Tuesday, 19 June 2018

What to know about atrophic gastritis

Atrophic gastritis occurs when a person's stomach lining is inflamed for an extended period, often for several years.
Over time, the inflammation associated with atrophic gastritis damages the stomach lining, causing digestive problems and nutrient deficiencies.
A bacterial infection usually causes atrophic gastritis, but it can also be an autoimmune condition. Treatments differ, depending on the cause, but diet and lifestyle can improve the outlook in both cases.
In this article, we look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments for atrophic gastritis.

What is atrophic gastritis?
Gastritis is the medical term for stomach inflammation. Atrophic gastritis is a chronic form of gastritis.
Doctors mostly find inflammation in the mucous membrane of a person's stomach lining. This leads to various digestive problems.
In the early stages, atrophic gastritis may not cause any symptoms, so the condition can persist for years without a person being aware that they have it.
When a person has autoimmune atrophic gastritis, their body mistakenly attacks healthy stomach cells, including a substance called intrinsic factor.
Intrinsic factor is responsible for helping the body absorb vitamin B-12. When a person cannot absorb enough B-12, they may develop pernicious anemia.
Pernicious anemia is a complication that makes it difficult for a person to create red blood cells.

A bacterial infection by Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori, usually causes atrophic gastritis. Around half of people with H. pylori-related gastritis will develop atrophic gastritis.
Otherwise, atrophic gastritis can be an inherited or genetic condition, which is called autoimmune atrophic gastritis. Here, the immune system attacks the healthy cells in the stomach lining.
H. pylori infection causes the majority of atrophic gastritis cases. This infection is very common and often has no symptoms or is asymptomatic, especially at its onset.
Atrophic gastritis often starts when a person is a child. Left untreated, it will get worse over time and can lead to stomach ulcers.
There are many ways a person can come into contact with the H. pylori bacterium. These include:
drinking contaminated water
eating foods prepared or grown in contaminated water
having direct contact with saliva, vomit, or feces of a person who has H. pylori

Very often, a person may not know they have atrophic gastritis, as they may not have any noticeable symptoms. For this reason, a diagnosis of the condition may never happen in a person who has had it for years.
The symptoms differ, depending on whether a bacteria or autoimmune condition are causing atrophic gastritis.
When a bacterial infection is the cause of atrophic gastritis, a person may notice symptoms that include:
unusual or unintended weight loss
lack of appetite
iron deficiency anemia
pain in the stomach
When autoimmune atrophic gastritis is the cause, a person may notice symptoms of a vitamin B-12 deficiency and pernicious anemia. Symptoms include:
pain in the chest
general fatigue
tinnitus or ringing in the ears
heart palpitations
A vitamin B-12 deficiency can, in some cases, result in nerve damage. If this occurs, a person may notice:
unsteadiness when walking
tingling or numbness in the arms or legs

Firstly, a doctor is likely to perform a physical examination and run tests to diagnose atrophic gastritis.
The physical exam usually involves the doctor feeling around the stomach region to check for tenderness.
Often, the doctor will also order blood tests to look for:
lowered levels of B-12
low levels of pepsinogen, a protein that stomach cells produce
antibodies that are attacking intrinsic factor or stomach cells
higher levels of the hormone that produces stomach acid called gastrin
If a doctor suspects that a person has H. pylori, they may order a breath test. This test involves swallowing a substance that contains particular carbon molecules and then breathing into a test tube.
If a person has H. pylori, the person's stomach releases carbon. The carbon will be present in the person's breath when they exhale.
A doctor may also take a biopsy of the stomach cells. To do a biopsy, a doctor will insert an endoscope, which is a long tube with a light on it, through the mouth and into the stomach. They then use a small tool inside the endoscope to take a sample of the stomach cells.
A biopsy will help the doctor to diagnose the cause of a person's symptoms and confirm whether or not they have atrophic gastritis.

Risk factors
A person is most at risk of atrophic gastritis if they come into contact with H. pylori. This global disease is most common in areas of the world that have extreme poverty or are over-crowded.
Autoimmune atrophic gastritis is much less common. It is more likely to occur in people of African-American, Asian, Hispanic, or northern European descent.
People with other medical conditions are more at risk of autoimmune atrophic gastritis. These conditions include:
thyroid disease
type I diabetes
vitiligo, a pigmentation disorder
Addison's disease
Also, people with atrophic gastritis are at a higher risk of developing stomach cancer.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Positive Mood Allows Human Brain to Think More Creatively

People who watch funny videos on the internet at work aren't necessarily wasting time. They may be taking advantage of the latest psychological science -- putting themselves in a good mood so they can think more creatively.
"Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking," says Ruby Nadler, a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario. She and colleagues Rahel Rabi and John Paul Minda carried out a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. For this study, Nadler and her colleagues looked at a particular kind of learning that is improved by creative thinking.
Students who took part in the study were put into different moods and then given a category learning task to do (they learned to classify sets of pictures with visually complex patterns). The researchers manipulated mood with help from music clips and video clips; first, they tried several out to find out what made people happiest and saddest. The happiest music was a peppy Mozart piece, and the happiest video was of a laughing baby. The researchers then used these in the experiment, along with sad music and video (a piece of music from Schindler's List and a news report about an earthquake) and a piece of music and a video that didn't affect mood. After listening to the music and watching the video, people had to try to learn to recognize a pattern.
Happy volunteers were better at learning a rule to classify the patterns than sad or neutral volunteers. "If you have a project where you want to think innovatively, or you have a problem to carefully consider, being in a positive mood can help you to do that," Nadler says. And music is an easy way to get into a good mood. Everyone has a different type of music that works for them -- don't feel like you have to switch to Mozart, she says.
Nadler also thinks this may be a reason why people like to watch funny videos at work. "I think people are unconsciously trying to put themselves in a positive mood" -- so that apparent time-wasting may actually be good news for employers.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

"Metabolic risk tied to both too much and too little sleep"

Do you often struggle because you don't get enough sleep on a nightly basis? Or perhaps you sleep in as much as you can each day, since your schedule permits it? Neither of these is good for you, a new study suggests, and you may be at risk of metabolic problems.
person snoozing alarm
How might sleep duration influence the risk of metabolic syndrome?
We already know that too little sleep can impact our health in myriad ways, but to what extent does too much sleep effect our well-being?
A study recently conducted by researchers from Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea has discovered that both of these extremes are liable to increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
This refers to a cluster of metabolic conditions, including low glucose tolerance, hypertension, and obesity.
Lead study author Claire E. Kim and her team analyzed data sourced through the Health Examinees (HEXA) study, a large population study investigating the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in the context of chronic disease incidence in South Korea.
Their results — which have been reported in the journal BMC Public Health — not only indicate a correlation between extremes of sleep and metabolic syndrome, but also suggest that the risks may be different depending on a person's sex.
Sleep duration and metabolic syndrome
Kim and team analyzed the medical data of 133,608 men and women aged 40–69. The participants also self-reported how much sleep they got every day, including both night-time sleep and any daytime naps.
The HEXA study included information on the participants' medical histories, use of medication, modifying lifestyle factors, and family medical history.

All of the volunteers also provided samples of plasma, serum, blood cells, urine, and chromosomal DNA, among other things.
Analyses of the participants' collected data — including the self-reported information on sleep hygiene — revealed that both fewer than 6 and more than 10 hours of sleep on a daily basis were linked to the presence of metabolic syndrome.
Individuals were deemed to have metabolic syndrome if they presented at least three of these tell-tale symptoms: excess fat around the waist; high triglyceride levels; low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol; high fasting blood glucose; and hypertension.
Just over 29 percent of the male participants had metabolic syndrome, and 24.5 percent of the women showed signs of this condition. The team noted certain differences in risk patterns.
'Potential gender difference' observed
So, women who slept little — for fewer than 6 hours per day — were likelier to have a higher waist circumference, indicative of excessive belly fat, than women who slept for 6–7 hours per day.
Men who slept for under 6 hours were more likely to have not just a higher waist circumference, but also metabolic syndrome.
As for oversleeping — defined as more than 10 hours of sleep each day — it was tied to raised triglyceride levels, as well as metabolic syndrome, in men.
But in women, it was linked with even more negative health outcomes: not just metabolic syndrome and high triglyceride levels, but also high blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol, and higher waist circumference.
Of the participants, about 13 percent of the women and 11 percent of the men slept too little, and 1.7 percent of the women and 1.5 percent of the men slept for over 10 hours every day.
"This is the largest study examining a dose-response association between sleep duration and metabolic syndrome and its components separately for men and women," Kim explains.
"We observed a potential gender difference between sleep duration and metabolic syndrome, with an association between metabolic syndrome and long sleep in women and metabolic syndrome and short sleep in men."
It is not clear how sleep patterns might influence the development of metabolic syndrome, but the researchers note that sleep duration could impact the production of key hormones that regulate appetite and how much energy our bodies produce and consume.
Kim and colleagues also note that, although this study's findings may be compelling, the research observed an association that may not necessarily speak of a cause and effect relationship.
The authors acknowledge some limitations to their study, including the fact that the information on sleep duration was self-reported, so there were no objective measurements in this regard, as well as the fact that the analysis amalgamated night-time sleep and daytime naps.

Source : Medical News Today

Friday, 15 June 2018

"Smoking and diabetes 'risk factors' for calcium buildup in brain"

New dementia research from the Netherlands has revealed that smoking and diabetes are associated with calcium buildup in a part of the brain that is important for memory.
woman holding a cigarette
Both smoking and diabetes are found to be linked to calcium buildup in the brain.
In report published in the journal Radiology, the study investigators describe how they analyzed brain CT scans of patients with memory problems.
According to lead study author Dr. Esther J.M. de Brouwer, from the Department of Geriatrics at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, "We know that calcifications in the hippocampus are common, especially with increasing age."
She and her colleagues found that, in addition to advancing age, diabetes and smoking were also linked to calcium deposits, or calcifications, in the hippocampus.
Dementia and the hippocampus
Because the hippocampus is a structure in the brain important for short- and long-term memory, it is the subject of much research on dementia, a disease that affects some 50 million people worldwide.
This research has shown, for example, that the hippocampus is "especially vulnerable to damage" during the early development of Alzheimer's disease, which is the main cause of dementia.

Other causes of dementia include damage to the blood supply to the brain, buildup of abnormal proteins called Lewy bodies, and inflammation.
However, Dr. de Brouwer and team note that current dementia research on the hippocampus tends to focus on degeneration of brain cells and tissues as opposed to abnormalities in the blood supply, or vascular system, that feeds them.
The scientists' findings could be significant because they support the idea that the "calcifications may be of vascular origin."
New type of CT scan
A distinguishing feature of the study is that it was able to take advantage of a new type of scan known as a "multiplanar brain CT scan."
This type of CT scan lets radiologists differentiate between calcium buildup in the hippocampus and that in neighboring structures such as the choroid plexus.
Dr. de Brouwer explains that this scan type also "makes it possible to see the hippocampus in different anatomical planes; for example, from top to bottom, right to left, and front to back."
The team examined the multiplanar brain CT scans of around 2,000 people who had attended a hospital memory clinic in the Netherlands during 2009–2015. The age of the patients ranged between 45 and 96 years. Their average age was 78.
The CT scans had all been performed as part of diagnostic tests that also included assessment of cognitive function.
The researchers had two goals in mind for their study. One was to investigate any links between risk factors known to cause vascular problems — such as smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure — and hippocampal calcifications.
The other goal of the study was to discover whether calcium buildup in the hippocampus has an effect on cognitive function.
Smoking and diabetes 'likely risk factors'
When they analyzed the CT scans, the scientists found that 19 percent of all the study participants had calcifications in their hippocampus.
They also discovered that "older age," smoking, and diabetes "were associated with the presence of hippocampal calcifications."
The study design did not permit the scientists to be sure that smoking and diabetes actually raise the risk of hippocampal calcifications.
However, Dr. de Brouwer says that they "do think that smoking and diabetes are risk factors."
There is evidence to suggest that hippocampal calcifications are a hallmark of vascular disease and "[i]t is well-known that smoking and diabetes are risk factors for cardiovascular disease," she adds.
No link to cognitive function
The team was puzzled that the study found no links between calcium buildup in the hippocampus and cognitive function.
Dr. de Brouwer suggests that this could have been due to some of the limitations of their methods and design.
One limitation, for example, was the fact that there was no "control group" of healthy subjects; all the participants were patients at a memory clinic and had disorders ranging from cognitive impairment to vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Another explanation might lie in the fact that there are several layers in the hippocampus, "and it is possible that the calcifications [found in the study] did not damage the hippocampal structure that is important for memory storage," notes Dr. de Brouwer.
She and her colleagues are now expanding the research to include other groups in a bid to better understand how calcium buildup in the hippocampus might impact cognitive function

Source: Medical news today

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Blood / Hematology News

Blood consists of a liquid called plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Red bloods cells deliver oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and organs, white blood cells fight infection as part of your body's defense system, and platelets help blood clot when you experience a cut or wound. Blood is a constantly circulating fluid providing the body with nutrition, oxygen, and waste removal. Your blood group depends on which antigens occur on the surface of your red blood cells.

What is Hemophilia? What is Haemophilia?

Hemophilia is a group of inherited blood disorders in which the blood does not clot properly. Hemophilia is the standard international spelling, also known as haemophilia in the UK, other translations include: hémophilie, hemofilie, hemofili, hemofilia, hämophilie, emofilia. We will use the standard international spelling for the purpose of this section.
Bleeding disorders are due to defects in the blood vessels, the coagulation mechanism, or the blood platelets. An affected individual may bleed spontaneously or for longer than a healthy person after injury or surgery.
The blood coagulation mechanism is a process which transforms the blood from a liquid into a solid, and involves several different clotting factors. The mechanism generates fibrin when it is activated, which together with the platelet plug, stops the bleeding.
When coagulation factors are missing or deficient the blood does not clot properly and bleeding continues.
Patients with Hemophilia A or B have a genetic defect which results in a deficiency in one of the blood clotting factors.
Queen Victoria was a carrier and passed the mutation to her son Leopold, and through several of her daughters to members of the royal families of Spain, Russia, and Germany.
Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, son of Nicholas II (Russia) suffered from hemophilia and was a descendant of Queen Victoria - Rasputin was successful in treating his hemophilia, it was claimed.

Source : Medidal Newa today

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Seven (or more) things you didn't know about your brain

The brain — the central "control unit" of our bodies, repository of memories and emotions. Throughout history, philosophers have believed that the brain may even house that intangible essence that makes us human: the soul. What should we know about our brains?
 In a poem written around 1892, American poet Emily Dickinson described the wonder of the human brain.
Her verses express a sense of awe, considering the brain's marvellous capacities of thought and creativity.
Musing on how this fascinating organ is able to encompass so much information about the self and the world, she wrote:
"The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside"
The main organ of the human nervous system, the brain manages most of our bodies' activities and processes information received from both outside and inside the body and is the very seat of our emotions and cognitive abilities, including thought, long- and short-term memory, and decision-making.
The first mention of this organ was recorded in an Ancient Egyptian medical treatise known as the "Edwin Smith surgical papyrus," after the man who discovered this document in the 1800s.
Since then, our understanding of the brain has expanded immeasurably, although still we contend with many mysteries surrounding this key organ.
In this Spotlight, we look at some of the most important facts we have uncovered about the brain — and some aspects that remain to be understood.

1. How big are our brains?
Brain size varies widely, depending largely on age, sex, and overall body mass. However, studies have suggested that the adult male brain weighs, on average, about 1,336 grams, whereas the adult female brain weighs around 1,198 grams.
In terms of dimensions, the human brain isn't the largest. Of all mammals, the sperm whale — an underwater denizen weighing an impressive 35–45 tons — is known to have the biggest brain.
But, of all the animals on Earth, human brains have the largest number of neurons, which are specialized cells that store and transmit information by electrical and chemical signals.
Traditionally, it has been said that the human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, but recent investigations have questioned the veracity of that number.
Instead, Brazilian neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel has discovered — by using a method that required liquefying donated human brains and turning them into a clear solution — that the number is closer to 86 billion neurons.

2. What makes a brain?
The human brain makes up, alongside the spinal chord, the central nervous system. The brain itself has three main parts:
the brainstem, which, like a plant's shoot, is elongated, and which connects the rest of the brain with the spinal chord
the cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain and which is deeply involved in regulating movement, motor learning, and maintaining equilibrium
the cerebrum, which is the largest part of our brains and fills up most of the skull; it houses the cerebral cortex (that has a left and a right hemisphere separated by a long groove) and other, smaller structures, all of which are variously responsible for conscious thought, decision-making, memory and learning processes, communication, and perception of external and internal stimuli
Brains are made of soft tissue, which includes gray and white matter, containing the nerve cells, non-neuronal cells (which help to maintain neurons and brain health), and small blood vessels.
They have a high water content as well as a large amount (nearly 60 percent) of fat.
The brain of the modern-day human — Homo sapiens sapiens — is globular, unlike the brains of other early hominids, which were slightly elongated at the back. This shape, research suggests, may have developed in Homo sapiens about 40,000–50,000 years ago.

3. How 'hungry' are our brains?
Despite the fact that the human brain is not a very large organ, its functioning requires a whole lot of energy.
"Although the [human] brain weighs only 2 percent of the body [mass], it alone uses 25 percent of all the energy that your body requires to run per day," Herculano-Houzel explained in a presentation.
And why does the brain need so much "fuel?" Based on studies of rat models, some scientists have hypothesized that, while most of this energy is expended on maintaining ongoing thought and bodily processes, some of it is probably invested in the upkeep of brain cells' health.
But, according to some researchers, at first sight, the brain, seemingly inexplicably, uses up a lot of energy during what is known as the "resting state," when it is not involved in any specific, targeted activities. 
According to James Kozloski, "Inactivity correlated networks appear even under anesthesia, and these areas have very high metabolic rates, tipping the brain's energy budget toward a large investment in the organism's doing nothing," he writes.
But Kozloski's hypothesis is that no large amount of energy is spent for no reason — so why does the brain seem to do it? In fact, he says, it doesn't.
Energy spent "doing nothing," he says, is actually put toward assembling a "map" of accumulating information and experiences that we can fall back on when making decisions in our day-to-day lives.

4. How much of our brains do we use?
One long-circulating myth has it that humans typically use only 10 percent of their brain capacity, suggesting that, if only we knew how to "hack into" the other 90 percent, we might be able to unlock amazing abilities.
While it remains unclear exactly where this myth originated and how it spread so speedily, the idea that we could somehow tap into as yet unclaimed brain power is certainly a very attractive one.
Still, nothing could be farther from the truth than this piece of urban lore. Just consider what we discussed above: even in a resting state, the brain is still active and requires energy.
Brain scans have shown that we use pretty much all of our brains all of the time, even when we're asleep — though patterns of activity, and the intensity of that activity, might differ depending on what we're doing and what state of wakefulness or sleep we're in.
"Even when you're engaged in a task and some neurons are engaged in that task, the rest of your brain is occupied doing other things, which is why, for example, the solution to a problem can emerge after you haven't been thinking about it for a while, or after a night's sleep, and that's because your brain's constantly active," said neurologist Krish Sathian, who works at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.
"If it were true that we only use 10 percent of the brain, then we could presumably sustain damage to 90 percent of our brain, with a stroke [...] or something like that, and not [experience] any effects, and that's clearly not true."

5. Right- or left-brained?
Are you right-brained or left-brained? Any number of Internet quizzes will claim to be able to assess whether you predominantly use the right or left hemisphere of your brain.
And this has implications about your personality: allegedly, left-brained people are supposed to be more mathematically inclined and analytical, while right-brained people are more creative.
But how true is this? Once more the answer, I'm afraid, leans toward "not at all." While it is true that each of our hemispheres has slightly different roles, individuals do not actually have a "dominant" brain side that governs their personality and abilities.
Instead, research has revealed that people use both of the brain hemispheres pretty much in equal measure.
However, what is true is that the left hemisphere of the brain is more concerned with the use of language, while the right hemisphere is applied more to the intricacies of nonverbal.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Grover's disease: What you need to know

Grover's disease is an uncommon but potentially debilitating skin condition. Doctors are not yet sure what causes the disease or how to cure it, but treatments are available to manage the symptoms.
Also called transient acantholytic dermatosis, Grover's disease typically presents as a rash on the chest and back. Intense itching often accompanies the rash.
Possible treatments include oral medications and topical creams for direct application to the skin. The most effective treatment will vary from person to person, so people with Grover's disease will need to consult with a doctor to find what works best for them.

What is Grover's disease?
Grover's disease usually begins as small itchy red bumps on the back and chest, which may then spread to the upper limbs.
The bumps are usually slightly raised but can feel soft or hard to the touch. Water-filled blisters may appear alongside or inside these bumps.
Most cases of Grover's disease last for 6–12 months, but some may last longer or come and go over time.
According to some sources, Grover's disease primarily affects white men aged 50 and aboveand is less common in women and younger people. It is very rare, with a Swiss study finding only 24 (0.08 percent) examples of Grover's disease among 30,000 skin biopsies.

For most people with Grover's disease, the most disruptive symptom is intense itching at the rash location.
Not everyone experiences itching, but for those that do, the itching can become so severe that it interferes with daily activities and sleep quality.
Speaking to Medical News Today, Dr. Adam Friedman, an associate professor of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, stated, "Both the itch and the clinical appearance can have a tremendous impact on quality of life and be quite disabling."
Scratching the itch also worsens the problem by damaging the skin and making it prone to bleeding and infection.

Causes and risk factors
Grover's disease occurs as a result of changes to the proteins that help to hold the skin cells together.
These changes occur at a microscopic level and cause partial breakdown of the skin. For some people, this breakdown results in Grover's disease.
While the exact cause remains unclear, there are many possible triggers, including:
increased sweating
prolonged bed rest, for example during hospital stays
extended periods of sun exposure
dry skin, especially during the winter months
certain medications
organ transplants
end-stage renal (kidney) disease and hemodialysis
exposure to radiation, such as X-rays.

Cancerchemotherapy, and recent organ transplants can increase the risk of developing abnormal forms of Grover's disease. In these cases, the rash may appear in an unusual location on the body after beginning on the back or chest.
Doctors tend to keep all risk factors in mind, rather than focusing on any one trigger. Dr. Friedman told MNT that Grover's disease is likely due to a combination of elements, "including sun exposure, age, and skin care habits."

Is it contagious?
Grover's disease is not contagious, even when another person comes into contact with the rash.