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What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

The COPD is not a single disease, but a general term for a number of chronic pulmonary diseases which impede the air flow in the lungs, such as the chronic bronchitis.

What are the main symptoms and signs of COPD?

  • Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity.
  • Wheezing.
  • Blueness of the lips and fingernails.
  • Chronic cough with phlegm.
  • Frequent respiratory infections.
  • Weight loss.


Risk factors of COPD:

  • Smoking is the leading cause of COPD.
  • Exposure to the tobacco smoke (second-hand smoking).
  • Exposure to indoor pollution (as a result of using solid fuel for the purpose of cooking and heating).
  • Exposure to dust and chemicals at place of work (exposure to vapors, irritants and fumes).
  • Constant exposure to the various types of the lower respiratory tract infections, during childhood.
  • Age: Over 40 people are more prone to the COPD.
  • Hereditary factors are influential in some rare cases.


What are the complications of the COPD?

  • Respiratory tract infections: The COPD patient is more likely to get frequent colds, flu and pneumonia. Additionally, any respiratory infection can make it much more difficult to breathe and cause damage to the lung tissue.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension): COPD may cause high blood pressure in the arteries that bring blood to your lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
  • Heart disorders: For unknown reasons, COPD also increases the risk of heart diseases, including heart attack.
  • Lung cancer: Smokers with chronic bronchitis are more vulnerable to lung cancer than those without chronic bronchitis.
  • Depression: Some patients may get depressed as a result of breathing difficulty and inability to do the normal daily activities.

Protection of Persons at High Risk against COPD:


  • Avoiding exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution and irritants.
  • Avoiding exposure to fluctuation of weather and dust.
  • Eating healthy food like fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and chicken.
  • Medical examination of the lung (spirometry), to assess the functionality of the lung for those over 45 years of age.
  • Taking the seasonal influenza vaccine for prevention of recurrent respiratory tract inflammations.
  • Taking the necessary precautions and abiding by safety instructions in factories and work places. 
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Hyperacusis is a condition that arises from a problem in the way the brain’s central auditory processing center perceives noise. It can often lead to pain and discomfort. Individuals with hyperacusis have difficulty tolerating sounds which do not seem loud to others, such as the noise from running faucet water, riding in a car, walking on leaves, dishwasher, fan on the refrigerator, shuffling papers. Although all sounds may be perceived as too loud, high frequency sounds may be particularly troublesome.



There are some diseases or disorders that are linked to hyperacusis, such as: 

  • Bell’s palsy

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

  • Lyme disease

  • Meniere’s disease

  • Post traumatic stress disorder

  • Depression

  • Autism

Additionally, hyperacusis is seen in patients who have experienced a head trauma, such as an air bag deployment, surgery to the jaw or face, or a viral infection of the inner ear. One major cause of hyperacusis is loud noise exposure. It may be triggered by a single intense noise such as a gunshot, or it may develop gradually from listening to loud noise without hearing protection. People exposed to loud levels of noise through their occupation, whether as a machinist or a musician, should be protective of their hearing to avoid noise-induced hearing loss and other changes in their hearing such as tinnitus or hyperacusis.


There are no specific corrective surgical or medical treatments for hyperacusis. However, sound therapy may be used to “retrain” the auditory processing center of the brain to accept everyday sounds. This involves the use of a noise-generating device worn on the affected ear or ears. Those suffering from hyperacusis may be uncomfortable with placing sound directly in their ear, but the device produces a gentle static-like sound (white noise) that is barely audible. Completion of sound therapy may take up to 12 months, and usually improves sound tolerance.Because social situations are often painfully loud for those with hyperacusis, withdrawal, social isolation, and depression are common.

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Human Stem Cells Used to Create Light-Sensitive Eye Cells

Human Stem Cells Used to Create Light-Sensitive Eye Cells

Using human stem cells, researchers created eye cells capable of responding to light. Specifically, the researchers created retina cells. The retina is a layer of light-sensitive cells that line the inside of the eye. The retina sends visual messages to the optic nerve in the brain to create visual images, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute.

 Although the cells created by the researchers haven't yet produced a visual signal the brain can interpret into an image, the researchers noted that this study is just a first step. They suggested their findings could eventually lead to the development of genetically engineered retina cell transplants that can stop or reverse blindness in people with retinal disease.

"We have basically created a miniature human retina in a dish that not only has the architectural organization of the retina, but also has the ability to sense light," study leader M. Valeria Canto-Soler, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a university news release.

The study, published online June 10 in Nature Communications, involved so-called human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). These are adult cells reprogrammed into a primitive state. This allowed the researchers to turn them into early stage retinal cells that would then go on to form the light-sensitive retinal tissue found in the back of the eye.

Retinal tissue is made up of seven major types of cells, the researchers explained. These cells are organized into layers that absorb and process light. These layers also transmit the visual signals that are interpreted by the brain. The retinal cells grown in the lab recreated this multi-layered, three-dimensional form of the human retina.

"We knew that a 3-D cellular structure was necessary if we wanted to reproduce functional characteristics of the retina, but when we began this work, we didn't think stem cells would be able to build up a retina almost on their own. In our system, somehow the cells knew what to do," said Canto-Soler.

While these cells were grown in a petri dish, they matured in a manner similar to what might occur in the eyes of a developing fetus. At the equivalent of 28 weeks' gestation, the researchers tested the mini-retinas to see if the photo receptors were able to transform light into visual signals. The photo receptors grown in the lab responded to light in the same way as human retinas.

The study's authors said their findings provide scientists the ability to study the cause of retinal diseases on human tissue rather than animals. They added it may allow for the testing of drugs to treat individual patients specifically. In the future, the researchers suggested, diseased or dead retinal tissue may be replaced with tissue grown in a lab, which might help reverse blindness for some people.

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Ebola hemorrhagic fever

Ebola hemorrhagic fever

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe and often deadly illness that can occur in humans and primates (e.g. monkeys, gorillas). Ebola hemorrhagic fever has made worldwide news because of its destructive potential.

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Lack of vitamin D may 'raise dementia risk'

Lack of vitamin D may 'raise dementia risk'

The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK, Angers University Hospital in France, and Florida International University, Columbia University, the University of Washington, the University of Pittsburgh, the Veteran Affairs Ann Arbor Center for Clinical Management Research, and the University of Michigan in the US.


People lacking in vitamin D have a higher risk of developing dementia report several media outlets, including BBC News and The Independent. People lacking in vitamin D have a higher risk of developing dementia report several media outlets, including BBC News and The Independent.

A study found people severely lacking in the sunshine vitamin were twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer's disease compared with people with healthy levels (50nmol/l or more).

The findings are based on a study of more than 1,650 people aged 65 and above who were followed over a period of about six years to see if they developed dementia.

Researchers found the higher the vitamin D deficiency, the higher the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

They found severe vitamin D deficiency (less than 25nmol/l) is associated with approximately twice the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

Moderately low levels of vitamin D (between 25nmol/l and 50nmol/l) are associated with a 50% increase in risk.

This study was able to show an association between low levels of vitamin D and the risk of developing dementia. But it does not prove that vitamin D deficiency causes the disease.

Other factors that can increase the risk of developing dementia, including a poor diet, lack of activity and general poor health, can also cause a low vitamin D level.

More research is needed to establish whether eating vitamin D-rich foods, such as oily fish, or taking vitamin D supplements could delay or even prevent dementia.

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