FACIAL SPASM
FAECES, ABNORMAL
analgesic drugs
,
and exercising the facial
muscles may aid recovery. In some cases,
it may be necessary to tape the eyelid
shut at bedtime in order to avoid the
risk of
corneal abrasion
.
Bell's palsy may
be treated with
corticosteroid drugs
to
reduce inflammation and speed recov-
ery. Re-routing or grafting of nerve tissue
may help people with palsies as a result
of injury or a tumour.
facial spasm
An uncommon disorder
in which there is frequent twitching of
facial muscles, which are supplied by the
facial nerve
.
Facial spasm affects pre-
dominantly middle-aged women and is
of unknown cause.
factitious disorders
A group of disor-
ders in which a patient's symptoms
mimic those of a true illness but which
have been invented by, and are control-
led by, the patient. There is no apparent
cause for a factitious disorder other
than a wish for attention. The most
common disorder of this type,
Munch-
ausen's syndrome
,
is characterized by
physical symptoms. In a second form,
Ganser's syndrome
, there are psycholo-
gical symptoms. These disorders differ
from
malingering
, in which the person
claims to be ill for a particular purpose,
such as obtaining time off work.
factor V
One of the blood proteins that
maintains the balance between the
blood clotting too easily or too slowly
after an injury. About 5 per cent of the
population have an inherited
mutation
in the gene controlling factor V produc-
tion, known as factor V Leiden. They are
at increased risk of deep-vein
thrombo-
sis
(see
thrombophilia
),
particularly if
they are taking the oral contraceptive
pill or go on long aircraft journeys.
factor VIII
One of the blood proteins
involved in
blood clotting
.
People with
haemophilia
have a reduced level of
factor VIII in their blood and, conse-
quently, have a tendency to abnormal
and prolonged bleeding when injured.
factor IX
A protein in blood that plays
an important role in the clotting mecha-
nism. A deficiency of factor IX causes a
rare genetic
bleeding disorder
known as
Christmas disease
.
faecal impaction
A condition in which
a large mass of hard
faeces
cannot be
evacuated from the rectum. It is usually
associated with long-standing
constipa-
tion
.
Faecal impaction is most common
in very young children and in the elder-
ly, especially those who are bedridden.
The main symptoms are an intense
desire to pass a bowel movement; pain
in the rectum, anus, and centre of the
abdomen; and, in some cases, watery
faeces that are passed around the mass.
Treatment is with
enemas
or by manual
removal of the faecal mass.
faecalith
A small, hard piece of impac-
ted faeces that forms in a sac in the
wall of the intestine. A faecalith is
harmless unless it blocks the entrance
to the sac, causing
diverticulitis,
or to
the appendix, causing
appendicitis
.
faeces
Waste material from the diges-
tive tract that is expelled through the
anus. Solidified in the large intestine,
faeces are composed of indigestible food
residue (dietary
fibre
), dead bacteria,
dead cells from the tract lining, intesti-
nal secretions, bile (which makes faeces
brown), and water.
faeces, abnormal
Faeces that differ
from normal in colour, odour, consis-
tency, or content. Abnormal faeces may
indicate a disorder of the
digestive sys-
tem
or related organ, such as the
liver
,
but a change in the character of faeces
is most often due to a change in diet.
Diarrhoea
may be due simply to anxi-
ety or may be caused by an intestinal
infection (see
gastroenteritis
); by an in-
testinal disorder such as
ulcerative colitis
or
Crohn's disease
; or by
irritable bowel
syndrome
.
Loose stools may indicate
malabsorption
.
Constipation
is generally
harmless but, if it develops unexpected-
ly, may be caused by a large-intestine
disorder such as colon cancer.
Pale faeces may be caused by diar-
rhoea, a lack of bile in the intestine as a
result of
bile duct obstruction
, or a dis-
ease that causes malabsorption (such
as
coeliac disease
). Such faeces may be
oily, foul-smelling, and difficult to flush
away. Dark faeces may result from tak-
ing iron tablets. However, if faeces are
black, there may be bleeding in the
upper digestive tract.
Faeces containing excessive mucus are
sometimes associated with constipation
219
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