Category Archives: Ailments: S-T

Shingles

Shingles is a painful condition caused by the herpes zoster virus, in which a line-like rash develops around the body.

What to look for

  • slight fever, chills, upset stomach.

  • pain and tenderness usually on one side of your face or body.

  • tingling, itching, or prickling skin followed by an inflamed red rash.

  • blisters.

  • deep burning, aching, or stabbing pain, which may be continuous or intermittent.

Shingles can last for several weeks. However, it usually only occurs once.

The pain can continue for months or even years in rare cases.

Causes

The same virus that causes chickenpox, causes shingles- herpes zoster. People who have had chickenpox are immune to this virus again unless their immune system is adversely affected by a serious illness or stress or trauma. It can occur in some people and not in others.

Traditional Treatment

Treatment can only relieve the symptoms, it cannot halt the disease. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medications for you.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

There are various natural treatments available to you.

Herbal Therapies  –  Dabbing or sponging lesions with a solution of lemon balm or calendula may reduce inflammation. You can also try three daily applications of a commercially prepared gel made from an extract ofliquorice, which appears to interfere with virus growth. Dabbing or sponging lesions with a solution of lemon balm orcalendula may reduce inflammation. You can also try three daily applications of a commercially prepared gel made from an extract of liquorice, which appears to interfere with virus growth.

Another very popular ointment is one based on St. John’s wort. Taking goldenseal, vervain and Echinacea also helps strengthen the immune system.

Dietary Considerations


Supplements of Vitamin A, B complex, Magnesium, Zinc are often helpful (See our Vitamins Section). To alleviate symptoms once the disease has begun, take the amino acid L-lysine, but only for one week. Studies have shown that this works best if you avoid foods containing the amino acid arginine, such as chocolate, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds.

Personal Care

  • Keep the affected area clean, dry, and exposed to air.

  • Do not scratch or pick blisters.

  • Calamine lotion helps relieve itching. Vitamin E oil, gel from the Aloe Vera plant will soothe the skin as well.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect an outbreak is beginning.

  • if you get shingles on your face.

  • the affected area re-infected with bacteria.

  • your rash lasts longer than 10 days without improvement

     

Sickle Cell Anaemia

This condition results from abnormalities in the blood structure of certain individuals.

What to look for

  • joint pain, pain in the abdomen, or along the arms and legs.

  • fatigue, jaundice, and rapid heartbeat.

  • recurring infections.

  • delayed growth and development.

  • a painful persistent erection

This disease is inherited and is quite common in African countries. To develop sickle cell anaemia, a person must inherit two sickle cell genes. When only one gene is present, a person has another form of sickle cell disease known as sickle cell trait in which they will not get the full blown disease.

This disease can have fatal consequences as it can affect different parts of the body. These people have episodes called ‘crises’ in which certain organs can be deprived of oxygen for a period of time. The frequency of these crises varies. If repeated enough, organ damage can be the result.

Causes

This disease is genetic.

It is vital that this disease be diagnosed and treated early. A blood test can identify people with the trait or the disease. Couples can be tested before conception.

Traditional Treatment

At present, no cure exists but people with the disease can learn to control the symptoms.

If your child has sickle-cell anaemia, it is important to guard them from infections, which can lead to dangerous complications. In addition to standard immunisations, your child should also receive vaccines for influenza and pneumococcus.

Ask your doctor about all the preventative steps you can take to help your child.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

This disease must be handled by a conventional medical doctor. However there may be benefits in investigating the alternative therapies as well.

Prevention

Maintaining a good healthy diet, drinking plenty of fluids, taking regular, moderate exercise, and getting enough sleep. Avoid any infections if possible by teaching your child good dental hygiene, having regular check ups at the doctors and being current with all their vaccinations.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your infant’s hands or feet swell and the baby shows signs of anaemia.

  • your affected child’s abdomen is swollen and rigid.

  • painful episodes persist more than several hours.

     

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the sinuses.

What to look for

  • pain and pressure in the face and behind the eyes.

  • blocked nose.

  • post nasal drip.

  • mucus is smelly and yellow or discoloured.

  • toothache.

The sinuses are the air-filled pockets in the bones of the face.

The four pairs of sinuses are usually hollow and filled with air and light mucus. The mucus traps dirt brought in by the air we breathe; then the mucus is pushed out through tiny openings that serve as drains. These openings, known as ostia, are very small and are mostly at the bottom of the cavities where mucus can drain out easily. However there are a few cavities with the openings at the top which makes draining mucus more difficult.

Causes

When the small openings, called ostia, become blocked, the sinuses become inflamed and this is usually the cause of sinusitis.

The mucus can no longer escape, pressure builds up as a consequence and the infection in the sinuses is trapped. The bacteria multiply and the symptoms of sinus start.

The ostia will become blocked as a result of colds and fluallergies and hay fever.

The ostia may also become blocked because of abnormalities in the nasal passages or as a symptom of other diseases.

Traditional Treatment

Once diagnosed as sinusitis, your doctor will more than likely attempt to restore drainage within the sinuses. You will also give you antibiotics if there is an infection present.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

As usual, alternative therapies will try to attend to the underlying causes with this disease, such as a weak immune system. They will also attempt to relieve the pressure of the sinuses and let them drain. The symptoms of sinusitis are similar to other upper respiratory conditions so please have your problem diagnosed by a doctor before beginning any treatment yourself.

Aromatherapy  – Eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, pine, or thyme may help break up your clogged sinuses. Use in a vaporiser or steam inhalation. See our specific Aromatherapy section. Eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, pine, or thyme may help break up your clogged sinuses. Use in a vaporiser or steam inhalation. See our specificAromatherapy section.

Chinese Herbs  – The Chinese practitioner will need to fully examine you and your symptoms before prescribing any preparations. The preparation may include the Chinese herb ephedra (Ephedra sinica), a decongestant. However this herb is not to be used if you have hypertension or heart disease. Only use it under the supervision of a Professional.The Chinese practitioner will need to fully examine you and your symptoms before prescribing any preparations. The preparation may include the Chinese herb ephedra (Ephedra sinica), a decongestant. However this herb is not to be used if you have hypertension or heart disease. Only use it under the supervision of a Professional.

A number of other Chinese herbs are also helpful in relieving sinusitis symptoms. These include honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), fritillary bulb (Fritillaria cirrhosa), tangerine peel (Citrus reticulata), xanthium fruit (Xanthium sibiricum), and magnolia flower (Magnolia liliflora).

Herbal Therapies – Bromelain tablets have been shown in controlled studies to reduce inflammation, nasal discharge, headache, and breathing difficulties. You can give your immune system a lift with Echinaceagoldenseal, or garlic, preferably raw. Bromelain tablets have been shown in controlled studies to reduce inflammation, nasal discharge, headache, and breathing difficulties. You can give your immune system a lift with Echinaceagoldenseal, or garlic, preferably raw.

To fight severe mucus production, herbalists suggest elder flowereyebrightmarsh mallow, or goldenrod

Homoeopathy –  Homoeopaths recommend specific remedies for various types of sinusitis discomfort. Homoeopaths recommend specific remedies for various types of sinusitis discomfort.

Dietary Considerations

Increase your intake of fluids – filtered water, vegetable and fruit juices, soups and herbal teas. Avoid spicy food, alcohol and smoking. Consider taking supplements of Vitamin ACZinc lozenges, potassiumchlorideGarlic,ginkgo biloba and goldenseal.

Personal Care

  • Steam is great for sinus problems – fill up your bathroom sink with hot water, bend over it with a towel over your head to keep the steam in the area and breathe.

  • Use warm compresses on your nose to help open your sinuses.

  • Drink plenty of liquids.

Prevention

When to seek further professional advice

  • the condition does not improve within seven days or recurs frequently

     

Skin Cancer

The general warning signs of skin cancer include:

  • any changes in size, colour, shape, or texture of any skin growth.

  • an open or inflamed skin wound that won’t heal.

Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, may appear as:

  • a change in an existing mole.

  • a small, dark, multicoloured spot with jagged borders (either elevated or flat) that may bleed and form a scab.

  • a clump of shiny, firm, dark bumps.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) may appear on sun-exposed skin as:

  • a flesh-coloured oval lump which may develop into a ulcer that bleeds.

  • a smooth red spot pierced in the centre.

  • a reddish, brown, or bluish black patch of skin on the chest or back.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) may appear on sun-exposed skin as:

  • a firm, red, bump that grows gradually.

  • a flat spot that becomes a bleeding sore that won’t heal

This is a disease of the outer skin layer called the epidermis. Skin is very complex part of our systems.

There are two main parts to the skin. The outer layer… The epidermis – which consists of several layers of cells and the lowest parts. It is at this point that the cells divide and move their way up to the surface. Once at the surface, the cells will flatten and die. They consist of keratin. The whole process takes nearly four weeks. Throughout the epidermis are melanocytes, which are cells that produce a protective pigment called melanin.

Skin cancers fall into two major categories: melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is cancer of melanocytes and is the cancer of the skin which is most feared. It can start in a mole or birthmark, or in normal skin. Melanoma usually appears first on the torso, although it can occur on the palm of the hand; on the sole of the foot; under a fingernail or toenail; in the mucous linings of the mouth, vagina, or anus; and even in the eye. Melanoma is dangerous and often fatal. It can be seen and detected quite easily and readily cured. But this cancer can also spread beyond the skin to other areas and this is where the difficulty lies in treating and curing the disease.

The two most common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), are non-melanomas, and are not usually fatal. They progress slowly, and stay localised on the skin, are detected easily, and are usually curable. BCC grows the slowest while SCC is somewhat more aggressive and more inclined to spread.

Some non-cancerous skin growths can eventually become cancerous.

One positive characteristic of skin cancer is that because it is based on the skin – the outside covering – it is easily visible and detectable early on in the stages. If it is detected and treated early, it will normally be cured.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Most cases are cured, but the problem is that it can affect so many people. People with celtic colouring – red hair, blue eyes and fair skin – are the highest risk group. It is most common in Australia.

Causes

Skin cancer is caused by too much sun exposure. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that can alter the genetic material in skin cells, causing mutations.

Also things to avoid to much exposure to are sunlamps, tanning booths, and x-rays. As these instruments can also damage skin and cause cancerous growths.

BCC and SCC have been linked to chronic sun exposure.

Melanoma is linked to excessive sunbathing that causes your skin to be scorched and blistered. It is reported that one blistering sunburn episode during childhood can double a person’s risk for developing melanoma later in life.

The people most vulnerable to melanoma are –

  • Fair-skinned people

  • Redheads

  • blue-eyed blonds

  • people with pigment disorders

  • people with many freckles or moles.

  • Workers exposed to substances such as coal tar, radium, insecticides and other carcinogens.

Without a doubt, exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the most common cause of skin cancer as the main way of preventing this disease is by limiting skin’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Hereditary may play a part in whether or not you eventually succumb to the disease.

It is important that you perform self examinations regularly – looking at every inch of your body, if you do not know what to look for, go to your doctor who can explain the different skin cancers can look. If you find a growth, have it examined by your doctor or dermatologist immediately.

All potentially cancerous skin growths must be confirmed by a cancer diagnosis. Always go to your doctor to have them checked out. They should never be removed by shaving, burning, or freezing because those techniques do not allow pathologic examination of the growth.

Traditional Treatments

Fortunately, most skin cancers are detected and cured before they spread. Melanoma that has spread to other organs poses the greatest problem.

Standard treatments for localised basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are safe and effective and cause very few side effects. Small tumours can also be removed.

In some cases where BCC or SCC has begun to spread beyond the skin, tumours are removed surgically and patients are treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy. Although it is usually rare for the cancers to spread beyond the localised site.

Melanoma tumours must be removed surgically as soon as they are detected. Neither radiation nor chemotherapy will cure advanced melanoma, but either treatment may slow the disease and relieve symptoms.

If you have had skin cancer previously, you are more at risk of getting it again. Anyone who has been treated for skin cancer of any kind should have regular checkups. (See the entry on Cancer for more information).

Complementary Therapies

Once skin cancer is diagnosed, the only acceptable treatment is medical care. However, alternative treatments may be useful in preventing the disease and also in helping the body cope with the side effects from the conventional treatments.

Nutrition And Diet – It is generally agreed that zinc and the antioxidant vitamins A (beta carotene), C, and E can help repair damaged body tissue and promote healthy skin.

Herbal Therapies –  African sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata) to treat skin cancer. There needs to be more conclusive research performed on this herb.African sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata) to treat skin cancer. There needs to be more conclusive research performed on this herb.

Prevention

if you are at risk of getting skin cancer, it is wise to try to prevent it’s occurrence by following these steps –

  • Avoid the hottest part of the day – around lunchtime – 11am to 2 pm.

  • Wear clothes that cover your exposed body parts and strong uv protection cream.

  • Use a sun screen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher whenever you are outside.

  • Consider taking a B-complex vitamin.

  • Do regular self examinations and report any suspicious looking marks or skin lesions to a doctor at once

When to seek further professional advice

  • you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above

     

Sneezing

This is your body’s way of eliminating any irritants or toxins from the nasal passages.

  • See also Colds and Flu entry as sneezing can itself be a symptom.

People sneeze when they have a cold, to help clear the nose. They also sneeze if they are allergic to eliminate allergens from the nasal passages.

An occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about. Sneezing that is part of a cold will go away with the cold, usually in about a week. However, persistent sneezing or sneezing accompanied by other allergy symptoms (a runny or congested nose, a sore throat, or itchy, watery eyes) may indicate something else and you should go to the doctor.

Causes

Sneezing is caused by an irritant in the nasal passages

Treatment

If your sneezing is the result of an allergy, it can generally be treated with over-the-counter medications. You can also try to reduce suspect allergens from your home such as dust, mould etc.

You should go to your doctor who will examine you.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies   –   Hot teas made from either red clover (Trifolium pratense) or nettle (Urtica dioica) are thought to relieve allergy symptoms and make breathing easier by reducing inflammation. Hot teas made from either red clover(Trifolium pratense) or nettle (Urtica dioica) are thought to relieve allergy symptoms and make breathing easier by reducing inflammation.

Homoeopathy –  Depending on your specific symptoms, a Homoeopath may prescribe one of the following remedies:Nux vomicaPulsatilla, or Natrum muriaticum. Remedies that come from pollen or other allergens may also work. Depending on your specific symptoms, a Homoeopath may prescribe one of the following remedies: Nux vomica,Pulsatilla, or Natrum muriaticum. Remedies that come from pollen or other allergens may also work.

For sneezing episodes, you may be prescribed Arsenicum album, Sabadilla, Euphrasia, Allium cepa, or Dulcamara.

Dietary Considerations

You will want to seek professional help for allergies. Try eliminating dairy products, food additives, and any other suspect foods. Some nutritionists recommend high doses of vitamin C as a natural antihistamine.

Personal Care

Eliminating allergens in the home is one of the surest ways to alleviate chronic sneezing.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you begin sneezing and experience other allergy symptoms

     

Snoring

This can be described as heavy breathing which sounds like snorting when asleep.

What to look for

  • Unusual breathing patterns during sleep.

Snoring is usually harmless although very annoying for the person who has to hear it. It can be loud and continuous throughout the whole time a person is asleep. Or it can occur only in certain positions. It can vary in pitch and intensity or be the same every night. Each case is individual. However, sometimes snoring can be a dangerous medical condition called obstructive sleep apnoea.

If you have this condition, you stop breathing during the time you are asleep. There is not enough oxygen getting in the blood this can cause tiredness or if prolonged can cause death. Go to your doctor if you think you have this problem.

Causes

Snoring is involuntary. It happens when the snorer breathes through their mouth and the muscles of the soft palate relax. The passages are narrowed and as the air is drawn into the lungs, the soft palate vibrates.

Usually this happens when the muscles that allow breathing become too relaxed. This can be due to too much alcohol, medications, an overly soft or large pillow; sleeping on your back, poor muscle tone or obesity.

It can also be a physical problem you may have been born with.

Asthma and smoking can also lead to obstruction and snoring.

Traditional Treatments

It is always wise to visit your doctor to rule out any possible major disorders. However, normally snoring is something that you can fix at home by eating well, losing weight if you need to and giving up smoking. Drinking less alcohol will help as well.

Surgery is a possibility but only when the obstruction is severe.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

If you have allergic reactionsasthma, or any other respiratory problems, refer to the appropriate entries for alternative treatments which have proven to be quite successful.

Herbal Treatments  –  If sinusitis is the cause, try horseradish and garlic tablets everyday. Do not exceed the recommended doses.If sinusitis is the cause, try horseradish and garlic tablets everyday. Do not exceed the recommended doses.

Aromatherapy  –  Steam inhalation may open up the airways a little and enable you to sleep better at night. Put 3-4 drops of your favourite Aromatherapy essential oil. Otherwise try cedarwoodRosemary or lavender. Steam inhalation may open up the airways a little and enable you to sleep better at night. Put 3-4 drops of your favourite Aromatherapy essential oil. Otherwise try cedarwoodRosemary or lavender.

Prevention

  • Keep to your ideal weight

  • Make sure you eat early in the night and do not drink alcohol before going to sleep.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Sleep on your side.

When to seek further advice from a professional

  • you live with a snorer and you notice there are times when his breathing actually stops

     

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are common injuries of the ligaments and muscles.

What to look for

Sprains, which affect joints, and strains which affect muscles, usually occur after an accident.

For a sprain:

  • pain in the joint.

  • swelling of a joint.

  • difficulty moving a joint.

For a strain:

  • sharp pain at injury, followed by stiffness, tenderness, and in some cases, swelling.

Sprains and strains are among the most common injuries. A sprain is the tearing of ligaments, the tissue that connect bones to one another at a joint. The most common sprains are ankles, wrists and thumbs. A strain damages muscle tissue either stretching or tearing it.

These injuries are not fatal and can usually heal themselves. If the injury is more severe it may require surgical repair. This type of damage may weaken the muscles or bones and make them susceptible to injuries in the future. (See also Muscle PaintendonitisGroin StrainHamstring Injury.)

Causes

Any accident or occurrence that stresses the joints or muscles beyond their normal tolerance. A new sport or activity, a fall, lifting heavy objects and being overweight.

Traditional Treatment

Your doctor will wish to treat the pain to make it bearable as well as the swelling. You will need to rest the area as much as possible.

Most sprains and strains heal in two to three weeks. Doctors routinely prescribe rest, ice, compression, and elevation immediately following the injury, along with a pain killer. He or she may apply bandages or suggest you use crutches to support the limb while it is healing.

Alternative/natural Treatments

Alternative therapies may help relieve the pain and swelling associated with sprains and strains.

Chinese Herbs – A practitioner of Chinese medicine may use a poultice of gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides), flour, and wine to reduce swelling and promote healing. Massage with the extracted oil of safflower flower (Carthamus tinctorius) is believed to improve circulation, which encourages healing. A practitioner of Chinese medicine may use a poultice of gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides), flour, and wine to reduce swelling and promote healing. Massage with the extracted oil of safflower flower (Carthamus tinctorius) is believed to improve circulation, which encourages healing.

Homoeopathy –  The anti-inflammatory action of homoeopathic preparations of Arnica, taken orally, may relieve pain. The anti-inflammatory action of homoeopathic preparations of Arnica, taken orally, may relieve pain.

Dietary Considerations

Vitamin C, beta carotene (vitamin A)zincvitamin E, and selenium often help speed recovery of sprains and strains.

Hot water bottles applied to the area will help eventually.

Herbal Treatments  –  For sprains, immediately apply ice to the area, elevate the affected limb, Rest it and applyarnica as a cream or tincture, or a compress of both arnica and comfrey root. Apply directly on the swelling. For sprains, immediately apply ice to the area, elevate the affected limb, Rest it and apply arnica as a cream or tincture, or a compress of both arnica and comfrey root. Apply directly on the swelling.

Vitamin C and horsetail will help the healing of muscle tissue.

Prevention

Always warm up before doing anything strenuous or when you are going to lift something heavy. Keep strong and fit so your muscles can accept more strenuous activity.

When to seek further professional advice

  • the pain, swelling, or stiffness does not improve in two to three days.

  • you can’t move or bear weight on an injured joint.

  • the bones are not aligned properly

     

Staph Infections

Infections caused by the staphylococcus bacteria.

What to look for

 

  • Swollen areas around a cut.

  • boils or pus filled pimples around hair follicles.

  • swollen lymph nodes.

Usually infections remain in the one organ or area, but staph infections can produce disease in any part of your body. It can enter the bloodstream through a cut or another type of wound and travel to anywhere in the body. You may experience different symptoms as it depends on where the infection develops.

If an infection develops in the heart, lungs or the kidneys it can cause serious problems. People with a chronic illness, such as diabetes, cancer, or chronic liver or kidney disease, are particularly susceptible to severe staph infections.

These infections can develop in the hair follicles, where they can remain on the surface and look like small pimples or go deeper and become boils

Conjunctivitis is another type of staph infection, this causes the eyes to redden and to weep pus which forms a crust overnight during sleep.

Toxic shock syndrome is a staph infection and it occurs in women who leave tampons in too long. A staph infection can enter the breasts of nursing mothers resulting in painful breast abscesses.

Staph infections sometimes spread through the bloodstream to the bones and joints. The joint swells and fills with pus.

Causes

Staph infections are caused by Staphylococcus, a bacteria commonly found in the nose, mouth, rectum, or genital area. The bacteria are harmless until they enter the body. Once they are inside the body, the bacteria form pus-containing abscesses.

Traditional Treatment

With less severe conditions such as with boils, you may be able to treat yourself at home.

However, if the condition worsens, your doctor will probably give you an oral antibiotic. Other abscesses are too large to treat and must be lanced by a surgeon or doctor. Never do this yourself. You must be in completely sterile surroundings.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

See our Pharmacist who can advise you on the best course of action to treat your staph infection. As mentioned above, some abscesses must be lanced by a doctor.

Alternative treatment may be able to treat minor infections very well. This type of treatment will also focus onstrengthening your immune system to prevent further outbreaks.

Herbal Therapies  – Several herbs have antibacterial properties that are believed to be helpful in fighting staph infections. They include: Several herbs have antibacterial properties that are believed to be helpful in fighting staph infections. They include:

  • Garlic (Allium sativum): Take three cloves a day at the first sign of infection; if garlic smell becomes a problem, try three garlic oil capsules instead or eat fresh parsley.

  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

  • Echinacea (Echinacea spp)

To help heal staph abscesses use cleavers (Galium aparine).

Aromatherapy  –  Try geranium, grapefruit or lemon in a warm compress or apply topically. See the Aromatherapy section for more details.Try geranium, grapefruit or lemon in a warm compress or apply topically. See the Aromatherapy section for more details.

Dietary considerations

Alter your diet to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink plenty of filtered water. To further help your immune system fight the infection, take zinc supplements daily. In addition, supplements of vitamin C and bioflavonoids, may help fight the infection.

Personal Care

  • Apply heat on the boil or abscess to help it heal.

  • To help prevent scarring, add a few drops of thyme oil, lavender, or bergamot to the water in which the washcloth is soaked.

  • After the pus has drained, clean the area with warm water and lemon juice. Keep clean until completely healed. Do not ever lance a boil yourself. lance a

  • To prevent a staph infection from spreading while it heals, take showers rather than baths.

When to seek further professional advice

  • any pain, swelling, or pus forms around a cut or scraped area of skin; the infection may spread into the bloodstream.

  • the lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin become swollen; this can also be a symptom of a variety of other illnesses, including mononucleosis, tuberculosis, and cancer.

  • you have a boil that is very tender, particularly if it has red lines radiating from it, or if you have fever and chills; the infection may have spread.

  • you have a boil or carbuncle on or near your lip, nose, cheeks, forehead, or spine; the infection can spread into your brain or spine.

  • you have recurrent boils; they may be a sign of diabetes

     

Stomach Cancer

As with most cancers, stomach cancer usually does not produces any early symptoms. However, you may suffer from mild indigestion or loss of weight and appetite. Eventually the symptoms will be more noticeable. Warning signs of stomach cancer may include:

  • indigestionheartburn, abdominal pain, or discomfort aggravated by eating.

  • loss of appetite and a bloated feeling after eating small amounts.

  • either diarrhoea or constipation, nausea and vomiting after meals.

  • general weakness and fatigue.

  • dark patches in stool, or blood on stool.

  • vomiting blood.

Most stomach cancers start in tissue lining the stomach. A tumour can either spread around the stomach wall or may grow through it and disperse cells into the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Once the cancer invades other organs or areas in the body it is particularly difficult to treat and the outlook is usually grim. If treated before it spreads, stomach cancer is curable.

Causes

Quite often, stomach cancer develops at the site of an existing stomach ulcer, although ulcers do not usually cause the disease. While some stomach ulcers turn cancerous, most do not. For stomach cancer to start, something has to make normal cells mutate, or reproduce abnormally. (See the entry on cancer).

Dietary factors are said to be a major cause of this type of cancer. The disease is prevalent among people who frequently eat smoked, pickled, salted, and barbecued foods, all of which contain nitrites or other nitrogen compounds which are said to promote cancer.

Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol may slightly increase the risk of stomach cancer. But these two indulgences are partly to blame for other cancers (throat for example).

Worldwide, stomach cancer is much higher among people who work in mines and metal refineries, who inhale certain dust and fumes that contain known carcinogens.

Traditional Treatments

If caught early, stomach cancer is treated surgically. Part or all of the stomach may be removed, along with any surrounding tissue and nearby lymph nodes.

Patients can have their whole stomach removed and if so will need extra vitamin B12.

Most cases of stomach cancer are too advanced when finally diagnosed to be cured surgically, but radiation and chemotherapy can often relieve symptoms, slow the disease, and possibly prolong life.

Complementary Therapies

Patients with severe stomach cancer typically experience a great deal of pain. Medication can offer partial relief but there is some other therapies which may also help.

You may wish to investigate acupuncture or activities that promote relaxation such as yoga, massage, or meditation and visualisation. (See Cancer.)

At-Home Care

Following stomach surgery, people often experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or dizziness after eating. The symptoms usually go away in a few months, but they can be reduced if you eat small meals of soft or semiliquid foods not large meals. Also do not eat sweets, and try not to drink liquids with meals.

Prevention

Studies suggest that drinking green tea and eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and garlic may help protect against stomach cancer.

To prevent this illness it is best to cut out all smoked, pickled, salted, and barbecued foods.

When to seek further professional advice

  • If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms

     

Stomach Ulcers

These are holes or loss of tissue in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum.

What to look for

  • burning upper abdominal pain.

  • black, or bloody stools.

The most common type are duodenal. The second most common are gastric ulcers, which develop in the stomach.

Duodenal ulcers, whose typical symptoms are recurrent upper abdominal pain and a bloated feeling after eating are fairly common in people as they become older.

Fortunately, stomach ulcers are relatively easy to treat; in many cases they are cured with antibiotics. They should however, always be monitored and controlled.

Causes

It is not known exactly why the lining of the stomach area is unable to withstand the acidic digestive juices which make ulcers occur. Doctors debate whether ulcers occur as a result of stress, hereditary, and poor dietary habits. It is believed that such influences contribute to a build up of these stomach acids that erode the protective lining of the stomach, duodenum, or oesophagus.

Some doctors and researchers believe that bacteria cause stomach ulcers. This is still being debated.

There are certain triggers which need to be controlled in order to avoid ulcers. They are – heavy use of alcohol, analgesics and smoking.

Your doctor will perform tests on you before diagnosis is possible.

Traditional Treatment

Medications are usually used to treat mild to moderate ulcers. If the cause is bacterial, antibiotics can cure the ulcer. For recurrent, severe cases that do not respond to medication, surgery may be necessary. Your doctor will attempt to control the digestive juices and strengthen the lining of the stomach. Surgical procedures are less of an ordeal these days.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Firstly you should go to your doctor for a diagnosis and medical treatment. Alternative remedies will, however help with the persistent symptoms.

Herbal Therapies  –  Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), which stimulates mucus secretion by the stomach, is frequently used in herbal treatments of ulcers. This treatment should be supervised.Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), which stimulates mucus secretion by the stomach, is frequently used in herbal treatments of ulcers. This treatment should be supervised.

Dietary Considerations

Supplements of A, B6, E, Zinc, Magnesium may help the condition. However always speak to us before taking supplements.  

Personal Care

  • Cut down on milk.

  • Not all antacids and pain relievers will help your condition – ask our pharmacist which ones will suit.

  • Don’t overdose on iron supplements.

  • Learn how to handle stress.

Prevention

  • Avoid foods that irritate your stomach.

  • Eat foods with high fibre content.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Practice moderation in food and alcohol consumption.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have symptoms of a stomach ulcer and you develop a severe back pain, vomit blood or become cold and clammy