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A1C

A1C is a blood test for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. It measures your average blood glucose, or blood sugar, level over the past 3 months. Doctors may use the A1C alone or in combination with other diabetes tests to make a diagnosis. They also use the A1C to see how well you are managing your diabetes. This test is different from the blood sugar checks that people with diabetes do every day. Your A1C test result is given in percentages. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels have been: A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent Prediabetes is between 5.7 to 6.4 percent. Having prediabetes is a risk factor for getting type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes may need retests every year. Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5 percent If you have diabetes, you should have the A1C test at least twice a year. The A1C goal for many people with diabetes is below 7. It may be different for you. Ask what your goal should be. If your A1C result is too high, you may need to change your diabetes care plan. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

AAA see Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death. Most aneurysms are in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen. There are two types of aortic aneurysm: Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the chest Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen Most aneurysms are found during tests done for other reasons. Some people are at high risk for aneurysms. It is important for them to get screening, because aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. Screening is recommended for people between the ages of 65 and 75 if they have a family history, or if they are men who have smoked. Doctors use imaging tests to find aneurysms. Medicines and surgery are the two main treatments. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm see Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death. Most aneurysms are in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen. There are two types of aortic aneurysm: Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the chest Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen Most aneurysms are found during tests done for other reasons. Some people are at high risk for aneurysms. It is important for them to get screening, because aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. Screening is recommended for people between the ages of 65 and 75 if they have a family history, or if they are men who have smoked. Doctors use imaging tests to find aneurysms. Medicines and surgery are the two main treatments. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Abdominal Pain

Your abdomen extends from below your chest to your groin. Some people call it the stomach, but your abdomen contains many other important organs. Pain in the abdomen can come from any one of them. The pain may start somewhere else, such as your chest. Severe pain doesn't always mean a serious problem. Nor does mild pain mean a problem is not serious. Call your healthcare provider if mild pain lasts a week or more or if you have pain with other symptoms. Get medical help immediately if You have abdominal pain that is sudden and sharp You also have pain in your chest, neck or shoulder You're vomiting blood or have blood in your stool Your abdomen is stiff, hard and tender to touch You can't move your bowels, especially if you're also vomiting

Abdominal Pregnancy see Ectopic Pregnancy

The uterus, or womb, is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. If you have an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg grows in the wrong place, outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. The result is usually a miscarriage. Ectopic pregnancy can be a medical emergency if it ruptures. Signs of ectopic pregnancy include Abdominal pain Shoulder pain Vaginal bleeding Feeling dizzy or faint Get medical care right away if you have these signs. Doctors use drugs or surgery to remove the ectopic tissue so it doesn't damage your organs. Many women who have had ectopic pregnancies go on to have healthy pregnancies later. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Abnormalities see Birth Defects

A birth defect is a problem that happens while a baby is developing in the mother's body. Most birth defects happen during the first 3 months of pregnancy. One out of every 33 babies in the United States is born with a birth defect. A birth defect may affect how the body looks, works or both. Some birth defects like cleft lip or neural tube defects are structural problems that can be easy to see. To find others, like heart defects, doctors use special tests. Birth defects can vary from mild to severe. Some result from exposures to medicines or chemicals. For example, alcohol abuse can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. Infections during pregnancy can also result in birth defects. For most birth defects, the cause is unknown. Some birth defects can be prevented. Taking folic acid can help prevent some birth defects. Talk to your doctor about any medicines you take. Some medicines can cause serious birth defects. Babies with birth defects may need surgery or other medical treatments. Today, doctors can diagnose many birth defects in the womb. This enables them to treat or even correct some problems before the baby is born. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

ABO Blood Groups see Blood

Your blood is made up of liquid and solids. The liquid part, called plasma, is made of water, salts, and protein. Over half of your blood is plasma. The solid part of your blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells (RBC) deliver oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and organs. White blood cells (WBC) fight infection and are part of your immune system. Platelets help blood to clot when you have a cut or wound. Bone marrow, the spongy material inside your bones, makes new blood cells. Blood cells constantly die and your body makes new ones. Red blood cells live about 120 days, and platelets live about 6 days. Some white blood cells live less than a day, but others live much longer. There are four blood types: A, B, AB, or O. Also, blood is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. So if you have type A blood, it's either A positive or A negative. Which type you are is important if you need a blood transfusion. And your Rh factor could be important if you become pregnant - an incompatibility between your type and the baby's could create problems. Blood tests such as blood count tests help doctors check for certain diseases and conditions. They also help check the function of your organs and show how well treatments are working. Problems with your blood may include bleeding disorders, excessive clotting and platelet disorders. If you lose too much blood, you may need a transfusion. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Abortion

An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy. It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or fetus and placenta from the uterus. The procedure is done by a licensed health care professional. The decision to end a pregnancy is very personal. If you are thinking of having an abortion, most healthcare providers advise counseling.

About Your Medicines see Medicines; Over-the-Counter Medicines

You may need to take medicines every day, or only once in a while. Either way, you want to make sure that the medicines are safe and will help you get better. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is in charge of assuring the safety and effectiveness of both prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Even safe drugs can cause unwanted side effects or interactions with food or other medicines you may be taking. They may not be safe during pregnancy. To reduce the risk of reactions and make sure that you get better, it is important for you to take your medicines correctly and be careful when giving medicines to children.

ABPA see Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis is a disease caused by a fungus (or mold) called Aspergillus. The fungus is very common in both indoors and outdoors. Most people breathe in the spores of the fungus every day without being affected. But some people get the disease. It usually occurs in people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems. There are different kinds of aspergillosis. One kind is allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (also called ABPA). Symptoms of ABPA include wheezing and coughing. ABPA can affect healthy people but it is most common in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis. Another kind is invasive aspergillosis, which damages tissues in the body. It usually affects the lungs. Sometimes it can also cause infection in other organs and spread throughout the body. It affects people who have immune system problems, such as people who have had a transplant, are taking high doses of steroids, or getting chemotherapy for some cancers. Your doctor might do a variety of tests to make the diagnosis, including a chest x-ray, CT scan of the lungs, and an examination of tissues for signs of the fungus. Treatment is with antifungal drugs. If you have ABPA, you may also take steroids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Abscess

An abscess is a pocket of pus. You can get an abscess almost anywhere in your body. When an area of your body becomes infected, your body's immune system tries to fight the infection. White blood cells go to the infected area, collect within the damaged tissue, and cause inflammation. During this process, pus forms. Pus is a mixture of living and dead white blood cells, germs, and dead tissue. Bacteria, viruses, parasites and swallowed objects can all lead to abscesses. Skin abscesses are easy to detect. They are red, raised and painful. Abscesses inside your body may not be obvious and can damage organs, including the brain, lungs and others. Treatments include drainage and antibiotics.

Abuse see Child Abuse; Domestic Violence; Elder Abuse

Child abuse is doing something or failing to do something that results in harm to a child or puts a child at risk of harm. Child abuse can be physical, sexual or emotional. Neglect, or not providing for a child's needs, is also a form of abuse. Most abused children suffer greater emotional than physical damage. An abused child may become depressed. He or she may withdraw, think of suicide or become violent. An older child may use drugs or alcohol, try to run away or abuse others. Child abuse is a serious problem. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the police or your local child welfare agency.

Accident Prevention see Safety

You can't remove all the safety hazards from your life, but you can reduce them. To avoid many major hazards and prepare for emergencies Keep emergency phone numbers by your telephones Make a first aid kit for your home Make a family emergency plan Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors Keep guns unloaded and locked up. Lock up the ammunition separately. Follow the directions carefully when using tools or equipment Young children are especially at risk. Supervision is the best way to keep them safe. Childproofing the house can also help.

Accidents see Falls; First Aid; Wounds and Injuries

A fall can change your life. If you're elderly, it can lead to disability and a loss of independence. If your bones are fragile from osteoporosis, you could break a bone, often a hip. But aging alone doesn't make people fall. Diabetes and heart disease affect balance. So do problems with circulation, thyroid or nervous systems. Some medicines make people dizzy. Eye problems or alcohol can be factors. Any of these things can make a fall more likely. Babies and young children are also at risk of falling - off of furniture and down stairs, for example. Falls and accidents seldom "just happen." Taking care of your health by exercising and getting regular eye exams and physicals may help reduce your chance of falling. Getting rid of tripping hazards in your home and wearing nonskid shoes may also help. To reduce the chances of breaking a bone if you do fall, make sure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D. NIH: National Institute on Aging

Achalasia see Esophagus Disorders

The esophagus is the tube that carries food, liquids and saliva from your mouth to the stomach. You may not be aware of your esophagus until you swallow something too large, too hot or too cold. You may also become aware of it when something is wrong. The most common problem with the esophagus is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It happens when a band of muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly. This allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it. Over time, GERD can cause damage to the esophagus. Other problems include heartburn and cancer. Treatment depends on the problem. Some get better with over-the-counter medicines or changes in diet. Others may need prescription medicines or surgery.

Achilles Tendon Injuries see Heel Injuries and Disorders

Heel problems are common and can be painful. Often, they result from too much stress on your heel bone and the tissues that surround it. That stress can come from Injuries Bruises that you get walking, running or jumping Wearing shoes that don't fit or aren't made well Being overweight These can lead to tendinitis, bursitis, and fasciitis, which are all types of inflammation of the tissues that surround your heel. Over time the stress can cause bone spurs and deformities. Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, can also lead to heel problems. Treatments for heel problems might include rest, medicines, exercises, taping, and special shoes. Surgery is rarely needed.

Achondroplasia see Dwarfism

A dwarf is a person of short stature - under 4' 10" as an adult. More than 200 different conditions can cause dwarfism. A single type, called achondroplasia, causes about 70 percent of all dwarfism. Achondroplasia is a genetic condition that affects about 1 in 15,000 to 1 in 40,000 people. It makes your arms and legs short in comparison to your head and trunk. Other genetic conditions, kidney disease and problems with metabolism or hormones can also cause short stature. Dwarfism itself is not a disease. However, there is a greater risk of some health problems. With proper medical care, most people with dwarfism have active lives and live as long as other people.

Acid Reflux see GERD; Heartburn

Your esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) happens when a muscle at the end of your esophagus does not close properly. This allows stomach contents to leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus and irritate it. You may feel a burning in the chest or throat called heartburn. Sometimes, you can taste stomach fluid in the back of the mouth. If you have these symptoms more than twice a week, you may have GERD. You can also have GERD without having heartburn. Your symptoms could include a dry cough, asthma symptoms, or trouble swallowing. Anyone, including infants and children, can have GERD. If not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems. In some cases, you might need medicines or surgery. However, many people can improve their symptoms by Avoiding alcohol and spicy, fatty or acidic foods that trigger heartburn Eating smaller meals Not eating close to bedtime Losing weight if needed Wearing loose-fitting clothes NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

ACL Injuries see Knee Injuries and Disorders

Your knee joint is made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments and fluid. Muscles and tendons help the knee joint move. When any of these structures is hurt or diseased, you have knee problems. Knee problems can cause pain and difficulty walking. Knee problems are very common, and they occur in people of all ages. Knee problems can interfere with many things, from participation in sports to simply getting up from a chair and walking. This can have a big impact on your life. The most common disease affecting the knee is osteoarthritis. The cartilage in the knee gradually wears away, causing pain and swelling. Injuries to ligaments and tendons also cause knee problems. A common injury is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). You usually injure your ACL by a sudden twisting motion. ACL and other knee injuries are common sports injuries. Treatment of knee problems depends on the cause. In some cases your doctor may recommend knee replacement. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Acne

Acne is a common skin disease that causes pimples. Pimples form when hair follicles under your skin clog up. Most pimples form on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Anyone can get acne, but it is common in teenagers and young adults. It is not serious, but it can cause scars. No one knows exactly what causes acne. Hormone changes, such as those during the teenage years and pregnancy, probably play a role. There are many myths about what causes acne. Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but there is little evidence that foods have much effect on acne in most people. Another common myth is that dirty skin causes acne; however, blackheads and pimples are not caused by dirt. Stress doesn't cause acne, but stress can make it worse. If you have acne Clean your skin gently Try not to touch your skin Avoid the sun Treatments for acne include medicines and creams. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Acne Rosacea see Rosacea

Rosacea is a long-term disease that affects your skin and sometimes your eyes. It causes redness and pimples. Rosacea is most common in women and people with fair skin. It most often affects middle-aged and older adults. In most cases, rosacea only affects the face. Symptoms can include Frequent redness of the face, or flushing Small, red lines under the skin Acne A swollen nose Thick skin, usually on the forehead, chin, and cheeks Red, dry, itchy eyes and sometimes vision problems No one knows what causes rosacea. You may be more likely to have it if you blush a lot or if rosacea runs in your family. Rosacea is not dangerous. There is no cure, but treatments can help. They include medicines and sometimes surgery. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Acoustic Neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that develops on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. The tumor usually grows slowly. As it grows, it presses against the hearing and balance nerves. At first, you may have no symptoms or mild symptoms. They can include Loss of hearing on one side Ringing in ears Dizziness and balance problems The tumor can also eventually cause numbness or paralysis of the face. If it grows large enough, it can press against the brain, becoming life-threatening. Acoustic neuroma can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms are similar to those of middle ear problems. Ear exams, hearing tests, and scans can show if you have it. If the tumor stays small, you may only need to have it checked regularly. If you do need treatment, surgery and radiation are options. If the tumors affect both hearing nerves, it is often because of a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis. NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome see HIV/AIDS

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms your immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections and certain cancers. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS. HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth. The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go within two to four weeks. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later. A blood test can tell if you have HIV infection. Your health care provider can do the test, or you can use a home testing kit. Or to find free testing sites, call the national referral hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636 in English and en español; 1-888-232-6348 - TTY). There is no cure, but there are many medicines that fight HIV infection and lower the risk of infecting others. People who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time.

Acromegaly see Growth Disorders; Pituitary Disorders

Does your child seem much shorter - or much taller - than other kids his or her age? It could be normal. Some children may be small for their age but still be developing normally. Some children are short or tall because their parents are. But some children have growth disorders. Growth disorders are problems that prevent children from developing normal height, weight, sexual maturity or other features. Very slow or very fast growth can sometimes signal a gland problem or disease. The pituitary gland makes growth hormone, which stimulates the growth of bone and other tissues. Children who have too little of it may be very short. Treatment with growth hormone can stimulate growth. People can also have too much growth hormone. Usually the cause is a pituitary gland tumor, which is not cancer. Too much growth hormone can cause gigantism in children, where their bones and their body grow too much. In adults, it can cause acromegaly, which makes the hands, feet and face larger than normal. Possible treatments include surgery to remove the tumor, medicines, and radiation therapy.

Actinic Keratosis see Skin Cancer; Sun Exposure

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. They usually form on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms. Another type of skin cancer, melanoma, is more dangerous but less common. Anyone can get skin cancer, but it is more common in people who Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned Have light-colored skin, hair and eyes Have a family member with skin cancer Are over age 50 You should have your doctor check any suspicious skin markings and any changes in the way your skin looks. Treatment is more likely to work well when cancer is found early. If not treated, some types of skin cancer cells can spread to other tissues and organs. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), and biologic therapy. PDT uses a drug and a type of laser light to kill cancer cells. Biologic therapy boosts your body's own ability to fight cancer. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years. Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body. This is most often done by inserting thin needles through the skin, to cause a change in the physical functions of the body. Research has shown that acupuncture reduces nausea and vomiting after surgery and chemotherapy. It can also relieve pain. Researchers don't fully understand how acupuncture works. It might aid the activity of your body's pain-killing chemicals. It also might affect how you release chemicals that regulate blood pressure and flow. NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Acute Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. It causes a cough that often brings up mucus. It can also cause shortness of breath, wheezing, a low fever, and chest tightness. There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Most cases of acute bronchitis get better within several days. But your cough can last for several weeks after the infection is gone. The same viruses that cause colds and the flu often cause acute bronchitis. These viruses spread through the air when people cough, or though physical contact (for example, on unwashed hands). Being exposed to tobacco smoke, air pollution, dusts, vapors, and fumes can also cause acute bronchitis. Less often, bacteria can also cause acute bronchitis. To diagnose acute bronchitis, your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and listen to your breathing. You may also have other tests. Treatments include rest, fluids, and aspirin (for adults) or acetaminophen to treat fever. A humidifier or steam can also help. You may need inhaled medicine to open your airways if you are wheezing. Antibiotics won't help if the cause is viral. You may get antibiotics if the cause is bacterial. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia see Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, there are too many of specific types of white blood cells called lymphocytes or lymphoblasts. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children. Possible risk factors for ALL include being male, being white, previous chemotherapy treatment, exposure to radiation, and for adults, being older than 70. Symptoms of ALL include: Weakness or feeling tired Fever Easy bruising or bleeding Bleeding under the skin Shortness of breath Weight loss or loss of appetite Pain in the bones or stomach Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow diagnose ALL. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Once the leukemia is in remission, you need additional treatment to make sure that it does not come back. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, there are too many of specific types of white blood cells called lymphocytes or lymphoblasts. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children. Possible risk factors for ALL include being male, being white, previous chemotherapy treatment, exposure to radiation, and for adults, being older than 70. Symptoms of ALL include: Weakness or feeling tired Fever Easy bruising or bleeding Bleeding under the skin Shortness of breath Weight loss or loss of appetite Pain in the bones or stomach Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow diagnose ALL. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Once the leukemia is in remission, you need additional treatment to make sure that it does not come back. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia see Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), there are too many of a specific type of white blood cell called a myeloblast. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly if it is not treated. Possible risk factors include smoking, previous chemotherapy treatment, and exposure to radiation. Symptoms of AML include: Fever Shortness of breath Easy bruising or bleeding Bleeding under the skin Weakness or feeling tired Weight loss or loss of appetite Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow diagnose AML. Treatments include chemotherapy, other drugs, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Once the leukemia is in remission, you need additional treatment to make sure that it does not come back. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), there are too many of a specific type of white blood cell called a myeloblast. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly if it is not treated. Possible risk factors include smoking, previous chemotherapy treatment, and exposure to radiation. Symptoms of AML include: Fever Shortness of breath Easy bruising or bleeding Bleeding under the skin Weakness or feeling tired Weight loss or loss of appetite Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow diagnose AML. Treatments include chemotherapy, other drugs, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Once the leukemia is in remission, you need additional treatment to make sure that it does not come back. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Acute Pancreatitis see Pancreatitis

The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the first part of the small intestine. It secretes digestive juices into the small intestine through a tube called the pancreatic duct. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. It happens when digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Either form is serious and can lead to complications. Acute pancreatitis occurs suddenly and usually goes away in a few days with treatment. It is often caused by gallstones. Common symptoms are severe pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. Treatment is usually a few days in the hospital for intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics, and medicines to relieve pain. Chronic pancreatitis does not heal or improve. It gets worse over time and leads to permanent damage. The most common cause is heavy alcohol use. Other causes include cystic fibrosis and other inherited disorders, high levels of calcium or fats in the blood, some medicines, and autoimmune conditions. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and oily stools. Treatment may also be a few days in the hospital for intravenous (IV) fluids, medicines to relieve pain, and nutritional support. After that, you may need to start taking enzymes and eat a special diet. It is also important to not smoke or drink alcohol. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome see Respiratory Failure

Respiratory failure happens when not enough oxygen passes from your lungs into your blood. Your body's organs, such as your heart and brain, need oxygen-rich blood to work well. Respiratory failure also can happen if your lungs can't remove carbon dioxide (a waste gas) from your blood. Too much carbon dioxide in your blood can harm your body's organs. Diseases and conditions that affect your breathing can cause respiratory failure. Examples include Lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, and cystic fibrosis Conditions that affect the nerves and muscles that control breathing, such as spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy and stroke Damage to the tissues and ribs around the lungs. An injury to the chest can cause this damage. Drug or alcohol overdose Injuries from inhaling smoke or harmful fumes Treatment for respiratory failure depends on whether the condition is acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing) and how severe it is. It also depends on the underlying cause. You may receive oxygen therapy and other treatment to help you breathe. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

ADD see Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Is it hard for your child to sit still? Does your child act without thinking first? Does your child start but not finish things? If so, your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Nearly everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, but ADHD lasts more than 6 months and causes problems in school, at home and in social situations. ADHD is more common in boys than girls. It affects 3-5 percent of all American children. The main features of ADHD are Inattention Hyperactivity Impulsivity No one knows exactly what causes ADHD. It sometimes runs in families, so genetics may be a factor. There may also be environmental factors. A complete evaluation by a trained professional is the only way to know for sure if your child has ADHD. Treatment may include medicine to control symptoms, therapy, or both. Structure at home and at school is important. Parent training may also help. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Addison Disease

Your adrenal glands are just above your kidneys. The outside layer of these glands makes hormones that help your body respond to stress and regulate your blood pressure and water and salt balance. Addison disease happens if the adrenal glands don't make enough of these hormones. A problem with your immune system usually causes Addison disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks your own tissues, damaging your adrenal glands. Other causes include infections and cancer. Symptoms include Weight loss Muscle weakness Fatigue that gets worse over time Low blood pressure Patchy or dark skin Lab tests can confirm that you have Addison disease. If you don't treat it, it can be fatal. You will need to take hormone pills for the rest of your life. If you have Addison disease, you should carry an emergency ID. It should say that you have the disease, list your medicines and say how much you need in an emergency. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Adenoidectomy see Adenoids

What are adenoids? Adenoids are a patch of tissue that is high up in the throat, just behind the nose. They, along with the tonsils, are part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system clears away infection and keeps body fluids in balance. The adenoids and tonsils work by trapping germs coming in through the mouth and nose. Adenoids usually start to shrink after about age 5. By the teenage years, they are almost completely gone. By then, the body has other ways to fight germs. What are enlarged adenoids? Enlarged adenoids are adenoids that are swollen. It is a common problem in children. What causes enlarged adenoids? Your child's adenoids can be enlarged, or swollen, for different reasons. It may just be that your child had enlarged adenoids at birth. Adenoids can also become enlarged when they are trying to fight off an infection. They might stay enlarged even after the infection is gone. What problems can enlarged adenoids cause? Enlarged adenoids can make it hard to breathe through the nose. Your child might end up breathing only through the mouth. This may cause A dry mouth, which can also lead to bad breath Cracked lips A runny nose Other problems that enlarged adenoids can cause include Loud breathing Snoring Restless sleep Sleep apnea, where you repeatedly stop breathing for a few seconds while sleeping Ear infections How can enlarged adenoids be diagnosed Your child's health care provider will take a medical history, check your child's ears, throat, and mouth, and feel your child's neck. Since the adenoids are higher up than the throat, the health care provider cannot see them just by looking through your child's mouth. To check the size of your child's adenoids, your provider may use A special mirror in the mouth A long, flexible tube with a light (an endoscope) An x-ray What are the treatments for enlarged adenoids? The treatment depends on what is causing the problem. If your child's symptoms are not too bad, he or she may not need treatment. Your child might get nasal spray to reduce the swelling, or antibiotics if the health care provider thinks that your child has a bacterial infection. In some cases your child may need an adenoidectomy. What is an adenoidectomy and why might I my child need one? An adenoidectomy is surgery to remove the adenoids. Your child might need it if He or she has repeated infections of the adenoids. Sometimes the infections can also cause ear infections and fluid buildup in the middle ear. Antibiotics can't get rid of a bacterial infection The enlarged adenoids block the airways If your child also has problems with his or her tonsils, he or she will probably have a tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils) at the same time that the adenoids are removed. After having the surgery, your child usually goes home the same day. He or she will probably have some throat pain, bad breath, and a runny nose. It can take several days to feel all better.

Adenoids

What are adenoids? Adenoids are a patch of tissue that is high up in the throat, just behind the nose. They, along with the tonsils, are part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system clears away infection and keeps body fluids in balance. The adenoids and tonsils work by trapping germs coming in through the mouth and nose. Adenoids usually start to shrink after about age 5. By the teenage years, they are almost completely gone. By then, the body has other ways to fight germs. What are enlarged adenoids? Enlarged adenoids are adenoids that are swollen. It is a common problem in children. What causes enlarged adenoids? Your child's adenoids can be enlarged, or swollen, for different reasons. It may just be that your child had enlarged adenoids at birth. Adenoids can also become enlarged when they are trying to fight off an infection. They might stay enlarged even after the infection is gone. What problems can enlarged adenoids cause? Enlarged adenoids can make it hard to breathe through the nose. Your child might end up breathing only through the mouth. This may cause A dry mouth, which can also lead to bad breath Cracked lips A runny nose Other problems that enlarged adenoids can cause include Loud breathing Snoring Restless sleep Sleep apnea, where you repeatedly stop breathing for a few seconds while sleeping Ear infections How can enlarged adenoids be diagnosed Your child's health care provider will take a medical history, check your child's ears, throat, and mouth, and feel your child's neck. Since the adenoids are higher up than the throat, the health care provider cannot see them just by looking through your child's mouth. To check the size of your child's adenoids, your provider may use A special mirror in the mouth A long, flexible tube with a light (an endoscope) An x-ray What are the treatments for enlarged adenoids? The treatment depends on what is causing the problem. If your child's symptoms are not too bad, he or she may not need treatment. Your child might get nasal spray to reduce the swelling, or antibiotics if the health care provider thinks that your child has a bacterial infection. In some cases your child may need an adenoidectomy. What is an adenoidectomy and why might I my child need one? An adenoidectomy is surgery to remove the adenoids. Your child might need it if He or she has repeated infections of the adenoids. Sometimes the infections can also cause ear infections and fluid buildup in the middle ear. Antibiotics can't get rid of a bacterial infection The enlarged adenoids block the airways If your child also has problems with his or her tonsils, he or she will probably have a tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils) at the same time that the adenoids are removed. After having the surgery, your child usually goes home the same day. He or she will probably have some throat pain, bad breath, and a runny nose. It can take several days to feel all better.

Adenoma see Benign Tumors

Tumors are abnormal growths in your body. They can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren't cancer. Malignant ones are. Benign tumors grow only in one place. They cannot spread or invade other parts of your body. Even so, they can be dangerous if they press on vital organs, such as your brain. Tumors are made up of extra cells. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as your body needs them. When cells grow old, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes, this process goes wrong. New cells form when your body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can divide without stopping and may form tumor. Treatment often involves surgery. Benign tumors usually don't grow back. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Adenomyosis see Endometriosis

The uterus, or womb, is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels, or bladder. Rarely, it grows in other parts of the body. Symptoms include Pain, usually in the abdomen, lower back, or pelvic areas Infertility Heavy periods and bleeding between periods Painful menstrual cramps Some women have no symptoms at all. Having trouble getting pregnant may be the first sign. The cause of endometriosis is not known. Surgery, usually a laparoscopy, is currently the only way to be sure that you have endometriosis. Your health care provider will first take your medical history, do a pelvic exam, and maybe do imaging tests. There is no cure, but treatments help with pain and infertility. They include pain medicines, hormone treatments, and surgery. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Adenovirus Infections see Viral Infections

Viruses are capsules with genetic material inside. They are very tiny, much smaller than bacteria. Viruses cause familiar infectious diseases such as the common cold, flu and warts. They also cause severe illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, smallpox and hemorrhagic fevers. Viruses are like hijackers. They invade living, normal cells and use those cells to multiply and produce other viruses like themselves. This eventually kills the cells, which can make you sick. Viral infections are hard to treat because viruses live inside your body's cells. They are "protected" from medicines, which usually move through your bloodstream. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections. There are a few antiviral medicines available. Vaccines can help prevent you from getting many viral diseases. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

ADHD see Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Is it hard for your child to sit still? Does your child act without thinking first? Does your child start but not finish things? If so, your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Nearly everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, but ADHD lasts more than 6 months and causes problems in school, at home and in social situations. ADHD is more common in boys than girls. It affects 3-5 percent of all American children. The main features of ADHD are Inattention Hyperactivity Impulsivity No one knows exactly what causes ADHD. It sometimes runs in families, so genetics may be a factor. There may also be environmental factors. A complete evaluation by a trained professional is the only way to know for sure if your child has ADHD. Treatment may include medicine to control symptoms, therapy, or both. Structure at home and at school is important. Parent training may also help. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Adhesions

Adhesions are bands of scar-like tissue. Normally, internal tissues and organs have slippery surfaces so they can shift easily as the body moves. Adhesions cause tissues and organs to stick together. They might connect the loops of the intestines to each other, to nearby organs, or to the wall of the abdomen. They can pull sections of the intestines out of place. This may block food from passing through the intestine. Adhesions can occur anywhere in the body. But they often form after surgery on the abdomen. Almost everyone who has surgery on the abdomen gets adhesions. Some adhesions don't cause any problems. But when they partly or completely block the intestines, they cause symptoms such as Severe abdominal pain or cramping Vomiting Bloating An inability to pass gas Constipation Adhesions can sometimes cause infertility in women by preventing fertilized eggs from reaching the uterus. No tests are available to detect adhesions. Doctors usually find them during surgery to diagnose other problems. Some adhesions go away by themselves. If they partly block your intestines, a diet low in fiber can allow food to move easily through the affected area. If you have a complete intestinal obstruction, it is life threatening. You should get immediate medical attention and may need surgery. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Adolescent Development see Teen Development

As a teenager, you go through many physical, mental, emotional, and social changes. The biggest change is puberty, the process of becoming sexually mature. It usually happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys. As your body changes, you may have questions about sexual health. During this time, you start to develop your own unique personality and opinions. Some changes that you might notice include Increased independence from your parents More concerns about body image and clothes More influence from peers Greater ability to sense right and wrong All of these changes can sometimes seem overwhelming. Some sadness or moodiness can be normal. But feeling very sad, hopeless, or worthless could be warning signs of a mental health problem. If you need help, talk to your parents, school counselor, or health care provider. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Adolescent Health see Teen Health

As a teenager, you go through many changes. Your body is on its way to becoming its adult size. You may notice that you can't fit into your old shoes or that your jeans are now 3 inches too short. Along with these changes, you are probably becoming more independent and making more of your own choices. Some of the biggest choices you face are about your health. Healthy habits, including eating a healthy diet and being physically active, can help you feel good, look good, and do your best in school, work, or sports. They might also prevent diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and some cancers when you are older.

Adolescent Pregnancy see Teenage Pregnancy

Most teenage girls don't plan to get pregnant, but many do. Teen pregnancies carry extra health risks to both the mother and the baby. Often, teens don't get prenatal care soon enough, which can lead to problems later on. They have a higher risk for pregnancy-related high blood pressure and its complications. Risks for the baby include premature birth and a low birth weight. If you're a pregnant teen, you can help yourself and your baby by Getting regular prenatal care Taking your prenatal vitamins for your health and to prevent some birth defects Avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs Using a condom, if you are having sex, to prevent sexually transmitted diseases that could hurt your baby

Adoption

Adoption brings a child born to other parents into a new family. Birth parents have a number of reasons for placing children for adoption. Overall, they want better lives for their children than they think they can give them. Children who are eligible for adoption come from many different settings. Some are in foster care, a temporary home setting. Other children live in orphanages or with birth relatives until they can be adopted. There are different kinds of adoption. Children may be adopted by a relative or a new family. Some parents adopt children from the U.S, and some adopt from abroad.

Adrenal Gland Cancer

Your adrenal, or suprarenal, glands are located on the top of each kidney. These glands produce hormones that you can't live without, including sex hormones and cortisol, which helps you respond to stress and has many other functions. A number of disorders can affect the adrenal glands, including tumors. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren't cancer. Malignant ones are. Most adrenal gland tumors are benign. They usually do not cause symptoms and may not require treatment. Malignant adrenal gland cancers are uncommon. Types of tumors include Adrenocortical carcinoma - cancer in the outer part of the gland Neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer Pheochromocytoma - a rare tumor that is usually benign Symptoms depend on the type of cancer you have. Treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

Adrenal Gland Disorders

The adrenal glands are small glands located on top of each kidney. They produce hormones that you can't live without, including sex hormones and cortisol. Cortisol helps you respond to stress and has many other important functions. With adrenal gland disorders, your glands make too much or not enough hormones. In Cushing's syndrome, there's too much cortisol, while with Addison's disease, there is too little. Some people are born unable to make enough cortisol. Causes of adrenal gland disorders include Genetic mutations Tumors including pheochromocytomas Infections A problem in another gland, such as the pituitary, which helps to regulate the adrenal gland Certain medicines Treatment depends on which problem you have. Surgery or medicines can treat many adrenal gland disorders. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Adrenal Insufficiency see Addison Disease

Your adrenal glands are just above your kidneys. The outside layer of these glands makes hormones that help your body respond to stress and regulate your blood pressure and water and salt balance. Addison disease happens if the adrenal glands don't make enough of these hormones. A problem with your immune system usually causes Addison disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks your own tissues, damaging your adrenal glands. Other causes include infections and cancer. Symptoms include Weight loss Muscle weakness Fatigue that gets worse over time Low blood pressure Patchy or dark skin Lab tests can confirm that you have Addison disease. If you don't treat it, it can be fatal. You will need to take hormone pills for the rest of your life. If you have Addison disease, you should carry an emergency ID. It should say that you have the disease, list your medicines and say how much you need in an emergency. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Adrenoleukodystrophy see Leukodystrophies

The leukodystrophies are rare diseases that affect the cells of the brain. Specifically, the diseases affect the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects nerve cells. Damage to this sheath slows down or blocks messages between the brain and the rest of the body. This leads to problems with Movement Speaking Vision Hearing Mental and physical development Most of the leukodystrophies are genetic. They usually appear during infancy or childhood. They can be hard to detect early because children seem healthy at first. However, symptoms gradually get worse over time. There are no cures for any of the leukodystrophies. Medicines, speech therapy and physical therapy might help with symptoms. Researchers are testing bone marrow transplantation as a treatment for some of the leukodystrophies. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Adult Immunization see Immunization

Shots may hurt a little, but the diseases they can prevent are a lot worse. Some are even life-threatening. Immunization shots, or vaccinations, are essential. They protect against things like measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Immunizations are important for adults as well as children. Your immune system helps your body fight germs by producing substances to combat them. Once it does, the immune system "remembers" the germ and can fight it again. Vaccines contain germs that have been killed or weakened. When given to a healthy person, the vaccine triggers the immune system to respond and thus build immunity. Before vaccines, people became immune only by actually getting a disease and surviving it. Immunizations are an easier and less risky way to become immune. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Advance Directives

What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes? Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on. A living will tells which treatments you want if you are dying or permanently unconscious. You can accept or refuse medical care. You might want to include instructions on The use of dialysis and breathing machines If you want to be resuscitated if your breathing or heartbeat stops Tube feeding Organ or tissue donation A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names your health care proxy. Your proxy is someone you trust to make health decisions for you if you are unable to do so. NIH: National Cancer Institute

AF see Atrial Fibrillation

An arrhythmia is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of arrhythmia. The cause is a disorder in the heart's electrical system. Often, people who have AF may not even feel symptoms. But you may feel Palpitations -- an abnormal rapid heartbeat Shortness of breath Weakness or difficulty exercising Chest pain Dizziness or fainting Fatigue Confusion AF can lead to an increased risk of stroke. In many patients, it can also cause chest pain, heart attack, or heart failure. Doctors diagnose AF using family and medical history, a physical exam, and a test called an electrocardiogram (EKG), which looks at the electrical waves your heart makes. Treatments include medicines and procedures to restore normal rhythm. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Affordable Care Act see Health Insurance

Health insurance helps protect you from high medical care costs. It is a contract between you and your insurance company. You buy a plan or policy, and the company agrees to pay part of your expenses when you need medical care. Many people in the United States get a health insurance policy through their employers. In most cases, the employer helps pay for that insurance. Insurance through employers is often with a managed care plan. These plans contract with health care providers and medical facilities to provide care for members at reduced costs. You can also purchase health insurance on your own. People who meet certain requirements can qualify for government health insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act expands health insurance coverage for many people in the U.S.

African American Health

Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from Genetics Environmental factors Access to care Cultural factors On this page, you'll find links to health issues that affect African Americans.

After Surgery

After any operation, you'll have some side effects. There is usually some pain with surgery. There may also be swelling and soreness around the area that the surgeon cut. Your surgeon can tell you which side effects to expect. There can also be complications. These are unplanned events linked to the operation. Some complications are infection, too much bleeding, reaction to anesthesia, or accidental injury. Some people have a greater risk of complications because of other medical conditions. Your surgeon can tell you how you might feel and what you will be able to do - or not do - the first few days, weeks, or months after surgery. Some other questions to ask are How long you will be in the hospital What kind of supplies, equipment, and help you might need when you go home When you can go back to work When it is ok to start exercising again Are they any other restrictions in your activities Following your surgeon's advice can help you recover as soon as possible. Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research

Age-Related Macular Degeneration see Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. It is a disease that destroys your sharp, central vision. You need central vision to see objects clearly and to do tasks such as reading and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. It does not hurt, but it causes cells in the macula to die. There are two types: wet and dry. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid. Wet AMD damages the macula quickly. Blurred vision is a common early symptom. Dry AMD happens when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Your gradually lose your central vision. A common early symptom is that straight lines appear crooked. Regular comprehensive eye exams can detect macular degeneration before the disease causes vision loss. Treatment can slow vision loss. It does not restore vision. NIH: National Eye Institute

Agent Orange see Veterans and Military Health

Military service members and veterans have made sacrifices to our country, and they face different health issues than civilians. During their service, they are at risk for various injuries. These injuries can happen during combat, while others involve physical stress to the body. Sometimes the injuries are life-threatening or serious enough to cause disability. Others may not be as serious, but can be painful and affect daily life. Specific types of injuries include Shrapnel and gunshot wounds Lost limbs Head and brain injuries Tinnitus and hearing loss, typically from exposure to noise Sprains and strains Limited range of motion, especially in ankles and knees There may also be a risk of health problems from exposure to environmental hazards, such as contaminated water, chemicals, infections, and burn pits. Being in combat and being separated from your family can be stressful. The stress can put service members and veterans at risk for mental health problems. These include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse. Suicide can also be a concern.

Ageusia see Taste and Smell Disorders

Our senses of taste and smell give us great pleasure. Taste helps us enjoy food and beverages. Smell lets us enjoy the scents and fragrances like roses or coffee. Taste and smell also protect us, letting us know when food has gone bad or when there is a gas leak. They make us want to eat, ensuring we get the nutrition we need. People with taste disorders may taste things that aren't there, may not be able to tell the difference in tastes, or can't taste at all. People with smell disorders may lose their sense of smell, or things may smell different. A smell they once enjoyed may now smell bad to them. Many illnesses and injuries can cause taste and smell disorders, including colds and head injuries. Some drugs can also affect taste and smell. Most people lose some ability to taste and smell as they get older. Treatment varies, depending on the problem and its cause. NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Aging see Seniors' Health

People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many seniors live active and healthy lives. But there's no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change. There are things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age.It is important to understand what to expect. Some changes may just be part of normal aging, while others may be a warning sign of a medical problem. It is important to know the difference, and to let your healthcare provider know if you have any concerns. Having a healthy lifestyle can help you to deal with normal aging changes and make the most of your life.

Aging Skin see Skin Aging

Your skin changes as you age. You might notice wrinkles, age spots and dryness. Your skin also becomes thinner and loses fat, making it less plump and smooth. It might take longer to heal, too. Sunlight is a major cause of skin aging. You can protect yourself by staying out of the sun when it is strongest, using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding sunlamps and tanning beds. Cigarette smoking also contributes to wrinkles. The wrinkling increases with the amount of cigarettes and number of years a person has smoked. Many products claim to revitalize aging skin or reduce wrinkles, but the Food and Drug Administration has approved only a few for sun-damaged or aging skin. Various treatments soothe dry skin and reduce the appearance of age spots. NIH: National Institute on Aging

Agoraphobia see Phobias

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no real danger. There are many specific phobias. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places, and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood. People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience Panic and fear Rapid heartbeat Shortness of breath Trembling A strong desire to get away Phobias usually start in children or teens, and continue into adulthood. The causes of specific phobias are not known, but they sometimes run in families. Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include medicines, therapy or both. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

AIDS see HIV/AIDS

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms your immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. This puts you at risk for serious infections and certain cancers. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS. HIV most often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can give it to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth. The first signs of HIV infection may be swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. These may come and go within two to four weeks. Severe symptoms may not appear until months or years later. A blood test can tell if you have HIV infection. Your health care provider can do the test, or you can use a home testing kit. Or to find free testing sites, call the national referral hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636 in English and en español; 1-888-232-6348 - TTY). There is no cure, but there are many medicines that fight HIV infection and lower the risk of infecting others. People who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time.

AIDS and Infections see HIV/AIDS and Infections

Having HIV/AIDS weakens your body's immune system. Your immune system normally fights germs that enter your body. When HIV/AIDS makes it weak, it can't fight germs well. This can lead to serious infections that don't often affect healthy people. These are called opportunistic infections (OIs). There are many types of OIs. Tuberculosis and a serious related disease, Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) are bacterial infections. Viral infections include cytomegalovirus (CMV) and hepatitis C. Fungi cause thrush (candidiasis), cryptococcal meningitis, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) and histoplasmosis, and parasites cause crypto (cryptosporidiosis) and toxo (toxoplasmosis). Having HIV/AIDS can make any infection harder to treat. People with AIDS are also more likely to suffer complications of common illnesses such as the flu. The good news is that you can help prevent infections by taking your HIV/AIDS medicines. Other things that can help include practicing safe sex, washing your hands well and often and cooking your food well.

AIDS and Pregnancy see HIV/AIDS and Pregnancy

If you have HIV/AIDS and find out you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you should let your health care provider know as soon as possible. Some HIV/AIDS medicines may harm your baby. Your health care provider may want you to take different medicines or change the doses. It is also possible to give HIV to your baby. This is most likely to happen around the time you give birth. For this reason, treatment during this time is very important for protecting your baby from infection. Several treatments may prevent the virus from spreading from you to your baby. Your health care provider can recommend the best one for you. Your baby will also need to have treatment for at least the first six weeks of life. Regular testing will be needed to find out if your baby is infected.

AIDS in Women see HIV/AIDS in Women

HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, kills or damages cells of the body's immune system. The most advanced stage of infection with HIV is AIDS, which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person. Women can get HIV more easily during vaginal sex than men can. And if they do get HIV, they have unique problems, including: Complications such as repeated vaginal yeast infections, severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and a higher risk of cervical cancer Different side effects from the drugs that treat HIV The risk of giving HIV to their baby while pregnant or during childbirth There is no cure, but there are many medicines to fight both HIV infection and the infections and cancers that come with it. People can live with the disease for many years.

AIDS Medicines see HIV/AIDS Medicines

In the early 1980s, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, patients rarely lived longer than a few years. But today, there are many effective medicines to fight the infection, and people with HIV have longer, healthier lives. There are five major types of medicines: Reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors - interfere with a critical step during the HIV life cycle and keep the virus from making copies of itself Protease inhibitors - interfere with a protein that HIV uses to make infectious viral particles Fusion inhibitors - block the virus from entering the body's cells Integrase inhibitors - block an enzyme HIV needs to make copies of itself Multidrug combinations - combine two or more different types of drugs into one These medicines help people with HIV, but they are not perfect. They do not cure HIV/AIDS. People with HIV infection still have the virus in their bodies. They can still spread HIV to others through unprotected sex and needle sharing, even when they are taking their medicines. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

AIDS--Living With AIDS see Living with HIV/AIDS

Infection with HIV is serious. But the outlook for people with HIV/AIDS is improving. If you are infected with HIV, there are many things you can do to help ensure you have a longer, healthier life. One important thing is to take your medicines. Make sure you have a health care provider who knows how to treat HIV. You may want to join a support group. Learn as much as you can about your disease and its treatment. And eat healthy foods and exercise regularly - things that everyone should try to do.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it's also called smog. Some air pollutants are poisonous. Inhaling them can increase the chance you'll have health problems. People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from air pollution. Air pollution isn't just outside - the air inside buildings can also be polluted and affect your health. Environmental Protection Agency

Airsickness see Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a common problem in people traveling by car, train, airplanes, and especially boats. Anyone can get it, but it is more common in children, pregnant women, and people taking certain medicines. Motion sickness can start suddenly, with a queasy feeling and cold sweats. It can then lead to dizziness and nausea and vomiting. Your brain senses movement by getting signals from your inner ears, eyes, muscles, and joints. When it gets signals that do not match, you can get motion sickness. For example, if you are reading on your phone while riding a bus, your eyes are focused on something that is not moving, but your inner ear senses motion. Where you sit can make a difference. The front seat of a car, forward cars of a train, upper deck on a boat or wing seats in a plane may give you a smoother ride. Looking out into the distance - instead of trying to read or look at something in the vehicle - can also help. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Alagille Syndrome see Liver Diseases

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons. There are many kinds of liver diseases. Viruses cause some of them, like hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Others can be the result of drugs, poisons or drinking too much alcohol. If the liver forms scar tissue because of an illness, it's called cirrhosis. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, can be one sign of liver disease. Cancer can affect the liver. You could also inherit a liver disease such as hemochromatosis. Tests such as imaging tests and liver function tests can check for liver damage and help to diagnose liver diseases.

Alaska Native Health see Native American Health

Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from: Genetics Environmental factors Access to care Cultural factors On this page, you'll find links to health issues that affect Native Americans.

Alcohol

If you are like many Americans, you drink alcohol at least occasionally. For many people, moderate drinking is probably safe. It may even have health benefits, including reducing your risk of certain heart problems. For most women and for most people over 65, moderate drinking is no more than three drinks a day or seven drinks per week. For men under 65, it is no more than four drinks a day or 14 drinks per week. Some people should not drink at all, including alcoholics, children, pregnant women, people taking certain medicines, and people with certain medical conditions. If you have questions about whether it is safe for you to drink, speak with your health care provider. Anything more than moderate drinking can be risky. Heavy drinking can lead to alcoholism and alcohol abuse, as well as injuries, liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. It can also cause problems at home, at work, and with friends. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol Abuse in Pregnancy see Pregnancy and Substance Abuse

When you are pregnant, you are not just "eating for two." You also breathe and drink for two, so it is important to carefully consider what you give to your baby. If you smoke, use alcohol or take illegal drugs, so does your unborn baby. First, don't smoke. Smoking during pregnancy passes nicotine and cancer-causing drugs to your baby. Smoke also keeps your baby from getting nourishment and raises the risk of stillbirth or premature birth. Don't drink alcohol. There is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can drink while pregnant. Alcohol can cause life-long physical and behavioral problems in children, including fetal alcohol syndrome. Don't use illegal drugs. Using illegal drugs may cause underweight babies, birth defects or withdrawal symptoms after birth. If you are pregnant and you smoke, drink alcohol or do drugs, get help. Your health care provider can recommend programs to help you quit. You and your baby will be better off. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Alcohol and Youth see Underage Drinking

Alcohol is the most widely abused substance among America's youth. Drinking by young people has big health and safety risks. It is dangerous because it Causes many deaths and injuries Can lead to poor decisions about engaging in risky behavior, such as drinking and driving or unprotected sex Increases the risk of physical and sexual assault Can lead to other problems, such as trouble in school May interfere with brain development Increases the risk of alcohol problems later in life Kids often begin drinking to look "cool" or fit in with their peers. Parents can help their kids avoid alcohol problems. Open communication and conversations about drinking are important. So is being involved in your child's life. Get help for your child if you suspect a drinking problem. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol Consumption see Alcohol

If you are like many Americans, you drink alcohol at least occasionally. For many people, moderate drinking is probably safe. It may even have health benefits, including reducing your risk of certain heart problems. For most women and for most people over 65, moderate drinking is no more than three drinks a day or seven drinks per week. For men under 65, it is no more than four drinks a day or 14 drinks per week. Some people should not drink at all, including alcoholics, children, pregnant women, people taking certain medicines, and people with certain medical conditions. If you have questions about whether it is safe for you to drink, speak with your health care provider. Anything more than moderate drinking can be risky. Heavy drinking can lead to alcoholism and alcohol abuse, as well as injuries, liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. It can also cause problems at home, at work, and with friends. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol Dependence see Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

For most adults, moderate alcohol use is probably not harmful. However, about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder. This means that their drinking causes distress and harm. It includes alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a disease that causes Craving - a strong need to drink Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've started Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms Tolerance - the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect With alcohol abuse, you are not physically dependent, but you still have a serious problem. The drinking may cause problems at home, work, or school. It may cause you to put yourself in dangerous situations, or lead to legal or social problems. Another common problem is binge drinking. It is drinking about five or more drinks in two hours for men. For women, it is about four or more drinks in two hours. Too much alcohol is dangerous. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. It can cause damage to the liver, brain, and other organs. Drinking during pregnancy can harm your baby. Alcohol also increases the risk of death from car crashes, injuries, homicide, and suicide. If you want to stop drinking, there is help. Start by talking to your health care provider. Treatment may include medicines, counseling, and support groups. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol Withdrawal see Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

For most adults, moderate alcohol use is probably not harmful. However, about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder. This means that their drinking causes distress and harm. It includes alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a disease that causes Craving - a strong need to drink Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've started Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms Tolerance - the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect With alcohol abuse, you are not physically dependent, but you still have a serious problem. The drinking may cause problems at home, work, or school. It may cause you to put yourself in dangerous situations, or lead to legal or social problems. Another common problem is binge drinking. It is drinking about five or more drinks in two hours for men. For women, it is about four or more drinks in two hours. Too much alcohol is dangerous. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. It can cause damage to the liver, brain, and other organs. Drinking during pregnancy can harm your baby. Alcohol also increases the risk of death from car crashes, injuries, homicide, and suicide. If you want to stop drinking, there is help. Start by talking to your health care provider. Treatment may include medicines, counseling, and support groups. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

For most adults, moderate alcohol use is probably not harmful. However, about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder. This means that their drinking causes distress and harm. It includes alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a disease that causes Craving - a strong need to drink Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've started Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms Tolerance - the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect With alcohol abuse, you are not physically dependent, but you still have a serious problem. The drinking may cause problems at home, work, or school. It may cause you to put yourself in dangerous situations, or lead to legal or social problems. Another common problem is binge drinking. It is drinking about five or more drinks in two hours for men. For women, it is about four or more drinks in two hours. Too much alcohol is dangerous. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. It can cause damage to the liver, brain, and other organs. Drinking during pregnancy can harm your baby. Alcohol also increases the risk of death from car crashes, injuries, homicide, and suicide. If you want to stop drinking, there is help. Start by talking to your health care provider. Treatment may include medicines, counseling, and support groups. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

ALL see Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, there are too many of specific types of white blood cells called lymphocytes or lymphoblasts. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children. Possible risk factors for ALL include being male, being white, previous chemotherapy treatment, exposure to radiation, and for adults, being older than 70. Symptoms of ALL include: Weakness or feeling tired Fever Easy bruising or bleeding Bleeding under the skin Shortness of breath Weight loss or loss of appetite Pain in the bones or stomach Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow diagnose ALL. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Once the leukemia is in remission, you need additional treatment to make sure that it does not come back. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis see Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis is a disease caused by a fungus (or mold) called Aspergillus. The fungus is very common in both indoors and outdoors. Most people breathe in the spores of the fungus every day without being affected. But some people get the disease. It usually occurs in people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems. There are different kinds of aspergillosis. One kind is allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (also called ABPA). Symptoms of ABPA include wheezing and coughing. ABPA can affect healthy people but it is most common in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis. Another kind is invasive aspergillosis, which damages tissues in the body. It usually affects the lungs. Sometimes it can also cause infection in other organs and spread throughout the body. It affects people who have immune system problems, such as people who have had a transplant, are taking high doses of steroids, or getting chemotherapy for some cancers. Your doctor might do a variety of tests to make the diagnosis, including a chest x-ray, CT scan of the lungs, and an examination of tissues for signs of the fungus. Treatment is with antifungal drugs. If you have ABPA, you may also take steroids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Allergic Rhinitis see Allergy; Hay Fever

An allergy is a reaction by your immune system to something that does not bother most other people. People who have allergies often are sensitive to more than one thing. Substances that often cause reactions are Pollen Dust mites Mold spores Pet dander Food Insect stings Medicines Normally, your immune system fights germs. It is your body's defense system. In most allergic reactions, however, it is responding to a false alarm. Genes and the environment probably both play a role. Allergies can cause a variety of symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, itching, rashes, swelling, or asthma. Allergies can range from minor to severe. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that can be life-threatening. Doctors use skin and blood tests to diagnose allergies. Treatments include medicines, allergy shots, and avoiding the substances that cause the reactions. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Allergy

An allergy is a reaction by your immune system to something that does not bother most other people. People who have allergies often are sensitive to more than one thing. Substances that often cause reactions are Pollen Dust mites Mold spores Pet dander Food Insect stings Medicines Normally, your immune system fights germs. It is your body's defense system. In most allergic reactions, however, it is responding to a false alarm. Genes and the environment probably both play a role. Allergies can cause a variety of symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, itching, rashes, swelling, or asthma. Allergies can range from minor to severe. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that can be life-threatening. Doctors use skin and blood tests to diagnose allergies. Treatments include medicines, allergy shots, and avoiding the substances that cause the reactions. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Allergy, Food see Food Allergy

Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body's immune system. In adults, the foods that most often trigger allergic reactions include fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts, such as walnuts. Problem foods for children can include eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat. The allergic reaction may be mild. In rare cases it can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of food allergy include Itching or swelling in your mouth Vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps and pain Hives or eczema Tightening of the throat and trouble breathing Drop in blood pressure Your health care provider may use a detailed history, elimination diet, and skin and blood tests to diagnose a food allergy. When you have food allergies, you must be prepared to treat an accidental exposure. Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace, and carry an auto-injector device containing epinephrine (adrenaline). You can only prevent the symptoms of food allergy by avoiding the food. After you and your health care provider have identified the foods to which you are sensitive, you must remove them from your diet. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Allergy, Latex see Latex Allergy

Latex is a milky fluid that comes from the tropical rubber tree. Hundreds of everyday products contain latex. Repeated exposure to a protein in natural latex can make you more likely to develop a latex allergy. If your immune system detects the protein, a reaction can start in minutes. You could get a rash or asthma. In rare cases you could have a severe reaction called anaphylaxis. Your doctor may use a physical exam and skin and blood tests to diagnose it. There are medicines to treat a reaction, but it is best to try to avoid latex. Common latex products include Gloves Condoms Balloons Rubber bands Shoe soles Pacifiers You can find latex-free versions of these products.

Alopecia see Hair Loss

You lose up to 100 hairs from your scalp every day. That's normal, and in most people, those hairs grow back. But many men -- and some women -- lose hair as they grow older. You can also lose your hair if you have certain diseases, such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or lupus. If you take certain medicines or have chemotherapy for cancer, you may also lose your hair. Other causes are stress, a low protein diet, a family history, or poor nutrition. Treatment for hair loss depends on the cause. In some cases, treating the underlying cause will correct the problem. Other treatments include medicines and hair restoration.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT deficiency) is an inherited condition that raises your risk for lung and liver disease. Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein that protects the lungs. The liver makes it. If the AAT proteins aren't the right shape, they get stuck in the liver cells and can't reach the lungs. Symptoms of AAT deficiency include Shortness of breath and wheezing Repeated lung infections Tiredness Rapid heartbeat upon standing Vision problems Weight loss Some people have no symptoms and do not develop complications. Blood tests and genetic tests can tell if you have it. If your lungs are affected, you may also have lung tests. Treatments include medicines, pulmonary rehab, and extra oxygen, if needed. Severe cases may need a lung transplant. Not smoking can prevent or delay lung symptoms. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Alpha-tocopherol see Vitamin E

Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It plays a role in your immune system and metabolic processes. Good sources of vitamin E include Vegetable oils Margarine Nuts and seeds Leafy greens Vitamin E is also added to foods like cereals. Most people get enough vitamin E from the foods they eat. People with certain disorders, such as liver diseases, cystic fibrosis, and Crohn's disease may need extra vitamin E. Vitamin E supplements may be harmful for people who take blood thinners and other medicines. Check with your health care provider before taking the supplements. NIH: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

ALS see Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disease that attacks nerve cells called neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages from your brain and spinal cord to your voluntary muscles - the ones you can control, like in your arms and legs. At first, this causes mild muscle problems. Some people notice Trouble walking or running Trouble writing Speech problems Eventually, you lose your strength and cannot move. When muscles in your chest fail, you cannot breathe. A breathing machine can help, but most people with ALS die from respiratory failure. The disease usually strikes between age 40 and 60. More men than women get it. No one knows what causes ALS. It can run in families, but usually it strikes at random. There is no cure. Medicines can relieve symptoms and, sometimes, prolong survival. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Alternative Medicine see Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Many Americans use medical treatments that are not part of mainstream medicine. When you are using these types of care, it may be called complementary, integrative, or alternative medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with mainstream medical care. An example is using acupuncture to help with side effects of cancer treatment. When health care providers and facilities offer both types of care, it is called integrative medicine. Alternative medicine is used instead of mainstream medical care. The claims that non-mainstream practitioners make can sound promising. However, researchers do not know how safe many of these treatments are or how well they work. Studies are underway to determine the safety and usefulness of many of these practices. To minimize the health risks of a non-mainstream treatment Discuss it with your doctor. It might have side effects or interact with other medicines. Find out what the research says about it Choose practitioners carefully Tell all of your doctors and practitioners about all of the different types of treatments you use NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Alternative Therapy for Cancer see Cancer Alternative Therapies

You have many choices to make about your cancer treatment. One choice you might be thinking about is complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Examples of CAM therapies are acupuncture, chiropractic, and herbal medicines. People with cancer may use CAM to Help cope with the side effects of cancer treatments Ease worries of cancer treatment and related stress Feel that they are doing something more to help their own care CAM treatments do not work for everyone. Some methods, such as acupuncture, might help with nausea, pain and other side effects of cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor to make sure that all aspects of your cancer care work together. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Alzheimer's Caregivers

Caring for someone who has Alzheimer's disease (AD) can be stressful and overwhelming. It's important to take care of yourself. Ask for and accept help. Talk to the doctor. Find out what treatments might help control symptoms or address behavior problems. Find a support group. Others who have "been there" may be able to help and will understand. If there are times of day that the person is less confused or more cooperative, take advantage of that in daily routines. Consider using adult day care or respite services. These offer a break with the peace of mind that the patient is being taken care of. Begin to plan for the future. This may include Getting financial and legal documents in order Looking into assisted living or nursing homes Finding out what your health insurance and Medicare will cover NIH: National Institute on Aging

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia among older people. Dementia is a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities. AD begins slowly. It first involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. People with AD may have trouble remembering things that happened recently or names of people they know. A related problem, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), causes more memory problems than normal for people of the same age. Many, but not all, people with MCI will develop AD. In AD, over time, symptoms get worse. People may not recognize family members. They may have trouble speaking, reading or writing. They may forget how to brush their teeth or comb their hair. Later on, they may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, they need total care. This can cause great stress for family members who must care for them. AD usually begins after age 60. The risk goes up as you get older. Your risk is also higher if a family member has had the disease. No treatment can stop the disease. However, some drugs may help keep symptoms from getting worse for a limited time. NIH: National Institute on Aging

Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or "lazy eye," is the most common cause of visual impairment in children. It happens when an eye fails to work properly with the brain. The eye may look normal, but the brain favors the other eye. In some cases, it can affect both eyes. Causes include Strabismus - a disorder in which the two eyes don't line up in the same direction Refractive error in an eye - when one eye cannot focus as well as the other, because of a problem with its shape. This includes nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Cataract - a clouding in the lens of the eye It can be hard to diagnose amblyopia. It is often found during a routine vision exam. Treatment for amblyopia forces the child to use the eye with weaker vision. There are two common ways to do this. One is to have the child wear a patch over the good eye for several hours each day, over a number of weeks to months. The other is with eye drops that temporarily blur vision. Each day, the child gets a drop of a drug called atropine in the stronger eye. It is also sometimes necessary to treat the underlying cause. This could include glasses or surgery. NIH: National Eye Institute

AMD see Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. It is a disease that destroys your sharp, central vision. You need central vision to see objects clearly and to do tasks such as reading and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. It does not hurt, but it causes cells in the macula to die. There are two types: wet and dry. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid. Wet AMD damages the macula quickly. Blurred vision is a common early symptom. Dry AMD happens when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. Your gradually lose your central vision. A common early symptom is that straight lines appear crooked. Regular comprehensive eye exams can detect macular degeneration before the disease causes vision loss. Treatment can slow vision loss. It does not restore vision. NIH: National Eye Institute

Amenorrhea see Menstruation

Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman's monthly cycle. Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, sheds its lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus. It passes out of the body through the vagina. Periods usually start between age 11 and 14 and continue until menopause at about age 51. They usually last from three to five days. Besides bleeding from the vagina, you may have Abdominal or pelvic cramping pain Lower back pain Bloating and sore breasts Food cravings Mood swings and irritability Headache and fatigue Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a group of symptoms that start before the period. It can include emotional and physical symptoms. Consult your health care provider if you have big changes in your cycle. They may be signs of other problems that should be treated. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

American Indian Health see Native American Health

Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from: Genetics Environmental factors Access to care Cultural factors On this page, you'll find links to health issues that affect Native Americans.

Amino Acid Metabolism Disorders

Metabolism is the process your body uses to make energy from the food you eat. Food is made up of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Your digestive system breaks the food parts down into sugars and acids, your body's fuel. Your body can use this fuel right away, or it can store the energy in your body. If you have a metabolic disorder, something goes wrong with this process. One group of these disorders is amino acid metabolism disorders. They include phenylketonuria (PKU) and maple syrup urine disease. Amino acids are "building blocks" that join together to form proteins. If you have one of these disorders, your body may have trouble breaking down certain amino acids. Or there may be a problem getting the amino acids into your cells. These problems cause a buildup of harmful substances in your body. That can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening, health problems. These disorders are usually inherited. A baby who is born with one may not have any symptoms right away. Because the disorders can be so serious, early diagnosis and treatment are critical. Newborn babies get screened for many of them, using blood tests. Treatments may include special diets, medicines, and supplements. Some babies may also need additional treatments if there are complications.

AML see Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection. Your blood cells form in your bone marrow. In leukemia, however, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells crowd out the healthy blood cells, making it hard for blood to do its work. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), there are too many of a specific type of white blood cell called a myeloblast. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly if it is not treated. Possible risk factors include smoking, previous chemotherapy treatment, and exposure to radiation. Symptoms of AML include: Fever Shortness of breath Easy bruising or bleeding Bleeding under the skin Weakness or feeling tired Weight loss or loss of appetite Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow diagnose AML. Treatments include chemotherapy, other drugs, radiation therapy, stem cell transplants, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Once the leukemia is in remission, you need additional treatment to make sure that it does not come back. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Amnesia see Memory

Every day, you have different experiences and you learn new things. Your brain cannot store all of that information, so it has to decide what is worth remembering. Memory is the process of storing and then remembering this information. There are different types of memory. Short-term memory stores information for a few seconds or minutes. Long-term memory stores it for a longer period of time. Memory doesn't always work perfectly. As you grow older, it may take longer to remember things. It's normal to forget things once in awhile. We've all forgotten a name, where we put our keys, or if we locked the front door. If you are a senior who forget things more often than others your age, you may have mild cognitive impairment. Forgetting how to use your phone or find your way home may be signs of a more serious problem, such as Alzheimer's disease Other types of dementia Stroke Depression Head injuries Blood clots or tumors in the brain Kidney, liver, or thyroid problems Reactions to certain medicines If you're worried about your forgetfulness, see your health care provider. NIH: National Institute on Aging

Amniocentesis see Prenatal Testing

Prenatal testing provides information about your baby's health before he or she is born. Some routine tests during pregnancy also check on your health. At your first prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will test for a number of things, including problems with your blood, signs of infections, and whether you are immune to rubella (German measles) and chickenpox. Throughout your pregnancy, your healthcare provider may suggest a number of other tests, too. Some tests are suggested for all women, such as screenings for gestational diabetes, Down syndrome, and HIV. Other tests might be offered based on your: Age Personal or family health history Ethnic background Results of routine tests Some tests are screening tests. They detect risks for or signs of possible health problems in you or your baby. Based on screening test results, your doctor might suggest diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests confirm or rule out health problems in you or your baby. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Amphetamines see Club Drugs; Methamphetamine

Club drugs are group of psychoactive drugs. They act on the central nervous system and can cause changes in mood, awareness, and how you act. These drugs are often abused by young adults at all-night dance parties, dance clubs, and bars. They include Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as Ecstasy XTC, X, E, Adam, Molly, Hug Beans, and Love Drug Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), also known as G, Liquid Ecstasy, and Soap Ketamine, also known as Special K, K, Vitamin K, and Jet Rohypnol, also known as Roofies Methamphetamine, also known as Speed, Ice, Chalk, Meth, Crystal, Crank, and Glass Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), also known as Acid, Blotter, and Dots Some of these drugs are approved for certain medical uses. Other uses of these drugs are abuse. Club drugs are also sometimes used as "date rape" drugs, to make someone unable to say no to or fight back against sexual assault. Abusing these drugs can cause serious health problems and sometimes death. They are even more dangerous if you use them with alcohol. NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Amputation see Artificial Limbs; Limb Loss

People can lose all or part of an arm or leg for a number of reasons. Common ones include Circulation problems from atherosclerosis or diabetes. They may cause you to need an amputation. Traumatic injuries, including from traffic accidents and military combat Cancer Birth defects If you are missing an arm or leg, an artificial limb can sometimes replace it. The device, which is called a prosthesis, can help you to perform daily activities such as walking, eating, or dressing. Some artificial limbs let you function nearly as well as before.

Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis occurs when abnormal proteins called amyloids build up and form deposits. The deposits can collect in organs such as the kidney and heart. This can cause the organs to become stiff and unable to work the way they should. There are three main types of amyloidosis: Primary - with no known cause Secondary - caused by another disease, including some types of cancer Familial - passed down through genes Symptoms can vary, depending upon which organs are affected. Treatment depends on the type of amyloidosis you have. The goal is to help with symptoms and limit the production of proteins. If another disease is the cause, it needs to be treated.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a nervous system disease that attacks nerve cells called neurons in your brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages from your brain and spinal cord to your voluntary muscles - the ones you can control, like in your arms and legs. At first, this causes mild muscle problems. Some people notice Trouble walking or running Trouble writing Speech problems Eventually, you lose your strength and cannot move. When muscles in your chest fail, you cannot breathe. A breathing machine can help, but most people with ALS die from respiratory failure. The disease usually strikes between age 40 and 60. More men than women get it. No one knows what causes ALS. It can run in families, but usually it strikes at random. There is no cure. Medicines can relieve symptoms and, sometimes, prolong survival. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are man-made substances related to male sex hormones. Doctors use anabolic steroids to treat some hormone problems in men, delayed puberty, and muscle loss from some diseases. Bodybuilders and athletes often use anabolic steroids to build muscles and improve athletic performance. Using them this way is not legal or safe. Abuse of anabolic steroids has been linked with many health problems. They include Acne Breast growth and shrinking of testicles in men Voice deepening and growth of facial hair in women High blood pressure Heart problems, including heart attack Liver disease, including cancer Kidney damage Aggressive behavior NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Anal Cancer

The anus is where stool leaves your body when you go to the bathroom. It is made up of your outer layers of skin and the end of your large intestine. Anal cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the anus. Anal cancer is rare. It is more common in smokers and people over 50. You are also at higher risk if you have HPV, have anal sex, or have many sexual partners. Symptoms include bleeding, pain, or lumps in the anal area. Anal itching and discharge can also be signs of anal cancer. Doctors use tests that examine the anus to diagnose anal cancer. They include a physical exam, endoscopy, ultrasound, and biopsy. Treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. NIH: National Cancer Institute

Anal Disorders

The anus is the opening of the rectum through which stool passes out of your body. Problems with the anus are common. They include hemorrhoids, abscesses, fissures (cracks), and cancer. You may be embarrassed to talk about your anal troubles. But it is important to let your doctor know, especially if you have pain or bleeding. The more details you can give about your problem, the better your doctor will be able to help you. Treatments vary depending on the particular problem. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Analgesics see Pain Relievers

Pain relievers are medicines that reduce or relieve headaches, sore muscles, arthritis, or other aches and pains. There are many different pain medicines, and each one has advantages and risks. Some types of pain respond better to certain medicines than others. Each person may also have a slightly different response to a pain reliever. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are good for many types of pain. There are two main types of OTC pain medicines: acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are examples of OTC NSAIDs. If OTC medicines don't relieve your pain, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. Many NSAIDs are also available at higher prescription doses. The most powerful pain relievers are opioids. They are very effective, but they can sometimes have serious side effects. There is also a risk of addiction. Because of the risks, you must use them only under a doctor's supervision. There are many things you can do to help ease pain. Pain relievers are just one part of a pain treatment plan.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction. It can begin very quickly, and symptoms may be life-threatening. The most common causes are reactions to foods (especially peanuts), medications, and stinging insects. Other causes include exercise and exposure to latex. Sometimes no cause can be found. It can affect many organs: Skin - itching, hives, redness, swelling Nose - sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose Mouth - itching, swelling of the lips or tongue Throat - itching, tightness, trouble swallowing, swelling of the back of the throat Chest - shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chest pain or tightness Heart - weak pulse, passing out, shock Gastrointestinal tract - vomiting, diarrhea, cramps Nervous system - dizziness or fainting If someone is having a serious allergic reaction, call 9-1-1. If an auto-injector is available, give the person the injection right away. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Anatomy

Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body. On this page, you'll find links to descriptions and pictures of the human body's parts and organ systems from head to toe.

Anemia

If you have anemia, your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body. The most common cause of anemia is not having enough iron. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives the red color to blood. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Anemia has three main causes: blood loss, lack of red blood cell production, and high rates of red blood cell destruction. Conditions that may lead to anemia include Heavy periods Pregnancy Ulcers Colon polyps or colon cancer Inherited disorders A diet that does not have enough iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 Blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, or cancer Aplastic anemia, a condition that can be inherited or acquired G6PD deficiency, a metabolic disorder Anemia can make you feel tired, cold, dizzy, and irritable. You may be short of breath or have a headache. Your doctor will diagnose anemia with a physical exam and blood tests. Treatment depends on the kind of anemia you have. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Anencephaly see Neural Tube Defects

Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord. They happen in the first month of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. The two most common neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. In spina bifida, the fetal spinal column doesn't close completely. There is usually nerve damage that causes at least some paralysis of the legs. In anencephaly, most of the brain and skull do not develop. Babies with anencephaly are usually either stillborn or die shortly after birth. Another type of defect, Chiari malformation, causes the brain tissue to extend into the spinal canal. The exact causes of neural tube defects aren't known. You're at greater risk of having an infant with a neural tube defect if you Are obese Have poorly controlled diabetes Take certain antiseizure medicines Getting enough folic acid, a type of B vitamin, before and during pregnancy prevents most neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are usually diagnosed before the infant is born, through lab or imaging tests. There is no cure for neural tube defects. The nerve damage and loss of function that are present at birth are usually permanent. However, a variety of treatments can sometimes prevent further damage and help with complications. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Anesthesia

If you are having surgery, your doctor will give you medicine called an anesthetic. Anesthetics reduce or prevent pain. There are three main types: Local - numbs one small area of the body. You stay awake and alert. Regional - blocks pain in an area of the body, such an arm or leg. A common type is epidural anesthesia, which is often used during childbirth. General - makes you unconscious. You do not feel any pain, and you do not remember the procedure afterwards. You may also get a mild sedative to relax you. You stay awake but may not remember the procedure afterwards. Sedation can be used with or without anesthesia. The type of anesthesia or sedation you get depends on many factors. They include the procedure you are having and your current health.

Aneurysms

An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death. Most aneurysms occur in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen. Aneurysms also can happen in arteries in the brain, heart and other parts of the body. If an aneurysm in the brain bursts, it causes a stroke. Aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. Often doctors can stop aneurysms from bursting if they find and treat them early. They use imaging tests to find aneurysms. Often aneurysms are found by chance during tests done for other reasons. Medicines and surgery are the two main treatments for aneurysms. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Angiitis see Vasculitis

Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels. It happens when the body's immune system attacks the blood vessel by mistake. It can happen because of an infection, a medicine, or another disease. The cause is often unknown. Vasculitis can affect arteries, veins and capillaries. Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the heart to the body's organs. Veins are the vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that connect the small arteries and veins. When a blood vessel becomes inflamed, it can Narrow, making it more difficult for blood to get through Close off completely so that blood can't get through Stretch and weaken so much that it bulges. The bulge is called an aneurysm. If it bursts, it can cause dangerous bleeding inside the body. Symptoms of vasculitis can vary, but usually include fever, swelling and a general sense of feeling ill. The main goal of treatment is to stop the inflammation. Steroids and other medicines to stop inflammation are often helpful. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Angina

Angina is chest pain or discomfort you feel when there is not enough blood flow to your heart muscle. Your heart muscle needs the oxygen that the blood carries. Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. It may feel like indigestion. You may also feel pain in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common heart disease. CAD happens when a sticky substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, reducing blood flow. There are three types of angina: Stable angina is the most common type. It happens when the heart is working harder than usual. Stable angina has a regular pattern. Rest and medicines usually help. Unstable angina is the most dangerous. It does not follow a pattern and can happen without physical exertion. It does not go away with rest or medicine. It is a sign that you could have a heart attack soon. Variant angina is rare. It happens when you are resting. Medicines can help. Not all chest pain or discomfort is angina. If you have chest pain, you should see your health care provider. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Angioplasty

If you have coronary artery disease, the arteries in your heart are narrowed or blocked by a sticky material called plaque. Angioplasty is a procedure to restore blood flow through the artery. You have angioplasty in a hospital. The doctor threads a thin tube through a blood vessel in the arm or groin up to the involved site in the artery. The tube has a tiny balloon on the end. When the tube is in place, the doctor inflates the balloon to push the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and restores blood flow. Doctors may use angioplasty to Reduce chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart Minimize damage to heart muscle from a heart attack Many people go home the day after angioplasty, and are able to return to work within a week of coming home. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Animal Bites

Wild animals usually avoid people. They might attack, however, if they feel threatened, are sick, or are protecting their young or territory. Attacks by pets are more common. Animal bites rarely are life-threatening, but if they become infected, you can develop serious medical problems. To prevent animal bites and complications from bites Never pet, handle, or feed unknown animals Leave snakes alone Watch your children closely around animals Vaccinate your cats, ferrets, and dogs against rabies Spay or neuter your dog to make it less aggressive Get a tetanus booster if you have not had one recently Wear boots and long pants when you are in areas with venomous snakes If an animal bites you, clean the wound with soap and water as soon as possible. Get medical attention if necessary. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Animal Diseases and Your Health

Animal diseases that people can catch are called zoonoses. Many diseases affecting humans can be traced to animals or animal products. You can get a disease directly from an animal, or indirectly, through the environment. Farm animals can carry diseases. If you touch them or things they have touched, like fencing or buckets, wash your hands thoroughly. Adults should make sure children who visit farms or petting zoos wash up as well. Though they may be cute and cuddly, wild animals may carry germs, viruses, and parasites. Deer and deer mice carry ticks that cause Lyme disease. Some wild animals may carry rabies. Enjoy wildlife from a distance. Pets can also make you sick. Reptiles pose a particular risk. Turtles, snakes and iguanas can transmit Salmonella bacteria to their owners. You can get rabies from an infected dog or toxoplasmosis from handling kitty litter of an infected cat. The chance that your dog or cat will make you sick is small. You can reduce the risk by practicing good hygiene, keeping pet areas clean and keeping your pets' shots up-to-date.

Animal Health see Animal Diseases and Your Health; Pet Health

Animal diseases that people can catch are called zoonoses. Many diseases affecting humans can be traced to animals or animal products. You can get a disease directly from an animal, or indirectly, through the environment. Farm animals can carry diseases. If you touch them or things they have touched, like fencing or buckets, wash your hands thoroughly. Adults should make sure children who visit farms or petting zoos wash up as well. Though they may be cute and cuddly, wild animals may carry germs, viruses, and parasites. Deer and deer mice carry ticks that cause Lyme disease. Some wild animals may carry rabies. Enjoy wildlife from a distance. Pets can also make you sick. Reptiles pose a particular risk. Turtles, snakes and iguanas can transmit Salmonella bacteria to their owners. You can get rabies from an infected dog or toxoplasmosis from handling kitty litter of an infected cat. The chance that your dog or cat will make you sick is small. You can reduce the risk by practicing good hygiene, keeping pet areas clean and keeping your pets' shots up-to-date.

Ankle Injuries and Disorders

Your ankle bone and the ends of your two lower leg bones make up the ankle joint. Your ligaments, which connect bones to one another, stabilize and support it. Your muscles and tendons move it. The most common ankle problems are sprains and fractures. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments. It may take a few weeks to many months to heal completely. A fracture is a break in a bone. You can also injure other parts of the ankle such as tendons, which join muscles to bone, and cartilage, which cushions your joints. Ankle sprains and fractures are common sports injuries.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis of the spine. It causes inflammation between your vertebrae, which are the bones that make up your spine, and in the joints between your spine and pelvis. In some people, it can affect other joints. AS is more common and more severe in men. It often runs in families. The cause is unknown, but it is likely that both genes and factors in the environment play a role. Early symptoms of AS include back pain and stiffness. These problems often start in late adolescence or early adulthood. Over time, AS can fuse your vertebrae together, limiting movement. Some people have symptoms that come and go. Others have severe, ongoing pain. A diagnosis of AS is based on your medical history and a physical examination. You may also have imaging or blood tests. AS has no cure, but medicines can relieve symptoms and may keep the disease from getting worse. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and exercising can also help. In rare cases, you may need surgery to straighten the spine. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease

Annual Physical Examination see Health Checkup

Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Which exams and screenings you need depends on your age, health and family history, and lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke. To make the most of your next check-up, here are some things to do before you go: Review your family health history Find out if you are due for any general screenings or vaccinations Write down a list of issues and questions to take with you Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Anorexia Nervosa see Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious behavior problems. They can include severe overeating or not consuming enough food to stay healthy. They also involve extreme concern about your shape or weight. Types of eating disorders include Anorexia nervosa, in which you become too thin, but you don't eat enough because you think you are fat Bulimia nervosa, which involves periods of overeating followed by purging, sometimes through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating Women are more likely than men to have eating disorders. They usually start in the teenage years and often occur along with depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse. Eating disorders can lead to heart and kidney problems and even death. Getting help early is important. Treatment involves monitoring, talk therapy, nutritional counseling, and sometimes medicines. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Anosmia see Taste and Smell Disorders

Our senses of taste and smell give us great pleasure. Taste helps us enjoy food and beverages. Smell lets us enjoy the scents and fragrances like roses or coffee. Taste and smell also protect us, letting us know when food has gone bad or when there is a gas leak. They make us want to eat, ensuring we get the nutrition we need. People with taste disorders may taste things that aren't there, may not be able to tell the difference in tastes, or can't taste at all. People with smell disorders may lose their sense of smell, or things may smell different. A smell they once enjoyed may now smell bad to them. Many illnesses and injuries can cause taste and smell disorders, including colds and head injuries. Some drugs can also affect taste and smell. Most people lose some ability to taste and smell as they get older. Treatment varies, depending on the problem and its cause. NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury see Knee Injuries and Disorders

Your knee joint is made up of bone, cartilage, ligaments and fluid. Muscles and tendons help the knee joint move. When any of these structures is hurt or diseased, you have knee problems. Knee problems can cause pain and difficulty walking. Knee problems are very common, and they occur in people of all ages. Knee problems can interfere with many things, from participation in sports to simply getting up from a chair and walking. This can have a big impact on your life. The most common disease affecting the knee is osteoarthritis. The cartilage in the knee gradually wears away, causing pain and swelling. Injuries to ligaments and tendons also cause knee problems. A common injury is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). You usually injure your ACL by a sudden twisting motion. ACL and other knee injuries are common sports injuries. Treatment of knee problems depends on the cause. In some cases your doctor may recommend knee replacement. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Anthrax

Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil. Many people know about it from the 2001 bioterror attacks. In the attacks, someone purposely spread anthrax through the U.S. mail. This killed five people and made 22 sick. Anthrax is rare. It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. It can cause three forms of disease in people. They are Cutaneous, which affects the skin. People with cuts or open sores can get it if they touch the bacteria. Inhalation, which affects the lungs. You can get this if you breathe in spores of the bacteria. Gastrointestinal, which affects the digestive system. You can get it by eating infected meat. Antibiotics often cure anthrax if it is diagnosed early. But many people don't know they have anthrax until it is too late to treat. A vaccine to prevent anthrax is available for people in the military and others at high risk. NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Anti-platelet drugs see Blood Thinners

If you have some kinds of heart or blood vessel disease, or if you have poor blood flow to your brain, your doctor may recommend that you take a blood thinner. Blood thinners reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing the formation of blood clots in your arteries and veins. You may also take a blood thinner if you have An abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation Heart valve surgery Congenital heart defects There are two main types of blood thinners. Anticoagulants, such as heparin or warfarin (also called Coumadin), work on chemical reactions in your body to lengthen the time it takes to form a blood clot. Antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, prevent blood cells called platelets from clumping together to form a clot. When you take a blood thinner, follow directions carefully. Make sure that your healthcare provider knows all of the medicines and supplements you are using.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are medicines that fight bacterial infections. Used properly, they can save lives. But there is a growing problem of antibiotic resistance. It happens when bacteria change and become able to resist the effects of an antibiotic. Using antibiotics can lead to resistance. Each time you take antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed. But resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. They can spread to other people. They can also cause infections that certain antibiotics cannot cure. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one example. It causes infections that are resistant to several common antibiotics. To help prevent antibiotic resistance Don't use antibiotics for viruses like colds or flu. Antibiotics don't work on viruses. Don't pressure your doctor to give you an antibiotic. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Finish your medicine even if you feel better. If you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you. Don't save antibiotics for later or use someone else's prescription. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight bacterial infections. Used properly, antibiotics can save lives. They either kill bacteria or keep them from reproducing. Your body's natural defenses can usually take it from there. Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as Colds Flu Most coughs and bronchitis Sore throats, unless caused by strep If a virus is making you sick, taking antibiotics may do more harm than good. Using antibiotics when you don't need them, or not using them properly, can add to antibiotic resistance. This happens when bacteria change and become able to resist the effects of an antibiotic. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. It is important to finish your medicine even if you feel better. If you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you. Do not save antibiotics for later or use someone else's prescription. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Anticoagulants see Blood Thinners

If you have some kinds of heart or blood vessel disease, or if you have poor blood flow to your brain, your doctor may recommend that you take a blood thinner. Blood thinners reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing the formation of blood clots in your arteries and veins. You may also take a blood thinner if you have An abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation Heart valve surgery Congenital heart defects There are two main types of blood thinners. Anticoagulants, such as heparin or warfarin (also called Coumadin), work on chemical reactions in your body to lengthen the time it takes to form a blood clot. Antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, prevent blood cells called platelets from clumping together to form a clot. When you take a blood thinner, follow directions carefully. Make sure that your healthcare provider knows all of the medicines and supplements you are using.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression. Your doctor can prescribe them for you. They work to balance some of the natural chemicals in our brains. It may take several weeks for them to help. There are several types of antidepressants. You and your doctor may have to try a few before finding what works best for you. Antidepressants may cause mild side effects that usually do not last long. These may include headache, nausea, sleep problems, restlessness, and sexual problems. Tell your doctor if you have any side effects. You should also let your doctor know if you take any other medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements. It is important to keep taking your medicines, even if you feel better. Do not stop taking your medicines without talking to your doctor. You often need to stop antidepressants gradually. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Antihypertensive Medicines see Blood Pressure Medicines

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, usually has no symptoms. But it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. If you cannot control your high blood pressure through lifestyle changes such as losing weight and reducing sodium in your diet, you may need medicines. Blood pressure medicines work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Some remove extra fluid and salt from the body. Others slow down the heartbeat or relax and widen blood vessels. Often, two or more medicines work better than one. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Antimicrobial Resistance see Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are medicines that fight bacterial infections. Used properly, they can save lives. But there is a growing problem of antibiotic resistance. It happens when bacteria change and become able to resist the effects of an antibiotic. Using antibiotics can lead to resistance. Each time you take antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed. But resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. They can spread to other people. They can also cause infections that certain antibiotics cannot cure. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one example. It causes infections that are resistant to several common antibiotics. To help prevent antibiotic resistance Don't use antibiotics for viruses like colds or flu. Antibiotics don't work on viruses. Don't pressure your doctor to give you an antibiotic. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Finish your medicine even if you feel better. If you stop treatment too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect you. Don't save antibiotics for later or use someone else's prescription. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. They are also available as dietary supplements. Examples of antioxidants include Beta-carotene Lutein Lycopene Selenium Vitamin A Vitamin C Vitamin E Vegetables and fruits are rich sources of antioxidants. There is good evidence that eating a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits is healthy and lowers risks of certain diseases. But it isn't clear whether this is because of the antioxidants, something else in the foods, or other factors. High-dose supplements of antioxidants may be linked to health risks in some cases. For example, high doses of beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. High doses of vitamin E may increase risks of prostate cancer and one type of stroke. Antioxidant supplements may also interact with some medicines. To minimize risk, tell you of your health care providers about any antioxidants you use. NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Antisocial Personality Disorder see Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses. They involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible. The behaviors cause serious problems with relationships and work. People with personality disorders have trouble dealing with everyday stresses and problems. They often have stormy relationships with other people. The cause of personality disorders is unknown. However, genes and childhood experiences may play a role. The symptoms of each personality disorder are different. They can mild or severe. People with personality disorders may have trouble realizing that they have a problem. To them, their thoughts are normal, and they often blame others for their problems. They may try to get help because of their problems with relationships and work. Treatment usually includes talk therapy and sometimes medicine.

Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are part of life. You may feel anxious before you take a test or walk down a dark street. This kind of anxiety is useful - it can make you more alert or careful. It usually ends soon after you are out of the situation that caused it. But for millions of people in the United States, the anxiety does not go away, and gets worse over time. They may have chest pains or nightmares. They may even be afraid to leave home. These people have anxiety disorders. Types include Panic disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder Post-traumatic stress disorder Phobias Generalized anxiety disorder Treatment can involve medicines, therapy or both. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death. Most aneurysms are in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen. There are two types of aortic aneurysm: Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the chest Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen Most aneurysms are found during tests done for other reasons. Some people are at high risk for aneurysms. It is important for them to get screening, because aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. Screening is recommended for people between the ages of 65 and 75 if they have a family history, or if they are men who have smoked. Doctors use imaging tests to find aneurysms. Medicines and surgery are the two main treatments. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Aortic Dissection see Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a bulge or "ballooning" in the wall of an artery. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. If an aneurysm grows large, it can burst and cause dangerous bleeding or even death. Most aneurysms are in the aorta, the main artery that runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen. There are two types of aortic aneurysm: Thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the chest Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) - these occur in the part of the aorta running through the abdomen Most aneurysms are found during tests done for other reasons. Some people are at high risk for aneurysms. It is important for them to get screening, because aneurysms can develop and become large before causing any symptoms. Screening is recommended for people between the ages of 65 and 75 if they have a family history, or if they are men who have smoked. Doctors use imaging tests to find aneurysms. Medicines and surgery are the two main treatments. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Aortic Stenosis see Heart Valve Diseases

Your heart has four valves. Normally, these valves open to let blood flow through or out of your heart, and then shut to keep it from flowing backward. But sometimes they don't work properly. If they don't, you could have Regurgitation - when blood leaks back through the valve in the wrong direction Mitral valve prolapse - when one of the valves, the mitral valve, has "floppy" flaps and doesn't close tightly. It's one of the most common heart valve conditions. Sometimes it causes regurgitation. Stenosis - when the valve doesn't open enough and blocks blood flow Valve problems can be present at birth or caused by infections, heart attacks, or heart disease or damage. The main sign of heart valve disease is an unusual heartbeat sound called a heart murmur. Your doctor can hear a heart murmur with a stethoscope. But many people have heart murmurs without having a problem. Heart tests can show if you have a heart valve disease. Some valve problems are minor and do not need treatment. Others might require medicine, medical procedures, or surgery to repair or replace the valve. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Aphasia

Aphasia is a disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language. It can make it hard for you to read, write, and say what you mean to say. It is most common in adults who have had a stroke. Brain tumors, infections, injuries, and dementia can also cause it. The type of problem you have and how bad it is depends on which part of your brain is damaged and how much damage there is. There are four main types: Expressive aphasia - you know what you want to say, but you have trouble saying or writing what you mean Receptive aphasia - you hear the voice or see the print, but you can't make sense of the words Anomic aphasia - you have trouble using the correct word for objects, places, or events Global aphasia - you can't speak, understand speech, read, or write Some people recover from aphasia without treatment. Most, however, need language therapy as soon as possible. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Aphthous Ulcers see Canker Sores

Canker sores are small, round sores in your mouth. They can be on the inside of your cheek, under your tongue, or in the back of your throat. They usually have a red edge and a gray center. They can be quite painful. They are not the same as cold sores, which are caused by herpes simplex. Canker sores aren't contagious. They may happen if you have a viral infection. They may also be triggered by stress, food allergies, lack of vitamins and minerals, hormonal changes or menstrual periods. In some cases the cause is unknown. In most cases, the sores go away by themselves. Some ointments, creams or rinses may help with the pain. Avoiding hot, spicy food while you have a canker sore also helps.

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious blood disorder. If you have it, your bone marrow doesn't make enough new blood cells. There are different types, including Fanconi anemia. Causes include Toxic substances, such as pesticides, arsenic, and benzene Radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer Certain medicines Infections such as hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus, or HIV Autoimmune disorders Certain inherited conditions Pregnancy In many people, the cause is unknown. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. It can cause heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat, an enlarged heart, and heart failure. You may also have frequent infections and bleeding. Your doctor will diagnose aplastic anemia based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results. Once your doctor knows the cause and severity of the condition, he or she can create a treatment plan for you. Treatments include blood transfusions, blood and marrow stem cell transplants, and medicines. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Apnea, Sleep see Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. It causes your airway to collapse or become blocked during sleep. Normal breathing starts again with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. You are more at risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, or have a family history or small airways. Children with enlarged tonsils or adenoids may also get it. Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and sleep study results. When your sleep is interrupted throughout the night, you can be drowsy during the day. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents, and other medical problems. If you have it, it is important to get treatment. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can treat sleep apnea in many people. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Appendicitis

The appendix is a small, tube-like organ attached to the first part of the large intestine. It is located in the lower right part of the abdomen. It has no known function. A blockage inside of the appendix causes appendicitis. The blockage leads to increased pressure, problems with blood flow, and inflammation. If the blockage is not treated, the appendix can burst and spread infection into the abdomen. This causes a condition called peritonitis. The main symptom is pain in the abdomen, often on the right side. It is usually sudden and gets worse over time. Other symptoms may include Swelling in the abdomen Loss of appetite Nausea and vomiting Constipation or diarrhea Inability to pass gas Low fever Not everyone with appendicitis has all these symptoms. Appendicitis is a medical emergency. Treatment almost always involves removing the appendix. Anyone can get appendicitis, but it is more common among people 10 to 30 years old. NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Arachnoiditis see Meningitis

Meningitis is inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. There are several types of meningitis. The most common is viral meningitis. You get it when a virus enters the body through the nose or mouth and travels to the brain. Bacterial meningitis is rare, but can be deadly. It usually starts with bacteria that cause a cold-like infection. It can cause stroke, hearing loss, and brain damage. It can also harm other organs. Pneumococcal infections and meningococcal infections are the most common causes of bacterial meningitis. Anyone can get meningitis, but it is more common in people with weak immune systems. Meningitis can get serious very quickly. You should get medical care right away if you have A sudden high fever A severe headache A stiff neck Nausea or vomiting Early treatment can help prevent serious problems, including death. Tests to diagnose meningitis include blood tests, imaging tests, and a spinal tap to test cerebrospinal fluid. Antibiotics can treat bacterial meningitis. Antiviral medicines may help some types of viral meningitis. Other medicines can help treat symptoms. There are vaccines to prevent some of the bacterial infections that cause meningitis. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Arctic Health see Native American Health

Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from: Genetics Environmental factors Access to care Cultural factors On this page, you'll find links to health issues that affect Native Americans.

ARDS see Respiratory Failure

Respiratory failure happens when not enough oxygen passes from your lungs into your blood. Your body's organs, such as your heart and brain, need oxygen-rich blood to work well. Respiratory failure also can happen if your lungs can't remove carbon dioxide (a waste gas) from your blood. Too much carbon dioxide in your blood can harm your body's organs. Diseases and conditions that affect your breathing can cause respiratory failure. Examples include Lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, and cystic fibrosis Conditions that affect the nerves and muscles that control breathing, such as spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy and stroke Damage to the tissues and ribs around the lungs. An injury to the chest can cause this damage. Drug or alcohol overdose Injuries from inhaling smoke or harmful fumes Treatment for respiratory failure depends on whether the condition is acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing) and how severe it is. It also depends on the underlying cause. You may receive oxygen therapy and other treatment to help you breathe. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Arm Injuries and Disorders

Of the 206 bones in your body, 3 of them are in your arm; the humerus, radius and ulna. Your arms are also made up of muscles, joints, tendons and other connective tissue. Injuries to any of these parts of the arm can occur during sports, a fall or an accident. Types of arm injuries include Tendinitis and bursitis Sprains Dislocations Broken bones Some nerve problems, arthritis, or cancers can affect the entire arm and cause pain, spasms, swelling and trouble moving. You may also have problems or injure specific parts of your arm, such as your hand, wrist, elbow or shoulder.

Arnold-Chiari Malformation see Chiari Malformation

Chiari malformations (CMs) are structural defects in the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls balance. With CM, brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. It can happen when part of the skull is too small, which pushes the brain tissue down. There are several types of CM. One type often happens in children who have neural tube defects. Some types cause no symptoms and don't need treatment. If you have symptoms, they may include Neck pain Balance problems Numbness or other abnormal feelings in the arms or legs Dizziness Vision problems Difficulty swallowing Poor hand coordination Doctors diagnose CM using imaging tests. Medicines may ease some symptoms, such as pain. Surgery is the only treatment available to correct or stop the progression of nerve damage. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Arrhythmia

An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat. It means that your heart beats too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. When the heart beats faster than normal, it is called tachycardia. When the heart beats too slowly, it is called bradycardia. The most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which causes an irregular and fast heart beat. Many factors can affect your heart's rhythm, such as having had a heart attack, smoking, congenital heart defects, and stress. Some substances or medicines may also cause arrhythmias. Symptoms of arrhythmias include Fast or slow heart beat Skipping beats Lightheadedness or dizziness Chest pain Shortness of breath Sweating Your doctor can run tests to find out if you have an arrhythmia. Treatment to restore a normal heart rhythm may include medicines, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker, or sometimes surgery. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Arsenic

Arsenic is a natural element found in soil and minerals. Arsenic compounds are used to preserve wood, as pesticides, and in some industries. Arsenic can get into air, water, and the ground from wind-blown dust. It may also get into water from runoff. You may be exposed to arsenic by Taking in small amounts in food, drinking water, or air Breathing sawdust or burning smoke from arsenic-treated wood Living in an area with high levels of arsenic in rock Working in a job where arsenic is made or used Exposure to arsenic can cause many health problems. Being exposed to low levels for a long time can change the color of your skin. It can cause corns and small warts. Exposure to high levels of arsenic can cause death. Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry

Arteriosclerosis see Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Plaque is a sticky substance made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. That limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body. Atherosclerosis can lead to serious problems, including Coronary artery disease. These arteries supply blood to your heart. When they are blocked, you can suffer angina or a heart attack. Carotid artery disease. These arteries supply blood to your brain. When they are blocked you can suffer a stroke. Peripheral arterial disease. These arteries are in your arms, legs and pelvis. When they are blocked, you can suffer from numbness, pain and sometimes infections. Atherosclerosis usually doesn't cause symptoms until it severely narrows or totally blocks an artery. Many people don't know they have it until they have a medical emergency. A physical exam, imaging, and other diagnostic tests can tell if you have it. Medicines can slow the progress of plaque buildup. Your doctor may also recommend procedures such as angioplasty to open the arteries, or surgery on the coronary or carotid arteries. Lifestyle changes can also help. These include following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and managing stress. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Arteriosclerosis of Extremities see Peripheral Arterial Disease

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) happens when there is a narrowing of the blood vessels outside of your heart. The cause of PAD is atherosclerosis. This happens when plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the arms and legs. Plaque is a substance made up of fat and cholesterol. It causes the arteries to narrow or become blocked. This can reduce or stop blood flow, usually to the legs. If severe enough, blocked blood flow can cause tissue death and can sometimes lead to amputation of the foot or leg. The main risk factor for PAD is smoking. Other risk factors include older age and diseases like diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Many people who have PAD don't have any symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include Pain, numbness, achiness, or heaviness in the leg muscles. This happens when walking or climbing stairs. Weak or absent pulses in the legs or feet Sores or wounds on the toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all A pale or bluish color to the skin A lower temperature in one leg than the other leg Poor nail growth on the toes and decreased hair growth on the legs Erectile dysfunction, especially among men who have diabetes PAD can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and transient ischemic attack. Doctors diagnose PAD with a physical exam and heart and imaging tests. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medicines, and sometimes surgery. Lifestyle changes include dietary changes, exercise, and efforts to lower high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Arteriosclerosis, Coronary see Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women. CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can't get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts' blood supply, causing permanent heart damage. Over time, CAD can also weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure means the heart can't pump blood well to the rest of the body. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal beating rhythm of the heart. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Arteriovenous Malformations

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are defects in your vascular system. The vascular system includes arteries, veins, and capillaries. Arteries carry blood away from the heart to other organs; veins carry blood back to the heart. Capillaries connect the arteries and veins. An AVM is a snarled tangle of arteries and veins. They are connected to each other, with no capillaries. That interferes with the blood circulation in an organ. AVMs can happen anywhere, but they are more common in the brain or spinal cord. Most people with brain or spinal cord AVMs have few, if any, major symptoms. Sometimes they can cause seizures or headaches. AVMs are rare. The cause is not known, but they seem to develop during pregnancy or soon after birth. Doctors use imaging tests to detect them. Medicines can help with the symptoms from AVMs. The greatest danger is hemorrhage. Treatment for AVMs can include surgery or focused radiation therapy. Because surgery can be risky, you and your doctor need to make a decision carefully. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Arthritis

If you feel pain and stiffness in your body or have trouble moving around, you might have arthritis. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Over time, a swollen joint can become severely damaged. Some kinds of arthritis can also cause problems in your organs, such as your eyes or skin. Types of arthritis include Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It's often related to aging or to an injury. Autoimmune arthritis happens when your body's immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of this kind of arthritis. Juvenile arthritis is a type of arthritis that happens in children. Infectious arthritis is an infection that has spread from another part of the body to the joint. Psoriatic arthritis affects people with psoriasis. Gout is a painful type of arthritis that happens when too much uric acid builds up in the body. It often starts in the big toe. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Arthrography see Joint Disorders

A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, elbow, or shoulder. Joints can be damaged by many types of injuries or diseases, including Arthritis - inflammation of a joint. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. Over time, the joint can become severely damaged. Bursitis - inflammation of a fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint Dislocations - injuries that force the ends of the bones out of position Treatment of joint problems depends on the cause. If you have a sports injury, treatment often begins with the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Other possible treatments include pain relievers, keeping the injured area from moving, rehabilitation, and sometimes surgery. For arthritis, injuries, or other diseases, you may need joint replacement surgery to remove the damaged joint and put in a new one. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Arthroplasty see Hip Replacement; Joint Disorders; Knee Replacement

Hip replacement is surgery for people with severe hip damage. The most common cause of damage is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes pain, swelling, and reduced motion in your joints. It can interfere with your daily activities. If other treatments such as physical therapy, pain medicines, and exercise haven't helped, hip replacement surgery might be an option for you. During a hip replacement operation, the surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone from your hip joint and replaces them with new, man-made parts. A hip replacement can Relieve pain Help your hip joint work better Improve walking and other movements The most common problem after surgery is hip dislocation. Because a man-made hip is smaller than the original joint, the ball can come out of its socket. The surgery can also cause blood clots and infections. With a hip replacement, you might need to avoid certain activities, such as jogging and high-impact sports. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Arthroscopy see Joint Disorders

A joint is where two or more bones come together, like the knee, hip, elbow, or shoulder. Joints can be damaged by many types of injuries or diseases, including Arthritis - inflammation of a joint. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. Over time, the joint can become severely damaged. Bursitis - inflammation of a fluid-filled sac that cushions the joint Dislocations - injuries that force the ends of the bones out of position Treatment of joint problems depends on the cause. If you have a sports injury, treatment often begins with the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and speed healing. Other possible treatments include pain relievers, keeping the injured area from moving, rehabilitation, and sometimes surgery. For arthritis, injuries, or other diseases, you may need joint replacement surgery to remove the damaged joint and put in a new one. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Artificial Feeding see Nutritional Support

Nutritional support is therapy for people who cannot get enough nourishment by eating or drinking. You may need it if you Can't swallow Have problems with your appetite Are severely malnourished Can't absorb nutrients through your digestive system You receive nutritional support through a needle or catheter placed in your vein or with a feeding tube, which goes into your stomach.

Artificial Insemination see Infertility

Infertility means not being able to become pregnant after a year of trying. If a woman can get pregnant but keeps having miscarriages or stillbirths, that's also called infertility. Infertility is fairly common. After one year of having unprotected sex, about 15 percent of couples are unable to get pregnant. About a third of the time, infertility can be traced to the woman. In another third of cases, it is because of the man. The rest of the time, it is because of both partners or no cause can be found. There are treatments that are specifically for men or for women. Some involve both partners. Drugs, assisted reproductive technology, and surgery are common treatments. Happily, many couples treated for infertility go on to have babies. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Artificial Lens see Cataract; Refractive Errors

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in your eye. It affects your vision. Cataracts are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. A cataract can occur in either or both eyes. It cannot spread from one eye to the other. Common symptoms are Blurry vision Colors that seem faded Glare - headlights, lamps or sunlight may seem too bright. You may also see a halo around lights. Not being able to see well at night Double vision Frequent prescription changes in your eye wear Cataracts usually develop slowly. New glasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses or magnifying lenses can help at first. Surgery is also an option. It involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a brim to block ultraviolet sunlight may help to delay cataracts. NIH: National Eye Institute

Artificial Limbs

People can lose all or part of an arm or leg for a number of reasons. Common ones include Circulation problems from atherosclerosis or diabetes. They may cause you to need an amputation. Traumatic injuries, including from traffic accidents and military combat Cancer Birth defects If you are missing an arm or leg, an artificial limb can sometimes replace it. The device, which is called a prosthesis, can help you to perform daily activities such as walking, eating, or dressing. Some artificial limbs let you function nearly as well as before.

Asbestos

Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals with long, thin fibers. It was once used widely as insulation. It also occurs in the environment. Asbestos fibers are so small you can't see them. If you disturb asbestos, the fibers can float in the air. This makes them easy to inhale, and some may become lodged in the lungs. If you breathe in high levels of asbestos over a long period of time, the fibers can build up in the lungs. This causes scarring and inflammation, and can affect breathing. Eventually it can lead to diseases such as Asbestosis, or scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs or abdomen Lung cancer Lung diseases associated with asbestos usually develop over many years. People who become ill from asbestos are usually exposed on the job over long periods of time. Smoking cigarettes increases the risk. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Asbestosis see Asbestos

Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals with long, thin fibers. It was once used widely as insulation. It also occurs in the environment. Asbestos fibers are so small you can't see them. If you disturb asbestos, the fibers can float in the air. This makes them easy to inhale, and some may become lodged in the lungs. If you breathe in high levels of asbestos over a long period of time, the fibers can build up in the lungs. This causes scarring and inflammation, and can affect breathing. Eventually it can lead to diseases such as Asbestosis, or scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs or abdomen Lung cancer Lung diseases associated with asbestos usually develop over many years. People who become ill from asbestos are usually exposed on the job over long periods of time. Smoking cigarettes increases the risk. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Ascorbic Acid see Vitamin C

Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It is important for your skin, bones, and connective tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin C comes from fruits and vegetables. Good sources include citrus, red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and greens. Some juices and cereals have added vitamin C. Some people may need extra vitamin C: Pregnant/breastfeeding women Smokers People recovering from surgery Burn victims

Aseptic Meningitis see Meningitis

Meningitis is inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. There are several types of meningitis. The most common is viral meningitis. You get it when a virus enters the body through the nose or mouth and travels to the brain. Bacterial meningitis is rare, but can be deadly. It usually starts with bacteria that cause a cold-like infection. It can cause stroke, hearing loss, and brain damage. It can also harm other organs. Pneumococcal infections and meningococcal infections are the most common causes of bacterial meningitis. Anyone can get meningitis, but it is more common in people with weak immune systems. Meningitis can get serious very quickly. You should get medical care right away if you have A sudden high fever A severe headache A stiff neck Nausea or vomiting Early treatment can help prevent serious problems, including death. Tests to diagnose meningitis include blood tests, imaging tests, and a spinal tap to test cerebrospinal fluid. Antibiotics can treat bacterial meningitis. Antiviral medicines may help some types of viral meningitis. Other medicines can help treat symptoms. There are vaccines to prevent some of the bacterial infections that cause meningitis. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Aseptic Necrosis see Osteonecrosis

Osteonecrosis is a disease caused by reduced blood flow to bones in the joints. In people with healthy bones, new bone is always replacing old bone. In osteonecrosis, the lack of blood causes the bone to break down faster than the body can make enough new bone. The bone starts to die and may break down. You can have osteonecrosis in one or several bones. It is most common in the upper leg. Other common sites are your upper arm and your knees, shoulders and ankles. The disease can affect men and women of any age, but it usually strikes in your thirties, forties or fifties. At first, you might not have any symptoms. As the disease gets worse, you will probably have joint pain that becomes more severe. You may not be able to bend or move the affected joint very well. No one is sure what causes the disease. Risk factors include Long-term steroid treatment Alcohol abuse Joint injuries Having certain diseases, including arthritis and cancer Doctors use imaging tests and other tests to diagnose osteonecrosis. Treatments include medicines, using crutches, limiting activities that put weight on the affected joints, electrical stimulation and surgery. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Asian American Health

Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from Genetics Environmental factors Access to care Cultural factors On this page, you'll find links to health issues that affect Asian Americans.

Asperger Syndrome see Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person's life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. It includes what used to be known as Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders. It is called a "spectrum" disorder because people with ASD can have a range of symptoms. People with ASD might have problems talking with you, or they might not look you in the eye when you talk to them. They may also have restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. They may spend a lot of time putting things in order, or they may say the same sentence again and again. They may often seem to be in their "own world." At well-child checkups, the health care provider should check your child's development. If there are signs of ASD, your child will have a comprehensive evaluation. It may include a team of specialists, doing various tests and evaluations to make a diagnosis. The causes of ASD are not known. Research suggests that both genes and environment play important roles. There is currently no one standard treatment for ASD. There are many ways to increase your child's ability to grow and learn new skills. Starting them early can lead to better results. Treatments include behavior and communication therapies, skills training, and medicines to control symptoms. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis is a disease caused by a fungus (or mold) called Aspergillus. The fungus is very common in both indoors and outdoors. Most people breathe in the spores of the fungus every day without being affected. But some people get the disease. It usually occurs in people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems. There are different kinds of aspergillosis. One kind is allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (also called ABPA). Symptoms of ABPA include wheezing and coughing. ABPA can affect healthy people but it is most common in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis. Another kind is invasive aspergillosis, which damages tissues in the body. It usually affects the lungs. Sometimes it can also cause infection in other organs and spread throughout the body. It affects people who have immune system problems, such as people who have had a transplant, are taking high doses of steroids, or getting chemotherapy for some cancers. Your doctor might do a variety of tests to make the diagnosis, including a chest x-ray, CT scan of the lungs, and an examination of tissues for signs of the fungus. Treatment is with antifungal drugs. If you have ABPA, you may also take steroids. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Assisted Breathing see Critical Care

Critical care helps people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. It might treat problems such as complications from surgery, accidents, infections, and severe breathing problems. It involves close, constant attention by a team of specially-trained health care providers. Critical care usually takes place in an intensive care unit (ICU) or trauma center. Monitors, intravenous (IV) tubes, feeding tubes, catheters, breathing machines, and other equipment are common in critical care units. They can keep a person alive, but can also increase the risk of infection. Many patients in critical care recover, but some die. Having advance directives in place is important. They help health care providers and family members make end-of-life decisions if you are not able to make them.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is for adults who need help with everyday tasks. They may need help with dressing, bathing, eating, or using the bathroom, but they don't need full-time nursing care. Some assisted living facilities are part of retirement communities. Others are near nursing homes, so a person can move easily if needs change. Assisted living costs less than nursing home care. It is still fairly expensive. Older people or their families usually pay for it. Health and long-term care insurance policies may cover some of the costs. Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living. Administration on Aging

Assisted Reproductive Technology

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is used to treat infertility. It includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman's egg and a man's sperm. It works by removing eggs from a woman's body. The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos. The embryos are then put back in the woman's body. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of ART. ART procedures sometimes use donor eggs, donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos. It may also involve a surrogate or gestational carrier. A surrogate is a woman who becomes pregnant with sperm from the male partner of the couple. A gestational carrier becomes pregnant with an egg from the female partner and the sperm from the male partner. The most common complication of ART is a multiple pregnancy. It can be prevented or minimized by limiting the number of embryos that are put into the woman's body.

Assistive Devices

If you have a disability or injury, you may use a number of assistive devices. These are tools, products or types of equipment that help you perform tasks and activities. They may help you move around, see, communicate, eat, or get dressed. Some are high-tech tools, such as computers. Others are much simpler, like a "reacher" - a tool that helps you grab an object you can't reach.

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways. Your airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways become sore and swollen. That makes them very sensitive, and they may react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When your airways react, they get narrower and your lungs get less air. Symptoms of asthma include Wheezing Coughing, especially early in the morning or at night Chest tightness Shortness of breath Not all people who have asthma have these symptoms. Having these symptoms doesn't always mean that you have asthma. Your doctor will diagnose asthma based on lung function tests, your medical history, and a physical exam. You may also have allergy tests. When your asthma symptoms become worse than usual, it's called an asthma attack. Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can be fatal. Asthma is treated with two kinds of medicines: quick-relief medicines to stop asthma symptoms and long-term control medicines to prevent symptoms. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Asthma in Children

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways. Your airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways become sore and swollen. In the United States, about 20 million people have asthma. Nearly 9 million of them are children. Children have smaller airways than adults, which makes asthma especially serious for them. Children with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing, especially early in the morning or at night. Many things can cause asthma, including Allergens - mold, pollen, animals Irritants - cigarette smoke, air pollution Weather - cold air, changes in weather Exercise Infections - flu, common cold When asthma symptoms become worse than usual, it is called an asthma attack. Asthma is treated with two kinds of medicines: quick-relief medicines to stop asthma symptoms and long-term control medicines to prevent symptoms.

Astigmatism see Refractive Errors

The cornea and lens of your eye helps you focus. Refractive errors are vision problems that happen when the shape of the eye keeps you from focusing well. The cause could be the length of the eyeball (longer or shorter), changes in the shape of the cornea, or aging of the lens. Four common refractive errors are Myopia, or nearsightedness - clear vision close up but blurry in the distance Hyperopia, or farsightedness - clear vision in the distance but blurry close up Presbyopia - inability to focus close up as a result of aging Astigmatism - focus problems caused by the cornea The most common symptom is blurred vision. Other symptoms may include double vision, haziness, glare or halos around bright lights, squinting, headaches, or eye strain. Glasses or contact lenses can usually correct refractive errors. Laser eye surgery may also be a possibility. NIH: National Eye Institute

Ataxia see Cerebellar Disorders; Degenerative Nerve Diseases; Friedreich's Ataxia; Movement Disorders

When you play the piano or hit a tennis ball you are activating the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the area of the brain that controls coordination and balance. Problems with the cerebellum include Cancer Genetic disorders Ataxias - failure of muscle control in the arms and legs that result in movement disorders Degeneration - disorders caused by brain cells decreasing in size or wasting away Treatment of cerebellar disorders depends on the cause. In some cases, there is no cure but treatment may help with symptoms. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Ataxia Telangiectasia

Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is a rare, inherited disease. It affects the nervous system, immune system, and other body systems. Symptoms appear in young children, usually before age 5. They include Ataxia - trouble coordinating movements Poor balance Slurred speech Tiny, red spider veins, called telangiectasias, on the skin and eyes Lung infections Delayed physical and sexual development People with A-T have an increased risk of developing diabetes and cancers, especially lymphoma and leukemia. Although it affects the brain, people with A-T usually have normal or high intelligence. A-T has no cure. Treatments might improve some symptoms. They include injections to strengthen the immune system, physical and speech therapy, and high-dose vitamins. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Atelectasis see Collapsed Lung

A collapsed lung happens when air enters the pleural space, the area between the lung and the chest wall. If it is a total collapse, it is called pneumothorax. If only part of the lung is affected, it is called atelectasis. Causes of a collapsed lung include Lung diseases such as pneumonia or lung cancer Being on a breathing machine Surgery on the chest or abdomen A blocked airway If only a small area of the lung is affected, you may not have symptoms. If a large area is affected, you may feel short of breath and have a rapid heart rate. A chest x-ray can tell if you have it. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. Plaque is a sticky substance made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. That limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body. Atherosclerosis can lead to serious problems, including Coronary artery disease. These arteries supply blood to your heart. When they are blocked, you can suffer angina or a heart attack. Carotid artery disease. These arteries supply blood to your brain. When they are blocked you can suffer a stroke. Peripheral arterial disease. These arteries are in your arms, legs and pelvis. When they are blocked, you can suffer from numbness, pain and sometimes infections. Atherosclerosis usually doesn't cause symptoms until it severely narrows or totally blocks an artery. Many people don't know they have it until they have a medical emergency. A physical exam, imaging, and other diagnostic tests can tell if you have it. Medicines can slow the progress of plaque buildup. Your doctor may also recommend procedures such as angioplasty to open the arteries, or surgery on the coronary or carotid arteries. Lifestyle changes can also help. These include following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and managing stress. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Atherosclerosis, Coronary see Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women. CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can't get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts' blood supply, causing permanent heart damage. Over time, CAD can also weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure means the heart can't pump blood well to the rest of the body. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal beating rhythm of the heart. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot is a common infection caused by a fungus. It most often affects the space between the toes. Symptoms include itching, burning, and cracked, scaly skin between your toes. You can get athlete's foot from damp surfaces, such as showers, swimming pools, and locker room floors. To prevent it Keep your feet clean, dry, and cool Wear clean socks Don't walk barefoot in public areas Wear flip-flops in locker room showers Keep your toenails clean and clipped short Treatments include over-the-counter antifungal creams for most cases and prescription medicines for more serious infections. These usually clear up the infection, but it can come back. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Atopic Dermatitis see Eczema

Eczema is a term for several different types of skin swelling. Eczema is also called dermatitis. Most types cause dry, itchy skin and rashes on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. Scratching the skin can cause it to turn red, and to swell and itch even more. Eczema is not contagious. The cause is not known. It is likely caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Eczema may get better or worse over time, but it is often a long-lasting disease. People who have it may also develop hay fever and asthma. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. It is most common in babies and children but adults can have it too. As children who have atopic dermatitis grow older, this problem may get better or go away. But sometimes the skin may stay dry and get irritated easily. Treatments may include medicines, skin creams, light therapy, and good skin care. You can prevent some types of eczema by avoiding Things that irritate your skin, such as certain soaps, fabrics, and lotions Stress Things you are allergic to, such as food, pollen, and animals NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Atrial Fibrillation

An arrhythmia is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common type of arrhythmia. The cause is a disorder in the heart's electrical system. Often, people who have AF may not even feel symptoms. But you may feel Palpitations -- an abnormal rapid heartbeat Shortness of breath Weakness or difficulty exercising Chest pain Dizziness or fainting Fatigue Confusion AF can lead to an increased risk of stroke. In many patients, it can also cause chest pain, heart attack, or heart failure. Doctors diagnose AF using family and medical history, a physical exam, and a test called an electrocardiogram (EKG), which looks at the electrical waves your heart makes. Treatments include medicines and procedures to restore normal rhythm. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Is it hard for your child to sit still? Does your child act without thinking first? Does your child start but not finish things? If so, your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Nearly everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, but ADHD lasts more than 6 months and causes problems in school, at home and in social situations. ADHD is more common in boys than girls. It affects 3-5 percent of all American children. The main features of ADHD are Inattention Hyperactivity Impulsivity No one knows exactly what causes ADHD. It sometimes runs in families, so genetics may be a factor. There may also be environmental factors. A complete evaluation by a trained professional is the only way to know for sure if your child has ADHD. Treatment may include medicine to control symptoms, therapy, or both. Structure at home and at school is important. Parent training may also help. NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Auditory Tumor see Acoustic Neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that develops on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. The tumor usually grows slowly. As it grows, it presses against the hearing and balance nerves. At first, you may have no symptoms or mild symptoms. They can include Loss of hearing on one side Ringing in ears Dizziness and balance problems The tumor can also eventually cause numbness or paralysis of the face. If it grows large enough, it can press against the brain, becoming life-threatening. Acoustic neuroma can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms are similar to those of middle ear problems. Ear exams, hearing tests, and scans can show if you have it. If the tumor stays small, you may only need to have it checked regularly. If you do need treatment, surgery and radiation are options. If the tumors affect both hearing nerves, it is often because of a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis. NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders

Autism see Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person's life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. It includes what used to be known as Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders. It is called a "spectrum" disorder because people with ASD can have a range of symptoms. People with ASD might have problems talking with you, or they might not look you in the eye when you talk to them. They may also have restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. They may spend a lot of time putting things in order, or they may say the same sentence again and again. They may often seem to be in their "own world." At well-child checkups, the health care provider should check your child's development. If there are signs of ASD, your child will have a comprehensive evaluation. It may include a team of specialists, doing various tests and evaluations to make a diagnosis. The causes of ASD are not known. Research suggests that both genes and environment play important roles. There is currently no one standard treatment for ASD. There are many ways to increase your child's ability to grow and learn new skills. Starting them early can lead to better results. Treatments include behavior and communication therapies, skills training, and medicines to control symptoms. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person's life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. It includes what used to be known as Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders. It is called a "spectrum" disorder because people with ASD can have a range of symptoms. People with ASD might have problems talking with you, or they might not look you in the eye when you talk to them. They may also have restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. They may spend a lot of time putting things in order, or they may say the same sentence again and again. They may often seem to be in their "own world." At well-child checkups, the health care provider should check your child's development. If there are signs of ASD, your child will have a comprehensive evaluation. It may include a team of specialists, doing various tests and evaluations to make a diagnosis. The causes of ASD are not known. Research suggests that both genes and environment play important roles. There is currently no one standard treatment for ASD. There are many ways to increase your child's ability to grow and learn new skills. Starting them early can lead to better results. Treatments include behavior and communication therapies, skills training, and medicines to control symptoms. NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Autoimmune Diseases

Your body's immune system protects you from disease and infection. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the body. No one is sure what causes autoimmune diseases. They do tend to run in families. Women - particularly African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American women - have a higher risk for some autoimmune diseases. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and some have similar symptoms. This makes it hard for your health care provider to know if you really have one of these diseases, and if so, which one. Getting a diagnosis can be frustrating and stressful. Often, the first symptoms are fatigue, muscle aches and a low fever. The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling. The diseases may also have flare-ups, when they get worse, and remissions, when symptoms get better or disappear. Treatment depends on the disease, but in most cases one important goal is to reduce inflammation. Sometimes doctors prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs that reduce your immune response.

Autoinflammatory Disorders see Autoimmune Diseases

Your body's immune system protects you from disease and infection. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the body. No one is sure what causes autoimmune diseases. They do tend to run in families. Women - particularly African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American women - have a higher risk for some autoimmune diseases. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and some have similar symptoms. This makes it hard for your health care provider to know if you really have one of these diseases, and if so, which one. Getting a diagnosis can be frustrating and stressful. Often, the first symptoms are fatigue, muscle aches and a low fever. The classic sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling. The diseases may also have flare-ups, when they get worse, and remissions, when symptoms get better or disappear. Treatment depends on the disease, but in most cases one important goal is to reduce inflammation. Sometimes doctors prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs that reduce your immune response.

Automated External Defibrillators see Cardiac Arrest

The heart has an internal electrical system that controls the rhythm of the heartbeat. Problems can cause abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. There are many types of arrhythmia. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or it can stop beating. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart develops an arrhythmia that causes it to stop beating. This is different than a heart attack, where the heart usually continues to beat but blood flow to the heart is blocked. There are many possible causes of SCA. They include coronary heart disease, physical stress, and some inherited disorders. Sometimes there is no known cause for the SCA. Without medical attention, the person will die within a few minutes. People are less likely to die if they have early defibrillation. Defibrillation sends an electric shock to restore the heart rhythm to normal. You should give cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to a person having SCA until defibrillation can be done. If you have had an SCA, an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) reduces the chance of dying from a second SCA. NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Automobile Safety see Motor Vehicle Safety

Every year thousands of people in the U.S. die from motor vehicle crashes. Trying to prevent these crashes is one part of motor vehicle safety. Here are some things you can do to be safer on the road: Make sure your vehicle is safe and in working order Use car seats for children Wear your seat belt Don't speed or drive aggressively Don't drive impaired Safety also involves being aware of others. Share the road with bicycles and motorcycles, and watch for pedestrians.

Autonomic Nervous System Disorders

Your autonomic nervous system is the part of your nervous system that controls involuntary actions, such as the beating of your heart and the widening or narrowing of your blood vessels. When something goes wrong in this system, it can cause serious problems, including Blood pressure problems Heart problems Trouble with breathing and swallowing Erectile dysfunction in men Autonomic nervous system disorders can occur alone or as the result of another disease, such as Parkinson's disease, alcoholism and diabetes. Problems can affect either part of the system, as in complex regional pain syndromes, or all of the system. Some types are temporary, but many worsen over time. When they affect your breathing or heart function, these disorders can be life-threatening. Some autonomic nervous system disorders get better when an underlying disease is treated. Often, however, there is no cure. In that case, the goal of treatment is to improve symptoms. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Avascular Necrosis see Osteonecrosis

Osteonecrosis is a disease caused by reduced blood flow to bones in the joints. In people with healthy bones, new bone is always replacing old bone. In osteonecrosis, the lack of blood causes the bone to break down faster than the body can make enough new bone. The bone starts to die and may break down. You can have osteonecrosis in one or several bones. It is most common in the upper leg. Other common sites are your upper arm and your knees, shoulders and ankles. The disease can affect men and women of any age, but it usually strikes in your thirties, forties or fifties. At first, you might not have any symptoms. As the disease gets worse, you will probably have joint pain that becomes more severe. You may not be able to bend or move the affected joint very well. No one is sure what causes the disease. Risk factors include Long-term steroid treatment Alcohol abuse Joint injuries Having certain diseases, including arthritis and cancer Doctors use imaging tests and other tests to diagnose osteonecrosis. Treatments include medicines, using crutches, limiting activities that put weight on the affected joints, electrical stimulation and surgery. NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Avian Influenza see Bird Flu

Birds, just like people, get the flu. Bird flu viruses infect birds, including chickens, other poultry, and wild birds such as ducks. Usually bird flu viruses only infect other birds. It is rare for people to get infected with bird flu viruses, but it can happen. Two types, H5N1 and H7N9, have infected some people during outbreaks in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, and parts of Europe. There have also been some rare cases of other types of bird flu affecting people in the United States. Most of the people who get bird flu have had close contact with infected birds or with surfaces that have been contaminated by the birds' saliva, mucous, or droppings. It is also possible to get it by breathing in droplets or dust that contain the virus. Rarely, the virus has spread from one person to another. It may also be possible to catch bird flu by eating poultry or eggs that are not well cooked. Bird flu illness in people can range from mild to severe. Often, the symptoms are similar to the seasonal flu, such as Fever Cough Sore throat Runny or stuffy nose Muscle or body aches Fatigue Headaches Eye redness (or conjunctivitis) Difficulty breathing In some cases, bird flu can cause serious complications and death. As with seasonal flu, some people are at higher risk for serious illness. They include pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and seniors aged 65 and older. Treatment with antiviral medicines may make the illness less severe. They may also help prevent the flu in people who were exposed to it. There is currently no vaccine available to the public. The government does have a supply of a vaccine for one type of H5N1 bird flu virus and could distribute it if there was an outbreak that spread easily from person to person. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

AVM see Arteriovenous Malformations

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are defects in your vascular system. The vascular system includes arteries, veins, and capillaries. Arteries carry blood away from the heart to other organs; veins carry blood back to the heart. Capillaries connect the arteries and veins. An AVM is a snarled tangle of arteries and veins. They are connected to each other, with no capillaries. That interferes with the blood circulation in an organ. AVMs can happen anywhere, but they are more common in the brain or spinal cord. Most people with brain or spinal cord AVMs have few, if any, major symptoms. Sometimes they can cause seizures or headaches. AVMs are rare. The cause is not known, but they seem to develop during pregnancy or soon after birth. Doctors use imaging tests to detect them. Medicines can help with the symptoms from AVMs. The greatest danger is hemorrhage. Treatment for AVMs can include surgery or focused radiation therapy. Because surgery can be risky, you and your doctor need to make a decision carefully. NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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