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Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a condition where there is abnormal production of thick and sticky mucus within the lungs and digestive tract. It is a genetic disorder that affects children and young adults. The thick mucus blocks the tiny openings in the lungs thereby trapping bacteria and bringing on various infections. The mucus also clogs the pancreatic passages. This prevents release of enzymes much needed for digestion. Consequently there is poor nutrition and possible diarrhea. This condition can also affect sweat glands and male reproductive system. Cases of cystic fibrosis are noticed more prominently among those Caucasians, especially of Northern or Central European descent. Often cystic fibrosis is diagnosed at birth where the infant's gut is blocked with thick meconium. While most cases of cystic fibrosis are detected in the first 3 years, some cases may be diagnosed in early teens. Other symptoms are delayed growth and failure to gain weight normally. Persons suffering from Cystic fibrosis are more susceptible to bacterial chest infections. Coughing, wheezing and excessive production of sputum are noticeable symptoms. A person suffering from cystic fibrosis is likely to suffer from oily and smelly stools, salty skin and abdominal pain. Other symptoms of cystic fibrosis is polyps in the nose, enlarged liver and spleen and fertility problems.


The first DNA-based blood test has been approved by the U.S. FDA in March 2005. This test helps in detecting the affected gene. Other diagnostic tools include sweat chloride test, fecal fat test and study of pancreatic function. Chest physiotherapy aids in loosening sticky mucus thereby bringing relief. Daily enzyme replacements are prescribed to facilitate digestion. Lung and respiratory infections are tackled with antibiotics. Other measures such as oxygen for easier breathing, postural drainage and vitamin supplements help in improving the quality of life for the patient.

Sinusitis

When your sinuses (air chambers in the bone behind your cheeks, eyebrows and jaw) are inflamed or infected, it leads to sinusitis. The different sinus areas are:


Frontal sinus – on the brow area
Maxillary sinuses – inside each cheekbone
Ethmoid sinuses – behind the nose bridge and between the eyes
Sphenoid sinuses – behind the ethmoids in the upper region of the nose


When the sinuses are blocked, the mucus is not sufficiently drained thereby leading to sinusitis. Sinusitis occurs when trapped air lays pressure and causes pain in the sinus regions. Typically, sinusitis follows a cold or respiratory ailment. The increased mucus and fungal production leads to inflammation in the nasal passage. Often a structural defect in the nasal cavity or weakened immune system can be the cause for a sinus attack. Allergic rhinitis can bring on an attack of sinusitis. The symptoms and pain associated with sinusitis depend on the affected sinus. Damp weather, environmental pollutants and asthma often lead to sinus attacks. This inflammation is usually the result of a viral infection, an allergy (pollen, dust, pet dander, molds, and food), or an environmental irritant such as air pollution, perfume or cigarette smoke. Persons suffering from chronic inflammation of the nasal passages have an increased risk of suffering sinusitis. Swimming, diving, nasal polyps, smoking or alcohol consumption can lead to blocked sinuses. Air travel is yet another possible trigger.


Acute sinus infection lasts for about a fortnight whereas chronic sinus infection festers longer, for months or years. Most affected persons tend to suffer from acute sinus infection. Typical symptoms of sinus infection:


  • Pain over frontal sinuses
  • Headache
  • Swelling of eyelids or tissues around the eyes
  • Earache
  • Neck pain
  • Stuffy nose
  • Facial tenderness
  • Bad breath
  • Ache in the upper teeth
  • Nasal congestion

Blood tests and cultures aid in diagnosing and detecting bacterial or fungal infections. Acute sinusitis is treated with antibiotics to control the bacterial infection. Decongestants and painkillers can provide relief to those suffering from sinus infection. On the other hand, chronic sinusitis may need to be treated with steroid nasal sprays. But prolonged use of such products are not without side-effects. Allergies and infections that contribute to the sinus infection must be appropriately treated. Children suffering from chronic sinus infection are treated with removal of adenoids. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery is performed on severe cases of chronic sinusitis where the natural openings of the sinuses are dilated to allow drainage of accumulated mucus.


Home remedies for treating sinus infections
1. Steam inhalation
2. Gentle warm compress on painful area
3. Use of electrostatic filters attached to heating and air conditioning equipment
4. Saline nasal spray
5. Rest with your head elevated to help drain your sinuses
6. Drink plenty of fluids and warm liquids in order to thin mucus


Post nasal drip

Post nasal drip refers to an accumulation of mucus in the back of the nose and throat. Normally the nasal secretions flow down the throat without us even realizing it. Conditions such as allergic rhinitis or pollution or infection cause the secretions to thicken and this obstructs normal clearing of the mucus from the nose and throat. Often some medications or hormonal changes can lead to increased nasal secretions. In some cases, structural abnormalities such as irregular nasal septum can lead to increased secretions triggering off post nasal drip. Sinus infections or allergy to certain foods can lead to post nasal drip. It gives a feeling of blocking or accumulating in the back of the throat. The Post nasal drip often leads to sore throat. This condition is often noticed with many respiratory diseases.


A detailed examination of the nose, ear and throat is necessary to treat post nasal drip. If there is any bacterial infection, suitable antibiotics will be prescribed. Antihistamines and decongestants help in relief from the symptoms of post nasal drip. Nasal irrigation can alleviate thickened secretions. When warm water and salt is used to moisten the nose with a nasal douche device or irrigation nozzle, the patient may notice improvement in post nasal drip. Warm compress on the nose and above the eyes can give relief and restore nasal secretions to earlier consistency. Steroid sprays may be prescribed for short-term use. Oral or injectable steroids are used to treat post nasal drip.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 22, 2019