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Being Multicellular

Explorations in science.

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What is Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (CMT)?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a group of diseases that damage the nerves that are outside the brain and spinal cord- the peripheral nerves- which control the muscles and sensory stimuli. CMT is caused by an abnormality in one of the genes (sometimes inherited from parents) that control the development of the peripheral nerves leading to the nerves becoming damaged. The reason why CMT is the umbrella term for ‘a group’ of diseases is because no single gene or fault causes CMT, there are a range of genetic faults that can damage the peripheral nerves. One of the genes that cause CMT causes the myelin sheath to wear down and so the axon, the part of the nerve cell that transmits electrical impulses, become damaged without the protection the myelin sheath provides; therefore, impulses to the brain and muscles are affected leading to numbness and weakness.

It is a progressive condition; it gets worse as the individual gets older. CMT may cause muscle weakness and numbness in the feet, ankles, legs and hands, have very arched feet and curled toes, cold hands and feet due to poor circulation and having an uneven gait. These symptoms may appear in childhood, usually between five and fifteen years old, but they may not develop until middle age [1]. A common sign is when a child has difficulty walking due to having trouble lifting their feet of the ground.

There is no cure but there are treatments that can increase mobility and the independence of the individual such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and walking aids and surgery can be used to flatten the arch of the foot and correct muscles contractions where the muscles shorten which limits the range of movement[1].

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Charcot-Marie-Tooth-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx

©Being Multicellular 2017. All Rights Reserved.

What is Hepatitis?

It’s World Hepatitis Day and so I’d like to briefly explore what Hepatitis is. Before research for this post, I didn’t know that there were so many types of hepatitis and that for some of them, especially autoimmune, the causes are unknown.

Hepatitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the liver. The causes are viral infection or liver damage by alcohol. The type determines whether the hepatitis will

Continue reading “What is Hepatitis?”

The Stress Hormone

Cortisol is a steroid hormone made from cholesterol in the two adrenal glands above each kidney. It is best known for its role in the ‘fight or flight’ response and how, in stressful situations, it can increase the body’s energy production temporarily.

The secretion of cortisol is controlled by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland [2]. When there are low cortisol levels in the blood, Continue reading “The Stress Hormone”

Why Do People Sleepwalk?

Definition: a sleep disorder characterized by walking or other activity while seemingly still asleep- Psychology Today

Synonyms: somnambulism, parasomnia

Sleep walking usually occurs when a person is in deep sleep and most sleep walking episodes last for less than ten minutes. 30% of all adults are thought to have sleep walked at least once in their lives. Sleep walking itself is only one of the complex behaviours carried out while a person is asleep like sitting up in bed and looking around, some even drive! Why does this happen? Continue reading “Why Do People Sleepwalk?”

Why Are Women More Likely to Get Alzheimer’s?

In the US, out of 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million of these are women [1] and I thought that this was due to women living longer than men collectively but this gap between living ages of men and women is not substantial enough to be the whole story; Alzheimer’s is a disease that can last for as long as 20 years before the individual passes away and so the life expectancy of 5-8 years doesn’t add up. Continue reading “Why Are Women More Likely to Get Alzheimer’s?”

Norovirus- The Christmas Stomach Bug

Norovirus is a stomach bug most common during winter time and is aptly named the ‘winter vomiting bug.’ It causes the deaths of 200,000 a year but this risk is limited to those that are immunosuppressed or the very young/old as they have trouble remaining hydrated.

The symptoms of norovirus appear after two days after infection and last for about the same amount of time. I would assume, in the same way that flu is a virus more common as we get closer to Christmas, norovirus is more stable in cold air and low humidity which allow the virus to remain in the air for longer,  survive for longer, increasing the chance of a person inhaling the virus. Continue reading “Norovirus- The Christmas Stomach Bug”

The Influence of Galen on Modern Medicine.

Although many of Galen’s have been disproved like that fact that he thought that blood was made in the liver, he was accurate about many helpful observations in medicine which may explain why his ideas lasted for fifteen centuries after his death, this, and the fact that he was physician to several emperors with influence over the entire Roman Empire. The same Roman Empire that spread from Scotland to Asia, Iraq to Africa and formed 35 languages therefore spreading Galen’s work and ideas. Continue reading “The Influence of Galen on Modern Medicine.”

CRPS- What is it?

 

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome was first described by Ambroise Pare who reported that after blood-letting King Charles IX, who had persistent pain. This fits into what can trigger the disorder: burns, cuts, surgical procedures, sprains. In the past CRPS was linked with the word causalgia which depicts a burning sensation.

About 1 in 3,800 people a year are diagnosed with CRPS and 7% of people who experience in one limb will later experience it in another limb.

Continue reading “CRPS- What is it?”

Pregnancy and Childbirth- How Women are Adapted.

It’s a miracle that women are able to form a person from a ball of cells which can then be pushed out of a hole that is tiny in comparison. Therefore, I decided to research what it is that makes this reproduction possible.

The story that all teenage girls are taught during sex-education classes is that women can give birth because they have wider hips and women that have slightly smaller hips are now more commonly told that they can’t have a natural birth or that their natural birth will be more laboured or longer in duration is slightly untrue. Continue reading “Pregnancy and Childbirth- How Women are Adapted.”

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