Diseases & Conditions

Easy-to-understand answers about diseases and conditions

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  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from mild, such as the common cold, to more severe diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). In 2019, a novel coronavirus emerged as the cause behind an outbreak in China. This new coronavirus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). By March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Public health organisations, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO, actively monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. They regularly post updates and guidance regarding prevention, treatment, and other critical information about the virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 on their respective websites.

  • Cold sore

    Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are a prevalent viral infection characterised by small, fluid-filled blisters that appear on and around the lips. These blisters often cluster together in patches and eventually break, forming a scab that typically lasts for several days. Cold sores generally heal within 2 to 3 weeks without leaving a scar. The transmission of cold sores occurs through close contact, such as kissing, and is primarily caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Less commonly, cold sores can be caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both of these viruses can affect the mouth or genitals and can be transmitted through oral sex. It is important to note that the virus can spread even when visible sores are absent. While there is no cure for cold sores, treatment options are available to help manage outbreaks. Prescription antiviral medications or creams can be used to expedite the healing process of the sores. Additionally, these treatments may reduce future outbreaks’ frequency, duration, and severity. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan. They can provide guidance on the most suitable antiviral medication or cream based on the individual’s specific condition and medical history. By effectively managing cold sores, individuals can alleviate symptoms, promote healing, and minimise the impact of future outbreaks.

  • Chronic kidney disease

    Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, is characterised by a gradual decline in kidney function. The kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste products and excess fluids from the blood, which are then eliminated through urine. In the advanced stages of chronic kidney disease, there is a risk of dangerous accumulation of fluid, electrolytes, and waste substances in the body. Patients may only experience minor indications or symptoms in the early stages of chronic kidney disease. This prevents them from becoming aware of the problem until it dramatically worsens. The primary goal of treating chronic kidney disease is to slow down the progression of kidney damage, typically by addressing the underlying cause. However, even with effective management of the underlying cause, it is possible for kidney damage to continue progressing.  Chronic kidney disease can sometimes progress to end-stage renal failure. Without the assistance of artificial filtration techniques such as dialysis or a kidney transplant, there is a risk of death. So, diagnosing and managing chronic kidney disease early is important to prevent further deterioration of kidney function. Regular monitoring, lifestyle modifications, medication, and close medical supervision are essential to managing chronic kidney disease and reducing the risk of reaching end-stage kidney failure.

  • Cholesterol

    Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood that is necessary for building healthy cells. However, high levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. When cholesterol levels are elevated, fatty deposits can accumulate in the blood vessels, narrowing and reducing blood flow. In some cases, these deposits can rupture and form a clot, resulting in a heart attack or stroke. While high cholesterol can have a genetic component, it is often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, making it preventable and treatable. Adopting a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight are important steps in managing cholesterol levels. However, in some cases, medication may be necessary to help reduce high cholesterol. Medications such as statins, fibrates, bile acid sequestrants, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors can be prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. These medications work through different mechanisms to reduce the production or absorption of cholesterol in the body.  Regular monitoring of cholesterol levels through blood tests is essential to assess the effectiveness of lifestyle changes and medication. By managing high cholesterol effectively, individuals can reduce their risk of heart disease and improve their overall cardiovascular health.

  • Chest pain

    Chest pain can manifest in various forms, ranging from a sharp stabbing sensation to a dull ache. It can also feel like crushing or burning. In some instances, the pain may radiate up the neck and into the jaw and then spread to the back, down one or both arms. There are numerous potential causes of chest pain, some of which can be life-threatening, particularly when involving the heart or lungs. Given the potential seriousness of chest pain, seeking immediate medical assistance to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment is crucial.

  • Cavities / tooth decay

    Cavities, also known as tooth decay or caries, are long-term changes to the teeth’s hard surface that leave tiny gaps or holes. They are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in the mouth, frequent snacking, consuming sugary drinks, and inadequate oral hygiene practices. Cavities are among the most prevalent oral health problems worldwide. While they can affect individuals of all ages, they are particularly common in children, teenagers, and older adults. However, it is important to note that anyone with teeth, including infants, can develop cavities. If left untreated, cavities can progress and affect deeper layers of the teeth. This can lead to severe toothaches, infections, and ultimately tooth loss. The best way to avoid cavities and tooth decay is to visit the dentist on a regular basis and practice appropriate brushing, and flossing techniques.. These practices help remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles from the teeth, reducing the risk of cavity formation.

  • Canker sore

    Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are small and shallow lesions that develop on the mouth’s soft tissues or at the gums’ base. Unlike cold sores, canker sores do not appear on the surface of the lips, and they are not contagious. While canker sores can be painful and make eating and talking difficult, they typically resolve on their own within a week or two. However, it is advisable to consult with your doctor or dentist if you experience unusually large or painful canker sores or if they do not seem to heal. Seeking professional evaluation can help determine if any underlying factors contribute  to the persistence or severity of the canker sores and guide appropriate treatment options.

  • Calciphylaxis

    Calciphylaxis is a rare but severe disease that occurs when calcium builds up in the small blood vessels of the skin and fat tissues. This condition can cause painful skin ulcers, blood clots, and severe infections, potentially leading to death. Typically, calciphylaxis is seen in individuals who suffer from kidney failure, are on dialysis, or have had a kidney transplant. However, it can also occur in people without kidney disease.

  • Canker sore

    If you notice the appearance of small, shallow lesions on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums, you are likely suffering from canker sores (aphthous ulcers). Unlike cold sores, canker sores do not appear on the surface of your lips and are not contagious. However, they can be painful and make eating and talking uncomfortable. Fortunately, most canker sores heal independently in a week or two. However, suppose you have unusually large or painful canker sores that do not seem to heal. In that case, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor or dentist for further evaluation.

  • Cancer

    Cancer encompasses a wide range of diseases marked by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells that can infiltrate and harm normal body tissue. It possesses the capacity to spread throughout the body, posing significant health risks. Globally, cancer ranks as the second-leading cause of death. However, advancements in cancer screening, treatment, and prevention have led to improved survival rates for numerous cancer types. These progressions offer hope in the battle against cancer and underscore the importance of early detection and ongoing medical advancements in enhancing outcomes for those affected by this complex group of diseases.