Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 11 July 2010





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

No cure for arthritis, only symptomatic treatment:

Never put off treatment!

It is often misunderstood as a condition. In fact arthritis is a symptom indicative of other diseases. Arthritis is an inflammation of joints. The major complaint by patients suffering from arthritis is pain. Swelling around the joint, increased temperature and pain on movement of the joint are few of the other symptoms.

“Just pain around the joint does not mean that one has arthritis” said Dr. Lilani Weerasekara, Consultant rheumatologist, National Hospital. She explained that this could indicate problems in tissue around the joint like muscles, tendons and joint capsules.

Although there are over 100 different forms of arthritis the most common forms include osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), rheumatoid arthritis and viral arthritis. Less common forms include rheumatic fever, gout, septic arthritis and seronegative spondyloarthritis. The types of arthritis depend on different age groups, said Dr. Weerasekara.

“Osteoarthritis occurs in old age due to wear and tear of the cartilage of the weight wearing joints like knee and hip,” she said.

Its clinical features include pain, stiffness of joints (initially the first few steps after getting up from a seated position) but eases as they keep walking. Pain usually occurs on standing for long hours or trying to get up from a low seated position.

As the condition progresses pain persists as well as difficulty in climbing stairs and also walking. Swelling of joints due to effusion or accumulation of fluid can also be observed.

Dr. Weerasekara explained that many factors other than age contribute to this type of arthritis, such as over weight, standing for long hours, climbing steps often and squatting. Secondary osteoarthritis sets in case a joint is already damaged by way of injury, infection or other types of inflammatory conditions.

Rheumatoid arthritis is common among women of child bearing age, but could occur in children and older people. This type of arthritis affects small joints of hands and knees. Other than the usual pain and swelling, early morning stiffness of joints is a defining symptom.

“Stiffness usually lasts half hour to one hour and eases off during the day”, said Dr. Weerasekara. Other symptoms include fever, loss of weight, loss of appetite and fatigue.

A difficulty in moving joints and engaging in work can also be observed in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, but even the larger joints can get affected.

“If the condition is not treated early it could affect other systems in the body like heart, lungs, eyes and the nervous system and cause general ill health” explained Dr. Weerasekara.

Genetic and environmental factors such as bacteria and viral infections play a huge role.

Dr. Weerasekara explained that following an infection the immune system of a genetically predisposed person would be disturbed and commences producing antibodies for one’s own tissue. “This is called autoimmunity.”

Viral arthritis is the next most common type of arthritis. This can occur during viral infections and any joint can be affected. “It is very acute in onset but settles in a matter of weeks.” But she explained that certain categories can go on to chronic stage.


Dr. Weerasekara explained that there is no cure for arthritis, only symptomatic treatment. She warned that if people who suffer from these symptoms do not seek immediate medical attention it may be too late to repair the damage.

Treatment for osteoarthritis includes pain relief through analgesics. Dr. Weerasekara advised reducing body weight, regular exercise and physiotherapy, avoid or minimise standing for long hours, climbing steps or squatting.

“It is very important for patients with rheumatoid arthritic symptoms to seek immediate medical treatment”, said Dr. Weerasekara. “The best outcome can be achieved only if treatment is started as early as possible.” Putting off treatment could lead to joint pain and ultimately lead to joint deformities.

Apart from the standard anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modification anti-rheumatic drugs, that delay the progress of the disease, and a group of drugs referred to as ‘biologicals’ are used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritic.

Biologicals have been found to prevent most deformities and improve quality of life. “But this type of drugs are used only on people who do not respond to normal drugs”, said Dr. Weerasekara. “Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have to be on long term treatment,” said Dr. Weerasekara. She reiterated the importance of such patients seeing a doctor at regular intervals.

She explained that patient’s response to treatment has to be evaluated by a doctor regularly and changes to medication be made. “Besides any drug could have side effects, these too have to be monitored by a doctor.”

Arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis


Depression may double dementia risk

Having depression may nearly double the risk of developing dementia later in life, new research suggests.

Experts know that the two conditions often co-exist, but it is not clear if one actually leads to the other.

Now two studies published in the American journal Neurology suggest depression does mean dementia is more likely, although they do not show why.

And the researchers stress that the findings merely reveal a link, not a direct cause.

They say more studies are needed to find out why the two conditions are linked.

They believe brain chemistry and lifestyle factors such as diet and the amount of social time a person engages in may play a role.

Dr Jane Saczynski of the University of Massachusetts, who led the first of the two studies, said: “While it’s unclear if depression causes dementia, there are a number of ways depression might impact the risk of dementia.

What this study demonstrates is that depression at a younger age is probably a significant risk factor for dementia

“Inflammation of brain tissue that occurs when a person is depressed might contribute to dementia. Certain proteins found in the brain that increase with depression may also increase the risk of developing dementia.”

Her study, which followed 949 elderly people for 17 years, showed dementia more often followed a bout of depression.

By the end of the study, 164 of the people had developed dementia.

Specifically, 22% of those who had depression went on to develop dementia compared to 17% of those who did not have depression.

The second study, meanwhile, followed 1,239 US people and looked at the number of times a person experienced depression related to their risk of dementia.

It showed that the more times someone experienced depression, the higher their dementia risk was.

Having two or more episodes of depression nearly doubled the risk of dementia.

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: “Similarities in symptoms between dementia and depression can mean the two are sometimes confused at time of diagnosis, but we don’t know if they are biologically linked.

“These latest studies suggest that there may be profound connections between dementia and depression so we must expand the research to find out more.”

Professor Clive Ballard of the Alzheimer’s Society agreed that more research was now needed to establish why the link exists.

“It is well known depression is common in early stages of dementia. What this study demonstrates is that depression at a younger age is probably a significant risk factor for dementia,” he said


Olive Oil: helping in the fight against breast cancer

Something as simple as olive oil could actually make a difference when predisposed to or fighting against breast cancer.

Components in this antioxidant monounsaturated fat actually attack tumors, retarding their growth (even to the point of implosion) and can protect DNA against harmful cancerous cells.

Researchers at the Universitat Autonoma in Barcelona conducted a study utilising rats who had carcinogen-stimulated breast cancer.

The rats were fed one of three diets-olive oil, high corn oil, or restricted. The scientists found that the tumors in rats who were on the olive oil diet grew much more slowly that those who had either of the other diets.

The olive oil appears to prevent a genetic material that forces the increase in breast tumors and can stop the proteins that cancerous cells rely on to survive.

While initial tests have shown success only in rats, researcher Dr. Eduard Escrich said, “Even though caution must be exercised when applying experimental data to human breast cancer, our findings emphasize the importance that certain dietetic habits may have on cancer promotion.”

The conclusion of the researchers, who intend to conduct a similar trial in humans, is that only continuous daily ingestion of olive oil will provide these types of results. It is recommended that 10 teaspoons of high-quality, extra virgin olive oil be added to the daily diet to benefit Olive oil is part of a heart healthy Mediterranean diet.

This type of diet has been shown to lower the incidence of asthma and allergies in children, lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, possibly eliminate diabetes medication for Type II diabetics, and may lessen the risk of cancer and depression.




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