You simply can’t read another word. Your eyes have had it. They’re tired, dry, and sore.You’re suffering from eyestrain.

There are numerous causes of eyestrain-from stress to astigmatism to jaw disorders. “Most people have a tiny bit of astigmatism and do not even know they have it,” says Andrew S. Farber, M.D., F.A.C.S., an ophthalmologist in private practice in Terre Haute, Indiana. “But it may show itself as eyestrain.” Astigmatism is a defect in vision caused by an abnormal curvature of the cornea or lens of the eye, both of which help the eye to focus an image, it can usually be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Tension in the neck and back muscles-from sitting at a computer all day, for instance-can also cause the eyes to tire.

Numerous diseases may show themselves as eyestrain. Glaucoma, a condition in which pressure within the eye becomes elevated, is one such condition. Even diseases not directly related to the eye may show up as eyestrain. In rare instances, the jaw disorder called temporo-­mandibular joint syndrome, or TMJ, which causes facial pain, can lead to aching eyes.

One of the reasons eyestrain is so common is that the lens in the eye gradually loses some of its ability to change shape-and thus focus an image clearly-as we age. This condition, referred to as presbyopia, becomes most pronounced after age 40. It affects the eye’s ability to focus on an image up close, which is why older individuals often need to hold reading material at arm’s length.

Because there are so many causes of eyestrain, it’s best to consult an eye-care professional for a complete diagnosis if you’ve been suffering from eyestrain for a month or more or if it seems to have become more frequent or bothersome, advises Henry D. Perry, M.D., clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at Cornell Medical College in New York. An eye examination should be performed once a year, especially for people 35 years of age and older and for anyone with a family history of glaucoma or diabetes.In the meantime, here are some ways to ease the strain on your eyes.

Make the light right. “Working in dim or harsh light won’t harm the eyes, but it may be more demanding,” says Farber. Too much light can result in too much glare, while too little light may simply make it too difficult to read or see clearly, says Farber. Try to keep the lighting at a comfortable level-not too dark or too bright.

Try indirect lighting. Fixtures that face upward, allowing their light to bounce off a ceiling or wall, create a comfortable, diffusely lighted environment that’s not as hard on the eyes as lights that shine down directly on you.

Buy a pair of reading glasses. Especially for those over 40 years of age, reading glasses may do the trick by magnifying the printed page and other close work. Reading glasses can be purchased without a prescription in drug stores and pharmacies, you simply try on several pairs until you find the magnification that provides you with the sharpest vision.

Get glare-busting glasses. Prescription lenses made with polarized ultraviolet (UV) filters reduce glare by filtering out certain wavelengths of light. These can be especially good for computer users.

Take a break. Whether you’re reading, writing, sewing, or tapping away on a computer, it’s a good idea to take a break from such close work or switch to a task that isn’t so visually demanding for a few minutes each hour, says Farber. Take a walk, make a phone call, talk to someone, focus on objects at a distance, or just close your eyes. Taking a break will give your neck and shoulders, as well as your eyes, a rest, tenseness in these areas can aggravate eyestrain.

Try a saltwater soak. Perry recommends adding half a teaspoon of salt to a quart of warm water. Then, moisten cotton balls in the water, close your eyes, and place the cotton balls on your eyelids for about ten minutes.

Try a cool-water splash. For some people, splashing the face with cool water or laying a cool, damp towel across the eyes helps relieve eyestrain. If nothing else, it provides a break for overworked eyes.

Think to blink. Dry eyes can result from tasks such as continuous reading or computer use. “The eyes blink less frequently, so they’re not getting as lubricated as they should,” explains Arnold Prywes, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of ophthalmology at the Albert Einstein Medical College in New York and chief of ophthalmology at Mid-Island Hospital in Bethpage, New York. When you’re doing close work or concentrating on a computer screen for long hours, remember to blink frequently.

Know your drops. Eye drops that decrease redness are not meant to be used for eyestrain, says Farber. Besides, the drops remove the redness by constricting the blood vessels in the eyes, and repeated use will actually have a rebound effect and make the eyes redder in the long run. On the other hand, if you know you’re suffering from a case of dry eye, a drop or two of an over-the ­counter eye lubricant, commonly referred to as artificial tears, may give you relief.

Buy a plant. Increasing the humidity in your home or office can help a case of dry eyes. Using a humidifier is an obvious way to do this. But setting a pot of water on your home radiator can also increase the humidity level in your home. Potted plants in your home or office can also act as inexpensive-and attractive-humidifiers.

Clear the air. Cigarette smoke can irritate the eyes and make them sore. So give your eyes a break and put out that cigarette for good.

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Earache – Treatment Options Available for Curing Earache Fast

Earache – Treatment and Remedies for Curing Earache

Most people don’t think about their ears much, unless they’re self-conscious about their size. But when an earache develops, the affected ear can feel as if it has taken on monster proportions, making it difficult to think of anything else.

For all the unspeakable pain caused by earaches, they are rarely life threatening. Still, they can be serious, especially if they are caused by infection. Signs of an ear infection include ear pain and hearing loss. In a young child, clues that an ear infection may be present include rubbing or tugging at the ear, excessive crying or fussiness, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Since an untreated ear infection can lead to permanent hearing loss, and since ear pain can sometimes reflect a problem in another part of the body, it is important to have an earache checked out by a doctor.

Other than infection, the most common cause of earache is a blocked eustachian tube. The eustachian tube is a thin, membrane-lined tube that connects the inside back portion of the nose with the middle ear. The air in the middle ear is constantly being absorbed by its membranous lining, but the air is never depleted as long as the eustachian tube remains open and able to resupply air during the process of swallowing. In this manner, the air pressure on both sides of the eardrum stays about equal. However, when the eustachian tube is blocked for one reason or another, the pressure in the middle ear can’t be equalized. The air that is already there is absorbed and, without an incoming supply, a vacuum occurs in the middle ear, sucking the eardrum inward and stretching it painfully taut.

This type of earache is especially common in people who travel by air, especially when they have a cold or a stuffy nose. As the plane takes off, the air pressure in the plane’s cabin decreases, and as the plane lands, the air pressure in the cabin increases; in each instance, the pressure change occurs very rapidly. While normally the air in the middle ear manages to equalize on its own, if there is congestion in the upper-respiratory tract, air may not be able to flow through the eustachian tube to reach the middle ear. (This type of earache can also occur as a result of pressure changes during an elevator ride in a tall building and during scuba diving.) Fortunately, there are some tricks you can try to ward off ear pain that results from the ups and downs of air travel.

Swallow hard. “The act of swallowing activates the muscle that opens the eustachian tube,” says James Stankiewicz, M.D., professor and vice-chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Loyola University Medical School in Maywood, Illinois. When the pilot announces that it’s time to fasten your seat belts for landing, get your mouth set to swallow. Swallowing can also bring temporary relief from earache pain until you can get to the doctor.

Keep your mouth moving. You swallow more often when you chew gum or suck on hard candy, so pop some into your mouth just before the plane descends.

Don’t stifle a yawn. It’s not the company, it’s the atmospheric conditions. “Yawning is the best way to keep the eustachian tube open,” says John W House, M.D., associate clinical professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles.

Stay awake. If you’re sleeping, you’re not going to be swallowing. “Ask the flight attendant to wake you before descent,” suggests Jack J. Wazen, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology and director of otology and neurotology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. “It’s much more pleasant than being awakened by a pain in your ear.”

Hold your nose. If your ears still become uncomfortably blocked as the plane descends, the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery suggests that you try this: With your thumb and forefinger, pinch your nostrils tightly closed and block the external opening of the unaffected ear with the forefinger of your other hand. Now, with your mouth closed, try to blow through the pinched nostrils, blowing as forcefully as you would blow your nose. Repeat if necessary. You should experience a cracking sensation or a loud pop and a relief of the pain if the maneuver works. Don’t try this trick if you have a sore throat or fever, however, because the infection might be forced into your ears. And don’t attempt it if you have a heart or circulatory disorder.

Reach for relief. Frequent flyers should tuck away a decongestant pill or nasal spray to use an hour or so before landing. This shrinks the membranes, making it easier to keep the eustachian tube open. “If you suffer from allergies or sinusitis, you must be sure to take your medication at the beginning of the flight,” says Stankiewicz. Over-the-counter medications like this are not for everyone, however. People with heart disease, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, or thyroid disease should avoid them. Pregnant women and individuals who are subject to anxiety should stay away from them, as well.

Take the train. If, despite all your best efforts, you still end up with an uncomfortable stuffed feeling and pain following air travel, you might consider taking the scenic route.

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Earwax - Curing Earwax

Earwax - Information and Treatment for Earwax

Before you pick up a cotton swab or car key to wage war on the wax in your ears, you need to know which side of the battle you’re on.

Earwax is formed in the outer part of the ear canal. Normally, earwax is good for the skin in the outer ear canal. It becomes a problem only when the ear canal is almost completely blocked by wax, preventing the entry of air and sound and preventing the escape of trapped fluid. Here’s how to deal safely with earwax.

Respect its role. The skin in the ear canal has special modified sweat glands that produce earwax. This wax acts as a trap for dust and other particles that might find their way into your ear and cause injury, irritation, or infection. It also contains enzymes to help fight bacteria. In addition, it “waterproofs” the skin of the ear canal, protecting it from water damage, which would make the skin susceptible to infections such as swimmer’s ear. Earwax doesn’t need to be removed under normal circumstances-it’s there naturally as a barrier against injury and infection. Only when there is evidence of hearing loss or discomfort should it be attended to. “This is certainly an instance when the old adage holds true: ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,”’ says Daniel Kuriloff, M.D., associate director of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York. In fact, without wax, or with a diminished amount of it, the inside of your ears would become dry and,itchy.

Wipe it out. Usually, wax accumulates a little at a time, gradually dries up, and rolls out of your ear on its own, carrying all the foreign matter with it. Sometimes, however, the wax moves to the outside of the ear canal more slowly. In this case, you can simply wipe off the wax once it becomes visible. “If you look in the mirror and see little dried-up bits of yellowish matter, you should take a piece of cotton moistened with water to wash it away,” advises Jack J. Wazen, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology and director of otology and neurotology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

Use your elbow. One bit of wisdom that has been handed down through generations is: “Never clean your ears with anything smaller than your elbow.” Unfortunately, most people never think twice about cleaning their ears as often-and with the same vigor-as they wash their face. Cotton swabs are the most popular tool, but an endless list of “cleaning” utensils have been employed, including toothpicks, paper clips, and pencil tips. “The point is, don’t try to clean your ears at all. You may harm the delicate lining in the ear canal or poke a hole in your eardrum, either of which will lead to infection,” says John W. House, M.D., associate clinical professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. “Most important, you are almost certain to poke the wax deeper into your ear canal, even up against your eardrum, where it will interfere with hearing.”

Don’t rush out for softening drops. Different people form different amounts and types of earwax, and in some cases, the wax may accumulate to such an extent that it interferes with hearing. If you suspect that earwax is hindering your hearing, however, don’t use over-the-counter drops to soften the wax-at least not until you check with an ear doctor. These drops, although effective for some benign external ear conditions, are generally not recommended until the exact source of the hearing loss or ear discomfort is determined by a doctor. In fact, the drops can actually exacerbate certain ear problems, says Kuriloff Wax buildup that is causing symptoms must be removed by an ear doctor. Likewise, if your ears are tender to the touch, reddened in an area that you can see, or draining fluid, don’t use any kind of ear drops or medication before consulting an ear doctor.

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Ear Infection - Remedies for Treatment of Ear Infection

Ear Infection - Treatment Options Avalaible for Curing Ear Infection

Step into a pediatrician’s waiting room, and you’re likely to find that one of every three children under the age of three is there because he or she has an ear infection. Some one-third of all children have more than three middle-ear infections (the medical name is otitis media) during the first three years of life, resulting in 30 million doctor visits a year.

Of course, children aren’t the only ones who get ear infections. But they are, by far, the most common victims. Adults are more likely to get an infection of the outer ear, which is aptly referred to as “swimmer’s ear” because it usually gets its start when water containing bacteria or fungi seeps into the ear and gets trapped in the ear canal (see SWIMMER’S EAR).

In order to understand how middle-ear infections develop, it helps to know how healthy ears function. The outer ear is connected to an air­containing space called the middle ear. The eardrum, a thin membrane, is stretched across the entrance to the space, and three sound-conducting bones are suspended within it. The pressure within the middle-ear space is equalized with the atmosphere through a narrow tube called the eustachian tube. The eustachian tube opens into a space behind the nose where air or fluid may enter or escape. The air pressure in the middle ear is equalized more than one thousand times a day­every time you swallow-usually without your noticing it. The eustachian tube also carries fluid away from the middle ear.

When a cold or an allergy is present, the eustachian tube swells and air is absorbed by the lining of the middle ear, creating a partial vacuum. The eardrum then gets pulled inward, and fluid weeps from the lining of the middle ear. Bacteria or viruses from the nose and throat can travel up the eustachian tube and infect the stagnant, warm fluid in the middle ear, which provides a perfect environment for them to live and multiply. When this happens, an infection is underway.

Children may be more prone to middle-ear infections for a variety of reasons. For example, their eustachian tubes are shorter and straighter, which may make it easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate. Children also get colds and sore throats more often than adults.

Preventing Ear Infection

As a parent, there are some things you can do to decrease the chance that your child will develop a middle-ear infection.

Steer your child clear. “The entire process starts with a cold, allergic reaction, or infection of the tonsils or adenoids,” says James Stankiewicz, M.D., professor and vice-chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Loyola University Medical School in Maywood, Illinois. “If you can keep your child out of contact with children who have colds and other respiratory infections and make sure that allergies are under control, then there is a better chance of avoiding ear infection.” If you are in the process of choosing a day-care facility for your child, check into the center’s policy for dealing with children who are ill.

Teach proper nose-blowing technique. Once your child is old enough, teach him or her to blow his or her nose softly rather than with excessive force, so as not to drive infection into the ears. And teach your child not to stifle a sneeze by pinching the nostrils, since this, too, may force the infection up into the ears.

Don’t smoke. Here’s another reason not to smoke: Children who live with smokers seem to be more susceptible to middle-ear infections than are those who live in smoke free homes. Cigarette smoke irritates the linings of the nasal passages and middle-ear cavity, which interferes with the normal functioning of the eustachian tube. If you cannot quit, at least take your habit outside.

Be careful with bottle-feeding. Avoid giving a bottle of milk or formula to a baby who is lying on his or her back, because the milk can flow into the eustachian tube during swallowing and initiate a middle-ear infection.

Stay alert to the signs. It is essential to get your child to the doctor as soon as you suspect an ear infection, but to do that, you need to be aware of the symptoms that can signal an ear infection. An older child who has an ear infection may complain of ear pain or aching or a stuffiness in the ear. In a younger child who cannot yet describe an earache, you need to be alert to other signs that may signal an imminent ear infection. “One of the first signs is that the child pulls or rubs his or her ears frequently. This is before real pain sets in but indicates that something is amiss,” says John W House, M.D., associate clinical professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. “You may also notice that your child does not seem to hear you. Then come the real signs of infection: fever, crying and other signs of pain, nausea, and vomiting.”

Treating an Ear Infection

“It is most important that a child showing signs of ear infection be taken to a doctor immediately,” advises Daniel Kuriloff, M.D., associate director of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center and associate professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, both in New York. If a middle-ear infection is treated promptly, it is not serious. If not treated right away, your child might suffer hearing loss and, as a result, a delay in learning and speech development. Once your child has seen the doctor, however, there are some things you can do to help make your little one more comfortable.

Follow through on the doctor’s instructions. Your job doesn’t end with a visit to the doctor. You will need to be sure that your child receives the medication prescribed by the doctor. The one medication that the pediatrician will almost certainly prescribe is an antibiotic. “You must be sure that your child takes the medication for the full time prescribed-usually 10 to 14 days,” says Kuriloff. “Read the label on the prescription bottle carefully and follow directions.” The doctor may also prescribe an antihistamine and/or a decongestant if your child has a cold or allergy. If you have any questions about the proper use or administration of the medication, call your doctor or pharmacist.

Keep your child’s chin up. If your child is lying down, prop his or her head up on pillows. Elevating the head will help to keep the eustachian tubes draining into the back of the throat.

Try mild heat. Applying a heating pad set on warm-not hot-may make your child more comfortable.

Give acetaminophen. Try giving your child acetaminophen to help relieve pain and fever. Do not, however, give your child aspirin. Aspirin use in children with a viral illness has been associated with Reye’s syndrome, an often-fatal condition characterized by severe, sudden deterioration of liver and brain function.

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