Allergies

Allergies. See also Asthma and Food Allergies An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system misinterprets a normally nontoxic substance, such as grass, pollen, a detergent, or a certain food, as a harmful invader. The immune system then responds to this perceived threat, called an allergen, by releasing substances called…

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Bruises

Bruises   A bruise is an injury caused by a blow or a bump that does not cut the skin but breaks blood vessels underneath the skin. Blood seeps out of these vessels, producing the tell- tale black-and-blue discoloration, as well as swelling and soreness. The deeper the bruise, or…

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Ulcers

Ulcers   Peptic ulcers most frequently affect the stomach and the duodenum, which is the upper part of the small intestine. Both the stomach and the duodenum process high quanti- ties of gastric juices. These juices have to be strong in order to break food down into digestible particles; in…

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Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad Breath (Halitosis)   If you’ve ever eaten garlic or onions—or stood next to someone who has—you know that certain foods reliably produce a sour or strong odor on the breath. These foods, usually ones that are pungent or spicy, contain foul-smelling sulfur compounds that are released not just into…

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Menopause

Menopause   Menopause is a good example of Western medicine’s focus on disease, rather than on health and wellness. In this case, a natural state—the end of menstruation—is defined by many conventional doctors as a disease that must be treated with medication. Women who don’t take their estrogen pills, Western…

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Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones   Kidney stones have become an increasingly common medical problem in Western society, mainly due to poor dietary habits. Although many kidney stones are so small that they pass unnoticed, they may sometimes become very large, up to the size of a marble. It is not hard to…

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Psoriasis

Psoriasis   Psoriasis, a common skin disorder, occurs when skin cells replicate too quickly. The skin produces new cells at about ten times its normal rate, but also it continues to slough off old ones at its usual, slower pace. With nowhere else to go, the new cells pile up…

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Memory Problems

Memory Problems   Misplaced documents. Forgotten names. Missed appointments. More than two-thirds of people over sixty-five say that they have trouble recalling old details and absorb- ing new ones. To some people, memory problems are just part of what used to be called “senility,” an unfortunate but natural part of…

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)   Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by symptoms of depression that develop in the dark winter months and that lift with the onset of spring and summer. Although many of us feel a little less energetic in the winter, people with SAD suf- fer from…

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Ear Infection

Ear Infection A comprehensive review of studies published in the British Medical Jour- nal found that there was no significant dif- ference in children with acute ear infec- tions when antibiotics were given, as com- pared  to a placebo. While ear infections can occur at any age, they are most…

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Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Disease   Numerous disorders fall under the broad category of heart and vascular disease. Here, discussion is restricted to arteriosclerosis, angina, and heart attack. For related sub- jects, see High Blood Pressure and Stroke. Arteries transport blood from the heart and deliver it to other parts of the body.…

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Back Pain

Back Pain   If you’re an American, you have an 80 percent chance of experiencing back pain at some point in your adult life. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for emer- gency room visits; in fact, it is the fourth most common ailment in our country.…

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Arthritis

Arthritis   Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes swelling and pain that can range from mild to excruciating. Although more than two hundred diseases are classified under the name “arthritis,” most arthritic conditions fall into one of two categories: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is by far the…

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Attention Deficit

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder   Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is defined as age-inappropriate impulsiveness, lack of concentration, and sometimes-excessive physical activity. This condition is associated with learning difficulties and a lack of social skills. Because there is no laboratory or physical test that diagnoses ADHD, its diagnosis is based…

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Infertility

Infertility   To many couples, pregnancy seems like a simple matter—so simple that not getting pregnant is their chief concern. But after years of protected sex, men and women who decide they want children may discover that conception is a far more complex process than they realized. Here’s an extremely…

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Cough

Cough   Coughing is a normal part of the body’s immune system and respiratory defense sys- tem. Quick, sudden bursts of air and fluids from the respiratory tract help expel microbes, dust, chemicals, and other irritants, as well as foreign objects, from the airway. Coughing can be a symptom of…

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Stroke

Stroke   Like all parts of the body, the brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen to function properly. When that oxygen supply is cut off, brain tissues begin to die within min- utes, never to regenerate. This tissue death is what happens during a stroke. A stroke occurs when…

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Anxiety

Anxiety  Anxiety is a tool of the human body that is meant to be a healthy response to stresses in life or even to a dangerous situation. When we are afraid, our metabolism speeds up, our muscles tighten, and our adrenal glands produce extra quantities of adrena- line (a hormone…

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Insomnia

Insomnia   Insomnia is our nation’s silent health crisis. Almost half of all adults report having dif- ficulty sleeping, but less than 10 percent discuss the issue with their doctor. Almost everyone has suffered from temporary insomnia due to stress, overeating, or consum- ing stimulants before bed and knows how…

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Cataracts

Cataracts   Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States and worldwide. Because they develop gradually, and because most of us tend to associate some vision disturbances with “normal” aging, most cases go undetected until it is too late to stop the damage. This is a…

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