Category Archives: Ailments: U-V

Uterine Cancer

This is cancer of the uterus or the uterine linings – the endometrium.

What to look for…

Uterine cancer causes no symptoms at onset. They will usually become noticeable as the malignancy begins to grow. But there are some women with uterine cancer who experience no symptoms until the disease spreads to other organs.

The most likely symptoms are:

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding – heavier than normal periods or bleeding in between periods. (if you have had menopause, any bleeding will be abnormal, unless you are on HRT).

  • vaginal discharge.

  • an enlarged uterus.

  • unexpected weight loss;

  • weakness and pain in the lower abdomen, back, or legs. (This occurs once the cancer has spread to other organs).

The uterine lining (the endometrium) in women thickens every month as it prepares to receive a fertilised egg. If no egg is fertilised, the extra tissue and blood are expelled through menstruation. There are a number of conditions that can affect the uterus. These conditions may or may not be cancerous.

Benign problems include fibroid tumours on the uterine wall and women who have them are not at more of a risk for uterine cancer. Endometriosis is the most serious benign uterine condition, and in some women it evolves into uterine cancer. 

The most common place in the uterus for cancers to develop are in the endometrium. This is called endometrial cancer or carcinoma. It is most dangerous if left untreated when it can penetrate the uterine wall and invade the bladder, vagina, fallopian tubes, ovaries or rectum or other organs. Fortunately, endometrial cancer grows slowly and usually is detected before spreading very far.

Causes

Women whose risk of getting uterine cancer is high include postmenopausal women who began menstruating early and went through menopause late, are obese, diabetic, or have high blood pressure, have few or no children, areinfertile, have irregular menstrual periods, or endometrial hyperplasia.

Susceptibility to endometrial cancer is also linked to how much the endometrium has been exposed to oestrogen without progesterone. Oestrogen stimulates cell division, while progesterone suppresses it. With a high level of cell division, the chance of cancer increases. Women on HRT should be monitored regularly for uterine cancers.

Pap smears should be regularly performed as these may detect some uterine cancers before symptoms develop. Otherwise, uterine cancer is usually diagnosed by the appearance of symptoms.

Traditional Treatments

Conventional medicine is usually successful in curing most women of uterine cancer. The type of treatment will vary depending on the stage of the cancer.

Surgery is standard treatment for uterine cancer that has not begun to metastasise, or spread. The usual treatment for early endometrial cancer is total hysterectomy, which means the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes are all removed. If the disease has begun to spread beyond the uterus, the patient is given radiation therapy after surgery, in the hope of wiping out the remaining cancer cells.

Patients with widespread (metastatic) uterine cancer are usually given hormone therapy to slow the cancer’s growth. Chemotherapy or radiation might also be given to reduce the size and number of metastatic tumours. Such treatment is rarely curative but can prolong life and relieve symptoms. If it destroys tumours in the other organs, and the cancer is confined to the uterus or close surrounding areas, surgery may then be undertaken.

Patients in remission need checkups every few months for several years. If cancer recurs, it quite often happens within three years.

Caught early, recurrent cancer may be cured with aggressive radiation therapy or further surgery. (See cancer)

Complementary Therapies

There are many support groups to join if you are needing extra help in dealing with this disease. Counselling also may be very helpful for you at this time.

Prevention

Have a Pap smear and pelvic exam annually. If you are of child bearing age, discuss the pros and cons of taking birth-control pills with your doctor.

It is also advisable to exercise regularly and eat sensibly to become as healthy as you can. (See Cancer entry for more information on this illness).

It is reported that certain vitamins and minerals such as antioxidants may have anticancer properties.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. Abnormal bleeding is not a symptom of menopause. It should be brought to your doctor’s attention immediately

     

Uterine Problems

What to look for

  • heavy irregular bleeding, with pain in the lower abdomen or back.

  • difficulty urinating and moving bowels, incontinence, backaches.

  • bleeding between periods.

  • chronic, abnormal bleeding.

The uterus has two parts – the body of the organ and the cervix. It is essentially a strong, hollow, pear-shaped organ which is in the pelvic region behind the bladder. It leads into the vagina.

The endometrium is the lining of the uterus.

The endometrium can bleed abnormally and if so can cause certain mineral deficiencies.

A prolapse of the uterus occurs when the uterus moves downward.

Fibroids are benign growths that can occur in or around the uterus.

Fibroids may cause the uterus to become larger, make it difficult to become pregnant, you may have heavier periods or find it painful to have intercourse.

Causes

Although the cause of fibroids is not known, their growth is related to hormones. Therefore, oral contraceptives, oestrogen replacement therapy, and pregnancy may cause fibroids to grow and expand. Your doctor will be able to confirm their existence when you have a pap smear.

High levels of oestrogen may cause excessive endometrium bleeding. This can be the result of obesity, but it can also occur as a result of other diseases. This should be examined by your doctor.

The most common cause of a prolapsed uterus is the stretching of the support ligaments that hold it in place. This is usually a result of pregnancy and childbirth.

See uterine cancer for more information on this condition.

Traditional Treatment

Fibroid treatment varies and depends on their size and placement and if they are causing you discomfort. Speak with your doctor about the possible ways to treat this problem.

A hysterectomy used to be the standard treatment for most uterine conditions but now there are other ways to treat most problems in this area. A hysterectomy will only be offered as an alternative if other treatments have been exhausted or if the condition is serious and uncontrollable.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies are useful as an addition to conventional methods.

Massage  –  May increase energy flow to the pelvis, which may help shrink fibroids, use rose or jasmine essential oil. May increase energy flow to the pelvis, which may help shrink fibroids, use rose or jasmine essential oil.

Homoeopathy  –  PulsatillaBelladonna, Sabina, and Sepia are among the remedies that may be prescribed for your uterine disorder. PulsatillaBelladonna, Sabina, and Sepia are among the remedies that may be prescribed for your uterine disorder.

Dietary Considerations

You may wish to increase your fibre intake and reduce your intake of fat. This has the benefit of controlling your hormone production and consequently the fibroids. As well as this take supplements of vitamin C, bioflavonoids andvitamins A.

The supplements mentioned above together with a high-fibre, low-fat diet may help balance hormone levels that may contribute to uterine problems.

Aromatherapy  –  Rose or jasmine essential oils diluted in a carrier oil or lotion and massaged on the stomach or used in a compress works wonders. Rose or jasmine essential oils diluted in a carrier oil or lotion and massaged on the stomach or used in a compress works wonders.

Prevention

Try to eat well, get plenty of rest, avoid stress by learning relaxation techniques and get some exercise daily. This will keep your system in great order and be better able to avoid uterine as well as other disorders.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you feel a sharp pain low in the abdomen.

  • your periods are excessively heavy

Vaginal Problems

These are problems that occur in the vagina (a part of the female reproductive system connected to the cervix).

What to look for

 

 

  • your vulva is swollen and itchy.

  • you have white areas on your vulva.

  • there is more vaginal discharge than normal, it smells, burns or itches.

  • abnormal bleeding.

The vagina is like a channel which connects the cervix to the outside area called the vulva. It generates mucus and secretions automatically. It does not need our help to clean it, the secretions flow down along with other dead cells and substances. Discharge is normal and occurs in most women. It is usually clear or white in colour.

Common problems which occur in the vagina region are yeast infections, vaginitis (inflammation), bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted diseases, abnormal discharge and vaginal infections.

Bacterial vaginosis commonly occurs in the reproductive years. There may be a fishy-smelling discharge, but there may be no symptoms at all. Ask your doctor to investigate this possibility during your pap smear.

Yeast infections produce cottage-cheese-like discharge. They are very common and most women have or will experience them during their lifetime.

Vaginal infections are not serious usually; sexually transmitted infections such as Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia have been found to be associated with other complications.

Vaginal cancer, can be very serious and can spread to other areas. See our entry on Cancer.

Causes

Stress may cause a change in the vaginal bacteria which can create vaginitis.

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by the Candida fungus. The use of antibiotics can make this infection occur.

Traditional Treatment

Conventional treatment is a must in diagnosing possible vaginal problems.

You will need to be examined and your doctor may prescribe the appropriate medications and/or antibiotics to treat the ailments.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

The following are supplemental therapies that, along with your physician’s prescribed treatment, may ease your recovery.

Herbal Therapies  –  Eat more fresh garlic as it has properties and may be effective in treating vaginitis and vaginal yeast infections.

If itching or minor irritation is a symptom of your vaginitis, bathe with an infusion of fresh chickweed for relief. To reduce inflammation calendula (Calendula officinalis) is often effective.

Homoeopathy  –  Certain remedies aid certain types of vaginal discharges –

A smelly, yellow discharge with burning, swelling, and soreness may be treated with Kreosotum;

A white or yellow discharge, for itching and Sepia  is recommended;

A thick, creamy yellow-green discharge Pulsatilla.

These problems can become serious so if the treatment does not help, see your doctor.

Lifestyle

You may need to avoid using tampons while you have vaginal problems as this can exacerbate the condition. Also avoid sexual intercourse while you have vaginitis or yeast infections.

Dietary Considerations

Natural acidophilus yoghurt is brilliant for ridding the vagina of yeast infections. 

Always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading infection.

Prevention

A good diet, plenty of filtered water, good hygiene and adequate protection during intercourse will help your system avoid getting vaginitis.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have excessive bleeding not at the time of your period or abnormal sharp pain along with fever

     

Varicose Veins

These are veins that are swollen, lengthened and obvious just below the skin.

What to look for

  • prominent dark blue veins, especially in the legs and feet.

  • your legs may ache

Varicose veins are usually fairly obvious and bulge out from under your skin. They usually affect your legs. Varicose veins can be superficial or deep. Superficial veins are visible and swollen. They are painful and can affect your circulation but usually harmless.

Deep varicose veins can be the cause of blood clots and inflammation as they form deeper within the leg.

Causes

People who suffer from varicose veins are thought to have defective valves in the leg. This is a result of too much blood pressure which makes the veins swell. The swollen veins then cause the valves not to seal properly. We rely on the valves to circulate the blood to the heart properly. If they do not function properly, the blood can’t keep flowing and starts to pool in the vein causing the swollen veins that are part of this condition.

There are certain triggers that increase the likelihood of varicose veins.

  • constipation

  • pregnancy

  • obesity

  • too much standing

  • injury

Traditional Treatment

If you have a less severe case you do not need to see your doctor and can treat the condition at home. Support pantihose are usually very helpful and you should leave them on all day. They will support the veins in your legs.

Your doctor may suggest taking a pain killer for the pain of varicose veins. If you notice no signs of having this condition but still have the pain associated with it – call your doctor immediately.

There are numerous options available for this condition – ask your doctor to tell you about them.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Natural therapies can help your system cope with varicose veins and also prevent more from occurring.

Aromatherapy   –  Oil of rosemary massaged gently into an affected area may help stimulate circulation by causing capillaries to dilate. Oil of rosemary massaged gently into an affected area may help stimulate circulation by causing capillaries to dilate.

Oils of cypress (3 drops), sandalwood (3 drops) , peppermint (1 drop) and chamomile (1 drop) may soothe swelling and inflammation and help relieve pain – use a base carrier oil of calendula (5 teaspoons).

See the section on Aromatherapy for more information – certain people should not have particular essential oils.

Massage  –  Regular massage from a trained massage therapist can significantly alleviate discomfort associated with varicose veins. Regular massage from a trained massage therapist can significantly alleviate discomfort associated with varicose veins.

Herbal Therapies –  Many herbs have been beneficial in the treatment of varicose veins, and some have undergone extensive scientific study. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) are all reported to strengthen blood vessels and improve peripheral circulation. Many herbs have been beneficial in the treatment of varicose veins, and some have undergone extensive scientific study. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), hawthorn(Crataegus laevigata), and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) are all reported to strengthen blood vessels and improve peripheral circulation.

For the skin irritation linked with varicose veins, try a lotion made of distilled witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).

To separate the build-up of protein called fibrin that makes skin near varicose veins hard and lumpy, try eating morecayenne (Capsicum frutescens), garlic (Allium sativum), onion, ginger (Zingiber officinale), and pineapple, which contains bromelain, an enzyme that promotes break up of fibrin.

Homoeopathy –  Homoeopath remedies are often used to treat varicose veins.

Pulsatilla is one remedy that is commonly prescribed.

Lifestyle

 

 

 


Take up regular aerobic exercise – this is beneficial for circulation.

Take a hot bath followed by a cold bath to relieve the pain from varicose veins. You can also do the same thing with foot spas.

Yoga’ s stretching and relaxation techniques can be particularly beneficial for varicose veins.

Dietary Considerations

 

 

 


To rid yourself of varicose veins and to prevent them from forming, it is wise to reorganise your diet to include lots of low fat foods and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. A diet low in fat and high in fibre is best.

Drink plenty of filtered water as well. Also reduce the amount of salt, alcohol and cut out cigarettes totally. It is important to keep your weight at your ideal level as extra body fat puts strain on your legs and veins.

Vitamins B, C and E are helpful. As is magnesium, zinc, calcium fluoride, rutin and bioflavonoids, lecithin , kelp and garlic.

Go to our Vitamins Section.

Personal Care

Take some rest if your routine requires that you remain for long periods of time on your feet. Try to avoid high heels as this can also aggravate the problem.

Prevention

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Eat well. Drink plenty of water. Take supplements listed above.

  • Rest often and do stretching exercises if you are on your feet a lot.

  • If you smoke, quit.

  • If you’re pregnant, sleep on your left side rather than on your back to lessen the pressure on your pelvic muscles.

When to seek further professional advice

  • the pain and swelling becomes extremely severe.

  • you have red varicose veins.

  • you cut a varicose vein – see a doctor immediately

     

Vision Problems

What to look for

 

  • Blurred vision when you are looking at distant objects.

  • Blurred vision when you are looking at close objects.

  • Vertical or horizontal lines that appear blurry.

  • Flashing-lights or spots in your eyes.

  • problems deciphering between red and green in dim light.

  • Difficulty distinguishing objects in dim light.

(Also see Cataracts, Eye Problems, Glaucoma).

The most common complaint concerning eye sight are…

  • Near-sightedness,

  • Far-sightedness, and

  • Astigmatism.

These are refraction disorders. As well as this other common disorders are retinal detachment, colour blindness, and night blindness.

Causes

Nearsightedness, or myopia occurs when images are focused in front of the retina instead of on it as in normal vision. Consequently, objects in the distance appear blurred. You may find that you have to sit very close to blackboards to see what is written on them properly and you have difficulties seeing to the front in large auditoriums.

The opposite of nearsightedness is far-sightedness, or hyperopia. With this disorder, the lens of the eye focuses images behind the retina, making nearby objects appear blurry.

Astigmatism, happens when the eye lacks a single point of focus. This can be the result of an abnormality within the lens. Some objects may appear blurry while others clear.

Retinal detachment is not always painful but you definitely must seek medical attention as soon as possible because eventually it can cause blindness.

Colour blindness is when people see colours normally in bright light but cannot tell the difference between reds and greens in dim light.

If you experience difficulties seeing properly at night, you may have a deficiency in vitamin A, or a disease of the liver or retina.

Traditional Treatment

If you are having difficulties with your vision, it is wise to seek the advice of an optometrist who will perform eye test. If the eye test reveals that your vision is impaired, you may need to buy a pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses.

Disorders such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and retinal detachment require surgery.

For astigmatism, the accepted prescription is a lens that will correct the uneven cornea. You will normally have a choice between glasses and contact lenses.

Some cases of retinal detachment can be corrected with laser surgery, which has a high rate of success.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative remedies rely on correcting mineral and vitamin deficiencies that may contribute to vision problems.

Herbal Therapies  –  A daily dose of bilberry is reported to be useful for improving the flow of blood in the vessels of the eye, particularly for people with night blindness and nearsightedness. A daily dose of bilberry is reported to be useful for improving the flow of blood in the vessels of the eye, particularly for people with night blindness and nearsightedness.

Homoeopathy –  If you develop eyestrain – Ruta is the most prescribed herb. If you develop eyestrain – Ruta is the most prescribed herb.

Dietary Considerations

To help strengthen the retina, people with night blindness can take vitamin AZinc may be helpful for night blindness. It is said to aid in adaptation to darkness and to strengthen the retina. Selenium, magnesium, and vitamin Csupplements are antioxidants reported to prevent deterioration of the retina.

Personal Care

Take some time out to rest your eyes if they feel tired or overworked. Lie down in a dark room and cover your eyes with a cool washer or cucumber on each eye – this can be very soothing.

Prevention

Resting your eyes when they are overworked is the first line of defence against vision problems. A well-balanced diet will help your eyes stay healthy and your vision sharp. Take the supplements listed above to improve vision. Stay clear of cigarette smoke and avoid pollution.

  • Rest your eyes occasionally when doing close work.

  • Blink regularly.

  • Changing the focus periodically is good when driving long distances.

  • Breathe deeply for several minutes. Roll your head around with a circular motion while stretching your neck and shoulders, then turn your head from side to side and up and down, repeating several times.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience symptoms of retinal detachment

  • you become unusually sensitive to bright light

  • your contact lenses become uncomfortable

  • a cut or blow to your eye affects your vision

     

Vitiligo

This is an unappealing yet harmless skin disorder characterised by white patches of skin that have seemingly lost their ability to produce the normal colour of the skin.

What to look for

  • White patches of skin usually on exposed areas of the body- can occur symmetrically.

  • Hair may go grey in patches.

Usually this disorder occurs before the age of 20. It can come and go or lay dormant for year. It is usually stressrelated.

The onset of the loss of pigmentation varies in different people, one person may lose all their pigmentation, while another may only have a few spots of lost colour.

Vitiligo is not dangerous, but it is sometimes linked with other diseases or disorders such as thyroid problems, pernicious anaemia, Addison’s disease (decreased adrenal gland function), and alopecia areata (hair loss in patches).

Causes

It is not known what causes vitiligo, although it is suspected that it is hereditary. Emotional stress may the onset of vitiligo.

In essence what happens in the body is that the cells stop producing melanin which gives the skin and hair its colour. There are several possibilities one is that this is an autoimmune disease in which the cells attack their own cells, perceiving them as foreign. The problem can cause distress and embarrassment and can affect people’s self esteem.

Traditional Treatment

There are treatments you can receive from your doctor that can draw the pigment to the cells.

The doctors can try to help the normal pigmentation or to depigment the rest of the body so that it matches. The options are available for you to discuss with your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

  • Certain Homoeopathic treatments have often had very good results.

  • Some positive results from the use of the substance – Para Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA).

  • Some experts say that vitiligo may be the result of a copper deficiency.

When to seek further professional advice

  • if you find the condition is severely affecting your feelings about yourself and your social life