Category Archives: Ailments: G-H

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a highly contagious viral disease, involving inflammation of the liver.

What to look for

Many cases of hepatitis go undiagnosed because the disease is mistaken for the flu or because there are no symptoms at all.

  • loss of appetite.

  • fatigue.

  • rash

  • mild fever.

  • muscle or joint aches.

  • nausea and vomiting.

  • abdominal pain.

Hepatitis, a general term that means inflammation of the liver, applies to a group of viral disorders commonly known as hepatitis A, B, C, with new forms appearing. Another type of hepatitis is brought on through alcohol abuse or the use of drugs or by chemicals.

Hepatitis is extremely common and can often go undiagnosed because it is mistaken for the flu. Hepatitis is serious because it interferes with the liver’s many vital functions.

The viruses that cause hepatitis can be transmitted in different ways, but they all have one thing in common… They infect and damage the liver in some way.

Normally the worst part of the disease is over in a few weeks but it is not completely gone for approximately nine weeks. After the disease has run its course, the person has a lifelong immunity to it.

Only occasionally is the disease fatal in the beginning phase of the disease.

Others may develop chronic hepatitis, in which the liver remains inflamed for six months or more. This condition can lead to cirrhosis and possibly death.

Causes

The affect that the different strands of hepatitis have on the liver are similar. However, the way in which the disease can be contracted varies with each strand..

Hepatitis A, is generally transmitted by food, water or blood that has been contaminated and is the lease dangerous of the disease because it does not lead to chronic inflammation of the liver. The hepatitis A virus commonly spreads through incorrect handling of food, contact with household members, sharing tools at work, and eating raw shellfish taken from polluted waters.

Hepatitis B, the most prevalent of the hepatitis viruses, can pass from mother to child at birth also through sexual contact, blood transfusions, and needle sharing by intravenous-drug users.

The good news is that most hepatitis B sufferers recover completely, but a small percentage of them can’t shake the disease and may develop chronic hepatitis and possibly cirrhosis. People with chronic hepatitis become carriers, meaning they can transmit the disease to others even when their own symptoms have vanished.

Hepatitis C is usually spread the same way as hepatitis B, however, hospitals now screen for this disease and it has been greatly reduced as a result. Although hepatitis C may cause only mild symptoms or none at all. In a third of all hepatitis C cases, the source of the disease is unknown.

A simple blood test will determine whether you have the disease or not as well as which type of hepatitis. Another blood may need to be taken after the symptoms have vanished to determine if you are a carrier of the disease.

Traditional Treatment

The conventional approach is to treat the disease with rest and proper diet and to ensure it does not spread.

Limiting your activity usually will make you feel much better. However, doctors advise that it usually up to the individual when to move and when to relax. But under all circumstances avoid contact with others to keep the virus from spreading.

Good nutrition is an important part of treatment for all types of hepatitis. In most cases, eating properly means a simple regimen of nutritious, well-balanced meals that supply adequate calories.

Treatment for alcoholic, toxic, and drug-related hepatitis is generally the same as that for viral hepatitis, although hospitalisation is more common for non viral hepatitis. Simply removing the offending drink, toxin, or drug will help the patient recover enormously.

Always avoid drinking alcohol during the acute stage of this disease to help your liver.

Only severe cases of hepatitis will require hospitalisation. Usually home care is sufficient. Most people recover completely from hepatitis.

Mild flare-ups may occur over a period of several months as the disease is subsiding, but each gets better than the previous one. Do not concern yourself if you have a relapse, this does not mean you are doomed to a life of enduring this disease, it is quite normal.

If a mother has hepatitis B while giving birth, the baby is likely to catch the disease at birth. A hepatitis B vaccine now available which will reduce the chances if given to the baby immediately after delivery.

Always continue to see your doctor regularly for checkups until your blood tests show the virus has gone. A person can remain a carrier of the disease as long as the virus is present in the blood, even if all symptoms have disappeared.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always seek professional advice with the use of natural therapies and this disease – in most cases, these therapies will be beneficial however it is possible to worsen the condition with the wrong medications or mixtures.

Homoeopathy – Homoeopaths sometimes prescribe Phosphorus to reduce liver inflammation and relieve the symptoms of hepatitis. Other remedies are Taraxacum officinale, Lycopodium, and Chelidonium majus, depending on the individual symptoms. Consult a professional homoeopath for exact preparations and dosages. Homoeopaths sometimes prescribe Phosphorus to reduce liver inflammation and relieve the symptoms of hepatitis. Other remedies are Taraxacum officinale, Lycopodium, and Chelidonium majus, depending on the individual symptoms. Consult a professional homoeopath for exact preparations and dosages.

Dietary Considerations – It has been reported that large doses of Vitamin C will help hepatitis. Another vitamin which can be of benefit is beta-carotene (a vitamin A derivative). The B complexvitamin E and the mineral chromium. Also try food supplements such as lecithin, nutritional yeast, freeze-dried liver tablets, oyster extract. It has been reported that large doses of Vitamin C will help hepatitis. Another vitamin which can be of benefit is beta-carotene (a vitamin Aderivative). The B complexvitamin E and the mineral chromium. Also try food supplements such as lecithin, nutritional yeast, freeze-dried liver tablets, oyster extract.

Possible herbs which can help are Echinaceadandelion rootgoldensealmilk thistle.

Prevention

The keys to avoiding hepatitis are vaccinations, good hygiene, and informed common sense.

Healthcare workers involved in the treatment of patients with hepatitis B, C should wash their hands, utensils, bedding, and clothing with soap and hot water, especially in the first two weeks of illness, when the patient is most contagious.

Ensure that you are immunised before any type of travel to hepatitis prone countries.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your flulike symptoms persist or you notice any of the more serious symptoms

  • a friend or family member comes down with hepatitis

  • your symptoms follow a visit to a country where hepatitis is common and you have not been vaccinated

     

Hernia

This is a protrusion through a weakness in the abdominal wall. It can be either external or internal.

What to look for

  • swelling in the abdomen or groin.

  • a heavy feeling in the abdomen that is sometimes accompanied by constipation.

  • discomfort in the abdomen or groin when lifting or bending over.

A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue squeezes through a hole or a weak spot in a surrounding muscle. The most common types are inguinal, incisional, and umbilical.

In an inguinal hernia, the intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall in the groin. Most hernias are inguinal, and most occur in men because of a natural weakness in this area.

In an incisional hernia, a hernia can develop at the site of an operation, the muscles have not healed properly.

In an umbilical hernia, the location is near the naval. Common in newborns, it also afflicts obese women or those who have had many children.

Causes

People can be born with weaknesses that make them prone to develop a hernia. The condition can also develop from heavy lifting, strenuous exercise or a persistent cough, poor nutrition, smoking, and overexertion all can weaken muscles and make hernias develop.

Anything that causes muscle strain can then induce hernia, including obesity, lifting heavy objects, diarrhoea or constipation, or persistent coughing… Ultimately, all hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain: A weak spot in the muscle tears under the pressure of strain, and an internal organ or tissue then pushes through the tear.

A doctor’s physical examination is often enough to diagnose a hernia. Sometimes you will be able to feel it yourself on the side of the abdomen or groin.

Traditional Treatment

In babies, umbilical hernias frequently heal themselves within four years, making surgery unnecessary.

Usually, however surgery will be required. It is important to get your hernia seen to by a doctor because if it is left untreated, the protruding organ may become strangulated (have its blood supply cut off), and infection and tissue death may occur as a result.

Alternative/Natural Treatment

If you suspect you have a hernia you must seek conventional treatment, as natural therapies will not eliminate a hernia. Alternative treatments will however relieve the discomfort.

Homoeopathy – If the hernia is on the right side of your body, take lycopodium clavatum three times a day for a few days. For general hernias, take 6C or Calcarea fluorata in tablet or liquid. If the hernia is on the right side of your body, take lycopodium clavatum three times a day for a few days. For general hernias, take 6C or Calcarea fluorata in tablet or liquid.

Lifestyle – Gentle exercise on a regular basis tones and strengthens stomach muscles. Gentle exercise on a regular basis tones and strengthens stomach muscles.

Prevention

Take care to avoid becoming overweight by practicing good nutrition and maintaining good muscle tone through exercise. Also avoid putting unnecessary strain on abdominal muscles through lifting.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect that you have a hernia.

  • you know you have a hernia, and you are nauseated and vomiting or are unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas

     

Hiccups

A common condition which involves short, involuntary intakes of breath.

What to look for

  • repeated, involuntary short intakes of breath.

Hiccups (involuntary spasms of the diaphragm) are usually a minor annoyance and last only for a short time. They can affect anyone, and most pregnant women will tell you that they have even felt their unborn child hiccup in the womb.

Causes

It is caused by an irritation of the nerves of the diaphragm usually because they have been irritated by indigestion, carbonated drinks or eating too quickly, not chewing the food and swallowing properly.

Traditional Treatment

Most cases of hiccups will usually only last for a very short time. However there are numerous remedies for this condition.

Convention medicine is not needed terribly often, but if a case of hiccups fails to stop after a day, a visit to your Doctor may be a good idea to rule out disease-related causes.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies – To stop the hiccups, herbalists recommend warm chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea, which is said to act as an antispasmodic agent. Another remedy that may bring relief is a tea combining 1/2 tsp of tinctures ofpeppermint (Mentha piperita) and boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) with a few drops of cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) and the juice of a quarter lemon in 1 cup hot water. To stop the hiccups, herbalists recommend warmchamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea, which is said to act as an antispasmodic agent. Another remedy that may bring relief is a tea combining 1/2 tsp of tinctures of peppermint (Mentha piperita) and boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) with a few drops of cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) and the juice of a quarter lemon in 1 cup hot water.

Homoeopathy – Spasming of the diaphragm may be eased by Ignatia, Cuprum metallicum, or Nux vomica. You will need professional help to ensure that you get the right medication in the right doses. Spasming of the diaphragm may be eased by Ignatia, Cuprum metallicum, or Nux vomica. You will need professional help to ensure that you get the right medication in the right doses.

Aromatherapy – Try using tangerine massaged into the abdomen. Dilute the oil in a carrier oil. (see our section on aromatherapy). Try using tangerine massaged into the abdomen. Dilute the oil in a carrier oil. (see our section on aromatherapy).

Personal Care

Most doctors believe that high blood levels of carbon dioxide inhibit hiccups, while low levels will aggravate them.  Here are some other remidies that may or may not work for you.

  • Place a brown paper bag over your mouth and breathe in and out for a minute or two. You will be breathing in your own carbon dioxide which should help your hiccups. Be sure NEVER to use a plastic bag.

  • Hold your breath and swallow at the same time you feel the urge to hiccup.

  • If your child has the hiccups, tickle him gently while instructing him to hold his breath and not to laugh.

  • Hold your breath and count to ten.

  • Drink a teaspoon of raspberry cordial with no water.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your hiccups persist for more than a day;

  • hiccups and fever occur after major surgery in the upper abdomen

     

Hives

This is raised, itchy, red, welts on the skin which may take on many shapes and sizes.

What to look for

  • raised, whitish, welts of various sizes, surrounded by a red rash.

  • burning below the skin

Hives can be quite irritating as they are usually itchy and last from a few minutes to a few days. They are usually caused by allergies or emotional stress.

There is a condition known as angioedema in which hives develop beneath the skin. This illness can be life threatening and should be treated by your doctor immediately.

Causes

Some people’s bodies are highly sensitive to certain substances and their bodies will release a chemical called histamine to attack the alleged ‘bad’ substance. (See Allergies.) Some people react to a high histamine level by developing the rash we call hives. There are certain allergens that can provoke hives such as fish, and nuts; drugs such as penicillins and aspirin; and various food additives, emulsifiers, certain milk products, flavourings, or preservatives.

Extreme temperatures, stress, and pressure on the skin may induce an attack of hives, as can insect bites, infections such as strep throat in children and hepatitis B in adults.

Traditional Treatment

The cause of the hives must be identified as soon as possible. If you can pin point the cause of the hives you are then able to avoid it.

To relieve itching, apply calamine lotion to the area.

A mild case of hives often disappears on its own after a few hours.

A longer-lasting case may respond to an over-the-counter oral antihistamine.

If your hives don’t disappear in a few days, see a doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments may be able to assist in the relief of symptoms of hives.

Herbal Therapies – To find relief from itchy hives, apply a chickweed (Stellaria media) poultice or add a few teaspoons of the dried herb to your bathwater. A tincture or infusion of valerian (Valeriana officinalis), passionflower(Passiflora incarnata), or peppermint (Mentha piperita) may help relieve hives resulting from stress; valerian should be taken in doses up to 10 ml to be effective. To find relief from itchy hives, apply a chickweed (Stellaria media) poultice or add a few teaspoons of the dried herb to your bathwater. A tincture or infusion of valerian (Valeriana officinalis),passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), or peppermint (Mentha piperita) may help relieve hives resulting from stress; valerian should be taken in doses up to 10 ml to be effective.

Homoeopathy – If your hives sting and itch, try Urtica urens. If your hives sting and itch, try Urtica urens.

Apis, derived from the honeybee, is especially good when you have considerable redness and swelling. Either remedy is available over the counter.

Mind/Body Treatments – Stress can raise histamine levels in some people. There are several relaxation techniques available to assist in reducing your stress levels. Stress can raise histamine levels in some people. There are several relaxation techniques available to assist in reducing your stress levels.

Dietary Considerations

Avoid all suspect foods such as chocolate, milk, cheese, eggs, fish, wheat, artificial flavourings and food additives. You may need to undergo an elimination diet to pin point the exact food causing the problem. For a few days eat foods that you think will not make you break out, then gradually start eating suspect foods, keeping a careful record of how your body responds to each one.

Personal Care

One of the best remedies for hives is a soothing bath. If you are allergic to bee stings or other insect bites, ask your doctor about prescribing an emergency kit for you.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you develop hives accompanied by dry throat, cough, nausea, dizziness, difficult breathing after a bee or wasp sting.

  • you have recurring bouts of hives lasting a month or more

  • you develop hives after a blood transfusion.

  • your hives appear under the skin

     

Hypoglycaemia

This is a condition where there is too little sugar in the bloodstream.

Also See Diabetes

What to look for

  • weakness.

  • sweating

  • hunger.

  • nervousness.

  • dizziness.

  • trembling.

  • heavy or cold perspiration.

  • tingling in hands and feet.

For diabetics, symptoms might also include:

  • headache.

  • nausea.

  • rapid heartbeat.

  • confusion, muddled feeling suggesting drunkenness.

  • unconsciousness, coma, or convulsions.

Hypoglycaemia, is caused when the pancreas is overactive and too much sugar is removed from the bloodstream and the blood sugar becomes low. In most cases, hypoglycaemia can be treated easily without professional intervention when the symptoms are recognised early enough.

Usually the condition occurs in diabetes sufferers, but non-diabetes patients can suffer hypoglycaemia as well. Whether you are diabetic or not, if these episodes occur frequently, you need to speak with a professional to learn to keep the levels under control.

Causes

To get energy, the body draws on glucose, the sugar circulating in your bloodstream. When glucose levels fall below normal, the body cannot meet its energy requirements. This is when the symptoms occur.

A hormone produced in the pancreas called insulin, is used by the body to convert glucose into energy. The levels of insulin fluctuate and depend on demand. When there is too much insulin in the bloodstream however, available supplies of glucose are burned up too quickly, resulting in hypoglycaemia.

After a meal, insulin levels can rise abruptly, when the sudden rise in blood sugar levels triggers increased production by the pancreas. By the same token, glucose levels may drop as a result of a missed meal or vigorous exercise.

Hypoglycaemia can also be brought on by other factors:-

  • stomach surgery

  • some types of cancer

  • liver disease

  • alcohol

  • high fevers, and reactions to food or drugs

  • small tumours that can develop on the pancreas.

  • diabetics should always have their blood sugar level monitored.

If you seem to be consistently suffering from hypoglycaemia, your doctor will test you to see if diabetes is the cause.

Traditional Treatment

It is necessary that your diet be regulated to ensure that you are receiving appropriate doses of glucose and insulin at the correct times. Your doctor will assist you with this.

If you are diabetic and become unconscious during a hypoglycaemia attack, it is essential that you receive immediate medical treatment.

Alternative Considerations

Non-conventional remedies emphasise nutrition and diet, with supplements of vitamins, minerals, and herbs.

Herbal Therapies  A concoction made from gentian (Gentiana lutea) helps to stimulate the endocrine, or hormone-producing, glands..

Dietary Considerations

  • Small, frequent meals of whole foods, especially whole grains, fermented dairy products (such as cheese), and lean meat and fish.

  • Supplements of chromium – always check with your doctor before taking supplements if you are diabetic.

  • Avoid alcohol (a simple sugar), caffeine, and cigarette smoke, since they can create large swings in your blood sugar levels.

Personal Care

Whether you are diabetic or not, you can prevent a more serious attack of hypoglycaemia by simply eating a lolly or anything sweat such as a can of non diet soft drink. Combine this sugar with a small piece of protein with slow the absorption of the sugar into the bloodstream and stop the up and down of the blood sugar levels.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you are diabetic and experience symptoms of Hypoglycaemia often

  • you feel faint and think you might become unconscious

     

Gum Problems

What to look for

  • bleeding gums

  • swollen, red gums.

  • pain, loose teeth, and bad breath, which suggest periodontitis.

  • extremely painful, inflamed gums coated with a gray-white mucus;

The typical ‘western’ diet which is high in sugars and refined foods has caused gum problems to flourish. However, with the onset of improvement in dental hygiene the problems have been avoided somewhat.

Causes

Problems occur when plaque, food particles and bacteria form at the base of the teeth along the gum line. These can cause infections in the gums and swelling creating small pockets around the gums where more food can be trapped and hard to reach by brushing.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and other tissues that support the teeth. If you eat too much sugar, your saliva (which fights the oral bacteria) will not function at its best and this speeds the disease along. Eventually, without treatment, the gums will become very red and more swollen and they loosen their grip on the teeth. Consequently tooth loss is a possibility with this condition.

Before the disease is full blown it goes through a stage known as gingivitis. There is, at this time, painless inflammation, swelling, redness, and possibly bleeding.

Certain vitamin deficiencies, medication, glandular disorders, and blood diseases may make you more susceptible to gingivitis… but in general, poor dental hygiene is the primary cause.

Vincent’s angina is caused by a combination of poor diet, stress, and bacteria. Particularly common in teenagers with poor dental hygiene and a high-sugar diet, the symptoms include extreme pain, some bleeding, and a distinctive grey-white mucus that covers the gums.

Smoking can increase your risk of securing some kind of gum disease. Other at-risk groups include people withdiabetes, leukemia, and Crohn’s disease, and pregnant women.

Traditional Treatment

Prevention is always the best remedy for gum and teeth problems – so start today. If you do develop gum problems, seek professional help early.

Get into a proper daily routine of thorough brushing and flossing, together with regular trips to the dentist, who will thoroughly clean your gums and teeth. This is the best way to prevent and to address most gum problems.

There are treatments available for periodontitis and gingivitis that your dentist will talk to you about.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

You still need to see a dentist regularly to ward off the risk of severe gum disease and tooth loss. However, many alternative therapies exist for gum problems..

Massage – Massage bleeding gums with a mixture of lemon juice (half a lemon) and a cup of water; the acid can help reduce bacteria.

Herbal Therapies – Massage gums with goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) or myrrh (Commiphora molmol) to avoid or fight infection.

Gargle with bayberry (Myrica spp.) or prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) which stimulates circulation.

A combination of sage (Salvia officinalis) and chamomile (Matricaria recutita) makes an excellent mouthwash.

Take echinacea (Echinacea spp.) to fight infection.

Or you can drink Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) or myrrh (Commiphora molmol) tea to fight inflammation in the gums.

Do not use myrrh if you are pregnant.

Homoeopathy – For sore, bleeding gums try Mercurius vivus. If you continue to have problems, seek professional advice.

Dietary Considerations

It is crucial for healthy gums, that you regularly consume a diet low in refined sugars and high in fibre. Other important additions to your diet include vitamins A (especially beta carotene), B complex, C, D and E, as well as Zinc, Bioflavonoids, and Folic acid (particularly for pregnant women and women on oral contraceptives).

Prevention

Prevention of periodontal disease begins at home, with good dental hygiene. It is not good enough to only give our teeth a quick brush twice a day and only occasionally a good flossing.

For really proper care you need to floss daily, brush longer, rinse with a mouthwash, and massage your gum line. Always floss first to loosen the particles of debris and bacteria.

If you plan to get pregnant, see a dentist for a good cleaning first.

Diabetics and anyone undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments should see a dentist several times a year.

If you already have gingivitis or periodontitis you should see your dentist regularly to keep the condition under proper control and prevent recurrences.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the groups of symptoms listed in the description section