The Cold Truth About Migraines

With the busy and stressful lives people lead here in the UAE, we have all experienced headaches at some point in time. Sometimes the headaches are mild and bearable, which is cured by over the counter medications or painkillers. On the other hand, some headaches are moderate to severe and on one side of head associated with irritation of light and sounds, which could be a migraine.

Did you know that migraines are not just simple headaches?

There are numerous types of headaches that are medically identified, and migraine is only one among them, which can severely impair the quality of life. A migraine is a neurological condition in which one experiences episodic headaches mostly on one side of the head (the pain and can be both sided in some patients). The condition can be caused in men, women and even in children, although women are major sufferers of the condition.  A migraine attack in an individual is generally accompanied by nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity. A typical migraine attack lasts for a minimum of 4 hours and may continue until 3 days in the severe form.

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Facts about Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) encompasses a vast array of psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, loss of confidence and mood swings. There are also physical symptoms, typically bloatedness and breast pain. It is the timing, rather than the types of symptoms, and the degree of impact on a woman’s daily activity that supports a diagnosis of PMS.

Four in ten women (40%) experience symptoms of PMS and of these 5% – 8% suffer from severe PMS. Although the cause remains uncertain, it is assumed that some women are ‘sensitive’ to progesterone and progestogens. The second theory implicates the neurotransmitters serotonin and c-aminobutyric acid (GABA), in causing PMS symptoms. Reducing salt, caffeine, and stress along with increasing exercise is typically all that is recommended in those with mild symptoms. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation may be useful in some. Anti-inflammatory drugs may help with physical symptoms.  In those with more severe symptoms, birth control pills may be useful.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Mammogram

  • What exactly is a mammogram?

A mammogram is like an X-ray of the breast. You will be made to stand in front of a machine with your breast placed on a plate-like surface. Another plate will press against the breast from above in and hold it in place for the X-ray. This step is repeated to get a side view of the breast. A mammogram helps the doctor get a closer view of the breast in order to understand any changes that may not have been felt during a breast examination.

  • Are mammograms painful?

Mammograms are not painful, although they do cause a certain amount of pain or discomfort when the breasts are compressed against the plate-like surface. However, if you experience any pain during the mammogram, make sure to report it to the radiologist. Do not ignore the pain if it feels like more than a pinch.

  • When should I get a mammogram screening?

Breast cancer is common in women over the age of 50. Hence, women over 50 years of age should get screened once in two years. Younger women must consult their doctors to check for the best time to start getting screened. However, self-breast assessment is advised in younger women in order to understand and report immediately in case of any abnormalities in the breast.

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Your questions on Breast Cancer answered

Since what age should women start a breast examination?

Breast cancer is one such cancer that can be cured if detected and treated during initial stages. It is extremely important for women to know what their breasts look and feel like normally so that they are able to differentiate in case of any changes. Breast cancer can happen to women across all age groups, although a majority of the cases of breast cancer occur in women over 40 years of age. However irrespective of the age, women should be aware of their body and its changes. Diagnosing breast cancer in women under 40 years of age is difficult because the breast tissue during that age is much denser than in older women. However self-breast examinations must be done once a month and can be done by women in their 20’s as well. During the teens, women tend to feel lumps in the breast which is quite normal as the breasts are developing and the lumps normally disappear on their own gradually. However, if the lump gets bigger in size or causes pain/discomfort it is better to consult a specialist in order to understand the cause.

A self-breast examination should be done by women whose breasts are fully developed (post-adolescence). Beginning the practice early will help women create a habit out of it and they will become much more familiar with their breasts and can address any changes that the breast undergoes. The self-examination should be done after the days of mensuration as during those days the breasts tend to be swollen. At a younger age, regular examination at frequent intervals is recommended in order to rule out any health condition. Mammograms are not recommended for women below 40 years of age because of the dense breast tissue women have at a younger age, hence mammograms may not be extremely efficient. Women over 40 years of age should screen themselves annually. In case of women who are at higher risk of developing breast cancer; i.e. women who have a family history of breast cancer, women who started menstruating before 12 years of age, women with poor lifestyle habits, women diagnosed with benign breast conditions previously etc. it is recommended to consult a specialist who would be able to advise on the right time to begin mammogram screening.

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Hyperlipidemia and the risk of cardiovascular disease

Hyperlipidemia is one of the major preventable cardiovascular risk factors and refers to increased levels of lipids (fats), such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in the blood.

Although hyperlipidemia does not cause symptoms, it can significantly increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including diseases of blood vessels supplying the heart (coronary artery disease), brain (cerebrovascular disease), and limbs (peripheral vascular disease). These conditions can, in turn, lead to chest pain, heart attacks, strokes, and other problems. Because of these risks, treatment is often recommended for people with hyperlipidemia.

 

OTHER RISK FACTORS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

In addition to hyperlipidemia, there are a number of other factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and its complications:

  • Diabetes mellitus, type 1 and 2
  • Hypertension (people with hypertension include those with a blood pressure at or above 140/90 and those who use blood pressure medication
  • Kidney disease
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Family history of coronary disease at a young age in a parent or sibling (young, in this case, means younger than 55 years for men and younger than 65 years for women)
  • Gender: Men have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than women at every age
  • Age: There is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease with increasing age

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