Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies. For polymyositis and dermatomyositis, doctors usually begin treatment with a corticosteroid drug, such as prednisone (sold as a generic) or methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol, others). If this fails, methotrexate (Rheumatrex) or azathioprine (Imuran) may be added. Intravenous immunoglobulin (an injection of antibodies collected from blood donors) may be effective in cases that fail these other treatments. Other immunosuppressant medications may be recommended to treat dermatomyositis and polymyositis, including cyclosporine, rituximab, mycophenolate mofetil or cyclophosphamide. Unfortunately, there is no reliably effective treatment for inclusion body myositis, although corticosteroid treatment and immunosuppressive therapies (as with polymyositis and dermatomyositis) are often tried for at least several months. If treatment is effective, ongoing therapy may improve strength or prevent worsening weakness.

Infectious myositis. If you have the flu, you should rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids. You also can take nonprescription medicines for fever and muscle aches. If you have trichinosis, your doctor may treat you with mebendazole (Vermox) or albendazole (Albenza), antibiotic drugs that kill the trichinosis parasites. In addition, you should rest and take nonprescription drugs for pain. Your doctor may also prescribe prednisone to reduce inflammation associated with the infection. For pyomyositis, your doctor may recommend drainage of the abscess by making an incision or by inserting a needle. In addition, he or she will prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.

Benign acute myositis. Your child's doctor will prescribe medication for pain. No other treatment is necessary, because the illness usually gets much better within a few days.

Myositis ossificans. Your doctor may wait to see whether the bony lump disappears on its own. If it doesn't, he or she may recommend surgery to remove the lump.

Drug-induced myositis. Your doctor will discontinue any medication thought to be causing myositis. Medications called corticosteroids may help you to recover faster.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have:

Muscle weakness that doesn't go away

A red or purple rash on your face that doesn't go away or scaly patches on your knuckles

Muscle aches that don't go away with rest and nonprescription pain medication

A lump in any muscle, especially if you also have a fever or other symptoms

Muscle pain and weakness that begin after you start taking a new medication

Call your doctor immediately if:

You have a fever together with muscle pain and weakness

You have a muscle that becomes hot, painful, swollen and stiff

Your child complains of severe leg pain and has trouble walking

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The fever, if it occurs at all, is often accompanied by other usually mild symptoms, such as fatigue, swollen lymph glands, and a sore throat.

"At this point the virus is moving into the blood stream and starting to replicate in large numbers," says Carlos Malvestutto, MD, instructor of infectious diseases and immunology in the department of medicine at NYU School of Medicine in New York City. "As that happens, there is an inflammatory reaction by the immune system."

Photo: Getty Images

The inflammatory response generated by your besieged immune system also can cause you to feel tired and lethargic. Fatigue can be both an early and later sign of HIV.

Ron, 54, a public relations executive in the Midwest, started to worry about his health when he suddenly got winded just walking. "Everything I did, I got out of breath," he says. "Before that I had been walking three miles a day."

Ron had tested HIV positive 25 years before feeling so tired; fatigue during acute, or newly contracted, HIV might not be so obvious.

Photo: Getty Images

ARS is often mistaken for the flu, mononucleosis, or another viral infection, even syphilis or hepatitis.

That's not surprising: Many of the symptoms are the same, including pain in the joints and muscles and swollen lymph glands.

Lymph nodes are part of your body's immune system and tend to get inflamed when there's an infection. Many of them are located in your armpit, groin, and neck.

Photo: Getty Images

As with other symptoms, sore throat and headache can often be recognized as ARS only in context, Dr. Horberg says.

If you've engaged recently in high-risk behavior, an HIV test is a good idea. Get tested for your own sake and for others: HIV is most infectious in the earliest stage.

Keep in mind that the body hasn't produced antibodies to HIV yet so an antibody test may not pick it up. (It can take a few weeks to a few monthsfor HIV antibodies to show in a blood test). Investigate other test options such as one that detects viral RNA, typically within nine days of infection.

Photo: Getty Images

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“This year, the flu strain mutated a little bit and there is one component of the flu strain that is causing the flu in people who actually did get the shot,” she said.

Several local hospitals are now limiting visitors to try and stop the spread of the flu. At the University of Maryland Medical Center, no visitors under the age of 18 will be allowed in the hospital, only two adult visitors can see a patient at one time and visitors experiencing flu symptoms are not permitted.

Flu season normally lasts through February and March.

Experts say they are expecting another surge in flu cases later in the season.

I was prescribed Lamictal for BiPolar. I started off at 25mg a day for 14 & then 5omg for 14 days. I am on my 4th day ( of the 50mg) & am having horrible "flu" like symptoms. Has anyone else experienced this. Thanks for any info.:)

I have hoarseness weight gain achiness in my legs and feet and more I askes to be dropped to 50 as I was on 100mg and had more side effects

Are your feet swollen and hands? do you feel weak? and you mentioned you have gained weight, What other side effects do you have because they may be serious.

contact your doc, and once again i ask u r u on other meds cause of the interactions?

Hi Im bi polar and I have been on in it for 3 or 4 years was on 200mg now Im on 300mg, no side effects but 4 me. Its a common side effect to have flu like symtoms, (body aches and chills).
I would still recommend u tell your doc.

hope this helps

i did talk to my doc and i think it is time for a second opinion. did anyone gain weight. i also have gained 15 lbs most fluid but how good is that on the rest of your body. i am afraid it is going to effect my heart

Try to avoid fluids that have to much sodium in them..that causes water retention. even bottled water. there is on form nestle gas free (at least here) free of sodium, also dont add sault to your meals, as sodium is a prservative that pratically comes in everything.

I appreciate everyone's comments. That is really the only side-effect I have had is the flu like symptoms. I have not gained weight at all. To the one that commented on the retention of fluid, that is not normal, if your Dr insist you stay on Lamictal maybe you could request they put you on 25mg of Hydrochlorothiazide a day. That will drop that water weight real quick. I haven't heard of weight gain with Lamictal. Actually, one of the side effects is "Anorexia". Has anyone else experienced weight gain ( or loss) with Lamictal?

Several side effects are possible with Lamictal. Weight gain does appear to be one of them, although it is not among the most commonly reported Lamictal side effects. This data comes from clinical trials where the drug was extensively studied and side effects were documented.

In studies, between 1 and 5 percent of people taking Lamictal for bipolar disorder treatment experienced weight gain. However, weight gain was not reported as a side effect in people taking it to control seizures.

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Relapsing into an addictive behavior is common for anyone dealing with addiction disorders. Recognizing and preparing for relapse is often a part of the treatment process. Identifying situations that would trigger excessive Internet use and generating ways to deal with these situations can greatly reduce the possibility of total relapse.

Although extensive studies have not yet been done, treatment appears to be effective in maintaining and changing the behavior of people drawn to excessive use of the Internet. If the disorder is left untreated, the person may experience an increased amount of conflict in his or her relationships. Excessive Internet use may jeopardize a person's employment or academic standing. In addition, such physical problems may develop as fatigue, carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, and eyestrain.

If a person knows that he or she has difficulty with other forms of addictive behavior, they should be cautious in exploring the types of application that are used on the Internet. In addition, it is important for people to engage in social activities outside the Internet. Finally, mental health workers should investigate ways in which to participate in the implementation of new technology rather than waiting for its aftereffects.

Young, K. S. Caught in the Net. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1998.

Beard, K., and E. Wolf. "Modification in the Proposed Diagnostic Criteria for Internet Addiction." Cyberpsychology & Behavior 4 (2001): 377-383.

Beard, K. "Internet Addiction: Current Status and Implication for Employees." Journal of Employment Counseling 39 (2002): 2-11.

Griffiths, M. "Psychology of Computer Use: XLIII. Some Comments on 'Addictive Use of the Internet' by Young." Psychological Reports 80 (1997): 81-81.

Kraut, R., M. Patterson, V. Lundmark, S. Kiesler, T. Mukopadhyay, and W. Scherlis. "Internet Paradox: A Social Technology That Reduces Social Involvement and Psychological Well-Being?" American Psychologist 53 (1998): 1017-1031.

Vertigo is a condition in which you feel off-balance and dizzy, as if you or your surroundings are moving, spinning, or swaying. It can lead to nausea and disability. Vertigo is most common in elderly people, but it can affect both sexes at any age. It may be a temporary or permanent condition.

Optimal treatment can reduce the frequency of relapses and slow disease progression. Assess your symptoms and personal journey as a step in guiding your care.

The organ of balance is the vestibular system in the ear, a tiny grid of fluid-filled tubes and sacs. There are two identical vestibular systems, located in the labyrinth of each inner ear. As you move, the liquid in the tubes also moves about, and its levels are read by nerve cells. The information is sent to the brain, which uses it to calculate which way is down and what should be the horizontal level.

Any problems with balance originate in the vestibular system, so people who suffer from frequent vertigo are said to have a vestibular disorder. Balance problems may be associated with a ringing in the ears or loss of hearing. Vertigo can also be caused by changes in the parts of the brain (cerebellum and brain stem) that are also involved in controlling balance.

Major causes of vertigo include the following:

  • benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: This is a common form of vertigo, usually brought on by specific head positions or movements. It is caused by calcium deposits in the inner ear balance organ that periodically become dislodged and cause symptoms.
  • head trauma: People who have received a violent blow on the head can suffer temporary or permanent damage to the inner ear, causing balance problems.
  • labyrinthitis: Untreated bacterial infections of the middle ear can get into the inner ear and damage the labyrinth and also cause hearing loss.
  • neuronitis: Viral neuronitis is really just viral labyrinthitis that affects the nerves of the vestibular system and not the cochlea (the organ for hearing). However, neuronitis can also be caused by a blood clot lodged in the tiny blood vessels that feed the inner ear.
  • Ménière's disease: This was once called watchmaker's disease because it tends to strike people who do precise, intricate work that requires concentration and careful control of the hands for long periods. Nobody knows what causes Ménière's disease.

Some antibiotics can damage the vestibular system in high doses or with prolonged use. Acetylsalicylic acid* (ASA), caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, sedatives, tranquilizers, and several illegal drugs can cause temporary dizziness but do no permanent damage to the balance organs once they are stopped.

Create a personalized Doctor Discussion Guide to help ensure you are getting optimal treatment in managing your MS.

Vertigo is the primary symptom of any balance disorder. If you close your eyes during an episode of vertigo, you'll feel as if you're spinning or falling. Severe vertigo can cause vomiting and stop you from walking.

Because the vestibular system is linked to the brain's movement centre and to the eyes, some people with vestibular disorders find their vision is affected, or their muscles are poorly coordinated or don't go where they're supposed to. The muscles may ache, particularly in the neck and back.

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What can you do if you have PD?

  • Work with your doctor to create a plan to stay healthy. This might include the following:
    • A referral to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain
    • Care from an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech therapist
    • Meeting with a medical social worker to talk about how Parkinson's will affect your life
  • Start a regular exercise program to delay further symptoms.
  • Talk with family and friends who can provide you with the support you need.

For more information, visit our Treatment page.

Watch and share this public service announcement featuring U.S. Senator Cory Booker that discusses the early warning signs of Parkinson's disease.

Page reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence.

Melissa Kaplan's
Lyme Disease
Part of the Anapsid.org Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases Information Resources for CFS, FM, MCS, Lyme Disease, Thyroid, and more.
Last updated January 1, 2014

Short Symptom List: Lyme Disease & Common Co-Infections

Borrelia, Babesia, Bartonella, and Ehrlichia

The following symptoms were excerpted from Diagnostic Hints And Treatment Guidelines For Lyme And Other Tick Borne Illnesses, by Joseph J. Burrascano Jr., M.D. (Fifteenth Edition 2008).

Borrelia
(Borreliosis, neuroborreliosis; also known as Lyme Disease)
Spread primarily though the bite of infected ticks that live on a wide range of mammalian species; secondary human-to-human transmission through semen, breast milk, and possibly in utero

Bladder dysfunction
Burning or stabbing sensations
Cardiac impairment
Change in bowel function
Chest pain
Confusion
Depression
Difficulty thinking
Difficulty with concentration and reading
Difficulty with speech, writing
Difficulty finding words; name blocking
Disorientation: getting lost, going to wrong places
Disturbed sleep: too much, too little, fractionated, early awakening
Ears/Hearing: buzzing, ringing, ear pain, sound sensitivity
Exaggerated symptoms or worse hangover from alcohol
Eyes/Vision: double, blurry, increased floaters, light sensitivity
Facial paralysis (Bell's palsy)
Fatigue, tiredness, poor stamina
Forgetfulness
Headache
Heart block
Heart murmur
Heart palpitations
Heart valve prolapse
Increased motion sickness
Irritability
Irritable bladder
Joint pain or swelling
Lightheadedness
Mood swings
Muscle pain or cramps
Neck creaks & cracks
Neck stiffness, pain
Numbness
Pelvic pain
Poor attention
Poor balance
Poor short-term memory
Problem absorbing new information
Pulse skips
Rib soreness
Sexual dysfunction or loss of libido
Shooting pains
Shortness of breath; cough
Skin hypersensitivity
Sore throat
Stiffness of the joints or back
Swollen glands
Testicular pain
Tingling
Tremor
Twitching of the face or other muscles
Unavoidable need to sit or lay down
Unexplained breast pain
Unexplained fevers, sweats, chills or flushing
Unexplained hair loss
Unexplained menstrual irregularity'
Unexplained milk production
Unexplained weight loss or gain
Upset Stomach or abdominal pain
Vertigo
Wooziness

Babesia
(Babesiosis)
Babesia is a protozoan spread by ticks, blood transfusion, and in utero. Despite there being 20+known forms to date, current testing only looks for two of them.

Air hunger
Cough
Fatigue
Fevers
Headache
Hemolysis
Imbalance without true vertigo
Mild encephalopathy
Shaking chills
Sweats

Bartonella
(Bartonellosis, also known as cat scratch fever)
Spread by bites from infected ticks and in utero

abnormal liver enzymes
encephalopathy
endocarditis
flu-like malaise
headache
hemolysis with anemia
hepatomegaly
high fever
immune deficiency
jaundice
lymphadenopathy
myalgias
myocarditis
papular or angiomatous rash
somnolence
sore throat
splenomegaly
weakened immune response

Ehrlichia
(Ehrlichiosis)
Bites from infected ticks

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The severity of symptoms varies from one person to another and depends on two factors: how much or little enzymes a person produces; and on the quantity of food consumed.

The easiest test for a food intolerance is to remove the food from your diet for at least two weeks, see if symptoms improve and then try reintroducing the food (one by one). If symptoms return, an intolerance is likely.

Lactose intolerance can be tested far more thoroughly using a lactose tolerance test, a hydrogen breath test and a stool acidity test. Your doctor can arrange these and other food intolerance tests if necessary.

Food intolerance can be managed simply by cutting the food out of your diet. Babies or younger children with a lactose intolerance can be given soya milk instead of cow's milk. Adults may be able to tolerate small amounts of troublesome foods, so may need to experiment to work out what they can eat.

Supplements of digestive enzymes make life easier. The right enzyme will help break down food consumed that before it caused the symptoms. These enzymes are now available from foodreactions.org. Below is a list of digestive enzymes to help you understand which enzyme is required to break which food.

An enzyme is a protein that binds itself to a substance and converts it into another substance or smaller substances. Unless proteins, fats and carbohydrates (sugars) are converted into absorbable components they will remain in the digestive track leading to unpleasant symptoms as a result of their consumption by the bacteria living in our guts. The following table gives a glance for what each enzyme does and where it is produced/found:

Opiate withdrawal refers to a wide range of symptoms that can occur once opioid intake is interrupted or reduced. The amount, length and intensity of the symptoms vary from person to person. For some individuals, it can be a natural process, and for others, withdrawal can be severe. Opiate withdrawal occurs because it takes time for the body to regulate to no longer having the drug in the system.

An opioid is synthetic narcotic works similarly to naturally occurring opiates. These opiate-like substances bind to the opioid receptor sites in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. Once the drugs attach to these receptor sites, they immediately exert their effects. The brain manufactures its own opioids which are responsible for a host of physical responses. Some of these reactions are the decrease of pain, a slower respiratory rate, and sometimes even used to control anxiety or depression. However, the body does not produce the number of opioids needed to manage high levels of pain. Taking prescription or illicit opioids can reduce adverse effects caused by pain, but with an array of dangerous side-effects.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be harsh to surpass if not correctly treated. The fear of going through withdrawal is what keeps many people dependent upon drugs like Heroin and Oxycodone. They don’t want to stop using opiates because they fear a return of pain and withdrawal symptoms that can resemble the worst imaginable flu. Symptoms can affect the individual both physically and emotionally.

An important fact to keep in mind is that different opioids remain in your system for various lengths of time what can affect the withdrawal syndrome onset. The amount of time your symptoms last depends on a combination of factors including frequency and amount of the use, length of the addiction, as well as individual factors like your health and emotional status.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms can include

  • Strong cravings
  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shakes
  • Irritation
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • A runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Dilated pupils.

In most cases, these symptoms can be managed by a specialized medical treatment facility Opiate withdrawal can be a long and painful process and very hard to get through. For health compromised patients, untreated and unmonitored withdrawal can lead to unnecessary medical complications such as nausea, rapid heart-rate, elevated blood pressure and dehydration. The consecutive loss of fluids & electrolytes can cause abnormal heart rate and low potassium levels, which can lead to blood circulation issues or even a heart attack.

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    Some people who react to milk may either have Coeliac disease or Non Coeliac Gluten Intolerance. This is because these people also develop lactose intolerance. Please read our dedicated page for this. Read More »»

    Currently the only 100% successful treatment for milk allergies is total avoidance of milk proteins. Infants who develop milk allergy, usually outgrow the condition. However, if the infants are breast-fed, the lactating mothers are given an elimination diet. If symptoms are not relieved or if the infants are bottle-fed, milk substitute formulas are used to provide the infant with a complete source of nutrition. Milk substitutes include soy milk, rice milk, and hypoallergenic formulas based on hydrolysed protein or free amino acids. Please note soy milk is hyperallergenic i.e. it is easy for the immune system to think it is harmful.

    Enzyme Therapy:
    As explained above food allergy is triggered by proteins and the immune system mistakenly thinks they are harmful proteins. Proteins are broken down by enzymes when digested, and lack of proper breakdown may be the cause for the proteins to become allergens. Hence, as explained in Better Nutrition Journal and several medical papers enzyme therapy can help eliminate or minimise symptoms. Read Enzymes to the Rescue. Commercially available enzymes that break down proteins are available on the market and a very effective product is availably in the 'products' section here. Prolactazyme Forte does a brilliant job in most cases and can be used by children and adults alike.

    Here's some information about cold and flu problems.

    It is possible to effectively ease the pain and discomfort of colds and flu, naturally. Check out these two pages and hopefully they can help.

    Having a cold or getting flu can really make one feel rotten. There are things you can do to help speed up recovery if you catch one. Also there are things you can do to try and minimise or prevent one in the first place. The same herbs that keep colds and flu at bay, can also help you get rid of it faster.

    The common cold is caused by any one of 200 different viruses. When infection occurs, the walls of the respiratory tract swell and produce excess mucus, giving rise to the typical cold symptoms.

    Symptoms range from sore throat, running nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes to hacking cough, headache, and fever. Most colds run their course in 7-10 days. Recurrent colds (almost constantly suffering) may indicate a lowered immune capacity and too much stress and often not enough sleep.

    Colds spread from person to person and are highly contagious. Coughing, sneezing or hand to hand contact will easily pass the virus on. The virus can also live for several hours on everyday surfaces.

    BUT - the above is what usually happens. It is possible to speed up the recovery and sometimes a cold can last just a day instead of a week!

    One particular herb has recently had a lot of press coverage and marketing as a 'new' cure for colds. Echinacea has in fact been used by America Indians for hundreds of years.

    A key thing with echinacea is that the quality of the actual herbal echinacea is vitally important. This leads on to the question of whether echinacea can be the answer.

    The only way to know if something like echinacea can help or not is to try it. But do not buy a cheap, watered down echinacea or one that is old. It will be a waste of money and you will be disappointed. Ensure the herb is fresh.

    Colds can take hold for many reasons and things such as stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or anxiety or worry over something can all make you more susceptible. So if these other factors are not also looked at and handled, a cold can drag on.

    Echinacea is originally from the North America Plains, but varieties of the species are now found on most continents. Echinacea increases levels of properdin in the body. Perpedin is a chemical which stimulates some of the internal protective mechanisms the immune system responsible. Importantly it seems to stregthen the defence mechanisms which protect the body against bacterial attacks and viruses.

    Its anti-bacterial effect makes it a good herb for treating many viral and bacterial infections. Echinacea is also an excellent blood cleanser, it helps to sweep dead cells and other debris through the channels of the lymphatic system. And dispatches white blood cells to fight the infection.

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    Kaposi's Sarcoma — This is the most common AIDS-related cancer. It causes reddish-purple lesions that usually appear on the skin. They also can appear on the lymph nodes, mouth, gastrointestinal tract and lungs.

    Shingles — Shingles are caused by a reactivation of the chicken pox virus. It may cause a painful rash or blisters that follow the path of nerves.

    Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

    As pancreatic cancer develops in the body, it may cause some of the following symptoms. The symptoms and severity can vary for each person but it’s important that if you are experiencing any, which are persistent and not normal for you, that you visit your GP or call NHS 111.

    • Depression
    • Diabetes – new on-set and not associated with weight gain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss appetite
    • Pain when eating

    Not everyone will have all of these symptoms. For example, those who have a tumour in the body or tail of the pancreas are unlikely to have painless jaundice. All of these symptoms can have other causes, and there is not yet a reliable and easy test for pancreatic cancer.

    However, if you regularly experience ONE OR MORE of these symptoms which are NOT NORMAL FOR YOU, DO NOT IGNORE THEM, contact your GP straight away.

    Keeping track of any symptoms you may be experiencing can be useful when discussing them with your GP. Click here for the Pancreatic Cancer Action symptoms diary.

    30% of patients will have yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, jaundice, when they first go to the doctors. This is related to the tumour blocking the bile duct which leads to a build-up of bile in the liver.

    Jaundice may be more obvious in the whites of the eyes and bad jaundice can cause itching of the skin. For more information on jaundice click here.

    Approximately 70 per cent of patients with pancreatic cancer go to the doctor initially due to pain. This pain is often described as beginning in the stomach area and radiating around to the upper back (just above where a woman’s bra strap would be).

    Generally the reason for the pain is because of the tumour pressing against your abdomen and spine.

    A tumour in the pancreas can cause bowel disturbances which means you do not absorb your food properly. This will result in regular, large bowel movements of pale and smelly stool. This can also cause weight loss.

    Many of our patients or relatives have said that they have experienced mood changes before being diagnosed.

    Mild to severe depression can often present itself in the early stages of pancreatic cancer. This is why if someone who has never suffered from a severe bout of depression before should express their concerns to their GP. It can often highlight a medical problem in the very early stages.

    Pancreatic cancer can cause diabetes. A pancreatic tumour can interfere with insulin production in the pancreas which can lead to new onset diabetes.

    You may have diabetes if you have low energy, pass more urine than normal and feel extremely thirsty.

    For general health information including information on pancreatic cancer

    The information provided in this site, or through links to other websites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care and should not be relied upon as such. Read our disclaimer.

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    The swelling also narrows the cavity, resulting in further congestion and this catarrh can be clear and runny or thick and coloured.

    For reasons that are unknown, some people have abnormally sensitive blood vessels that react to environmental triggers, such as cigarette smoke and pollution.

    This causes the affected blood vessels to swell in a similar way to an infection or allergic reaction and it is this swelling leads to congestion and catarrh – it is known as vasomotor rhinitis or non-allergic rhinitis.

    Cigarette smoke and pollution are common triggers for this, with others including perfume, alcohol, spicy food, changes in the weather and stress.

    For most people these are of a blocked or 'stuffy' nose, a runny nose or mucus that runs down the back of your throat, an irritating cough, headache, loss of smell or taste, pain in the face, fatigue and occasionally mild hearing loss or a crackling sensation in the middle ear.

    Most cases of catarrh do not require any medical attention as they usually clear up within a few days once your body fights off the underlying infection.

    However, if your catarrh persists over a number of weeks then see your GP as they may then want to rule out other conditions such as nasal polyps or to find if your catarrh is being caused by an allergy.

    Most cases require no specific treatment. But if it does not clear up on its own, treatment then depends on the underlying cause.

    Decongestant medicines can help relieve a blocked nose by reducing swelling of the blood vessels in your nose.

    These are available from pharmacies without a prescription but should not be used for more than a few days before seeking advice as they can occasionally make the congestion worse if used for too long.

    Decongestants do not usually cause side-effects and, if they do, they are likely to be mild, but may include irritation to the lining of the nose, nausea and headaches.

    Steam inhalation treatment may also help. This involves inhaling steam from a bowl of hot (but not boiling) water and can help to soften and loosen any mucus in the nasal cavities.

    Some people find that adding menthol crystals or eucalyptus oil to the water also helps. Steam inhalation is not recommended as a suitable treatment for children due to the risk of scalding.

    Your GP may examine your nose to check that there are no nasal polyps and may also want to check that the catarrh is not the result of an allergy.

    They may ask whether your symptoms are worse in particular environments or at certain times of the day or year. This will help them to pinpoint a possible allergen such as pollen.

    If you have small nasal polyps (fleshy growths in your nose) it may be possible to shrink them using a nasal spray that contains steroids, but larger polyps may need to be removed with surgery.

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    Human influenza viruses are known to drift, or mutate, from season to season, allowing the viruses to spread through the population a little easier. At the same time, humans are constantly evolving antibodies to fight the viruses. The human immune system contains a range of antibodies that can bind to the flu virus, meaning there is a higher potential for the population to fend off viruses that are slightly unfamiliar, Webby said.

    Predicting which strain of the flu will dominate a flu season involves mapping seasonal trends, field testing and, to some degree, guess work. Sometimes, the vaccine is not a good match.

    Slight drifts in a dominant influenza virus are not a huge cause for concern, according to health experts. Vaccines can still provide some level of defense against the flu, even when the vaccine is not a perfect match. “It would have to be a very severe drift for a vaccine to provide no protection at all,” Webby said. Despite a mutation in the H3N2, the vaccine has averted roughly a third of the flu cases seen this season, according to the CDC.

    The three types of influenza viruses are types A, B and C. Influenza viruses A and B are what cause most of the human infections, with A typically being the more severe of the two. Viruses are made up of seven segments of RNA, or genetic material. “Every so often, one of those segments gets changed very dramatically,” Patrick Schlievert, a professor and chair of microbiology at the University of Iowa, told IBTimes. “Those are the ones that usually bring in a new pandemic.”

    The viruses that worry health experts the most are those “coming out of animal reservoirs,” Webby said. They are what health experts call the “pandemic strains” – viruses unfamiliar to the human immune system that suddenly jump into humans.

    In 2009, a novel strain of the H1N1 influenza A virus, commonly known as swine flu, made its way to the U.S. The first cases were reported in March in California. The virus killed an estimated 10,000 Americans, including 7,500 young adults and 1,100 children, by December. Health experts estimated that more than 15 percent of the country had been infected with the virus. “If a brand new virus comes in, it’s obviously going to be more severe and effect a greater part of the population,” Schlievert said.

    However, even if an unforeseen strain were to make its way into the human population, health officials are, for the most part, prepared. A hundred years of medical advances have equipped physicians with the tools to keep death rates from influenza outbreaks relatively low, Schlievert argued. If the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which killed upwards of 30 to 50 million people worldwide, were to happen today, “it might kill 100,000 people,” Schlievert said. “The reason is that medical care is so much better” than it was nearly a century ago, he said.

    Bill Bush The Columbus Dispatch @ReporterBush

    Flu cases are widespread across the state, with hospitalizations for flu-like symptoms almost doubling to 287 during the first week of January, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

    "Influenza-like illness is now widespread throughout Ohio for the first time this flue season, and the number of associated hospitalizations are rising," the department said in a written statement.

    The number of hospitalizations for flu symptoms — fever, cough, sore throat, body aces, headache, chills and fatigue — rose from 157 the last week of December, and the total hospitalization since the start of this flu season in October is 654, the department said.

    Some people also experience vomiting or diarrhea, according to the CDC. Most people recover in several days to less than two weeks. Children and the elderly are most susceptible to complications of the flu.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said flu activity across the country is expected to continue to rise for at least several weeks. Flu season generally lasts through May, and hospitalizations generally peak between December and February, the department said.

    Influenza vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu in people older than 6 months, the department said. Other ways to avoid it include washing hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes, avoid touching eyes, noses and mouths, and staying home when sick until you are fever free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicines.

    "There are no flu vaccine shortages across Ohio," said Sietske de Fijter, chief of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases for the department. "The short time it will take to get a flu vaccine is much less than the time it will take you to recover from the flu."

    The department doesn't track the number of aldut flu deaths.

    There were 3,691 hospitalizations for flu-like symptoms during the last flu season, according to the state.