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CORNS

Corns are small lumps of hard skin on the toes, especially over the bony prominences, or on the sides of the feet. They are caused by friction or continual pressure from poorly fitting shoes. The constant rubbing causes a layer of thickened skin to develop which is gradually pushed inwards to form a nucleus or…

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COUGHS

A cough is not an illness in itself, but a symptom. Although it can be irritating and often embarrassing, it is the body’s natural response to any foreign body, congestion or irritation in the lungs or throat. The irritation may be due to things like air pollution or cigarette smoke, but in a great many…

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CRADLE CAP

Cradle cap is a harmless condition resembling dandruff that is extremely common in young babies. It usually appears during the first three months of a baby’s life, but can also affect toddlers and young children. If your baby develops cradle cap, you may first of all notice a little scurf on his or her head,…

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Introduction

IN A DEVELOPED country like Britain most of the conditions the majority of us suffer from are self-limiting – they get better on their own. Among the common ones are colds, flu, gastric upsets, coughs, aches, strains, sprains, sore throats -even verrucas. While rest, possibly in bed, relaxes the body and keeps the patient at…

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For more serious conditions the foundation recommends that a qualified homoeopathic physician be consulted

Herbal Medicine Herbs seem to get into everything these days! Of course, they have always added flavour to cooking, and herbal teas, such as rosehip and peppermint, have long been popular. Now, bath oils, shampoos, face and body lotions containing a variety of herbs sell like hot cakes as we are encouraged to believe that…

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For more information about herbal medicine contact the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (address on

223). Dos and Don’ts of Over-the-Counter Medicines Every day, six million people in Britain visit pharmacies and a million people ask for advice about symptoms of heartburn and haemorrhoids, corns and constipation. Not only that, more than £580 million a year is now passed over the counter for cough, cold and sore-throat remedies, general and…

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ARTHRITIS

Athlete’s foot (linea pedis) is a fungal infection of the skin which thrives in warm, wet conditions. The skin between the toes becomes red, soggy, itchy, flaky and sometimes smelly. It’s not very common in children but is a frequent problem for adolescents and sporty young men and women who use communal changing rooms. The…

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BACK PAIN

Although one and a half million people in this country are suffering from some degree of back pain at any one time, the majority do get better with no more complicated treatment than bed rest and/or painkilling drugs. In many cases, the pain isn’t even bad enough to merit a visit to the doctor, but…

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BAD BREATH

The really embarrassing thing about bad breath is that all too often you don’t become aware of until it’s pointed out to you by somebody else. But don’t worry – it can affect the best of us, not just heavy smokers or garlic eaters. Bad breath is medically known as halitosis. It will often be…

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BED SORES

If someone who is confined to bed is so ill or paralysed that they don’t, or can’t, ‘turn over7 as usual, they risk developing painful bed sores. The skin can crack and weep and, as a result of the continuous pressure on a certain part of the body, the tissues below the skin can ‘wear…

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BITES AND STINGS

Compared with people in many other countries, we in Britain are lucky in having relatively few biting or stinging insects. Venomous snakes, spiders and such like are also thin on the ground or non-existent. However, I did say ‘relatively’ few. That still leaves us with around 33 different kinds of mosquito – commonly known as…

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yellow fever

Viral infection prevalent in Central and South America and Africa, which occurs in Western Europe in travellers from these areas. The virus multiplies in the Aedes mosquito, and for the rest of its life span the insect can transmit the virus to man. There are two kinds of yellow fever, the urban variety, in which…

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Whitlow

Inflammation of the subcutaneous tissue of the fingers which has spread to the bone of the phalanx. The condition is caused by bacteria (usually in association with an inadequately disinfected cut) which establish themselves in the marrow of the phalanx bones. The symptoms are pain in the affected finger and sometimes slight fever, and a…

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Vertebral disc disorders

Conditions relating to the elastic discs of cartilage between the spinal vertebrae. The spinal column derives its flexilibity from these discs. These disorders are frequently accompanied by vertebral conditions. They usually lead to a restriction in the mobility of the spinal column and are often combined with pain. The best-known vertebral disc condition is dorsal…

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Worms

Millions of people are infested by parasitic worms, although in Europe parasitic infestations are mainly introduced by tourists and foreign employees. There are three major groups of worms: roundworms, flukes and tapeworms. Males and females occur only in round worms; the other worms are hermaphroditic, having both male and female sex organs. The part of…

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Vertigo

Collective name for a number of sensations of movement, dizziness or a feeling of lightheadedness. The sensation can be of spinning or falling away, and is caused by disorders of the inner ear, of the eighth cranial nerve (which carries stimuli from the auditory organs and the organs of balance), the brain stem or the…

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Xerophthalmia

Abnormality in which the secretion of tears is reduced, so that the cornea and conjunctiva of the eye are not sufficiently moist. The symptoms consist of irritation, pain and redness. The absence of lachrymal fluid may cause damage to the cornea. In one form of xerophthalmia, Shigren’s syndrome, the secretion of fluid by all the…

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Vincent’s angina

Inflammation of the tonsils and often also of surrounding mouth and throat tissue by bacteria normally present in the mouth, but which cause serious infection in the event of reduced resistance or serious nutritional deficiencies. The usual complaints are pain in the mouth and difficulty in swallowing, sometimes with general malaise and fever. There is…

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virilism

Appearance of male external sexual characteristics in a girl or woman. This takes place under the influence of male sex hormones (androgens). The clitoris becomes enlarged, and hair distribution resembles a man’s (hirsutism), with hair on the chest and face. The voice deepens, the breasts either do not develop or become smaller, and menstruation does…

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Vitamin deficiency

Because vitamins do not form a coherent group, this term includes a number of different conditions with different causes. Vitamin deficiency is by no means always the consequence of inadequate nutrition. Two principal groups should be distinguished: vitamins soluble in fat (A, D, E and K) and those soluble in water (the rest). The following…

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Vitiligo

Disorder in the pigmentation of the skin. Pale patches occur as a result of the disappearance of pigment, mainly on the backs of the hands, the face and around the anus. They can form over a period of a few days. The spots are usually only noticed when they are already some centimetres in size…

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Volvulus

Twisting of an intestinal loop around its own axis, possible because practically all the small intestine and a small section of the large intestine (sigmoid colon) are attached to the abdominal wall only by a single membrane containing the intestinal blood vessels. Volvulus is a very rare condition, usually congenital in children; volvulus of the…

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vomiting

Forcible regurgitation of the contents of the stomach. Vomiting has various causes, which may lie in the abdomen, the stomach and intestine itself, the brain, or other disorders that stimulate the brain. Psychological causes should not be ruled out. Brain conditions can cause vomiting by stimulating the vomiting centres in the brain, and this can…

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Von Recklinghausen’s disease

Hereditary disorder involving characteristic skin patches and tumours of the skin and nerve tissue. In the nerves of spinal cord and brain, neurinomas and neurofibromas usually occur; they are normally both benign tumours. They can be very close to the spinal cord or brain, and cause discomfort by pressure. On rare occasions neurofibromas can become…

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wart (verruca)

Benign swelling of the skin that results from a virus infection. Warts measure anything from a few millimetres to a few centimetres in diameter and can occur anywhere on the skin. A wart begins as a small excrescence of the upper layers of the skin. This swelling expands into a small growth typically resembling a…

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Weight loss

Persistent decrease in body weight, in medical terms including only abnormal cases, not justifiable or desired weight loss. Weight loss can have many causes, by no means all of them dependent on conditions of the digestive organs. The conditions which may be responsible can be divided into two principal groups: malabsorption (difficulties in absorbing food…

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Weil’s disease (leptospirosis)

Disease caused by the bacterium Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae, which usually infects rodents living in the wild. This disease occurs the world over. The animals, mainly brown rats, excrete the bacterium along with their urine. The bacteria survive better in fresh water and the chances of humans becoming infected are greatest in a damp area where there…

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welder’s eye

Acute inflammation of the cornea as a result of exposure of the eye to ultraviolet radiation, as from arc welding and UV lamps; a form of ophthalmia. It causes damage to the cornea which becomes evident 6 to 12 hours after exposure to the UV light. The eye can also be exposed to excessive quantities…

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urethritis

Inflammation of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. A distinction is usually made between inflammation caused by gonorrhoea and the normal form, which is more common; in 25 per cent of such cases no cause can be found (non-specific urethritis, NSU). Almost all forms can be transmitted by sexual intercourse. The…

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Urinary disorders

Abnormalities in the quantity and/or composition of the urine. Normally, 1 to 2 litres of urine are produced daily. When less than 100 ml are produced, the condition is known as anuria. Low urination can also be the consequence of urine retention. Frequent urination is usually the result of cystitis. Abnormally high urine production occurs…

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Urticaria (nettlerash)

Itchy skin condition consisting of pink raised patches (urticae), which can occur suddenly; they disappear within a few days. Some people get nettlerash after eating certain foods, notoriously strawberries and chocolate, and some medicines can cause it. The condition can also accompany certain infections, both bacterial and viral, or worm infestation. There are also numerous…

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Uterine myoma

Benign tumour of muscle fibres in the wall of the womb. Uterine myomas usually occur in the muscular wall of the uterus itself (intramural), but they may also be located below the layer of mucous membrane (submucous) or below the capsule on the outside edge (subserous). The myoma grows in the direction of least resistance…

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Uterine polyp

Benign protrusion of mucous membrane inside the womb, sometimes large enough to protrude through the cervix. Polyps cause a watery discharge containing blood, sometimes bleeding during intercourse (so-called contact bleeding), also excessive menstrual flow and painful menstruation, because the womb tries to eject the polyp. Polyps protruding from the neck of the womb.

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uterus, prolapsed

Condition in which the uterus (womb) hangs too low in the vagina, or sometimes protrudes from it, particularly after the menopause, and often connected with an earlier difficult childbirth. The prolapsed womb can also pull on the bladder, causing bladder complaints. Prolapse gives a heavy feeling in the lower abdomen, and risk of bladder infection…

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Vagina, atrophy of

Shrinkage of the mucous membrane lining of the vagina. After the menopause the oestrogen production of the ovaries decreases. All the internal sexual organs become smaller and the layer of mucous membrane in the vagina becomes thinner. If the ovaries are removed or irradiated, the same occurs because no oestrogens are produced. The reduced layer…

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Vagina, disorders of

In rare cases the vagina is missing altogether; this condition is usually accompanied by various congenital disorders. Congenital cysts occur regularly in the wall of the vagina and are harmless. A septum can also occur in the vagina. Sometimes the hymen is rigid and has no opening, preventing the passage of menstrual blood. Such disorders…

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Vaginal discharge

The sexually mature vagina is kept moist by a discharge that originates from the vaginal wall and the cervix; its quantity and thickness vary with the menstrual cycle. A large quantity of clear mucus is produced during ovulation and discharge also increases before menstruation. In the vagina there are bacteria which form lactic acid and…

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Vaginismus

Involuntary contraction of the muscles around the opening of the vagina which prevent penetration by the penis during intercourse, often leading to frustrations and loss of libido Some women are able to find satisfaction in other sexual activities and attain orgasm. There are various causes, such as fear of sexual intercourse because of an unpleasant…

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Vaginitis

Infection of the vaginal mucous membrane. One of the first symptoms is increased secretion and a white discharge, together with itching and smarting. The nature of the secretion, the colour, the smell if any, and the density, help to determine the cause of the inflammation. Diagnosis is by vaginal examination with a speculum and microscopic…

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Varicocele

Abnormality of the blood vessels which drain the testis, a kind of varicose vein, nearly always occurring on the left side. The cause is increased pressure in the veins below the testicle, particularly when the patient is standing up. The patient often does not notice the vario-cele but sometimes suffers from a heavy feeling in…

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Varicose veins

Abnormally dilated and tortuous veins, usually occurring in the legs. A vein can dilate if blood pressure increases, for example because the valves in the vein are not functioning properly, or because flow of blood out of the vein is restricted. The original condition is also important: some people have leg veins with naturally less…

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Venereal diseases

Contagious diseases transmitted by sexual contact, also known as sexually transmitted diseases. Most involve inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes. Besides well-known disorders such as syphillis and gonorrhoea there are many others now known to fall into this category, such as genital herpes, or conditions like lymphogranuloma venereum and granuloma inguinale. Disorders such as…

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Toxoplasmosis

Infestation by the widespread microorganism Toxoplasma gondii. Something like half the world’s population has the infestation, usually without displaying any symptoms. Many infected mammals and birds also act as hosts. The sexual development of the parasite takes place in a cat, the eggs being laid in the cat’s intestinal wall and being eliminated from the…

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Trachoma

A serious, chronic eye disorder which is the most important cause of blindness in the world today. Trachoma is caused by the micro-organism , and is very infectious. It can readily occur under unhygienic conditions and can be transmitted by flies. It begins as a lingering conjunctivitis, usually in both eyes. Numerous small bumps, bluish-red…