I
FEATURES OF
ANOREXIA NERVOSA
• Weight loss
Overactivity and obsessive exercising
Tiredness and weakness
Lanugo (babylike) hair on body,
thinning of hair on head
Extreme choosiness over food
Binge eating
Induced vomiting
Use of laxatives to promote weight loss
anorexia nervosa
An eating disorder that is characterized
by severe weight loss and altered self-
image that leads sufferers to believe that
they are fat even when they are, in fact,
dangerously underweight.
CAUSES AND INCIDENCE
The causes of anorexia are unclear, but
the condition may be linked to a lack
of self-worth that leads to excessive
concern over physical appearance. Suf-
ferers may feel that they can have some
control over their lives by controlling
their eating. Normal dieting may deve-
lop into starvation.
Anorexia nervosa most commonly
affects teenage girls and young women,
but the incidence in young men is rising.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
In the early stages, sufferers may be
overactive and may exercise excessively.
They are obsessed with food, and often
make complicated meals for others, but
are reluctant to eat socially and avoid
eating the meals themselves. As their
weight loss continues, they become
tired and weak, the skin becomes dry,
lanugo hair (fine, downy hair) grows
on the body, and normal hair becomes
thinner. Starvation leads to
amenorrhoea
(the absence of menstrual periods) in
many women.
Some sufferers of anorexia nervosa
have food binges and then make them-
selves vomit, or take
laxative drugs
or
diuretic drugs,
to promote weight loss
(see
bulimia
). Chemical imbalances as a
result of starvation, with or without
vomiting, can cause potentially fatal car-
diac
arrhythmias
.
ANTENATAL CARE
TREATMENT AND OUTLOOK
Hospital treatment is often necessary
and is usually based on a closely con-
trolled feeding programme combined
with
psychotherapy
or
family therapy.
For
some people,
antidepressant drugs
may
be helpful. Many sufferers relapse after
treatment, and long-term psychother-
apy is required.
anorgasmia
Inability to achieve orgasm (see
orgasm
,
lack of).
anosmia
Loss of the sense of
smell
.
anovulatory menstruation
The occurrence of a menstrual cycle
during which there is no
ovulation
(release of an egg from the ovary). Ano-
vulatory menstruation is often the result
of reduced production of the hormone
oestrogen
and occurs most commonly at
the beginning and the end of reproduc-
tive life, in which case it is normal.
However, anovulatory menstruation may
also be a sign of a hormonal abnorm-
ality (See also
fertility; menstruation.)
anoxia
The total absence of oxygen within a
body tissue such as the brain or a mus-
cle. Anoxia causes disruption of cell
metabolism
(chemical
activity)
and
results in cell death unless it is corrected
within a few minutes.
Anoxia is rare, occurring during car-
diopulmonary arrest or asphyxiation. It
will cause permanent organ damage or
even death if not corrected.
Hypoxia
(the
reduction of oxygen supply to a tissue)
is a more common problem.
Antabuse
A brand name for
disulfiram,
a drug
used to treat
alcohol dependence.
Anta-
buse is a powerful deterrent, which, if
taken with even a small amount of alco-
hol, produces extremely unpleasant side
effects such as nausea, headache, dizzi-
ness, and
palpitations
.
antacid drugs
COMMON DRUGS
• Aluminium hydroxide •Calcium carbonate
• Hydrotalcite •Magnesium hydroxide
• Sodium bicarbonate
Drugs that are taken to relieve the
symptoms of
indigestion, heartburn, acid
reflux
(the
regurgitation
of stomach
acids into the oesophagus),
oesophagitis
(inflammation of the oesophagus), and
peptic ulcer
.
HOW THEY WORK
Antacids usually contain compounds of
magnesium
or
aluminium,
which neutra-
lize stomach acid. Some also contain
alginates, which protect the oesophagus
by reducing
acid reflux,
or dimeticone,
an antifoaming agent, which helps to
relieve flatulence.
SIDE EFFECTS
Aluminium
may
cause
constipation,
and magnesium may cause diarrhoea.
These effects can be avoided, however,
if a preparation contains both ingredi-
ents.
Antacids
interfere
with
the
absorption of many drugs and should
therefore not be taken at the same time
as other medications.
WARNING
Antacids should not be taken regularly
except
under
medical
supervision
because they may suppress the symp-
toms of a more serious disorder or
provoke serious complications.
antagonist
Having an opposing effect. For exam-
ple, antagonist drugs counteract the
effects of naturally occurring chemicals
in the body. (See also
agonist.)
antenatal care
The care of a pregnant woman and her
unborn baby throughout pregnancy to
ensure that both are healthy at delivery.
Antenatal care involves regular visits to
a doctor or midwife, who performs
blood and urine tests and abdominal
examinations and also monitors blood
pressure and fetal growth in order to
detect disease or potential problems
(see the antenatal screening procedures
chart, overleaf).
High-risk pregnancies, in which, for
example, the woman suffers from
hyper-
tension
(high
blood
pressure)
or
diabetes (see
diabetic pregnancy),
require
more frequent antenatal visits. In some
cases, the woman may be admitted to
hospital for closer observation.
Ultrasound scanning
is carried out to
identify any abnormalities in the fetus.
Amniocentesis
or
chorionic villus sampling
may
be
performed
if the
fetus
is
thought to be at increased risk of a
chro-
mosomal abnormality
or a
genetic disorder
.
Electronic fetal monitoring may be car-
ried out, in order to check the fetal
heartbeat, in pregnancies that are high-
risk or overdue.
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