Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Natural Health Choices for Women

Quite obviously, men and women are different in very many ways, but most especially in their physical appearance. This is certainly the most distinguishable difference, but there are many other different internal factors as well, such as the regulation of hormonal secretions and the type of secretions; in addition, women are more prone to certain diseases than men.

Natural health is making a huge difference in the lives of women, and if you decide to take natural health approach, you will need to address these differences in the regimen you create. You might know that it is important to eat low-fat foods, unrefined foods that do not contain preservatives, but do you know what vitamins and nutrients women are more likely to lack?--And do you know why not addressing those needs can significantly decrease your quality of life – both at work and at home?

You know from experience that a poor health habits will have an affect in everything you do. It will show on your skin and in your eyes. You will lack energy and it will show. Your body will reveal your lifestyle. The old saying is still true, if not more so today, ‘you are what you eat.’

Natural women's health is one method you can use to reverse the effects of your poor health lifestyle. In addition to getting more sleep and drinking more water, a natural women's health regimen should include proper nutrition. This is especially important if you are pregnant or planning to conceive in the future. If you want to have a child, you must ensure your body is functioning properly by restoring yourself to good health through natural methods; and if you are currently pregnant, you need to ensure that your body is replacing the nutrients your baby is consuming.

That is, however, not the only reason natural women’s health should focus on nutrition. It is also because there are certain foods that normally benefit women’s metabolisms, which can be very beneficial, as it is often harder for women to lose weight than men.

Natural women’s health is also an important part of regulating your PMS and menstrual cycle. It is a way of ensuring that while your body is performing all its natural functions it is still able to get all the nutrition it needs to keep going.

One excellent place to find free information about natural women's health is the Internet. There are a number of websites that offer information and reference resources on natural health changes that could greatly improve your quality of life.

That is why so many women are thinking about changing their lifestyles to focus on a more natural approach to health. Today’s woman has enough to worry about and deal with daily. Why not give yourself a fighting chance at being the best you possible? When you’re healthy and functioning at your best you will be able to tackle all of the other issues that come up. Be proactive in creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself. Your body will thank you.

About the Author: Sherry Frewerd is a 'Marlo Quinn' Founding Team Leader specializing in helping women achieve their dreams of financial freedom and natural health: http://www.marloquinn.net/index.asp?consultant=15 Visit 'Natural Bath Body and Home' to learn more about pampering yourself naturally: http://naturalbathbodyandhome.com

Friday, January 06, 2006

Health Glossary

allergen — a foreign substance to the body's immune system that may cause an allergic reaction.

allergies — disorders that involve an immune response in the body. Allergies are reactions to allergens such as plant pollen, other grasses and weeds, certain foods, rubber latex, insect bites, or certain drugs.

alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) — AFP is protein made by the fetus’ liver, in the fetal gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the yolk sac. During pregnancy, AFP crosses into the mother's blood. The level of AFP in the mother's blood can be measured to screen for disorders such as neural tube defects and Down syndrome. The mother’s AFP levels tend to be high with neural tube defects such as anencephaly and Spina bifida, and low with Down syndrome.

alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP) — This blood test measures the levels of a substance called alpha-fetoprotein in the mother's blood. Abnormal levels can indicate a brain or spinal cord defect, the presence of twins, a miscalculated due date, or an increased risk of Down syndrome.

alveoli cells — tiny glands in the breast that produce milk.

amniocentesis — If necessary, this test is performed between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy and can indicate chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, or genetic disorders such as Tay Sachs disease, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and others. It also can detect the baby's sex and risk of spina bifida (a condition in which the brain or spine do not develop properly).

amniotic fluid — clear, slightly yellowish liquid that surrounds the unborn baby (fetus) during pregnancy. It is contained in the amniotic sac.

amniotic sac — During pregnancy, the amniotic sac is formed within the uterus and encloses the fetus. This sac bursts normally during the birthing process, releasing the amniotic fluid. A popular term for the amniotic sac with the amniotic fluid is the bag of waters.

amputation — removal of part or all of a body part, except for organs in the body. It usually takes place during surgery in a hospital operating room. It is done because of injury to the body part or problems from diabetes, hardening of the arteries, or any other illness that impairs blood circulation. It is also done to prevent the spread of bone cancer. Many amputees are able to be fitted with an artificial limb.

anemia — when the amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin (the substance in the blood that carries oxygen to organs) becomes reduced, causing fatigue that can be severe.

aneurysm — a thin or weak spot in an artery that balloons out and can burst.

angina — a recurring pain or discomfort in the chest that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood. It is a common symptom of coronary heart disease, which occurs when vessels that carry blood to the heart become narrowed and blocked due to atherosclerosis. Angina feels like a pressing or squeezing pain, usually in the chest under the breast bone, but sometimes in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaws, or back. Angina is usually is brought on by exertion, and relieved within a few minutes by resting or by taking prescribed angina medicine.

anorexia nervosa — an eating disorder caused by a person having a distorted body image and not consuming the appropriate calorie intake resulting in severe weight loss.

anovulation — absence of ovulation.

antibiotics — drugs used to fight many infections caused by bacteria. Some antibiotics are effective against only certain types of bacteria; others can effectively fight a wide range of bacteria. Antibiotics do not work against viral infections.

antibodies — proteins made by certain white blood cells in response to a foreign substance (antigen). Antibodies neutralize or destroy antigens.

antidepressants — a name for a category of medications used to treat depression.

antihistamines — drugs that are used to prevent or relieve the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies by preventing the action of a substance called histamine, which is produced by the body. Histamine can cause itching, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and sometimes can make breathing difficult. Some of these drugs are also used to prevent motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Since they may cause drowsiness as a side effect, some of them may be used to help people go to sleep.

antimetabolites — anticancer drugs that can stop or slow down biochemical reactions in cells.

anxiety disorder — serious medical illness that fills people's lives with anxiety and fear. Some anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia (or social anxiety disorder), specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.

apnea — temporary interruption or cessation of breathing.

areola — the dark-colored skin on the breast that surrounds the nipple.

arteries — blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the heart, brain and other parts of the body.

artherosclerosis — disease when fatty deposits clog the walls of the arteries.

arthritis — swelling, redness, heat and pain of the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis.

assisted reproductive technology — technology that involves procedures that handle a woman's eggs and a man's sperm to help infertile couples conceive a child.

asthma — a chronic disease of the lungs. Symptoms include cough, wheezing, a tight feeling in the chest, and trouble breathing.

atherosclerosis — a disease in which fatty material is deposited on the wall of the arteries. This fatty material causes the arteries to become narrow and it eventually restricts blood flow.

autoimmune — an immune response by the body against one of its own tissues, cells, or molecules.

autoimmune disease — disease caused by an immune response against foreign substances in the tissues of one's own body.

bacteria — microorganisms that can cause infections.

bacterial vaginosis (BV) — the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age, which happens when the normal bacteria (germs) in the vagina get out of balance, such as from douching or from sexual contact. Symptoms include vaginal discharge that can be white, gray, or thin and have an odor; burning or pain when urinating; or itching around the outside of the vagina. There also may be no symptoms.

benign — noncancerous

beta-blockers — a type of medication that reduces nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels. This makes the heart beat slower and with less force. Blood pressure drops and the heart works less hard.

bile — a brown liquid made by the liver. It contains some substances that break up fat for digestion, while other substances are waste products.

bilirubin — when the hemoglobin in a person's blood breaks down, causing a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. It is a temporary condition in newborn infants.

binge eating disorder — an eating disorder caused by a person being unable to control the need to overeat.

biopsy — removal of a small piece of tissue for testing or examination under a microscope.

birth center — A special place for women to give birth. They have all the required equipment for birthing, but are specially designed for a woman, her partner, and family. Birth centers may be free standing (separate from a hospital) or located within a hospital.

bladder — the organ in the human body that stores urine. It is found in the lower part of the abdomen.

blood — fluid in the body made up of plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to and waste materials away from all body tissues. In the breast, blood nourishes the breast tissue and provides nutrients needed for milk production.

blood transfusion — the transfer of blood or blood products from one person (donor) into another person's bloodstream (recipient). Most times, it is done to replace blood cells or blood products lost through severe bleeding. Blood can be given from two sources, your own blood (autologous blood) or from someone else (donor blood).

body image — how a person feels about how she or he looks.

bowels — also known as the intestine, which is a long tube-like organ in the human body that completes digestion or the breaking down of food. The small bowel is the small intestine and the large bowel is the large intestine.

breast shell — a round plastic shell that fits around the breast. It is used to correct inverted or flat nipples. Also referred to as breast shield or milk cup.

bronchitis — inflammation of the bronchi, airways in the lungs.

bulimia nervosa — an eating disorder caused by a person consuming an extreme amount of food all at once followed by self-induced vomiting or other purging.

cancer — a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

candida — a fungus, called Candida albicans, that causes yeast infections like thrush in the mouth and throat, and in intestines and other parts of the body.

cardiovascular diseases — disease of the heart and blood vessels.

cataplexy — a sudden loss of motor tone and strength.

cataracts — cloudy or thick areas in the lens of the eye.

celiac disease — a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine.

central agonists — a type of medicine used to treat high blood pressure. Central agonists work by relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body.

cerebrovascular disease — disease of the blood vessels in the brain.

cervical cancer — happens when normal cells in the cervix change into cancer cells. This change normally takes several years to happen, but it can also happen in a very short amount of time. Before the cells turn into cancer, abnormal cells develop on the cervix that can be found by a Pap test. Women generally don't have symptoms of cervical cancer. But when cervical cancer is not found early and spreads deeper into your cervix or to other tissues or organs, you might have pain during sex; bleeding from your vagina after sex, between periods, or after menopause; heavy vaginal discharge that may have a bad odor; heavier bleeding during your period; or a menstrual period that lasts longer than normal. Human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses, can cause abnormal changes on the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV is very common, and you can get it through sexual contact with another person who has HPV.

cervix — the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). The cervix forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body.

cesarean (C-section) — procedure where the baby is delivered through an abdominal incision.

chemotherapy — treatment with anticancer drugs.

chickenpox — a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which results in a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever.

chlamydia — a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). Most people have no symptoms, but chlamydia can cause serious damage a women's reproductive organs. When a woman does have symptoms, they may include thin vaginal discharge and other symptoms similar to gonorrhea like burning when urinating. Long-term irritation may cause lower abdominal pain, inflammation of the pelvic organs, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

cleft lip and palate — congenital abnormalities (present at birth) that affect the upper lip and the hard and soft palate of the mouth. Features range from a small notch in the lip to a complete fissure, or groove, extending into the roof of the mouth and nose. These features may occur separately or together.

cholesterol — a soft, waxy substance that is present in all parts of the body. It helps make cell membranes, some hormones, and vitamin D. The liver makes all the cholesterol a person's body needs, so eating too much from animal foods like meats and whole milk dairy products can make your cholesterol go up.

chorionic villus sampling (CVS) — If necessary this test is performed between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy and can indicate the same chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disorders as amniocentesis can. It also can detect the baby's sex and risk of spina bifida.

chronic — long lasting condition.

chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) — a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts six months or longer, and does not improve with rest or is worsened by physical or mental activity. Other symptoms can include weakness, muscle pain, impaired memory and/or mental concentration, and insomnia. The cause is unknown.

cirrhosis — the result of chronic liver disease, where the liver is scarred and no longer functions properly. This causes many complications, including build up of fluid in the abdomen, bleeding disorders, increased pressure in the blood vessels and brain function disorders.

coercion — To force someone to do something that they do not want to do.

colon cancer — cancer in the inner lining of the colon, or the part of the large intestine that serves to remove water from digested food and let the remaining material, or stool, move through it to leave the body. Most, if not all, of these cancers develop from growths in the colon called polyps. Removal of these precancerous can prevent colon cancer.

colonoscopy — a diagnostic procedure in which a flexible tube with a light source in inserted into the colon (large intestine or large bowel) through the anus to view all sections of the colon for abnormalities.

colostrum — thick, yellowish fluid secreted from breast during pregnancy, and the first few days after childbirth before the onset of mature breast milk. Also called "first milk," it provides nutrients and protection against infectious diseases.

colposcopy — procedure that uses a special microscope (called a colposcope) to look into the vagina and to look very closely at the cervix.

condom — a barrier method of birth control. There are both male and female condoms. The male condom is a sheath placed over an erect penis before sex that prevents pregnancy by blocking the passage of sperm. A female condom also is a sheath, but is inserted into the vagina to block the passage of sperm.

congenital heart disease — abnormalities of the heart's structure and function caused by abnormal or disordered heart development before birth.

connective tissue — a type of body tissue that supports other tissues and binds them together. Connective tissue provides support in the breast.

constipation — infrequent or hard stools or difficulty passing stools.

contagious — transmitted by direct or indirect contact.

convulsion — also known as a seizure. An uncontrollable contraction of muscles that can result in sudden movement or loss of control.

coronary artery disease — also called coronary heart disease. It is the most common type of heart disease that results from atherosclerosis - the gradual buildup of plaques in the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that bring blood to the heart. This disease develops slowly and silently, over decades. It can go virtually unnoticed until it produces a heart attack.

counselor — usually has a master's degree in Counseling and has completed a supervised internship.

cystic fibrosis (CF) — one of the most common serious genetic (inherited) diseases. One out of every 400 couples is at risk for having children with CF. CF causes the body to make abnormal secretions leading to mucous build-up. CF mucous build-up can impair organs such as the pancreas, the intestine and the lungs.

debilitating — impairs the vitality and strength of a person.

decongestants — medications that treat cough and stuffy nose by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose and making it easier to breath.

dehydration — excessive loss of body water that the body needs to carry on normal functions at an optimal level. Signs include increasing thirst, dry mouth, weakness or lightheadedness (particularly if worse on standing), and a darkening of the urine or a decrease in urination.

depression — term used to describe an emotional state involving sadness, lack of energy and low self-esteem.

diabetes — a disease in which blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are above normal. Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset or noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), is the most common form of diabetes.

diabetic — see Diabetes

diaphragm — birth control device made of a thin flexible disk, usually made of rubber, that is designed to cover the cervix to prevent the entry of sperm during sexual intercourse.

diarrhea — passing frequent and loose stools that can be watery. Acute diarrhea goes away in a few weeks. Diarrhea becomes chronic when it lasts longer than 4 weeks.

disability — a physical or mental impairment that interferes with or prevents "normal" achievement in a particular function.

diuretics — a type of medication sometimes called "water pills" because they work in the kidney and flush excess water and sodium from the body.

DNA test — a lab test in which a patient's DNA is tested. DNA is a molecule that has a person's genetic information and is found in every cell in a person's body.

down syndrome — Down syndrome is the most frequent genetic cause for mild to moderate mental retardation and related medical problems. It is caused by a chromosomal abnormality. For an unknown reason, a change in cell growth results in 47 instead of the usual 46 chromosomes. This extra chromosome changes the orderly development of the body and brain.

ductules — small milk ducts in the breast leading to the mammary or lactiferous ducts.

eating disorder — eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, involve serious problems with eating. This could include an extreme decrease of food or severe overeating, as well as feelings of distress and concern about body shape or weight.

ectopic pregnancy — a pregnancy that is not in the uterus. It happens when a fertilized egg settles and grows in a place other than the inner lining of the uterus. Most happen in the fallopian tube, but can happen in the ovary, cervix, or abdominal cavity.

electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) — an external, noninvasive test that records the electrical activity of the heart.

electrolyte imbalance — when the amounts of sodium and potassium in the body become too much or too little.

embryo — a period during pregnancy where the baby has rapid growth, and the main external features begin to take form.

endometrial cancer — cancer that develops from the endometrium, or the inner lining of the uterus (womb).

endometriosis — a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other areas of the body, usually inside the abdominal cavity, but acts as if it were inside the uterus. Blood shed monthly from the misplaced tissue has no place to go, and tissues surrounding the area of endometriosis may become inflamed or swollen. This can produce scar tissue. Symptoms include painful menstrual cramps that can be felt in the abdomen or lower back, or pain during or after sexual activity, irregular bleeding, and infertility.

endoscopy — a diagnostic procedure in which a thin, flexible tube is introduced through the mouth or rectum to view parts of the digestive tract.

engorgement — condition in which breasts become overly full of milk. Engorged breasts may feel swollen, hard, and painful. Engorgement can lead to blocked milk ducts.

epidural — During labor a woman may be offered an epidural, where a needle is inserted into the epidural space at the end of the spine, to numb the lower body and reduce pain. This allows a woman to have more energy and strength for the end stage of labor, when it is time to push the baby out of the birth canal.

epilepsy — a physical disorder that involves recurrent convulsions, also known as seizures. It is caused by sudden changes in how the brain works.

episiotomy — This is a procedure where an incision is made in the perineum (area between the vagina and the anus) to make the vaginal opening larger in order to prevent the area from tearing during delivery.

erectile dysfunction — inability to achieve and keep a penile erection.

esophagus — tube that connects the throat with the stomach.

estrogen — a group of female hormones that are responsible for the development of breasts and other secondary sex characteristics in women. Estrogen is produced by the ovaries and other body tissues. Estrogen, along with progesterone, is important in preparing a woman's body for pregnancy.

fallopian tubes — part of the female reproductive system, these tubes carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus (or womb).

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — a federal regulation that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period for the serious health condition of the employee, parent, spouse or child, or for pregnancy or care of a newborn child, or for adoption or foster care of a child.

fatigue — a feeling of lack of energy, weariness or tiredness.

fatty tissue — connective tissue that contains stored fat. Also referred to as adipose tissue. Fatty tissue in the breast protects the breast from injury.

feces — waste eliminated from the bowels.

fever — body temperature is raised above normal and is usually a sign of infection or illness.

flat nipple — a nipple that cannot be compressed outward, does not protrude or become erect when stimulated or cold.

follicle — each month, an egg develops inside the ovary in a fluid filled pocket called a follicle. This follicle releases the egg into the fallopian tube.

follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) — a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. In women, it helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovaries.

forced prostitution — To make someone have sex for money, against their will.

galactosemia — a condition where the body is not able to process galactose (a sugar), which makes up half of the sugar (called lactose) found in milk. When galactose levels become high, body organs and the central nervous system can be damaged. In newborns, the condition is found when first breastfeeding and can cause jaundice and other problems.

gastrointestinal — a term that refers to the stomach and the intestines or bowels.

GER (gastroesophageal reflux) — also called acid reflux, a condition where the contents of the stomach regurgitates (or backs up) into the esophagus (food pipe), causing discomfort.

glandular tissue — body tissue that produces and releases one or more substances for use in the body. Some glands produce fluids that affect tissues or organs. Others produce hormones or participate in blood production. In the breast, glandular tissue is involved in the production of milk.

goiter — enlargement of the thyroid gland that is not associated with inflammation or cancer.

gonorrhea — a sexually transmitted disease that often has no symptoms. However, some women have pain or burning when urinating; yellowish and sometimes bloody vaginal discharge; bleeding between menstrual periods; heavy bleeding with periods; or pain when having sex. Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

hemorrhoids — veins around the anus or lower rectum that are swollen and inflamed.

hepatitis B — a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. The virus, which is called hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. You get hepatitis B by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person; for instance, you can become infected by having sex or sharing needles with an infected person. A baby can get hepatitis B from an infected mother during childbirth.

hepatitis C — a liver disease, caused by a virus, that makes the liver swells and stops it from working correctly.

high blood pressure — also known as hypertension. A cardiovascular disease which means the blood vessels become tight and constricted, forcing your heart to pump harder to move blood through your body. These changes cause the blood to press on the vessel walls with greater force, which can damage blood vessels and organs, including the heart, kidneys, eyes, and brain. Blood pressure is considered high if it is greater than 140 over 90 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).

HIV — see HIV/AIDS infection

HIV/AIDS infection — HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV infection can produce no symptoms for many years. When certain symptoms develop, a person has AIDS. AIDS is a syndrome, or group of diseases, that can be fatal. HIV/AIDS infection is life-long, there is no cure.

hormone — substance produced by one tissue and conveyed by the bloodstream to another to effect a function of the body, such as growth or metabolism.

hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — replaces the hormones that a woman's ovaries stop making at the time of menopause, easing symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. HRT combines the female hormones estrogen and progesterone and is usually given in pill form. [A recent study has found that HRT can cause more harm than good in healthy women, and can increase a woman's risk for breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung). Talk with your health care provider to find out if HRT is best for you and about other ways to control menopause symptoms.]

hypertension — see high blood pressure.

hysterectomy — surgery to remove the uterus.

immune system — a complex system in the body that recognizes and responds to potentially harmful substances, like infections, in order to protect the body.

incest — When two people who are too closely related to marry have sex, such as a parent and a child or two first cousins.

indigestion — also called dyspepsia. Indigestion is a common problem that causes a vague feeling of abdominal discomfort after meals. Symptoms also can include an uncomfortable fullness, belching, bloating, and nausea. It may be triggered by eating particular foods, after drinking wine or carbonated drinks, or by eating too fast or overeating.

infertility — A condition in which a couple has problems conceiving, or getting pregnant, after one year of regular sexual intercourse without using any birth control methods. Infertility can be caused by a problem with the man or the woman, or both.

inflammation — used to describe an area on the body that is swollen, red, hot, and in pain.

inflammatory bowel disease — long-lasting problems that cause irritation and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common disorders are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

inhaled medicines — administered by having the user breath in the substance.

insecticides — chemicals used to control or kill insects.

insomnia — not being able to sleep.

insulin — one of many hormones that helps the body turn the food we eat into energy and helps store energy to be used later. People with diabetes mellitus, a condition in which the body does not make enough insulin, might need to inject themselves with insulin to help their bodies’ cells work properly.

interferon — a group of proteins with a carbohydrate component, which is produced by different cell types in response to an exposure of a virus, bacterium, or parasite, that prevents replication (of the virus, bacterium, or parasite) in newly infected cells.

interstitial cystitis — a long-lasting condition also known as painful bladder syndrome or frequency-urgency-dysuria syndrome. The wall of the bladder becomes inflamed or irritated, which affects the amount of urine the bladder can hold and causes scarring, stiffening, and bleeding in the bladder.

intestines — also known as the bowels, or the long, tube-like organ in the human body that completes digestion or the breaking down of food. They consist of the small intestine and the large intestine.

intimidation — To make someone fearful in order to make them do what another person wants them to do.

intrauterine device — a small device that is placed inside a woman's uterus by a health care provider, which prevents pregnancy by changing the environment of the uterus (or womb).

intravenous analgesic — An analgesic is a drug that relieves pain. During labor, a woman can be given pain-relieving drugs intravenously (through a tube inserted into her vein).

inverted nipple — a nipple that retracts, rather than protrudes when the areola is compressed.

ischemia — decrease in the blood supply to a an organ, tissue, or other part caused by the narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels.

jaundice — a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, caused by too much bilirubin in the blood. While not a disease, jaundice can signal a liver or gallbladder problem. Newborns can develop jaundice, which is only temporary and goes away.

kidney stones — hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney.

lactation — breastfeeding, or the secretion of breast milk.

lactiferous sinuses — enlarged portion of the mammary or milk duct where breast milk pools during breastfeeding. The sinuses are behind the areola and connect to the nipple.

lactose — a sugar found in milk and milk products like cheese, cream, and butter.

lamaze — a philosophy of giving birth developed by Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze. The goal of Lamaze classes is to increase women's confidence in their ability to give birth. Lamaze classes teach women simple coping strategies for labor, including focused breathing. But Lamaze also teaches that breathing techniques are just one of the many things that help women in labor. Movement, positioning, labor support, massage, relaxation, hydrotherapy and the use of heat and cold are some others.

laxative — medicines that will make you have a bowel movement.

lead — a metal that can make infants and young children sick.

lesion — an infected or diseased area of skin.

let-down reflex, or milk-ejection reflex — A conditioned reflex ejecting milk from the alveoli through the ducts to the sinuses of the breast and the nipple.

libido — sexual drive.

local analgesic — An analgesic is a drug that relieves pain. Pain-relieving drugs can be given to a woman during labor and delivery locally through a needle inserted into a muscle (intra-muscular) or under the skin (subcutaneous).

luteal phase defect — problems with the uterine lining that can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy.

luteinizing hormone — a hormone that triggers ovulation and stimulates the corpus luteum (empty follicle) to make progesterone.

Lyme disease — a bacterial illness caused by a bacterium called a "spirochete" that is transmitted to humans from the bite of a deer tick. It can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart and nervous system.

lymph — the almost colorless fluid that travels through the lymphatic system and carries cells that help fight infection and disease. Lymph tissue in the breast helps remove waste.

malignant — cancerous

mammary ducts — ducts in the breast that carry milk to the lactiferous sinuses and the nipple.

mastitis — a condition that occurs mostly in breastfeeding women, causing a hard spot on the breast that can be sore or uncomfortable. It is caused by infection from bacteria that enters the breast through a break or crack in the skin on the nipple or by a plugged milk duct.

meningitis — infection which causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

menopause — the transition in a woman's life when production of the hormone estrogen in her body falls permanently to very low levels, the ovaries stop producing eggs, and menstrual periods stop for good.

menstruating — The blood flow from the uterus that happens about every 4 weeks in a woman.

milk ducts — see mammary ducts.

milk sinuses — see lactiferous sinuses.

milk-ejection reflex — see let-down reflex.

miscarriage — an unplanned loss of a pregnancy. Also called a spontaneous abortion.

montgomery glands — also called Montgomery's glands or areolar glands. These small glands enlarge during pregnancy and breastfeeding and look somewhat like pimples on the areola. They secrete oils that lubricate the nipple.

multiple sclerosis — also called MS, a disorder of the brain and spinal cord that causes decreased nerve function associated with the formation of scars on the covering of nerve cells. Symptoms range from numbness to paralysis and blindness. A person with MS slowly loses control over his or her body.

mumps — a sudden illness caused by the virus paramyxovirus. It is spread by direct contact as well as by airborne droplets and saliva. Since 1967 the mumps vaccine (MMR, or measles, mumps and rubella) has helped cases decline in the United States. Symptoms include inflamed salivary glands (causing a child to have full cheeks like a chipmunk), inflamed tissues of the central nervous system (brain and spine), and an inflamed pancreas. Mumps in a child who has gone through adolescence tends to affect the ovary and the testes, which can lead to infertility.

nerve(s) — cells in the human body that are the building blocks of the nervous system (the system that records and transmits information chemically and electrically within a person). Nerve cells, or neurons, are made up of a nerve cell body and various extensions from the cell body that receive and transmit impulses from and to other nerves and muscles. Nerve tissue in the breast makes breasts sensitive to touch, allowing the baby's sucking to stimulate the let-down or milk-ejection reflex and milk production.

neural tube defect — A major birth defect caused by abnormal development of the neural tube, or the structure in an embryo which develops into the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects are among the most common birth defects that cause infant death and serious disability. The most common neural tube defects are anencephaly, spina bifida, and encephalocele. In anencephaly the skull and most or all of the brain does not develop. Encephalocele is a hernia of part of the brain and of the membranes covering it. Spina bifida is an opening in the column encasing the spinal cord.

nipple — the protruding part of the breast that extends and becomes firmer upon stimulation. In breastfeeding, milk travels from the milk sinuses through the nipple to the baby.

nipple shield — an artificial latex or silicone nipple used over the mother's nipple during nursing.

nurse-midwife — A nurse who has undergone special training and has received certification on birthing (labor and delivery). Nurse-midwifes can perform most of the same tasks as physicians and have emergency physician backup when they deliver a baby.

obese — being overweight.

obesity — being overweight.

obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — An anxiety disorder in which a person suffers from obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions, such as cleaning, checking, counting, or hoarding. The person becomes trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that are senseless and distressing but very hard to stop. OCD can be mild or severe, but if severe and left untreated, can stop a person from being able to function at work, at school, or even in the home.

occupational therapy — therapy aimed to restore a person's basic skills, such as bathing and dressing.

oral medicines — administered by mouth.

osteoporosis — a bone disease that is characterized by progressive loss of bone density and thinning of bone tissue, causing bones to break easily.

ovarian cancer — cancer of the ovary or ovaries, which are organs in the female reproductive system that make eggs and hormones. Most ovarian cancers develop from the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary, called epithelial cells.

ovarian reserve — health of the ovaries and eggs. It is an important factor in female fertility and decreases with age.

ovaries — part of a woman's reproductive system, the ovaries produce her eggs. Each month, through the process called ovulation, the ovaries release eggs into the fallopian tubes, where they travel to the uterus, or womb. If an egg is fertilized by a man's sperm, a woman becomes pregnant and the egg grows and develops inside the uterus. If the egg is not fertilize, the egg and the lining of the uterus is shed during a woman's monthly menstrual period

ovulation — the release of a single egg from a follicle that developed in the ovary. It usually occurs regularly, around day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle.

ovulation method — a method used by couples trying to get pregnant, in which they have intercourse just before or after ovulation.

oxytocin — a hormone that increases during pregnancy and acts on the breast to help produce the milk-ejection reflex. Oxytocin also causes uterine contractions.

panic disorder — An anxiety disorder in which a person suffers from sudden attacks of fear and panic. The attacks may occur without a known reason, but many times they are triggered by events or thoughts that produce fear in the person, such as taking an elevator or driving. Symptoms of the attacks include rapid heartbeat, chest sensations, shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling, and feeling anxious.

pap test — this test finds changes on the cervix. To do a Pap test, the doctor uses a small brush to take cells from the cervix.

Parkinson's disease — disease affecting the part of the brain associated with movement. Characterized by shaking and difficulty with movement coordination.

pelvic exam — during this exam, the doctor or nurse practitioner looks for redness, swelling, discharge, or sores on the outside and inside of the vagina. A Pap test tests for cell changes on the cervix. The doctor or nurse practitioner will also put two fingers inside the vagina and press on the abdomen with the other hand to check for cysts or growths on the ovaries and uterus. STD tests may also be done.

pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) — an infection of the female reproductive organs that are above the cervix, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. It is the most common and serious problem caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). PID can cause ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious problems. Symptoms include fever, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, extreme pain, and vaginal bleeding.

peptic ulcers — a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum (beginning of the small intestine). Peptic ulcers are common -- one in 10 Americans develops an ulcer at some time in his or her life. One cause of peptic ulcer is bacterial infection, but some ulcers are caused by long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), like aspirin and ibuprofen. In a few cases, cancerous tumors in the stomach or pancreas can cause ulcers. Peptic ulcers are not caused by stress or eating spicy food.

Perinatal depression — depression that occurs during pregnancy or within a year after delivery

Peripartum depression — depression after pregnancy

peripheral neuropathy — classification of disorders that involve damaged or destroyed nerves. These disorders do not include the nerves of the brain or spinal cord.

peripheral vascular disease (also called peripheral arterial disease (PAD)) — A common disorder in which the arteries supplying oxygen rich blood from the heart to a limb (typically one or both legs) are blocked. As a result, the organs do not get enough blood flow for normal function. The most common cause of PAD is atherosclerosis

pesticides — any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, or repelling any pest. It also includes herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests.

phobias — An anxiety disorder in which a person suffers from an unusual amount of fear of a certain activity or situation.

phototherapy — treatment with light. Prescription phototherapy exposes the baby's skin to special fluorescent lights. In mild cases of jaundice, exposing the baby's skin to sunlight (taking care to avoid sunburn) is sometimes recommended.

physical therapy — therapy aimed to restore movement, balance and coordination.

pituitary gland — a small gland in the head that makes hormones that control other glands and many body functions including growth.

placenta — During pregnancy, a temporary organ joining the mother and fetus. The placenta transfers oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the fetus, and permits the release of carbon dioxide and waste products from the fetus. The placenta is expelled during the birth process with the fetal membranes.

plaque — a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that accumulate in the walls of the arteries.

plugged (milk) duct — when the small milk ducts in the breast become blocked, or plugged. This is often caused by mastitis.

pneumonia — inflammation of the lungs. Causes of pneumonia include bacteria and viruses.

pneumonia — inflammation of the lungs caused by an infection.

pornography — Pictures, videos, and written material that openly shows sexual situations and causes sexual excitement.

postpartum depression (PPD) — a serious condition that requires treatment from a health care provider. With this condition, feelings of the baby blues (feeling sad, anxious, afraid, or confused after having a baby) do not go away or get worse.

post-traumatic stress disorder — A psychological condition that can happen when a person sees or experiences something traumatic, such as rape, murder, torture, or wartime combat. A person can have many symptoms including flashbacks (re-living the event), nightmares, fatigue, anxiety, and forgetfulness. A person can also withdraw from family and friends.

preeclampsia — Also known as Toxemia, it is a condition that can occur in a woman in the second half of her pregnancy that can cause serious problems for both her and the baby. It causes high blood pressure, protein in the urine, blood changes and other problems.

prematurely — before the expected time.

primary lactase deficiency — when a person is born with the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose can't be digested because there is not enough of an enzyme, called lactase, in the body. Consuming milk and dairy products causes diarrhea, bloating, gas, and discomfort. This deficiency can also develop over time, as the amount of lactase in the body decreases with age.

progesterone — a female hormone produced by the ovaries. Progesterone, along with estrogen, prepares the uterus (womb) for a possible pregnancy each month and supports the fertilized egg if conception occurs. Progesterone also helps prepare the breasts for milk production and breastfeeding.

progestin — a hormone that works by causing changes in the uterus. When taken with the hormone estrogen, progestin works to prevent thickening of the lining of the uterus. This is helpful for women who are in menopause and are taking estrogen for their symptoms. Progestins also are prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle, treat unusual stopping of the menstrual periods, help a pregnancy occur or maintain a pregnancy, or treat unusual or heavy bleeding of the uterus. They also can be used to prevent pregnancy, help treat cancer of the breast, kidney, or uterus, and help treat loss of appetite and severe weight or muscle loss.

prolactin — a hormone that increases during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It stimulates the human breast to produce milk. Prolactin also helps inhibit ovulation.

prostate gland — a gland in a man's reproductive system. It makes and stores seminal fluid. This fluid is released to form part of semen.

psoriasis — a chronic (long-lasting) skin disease of scaling and inflammation that mostly affects adults. It occurs when skin cells quickly rise from their origin below the surface of the skin and pile up on the surface before they have a chance to mature. Usually this movement takes about a month, but in psoriasis it may occur in only a few days. Psoriasis results in patches of thick, red (inflamed) skin covered with silvery scales. These patches usually itch or feel sore, and most often occur on the elbows, knees, other parts of the legs, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of the feet, but they can occur on skin anywhere on the body.

psychiatrist — a doctor (M.D.) who treats mental illness. Psychiatrists must receive additional training and serve a supervised residency in their specialty. They can prescribe medications.

psychologist — A clinical psychologist is a professional who treats mental illness, emotional disturbance, and behavior problems. They use talk therapy as treatment, and cannot prescribe medication. A clinical psychologist will have a master's degree (M.A.) or doctorate (Ph.D.) in psychology, and possibly more training in a specific type of therapy.

psychotherapy — counseling or "talk" therapy with a qualified practitioner in which a person can explore difficult, and often painful, emotions and experiences, such as feelings of anxiety, depression, or trauma. It is a process that aims to help the patient become better at making positive choices in his or her life, and to become more self-sufficient. Psychotherapy can be given for an individual or in a group setting.

puberty — time when the body is changing from the body of a child to the body of an adult. This process begins earlier in girls than in boys, usually between ages 8 and 13, and lasts 2 to 4 years.

pudenal block — This procedure anesthetizes, or numbs, the area around the vulva to reduce pain during labor and delivery.

purging — forcing oneself to vomit.

quinine — a medication used to treat malaria (a disease caused by a parasite that lives part of its life in humans and part in mosquitoes).

radiation — treatment using radiation to destroy cancer cells.

radioactive drugs — drugs used to look at the internal organs of the body or to treat certain diseases like cancer.

remission — a period of time without symptoms of a chronic condition.

resistant — does not respond.

respite care — care and supervision usually provided by volunteer organizations that provides a person's caregiver some time of rest or relief.

rooting — a reflex that newborn babies have, along with the reflexes for sucking and swallowing. Rooting means turning the head to search for the nipple and milk.

rubella — also called German measles. Rubella virus causes rash, mild fever, and arthritis. If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born with serious birth defects.

schizophrenia — a brain disease that can cause loss of personality, agitation, catatonia (being in a statue-like state), confusion, psychosis (a disorder in which a person is not in touch with reality), unusual behavior, and withdrawal. The illness usually begins in early adulthood. No one knows the exact cause of schizophrenia, but a problem with a gene called COMT has been found to raise the risk of developing it.

sedative — a drug that calms a person and allows her or him to sleep.

seizures — uncontrollable contractions of muscles that can result in sudden movement or loss of control, also known as convulsions.

self-esteem — How you feel about yourself – how you feel about who you are, the way you act, and how you look. When a person does not think too highly of themselves, she is said to have low self-esteem.

semen — the fluid (which contains sperm) a male releases from his penis when he becomes sexually aroused or has an orgasm.

sexual harassment — Sexual advances (like touching, grabbing) or sexual comments (that can be offensive and/or joking) that are not wanted or appropriate. This can happen in the workplace and a person can feel like they have no control over it. They may decide not to deal with it because they fear they will lose their job or not get a raise or promotion.

sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — diseases that are spread by sexual activity.

sickle cell anemia — a blood disorder passed down from parents to children. It involves problems in the red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are round and smooth and move through blood vessels easily. Sickle cells are hard and have a curved edge. These cells cannot squeeze through small blood vessels. They block the organs from getting blood. Your body destroys sickle red cells quickly, but it can’t make new red blood cells fast enough-- a condition called anemia.

social worker — A licensed clinical social worker (L.C.S.W.) is trained in psychotherapy and helps people with many different mental health and daily living problems to improve overall functioning. Usually has a master's degree in social work (M.S.W.).

sodium — in reference to diet and food, the salt content of food is usually given in terms of "sodium." For instance, the label of a can of soup may list "Sodium 400 mg" per cup. Excess sodium from high sodium foods like french fries is excreted in the urine. Having too much or too little sodium in a person's body can cause the body's cells to not work properly.

speech therapy — therapy aimed to help a person with a speech or language disorder or problem to restore basic speech skills.

spermicides — chemical jellies, foams, creams, or suppositories, inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse that kill sperm.

Spina bifida — Spina bifida is the most common of all birth defects. Its name means "clef spine," or a failure of a fetal spine to close the right way when it is developing before birth. It occurs very early in pregnancy, roughly three to four weeks after conception, before most women know that they are pregnant. Any woman can have an affected pregnancy. Most women who bear a child with Spina bifida have no family history of it.

stethoscope — instrument used by health care professionals to detect sounds produced in the body. Commonly used to listen to your heartbeat to detect any heart-related problems and to listen to your lungs for sounds that they could have fluid inside them.

stillbirth — when a fetus dies during birth, or when the fetus dies during the late stages of pregnancy when it would have been otherwise expected to survive.

stroke — sometimes called a "brain attack," is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, or bleeding in the brain. A person's speech, writing, balance, sensation, memory, thinking, attention, and learning are some of the areas that can be affected as a result of suffering a stroke.

sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) — the diagnosis given for the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a complete investigation. Because most cases of SIDS occur when a baby is sleeping in a crib, SIDS is also commonly known as crib death. Most SIDS deaths occur when a baby is between 1 and 4 months of age.

symptothermal method — a method of pregnancy planning or birth control that combines certain aspects of the calendar, the basal body temperature, and the cervical mucus methods. It takes into account all these factors as well as other symptoms a woman might have, such as slight cramping and breast tenderness.

synthetic — made in a lab and not from a natural source.

systemic lupus erythematosus — an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.

Tay-Sachs disease — a fatal genetic disorder in which harmful quantities of a fatty substance called ganglioside GM2 build up in the nerve cells in the brain and damage the cells. In children, this begins in the fetus early in pregnancy. By the time a child with Tay-Sachs is three or four years old, the nervous system is so badly affected that death usually results by age five.

testicle (testis) — the male sex gland. There are a pair of testes behind the penis in a pouch of skin called the scrotum. The testes make and store sperm, and make the male hormone testosterone.

thalassemia — a group of blood diseases, that are inherited, which affect a person's hemoglobin and cause anemia. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen and nutrients to cells in the body.

thrush — a yeast infection, caused by the fungus Candida albicans, of the mouth and throat. It's hallmark is white patches in the mouth. It can also occur in the gastrointestinal tract and vagina, and causes some types of diaper rash in infants.

thyroid — The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that makes and stores hormones that help regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy.

tonsillitis — inflammation of the tonsils, which are lymph nodes in the back of the mouth at the top of the throat. Tonsils help to filter out bacteria and other microorganisms to prevent infection in the body. When they become overwhelmed by bacterial or viral infection they can become swollen and inflamed.

toxemia — see preeclampsia.

toxoplasmosis — an infection caused by the parasite named Toxoplasma gondii that can invade tissues and damage the brain, especially in a fetus and in a newborn baby. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, swollen lymph glands, and muscle aches and pains. Can be contracted by touching the hands to the mouth after gardening, cleaning a cat's litter box, or anything that came into contact with cat feces; or by eating raw or partly cooked meat, or touching the hands to the mouth after touching raw or undercooked meat.

transient ischemic attack (TIA) — a "mini-stroke" where there is a short-term reduction in blood flow to the brain usually resulting in temporary stoke symptoms. Does not cause damage to the brain, but puts a person at higher risk of having a full stroke.

trichomoniasis — a very common STD in both women and men that is caused by a parasite that is passed from one person to another during sexual contact. It also can be passed through contact with damp, moist objects such as towels or wet clothing. Symptoms include yellow, green, or gray vaginal discharge (often foamy) with a strong odor; discomfort during sex and when urinating; irritation and itching of the genital area; or lower abdominal pain (rare).

trimester — A typical pregnancy is 9 months long. Pregnancy is divided into three time periods, or trimesters, that are each about three months in duration - the first, second, and third trimesters.

triple screen — blood test that indicates if there’s an increased risk of a birth defect, or a condition like Down Syndrome, in the fetus. This test can also show twins.

trisomy 18 — A condition in which a baby is conceived with three copies instead of the normal two copies of chromosome #18. Children with this condition have multiple malformations and mental retardation due to the extra chromosome #18. Some of the problems include: low birth weight, small head, small jaw, malformations of the heart and kidneys, clenched fists with abnormal finger positioning, and malformed feet. The mental retardation is severe. Ninety five percent of children with this condition die before their first birthday.

ultrasound — a painless, harmless test that uses sound waves to produce images of the organs and structures of the body on a screen. Also called sonography.

umbilical cord — connected to the placenta and provides the transfer of nutrients and waste between the woman and the fetus.

urethra — the tube that releases urine from the body.

urinalysis — a test that looks at urine to find out its content. Can be used to detect some types of diseases.

urinary tract infection — an infection anywhere in the urinary tract, or organs that collect and store urine and release it from your body (the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra). An infection occurs when microorganisms, usually bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the urethra (opening to the urinary tract) and begin to multiply.

uterine contractions — During the birthing process, a woman's uterus tightens, or contracts. Contractions can be strong and regular (meaning that they can happen every 5 minutes, every 3 minutes, and so on) during labor until the baby is delivered. Women can have contractions before labor starts; these are not regular and do not progress, or increase in intensity or duration.

uterine fibroids — common, benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow in the muscle of the uterus, or womb. Fibroids often cause no symptoms and need no treatment, and they usually shrink after menopause. But sometimes fibroids cause heavy bleeding or pain, and require treatment.

uterus — a woman's womb, or the hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen between the bladder and the rectum.

vaccine — medicine that protects the body from the disease.

vagina — The muscular canal that extends from the cervix to the outside of the body. Its walls are lined with mucus membranes and tiny glands that make vaginal secretions.

viruses — small microscopic organisms that often cause disease.

voyeurism — looking at sexual acts or naked people, often without their knowledge.

vulva — opening to the vagina.

wheezing — breathing with difficulty, with a whistling noise. Wheezing is a symptom of asthma.

yeast infections — a common infection in women caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. It is normal to have some yeast in your vagina, but sometimes it can overgrow because of hormonal changes in your body, such as during pregnancy, or from taking certain medications, such as antibiotics. Symptoms include itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina; pain when urinating or with intercourse; and cottage cheese-looking vaginal discharge.

artherosclerosis

— disease when fatty deposits clog the walls of the arteries.

arteries

— blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the heart, brain and other parts of the body.

areola

— the dark-colored skin on the breast that surrounds the nipple

apnea

— temporary interruption or cessation of breathing

anxiety disorder

— serious medical illness that fills people's lives with anxiety and fear. Some anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia (or social anxiety disorder), specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder.

antimetabolites

— anticancer drugs that can stop or slow down biochemical reactions in cells.

antihistamines

— drugs that are used to prevent or relieve the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies by preventing the action of a substance called histamine, which is produced by the body. Histamine can cause itching, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and sometimes can make breathing difficult. Some of these drugs are also used to prevent motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Since they may cause drowsiness as a side effect, some of them may be used to help people go to sleep.

antidepressants

— a name for a category of medications used to treat depression.

antibodies

— proteins made by certain white blood cells in response to a foreign substance (antigen). Antibodies neutralize or destroy antigens.

antibiotics

— drugs used to fight many infections caused by bacteria. Some antibiotics are effective against only certain types of bacteria; others can effectively fight a wide range of bacteria. Antibiotics do not work against viral infections.

anovulation

— absence of ovulation.

anorexia nervosa

— an eating disorder caused by a person having a distorted body image and not consuming the appropriate calorie intake resulting in severe weight loss.

angina

— a recurring pain or discomfort in the chest that happens when some part of the heart does not receive enough blood. It is a common symptom of coronary heart disease, which occurs when vessels that carry blood to the heart become narrowed and blocked due to atherosclerosis. Angina feels like a pressing or squeezing pain, usually in the chest under the breast bone, but sometimes in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaws, or back. Angina is usually is brought on by exertion, and relieved within a few minutes by resting

aneurysm

— a thin or weak spot in an artery that balloons out and can burst.

anemia

— when the amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin (the substance in the blood that carries oxygen to organs) becomes reduced, causing fatigue that can be severe.

amputation

— removal of part or all of a body part, except for organs in the body. It usually takes place during surgery in a hospital operating room. It is done because of injury to the body part or problems from diabetes, hardening of the arteries, or any other illness that impairs blood circulation. It is also done to prevent the spread of bone cancer. Many amputees are able to be fitted with an artificial limb.

amniotic sac

— During pregnancy, the amniotic sac is formed within the uterus and encloses the fetus. This sac bursts normally during the birthing process, releasing the amniotic fluid. A popular term for the amniotic sac with the amniotic fluid is the bag of waters.

amniotic fluid

— clear, slightly yellowish liquid that surrounds the unborn baby (fetus) during pregnancy. It is contained in the amniotic sac.

amniocentesis

— If necessary, this test is performed between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy and can indicate chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, or genetic disorders such as Tay Sachs disease, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and others. It also can detect the baby's sex and risk of spina bifida (a condition in which the brain or spine do not develop properly).

amniocentesis

— tiny glands in the breast that produce milk.

alveoli cells

— tiny glands in the breast that produce milk.

alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP)

— This blood test measures the levels of a substance called alpha-fetoprotein in the mother's blood. Abnormal levels can indicate a brain or spinal cord defect, the presence of twins, a miscalculated due date, or an increased risk of Down syndrome.

alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)

AFP is protein made by the fetus’ liver, in the fetal gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the yolk sac. During pregnancy, AFP crosses into the mother's blood. The level of AFP in the mother's blood can be measured to screen for disorders such as neural tube defects and Down syndrome. The mother’s AFP levels tend to be high with neural tube defects such as anencephaly and Spina bifida, and low with Down syndrome.

allergies

— disorders that involve an immune response in the body. Allergies are reactions to allergens such as plant pollen, other grasses and weeds, certain foods, rubber latex, insect bites, or certain drugs.

allergen

a foreign substance to the body's immune system that may cause an allergic reaction.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Eating disorder

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Eating disorder

An eating disorder is a mental illness in which a person eats in a way which disturbs their physical health. Overeating is the most common and obvious disorder, and was in the past often attributed to a lack of self-control. Psychologists prefer to class the other syndromes as "mental disorders", going by the mental health model that views the syndrome as caused by something largely outside human will. Seen this way, these disorders are said to "interfere" with normal food consumption and "lead" to serious health problems. Patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa have a mortality rate of between 5% and 12% per decade (see reference to Agras 2004 in the journal listings below) which is a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness. Among the world's leaders in the treatment of eating disorders is Harry A. Brandt, MD.

PsychInfo, a major academic database in psychology and psychiatry lists anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, rumination, pica, Hyperphagia, Kleine Levin Syndrome, and obesity as eating disorders. Over 50% of the sufferers of an eating disorder also have a comorbid diagnosis of severe mental depression. The American Psychiatric Association lists eating disorders and severe depression as primary diagnoses. Many insurance companies do not recognize this fact and refuse to treat both the eating disorder and severe depression.

People whose eating is disordered in these ways experience psychological suffering, typcially becoming obsessed with food, diet and often body image, and their health is at extreme risk due to malnutrition. In the prevailing psychological view, patients with an eating disorder are seen as victims rather than as conscious actors: their suffering is not seen as self-inflicted but as the result of a disease. Most people with an eating disorder attempt to hide their abnormal behaviour from others. They do not accept the diagnosis and will refuse treatment. As the treatments prescribed for eating disorders can take decades, mental health advocates warn that early "identification" of these disorders (and diagnosis of the syndrome as being caused by mental illness) may be the difference between life and death for the patient.

For many decades college girls have been susceptible to eating disorders.There are many causes of these disorders that are established by college environment. Almost all of people's poor eating habits are formed in college. Homesickness, depression, and self insecurities are just a few examples of some of the causes of eating disorders in girls. College is a very stressful place for every student, and this stress causes problems in the diets of many girls which can lead to many different eating disorders. In a college atmosphere, especially as a freshman, everyday life is filled with unknown surroundings, people, and feelings. Anxiety is a feeling every freshman experiences because of the new situations they are being forced into. Most people do not know that they have anxiety issues until they start college. Psychological problems almost are always the precursor to an eating disorder.

The two most familar types of eating disorder are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia. Large amounts of food are consumed at a sitting but retained in the stomach rather than being regurgitated. Some psychologists also classify a syndrome called orthorexia as an eating disorder - the person is overly obsessed with the consumption of what they see as the 'right' foods for them (vegan, raw foods, etc), to the point that their nutrition and quality of life suffers. Some people have food phobias about what they can and can't eat, which some also call an eating disorder. Another condition which is somewhat qualitatively different from the foregoing is pica, or the habitual ingestion of inedibles, such as dirt, wood, hair, etc.

There are many different degrees of anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia may be mild, where a person may eat but only allow themselves certain foods, or severe to the point of literally starving themselves to the point of death. There are other forms of purging besides vomiting- compulsive exercise, laxatives, and enemas being the other main ones. Other sufferers also allow themselves a small variety of foods and exercise compulsively, being categorized as "eating disorder not otherwise specified".

Women account for 90% of eating disorder cases. Anyone can have an Eating Disorder, but it most often occurs with young teens because they are the most at risk, due to their extreme exposure to the media. Teen’s feelings of need to conform to an idea of beauty that the media projects can be too much for some to deal with and can prompt them to take drastic measures to change their appearance.


External links
Eating Disorders: Counseling Issues
Eating Disorder FAQs
Eating Disorders
Less-well-known eating disorders
Consequences of eating disorders
National Institute of Mental Health: Eating Disorders: A detailed booklet that describes symptoms, causes, and treatments, with information on getting help and coping.
Eating Disorders and Anorexia Nervosa - original review articles

Journal references
The following journal references may be difficult to find. Your best hope to finding these is through a library with inter-library loan agreements with a university library or a medical school library.

Agras, W. Steward, MD (2004). The consequences and costs of the eating disorders. The psychiatric clinics of North America 24 (2): 371.: An excellent current article on the consequences of eating disorders, the costs to families and institutions.
Crow, S., Praus, B., and Thuras, P. (1999). Mortality from Eating Disorders—A 5- to 10-Year Record Linkage Study. International journal of eating disorders 26 (): 97.
Crow, S., Nyman, J. (2004). The Cost-Effectiveness of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment. International journal of eating disorders 35 (2): 155.
Meads, C., Gold, L., and Burls, A. (2001). How effective is outpatient care compared to inpatient care for the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa? A systemic review. European eating disorders review 9 (4): 229.
Zeeck, A., Herzog, T., and Hartman, A. (2004). Day clinic or inpatient care for severe Bulimia Nervosa. European eating disorders review 12 (2): 79.
Zipfel, S., et al (2000). Long-term prognosis in anorexia nervosa: Lessons from a 21-year follow-up study. Lancet (North American Edition) 355 (9205): 721. Abstract: In a prospective long-term follow-up of 84 patients 21 years after first hospitalisation for anorexia nervosa, we found that 50.6% had achieved a full recovery, 10.4% still met full diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, and 15.6% had died from causes related to anorexia nervosa. Predictors of outcome included physical, social, and psychological variables.

Book reference
Thompson, K. J., editor (2003) Body Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity : An Integrative Guide for Assessment and Treatment, APA Books. ISBN 1-55798-726-2
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_disorder"









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Menopause and Women's Health

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Menopause and Women's Health
by: Cathy Taylor

Creating a “quality” menopause transition requires following certain guidelines to minimize its effects on women's health. You probably know that this condition wrecks havoc on female anatomy creating chemical imbalances and overall discomfort for a period of time (both short and long).

Bouts of anxiety, physical symptoms such as hot flashes and vibrations ripping through the body, vaginal discomfort, relationship issues, and the realization that women are stepping into the next phase of their lives are critical changes one must face. Menopause and exercising proper women's health can easily go hand in hand with a little extra effort. In order to lessen the severity of symptoms, women need to be informed about proper nutrition including vitamin and other supplement consumption. Let's look into some vitamins that can help.

Some of the physical symptoms of menopause include night sweats, itchy, crawly vibrations throughout the body, and general discomfort. An excellent vitamin to take is Vitamin E. Taken in a dose of 800 IU daily, it helps prevent these conditions from happening. Make sure you take one pill with each of your meals, as capsules are best activated in the body when consumed with food.

A good vitamin to aid depression and hot flashes during sleep is magnesium as well (taken in a dose of 1,000 mg. daily). Another one of the ¨letter¨ vitamins that is great for menopausal symptoms and immune system building is Vitamin B-6. It is a diuretic, which means it flushes out any excess liquid in the body that can cause discomfort. It also aids in processing protein and fights against disease. Women suffering under this condition also experience depressive symptoms, something Vitamin B-6 can combat. Regular Vitamin B can ease anxiety and fight stress as well.

Did you know menopause can cause weak bones? In a condition known as osteoporosis, bones start to become brittle and can break with ease performing the simplest tasks, such as opening a car door or turning suddenly. A quality vitamin such as calcium can help. However, make sure you also take calcium with magnesium and Vitamin D together because they help absorb calcium into the blood stream. Hormones are also impacted by this wonderful vitamin, as it acts as its ¨engine¨ in being spread out throughout the body.

Remember, if you don't want to consume pills and capsules, you can eat foods and drink liquids rich in vitamins such as orange juice, peanuts, soybeans, broccoli, bananas, and milk (calcium loaded). Most doctors would recommend a daily multi-vitamin and antioxidant.

Taking the hormone known as DHEA can also do wonders to battle the effects of menopause. One of the few over the counter pills that also serves as a hormone, it actually produces sex hormones in both men and women. DHEA promotes the functioning of enzymes that speed up bodily processes, block fat cells, and fights disease. DHEA is actually produced by the body in the adrenal glands, but declines in amount as we get older. That's why it's crucial to keep taking DHEA to keep the body in optimum health and fight this condition.

Pound for pound, the most critical thing women can do to lessen the severity of menopause is to follow a clean and healthy lifestyle including exercise and listen to their doctor. Avoid eating McDonalds, drinking sodas, and consuming other foods packed with sugars and preservatives. Make it a habit to drink water and provide yourself with a solid social network of friends that will provide support to you when you're down and need someone to talk to. Overall, keep your body in line and in shape against menopause by acquainting yourself with proper nutrition and necessary vitamins.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.

About The Author


Cathy writes frequently on mid-life issues for women and men particularly menopause, and a copy of her book can be found at http://www.howtoconquermenopause.com.

To read a sample of this book go to http://www.everythingmenopause.com/currentissue.html

creative-com@cox.net












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Eating Disorders and the Narcissist

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Eating Disorders and the Narcissist
By Sam Vaknin


Patients suffering from eating disorders binge on food and sometimes are both anorectic and bulimic. This is an impulsive behaviour as defined by the DSM (particularly in the case of BPD and to a lesser extent of Cluster B disorders in general). Some patients develop these disorders as a way to self-mutilate. It is a convergence of two pathological behaviours: self-mutilation and an impulsive (rather, compulsive or ritualistic) behaviour.

The key to improving the mental state of patients with dual diagnosis (a personality disorder plus an eating disorder) lies in concentrating upon their eating and sleeping disorders.

By controlling their eating disorders, patients assert control over their lives. This is bound to reduce their depression (even eliminate it altogether as a constant feature of their mental life). This is likely to ameliorate other facets of their personality disorders. Here is the chain: controlling one's eating disorders controlling one's life enhanced sense of self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem a challenge, an interest, an enemy to subjugate a feeling of strength socialising feeling better.

When a patient has a personality disorder and an eating disorder, the therapist should concentrate on the eating disorder. Personality disorders are intricate and intractable. They are rarely curable (though certain aspects, like OCD, or depression can be ameliorated with medication). Their treatment calls for the enormous, persistent and continuous investment of resources of every kind by everyone involved. From the patient's point of view, the treatment of her personality disorder is not an efficient allocation of scarce mental resources. Also personality disorders are not the real threat. If a patient with a personality disorder is cured of it but her eating disorders are aggravated, she might die (though mentally healthy)…

An eating disorder is both a signal of distress ("I wish to die, I feel so bad, somebody help me") and a message: "I think I lost control. I am very afraid of losing control. I will control my food intake and discharge. This way I control at least ONE aspect of my life."

This is where we can and should begin to help the patient. Help him to regain control. The family or other supporting figures must think what they can do to make the patient feel that he is in control, that he manages things his own way, that he is contributing, has his own schedules, his own agenda, matter.

Eating disorders indicate the strong combined activity of an underlying sense of lack of personal autonomy and an underlying sense of lack of self-control. The patient feels inordinately, paralysingly helpless and ineffective. His eating disorders are an effort to exert and reassert mastery over his own life. At this stage, he is unable to differentiate his own feelings and needs from those of others. His cognitive and perceptual distortions (for instance, regarding body image – somatoform disorders) only increase his feeling of personal ineffectiveness and his need to exercise even more self-control (on his diet, the only thing left).

The patient does not trust himself in the slightest. He is his worst enemy, a mortal enemy, and he knows it. Therefore, any efforts to collaborate with HIM against his disorder – are perceived as collaboration with his worst enemy against his only mode of controlling his life to some extent.

The patient views the world in terms of black and white, of absolutes. So, he cannot let go even to a very small degree. He is HORRIFIED – constantly. This is why he finds it impossible to form relationships: he mistrusts (himself and by extension others), he does not want to become an adult, he does not enjoy sex or love (which both entail a modicum of loss of control). All this leads to a chronic absence of self-esteem. These patients like their disorder. Their eating disorder is their only achievement. Otherwise they are ashamed of themselves and disgusted by their shortcomings (expressed through shame and disgust directed at their bodies).

There is a chance to cure the patient of his eating disorders (though the dual diagnosis of eating disorder and personality disorder has a poor prognosis). This – and ONLY this – must be done at the first stage. The patient's family should consider therapy AND support groups (Overeaters Anonymous). Recovery prognosis is good after 2 years of treatment and support. The family must be heavily involved in the therapeutic process. Family dynamics usually contribute to the development of such disorders.

Medication, cognitive or behavioural therapy, psychodynamic therapy and family therapy ought to do it.

The change in the patient IF the treatment of his eating disorders is successful is VERY MARKED. His major depression disappears together with his sleeping disorders. He becomes socially active again and gets a life. His personality disorder might make it difficult for him – but, in isolation, without the exacerbating circumstances of his other disorders, he finds it much easier to cope with.

Patients with eating disorders may be in mortal danger. Their behaviour is ruining their bodies relentlessly and inexorably. They might attempt suicide. They might do drugs. It is only a question of time. Our goal is to buy them time. The older they get, the more experienced they become, the more their body chemistry changes with age – the better their prognosis.

About The Author

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com; palma@unet.com.mk

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/










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Pathological Eating Disorders and Poly-Behavioral Addiction

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Pathological Eating Disorders and Poly-Behavioral Addiction
By James Slobodzien


When considering that pathological eating disorders and their related diseases now afflict more people globally than malnutrition, some experts in the medical field are presently purporting that the world’s number one health problem is no longer heart disease or cancer, but obesity. According to the World Health Organization (June, 2005), “obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, with more than 1 billion adults overweight - at least 300 million of them clinically obese - and is a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. Often coexisting in developing countries with under-nutrition, obesity is a complex condition, with serious social and psychological dimensions, affecting virtually all ages and socioeconomic groups.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (June, 2005), reports that “during the past 20 years, obesity among adults has risen significantly in the United States. The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that 30 percent of U.S. adults 20 years of age and older - over 60 million people - are obese. This increase is not limited to adults. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. Among children and teens aged 6-19 years, 16 percent (over 9 million young people) are considered overweight.”

Morbid obesity is a condition that is described as being 100lbs. or more above ideal weight, or having a Body Mass Index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30. Being obese alone puts one at a much greater risk of suffering from a combination of several other metabolic factors such as having high blood pressure, being insulin resistant, and/ or having abnormal cholesterol levels that are all related to a poor diet and a lack of exercise. The sum is greater than the parts. Each metabolic problem is a risk for other diseases separately, but together they multiply the chances of life-threatening illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, etc. Up to 30.5% of our Nations’ adults suffer from morbid obesity, and two thirds or 66% of adults are overweight measured by having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 25. Considering that the U.S. population is now over 290,000,000, some estimate that up to 73,000,000 Americans could benefit from some type of education awareness and/ or treatment for a pathological eating disorder or food addiction. Typically, eating patterns are considered pathological problems when issues concerning weight and/ or eating habits, (e.g., overeating, under eating, binging, purging, and/ or obsessing over diets and calories, etc.) become the focus of a persons’ life, causing them to feel shame, guilt, and embarrassment with related symptoms of depression and anxiety that cause significant maladaptive social and/ or occupational impairment in functioning.

We must consider that some people develop dependencies on certain life-functioning activities such as eating that can be just as life threatening as drug addiction and just as socially and psychologically damaging as alcoholism. Some do suffer from hormonal or metabolic disorders, but most obese individuals simply consume more calories than they burn due to an out of control overeating Food Addiction. Hyper-obesity resulting from gross, habitual overeating is considered to be more like the problems found in those ingrained personality disorders that involve loss of control over appetite of some kind (Orford, 1985). Binge-eating Disorder episodes are characterized in part by a feeling that one cannot stop or control how much or what one is eating (DSM-IV-TR, 2000). Lienard and Vamecq (2004) have proposed an “auto-addictive” hypothesis for pathological eating disorders. They report that, “eating disorders are associated with abnormal levels of endorphins and share clinical similarities with psychoactive drug abuse. The key role of endorphins has recently been demonstrated in animals with regard to certain aspects of normal, pathological and experimental eating habits (food restriction combined with stress, loco-motor hyperactivity).” They report that the “pathological management of eating disorders may lead to two extreme situations: the absence of ingestion (anorexia) and excessive ingestion (bulimia).”

Co-morbidity & Mortality

Addictions and other mental disorders as a rule do not develop in isolation. The National Co-morbidity Survey (NCS) that sampled the entire U.S. population in 1994, found that among non-institutionalized American male and female adolescents and adults (ages 15-54), roughly 50% had a diagnosable Axis I mental disorder at some time in their lives. This survey’s results indicated that 35% of males will at some time in their lives have abused substances to the point of qualifying for a mental disorder diagnosis, and nearly 25% of women will have qualified for a serious mood disorder (mostly major depression). A significant finding of note from the NCS study was the widespread occurrence of co-morbidity among diagnosed disorders. It specifically found that 56% of the respondents with a history of at least one disorder also had two or more additional disorders. These persons with a history of three or more co-morbid disorders were estimated to be one-sixth of the U.S. population, or some 43 million people (Kessler, 1994).

McGinnis and Foege, (1994) report that, “the most prominent contributors to mortality in the United States in 1990 were tobacco (an estimated 400,000 deaths), diet and activity patterns (300,000), alcohol (100,000), microbial agents (90,000), toxic agents (60,000), firearms (35,000), sexual behavior (30,000), motor vehicles (25,000), and illicit use of drugs (20,000). Acknowledging that the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality was risky behavior lifestyles, the U.S. Prevention Services Task Force set out to research behavioral counseling interventions in health care settings (Williams & Wilkins, 1996).

Poor Prognosis

We have come to realize today more than any other time in history that the treatment of lifestyle diseases and addictions are often a difficult and frustrating task for all concerned. Repeated failures abound with all of the addictions, even with utilizing the most effective treatment strategies. But why do 47% of patients treated in private treatment programs (for example) relapse within the first year following treatment (Gorski,T., 2001)? Have addiction specialists become conditioned to accept failure as the norm? There are many reasons for this poor prognosis. Some would proclaim that addictions are psychosomatically- induced and maintained in a semi-balanced force field of driving and restraining multidimensional forces. Others would say that failures are due simply to a lack of self-motivation or will power. Most would agree that lifestyle behavioral addictions are serious health risks that deserve our attention, but could it possibly be that patients with multiple addictions are being under diagnosed (with a single dependence) simply due to a lack of diagnostic tools and resources that are incapable of resolving the complexity of assessing and treating a patient with multiple addictions?

Diagnostic Delineation

Thus far, the DSM-IV-TR has not delineated a diagnosis for the complexity of multiple behavioral and substance addictions. It has reserved the Poly-substance Dependence diagnosis for a person who is repeatedly using at least three groups of substances during the same 12-month period, but the criteria for this diagnosis do not involve any behavioral addiction symptoms. In the Psychological Factors Affecting Medical Condition’s section (DSM-IV-TR, 2000); maladaptive health behaviors (e.g., overeating, unsafe sexual practices, excessive alcohol and drug use, etc.) may be listed on Axis I only if they are significantly affecting the course of treatment of a medical or mental condition.

Since successful treatment outcomes are dependent on thorough assessments, accurate diagnoses, and comprehensive individualized treatment planning, it is no wonder that repeated rehabilitation failures and low success rates are the norm instead of the exception in the addictions field, when the latest DSM-IV-TR does not even include a diagnosis for multiple addictive behavioral disorders. Treatment clinics need to have a treatment planning system and referral network that is equipped to thoroughly assess multiple addictive and mental health disorders and related treatment needs and comprehensively provide education/ awareness, prevention strategy groups, and/ or specific addictions treatment services for individuals diagnosed with multiple addictions. Written treatment goals and objectives should be specified for each separate addiction and dimension of an individuals’ life, and the desired performance outcome or completion criteria should be specifically stated, behaviorally based (a visible activity), and measurable.

New Proposed Diagnosis

To assist in resolving the limited DSM-IV-TRs’ diagnostic capability, a multidimensional diagnosis of “Poly-behavioral Addiction,” is proposed for more accurate diagnosis leading to more effective treatment planning. This diagnosis encompasses the broadest category of addictive disorders that would include an individual manifesting a combination of substance abuse addictions, and other obsessively-compulsive behavioral addictive behavioral patterns to pathological gambling, religion, and/ or sex / pornography, etc.). Behavioral addictions are just as damaging - psychologically and socially as alcohol and drug abuse. They are comparative to other life-style diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease in their behavioral manifestations, their etiologies, and their resistance to treatments. They are progressive disorders that involve obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors. They are also characterized by a preoccupation with a continuous or periodic loss of control, and continuous irrational behavior in spite of adverse consequences.

Poly-behavioral addiction would be described as a state of periodic or chronic physical, mental, emotional, cultural, sexual and/ or spiritual/ religious intoxication. These various types of intoxication are produced by repeated obsessive thoughts and compulsive practices involved in pathological relationships to any mood-altering substance, person, organization, belief system, and/ or activity. The individual has an overpowering desire, need or compulsion with the presence of a tendency to intensify their adherence to these practices, and evidence of phenomena of tolerance, abstinence and withdrawal, in which there is always physical and/ or psychic dependence on the effects of this pathological relationship. In addition, there is a 12 - month period in which an individual is pathologically involved with three or more behavioral and/ or substance use addictions simultaneously, but the criteria are not met for dependence for any one addiction in particular (Slobodzien, J., 2005). In essence, Poly-behavioral addiction is the synergistically integrated chronic dependence on multiple physiologically addictive substances and behaviors (e.g., using/ abusing substances - nicotine, alcohol, & drugs, and/or acting impulsively or obsessively compulsive in regards to gambling, food binging, sex, and/ or religion, etc.) simultaneously.

New Proposed Theory

The Addictions Recovery Measurement System’s (ARMS) theory is a nonlinear, dynamical, non-hierarchical model that focuses on interactions between multiple risk factors and situational determinants similar to catastrophe and chaos theories in predicting and explaining addictive behaviors and relapse. Multiple influences trigger and operate within high-risk situations and influence the global multidimensional functioning of an individual. The process of relapse incorporates the interaction between background factors (e.g., family history, social support, years of possible dependence, and co-morbid psychopathology), physiological states (e.g., physical withdrawal), cognitive processes (e.g., self-efficacy, cravings, motivation, the abstinence violation effect, outcome expectancies), and coping skills (Brownell et al., 1986; Marlatt & Gordon, 1985). To put it simply, small changes in an individual’s behavior can result in large qualitative changes at the global level and patterns at the global level of a system emerge solely from numerous little interactions.

The ARMS hypothesis purports that there is a multidimensional synergistically negative resistance that individual’s develop to any one form of treatment to a single dimension of their lives, because the effects of an individual’s addiction have dynamically interacted multi-dimensionally. Having the primary focus on one dimension is insufficient. Traditionally, addiction treatment programs have failed to accommodate for the multidimensional synergistically negative effects of an individual having multiple addictions, (e.g. nicotine, alcohol, and obesity, etc.). Behavioral addictions interact negatively with each other and with strategies to improve overall functioning. They tend to encourage the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, help increase violence, decrease functional capacity, and promote social isolation. Most treatment theories today involve assessing other dimensions to identify dual diagnosis or co-morbidity diagnoses, or to assess contributing factors that may play a role in the individual’s primary addiction. The ARMS’ theory proclaims that a multidimensional treatment plan must be devised addressing the possible multiple addictions identified for each one of an individual’s life dimensions in addition to developing specific goals and objectives for each dimension.

The ARMS acknowledges the complexity and unpredictable nature of lifestyle addictions following the commitment of an individual to accept assistance with changing their lifestyles. The Stages of Change model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1984) is supported as a model of motivation, incorporating five stages of readiness to change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. The ARMS theory supports the constructs of self-efficacy and social networking as outcome predictors of future behavior across a wide variety of lifestyle risk factors (Bandura, 1977). The Relapse Prevention cognitive-behavioral approach (Marlatt, 1985) with the goal of identifying and preventing high-risk situations for relapse is also supported within the ARMS theory.

The ARMS continues to promote Twelve Step Recovery Groups such as Food Addicts and Alcoholics Anonymous along with spiritual and religious recovery activities as a necessary means to maintain outcome effectiveness. The beneficial effects of AA may be attributable in part to the replacement of the participant's social network of drinking friends with a fellowship of AA members who can provide motivation and support for maintaining abstinence (Humphreys, K.; Mankowski, E.S, 1999) and (Morgenstern, J.; Labouvie, E.; McCrady, B.S.; Kahler, C.W.; and Frey, R.M., 1997). In addition, AA's approach often results in the development of coping skills, many of which are similar to those taught in more structured psychosocial treatment settings, thereby leading to reductions in alcohol consumption (NIAAA, June 2005).

Treatment Progress Dimensions

The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (2003), “Patient Placement Criteria for the Treatment of Substance-Related Disorders, 3rd Edition”, has set the standard in the field of addiction treatment for recognizing the totality of the individual in his or her life situation. This includes the internal interconnection of multiple dimensions from biomedical to spiritual, as well as external relationships of the individual to the family and larger social groups. Life-style addictions may affect many domains of an individual's functioning and frequently require multi-modal treatment. Real progress however, requires appropriate interventions and motivating strategies for every dimension of an individual’s life.

The Addictions Recovery Measurement System (ARMS) has identified the following seven treatment progress areas (dimensions) in an effort to: (1) assist clinicians with identifying additional motivational techniques that can increase an individual’s awareness to make progress: (2) measure within treatment progress, and (3) measure after treatment outcome effectiveness:
PD- 1. Abstinence/ Relapse: Progress Dimension
PD- 2. Bio-medical/ Physical: Progress Dimension
PD- 3. Mental/ Emotional: Progress Dimension
PD- 4. Social/ Cultural: Progress Dimension
PD- 5. Educational/ Occupational: Progress Dimension
PD- 6. Attitude/ Behavioral: Progress Dimension
PD- 7. Spirituality/ Religious: Progress Dimension


Considering that addictions involve unbalanced life-styles operating within semi-stable equilibrium force fields, the ARMS philosophy promotes that positive treatment effectiveness and successful outcomes are the result of a synergistic relationship with “The Higher Power,” that spiritually elevates and connects an individuals’ multiple life functioning dimensions by reducing chaos and increasing resilience to bring an individual harmony, wellness, and productivity.

Addictions Recovery Measurement - Subsystems

Since chronic lifestyle diseases and disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, alcoholism, drug and behavioral addictions cannot be cured, but only managed - how should we effectively manage poly-behavioral addiction?

The Addiction Recovery Measurement System (ARMS) is proposed utilizing a multidimensional integrative assessment, treatment planning, treatment progress, and treatment outcome measurement tracking system that facilitates rapid and accurate recognition and evaluation of an individual’s comprehensive life-functioning progress dimensions. The “ARMS”- systematically, methodically, interactively, & spiritually combines the following five versatile subsystems that may be utilized individually or incorporated together:

1) The Prognostication System – composed of twelve screening instruments developed to evaluate an individual’s total life-functioning dimensions for a comprehensive bio-psychosocial assessment for an objective 5-Axis diagnosis with a point-based Global Assessment of Functioning score;

2) The Target Intervention System - that includes the Target Intervention Measure (TIM) and Target Progress Reports (A) & (B), for individualized goal-specific treatment planning;

3) The Progress Point System - a standardized performance-based motivational recovery point system utilized to produce in-treatment progress reports on six life-functioning individual dimensions;

4) The Multidimensional Tracking System – with its Tracking Team Surveys (A) & (B), along with the ARMS Discharge criteria guidelines utilizes a multidisciplinary tracking team to assist with discharge planning; and

5) The Treatment Outcome Measurement System – that utilizes the following two measurement instruments: (a) The Treatment Outcome Measure (TOM); and (b) the Global Assessment of Progress (GAP), to assist with aftercare treatment planning.

National Movement

With the end of the Cold War, the threat of a world nuclear war has diminished considerably. It may be hard to imagine that in the end, comedians may be exploiting the humor in the fact that it wasn’t nuclear warheads, but “French fries” that annihilated the human race. On a more serious note, lifestyle diseases and addictions are the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality, yet brief preventive behavioral assessments and counseling interventions are under-utilized in health care settings (Whitlock, 2002).

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that effective behavioral counseling interventions that address personal health practices hold greater promise for improving overall health than many secondary preventive measures, such as routine screening for early disease (USPSTF, 1996). Common health-promoting behaviors include healthy diet, regular physical exercise, smoking cessation, appropriate alcohol/ medication use, and responsible sexual practices to include use of condoms and contraceptives.

350 national organizations and 250 State public health, mental health, substance abuse, and environmental agencies support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Healthy People 2010” program. This national initiative recommends that primary care clinicians utilize clinical preventive assessments and brief behavioral counseling for early detection, prevention, and treatment of lifestyle disease and addiction indicators for all patients’ upon every healthcare visit.

Partnerships and coordination among service providers, government departments, and community organizations in providing treatment programs are a necessity in addressing the multi-task solution to poly-behavioral addiction. I encourage you to support the mental health and addiction programs in America, and hope that the (ARMS) resources can assist you to personally fight the War on pathological eating disorders within poly-behavioral addiction.

For more info see: Poly-Behavioral Addiction and the Addictions Recovery Measurement System, By James Slobodzien, Psy.D., CSAC at:

http://www.geocities.com/drslbdzn/Behavioral-Addictions.html

Food Addicts Anonymous: http://www.foodaddictsanonymous.org/ Alcoholics Anonymous: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/

References American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 787 & p. 731. American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (2003), “Patient Placement Criteria for the Treatment of Substance-Related Disorders, 3rd Edition,. Retrieved, June 18, 2005, from:

http://www.asam.org/ Bandura, A. (1977), Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215. Brownell, K. D., Marlatt, G. A., Lichtenstein, E., & Wilson, G. T. (1986). Understanding and preventing relapse. American Psychologist, 41, 765-782. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Retrieved June 18, 2005, from: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/ Gorski, T. (2001), Relapse Prevention In The Managed Care Environment. GORSKI-CENAPS Web Healthy People 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2005, from: http://www.healthypeople.gov/ Publications. Retrieved June 20, 2005, from: www.tgorski.com Lienard, J. & Vamecq, J. (2004), Presse Med, Oct 23;33(18 Suppl):33-40. Marlatt, G. A. (1985). Relapse prevention: Theoretical rationale and overview of the model. In G. A. Marlatt & J. R. Gordon (Eds.), Relapse prevention (pp. 250-280). New York: Guilford Press. McGinnis JM, Foege WH (1994). Actual causes of death in the United States. US Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC 20201 Humphreys, K.; Mankowski, E.S.; Moos, R.H.; and Finney, J.W (1999). Do enhanced friendship networks and active coping mediate the effect of self-help groups on substance abuse? Ann Behav Med 21(1):54-60. Kessler, R.C., McGonagle, K.A., Zhao, S., Nelson, C.B., Hughes, M., Eshleman, S., Wittchen, H. H,-U, & Kendler, K.S. (1994). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States: Results from the national co morbidity survey. Arch. Gen. Psychiat., 51, 8-19. Morgenstern, J.; Labouvie, E.; McCrady, B.S.; Kahler, C.W.; and Frey, R.M (1997). Affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous after treatment: A study of its therapeutic effects and mechanisms of action. J Consult Clin Psychol 65(5):768-777. Orford, J. (1985). Excessive appetites: A psychological view of addiction. New York: Wiley. Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1984). The transtheoretical approach: Crossing the boundaries of therapy. Malabar, FL: Krieger. Slobodzien, J. (2005). Poly-behavioral Addiction and the Addictions Recovery Measurement System (ARMS), Booklocker.com, Inc., p. 5. Whitlock, E.P. (1996). Evaluating Primary Care Behavioral Counseling Interventions: An Evidence-based Approach. Am J Prev Med 2002;22(4): 267-84.Williams & Wilkins. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. 2nd ed. Alexandria, VA. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010 (Conference Edition). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2000. World Health Organization, (WHO). Retrieved June 18, 2005, from: http://www.who.int/topics/obesity/en/

James Slobodzien, Psy.D., CSAC, is a Hawaii licensed psychologist and certified substance abuse counselor who earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology. The National Registry of Health Service Providers in Psychology credentials Dr. Slobodzien. He has over 20-years of mental health experience primarily working in the fields of alcohol/ substance abuse and behavioral addictions in medical, correctional, and judicial settings. He is an adjunct professor of Psychology and also maintains a private practice as a mental health consultant.

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