Treatment

There is no cure for the disorder yet, but careful medical management can greatly improve the prognosis and lengthen the life span. Treatment usually includes:

• Echocardiogram This annual test can monitor the size and function of the heart and aorta.

• Eye exams After the initial diagnosis with a slit-lamp to detect lens dislocation, periodic follow-ups with an ophthalmologist are required.

• Drugs Beta-blocker medications may be prescribed to lower blood pressure and ease stress on the aorta.

• Antibiotics These drugs may be prescribed prior to dental or genitourinary procedures to lower the risk of infection in people who experience mitral valve prolapse or who have artificial heart valves. (For contact information, see Appendix I.)

marijuana The world's most commonly used hallucinogenic drug that is derived from a plant (Cannabis sativa) containing delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Marijuana is usually smoked like a cigarette, but it also can be cooked into baked goods such as brownies or cookies, or brewed like a tea. THC is also contained in hashish, which is the resin from the plant. Hashish is usually smoked in a pipe. Other names for marijuana include grass, reefer, pot, and weed.

THC acts on cannabinoid receptors, which are found on brain cells in many places throughout the brain. These cells are found in areas involved in memory (the hippocampus), concentration (cerebral cortex), perception (sensory portions of the cerebral cortex), and movement (the cerebellum). When THC activates cannabinoid receptors, it interferes with the normal functioning of these brain areas.

In low to medium doses, marijuana causes relaxation, reduced coordination, low blood pressure, sleepiness, disruption in attention, and an altered sense of time and space. In high doses, it can cause hallucinations, delusions, impaired memory, and disorientation. The effects of marijuana begin within one to 10 minutes and can last from three to four hours.

Scientists have known for a long time that THC interacted with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, but they did not know why the brain would have such receptors. In 1992 scientists discovered anan-damide, the brain's own THC, but they are not yet sure what the function of this chemical might be in a normal brain. Experts do not agree about whether marijuana can produce addiction and whether it causes long-term mental problems. While there have been no documented cases of fatal overdoses produced by marijuana, there is a high level of tar and other chemicals in marijuana cigarettes; smoking the drug causes similar health problems to cigarette smoking. There is a bigger risk of lung problems and lung cancer later in life due to marijuana cigarette smoking.

mastoiditis An infection of the prominent bone behind the ear (mastoid bone) usually as a result of an ear infection. Mastoiditis usually affects children and can sometimes lead to hearing problems. This disease has become uncommon since the widespread use of antibiotics to control ear infections.

Cause

The disease occurs when infection spreads from the middle ear to a cavity in the mastoid bone, and from there to a honeycomb of air cells in the bone itself.

Symptoms

Severe earache, headache, and fatigue. Swelling behind the ear is often enough to actually push the external ear out of position. other symptoms may include fever, creamy discharge from the ear, and progressive hearing loss.

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