Nail Fungus

Fungal infection of the nails, also known as onychomycosis, is a common problem affecting over 35 million Americans. It is more than a cosmetic problem because it can be painful and interferes with daily activities such as walking, playing sports, writing, typing, and other activities that require handling small objects or repetitive finger use. Issues such as embarrassment, professional disability, and social withdrawal have a negative effect on the quality of life of people who are suffering from this disease.

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Causes and Risk Factors

Nail fungus is caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. These microscopic organisms eat away the Keratin, which is the major protein in the nails. This causes the nails to produce excess Keratin to replace the protein that has been eroded by the fungus. Eventually, the nails become thicker, brittle, and deformed. Yeasts and molds are other types of fungi that may also cause nail fungus.

Fungus typically thrives in warm, dark, and moist conditions. Therefore, nails that remain moist for long periods of time are most likely to develop fungi infections. Excessive sweating, constant contact with water, wearing moist socks and shoes, frequent use of community swimming pools and showers, and working in wet conditions are potential causes of developing fungal nail infections. Since toenails are more exposed to humid conditions, they are more likely to develop fungal infection than the fingernails.

This infection is usually observed in adults over the age of 60 years old, but in rare cases children also develop fungal nail infections. More men than women suffer from fungal infections of the fingernails and, conversely, more women than men suffer from fungal infections of the toenails. Additional risk factors for contracting and spreading nail fungus are nail injury, poor blood circulation, using unsterilized nail grooming products, and low resistance power.

Most children would prefer to consume French fries instead of celery sticks and the children-centric marketing of processed food and the abundance of unhealthy products in our supermarkets have done nothing to avert this trend.
It may appear that overeating and obesity are only problems faced by people who are living in developed countries, but that is not entirely true. Ironically, poverty is also one of the causes of obesity. Junk food or food with zero or little nutritional value is cheaper and more easily available than healthy food. Individuals who live below the poverty line, who must provide food for many others, or who cannot afford to spend money on healthy food ultimately consume a lot of these "filler" foods that contain empty calories.

Obesity may also be hereditary. Some scientists believe that individuals can be born with "overweight" genes. As previously said, poor living habits such as overeating and lack of exercise only intensifies this problem. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal, but some women retain a lot of excess weight even post-delivery. Anyone who does not adequately care for his or her body and who abuses it by overeating, eating unhealthy foods, and lacking physical activity is at risk of being obese. Overweight and obesity lead to serious health consequences such as cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke), diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis, and even cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).

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