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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Immunity-Boosting Foods

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Image is from Fitness World

When it comes to your immune system, getting proper nutrition cannot be underestimated. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals you receive through your food are what keeps your body strong enough to fight off infection. It is important to make the following foods a part of your diet to ensure a good defense against colds and flu.

Beef

Beef will boost your immune system, because:

  • It is a good source of zinc, and zinc aids in the development of white blood cells.
  • These white blood cells improve both immune function and response.
  • It’s protein supports the building of antibodies to fight off infection.

Oily Fish

These types of fish include salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these fish:

  • Help reduce harmful inflammation in the body.
  • Control chronic inflammation that can keep your immune system from working properly.
  • Can prevent cold, flu, and more serious diseases.

They also contain Vitamin D, and as daylight hours decrease during the colder months of the year, your Vitamin D stores are depleted. Vitamin D:

  • Is critical to fighting off colds and flu.
  • Reduces the frequency and duration of colds and flu.

Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard, all contain significant amounts of Vitamin C which:

  • If consistently taken, they will shorten the duration of a cold or possibly prevent it altogether.
  • If cooked, they will shrink in size so you can consume more of them.
  • Increases white blood cell production.

Carrots and Sweet Potatoes

These vegetables are rich in beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A that:

  • Keeps the mucus membranes that line your nose, throat, and gastrointestinal tract, along with your skin, healthy.
  • By keeping these membranes healthy, it builds your first line of defense against colds and flu.

Chicken Soup

You really should eat chicken soup when you’re sick, and when you’re not. It combines many elements that boost your immune system. Hot chicken soup:

  • Raises the temperature in your airways, which loosens mucus secretions.
  • Releases cysteine, an amino acid that resembles a drug used to treat bronchitis.
  • Contains a high concentration of vegetables and protein that provide many different vitamins.

Garlic

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, garlic contains allicin, which has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Garlic has been shown to:

  • Cause you to experience fewer and less severe colds.
  • Promote balanced gut flora, which rids the body of viruses, bacteria, and toxins.
  • Contain the most antioxidants when eaten raw.

Yogurt

Yogurt contains microorganisms, or “good bacteria”, that keeps you healthy. It:

  • Is a probiotic food that replenishes this good bacteria.
  • Promotes digestive health.
  • Helps prevent stomach ailments.
  • Lowers the risk of upper respiratory infections.

Tea

While a hot cup of tea can soothe a sore throat and break up chest congestion, it also provides other benefits. All tea, green, black, or white contains catechins, which:

  • Are a group of antioxidants that contain flu-fighting properties.
  • Protect you from cancer and heart disease.
  • Increase your metabolism.
  • Boost your overall immunity.

Dark Chocolate

The nutritional benefits of cocoa are often overlooked, because many chocolate treats contain sugar and saturated fat. However, chocolate:

  • Contains polyphenols that are disease-fighting antioxidants.
  • Also contains a high concentration of zinc.
  • Can be consumed daily if you stick to 1/4 ounce servings.

The following foods are also recommended:

  • Oysters
  • Anise Seeds
  • Citrus
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Skinned Turkey Breast
  • Blueberries
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Oats

With this abundant selection of immunity-boosting foods, we can enjoy better health during cold and flu season and all year around.

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Myths About Flu Shots

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There are many myths surrounding the flu vaccine that may prevent people from getting their annual flu shot. This can have dire consequences for at-risk populations such as seniors, infants, and the immuno-compromised. At best, the flu is no fun. At worst, it can be deadly. Why then do people skip or avoid a flu shot?

Help protect these vulnerable populations by increasing your knowledge of the of how the flu vaccine works and what the risks are of taking and avoiding the annual vaccine by separating fact from fiction.

Here are some of the most common myths about flu shots.

MYTH: The flu shot doesn’t work.

The CDC cites statistics showing a 74% reduction in pediatric intensive care admissions by vaccinating against the flu from 2010-2012. A 2016 study on seniors showed a 57% reduction in influenza hospitalizations. Studies also show significant reductions in severe influenza illness in people with diabetes (79%) and chronic lung disease(52%).

The benefits go beyond these at-risk populations, with a myriad of studies showing significant reductions in flu-related illness based on vaccinating yearly against the flu.

MYTH: I got sick anyway.

If you’ve ever heard someone say they got a flu vaccine, yet still got the flu–they might be right. That doesn’t mean the flu vaccine didn’t work though. Flu vaccines are based on the previous year’s most common and virulent strains of influenza. With so many influenza strains, not every option will be protected against, especially as viruses mutate and new strains arise.

While it can’t catch every flu out there, the flu vaccine will help protect you from the worst known cases.

MYTH: The flu shot gives you the flu.

The flu shot gives you inactivated viruses. This form of virus cannot be spread (another common myth). This virus form also will not give you an active flu infection. The shot does, however, stimulate your immune response (which is a good thing). Many people will experience a mild reaction from this.

If you get a severe cold right after getting the flu shot, you’re timeline just doesn’t match up. As the flu vaccine takes a week or two to provide full protection, it isn’t responsible for your cold. Chances are, you were already getting sick and didn’t know it. The flu vaccine also does not protect against influenza, not other viruses such as rhinoviruses.

MYTH: The flu isn’t that bad.

Actual influenza is more than just a bad cold, although it may produce similar symptoms including sore throat, cough, and fever. In the United States alone 36,000 people die every year and over 200,000 are hospitalized from the flu annually.

MYTH: If I get sick, I can just get antibiotics.

Antibiotics work great for bacterial infections, unfortunately the flu isn’t an infection – it’s a virus. If you do catch the flu, there are treatments– but no one-size cure all.

MYTH: Vaccines cause autism.

There’s no need to go into detail here. Vaccines do not cause autism. According to the CDC, vaccines and vaccine ingredients do not cause autism.

MYTH: It’s too late in the season to get vaccinated.

Is it too late to get sick? Then it’s not too late to get vaccinated. While getting vaccinated at the beginning of the season provides you the best option to build immunity early, getting vaccinated at any time throughout flu season will still provide protection should you come in contact with the influenza virus.

For more information on flu shots, talk to your local health practitioner.

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The Flu is Always Just, “The Flu”

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Image is from BBC.com

If someone told you your risk of flu infection depends on when or where you are born, your first thought might be that of, “What a ridiculous statement.”

You may wonder what that person is thinking. The flu is the flu every year, no matter what name medicine decides to put into it the next year. This is a myth, because there are differing types of strains of flu evolving throughout the years.

High Risk Medical Conditions

Remember, the flu is a respiratory virus (not bacteria.) Because the flu is a respiratory illness, it naturally attacks the lungs.

If the lungs are not fully developed or you present a chronic respiratory health problem as listed below, your lungs are already in a weakened state.

The flu virus attacks your body, specifically your lungs and they are not up for the fight. You are at a higher risk for developing a secondary infection like pneumonia or bronchitis.

Born Where, Before or After 1968

Researchers discovered that your risk of flu infection is lower if you were born before 1968. You were less susceptible to the flu than those born after 1968 and the strains presented at that time.

Two flu strains are more prevalent in Asia, and the Middle East called the H5N1 and H7N9 or Bird Flu. The research found that if you contracted this strain as a child; you are now immune from any virus from animals such as the Bird Flu in future years.

The year 1968, seemed to be the dividing line for flu virus samplings. For example, the Hong Kong flu was replaced by other influenza viruses from different groups of viruses in the years preceding 1968.

The H7N9 virus strain affects the senior populace more readily. This flu strain is similar to the Hong Kong Flu. Those born before 1968 were never exposed to this virus as children.

Seniors were exposed to flu strains before the new flu strains after 1968 started appearing. The difficulty in coming to grips with this research is, if you were exposed to your first flu infection as a child this would determine which strains you would be immune to as you age.

Coming in contact with either one of the two types of Bird Flu when you were a child protects you in the future.

Three High Risk Individuals

There a couple of groups of people who present a higher risk for contracting the flu than other individuals. These individuals are age sensitive to being high risk for contracting the influenza virus.

  • Infants and younger children
  • The senior populace
  • Those people who have a depress immunity

Infants and young children do not have a fully developed immunity. Thus, infants and young children are in a high risk group for contracting flu signs and symptoms and secondary infections stemming from the flu.

The senior populace, depending upon any chronic health conditions, may or may not be at high risk of the flu infection, in addition to being born before 1968 when some of the viral strains were non existent.

  • Diabetes
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Cancer
  • Circulatory Deficits
  • Nutritional Deficits due to not eating balanced meals
  • COPD
  • Asthma

Medical Conditions Impact Flu Risks

People who have a depressed immunity creates in their body a more difficult time fighting off secondary infections stemming from the flu, such as, but not limited to,

  • Aids
  • HIV
  • Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Asthma
  • Congestive Pulmonary Obstructive Disease or COPD

Where you were born and when you were born determines your risk level for Influenza.

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What is Salmonella?

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Image is from USDA Blog

Every year one million people fall victim to the debilitating effects of salmonella. An invasive food-borne illness this rod-shaped bacterium causes an estimated 380 casualties annually. Identifying the source of salmonella plays a key role in stopping a potentially dangerous epidemic from spreading to your loved ones or yourself. Know your enemy, know your defense. Here are a few important ways you can help prevent salmonella from affecting your day-to-day:

Understand the Threat:

Salmonellosis, the gastrointestinal infection resulting from exposure to salmonella is consistently reappearing each year. With over 2,300 strains of bacteria under the proverbial umbrella of salmonella, frequent reports of contamination are commonplace. Enteritidis and Typhimurium are two of the more popular serotypes (strains) that are known to attack residents of the United States. The intestinal tracts of humans and various types of animals are the starting place for salmonella-producing bacteria growth.

One of the more recent outbreaks, occurring in 2016, was linked to the handling of live poultry. Humans in contact with chicks, chickens, ducks and ducklings at multiple hatcheries pointed to the spread of salmonella to close to 900 people. Other outbreaks of the illness came from contaminated cucumbers, various types of butters, peanuts, ground turkey, tuna and eggs in previous years. By adhering to a few simple prevention procedures such outbreaks could have been avoided.

Prevent to Circumvent:

Young children, the elderly, those pregnant or people who have weak immune systems are the most vulnerable to salmonellosis. In these instances the effects of the illness could be life-threatening. Cut off the circulation of salmonella by avoiding the hazards and applying tried-and-true preventative tactics.

Here is a list of the various ways invasive salmonella can find its way into your world:

  1. Improper food handling and storage procedures are notorious culprits in the spread of salmonella.
  2. Unwashed hands can transmit human or animal feces that are tainted with salmonella to food or other hands.
  3. Reptiles can carry salmonella on their skin. Holding a reptile then preparing food or touching others is a recipe for salmonella contamination. Young birds often have salmonella in their intestinal tract. Handling live poultry then coming in contact with others also encourages harmful bacteria transfer.
  4. Raw foods, such as meat or eggs and unpasteurized dairy products are spawning grounds for bacteria production. Unwashed produce is also a known salmonella carrier.

Be aware of the many possibilities for contamination. If you know what to watch for, your awareness could stop painful infections. Washing your hands thoroughly, and employing preventative food handling procedures stops salmonella from spreading. If you have or someone you know has been infected, avoiding contact with others is the best way to ensure that the illness doesn’t continue down its destructive path. Recognize the symptoms to know the next step to take towards future prevention.

Recognize the Symptoms

If you are suffering from one or more of the symptoms below, make a mental note of what you (or a family member) did in the previous hours or days before the illness. It may help doctors diagnose your malady more efficiently. Salmonellosis usually appears 12 to 72 hours after contamination has occurred. Typically the infection runs its course in 4 to 7 days. Depending on the severity, or other risk factors involved, a physician visit may be necessary.

Below are some symptoms that are synonymous with salmonellosis:

  • abdominal cramping
  • headache
  • fever
  • acute watery diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

The importance of washing hands and food cannot be stressed enough. Sometimes the obvious solution is the best one. Wash away harmful bacteria and acquire invaluable peace of mind.

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Can Wildfire Smoke Affect Your Health?

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Image is from MyFOX8.xom

It seems as though there is always a story on the news about a wildfire breaking out and how difficult they are to contain. Most people think of wildfires and they think about the damage and destruction they can do to homes, vehicles, and personal belongings. What most people don’t consider is the damage the wildfire can do to their health.

How Can Smoke Affect Your Health?

The smoke that is created from a wildfire is a mixture of fine particles and gasses from the burning trees and plant materials. These particles and gasses can result in:

  • Burning eyes
  • An irritated respiratory system
  • Hacking cough
  • Worsens heart disease
  • Worsens lung disease

Who Can Be the Most Effected By the Smoke From Wildfires?

The smoke from a wildfire can affect anyone, however, there are certain people who are at greater risk of having complications.

  • People who have heart or lung problems: If you have any type of heart disease, asthma, or another type of lung disease, you are at greater risk of developing complications from the smoke from a wildfire than a healthy person would be.
  • The elderly: The elderly are at greater risk of developing complications due to wildfire smoke. The reason is that an elderly person has a weaker heart and weaker lungs than a younger person. Also, many elderly people already have lung and heart complications.
  • Children: Children are in danger when it comes to wildfire smoke. A child’s airway is still developing, therefore, they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Also, children spend a great deal of their time outdoors playing.

How to Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke

If you want to protect your family and your family from wildfire smoke complications, there are a few steps that you should take.

  • Pay attention to air quality reports: If the air outdoors is dangerous due to wildfire smoke, it will be mentioned on the news. If the news or health reports say that the air quality is poor, you should try to stay indoors.
  • Keep your windows closed: If the air quality outside is poor, you want to keep the air quality inside clean. To do this, keep the windows closed. If you need to run your air conditioner, you should close the intake for fresh air. Also, keep the filter clean to keep the smoke from outside from getting in.
  • Avoid any activities that will increase pollution: When the air quality outdoors is bad, you should avoid burning candles, using your fireplace, and using your gas stove. You should also avoid vacuuming. It can stir up particles in the air, which can make the indoor pollution worse.
  • Don’t rely on dust masks for protection: You should not put on a dust mask and expect it to protect you from the wildfire smoke. These masks are designed to trap large particles, like sawdust. They are not made to collect the small particles that are created by wildfires.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice: If you are having trouble breathing during the fire, you should contact your doctor. You should follow the instructions that the doctor gives you and take the medication as prescribed.
  • Consider evacuating: If you are having difficulty breathing both indoors and outdoors, you should consider evacuating until the firefighters have everything under control. Evacuating could be the healthiest thing for you.

In a perfect world, wildfires wouldn’t put us at risk. Since we don’t live in a perfect world it is important to know who is at risk and what you can do to protect yourself and your family during a wildfire.

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Understanding Mental Illnesses

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Image is from CDC

Guide to Mental Illness

Mental health refers to our psychological, social and emotional health. Mental health affects the way one thinks, feels and behaves. It is normal for our emotional well-being to change due to positive or negative life events. Positive events, such as winning the lottery may cause happiness or feelings of joy. Negative things, like losing a loved one, may trigger feelings of sadness or anxiety. These changes are usually temporary.

Mental illness, on the other hand, involves persistent changes in emotions, thoughts and behavior. Mental illness is more than just a temporary change in emotional well-being. Mental illnesses affect a person’s ability to cope with day-to-day life and to relate to others. People that suffer from mental illness often have difficulty in their employment, school, social relationships and other important areas of life.

What Causes Mental Illness?

The cause of mental illness varies. There are more than 200 different mental illness and they each have different causes, symptoms and prognoses. Research suggests that, in most cases, mental illness is brought on by varying factors, including environmental stressors, genetics, brain structure and lifestyle choices. Traumatic events, such as being the victim of a crime, makes one more susceptible to mental illness, but not everyone who is the victim of a violent crime will go on to develop mental health problems. It is likely these stressors, combined with other factors, that makes one more susceptible.

How Common Is Mental Illness?

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, one out of every five adults experiences a mental health problem each year. Serious or chronic mental illness, such as bipolar or schizophrenia, affects one out of every 17 persons. Most serious mental health problems began by the teen or early adult years.

What Are the Different Types of Mental Health Conditions?

Depression

Depression occurs when someone experiences feelings of sadness or irritation for periods longer than a couple of weeks. Depression is more than just feeling sad. Everyone has normal sadness from time to time. Depression interferes with one’s ability to go to school or work. Here are some of the common symptoms of depression:

  • Depressed or sad mood
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble concentrating

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder causes dramatics shifts in a person’s mood, from feeling overly high to extremely sad or irritated. It interfere’s with one’s ability to think clearly. Common symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Distinct periods of depressed mood
  • Mania symptoms, such as excessive happiness, excitement, pressured speech

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is normal, but when the worry becomes difficult to control, it may be an anxiety disorder. Here are some of the most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder:

  • Persistent worry
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Racing heart
  • Frequent physical symptoms like stomach pain

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder. Often people with schizophrenia lose touch with reality. They may hear and see things that are not really there or believe that others are out to harm them. Other symptoms include disordered behavior and thoughts.

Borderline Personality Disorder

This serious mental disorder causes mood swings, instability in relationships, impulsivity and poor self-image. A person with borderline personality disorder may have periods of severe anger or depression lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. They often engage in self-harming behaviors.

Is Recovery Possible?

It is possible to recover from mental illness and enjoy meaningful work, relationships and other things in life. The important thing when it comes to recovery is to get help as soon as you notice the symptoms and to stay involved in your treatment.

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Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

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Image is from Diabetes Research

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder which is characterized by, among other symptoms, a high concentration of sugar in the blood. With the myriad of disorders, the beta cells located in the pancreas find it hard to produce enough insulin to assist in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Diabetes occurs in two types, type 1 and type 2. Type one is caused by an autoimmune reaction that usually occurs in the pancreas while insulin resistance characterizes type 2. Type 2 can develop and result in the loss of beta cells. Both types of diabetes are chronic and incurable. However, they are treatable with insulin injections and dietary adjustments.

Diabetes is often seen in those who are over 30 years of age. The number of people who are diagnosed with these conditions keeps rising each day. This is attributed to the unhealthy lifestyles and dietary decisions that they take up. It is imperative to have some information on these conditions as it will be easy then to help the patients lead a better life. To get to know about these two closely related diseases, you must learn the difference between the two. Usually, people tend to confuse the two types of diabetes. However, they have different causes, and as such, different treatments. Taking medication for one type if you have the other, can be detrimental to your health and even lead to death in some instances.

Test for insulin levels

To begin with, you must discern the difference between the two types of diabetes. First, the level of the c-peptide of type 1 diabetes is very low while I type 2, the same is either normal or elevated. The level of c-peptides is a determinant of insulin levels in the blood. It is a more reliable way than just measuring the level of insulin itself.

Let’s look at the functional difference between diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2

Type 1 diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, insulin is no longer produced by the pancreas since the beta cells have been destroyed through the process of autoimmune response. This is, essentially, to say the person’s body has rebelled against them and, particularly their pancreas, leading to the destruction of something that is desperately needed by the body. Without insulin, it ‘s hard for your cells to absorb the sugar into the bloodstream. This basically means the cells will be starved. If your body lacks insulin, your cells will no longer function properly, or worse, stop working at all. The people with diabetes in this category need to get regular insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes

People with Type 2 diabetes have almost similar effects as type 1s although the type 2 patient gets the effect for a different reason. Here, the individual’s body is still producing. However, the insulin may not be absorbed properly. At other times, the absorbed insulin may not be sufficient for the amount of sugar present in the blood. Unlike with type 1, the patient in this type of diabetes may not even need insulin at all. Here, the primary factor that causes it is lifestyle choices including the kind of food you take. A significant percentage of people with type 2 are overweight though are factors have a hand too. The person often takes food high in calories and lives a sedentary lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes can, in many cases, be readily managed.

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Understanding Diabetes Awareness Month

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Image is from CEAP

If you are fighting diabetes, no one knows your fight better than another person who is fighting the same battle. If a person is not battling the war on diabetes, more than likely they do not give this illness a second thought.

Is it possible you do not know what an insidious illness diabetes really is to those fighting this illness? During National Diabetes Awareness Month it gives individuals time to reflect, considering their own risks?

Are you even aware of National Diabetes Awareness Month?

Did you know that diabetes affects people in any age group, children, and adults?

Were you aware of the impact diabetes has on your vital organs?

  • Heart Attack
  • Kidney Disease
  • Vision Loss
  • Amputation of an extremity
  • Stroke

Do you know what health care options are available for you if you have diabetes?

Do you know the warning signs of diabetes if you or a loved one gets this disease?

Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have of this disease it helps you protect yourself and your family.

Do you know what your risk factors are for contacting this disease?

  • Heredity from a family member
  • Unhealthy eating patterns
  • No exercise
  • Overweight

Did you know that diabetes cases are spiraling out of control throughout the world?

National Diabetes Awareness Month gives you knowledge, and this knowledge gives you the power to fight diabetes, monitor its warning signs, and affords you ways to protect yourself and loved ones.

Diabetes Awareness Month was born in the late 1970’s, proclaimed by the president and Congress as a special day and month to help make everyone aware of diabetes. Now this day is celebrated all over the world on November 14th.

Were it not for the tireless efforts of a Dr. Frederick Banting, your fight with diabetes would be terminal. Dr. Banting discovered insulin, so if you have diabetes, you can control your blood sugar levels, preventing damage to your vital organs.

Twenty years later in the early 1990’s The Diabetes Foundation proclaimed, “World Diabetes Day,” for the sole purpose of informing people. Many special events are set aside in the month of November, such as but not limited to,

  • Public Diabetic Screening
  • Special Educational Materials and Events

When you see a blue and gray ribbon with a drop of blood or a small heart, this is the symbol for diabetes. The blue circle stands for vitality, health, and life.

If you have diabetes, you need to educate and re-educate yourself so you can help yourself and others regarding living with diabetes, maintaining diabetes, and discovering healthy options for diabetes.

Keep in mind that fighting diabetes lasts a lifetime. Diabetes involves making a lifestyle change in the way of regular screenings, proper diet, exercise, education, and a close relationship with your doctor.

National Diabetes Awareness Month wants to make sure you can sort out all the myths concerning diabetes such as,

  • Never let anyone tell you that diabetes is not a serious disease.
  • If you are overweight, you will develop diabetes.
  • If you eat too much sugar, you will develop diabetes?
  • If you have diabetes, you need to eat diabetic foods.
  • Starchy foods do not cause diabetes.
  • If you have diabetes, you cannot eat sweets or chocolate.
  • People with diabetes become sick more often.
  • Diabetes is catchy.
  • If you have diabetes and suddenly need to start insulin, it means you are not taking care of your diabetes.
  • Since fruit is good for you, you should eat as much fruit as you want if you have diabetes.

Get your gray ribbon in November and pass the word on to others.

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Understanding HIV

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Image is from CDC

A Controversial Disease


The Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, is at the root of AIDS; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It’s exact origins remain unknown, and most have heard quite a few stories which attempt explanation. Some think the disease came from certain relations between humans and primates, others attribute the disease to ingestion of bushmeat–which is to say: the meat of monkeys infected with the disease. How it crossed from the animal kingdom to the human kingdom is a topic that definitely ignites controversy. What is known is that it isn’t the only virus of its type in existence. FIV, or the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is essentially the same thing; just in cats.

Politically Incorrect History


What’s sure is that the condition was originally noticed in primarily homosexual communities in the United States. This was so much the case that the original name of the disease was GRID, or Gay-Related Immunodeficiency. The press, when this disease began prominently sweeping through such communities, coined a more politically-correct term, “4H” disease. This referred to heroin-users, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and Haitians. But as the disease spread, it was discovered it actually affected more communities. By 1982, the term “AIDS” had been coined.

The Difference Between HIV and AIDS


HIV is the retrovirus which makes the body susceptible to full-on AIDS, which occurs when the immune system begins to shut down. There is quite a bit of literature relating to the exact biological nature which predicates this shut-down. The abbreviated version is: when HIV is contracted, without medication, life expectancy is anywhere from 9 to 11 years; though in some cases, where health is already not nearly so good as it ought to be, this process can be sped up. Eventually, there’s a breaking point, and the body’s immune system begins to implode as AIDS takes the torch HIV brought into the arena.

How Is HIV Transmitted?


It’s not a kissing disease, it’s not a hugging disease, you’re not going to get HIV sharing food with an infected individual, giving them a handshake, or even going swimming. Even if an HIV-infected individual gets their blood on you, you still won’t contract it–unless you also have an open, bleeding sore and prolonged exposure. Even in this scenario, while contraction is possible, it’s unlikely. Primarily, HIV is spread through blood, semen, pre-ejaculate, breast milk, and vaginal fluid. Hemophiliacs and Haitians acquired the disease through blood transfusions in hospitals “behind the times” who had received donations from previously infected individuals. Direct transfusion was what caused the primacy of these infections. Meanwhile, heroin users acquire the condition by sharing needles with infected individuals, and the sexual acts involved in homosexuality are what spread it in that community.

Treating HIV


A complex cocktail of medicines is used to treat this adverse infection. ART is the primary method; this stands for Anti-Retroviral Therapy. There is no cure as yet, but this is a means of control. What’s involved is ingestion of a medical combination. This must be done exactly as proscribed by a reputable HIV doctor. What the medicines do is prevent replication of HIV, reducing how much is in your body. The less it is plaguing your immune system, the harder your immune system can fight, keeping cancers and infections at bay. Additionally, this reduces infected individuals’ risk of spreading the condition to non-infected individuals. Left untreated, HIV always leads to AIDS; meaning taking the ART approach is always recommendable. Some of the medicines can have strange side-effects, however, which may require preparation beforehand. HIV can’t be cured yet, but it is treatable. Magic Johnson’s been living with the condition since 1991.

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Understanding Hepatitis B

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Image is from MedicineNet

Hepatitis B is an infection in your liver. It can cause cancer, liver failure, or scarring, and it can be fatal if left untreated. It is transmitted when you come in contact with body fluids, blood, or open sores of an infected person.

The good news is, however, that most cases of the disease resolve in a few months, because your immune system kicks in to fight it it off. Once it is resolved, you are then immune to it, which means you cannot contract it again.

How Do You Know If You Have It

When you first get it, the warning signs include:

  • Jaundice – This is when your skin and/or the whites of your eyes turn yellow, and your urine turns orange or brown.
  • Bowel movements are light in color.
  • Fever
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Your symptoms may not show up for one to six months, and about one third of those infected, do not experience any symptoms at all. It is important to see your doctor for a blood test if you believe you have been exposed.

What Happens If You Have It

Most people recover, and your doctor will be able to confirm that when your blood tests show no sign of infection.

A few people, however, will not get rid of the infection. This is determined if your blood tests are still positive after six months. At this point you may not have any symptoms, but you are a carrier of the disease. This means you can spread it to others by:

  • Contact with your blood or an open sore.
  • Unprotected sex.
  • Sharing syringes or needles.

The disease does eventually resolve in a small number of carriers. For the rest, it becomes a chronic condition, and due to the ongoing infection, you can develop the scarring or cancer mentioned above.

If you are currently infected or a carrier, you may not donate:

  • Blood
  • Plasma
  • Sperm
  • Tissue
  • Organs

You also have a responsibility to tell anyone you may infect, such as sexual partners, your dentist, or your doctor, so that the necessary precautions can be taken.

How It Is Treated

It is important to see your physician as soon as you believe you may have been infected. He or she will administer a vaccine and a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin. This protein will help fight off the infection by boosting your immune system. You may have to go on bed rest to ensure a faster recovery.

You will also have to avoid liver-damaging substances such as Tylenol and alcohol. It is important to check with your doctor regarding all drugs, supplements, or herbal treatments. Some of them can be harmful, too. Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet. This will also help you fight off the infection.

If your infection resolves, your doctor will tell you that you are an inactive carrier. If it does not resolve within six months, your diagnosis will be chronic active hepatitis B, and he or she may prescribe some of the following treatments:

  • Interferon alfa (Intron A, Roferon A, Sylatron) – This is an injection that you take for at least six months. While it does not cure the disease, it does treat the inflammation.
  • Lamivudine (Epivir) – This medication is available in liquid or tablet form that you take once per day. Most patients tolerate it well. It is not recommended for long-term use, because you can become immune to it.
  • Aidfovir dipivoxil (Hepsera) – This works well for patients who do not respond to Lamivudine treatment. It comes in a tablet form. High doses, however, can cause kidney problems.
  • Entecavir (Baraclude) – This is the newest medication available. It is available in a tablet or liquid form.
  • Tenofovir (Viread) – This medication is available in tablet or powder form. You will need routine tests to ensure it is not damaging your kidneys.

Should You Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine

You should be vaccinated if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Come in contact with body fluids or blood of infected family members or friends.
  • Use needles to administer recreational drugs.
  • Have sex with more than one person.
  • Are a healthcare worker.
  • Work in a jail, school, or daycare center.

While Hepatitis B is not curable, it’s treatable and occasionally resolves on its own. Be sure to take the precautions above to minimize your risk of contracting the disease, and see your doctor as soon as possible if you develop any symptoms.

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