore freedom and expression to the body and clear thinking to t…

8 minute read

Alkaline Phosphatase Test - Definition, Purpose, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Normal results, Abnormal results

Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme found throughout the body. Like all enzymes, it is needed, in small amounts, to trigger specific chemical reactions. When it is present in large amounts, it may signify bone or liver disease or a tumor. Medical testing of alkaline phosphatase is concerned with the enzyme that is found in liver, bone, placenta, and intestine. In a healthy liver, fluid containing al…

3 minute read

Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, or ABPA, is one of four major types of infections in humans caused by Aspergillus fungi. ABPA is a hypersensitivity reaction that occurs in asthma patients who are allergic to this specific fungus. ABPA is an allergic reaction to a species of Aspergillus called Aspergillus fumigatus. It is sometimes grouped together with other lung disorders characterized b…

6 minute read

Allergic Purpura - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

Allergic purpura (AP) is an allergic reaction of unknown origin causing red patches on the skin and other symptoms. AP is also called Henoch-Schonlein purpura, named after the two doctors who first described it. "Purpura" is a bleeding disorder that occurs when capillaries rupture, allowing small amounts of blood to accumulate in the surrounding tissues. In AP, this occurs because th…

3 minute read

Allergic Rhinitis - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Allergic rhinitis, more commonly referred to as hay fever, is an inflammation of the nasal passages caused by allergic reaction to airborne substances. Allergic rhinitis (AR) is the most common allergic condition and one of the most common of all minor afflictions. It affects between 10-20% of all people in the United States, and is responsible for 2.5% of all doctor visits. Antihistamines and oth…

11 minute read

Allergies - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Allergies are abnormal reactions of the immune system that occur in response to otherwise harmless substances. Allergies are among the most common of medical disorders. It is estimated that 60 million Americans, or more than one in every five people, suffer from some form of allergy, with similar proportions throughout much of the rest of the world. Allergy is the single largest reason for school …

21 minute read

Allergy Tests - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results, Abnormal results

Allergy tests indicate a person's allergic sensitivity to commonly encountered environmental substances. Allergy is a reaction of the immune system. Normally, the immune system responds to foreign microorganisms and particles, like pollen or dust, by producing specific proteins called antibodies that are capable of binding to identifying molecules, or antigens, on the foreign organisms. Thi…

8 minute read

Alopecia - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis

Alopecia simply means hair loss (baldness). Hair loss occurs for a great many reasons—from pulling it out to having it killed off by cancer chemotherapy. Some causes are considered natural, while others signal serious health problems. Some conditions are confined to the scalp. Others reflect disease throughout the body. Being plainly visible, the skin and its components can provide early si…

5 minute read

Alpha-Fetoprotein Test - Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results, Abnormal results

The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test is a blood test that is performed during pregnancy. This screening test measures the level of AFP in the mother's blood and indicates the probability that the fetus has one of several serious birth defects. The level of AFP can also be determined by analyzing a sample of amniotic fluid. This screening test cannot diagnose a specific condition; it only indica…

6 minute read

Alpha1-Adrenergic Blockers - Definition, Purpose, Description, Recommended dosage, Precautions, Side effects, Interactions

Alpha1-adrenergic blockers are drugs that work by blocking the alpha1-receptors of vascular smooth muscle, thus preventing the uptake of catecholamines by the smooth muscle cells. This causes vasodilation and allows blood to flow more easily. These drugs, called alpha blockers for short, are used for two main purposes: to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and to treat benign prostatic hyper…

6 minute read

Alport Syndrome - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

A hereditary disease of the kidneys that primarily affects men, causing blood in the urine, hearing loss and eye problems. Eventually, kidney dialysis or transplant may be necessary. Alport syndrome affects about one in 5, 000 Americans, striking men more often and severely than women. There are several varieties of the syndrome, some occurring in childhood and others not causing symptoms until me…

4 minute read

Altitude Sickness - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Altitude sickness is a general term encompassing a spectrum of disorders that occur at higher altitudes. Since the severity of symptoms varies with altitude, it is important to understand the range of the different altitudes that may be involved. High altitude is defined as height greater than 8, 000 feet (2, 438 m); medium altitude is defined as height between 5, 000 and 8, 000 feet (1, 524ȁ…

6 minute read

Alzheimer's Disease - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Alternative treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, a neurologic disease characterized by loss of mental ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living, lasting at least six months, and not present from birth. AD usually occurs in old age, and is marked by a decline in cognitive functions such as remembering, reasoning, and planning. A person with AD usu…

26 minute read

Amblyopia - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Amblyopia is an uncorrectable decrease in vision in one or both eyes with no apparent structural abnormality seen to explain it. It is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that when a decrease in vision is detected, other causes must be ruled out. Once no other cause is found, amblyopia is the diagnosis. Generally, a difference of two lines or more (on an eye-chart test of visual acuity) between the …

7 minute read

Amebiasis - Definition, Description, Causes and symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention

Amebiasis is an infectious disease caused by a parasitic one-celled microorganism (protozoan) called Entamoeba histolytica. Persons with amebiasis may experience a wide range of symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, and cramps. The disease may also affect the intestines, liver, or other parts of the body. Amebiasis, also known as amebic dysentery, is one of the most common parasitic diseases occurr…

10 minute read