Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

At first, increasing forgetfulness or mild confusion may be the only symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease that you notice. But over time, the disease robs you of more of your memory, especially recent memories. The rate at which symptoms worsen varies from person to person. If you have Alzheimer’s, you may be the first to notice that you’re having unusual difficulty remembering things and organizing your thoughts. Or you may not recognize that anything is wrong, even when changes are noticeable to your family members, close friends or co-workers. Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease lead to growing trouble with:

Memory

Everyone has occasional memory lapses. It’s normal to lose track of where you put your keys or forget the name of an acquaintance. But the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease persists and worsens, affecting your ability to function at work and at home.

People with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Repeat statements and questions over and over, not realizing that they’ve asked the question before
  • Forget conversations, appointments or events, and not remember them later
  • Routinely misplace possessions, often putting them in illogical locations
  • Get lost in familiar places
  • Eventually forget the names of family members and everyday objects
  • Have trouble finding the right words to identify objects, express thoughts or take part in conversations

Thinking and reasoning

Alzheimer’s disease causes difficulty concentrating and thinking, especially about abstract concepts like numbers. Multitasking is especially difficult, and it may be challenging to manage finances, balance checkbooks and pay bills on time. These difficulties may progress to inability to recognize and deal with numbers.

Making judgments and decisions

Responding effectively to everyday problems, such as food burning on the stove or unexpected driving situations, becomes increasingly challenging.

Planning and performing familiar tasks

Once-routine activities that require sequential steps, such as planning and cooking a meal or playing a favorite game, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer’s may forget how to perform basic tasks such as dressing and bathing.

Changes in personality and behavior

Brain changes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease can affect the way you act and how you feel. People with Alzheimer’s may experience:

  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood swings
  • Distrust in others
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Wandering
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Delusions, such as believing something has been stolen

Many important skills are not lost until very late in the disease. These include the ability to read, dance and sing, enjoy old music, engage in crafts and hobbies, tell stories, and reminisce. This is because information, skills and habits learned early in life are among the last abilities to be lost as the disease progresses; the part of the brain that stores this information tends to be affected later in the course of the disease. Capitalizing on these abilities can foster successes and maintain quality of life even into the moderate phase of the disease.

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Natural Allergy Remedies – Part 1

Looking for an herbal remedy for your allergies? Some research suggests that the herbal supplement butterbur may relieve allergy symptoms. But there are possible side effects of using butterbur. Before you try butterbur for allergies, know what to look for and how to tell if it’s safe for you.

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a large-leafed, shrub-like plant native to Europe. Extracts from the roots, leaves and stem of the butterbur plant have been used to treat migraine headaches, stomach ulcers, infections and coughs, as well as allergies and asthma. During the 14th century, butterbur was used to treat plague and fever.

Butterbur has anti-inflammatory effects that decrease histamine and leukotrienes (chemicals involved in allergic reactions). However, butterbur also contains substances that can be toxic to your liver and may cause cancer. Some butterbur products are processed to reduce the amount of these toxins.

Butterbur is also commonly known as:

  • Butterfly Dock
  • Bog Rhubarb
  • Butter-Dock
  • Blatterdock
  • Exwort

Butterbur is most commonly taken as tablets (Petadolex, Petaforce, Tesalin). It’s also available in teas, extracts, and capsules containing raw herbs. You can buy butterbur as a tablet or as part of a product that contains a mixture of herbs.

It is thought that butterbur works similarly to antihistamines by blocking the action of the inflammatory chemical histamine, which is released by your immune system during an allergic reaction. A 2004 study published in “Clinical & Experimental Allergy” reported butterbur to be as effective as the prescription drug fexofenadine (Allegra) in treating symptoms of hay fever. Another study published in the June 2005 issue of “Phytotherapy Research” showed similar results with the butterbur product Ze 339. This study showed butterbur worked as well as the prescription drug cetirizine (Zyrtec) for hay fever symptoms. In addition, butterbur tends to cause less drowsiness, a common side effect of antihistamine medications.

While results of studies on butterbur seem positive, the quality of some studies has been a matter of some debate. It is unclear whether the results are valid. In addition, butterbur studies have been limited to only a few weeks. Other clinical studies have shown no benefit from taking butterbur for allergies. No studies have been done to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of butterbur.

Risks

Risks associated with butterbur include:

  • Allergic reaction. If you’re allergic to ragweed, butterbur may actually worsen your allergy symptoms. Butterbur is related to the ragweed family of plants and may cause an allergic reaction. Don’t use butterbur if you’re allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies or chrysanthemums.
  • Liver and kidney damage. Butterbur contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) that are toxic to your liver and kidneys. Long-term use of butterbur may increase your risk of liver and kidney damage. Young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with liver or kidney disease shouldn’t use butterbur.
  • Cancer. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), the toxic chemicals in butterbur, may also have cancer-causing effects.

Norovirus

Norovirus infection can cause the sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea. The virus is highly contagious and commonly spread through food or water that is contaminated by fecal matter during preparation. You can also be infected through close contact with an infected person. Diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting typically begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Norovirus symptoms last one to three days, and most people recover completely without treatment. However, for some people — especially infants, older adults and people with underlying disease — vomiting and diarrhea can be severely dehydrating and require medical attention. Norovirus infection occurs most frequently in closed and crowded environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of norovirus infection include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Watery or loose diarrhea
  • Malaise
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Signs and symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last one to three days. You may continue to shed virus in your feces for up to three days after recovery.

Some people with norovirus infection may show no signs or symptoms. However, they are still contagious and can spread the virus to others.

Causes

Noroviruses are highly contagious and are shed in the feces of infected humans and animals. Methods of transmission include:

  • Eating contaminated food
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Touching your hand to your mouth after your hand has been in contact with a contaminated surface or object
  • Being in close contact with a person who has a norovirus infection
  • Noroviruses are difficult to wipe out because they can withstand hot and cold temperatures as well as most disinfectants.

Home Remedies for Headaches Part 1

Headaches, including migraines, are extremely common. Because headaches can stem from a variety of causes, some headache sufferers seek treatment on a near-daily basis. Fortunately, there are several home-remedy treatments that can help alleviate migraine pain and other types of headaches. Read on to discover which headache remedies you may already have at home.

Lavender Oil:  Not only does lavender smell great — it’s also a useful home remedy for headaches and migraine pain. Lavender oil can be either inhaled or applied topically. Two to four drops for every two to three cups of boiling water are recommended when inhaling lavender-oil vapors as a headache treatment. Unlike many medicinal oils, this home remedy can also be safely applied externally without the need to dilute it. Lavender oil should not be taken orally.

Peppermint Oil:  Peppermint is a soothing home remedy that has been shown to benefit tension headaches. This fresh-smelling oil has vaso-constricting and vaso-dilating properties, which help control blood flow in the body. Headaches and migraine pain are often due to poor blood flow, and peppermint oil helps to open and close the vessels that promote flow. Peppermint home remedies also open up the sinuses so that more oxygen can get into the bloodstream.

Basil Oil:  Basil, the strong-scented herb used as a topping for pizzas and pastas, certainly tastes and smells good. And for people in need of a natural headache treatment, the oil derived from basil plants can also be a useful home remedy. Basil works as a muscle relaxant, so it is especially helpful for headaches caused by tension and tight muscles.

Dieting:  One of the most useful home remedies for reducing headaches and migraine pain involves making changes to your diet. Certain foods have been shown to affect the frequency and severity of headaches and migraine pain, including dairy; chocolate; peanut butter; certain fruits, such as avocado, banana, and citrus; onions; meats with nitrates, such as bacon and hot dogs; foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG); foods containing tyramine, an amino acid found in red wine; and foods that are fermented or pickled. Keep track of these trigger foods and your reaction to them with a food diary.

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Home Remedies for Headaches Part 2

Scalp Massage:  Do-it-yourself scalp massages can be an effective way to alleviate migraine pain, and they feel great. Researchers in Brazil showed that massaging the greater occipital nerve — the area in the back of the head, at the base of the skull — reduces migraine pain. Massage in general has been identified as a useful home remedy for headaches, especially reflexology (massaging reflex points on the hands and feet).

Feverfew:  Feverfew, as its name suggests, is used to treat fever, but it’s most commonly known as an herbal headache treatment. This home remedy became popular in the 1980s, when a landmark study in Great Britain showed that 70 percent of participants had less migraine pain after taking feverfew daily. Since then, more studies have demonstrated feverfew’s benefit in preventing and treating migraine pain. One study showed improvement in migraine pain among people who took daily feverfew in combination with white willow, another herbal home remedy, which contains properties similar to aspirin.

Flaxseed:  Some headaches are caused by inflammation, which can be reduced by consuming omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed can help provide headache relief because it’s rich in omega-3s. Flaxseed can be used as a home remedy in several forms, including as an oil and ground or whole seeds.

Buckwheat:  Buckwheat’s usefulness as a home remedy for headaches and migraine pain comes from a flavonoid known as rutin. Flavonoids are phytochemicals, which are found in plants, and have been shown to contain antioxidant properties, which counteract damage to cells. In addition, researchers in Taiwan have demonstrated the effects of flavonoids on inflammation, a common cause of headaches.

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E. Coli & Its Symptoms

fp-ecoliE. coli is a type of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of people and animals. However, some types of E. coli, particularly E. coli 0157:H7, can cause intestinal infection. Symptoms of intestinal infection include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. More severe cases can lead to bloody diarrhea, dehydration, or even kidney failure. People with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, young children, and older adults are at increased risk for developing these complications.

Most intestinal infections are caused by contaminated food or water. Proper food preparation and good hygiene can greatly decrease your chances of developing an intestinal infection. Most cases of intestinal E. coli infection can be treated at home. Symptoms generally resolve within a few days to a week.

Symptoms of intestinal infection generally begin between one and five days after you have been infected with E. coli. Symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal ramping
  • Sudden, severe watery diarrhea that may change to bloody stools
  • Gas
  • Loss of appetite/nausea
  • Vomiting (uncommon)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to more than a week.

Symptoms of a severe E. coli infection may include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • Pale skin
  • Bruising
  • Dehydration

Call your doctor if you experience any of these severe symptoms.

According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, about 8 percent of those who are infected develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition in which the red blood cells are damaged. This can lead to kidney failure, which can be life-threatening, especially for children and the elderly. HUS generally begins about five to 10 days after the onset of diarrhea.