Eye Health: Is Surgery the Answer?

Does Neck Laser Surgery Work?

When you suffer from chronic spinal pain in the neck or back, you are probably too familiar with pain relievers. You may also have undergone physical therapy and other treatments for your spinal issues. In addition, you may have suffered years of pain and frustration due to these problems. After a time, surgery may be your only option. If you need an operation, should laser surgery be a part of the plan?

Process

You may confuse laser surgery with minimally invasive spinal surgery. In fact, minimally invasive surgery relies on small incisions and then the use of an endoscope. The surgeon can see the spine and find areas of damage without severing the muscles, so recovery time is greatly reduced. Laser surgery is often used in conjunction with this procedure, removing damaged tissue without using a scalpel to cut it out. The laser must be inserted into the incision as well, so no surgery is completely incisionless. However, traditional cutting is kept to a minimum.

Procedures

Lasers can be used in a procedure called rhizotomy, which zaps the small nerves in the facet joints. This act helps those with arthritic joints get some relief from back pain. Laser disc compression “cuts” out some disc contents to lessen  the pain of nerve compression in your legs. Also, laser annuloplasty helps treat tears in the disc walls, a procedure that can also lessen your chronic back pain. Again, most surgeons do not limit themselves to just one tool. They prefer to use multiple approaches to give you relief from pain and improve your mobility.

Benefits

Laser surgery is not a cure-all, but when it is used properly and with reasonable expectations, it can improve your spinal issues. Laser-assisted surgery can be done on an outpatient basis and requires only a small incision, usually only about an inch long. You will have little scar tissue and a short recovery period. Many people who undergo this type of surgery are quite satisfied and relieved to escape traditional back operations.

Although you may have heard about the miracle of laser surgery, you need to understand that being zapped by a laser is not going to cure your spine. However, it is a helpful option in a comprehensive pain-relief plan. When you consult with your specialist, be certain to inquire about all the tools they will use in your surgery. The goal for them is to be minimally invasive while they give you a better life. 

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Should You Have Your Tonsils Removed As An Adult?

If you spent your college years pulling all-nighters and eating a less-than-balanced diet while rarely getting so much as a cold, you may be dismayed that you now seem to be susceptible to every sore throat and sinus infection that makes its way around your office — despite taking better care of yourself now than you did in your early twenties. While this increased susceptibility to viruses can often simply be attributed to the aging process, in some cases, it may indicate a problem with your tonsils or adenoids that could require removal. Read on to learn more about some situations in which tonsil removal may be the best option, as well as what you can expect from this procedure. 

When may you need your tonsils removed as an adult?

In most cases, tonsil removal is performed on children or young teens who have had a history of recurring sore throats, sinus infections, or other ear, nose, and throat (ENT) issues caused by bacteria buildup in the tonsils and adenoids. Because tonsils, much like appendixes and pinky toes, no longer serve much of a biological purpose, their removal is a fairly routine process that poses few risks and can improve future health.

Tonsil removal as an adult is a bit more serious, and should therefore be performed only if your tonsils are affecting your quality of life. For some adults, tonsils can essentially double as bacteria sponges, harboring potentially harmful strep and staph bacteria that can inflame the tissues in your mouth and throat whenever your immune system is weakened by lack of sleep, poor diet, or stress. Treating this inflammation can require heavy-duty antibiotics, and often these medications simply cause the infection to retreat back to your tonsils instead of eradicating it completely. Because long-term antibiotic use carries a number of risks, from antibiotic-resistant infection to organ damage, having your tonsils removed may be the best option.

What surgical procedures can pose the least risk of complications? 

When having your tonsils removed, it’s important for your surgery to be as non-invasive as possible. Because it’s likely your tonsils are already contaminated with bacteria, making large incisions in your neck or jaw could increase the risk of post-surgical infection. One popular alternative to traditional tonsil surgery is laser removal, in which the tonsils are detached from the back of your throat with a high-powered laser beam that immediately cauterizes the incision, reducing bleeding and all but eliminating the odds of infection. Although your recovery may still be somewhat lengthier than it would have been if your tonsils were removed during childhood, having a laser tonsillectomy should allow you to quickly move on with a life free from chronic sore throats. Contact a business, such as Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head, for more information.   

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Alternative Treatments And Approaches To Breast Cancer: Options To Discuss With Your Oncologist

If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, or you suspect that due to a genetic predisposition for the disease you will develop it, you may want to look at various treatments and/or preventive measures that could help. Some of these are a little extreme and may be reminiscent of stories of celebrities who have done the same, but the end results are unarguably positive. Other options may require time, paperwork and your oncologist’s backing. Here are some of those alternative approaches to and treatments for breast cancer.

Double Mastectomy

As extreme as a double mastectomy is, you cut your risks of breast cancer significantly when this approach is used to prevent the disease. This approach is often used when a patient has an extremely high risk for the disease because more than one female family member has died of it and you are a direct descendant of all of them. For example, if your mother, grandmother and great grandmother all died of breast cancer by the time they were in their fifties, you may want to consider this approach.

As a treatment, an oncologist may suggest that you get a double mastectomy if you have developed lumps or signs of cancer in both breasts and/or have had the disease two or more times. Rather than attempt to save your breasts and just keep cutting away at the remaining tissue, your doctor removes all remaining breast tissue, leaving only the chest wall and intercostal muscles (the muscle “meat” between each of your ribs). Unless cancer cells show up in your lymph and blood tests, the removal of your breasts removes the possibility of developing breast cancer a third time.

Clinical Research Trials

New drugs for various types of cancer are being developed all the time. News of these clinical trials often arrives in front of oncologists via emails, professional organizations and recruiters who are looking for patients who want to be part of the trials. If you want to know if there are any clinical trials for new medicines available for patients with breast cancer, you should ask your oncologist. He or she might know of a trial that might be something you could try, although you would have to fit all of the requirements of the trials before your doctor would recommend it for you. Most of these trials are for curative medicines, not preventive medicines, in which case you will still want to discuss this possibility with your doctor. Contact a company like Southwest Oncology Centers for more information.

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Here’s When You Should Not Wear Your New Contacts

Switching from glasses to contact lenses (from an outlet such as A New Vision) is an exciting change, especially if you weren’t keen on how you looked with glasses or they didn’t suit your lifestyle. While contact lenses take a bit of work in the morning and evening, you’ll soon get used to this part of your day and won’t be able to help smiling when you catch a glimpse of your glasses-free face in the mirror. There are times, however, that it’s best to leave your contact lenses in their case and go back to your glasses — if even for a short amount of time. Here are some instances that aren’t conducive to wearing contacts.   

Allergy Season

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to opt for your glasses instead of your contacts. Even if you prefer how you look with the latter, allergy season can be challenging with contact lenses. For many people with seasonal allergies, things such as ragweed and pollen will cause the eyes to water, puff up and become itchy and irritated. When your eyes are constantly running and you can’t help but rub them, the last thing you want to do is deal with contact lenses, too. For example, the constant rubbing of your eyes will often be enough to lift your contacts. Use your glasses until your symptoms have disappeared, and then go back to your contacts. 

Pulling An All-Nighter

Whether you’re a college student getting ready for an exam, someone driving from sundown to sunup or you’re busy completing a major project for work, you might find yourself pulling an all-nighter. Before doing so, it’s a good idea to switch to your glasses. When you’re overly tired, your eyes will often get sore, and it’s safer to simply remove your glasses and rub your eyes or splash some water on your face than try to do so with contacts. Plus, when it’s finally time to fall into bed, you can simply take off your glasses instead of face the unhealthy temptation of sleeping with your contacts because you can’t be bothered removing them.

Swimming

Swimming is often a challenging situation for people who need vision correction. Not wearing glasses while you’re in the pool can leave you having trouble navigating, while wearing contacts can be challenging because the water can often lift, move or otherwise disturb them. It’s generally a good idea to avoid using your contacts in the swimming pool. Take them out before the pool visit, use your glasses on the pool deck and then put your contacts back in once you get home.  

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Five Natural Treatments For Candida (Yeast Fungus)

Candida can cause many unpleasant issues — mainly for women or infants. Candida can be more commonly known as yeast infections or diaper rash, and once it occurs it can be very difficult to get rid of. Harsh chemicals and treatments can actually make the situation worse. If you’re currently suffering from candida (or trying to treat it on your child), you may want to look for a product for treatment of candida online or consider some of these natural treatments.

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is often the most popular treatment for candida, but there are occasionally misunderstandings. Yogurt is best used by eating it and is designed to improve upon the health of your body as a whole since it contains probiotics. Though it can be used topically, it’s usually not as effective in this way. The goal with many yeast treatments is to change the balance of your body chemistry, which is what causes yeast to flourish. 

2. Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice is effective against both yeast infections and bladder infections. It is best used unsweetened and can be consumed at a rate of two or more glasses a day. Candida is impacted by the arbutin in cranberry juice. 

3. Tea Tree Oil

For diaper rash and other candida-related skin issues, tea tree oil is exceptionally effective. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that promotes healing and fights against both fungus and bacteria. It can be used to treat many types of rash, so it’s a good idea if you aren’t certain exactly what type of rash you have. 

4. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains caprylic acid, which is known to kill off yeast quite quickly. Even better, coconut oil is already in a great deal of lotions — though like many of the other items on this list, coconut oil is best ingested. Many health food stores now sell coconut oil for cooking as an easy alternative to corn oils and olive oils. Coconut oil can also be used to create salad dressing. 

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is effective both at treating rashes and reducing itching. When used topically, apple cider vinegar dries out the area of a rash and kills off fungus. When ingested, apple cider vinegar can help your body maintain a healthier pH balance. 

If your candida persists for longer than a couple of weeks, you should consult with a doctor. They may be able to offer you information on a product that can successfully treat candida quickly. Though candida itself is usually not dangerous, secondary infections from it can be — especially in children.

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Weren’t A Good Candidate For LASIK Years Ago? 2 Reasons You May Now Be A Great Candidate

LASIK eye surgery has been FDA approved in the US for 21 years now, and since then, the vision correction procedure has been improved in many ways and many new types of laser eye surgery have been developed. If you thought you weren’t a good candidate for LASIK or were told you didn’t qualify for any other vision surgery in the past, then read on to find out how LASIK has improved and a new laser eye surgery option that you may qualify for now. 

1. LASIK is Now Less Prone to Worsening Night Vision and Causing Halos 

You may have avoided LASIK in the past due to the rare, yet possible, complication of lower-quality night vision after the surgery. When LASIK surgery first came out, a microkeratome machine was used to create the flap in the eye, which uses a tiny blade to make the incision. However, the flap can now be made with a femtosecond laser. LASIK performed with this laser is often advertised as iLasik or bladeless LASIK. 

While the microkeratome is still in use, many surgeons have switched to the femtosecond laser, because like most lasers, it makes a more precise incision and can reduce the chances of visual complications, which includes worsened night vision. While first introduced to surgeons in 1999, it is being used more often today, and even the laser itself has improved greatly over the years. In 2001, the laser was 10-kHz. It later went up to 60-kHz later, and in 2009, there was a huge jump to 150-kHz. Higher kHz means less energy is used, so it inflames tissue less and creates smoother incisions. 

2. New SMILE Surgery for Dry Eye and Stronger Eyeglass Prescriptions

SMILE is a new laser eye surgery that can be performed on two groups of people who were traditionally not good candidates for any type of laser vision surgery: people with dry eyes and those with strong eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions. The flap cut during LASIK surgery can affect sensory nerves that contribute to tear production and worsen dry eyes, and LASIK surgery can only correct nearsightedness up to a prescription of +10.00 and farsightedness down to -5.00. 

The reason this surgery can work for you even with a dry eye problem is that no flap is cut, and instead, your cornea is reshaped with the femtosecond laser by making small tunnels and incisions. This means that the sensory nerves that affect tear production can be avoided, since they lie in the path of where the typical flap is cut, and unique incisions can be made to help correct even very strong prescriptions. SMILE, also called ReLEx, can be performed on you if your prescription is as high as -10.0 or higher

If you suspected or were told by a surgeon that you were not a good candidate for LASIK or another vision correction surgery years ago, then realize that LASIK has advanced a lot over the years and new forms of eye surgery are also available. That means that many of the side effects of LASIK vision surgery you may have feared have been eliminated and there are now other options if you have a very high prescription or dry eyes that used to mean that no laser eye surgery was right for you in the past. 

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Dealing With Cat Allergens In Your Home

If you have cat allergies and also own a cat, then you know the effect they have on your health. Usually, it is recommended that a person with cat allergies never own a cat. However, that’s not practical for everyone, especially for those who weren’t aware of their allergies until after the cat arrived. However, just because you’re allergic, it doesn’t mean that you will have to give up your pet. If your allergies aren’t severe or life-threatening, then you may be able to find a compromise. Here are a few tips that may help alleviate some of the problem.

Restrict the cat to certain areas:

The best area to restrict your cat’s access is your bedroom. You can mostly do this by keeping your door closed. This may not be easy as some cats seem adept at learning how to open a door even if it’s completely closed, so you may need to lock or block the door as well. You may want to restrict your cat to areas without carpet or allow them to spend time in an outdoor enclosure to keep dander (the allergy-causing substance cats produce) to a minimum.

Bathe your cat:

Some people may find it strange to bathe a cat, but most cats will get used to it if it’s done regularly. If you can’t do it yourself, have another family member or groomer do it for you. This will temporarily remove the amount of dander the cat produces. It will have to be done regularly, about every week, for it to remain effective. Make sure you only use pet shampoo specifically for cats.

Vacuum more often:

Carpet can harbor a lot of dust and cat dander. Vacuuming it and having it cleaned often will keep these allergens in check. Try using a vacuum with a filter that reduces the amount of allergens kicked up by the machine. If possible, have someone else vacuum and dust while you leave the house for a short time. A better idea, if it is possible, is to remove as much of the carpet in your home as possible and replace it with wood flooring that is easier to clean.

Treating your allergies:

Treatments for allergies include allergy shots and medications. While some people build up an immunity through allergy shots, many people find no relief at all. Some medications have side effects and may not be effective for everyone. Before taking any medication, check with your doctor first.

If you’re experiencing allergic symptoms, see your doctor first before assuming that the cat is causing them. If your allergies are mild or moderate, you may be able to deal with them by reducing the allergens through cleaning and medications. Your doctor will let you know how severe your allergies are when you get tested. Allergy treatment is crucial for living around allergens every day.   

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