The Role Of The Brain In Addiction

Technology has its mighty hand over every field in the world now. And since the base of technology is science, so how could medical sector not undergo changes! Neuroscience has always been an area of immense complexities and curiosities. Advances in this sector has allowed doctors to dig deeper into the brain and even study minutest of changes that happen due to substance intake.

When we talk about addiction as a brain disease, the reward system of the brain plays a very important role.

Physiologically, limbic system is the brain’s reward system. Mesolimbic and mesocortical pathways (Mid-brain) have our cognitive control and functions which would be both reward related and aversion related. Reward related functions are always stronger and more motivating than aversion, hence drug abuse behavior is stronger in addicts. The reward system connects certain structures in such a way that they generate the feeling of pleasure for certain behaviors or stimulus given to the body. In day-to-day life, it is activated by healthy, life-sustaining activities like eating and socializing. But ‘Drug Abuse’ is another behavior that generates euphoria, which is enjoyed by the mind. And human nature is to repeat those actions that give us some definite satisfaction. The limbic system does more than just giving a reward response. For any behavior to be reinforced, it has to be first registered as pleasant to the mind and body. Limbic system in the brain recognizes our positive and negative emotions, which very well explains, how our body and mind get dependent on any psychoactive mood altering substance.

However, with recent developments, neurobiology has been able to study how addiction is related to the brain. Researchers and scientists studied the brain’s reaction to different substances and discovered that drug abuse actually alters the chemical makeup of the brain, which is what causes addiction and they named it as a ‘Brain Disease.’

Since the brain is placed as the epicenter of human activity, it is the initiation point of every phenomenon that occurs. Whatever we feel, experience or think, all is first registered by the brain and within lesser than nanoseconds, it commands us to act. It communicates through neurons, neurotransmitters, receptors and transporters. Yes, it is very complicated and sounds mystical too (specially to people like me who have not studied biology after high school)

How do Drugs Affect the Brain?
Psychoactive substances interrupt with the communication systems of the brain. They interfere with the way a message is transmitted and sent to its defined destination. No matter how much people say that cannabis would not be called a drug, it is a plant, but the reality remains unchanged, which is, that everything has certain chemical composition. For example, Heroin and Marijuana’s chemical structure are like copies of a natural neurotransmitter. Amphetamines mimic catecholamine neurotransmitters, causing general physiological changes which prepare the body for physical activity and fight-or-flight response. So, the moment the body is intoxicated with a drug containing amphetamines or its derivatives, it starts reacting in unnatural ways by raising blood pressure, increased alertness resulting in sleeplessness, blood glucose levels. They can easily activate neurons, giving various directions to the body to react in a different way, than would a natural neurotransmitter would! Cocaine can make a person delirious, because it releases natural neurotransmitters in bulk and blocks the natural recycling process of neurotransmitters by the brain. Amphetamine causes drug tolerance very quickly and rapidly too.

Chronic addictive drug use causes alterations in the process by which information from a gene is used to synthesize a gene product- RNA or Protein. Nigrostriatal Pathway is a dopaminergic pathway that plays an extensive and unavoidable role in addiction. It comprises of Transcription Factor, which is a protein that controls what all information has to go from the DNA to the messenger RNA. Psychoactive substances block, many of the neural and behavioral alterations that are to be taken to the RNA. Altered dopamine transmission is the first thing that comes to notice in cases of drug abuse.

These have been many studies extensively done by medical science researchers on addiction. There is a wide range of chemicals that people use to reach a euphoric state. But the gist of it all is, that they play with the normal functioning of brain by altering the natural chemicals that ought to be there.

How Does the Reward System Work?
Whenever a person happens to do something that takes him to a different state of mind for a while, like reaching the oomph point in a sexually pleasurable activity, treating the taste buds with a new and a very different flavor or winning an excessive amount of money or any other valuable resource that he could use to be really rich, the brain takes it all in the same way. It activates the same gland and releases the same chemical Dopamine, which functions as a neurotransmitter, in all scenarios that seem to be pleasurable or exciting. Similarly, whenever the body receives an antibody that becomes too exciting for it like any drug, chemical or alcohol, the body releases certain amount of dopamine or cuts down its level. It is a problematic scenario is there is too much or too little of dopamine released by the brain. Drugs are addictive because they release up-to 10 times more dopamine than a natural neurotransmitter can! But when the body gets tolerant to the same drug and its amount, it can even cut down its normal release of dopamine!

Cosmetic Surgery is Now a Thriving Sector

Cosmetic Surgery is not a New Term

Cosmetic surgery needs no introduction in today’s world where more of us are becoming more conscious to look beautiful. Indeed, you cannot say it is only the celebrities who want to look beautiful to stay in the glamour business. Common people like you and me also want to look equally attractive like a top heroine.

Defining This Type of Surgery

It is basically reconstructing a defective part of your body. For example, you have a flat thick nose. You are not happy with it and want a symmetrical nose. So, through cosmetic surgery you can enhance your nose to make it look right. Also, through this type of surgery, the surgeons will reshape your nose in such a way it perfectly balances with the face. Again, there are many people who have a nose that obstructs airway. A cosmetic surgeon can easily correct obstructed airway for proper breathing.

Worldwide Boom of Cosmetic Surgery

You cannot trace the time since people from all across the globe started looking for experienced surgeons to do different types of plastic surgery. There are a good number of hospitals and private health clinics that have experienced surgeons and state of the art facilities to give the best possible attention and care to patients trying to look attractive and younger. It is not only the celebrities who are spending large amount of money to enhance their looks or correct a birthmark. There are teenagers, executives and even housewives who are flocking at this health centers in large numbers to know more about cosmetic surgery, how much it cost and the result post-surgery. This type of surgical procedure is minimally invasive. The centers have some exceptionally talented cosmetic surgeons with years of experience. The surgeons do their best to make people look beautiful and enhance their look and confidence through minimally invasive procedures.

Low Fees and Surgery Costs

These days many health clinics perform cosmetic surgeries at a low-cost. In minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopy, the surgeon makes a small hole in the abdomen. It is also less painful and the patient heals quickly.

Types of Cosmetic Surgery

Nose reshaping: People with a flat nose, protruding nostrils, nose with narrow air passage go for this type of surgery. Also known as rhinoplasty, it helps to correct the nose shape as well as clear the airway to make breathing a hassle-free task.

Facial surgery: The doctors boost the aesthetic aspects of your face, mouth, teeth and jaws through skin, muscle, bones and cartilage grafting.

Arm lifting: Brachioplasty is a surgical procedure to correct your upper arms. Many people have excess fat on their upper arms and they are unhappy with it. They can go to a cosmetic surgeon to remove the excess fat and skin from their underarms.

Breast enlargement and reduction: If you have a small breast, you can enlarge it through minimally invasive surgical procedure. Again, if someone has large breasts they can cut the same through cosmetic surgery to boost their look and confidence.

Eyelid surgery: Surgeons removes fat and excess skin from the upper eyelids to improve eyesight.

Liposuction: In spite of dieting and regular exercise, the excess fat in your body does not burn. Liposuction helps to remove fat deposits.

Tummy Tucking: Doctors make small incisions in the abdomen to remove excess skin and fat. Muscles are then tightened to give a younger look.

Glomerulonephritis: How to Diagnose and Prevent It at Various Levels

Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidney. The glomeruli is constellation of small blood vessels in the kidney that act as a filter to remove excess fluid, electrolytes and nitrogenous wastes from the blood into the urine.

It is divided into:

Acute Glomerulonephritis- The symptoms develop suddenly.

Chronic Glomerulonephritis- The symptoms develop gradually.

In glomerulonephritis, the glomeruli lose their filtering capacity thus blood proteins and red cells are excreted in the urine in various quantities depending on the severity of the glomerular damage.

DIAGNOSIS OF GLOMERULONEPHRITIS
Accurate diagnosis is essential in the successful treatment of glomerulonephritis.

Diagnosis is highly dependent on the clarity of symptoms, examination and investigation findings.

SYMPTOMS
· Passage of coca-colored urine due to the presence of red blood cells in the urine. This is called haematuria.

· Passage of foamy urine due to excess amount of proteins in the urine. This is called proteinuria.

· Presence of peri-orbital and ankle swelling.

EXAMINATION FINDINGS
· Peri-orbital and pedal edema.

· Elevated blood pressure.

INVESTIGATIONS
· Urinalysis-This reveals diagnostic findings such as red blood cells, casts, white blood cells and proteins in the urine.

· Blood test- Blood level of electrolytes, urea and creatinine. This is mainly done to assess the extent of kidney damage.

· Radiological imaging tests-This is done usually when the blood tests suggest some level of kidney damage. E.g Renal scan or abdominal CT scan is done.

· Kidney biopsy- This entails using a clinical procedure to extract some pieces of kidney tissues for microscopic examination. This is the only test that confirms glomerulonephritis.

TREATMENT
This is based on the following principles:

· Treat underlying health conditions quickly.

· Use of corticosteroids to reduce the degree of inflammation and immunological responses.

· Dialysis- This is used for individuals with acute kidney injury or kidney failure.

· Anti-hypertensives such as ACEI, ARBs- This is used to control hypertension in some selected individuals.

PREVENTION STRATEGIES
There are 3 levels of prevention namely: primary, secondary and tertiary.

PRIMARY PREVENTION
The aim of this is to prevent the onset of glomerulonephritis.

It entails the following

· Throat swab should be done for suspected bacteria cause of sore throat. If streptococcus is suspected, oral penicillin should be commenced as soon as possible.

· Prompt treatment of individuals with bacteria endocarditis.

SECONDARY PREVENTION
This involves early diagnosis and prompt treatment of glomerulonephritis.

It specifically entails the following:

· Routine urinalysis to be done periodically for individuals at risk of streptococci infections and for individuals greater than 40 years.

· Periodic monitoring of blood urea and creatinine levels should be done for individuals with compromised kidney function.

TERTIARY PREVENTION
This involves activities and interventions put in place for individuals with glomerulonephritis from developing complications such as kidney failure and to reduce the disease progression.

· Optimal control of co-morbidities like hypertension and diabetes mellitus.

· Reduce intake of high protein diet.

· Restrict salt intake.

· Cessation of smoking.

· Regular clinic follow up by a Nephrologist.

Finally, glomerulonephritis is a very lethal kidney disease of which the onset and progression can be prevented if an individual adheres to the activities in the various levels of prevention highlighted above.