Archive for August, 2006
Abdominal troubles of advancing years are much more significant than those of youth. Within the abdomen, the factory of the body, any organ may have difficulty, but these organs, their functions and diseases are very vague to most people and study of them is very enlightening.
Examination of the Abdomen
Examine the bare abdomen in a well lighted room, before a full length mirror, in both standing and reclining positions.
1. Observe the abdominal skin for a yellow discoloration, called jaundice, frequently associated with gallbladder and liver disease.
2. Observe the hair growth over the chest and abdomen. An abundance of hair popularly indicates manliness in male,
but masculine hair distribution on the female may mean ovarian or adrenal gland difficulty.
3. In lying-down position, we normally can see our toes. If the abdomen rises to block this view then it is abnormally enlarged. If a “spare tire” can easily be lifted, it is possible that we are overweight.
4. Examine the skin for visible blood vessels. A few fine veins and skin blemishes are usually present at the age of fifty, but large vivid veins may signal cirrhosis or similar liver disease.
5. Feel the abdomen-the fifty year old skin should have a doughy firmness. A tight shiny skin in a ballooned-up abdomen may mean excessive fluid or tumor growth inside
Fig. 73. The abdominal region is the vague container of vague organs. Its many diseases and many symptoms produce multitudes of confusing complaints. It is actually easily understood with a simple study of its mechanics. The abdomen is the factory of the body. Food enters here, is ground up and chemically digested. The useful part is absorbed into the body, but the useless portion is separated and thrown out as waste. It is the most efficient factory in the world.
and if a “pit” remains after firmly pressing the finger into the skin, abnormal swelling is present, possibly indicating heart or kidney disease.
6. While lying down, feel the abdomen above the navel. The normal abdomen slopes downward from the ribs, both sides are alike, and no tenderness is present. Tender enlargements in the right side may signal liver, gallbladder or right kidney disease. Enlargement in the left side could indicate disease of the stomach, left kidney or spleen. It is difficult to feel these organs separately or accurately.
7. Feel the abdomen in the navel region. A mass in this region of any size is distinctly abnormal and could be a tumor growth of the intestines, colon, or even of the major blood vessels themselves. Enlargement at the navel which appears when standing and straining, but disappears when lying down, is likely to be a rupture (hernia).
8. Feel the abdomen below the umbilicus or navel. It is normally not tender or painful in any way. A definite soreness suggests possible disease such as appendicitis, bowel difficulties, or ovarian difficulty in the female. A movable ball-like mass in the lower abdomen of the female could mean growth of the ovaries or uterus.
Liver gall bladder
Fig. 74. The open abdomen appears complicated. The stomach, intestine, and colon make up the alimentary tract where digested food is absorbed. The chemical processes involved are still poorly understood, but continue to function anyway.
9. In the standing position observe any visible enlargement in the lower abdomen. Strain purposely and note any protrusion which appears just to the side of the pubic bone. This is likely a hernia or rupture, which is usually not painful and often falls back into the abdomen on lying down.
Angina Pectoris Pain. Angina Pectoris is a well-known heart chest pain. Like all heart pain, it is due to heart arteries that do not bring enough blood to the heart muscle while it is working. The pain is felt when the heart is working hard and demanding more blood, such as walking uphill, walking or running too fast, and during severe emotional upsets.
The heart artery in angina pectoris is narrow because of a
Fig. 72. Pain of Angina Pectoris. Pain is felt in the heart muscle because its blood supply is reduced by a heart artery which is clamped down or in “spasm.” “Spasm,” which narrows or closes the artery, is related to work (e.g., walking up hill), tobacco and emotional upset. Often a little alcohol helps to relax the condition. Tobacco is restricted in nearly all cases.
temporary spasm of the artery itself and this temporary feature distinguishes angina from the permanently narrowed artery of arteriosclerosis. Relaxing this constricted artery, and allowing it to dilate, allows more blood to be delivered to the heart muscle again and the pain of angina pectoris is relieved.
Ordinarily, patients with angina pectoris have a so-called emotional nature, with possibly intensified spasms of the artery. Because of this, they are usually advised against factors such as tobacco, which stimulates the body and blood vessels. Many doctors forbid their patients any tobacco with the first symptoms of angina pectoris, and following this, heart pain may be completely relieved.
Sometimes these patients are advised on the use of alcohol as a medicine. In the form of whiskey, alcohol is noted for its ability to relax the arteries of the heart and help dispel the pain of angina pectoris. Heart pain probably is most often caused not just by one, but rather a combination of diseases. Actually, some authorities believe angina pectoris pain rarely occurs without the presence of arteriosclerosis, and others believe that real heart attacks also rarely occur without the presence of some arteriosclerosis. Thus, the easy separation of heart diseases on paper is not quite so clearly defined within the chest wall. We may study the types of heart pains and learn to distinguish them from pains which are not coming from within the heart. It is felt moreover, that such a study will prompt the individual to visit his physician regularly even before any heart pain should make itself felt.
Heart diseases are most difficult to deal with. If this were not so, we should not have so great a number of physicians dying of heart diseases each year. It takes the best of medical brains, with the help of laboratory tests, to deal adequately with genuine heart disease. While things to do, and things not to do for the individual, may be very important in his routine way, total evaluation of the heart patient and his activities must finally be dictated by his physician.