Category Archives: Ailments: O-P

Some Common Pregnancy Problems

These are some of the things that you can expect during your pregnancy.

What to look for

Your pregnancy is divided into three sections or trimesters:

from the start of your last period to week 14;

weeks 14 – 28; and

week 28 to birth.

You can expect some or all of these conditions in a normal pregnancy:

in the first trimester – your period will stop; you may notice a strange taste in your mouth; increased need to urinate; minor weight gain; enlarged breasts; morning sickness or nausea.

in the second trimester – more weight gain; stretching of the abdominal wall and pelvis; backache, constipation, heartburn, and foetal movement.

in the third trimester – swollen limbs from fluid retention; leaking breasts; constipation; haemorrhoids; insomnia.

Pregnancy is a time of tremendous changes both physically and emotionally. These changes may come as a surprise or shock, but if you know in advance what is going to happen to you, you will be more prepared.

Now is the time for you to start seeing a qualified doctor specialising in conception and childbirth. He or she will step you through what to expect as your baby grows, the labour and how to cope with a newborn.

You must strive to keep as well as possible throughout your pregnancy. That means you need a balanced diet, appropriate exercise, plenty of rest, and a stress-free environment.

Never smoke or drink alcohol while you’re pregnant, and avoid all drugs except those prescribed by your doctor.

We have listed some of the common complaints that are felt during your pregnancy and the treatments that you can have to ease them. If you are concerned about anything you are experiencing, do not hesitate to call your doctor.

ABDOMINAL PAIN

To relieve pains or cramps particularly, use a hot water bottle on the affected areas. You can also gently massage the areas with lavender oil. If you exercise regularly, you will strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles.

BACKACHE

Do not gain too much extra weight as this can put extra pressure on your back as well as hinder the birth. Do the appropriate exercises. Try not to take medications to relieve the pains; instead, use a hot water bottle. Special exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles can also help reduce backache.

Also be very particular about your posture – don’t slouch or lean too far back. Lie down or sit down wherever possible later on in the pregnancy. Wear special shoes or shoe inserts.

Sleep on a firm mattress.

Be careful when lifting heavy loads.

Massage… Sit backward on a straight chair. Lean over the back with your head resting on your crossed arms. Have someone massage with lavender oil.

BREAST DISCOMFORT

If your breasts leak fluid, use nursing pads in your bra. Wear a bra that gives your enlarged breasts proper support.

CONSTIPATION

Increased hormone levels can cause your digestive system to slow down and this causes constipation. To keep stools soft and bowel movements regular, get plenty of dietary fibre. Avoid using over-the-counter laxatives. Drink lots of fluids and exercise regularly.

CONTRACTIONS

Mild, painless uterine contractions usually start sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy. If they cause discomfort, try changing positions. If contractions start coming at regular intervals, notify your doctor.

CYSTITIS

See your doctor about the appropriate treatment for any urinary infection. However either drinking cranberry juice every day or taking the supplements can prevent this from occurring. (See also Urinary Problems.)

Always check with your doctor before taking any new supplements.

DIZZINESS AND FAINTNESS

Always try to work and place yourself where there is free air available such as near windows and doorways. Stand up or get out of bed slowly. If you’re in a crowd and start feeling dizzy, step away and get some fresh air; if possible, lie down with your feet elevated or sit with your head between your knees.

EDEMA

Do not gain too much weight during your pregnancy. Try to avoid too much salt as this causes you to retain fluid. Put your feet up whenever possible. Wear support pantihose and avoid standing for long periods. Wear shoes that fit well and give good support – not high heals.

FATIGUE

Get a full night’s sleep and rest with your feet up for at least 15 minutes several times a day. This can also be the result of a lack of iron in your system. If you notice you have cravings for red meat, spinach and eggs, see your doctor.

HEADACHES

Make sure you get enough rest – in fact these headaches are best treated by sleep, eat regularly, and drink six or more glasses of water daily. Avoid over-the-counter painkillers;

Try techniques such as yoga or meditation. Drink herbal teas and gently massage your temples with lavender oil.

HEARTBURN

Eat smaller, less spicy meals, avoid, greasy, sugary, and acidic foods. Stick to a bland, high-fibre diet, drink lots of fluids, and exercise daily. Don’t lie down right after a meal. You may wish to raise the bedhead up a little as well.

After meals, drink tea made from chamomile, ginger, or fennel.

HEMORRHOIDS

Haemorrhoids may develop but they usually disappear after the birth. Avoid getting constipated. Eat a high-fibre diet to keep your movements soft, drink lots of fluids, and don’t strain during bowel movements. To relieve haemorrhoidal itching or pain, try a warm bath. If they persist see your doctor who may prescribe a special cream.

LEG PAINS AND CRAMPS

Wear support hose during the day, and elevate your feet when resting, if possible. Have your legs massaged with lavender oil. Use a hot water bottle. If painful cramps persist, ask your doctor about calcium or magnesium supplements. It is comforting to know that they won’t last long.

MORNING SICKNESS

You may feel nauseated at any time of the day during the first trimester. Eating frequent light meals rather than three large meals. Keep your diet low in sweet and fatty foods. Drink plenty of fluids, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables, which are high in water content. Do not take antacids, but try vitamin B6.

Aromatherapy… Add the essential oils of lavender and mandarin to your bath. Peppermint and sandalwood are also good for nausea. Put on a handkerchief and inhale the scent.

Herbal teas are also very good.

MOUTH AND GUM DISCOMFORT

See your dentist before you get pregnant if possible or at least early in your pregnancy for a checkup and cleaning. Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day, and floss regularly.

Supplemental vitamin C, calcium, and coenzyme Q10 will strengthen your own teeth and ultimately your baby’s. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements.

NASAL CONGESTION OR NOSEBLEEDS

Petroleum jelly or Vaseline inserted in each nostril may help. Otherwise see your doctor if it becomes too uncomfortable. This problem should not last too long.

SKIN CHANGES

Chloasma, a darkening of the pigmentation on your face can be alarming but be rest assured it will disappear after the baby is born. It is best to stay out of the sun and to wear sunblock.

Lubricate dry skin around your abdomen with a moisturising cream and especially vitamin E cream; stretch marks usually fade and decrease after the birth.

TASTE CHANGES

It is normal to have cravings for strange foods during your pregnancy. Use mouthwash often; chewing gum or mints may to get rid of the strange tastes in your mouth. Iron supplements may leave a bad taste in your mouth.

VAGINAL DISORDERS

A thin, mild-smelling discharge is normal in pregnancy. Use sanitary napkins, but do not douche without your doctor’s approval.

If your discharge is red or brown call your doctor immediately. Vaginal itching and soreness may indicate an infection, which requires treatment by your doctor.

Thrush is very common in pregnancy and may disappear without treatment after the baby is born. But if it is uncomfortable there are a number of home treatments that may help you. (See also Vaginal Problems.)

VARICOSE VEINS

Pregnancy puts extra strain on your legs. You can get the most benefit from wearing support pantyhose or stockings.

Exercise regularly, but don’t stand for long periods. Raise your legs above hip level when sitting, if possible. Lie on your side in bed, or put a pillow under your feet. (See also Varicose Veins.)

Ask your doctor or a nutritional specialist about taking vitamin C supplements to strengthen blood vessels.

VISION CHANGES

If your eyes swell or change shape from fluid retention and hard contact lenses become uncomfortable, switch to soft lenses or glasses.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have severe nausea and vomiting
  • you have vaginal spotting or bleeding.
  • you have a fever and chills, backache, or blood in your urine.

Obesity

This is a term given to people who are more than 20% over their ideal body weight.

What to look for

  • weighing 20 percent more than your ideal body weight.

Simply put, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Some people will tend to burn far more calories than others because their bodies metabolism’s are different.

If you are obese it is a very good idea for you to try hard to lose weight as being overweight can put you in a vulnerable position as far as serious conditions are concerned.

It is not easy for an obese person to lose their weight and keep it off but it is not impossible. You may need to keep a constant watch on your diet, exercise programs and lifestyle in general.

Causes

The most common causes for obesity are :-

  • poor diet.

  • insufficient exercise,

  • heredity.

  • diabetes.

  • thyroid problems.

  • emotional problems – depression can cause people to turn to food for comfort

  • very rarely – congenital syndromes.

You can aggravate the problem considerably by smoking, drinking alcohol, and leading a sedentary lifestyle, including watching TV. Try to avoid the temptation to sit and stare at the television most of your spare time. This is good in moderation but can be detrimental when it takes up most of your day.

Traditional Treatment

There are numerous things people can do to lose weight, but the pivotal factor is always discipline and control. Other factors come into play as well such as family conditioning and genes.

Weight-loss programs are available and are often quite successful so long as you do not regain the pounds after a few months.

An exercise regime is vital to any weight loss attempt. Without it a person may gain back all the weight that they lost.

Simply reducing calories will not work on it’s own because the body starts its automatic defence program and slows down your metabolism even more.

Upon starting a weight loss program, consult your doctor about determining a good general target for your caloric intake and then maintain that level. Eat a low-fat, low-sugar, high-fibre diet. Do not forget to include an exercise program to your daily regime. You do not have to run a marathon, a walk around the block will be a good start.

In some instances your doctor may recommend that you supplement your lifestyle and dietary changes with a drug that suppresses appetite. This is something that you will need to discuss with him or her. Remember there are natural appetite suppressants that are effective as well.

On rare occasions a doctor may suggest a surgical procedure. But it will only be beneficial long term if you are determined to work at keeping the weight off and maintaining the new weight with proper diet and exercise.

Ask your doctor about other surgical alternatives.

Before you consider surgical options, try to reduce your weight by learning to control what you eat, how you react to food in general, and your leisure time (watching television versus taking a walk). Think about consulting some professionals such as a dietician, naturopath, your doctor and a private exercise trainer, and a counsellor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Use these alternatives in addition to your new lifestyle of regular exercise, improved diet and leisure activities.

Chinese Medicine –  Talk to a practitioner of Chinese medicine who will advise you on the best course of action. The preparations recommended will depend on your own circumstances and lifestyle.Talk to a practitioner of Chinese medicine who will advise you on the best course of action. The preparations recommended will depend on your own circumstances and lifestyle.

Herbal Therapies – To stimulate your metabolic rate, try kelp. Dandelion may flush out the kidneys, boost metabolism, and offset a craving for sweets. There are also fat metabolising preparations available. To stimulate your metabolic rate, try kelp. Dandelion may flush out the kidneys, boost metabolism, and offset a craving for sweets. There are also fat metabolising preparations available.

Lifestyle

  • Avoid smoking.

  • Avoid alcohol

  • Take up some form of exercise and increase it gradually over time. It is especially good if you can do something in which you enjoy.

Dietary Considerations

Watch your diet and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and pasta, as well as chicken and fish.

Try to avoid carbonated drinks (even low calorie varieties- as it is reported that they are not at all good for you), fruit juices, and milk with six to eight glasses of filtered water.

Always remember to include your exercise regime in your weight-loss program.

Prevention

Take one day at a time and try your hardest to stick to your new lifestyle. Keep picturing and visualising the way you would like to look and feel. Remember though, if you do slip up and eat things that are not on your diet list – do not beat yourself up or slip into your old patterns of living. You can do this and you will feel so much better for it.

Remember:-


  • Eat three or four smaller meals and try to avoid having your largest meal at night time when you are normally more sedentary.

  • Eat a high-fibre, low-fat diet.

  • Avoid activities such as watching television, and get into a regular exercise routine.

  • Don’t turn to calorie-counting diets or diets that require you to fast or deprive yourself of normal helpings of food for extended periods of time as this may become too much for you and you will give it up.

  • Try rewarding yourself with things other than food, such as a new item of clothing, jewellery, a book on health etc.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect you weigh 20 percent more than your ideal body weight.

  • you’ve lost weight many times but always gain it back

     

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

This is a disorder in which the person needs to follow certain set patterns or routines that may be complicated or tiresome.

What to look for

You may have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviour or both.

For obsession:

  • involuntary and persistent thoughts that appear to be senseless, such as an overwhelming fear of dirt; persistent worry about a past event.

  • attempts to suppress such thoughts.

  • recognition that these thoughts come from one’s own imagination, not from outside factors (not true for children).

For compulsions:

  • repetitive acts such as hand washing, checking and rechecking doors and locks, making sure windows are shut, tidying, repeating words.

  • recognition that the repetitive behaviour is excessive or unreasonable (may not be true for children).

  • feverish levels of thought or activity.

  • depression and distress as attempts to deal with compulsions fail.

For children:

  • mute behaviour with agitated depression.

  • withdrawal and social isolation accompanied by delusional thinking.

  • mood swings from anxiety to despair.

  • exemplary functioning in sports or school work accompanied by compulsive behaviour.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is chronic and involuntary. The person often realises that they do have a problem but are unable to control themselves. For OCD patients their obsessive thoughts and actions interfere with everyday routines, jobs, and relationships.

OCD happens gradually over time and it is for this reason that people can often not realise that they are suffering from a disorder.

When OCD eventually produces symptoms that interfere with daily life, patients may try to hide their compulsions from other people and attempt to use willpower to stop.

Obsessive-compulsive symptoms are also found in Tourette’s syndrome, depression, and schizophrenia.

Causes

There are a number of different possible causes for OCD. Some reports suggest that it runs in families, some say that obsessions reflect unconscious desires from a childhood stage of development, and that it is biochemical in nature.

Your doctor will evaluate you, your upbringing and examine you thoroughly.

Traditional Treatment

The most common form of treatment involves the prescription of drugs combined with behaviour therapy.

Behaviour therapy will assist in helping the person to find alternative ways of behaving that will be less distressful.

Alternative/Natural Therapies

Alternative therapies are useful for both relief and recovery.

Homoeopathy – Homoeopathic practitioners have specific prescriptions for OCD, which can be tailored to the individual. Among the remedies that may be used by an experienced homoeopath are Arsenicum album, Hyoscyamus, Medorrhinum, Nux vomica, and Pulsatilla. Homoeopathic practitioners have specific prescriptions for OCD, which can be tailored to the individual. Among the remedies that may be used by an experienced homoeopath are Arsenicum album, Hyoscyamus, Medorrhinum, Nux vomica, and Pulsatilla.

Relaxation – Meditation and other relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and t’ai chi all may be helpful. Meditation and other relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and t’ai chi all may be helpful.

Breathing exercises are also very helpful.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you or your child is experiencing some of the symptoms listed above

  • your child is anxious or depressed and has fears

     

Oral Cancer

What to look for…

A whitish or red patch of tissue instead of the normal pink flesh in the oral cavity may signal a potential pre-cancerous condition. If left untreated, the discoloured patch may grow and become painful.

The symptoms of oral cancer may include: –

  • a persistent painful lump inside the mouth area.

  • discomfort while eating, drinking, or swallowing.

  • loose teeth, or toothache or earache that does not respond to conventional treatment.

  • a swollen lymph node in the neck.

Symptoms associated with advanced oral cancer include ear pain or pain in the roof of the mouth, spasms in facial or neck muscles, or persistent bad breath.

Oral cancer refers to all cancers of the oral cavity, the lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth, gums, and oropharynx, or upper part of the throat. Although oral cancer may spread through the head and neck, it seldom spreads further than this.

Oral cancer sometimes evolves from other oral conditions but however it develops, it is most treatable if detected early.

Fortunately, changes in the oral area are often able to be felt.

Causes

There is a strong link between the use of alcohol and tobacco and the onset of oral cancer. The disease usually affects tissue that is already broken or irritated by jagged teeth, ill-fitting dentures, or habitual chewing on the inside of the cheek.

Iron deficiency has also been linked to tongue cancer in women.

It is imperative that you go to the dentist regularly for routine examinations.

Traditional Treatments

Small oral cancers respond equally well to either surgery or radiation therapy; advanced cancers are treated with both and sometimes with chemotherapy to relieve symptoms.

For recurrent cancer, radiation therapy is the primary treatment.

Complementary Therapies

For cancer, there is no real alternative to conventional medical care. Other approaches can complement, but not replace, standard treatment.

Nutrition And Diet

High doses of vitamin A may protect against oral cancer. However, this vitamin is toxic in high doses so ask your doctor about the recommended dose for yourself. You can also eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy sources of carotenoids.

Personal Care

During your treatments, you may have difficulty and experience some pain opening your mouth, keeping your mouth moist, and brushing your teeth.

Try drinking iced drinks, and using a soft toothbrush.

A very good mouthwash is aloe juice or cool chamomile tea.

To combat dry mouth and restore natural saliva, rinse your mouth with an acidophilus solution, available at most health food stores.

Prevention

  • Don’t smoke.

  • Drink alcohol only moderately.

  • Wear properly fitting dentures.

  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you suffer from any of the symptoms in the above mentioned list

     

Osteoporosis

This is a crippling disease affecting both men and women caused by a lack of calcium.

What to look for

The condition may cause no symptoms at all or alternatively these may occur:-

  • backache.

  • a gradual loss of height and a stooped back.

  • fractures and breaks occur easily.

  • loss of bone in the jaw.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a person’s bones to become thin and weak. Possible problems to watch for are hip fractures, blood clots or pneumonia.

Women are usually more susceptible to this disease as their bones are lighter and less dense. And among women, usually osteoporosis affects fair and small people.

Causes

The most common cause is age. From about 35 years of age onwards, all people’s bone structure changes and becomes less dense. There are debates continuing about triggers which speed up the process of bone deterioration.

There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to minimise the likelihood of it occurring. (discussed further on).

  • poor bone formation from childhood

  • calcium intake

  • increased bone loss due to sensitivity to the parathyroid hormone.

  • at menopause, the fall in oestrogen lessens the amount of calcium drawn from the nutrients you eat.

  • a diet high in protein from flesh foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes and salt.

It is possible for you to have your bones tested and this is highly recommended for people of all ages. Ask our pharmacist about this.

Traditional Treatment

Conventional treatment centres around drugs and physical supports.

Your doctor may prescribe certain pain killers to ease the discomfort, as well as hot compresses and easy massage.

However, to prevent it in the first place, your doctor may recommend you go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Studies have shown that women who take long-term HRT within a few years of menopause keep their bone density and have fewer hip and wrist fractures while they are taking it than women who do not.

As a preventive measure your doctor may suggest that you increase the amount of calcium in your diet or perhaps take calcium supplements along with Vitamin D.

Also low impact exercise is usually recommended to keep your bones supple and too much weight off them.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Like conventional techniques, alternative therapies focus on building and retaining strong bones.

Chinese Herbs – Chinese practitioners recommend several herbs for preventing bone loss – the most popular are dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). You will need professional advice for appropriate dosages. Chinese practitioners recommend several herbs for preventing bone loss – the most popular are dong quai(Angelica sinensis) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). You will need professional advice for appropriate dosages.

Exercise – Studies have shown that exercises reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis. Studies have shown that exercises reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis.

Herbal Therapies – Herbalists believe that the use of some herbs can help slow the progression of this condition. Herbs traditionally used for the prevention of osteoporosis include horsetail (Equisetum arvense), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), and sourdock (Rumex crispus). Herbalists believe that the use of some herbs can help slow the progression of this condition. Herbs traditionally used for the prevention of osteoporosis include horsetail (Equisetum arvense), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), and sourdock (Rumex crispus).

Ask about progesterone creams made from the wild Mexican yam; they may stimulate bone formation.

Homoeopathy – In addition to a calcium-rich diet and exercise, homoeopaths recommend treatments they believe help the body absorb calcium. Remedies are likely to include Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica, Calcarea fluorica, and Silica. You will need professional assistance for remedies and dosages. In addition to a calcium-rich diet and exercise, homoeopaths recommend treatments they believe help the body absorb calcium. Remedies are likely to include Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica, Calcarea fluorica, and Silica. You will need professional assistance for remedies and dosages.

Dietary Considerations

The most obvious addition to your diet is calcium whether this is via more calcium rich foods (low-fat dairy, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon, tofu, and leafy green vegetables) or supplements. According to The Australian Wellbeing booklet on Osteoporosis, people with a history of weaker bones should be consuming approximately 1000 milligrams per day increasing this to 1500 mg per day around the menopause time.

To help the body absorb calcium, some practitioners suggest taking vitamin D and magnesium supplements.

In addition to eating calcium-rich foods you should also avoid acid rich foods such as red meats, soft drinks and grains. Excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.

Prevention

  • Eat foods rich in calcium

  • Avoid foods that can interfere with your body’s absorption of calcium (listed above)

  • Do exercises for 30 to 45 minutes at least three times a week (always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program).

  • have your digestive system examined as calcium may not be absorbed properly in your system. Eat plenty of aloe vera juice and acidophilus yogurt

  • Stop drinking coffee and cola

  • Stop smoking immediately

  • Do not smoke.

  • Avoid antacids containing aluminium

     

Ovarian Cancer

As with most cancers, ovarian cancer rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages, however, these warning signs eventually develop –

  • vague digestive disturbances, such as mild indigestion, bloating, feeling of fullness, or loss of appetite.

  • diarrhoea, constipation, or increased urination.

  • pain or swelling in the abdomen, or pain in the lower back.

  • vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause.

Symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer include severe nausea, vomiting, pain, and weight loss.

Beside the uterus are the two ovaries, each only the size of an almond, which produce eggs and female hormones. The ovaries may develop abnormal growths such as cysts- these are always benign, as are many ovarian tumours. It can occur at any age, even in childhood, but is most common after menopause.

Like most cancers, ovarian cancer is very rarely detected in its early stages and has to spread significantly before diagnosed. It is imperative that the cancer is detected as early as possible.

Causes

It is reported, that most women who suffer from ovarian cancer have no family history of the disease, yet a woman is more susceptible to the disease if her mother or sister has had ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer. Other factors which may increase a woman’s vulnerability to the disease are:-

  • not having any or many children,

  • delaying having children until the thirties or over

  • having trouble conceiving

  • a diet of saturated fats – these foods contain oestrogen which allows ovarian cancers to grow faster.

Women who have several children, who breast-feed their infants, or who use birth-control pills are at less of a risk. This may be because these women ovulate less frequently.

Annual pelvic examinations help detect ovarian cancer early.

Traditional Treatments

See Cancer for further information about some of the conventional treatment options below.

Surgery is usually the treatment given for ovarian cancer. Normally, the two ovaries and the other reproductive organs are removed. If the woman is young and has only a small tumour in one ovary, she may have just the diseased ovary removed. The second can be removed later to prevent recurrence.

In many patients, cancer remains after surgery. Most patients receive chemotherapy then, which can prolong survival and may result in cure. Once remission occurs, follow-up examinations are essential.

Complementary Therapies

Creating a healthy immune system is vitally important for all people with cancer. Get plenty of regular exercise, enough sleep, and essential vitamins and minerals by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Cut down on dairy products, meats, and other high-fat foods.

Various herbs with demonstrated immune-enhancing properties may complement standard treatment, but check with your doctor before using them.

Antioxidants have been touted as a possible prevention aid for cancer.

Prevention

If you are in the high-risk category for ovarian cancer, ask your doctor about current recommendations for routine blood screening. For women at extremely high risk, a doctor may recommend having the ovaries removed to prevent the diseases.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have unexplained abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, especially if these occur with the more general symptoms listed in the description section. Do not allow such symptoms to continue undiagnosed for more than two weeks

     

Ovary Problems

These can be infection, cysts, lumps or cancer of the ovaries.

What to look for

  • feeling of fullness or pressure on one side of the abdomen.

  • abdominal pain during intercourse.

  • sharp abdominal pain.

  • irregular vaginal bleeding or absent menstrual periods.

  • increase in facial or body hair.

  • irregularities in bowel movements or urination.

Many small benign ovarian cysts and tumours produce no symptoms.

About the size of a walnut the ovaries rest in the curve of your fallopian tubes, attached to each side of the uterus. Each ovary contains thousands of eggs. In most women, once a month one or more eggs ripens and begins to grow in a small cyst like structure known as a follicle. When the egg is mature, it is released (ovulation) and goes down to the uterus.

The ovaries also produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. While the egg is maturing, the follicle releases oestrogen to help thicken the lining of the uterus in case the egg is fertilised and grows into an embryo. Progesterone is also released. If no pregnancy occurs, the level of progesterone decreases, menstruation occurs, and the cycle repeats itself.

There are problems can develop in the ovary. It can become infected, sometimes alone but more often as part of an infection that involves other pelvic organs (see the entry called pelvic inflammatory disease). Cysts and tumours can also form on the ovaries. Most often these are benign, or non-cancerous, and produce no symptoms.

Most benign ovarian cysts and tumours disappear after a few menstrual cycles, some are quite large and can be uncomfortable. Sometimes the growths disrupt the production of ovarian hormones, causing irregular bleeding or an increase in body hair, or they press on the bladder, leading to more frequent urination. Some rupture and can cause infection.

Causes

Ovarian infections are most frequently caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Some ovarian cysts are the result of a follicle that continues to grow and fill with fluid long after the egg has been released. They quite often will disappear of their own accord. They may cause extensive pain if they rupture or become twisted and their blood supply is cut off.

Your doctor will give you a complete physical and pelvic exam to determine if you have a problem in the ovaries.

Traditional Treatment

Always seek the opinion of your doctor with regards to problems with your ovaries as growths can possibly be cancerous. Treatment for an ovarian problem depends on the problem. Treating ovarian cysts is often unnecessary as they normally disappear on their own.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always see your doctor first and have a pelvic examination to ensure you do not have any malignant growths which are causing you problems. Alternative treatments for ovary problems should be used only as supplements to conventional treatment methods.

Herbal Therapies – Herbalists recommend Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) as a good all round tonic for the female reproductive organs. Herbalists recommend Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) as a good all round tonic for the female reproductive organs.

Dietary Considerations

A vegetarian diet is recommended by most naturopaths to help prevent and treat ovarian cysts, especially carrots, dark-green leafy vegetables, and lemons.

Others prescribe supplements of zinc and vitamins A, E, and C. as well as supplements of evening primrose oilbecause they are believed to help regulate the body’s hormone levels.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience sudden sharp or severe abdominal pain.

  • you notice any significant increase in facial or body hair

  • your menstrual periods become irregular or stop altogether

     

Pain Chronic

Pain that tends to last longer than 6 months can be termed chronic.

What to look for

The condition may include weakness, numbness, tingling, or other sensations, along with sleeping difficulties, a lack of energy, and depression. Some common forms of chronic pain are:

  • this type of pain can include headaches, muscle, back or joint pain that is enduring and debilitating or uncomfortable.

This type of pain can be sporadic, continuous, uncomfortable or Chronic pain can be mild or agonising.

The areas described above are the most common, however chronic pain can also include Achilles problems, sinus, other forms of degenerative joint disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and localised pain.

The state of your mind has a lot to do with your perception of pain. And your state of mind is influenced by the surroundings you find yourself in and your attitudes as well. The psychological effect pain can have on us is substantial. Persistent severe pain can erode our natural threshold to pain and cause our personality to alter as a result. We can tend to perceive the pain as worse than it actually is or that it is becoming worse and worse. The immune system may also become affected adversely from persistent pain.

Causes

The causes of chronic pain are many and varied, some possible causes are as follows:-

  • aging (may affect bones and joints)

  • nerve damage and injuries that fail to heal properly.

  • Back pain

  • being overweight

  • curvature of the spine

  • to a traumatic injury

  • or to no obvious physical cause.

Disease can also be the underlying cause of chronic pain.

Sometimes it is a very difficult thing to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain as any possibility alludes healers and doctors. A process of elimination is then commenced to find the cause.

Traditional Treatment

People who suffer from chronic pain may need professional help.

The aim in many cases is not only to alleviate pain but also to teach the chronic sufferer how to come to terms with pain and function in spite of it. The first step in many cases is to wean the patient from a dependence on pain killing medications.

Other methods used by pain specialists include relaxation techniques to control brain-wave activity, behaviour-modification therapy to revise the way pain is perceived, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, and other forms of alternative therapy.

Over-the-counter pain killers can control milder cases of musculoskeletal pain and reduce inflammation.

Your doctor may prescribe stronger drugs if these others do not help.

Alternative Choices

A broad array of alternative options exists to address chronic pain.

Aromatherapy – Mix together the following essential oils with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, or jojoba oil, and massage the blend into your skin at the site of the pain: lavender (Lavandula officinalis) to reduce inflammation and relax muscles; eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) to bring down swelling and accelerate healing; ginger (Zingiber officinale) to relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other types of degenerative joint disease.   See Our Aromatherapy Section. Mix together the following essential oils with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, or jojoba oil, and massage the blend into your skin at the site of the pain: lavender (Lavandula officinalis) to reduce inflammation and relax muscles; eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) to bring down swelling and accelerate healing; ginger (Zingiber officinale) to relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other types of degenerative joint disease.   See Our Aromatherapy Section.

Massage – Massage therapy may provide temporary relief of muscle tension, stiffness, and spasms. Massage therapy may provide temporary relief of muscle tension, stiffness, and spasms.

Herbal Therapies – Capsicum, the active ingredient in cayenne (Capsicum frutescens), is believed to increase blood flow to joint tissues, thereby reducing inflammation. Capsicum, the active ingredient in cayenne (Capsicum frutescens), is believed to increase blood flow to joint tissues, thereby reducing inflammation.

An over-the-counter ointment made with cayenne may bring temporary relief of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, although it is very hot and should be used for only short periods.

Infusions of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) or evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) may also lessen inflammation. Rubbing a dilution of peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil on the affected area may have a temporary numbing effect.

Topically applied dilutions of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) oil, which contains a substance similar to what is found in aspirin, may have an analgesic effect. Geranium (Pelargonium odoratissimum) and white willow (Salix alba) bark are also natural painkillers. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may also be helpful.

You must take special precautions if you are pregnant.

Homoeopathy – Try Rhus toxicodendron for joint, back, and arthritic problems that feel worse when first rising in the morning and become better with warmth. Persistent pain may be relieved by Kali bichromicum. Calcarea fluorica.Sepia may be good for lower-back pain that is worsened by sitting. Try Rhus toxicodendron for joint, back, and arthritic problems that feel worse when first rising in the morning and become better with warmth. Persistent pain may be relieved by Kali bichromicum. Calcarea fluorica. Sepia may be good for lower-back pain that is worsened by sitting.

Topical homoeopathic creams that have Arnica as a main ingredient can help with muscle and joint pain.

Lifestyle

You should take some time out when you feel the pain, however too much rest in also not going to do your problem much good – it can actually make your muscles weaker and cause more pain eventually.

Research has shown that regular exercise can diminish pain in the long run by improving muscle tone, strength, and flexibility and also release the body’s natural pain killers to help you. Try low impact types of exercise.

Visualisation may be another worthwhile pain-controlling technique – seek out places in your area that teach this very worthwhile technique.

Hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis may help you block or transform pain through refocussing techniques.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga are also very helpful for chronic pain sufferers.

Dietary Considerations

Certain supplements have been known to help tremendously with chronic pain. These are:- DL-Phenylalanine (amino acid), Valerian, white willow bark.

See the entry for rheumatoid arthritis and allergies for dietary considerations and foods to eat and avoid.

At-Home Remedies

 

 


Remember “RICE”

– Rest – Rest

  – Apply ice to the affected area  – Apply ice to the affected area

C  – Compress the area  – Compress the area

E  – Elevate the area.  – Elevate the area.

  • Take herbal remedies suggested by a qualified herbalist

  • Do some low-impact exercise.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your pain continues for several weeks and doesn’t respond to over-the-counter products or rest

     

Pancreatic Cancer

What to look for

Like most cancers, pancreatic cancer usually produces no symptoms until it is advanced. Symptoms that may arise are –

  • weight loss with abdominal pain – these are the common signs.

  • gradually worsening abdominal pain

  • diarrhoea, constipation, gas pains, bloating, or belching.

  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite.

  • jaundice

  • sudden onset of diabetes.

  • black or bloody stool.

The pancreas has two vital functions – it supplies the intestines with digestive juices, and it secretes hormones. One of these being insulin, which regulates the body’s use of sugars and starches. Endocrine cells in the pancreas regulate hormones; they form clusters and are located in the tail and body sections of the gland. Exocrine cells, which are more prolific, are spread throughout the gland and help digestion.

Most pancreatic cancers start in the exocrine cells. Endocrine cell cancers are spread slower and are usually able to be treated easily. Unfortunately, early cancers are often misdiagnosed as simple digestive complaints, allowing the cancer to spread to nearby tissues and other organs and eventually into the bloodstream. 

Like many other cancers, pancreatic cancer is characteristically a disease of the elderly.

Causes

The main risk factors are –

  • aging

  • smoking is the main risk factor for pancreatic cancer; a smoker is three times more likely than a non smoker to acquire the disease.

  • exposure to certain petroleum products may also increase risk.

  • Excessive dietary fat and protein may promote the disease.

  • Diabetes is also linked to pancreatic cancer.

  • hereditary pancreatitis.

  • Gardner’s syndrome

  • neurofibromatosis

  • and multiple endocrine

Traditional Treatments

See Cancer for more information about the treatments mentioned below.

Because most cases of pancreatic cancer are advanced when diagnosed, cure is rarely a realistic goal.

Treatment usually aims to extend survival and relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Surgery is only an option if the cancer has not spread beyond the pancreas.

Other options for patients are radiation or chemotherapy treatments, and medication to help control the pain.

Complementary Therapies

There are ways to learn to control pain and this is where the alternative therapies may help. Besides taking prescription medication, patients can try pain control through massage, acupuncture, as well as relaxation techniques.

Prevention

  • Avoid smoking

  • Avoid working around petroleum products.

When to seek further professional advice

  • any symptoms, listed in the above section

     

Pancreatic Problems

These are inflammation and disorders of the pancreas

What to look for

For acute pancreatitis:

  • severe pain in the stomach region 12 – 24 hours after digestion of a large meal.

  • fever.

  • nausea or vomiting.

  • clammy skin.

  • abdominal tenderness.

  • fast pulse.

For chronic pancreatitis the above symptoms plus:

  • foul, bulky stools.

The pancreas has many functions. Two very important ones are insulin production (needed to regulate the sugar in the bloodstream) and producing digestive enzymes to help transport the nutrients into the body. If the pancreas becomes inflamed, the pancreatic juices become destabilised and cause the enzymes to digest pancreatic tissue.

If the symptoms of pancreatitis are not treated, you may develop cysts, abscesses, and leaks of pancreatic fluid into the abdomen, which can lead to other long-term problems.

Causes

Acute pancreatitis is associated with excessive alcohol drinking, gallstones, viral and bacterial infections, drugs, and blockage of the pancreatic duct.

More than half the people who develop chronic pancreatitis are heavy drinkers.

You are strongly advised to seek professional medical assistance if you suspect you may have this condition. Your doctor will give you an examination and possibly a blood test to help him or her diagnose your condition.

Traditional Treatment

Conventional medicine treats pancreatitis with drugs, diet, and surgery.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment to help improve your overall condition.

Herbal Therapies –  A combination of equal parts of glycerides of fringe-tree bark (Chionanthus virginicus), balmony (Chelone glabra), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum) may help promote fat digestion; take 1 tsp of the mixture three times daily. A combination of equal parts of glycerides of fringe-tree bark (Chionanthus virginicus), balmony (Chelone glabra), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum) may help promote fat digestion; take 1 tsp of the mixture three times daily.

Dietary Considerations –  Take chromium supplements to help maintain normal blood sugar levels. Supplements ofvitamin C as well as vitamin B complex with extra niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5). Do not drink alcohol. Takechromium supplements to help maintain normal blood sugar levels. Supplements of vitamin C as well as vitamin B complex with extra niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5). Do not drink alcohol.

Prevention

  • Limiting yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks per day may significantly lessen your chances of developing pancreatitis.

  • General health considerations such as a good diet and lifestyle, limit your stress and keep your weight in control.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you think you may have pancreatitis