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Monthly Archives: January 2018

How to Avoid Getting a RVBP Infection

There really is no time of year when illnesses of some sort are not prevalent but when the weather turns cold, germs seem to be everywhere you go. Luckily, there are some tried and true ways of keeping yourself healthy throughout the year so you can avoid getting an RVBP (Respiratory Virus and Bacteria Panel) infection. Aside from staying away from people you know are sick, you can practically keep germs to a minimum in your household. During years like this one, when the flu is on the rise and it seems like everyone is getting sick, you can reduce your risks by getting vaccinated, washing hands properly and living a healthy lifestyle. New viruses are constantly evolving and appearing which is why even if you have been sick lately, you will want to make sure you continue to prevent other infections. This is especially true if you have small children at home or have elderly family members that could be at risk if they become sick.

Washing Your Hands

It may seem so simple that there’s no way it could be effective but washing your hands frequently throughout the day can actually go a long way towards staying healthy. It is recommended that you wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, after handling raw meat, eggs, fish, etc., after handling dirty laundry or cleaning areas of your home like bathrooms or kitchens. The process is simple but you need to make sure you are doing it right in order to properly kill any germs that could be living on your hands. Warm water, soap, and vigorously scrubbing the fronts and backs of your hands for at least thirty seconds is effective. Make sure to dry your hand on a paper towel that you will dispose of. Reusing a towel or sharing a towel will still promote illness.

Don’t Share Personal Items

You love the people that you live with but there are certain items in a home that should not be shared as they can spread bacteria and viruses from one person to the next in a very short period of time. Make sure to never share things like toothbrushes, make up, utensils, cups and towels. It is a good idea to keep these items in a short rotation period. Wash drinking glasses frequently, get rid of toothbrushes after you have been sick and run a good thorough wash cycle on your dishwasher frequently with all of your commonly used kitchen items.

Cover Your Mouth

If more people would properly cover their mouth when they are at home and out in public, we would greatly reduce the incidence of illness being spread around. Many people cover their mouth using a closed fist or their hand. This actually doesn’t completely prevent the spray of saliva and germs. Your best bet is to cough into the interior of your elbow as this properly covers your mouth.

In addition to all of these great tips that you can utilize to help avoid getting an RVBP infection, you can also speak with a trusted medical professional about vaccinations. You may or may not be up to date on your current vaccinations and each year you have the option for getting a number of shots that can potentially prevent illness such as pneumonia or the flu, or at least keep symptoms to a minimum if you do get sick. Also, be sure to get enough sleep each night so your body is not run down and eating healthy goes a long way towards maintaining a healthy and well-functioning immune system.

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Why Is It Important to Get the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that nearly one out of four people in the United States are infected with the HPV virus (Human Papillomavirus). In many cases, the HPV virus goes unnoticed because the person does not display any types of symptoms. In fact, studies suggest that close to 90 percent of the time, the HPV virus goes away on its own within two years and the person may not even know they had it.

The Dangers of HPV

Unfortunately, one in ten people are not so lucky. In these cases, the HPV virus does not go away on its own, but rather remains in the body of the infected person. This, in turn, can lead to serious health conditions, including genital warts are several types of cancers, including cancer of the cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and throat. In fact, nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the HPV virus.

Many people fighting these types of cancers and/or genital warts, did not even know that they had the HPV virus until the cancer was found. With virtually no symptoms, the only way to fight the HPV virus is to take preventative measures.

Benefits of the HPV Vaccine

The good news is that the HPV vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of getting HPV in the first place. There are more than 150 known strains of HPV, and the HPV vaccine is designed to protect against those strains that are known to cause either cancer or genital warts. By reducing the risk of getting the HPV virus, the vaccine also will reduce the risk of getting genital warts or cancer caused by HPV.

Is the HPV Vaccine Safe?

To date, more than 80 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been administered. In most cases, the person does not have any side effect. Some patients, however, experience mild side effects, such as redness, pain, swelling, nausea, and dizziness, for a short period of time after getting the HPV vaccine. In rare cases, some people have experienced an allergic reaction to the HPV vaccine. This is most common among those who also have latex or yeast allergies.

Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

The American Cancer Society recommends that all teenagers, both male and female, have the HPV vaccine. Children between the ages of 11 and 12-years old will be required to have only two doses of the HPV virus. Children 13-years old or older, on the other hand, require three separate doses, spaced 6 to 12 months apart.

Women who do not receive the HPV vaccine as a teenager, but are 26-years old or younger, also should have the HPV vaccine. In addition, young man, who did not get the vaccine as a teenager and are under the age of 21-years old should have the vaccine. It also is recommended that members of the LGBT community who did not get the vaccine as a teenager and are 26-years or younger get the HPV vaccine.

It is estimated that more than 4,000 women will die from cervical cancer this year. You don’t have to be one of them. The HPV vaccine is easy to administer with minimal side effects, yet it provides a lifetime of protection against a potentially deadly virus. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get your HPV vaccine today.

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January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and many organizations are working together to try and raise awareness about the steps that can be taken prior to and during a pregnancy in order to reduce the prevalence of birth defects. While some birth defects are spontaneous and not preventable, there are a number of risk factors that can be controlled in order to promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Education as well as prevention can assist families as well as their doctors to help lower the statistic of one in twenty-eight babies being born with a major birth defect that will be diagnosed within their first year of life. Let’s take a look at some of the guidelines that can be followed to decrease the incidence of birth defects:

Prevent Infections

One of any number of infections can contribute to a baby’s development in utero. A mother who contracts the flu during her pregnancy can give birth to a child with complications and it can also increase her chance of going into preterm labor. Staying up to date with vaccinations is important as a way to decrease the chance of infection. Also, reducing travel and staying away from public places where people are commonly sick can help.

Good hygiene can reduce the risk of infection as well and this can include:

-Washing hands frequently and properly with soap and water

-Wash hands well before preparing or handling food

-Always wash your hands after handling raw meat, raw eggs, fish and unwashed produce

-Wash your hands after changing diapers or going to the bathroom

-Pets can carry disease and infection so be sure to wash your hands after handling them

-Do not share utensils, cups, etc. with other people in your home

Infection can be passed on from an animal or insect to a human. Wearing long pants and shirts with long sleeves can keep your skin from being exposed to bug bites. Not all bug sprays are safe for pregnant women so you can discuss this with your doctor and see if there is a safer product option that can increase your protection from infection.

Smoking

In addition to infections causing birth defects, there are other risk factors that can put your baby in harm’s way. It is recommended that a woman who wishes to become pregnant in the near future stop smoking entirely in order to promote a healthy pregnancy. Smoking should never occur during a pregnancy as it can lead to a number of birth defects as well as premature birth. If quitting smoking is a concern, your doctor can recommend a number of products to you that will aid in your quitting smoking long term.

Birth defects range in their severity and each case can be very different in nature. Ultimately, you want to prevent birth defects in any way that you can and do everything in your power to have a healthy, nine month pregnancy. Proper nutrition, taking care of yourself and staying healthy can all greatly decrease your child’s risk of being born without a birth defect. You can speak with your trusted medical professional directly in order to find out what your risk factors are and what you can do right now to prevent birth defects and help others do the same.

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What Are the Different Types of Parainfluenza Viruses?

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Each year it is reported when illnesses are on the rise and ‘sick season’ has officially begun. Statistics begin to come out regarding what percentage of the population is getting ill, how many deaths are taking place from related complications and what the severity of symptoms is. What many people don’t realize that there are a number of different strains of illnesses and these strains can vary and mutate from year to year. This is why a new flu shot needs to be made each year; in order to provide protection against the new virus. There are four major different types of viruses that contribute to parainfluenza viruses and each one comes with its own set of symptoms and risks, however, each of the viruses will affect the respiratory system in some form.

Symptoms

Many of the parainfluenza viruses have symptoms that are similar to the common cold and if a person contracts a mild case, it is common to be misdiagnosed. Without treatment, symptoms will go away though they do sometimes take a bit longer than your average cold. Fatigue can persist for a couple of weeks after the initial symptoms have subsided. People who have weakened immune systems or are susceptible to complications from illnesses can develop a number of complications from any of these viruses, including pneumonia which can result in death. Symptoms of any of these parainfluenza viruses can include:

-Fever

-Runny nose

-Sore throat

-Headache

-Cough

-Wheezing

-Shortness of breath

-Fatigue

Different Types

The four main types of HPIV included HPIV-1, HPIV-2. HPIV-3 and HPIV-4. Each of these viruses can affect any person regardless of how healthy they are. Some of these viruses are far more likely to affect children as many adults already have immunities to the virus or are not easily affected. Let’s take a closer look at each of these viruses:

HPIV-1

This virus is what causes the croup in young children. Croup is very similar to a cold and can often be diagnosed as one. The difference is usually the characteristic cough that occurs along with other symptoms and it is caused by inflammation and swelling of the vocal chords. The croup is most common in the fall months of the year and cases of the croup ebb and flow with the change of seasons.

HPIV-2

This virus is very similar to HPIV-1 as it also causes the croup but far less commonly. It also occurs most often in the autumn and the virus can live on a surface for up to ten hours.

HPIV-3

This infection causes infections in the lungs such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Often a secondary infection, it is very contagious during the time that symptoms are present (Usually within days three to ten of being symptomatic).

HPIV-4

There is a lot more information on the other forms of parainfluenza and this form of the virus is very rare. It doesn’t follow any typical seasonal pattern like many other viruses. You are contagious through close contact with an infected person.

If your doctor suspects that you are ill with one of these strains of parainfluenza, you will likely go through a thorough physical examination and be asked to detail what your symptoms are and how long you have been sick. Your doctor may determine that further testing can ensure that you are receiving proper medical care. An x-ray can ensure you don’t have a dangerous buildup of infected fluid in your lungs. CT scans can also give a detailed look at the state of your lungs.

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How to Eat Right During Flu Season

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When winter arrives, you know it’s the flu season. In this season, be sure to brace yourself to avoid the disease. While some people will still go for their regular workouts in the gym, it is not recommended. However, you must maintain your health not only during the flu season by all year round. You do this by not only regular and consistent fitness regime, but also a healthy diet that keeps you strong and healthy as well as helps you in fighting the disease. You may have probably wondered how can keep yourself healthy during this season. It is possible to take steps to prevent illness and also to avoid the spread to others.

Wash your hands

Foremost before thinking of anything else, you must wash your hands with clean water and ensure they are clean. Regular hand washing is one of the surest methods of avoiding the spread of germs to others. During the winter months, it is cold, and that means flu is all over and can easily be contracted. The following are some of the important tips to note

  • Ensure you are well versed with hand washing techniques. Rub your hands together while running warm water on them for about twenty seconds. Use a mild hand soap to do this.
  • Whenever you touch your mouth or nose, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly. As well, ensure you wash your hands before taking any meal.

Eat healthy

The various kinds of foods you take into your body have a significant impact on your overall health. Eating a well-balanced diet is vital as it can help in support of your immune system. Ensure you eat right to assist in the staving off of flu and other winter diseases.

  • Aim at getting multiple servings of vegetables daily. Carrots, parsnips, and turnips are good vegetable servings for winter. You can take them in various forms including roasting them or just mixing them into warnings of soups.
  • Increase your dairy intake. Milk and dairy products contain lots of vitamins including A and B12 which are vital in keeping you healthy during the cold winter.
  • Try to find low-fat milk as well as reduced fat cheese. Greek yogurt and light cottage cheese is another meal you can try as well.

Limit sugar intake

Limiting sugar intake can significantly strengthen your immunity system. If you have a diet which is low in refined sugar can be of great assistance in getting rid of the influenza virus and colds. These are some of the steps you can take to ensure you limit your sugar intake

  • Watch what you are drinking. Drinks such as sodas and fruits drinks do contain large amounts of sugar.
  • Switched to iced tea or water. These beverages will quench your thirst minus adding sugar to your diet.
  • Whenever you feel that you have a craving for anything sweet, try a piece of fruit. It contains natural sugar that is better for your body than the refined sugars.

Try home remedies

Zinc can be of great help in speeding your recovery. Another important thing you can try is essential oils. They have a myriad of healing properties. Just ensure they are properly mixed. Make a mixture of rosemary, peppermint lemon, eucalyptus and lemon oils. You will need water to mix a few drops of each.

Flu can be very discomforting. Use the information above to help you with quick healing.

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Understanding Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy also known as biologic therapy is a type of treatment that induces or enhances the body’s immune system instead of using medicines. This process is usually done to treat cancer by stimulating the immune system to become more active in attacking cancer cells or by sustaining the body with man-made immune system proteins.

How Does the Immune System Work?

The immune system is the sum of all components that work together to maintain the normal functions of body organs. These components include but not limited to white blood cells, nutrients, and organ functions.

When the surface of skin is wounded, white blood cells work to heal the wound by eliminating foreign substances. When the wound is larger, it requires a lot of white blood cells to cover the wounded area. This will result in the appearance of lymph nodes near the area. This is where white blood cells build up.

In the process of eliminating foreign substances such as bacteria, germs, and cancer cells, body nutrients such as vitamin C may work to repair the damaged tissues and collagen.

Meanwhile, body organs work together to prevent disease-causing agents to stay inside the body. Kidney works to filter toxins, which are excreted through the urine. Digestive system separate important substances needed by the body from waste. The heart continues to pump blood to carry white blood cells and red blood cells needed to heal wounds.

These are some examples of how the immune system work. The immune system is not a single substance nor a single organ. It is an integration of several body systems that work together to protect the body from certain diseases.

The Immune System as Treatment for Cancer

There still no single medicine that can cure cancer. So far, an effective way to suppress the spread of cancer cells is through the immune system. The immune system serves as the police inside the body. It detects unwanted substances that may infect any area of the body.

However, cancer cells are not detected by the immune system as they appear to be like normal cells by of sending signals to the PD-1 CTLA-4 receptors. These signals confuse the immune system. This is why even a healthy body with strong immune system cannot prevent cancer.

Nonetheless, there is a way to make cancer cells detected by the immune system. The use of immunotherapy drugs such as inhibitors can disrupt the signals that are sent by cancer cells. This will let the cancer cells exposed to the immune system. Cytokines and cancer vaccines are examples of these inhibitors.

Monoclonal Antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies are man-made immune system proteins. These proteins attach to cancer cells thereby flagging the cancer cells to be recognized by the immune system. On the other hand, monoclonal antibodies work to block the abnormal proteins in cancer cells, so they can also be used to prevent cancer cells from spreading.

These are examples of man-made antibodies:

  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)
  • Nivolumab (Opdivo)
  • Ipilimumab (Yervoy)

Non-Specific Immunotherapies

Non-specific immunotherapies are used to boost the immune system to directly stop and kill cancer cells. Examples of these are interferons and interleukin’s.

Conclusion

The use of the immune system is still the most recommended method in the treatment of cancer. It only needs the help of inhibitors to let it work properly on the target. The problem with the immune system is that it is not intelligent enough to keep cancer cells from being hidden. This is why there is still a need for human intervention with the help of man-made antibodies.

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What are the 4 Most Common Respiratory Problems?

The respiratory system is so diverse – and includes the sinuses, throat, mouth, and throat – respiratory problems encompass a variety of chronic and acute illnesses. The lower bronchial tubes and lungs are also part of the respiratory system.

Some of these conditions are non-life threatening and only promote occasional distress.

Breathing trouble due to allergies or the common cold would fall into this area whereas respiratory diseases like bacterial pneumonia and lung cancer are serious conditions requiring immediate medical attention.

Upper Respiratory Infection Caused by a Virus

Viral infections like the common cold and the flu are the most common cause of an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms that you might be suffering from an upper respiratory infection include: runny nose, sore throat, laryngitis, facial pain, coughing, and a fever.

The common cold usually causes a mild to moderate upper respiratory infection in patients that clears up on its own. Symptoms usually a cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, and a slight fever.

Influenza (the flu) is another kind of viral infection that might be more serious than the common cold but, like the common cold, can clear up on its own if no unusual symptoms are present. Typically, the flu is accompanied by cold symptoms and potentially headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and a more severe cough.

The important thing to bear in mind with the cold and the flu is that each is a viral infection. That means that antibiotics aren’t an appropriate treatment; antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections.

Allergies: A Chronic Respiratory Issue Worldwide

Nasal allergies affect around 50 million Americans, and the number could be in the billions when you consider everyone in the world. Allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly labels an allergen as an invader substance. When that happens, you immune system releases histamines and a cascade of effects bring on your allergy symptoms.

Pollen, mold, and certain medications can cause allergy symptoms and mild respiratory distress. The lungs, throat, sinuses, and nose may all be affected and make breathing more difficult. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-histamine to help control your allergy symptoms and improve your ability to breathe.

Bacterial Pneumonia and Lower Respiratory Infection

Bacterial pneumonia is a common type of lung infection that can bring on symptoms of a lower respiratory infection. Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and chest pain are common symptoms for a lower respiratory infection and not uncommon for sufferers of bacterial pneumonia to experience.

Antibiotics may be recommended as a treatment option for bacterial pneumonia. The severity of your symptoms might depend on whether the bacterial pneumonia has affected one portion of your lung or both lungs in their entirety.

See a doctor right away if you experience emergency symptoms like blood in your mucus, a fever around 103 degrees, extreme difficulty breathing, severe confusion, or skin that’s turning a bluish hue. A weakened immune system or underlying respiratory disease could predispose you to getting bacterial pneumonia.

Asthma and Inflammation of the Airways

A condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the airways, asthma affects millions of Americans. Lung spasms, shortness of breath, and wheezing are not uncommon symptoms for people with asthma to exhibit when having an asthma attack.

Air pollutants or allergies and the kind of infections discussed above can cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms. A severe asthma attack requires attention.

About 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and while there’s not yet a cure, management of symptoms is more effective when asthma is diagnosed and treated early, preferably in childhood.

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What is Human Metapneumovirus?

There are always several viruses to worry about during flu season, not the least of which is influenza. However, that’s not the only nasty bug of which you need to be aware. Another virus to watch out for is the human metapneumovirus, or HMPV. This virus is one of several that can cause respiratory infections across a wide range of ages. It’s especially virulent among the very young, the elderly, and populations with weakened immune responses. Since its discovery in 2001, it’s been increasingly recognized as a major cause of infections in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

Recognizing the Symptoms of HMPV

As with many viruses that crop up during flu season, HMPV symptoms include coughing, fever, sinus congestion, and difficulty breathing (feeling “short of breath”). These symptoms may become more complex if the virus spawns other illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. HMPV is very similar to most other viruses that cause respiratory problems. You’ll likely begin to notice symptoms a few days to a week following your exposure to the virus, and the illness can be brief or may persist for a week or more.

‘Tis the Season for Sniffles and Coughs

HMPV can start popping up in the early part of winter, but it’s most common during the later winter months, as well as in the early spring. The virus can be transmitted easily from one person to another through sneezes and coughs, casual contact like shaking hands, or through touching an infected object (think door knobs and keyboards) and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Along with exposure to other common viral infections like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the winter and spring months can be nearly impossible to navigate without catching something.

Preventing Viral Infections

Viruses are different from bacteria and they don’t respond to antibiotic treatments. This makes prevention extremely important, because there aren’t any effective treatments for HMPV, RSV, or the flu. The only thing that can be done is to try to minimize the symptoms and wait for the virus to run its course. You can protect yourself from most viral infections if you:

  • Perform proper, frequent hand-washing (at least 20 seconds of lathering with soap, then a thorough rinse in warm water).
  • Refrain from sharing food, drinks, and utensils with anyone else.
  • Avoid anyone who is obviously ill, especially those who are coughing or sneezing, or exhibiting other symptoms of illness like paleness, chills, gastric upset, or malaise.
  • Avoid close personal contact like kissing as much as possible.

Regular cleaning of communal surfaces is also an effective way to stop the spread of viruses. Wipe down commonly-touched surfaces like door knobs, countertops, computer peripherals, and similar areas with disinfecting wipes or another appropriate cleaning product.

Being Prepared for Illness

Should you find yourself ill with a respiratory infection, it’s important to have symptom-relief medication on hand; there’s no treatment, but you can minimize most or all of the symptoms with the correct medication. If you visit your doctor, make sure they test for HMPV before accepting antibiotics to help combat the illness. Overuse of antibiotics can be extremely dangerous, both for your personal health and the health of society at large.

Antibiotics won’t help your body fight off a virus, and can actually make you more susceptible to antibiotic-resistant infections in the future. HMPV is relatively new, and some doctors may not yet have it in their sights as a potential cause for your respiratory illness. Being aware of potential health issues like HMPV is an important part of staying healthy (or getting well) during flu season.

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Signs of Glaucoma

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Glaucoma is the term used to describe a group of eye disorders which will eventually cause blindness. There are two common types of glaucoma: open-angle and acute angle-closure. Both types have their own unique symptoms.

Both types cause irreversible damage which can be treated if detected early. Glaucoma can be prevented with regular eye exams.

Here are several warning signs of both types of glaucoma:

  1. Sudden Eye Pain: Sudden eye pain accompanied by a headache behind the eyes is a sign of late-stage acute angle-closure glaucoma. Seek treatment immediately.
  2. Sudden changes in vision: If you experience a sudden change in your vision, make an appointment with your eye doctor. These changes could be a sign of retinal damage or an early sign of acute angle-closure glaucoma.
  3. Redness or swelling: If you have bloodshot or swollen eyes, it could be a symptom of pressure buildup behind your eye. This is another sign of acute angle-closure glaucoma. The eye pressure you feel is caused when the iris becomes inflamed.
  4. Nausea: While nausea is most commonly linked to stomach problems, it can also be caused by impaired vision. If you have eye pain accompanied by vomiting and nausea, this could be a sign of acute angle-closure glaucoma. The eye pain will most likely be in the form of a headache; often, this headache and upset stomach combination is mistaken for the flu. However, if it lasts for more than two weeks, it could be a vision problem and should be checked out by a medical professional.
  5. Tunnel Vision: Tunnel vision is a narrowing of your peripheral vision; it literally seems as if you are looking through a tunnel. Typically, tunnel vision occurs during the late stages of primary open-angle glaucoma. It will hinder your ability to see the edges or corners of anything you look at directly. Often people don’t realize their sight is becoming limited or narrowing until the late stages of the disease. If you notice any changes to your peripheral vision it’s important to see your eye doctor right away.
  6. Blurry Vision: While blurry vision is usually just an indication of poor eyesight, something which can be cured with glasses or a new prescription, it can also be a sign of acute angle-closure glaucoma. If your vision becomes blurrier as time goes by, this could be a sign. Generally, this gradual decline doesn’t present itself until the later stages of the disease, so it’s important to see your doctor as soon as you notice your vision becoming blurry.
  7. Halos: Many people will notice halos when they drive at night. They will begin to have trouble seeing clearly or see a rainbow-type effect when headlights shine into their eyes. This may be accompanied by painful headaches due to extreme pressure behind the eyes.
  8. Physical Changes: Usually, we cannot detect glaucoma with the naked eye, but there can be a gradual change in the appearance of your eyes, which could be an early sign of glaucoma. People with acute angle-closure glaucoma may notice a reddish tint to their eyeballs or they may notice they’ve developed larger pupils that won’t dilate in light. Your cornea may also look cloudy or swollen. If you see any of these changes, make sure to seek treatment right away.

Regular eye exams can help you prevent glaucoma, but if you notice any of these signs, be sure to make an appointment with your eye doctor immediately.

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What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus yields its name from its crown-like structure of spikes, first identified in the 1960’s. Most forms of coronavirus yield mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, primarily affecting the upper respiratory system. These mild forms affect most people at some point during their lifetime with no long-term effects.

Forms of Coronavirus

There are also more serious forms of coronavirus which can cause much more severe symptoms. To understand the coronavirus better the CDC explains there are four main subgroups of the virus: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Alpha and beta are the most common, with the following four types being responsible for many colds worldwide:

  1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)
  2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

There identified coronavirus that can create more severe symptoms have more common names we may know, including:

  1. MERS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes MERS)
  2. SARS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes SARS)

While not all coronavirus will mutate and lead to more serious infections like SARS, it is helpful to understand the symptoms and prognosis of each of these viral infections.

Common Coronavirus

The four most common forms of coronavirus lead to symptoms often referred to as the common cold. Mostly affecting the upper respiratory system, these symptoms last for a short period of time and include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

Some infections may also involve the lower respiratory system causing illness like bronchitis or pneumonia. There is no specific treatment, but most people will recover on their own. Symptoms can be eased with fever reducers like acetomenaphin, humidifiers, rest, and consuming extra fluids.

Severe Coronavirus

The terms SARS and MERS can be alarming. SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, represented a global epidemic scare that spread across more than a dozen countries in Europe, North America, and Asia in 2003. While considered a serious threat to public health, there is no current need to worry. The SARS outbreak has been considered contained, and there has not been a reported case anywhere in the world since 2004. Even the CDC web page has been archived.

MERS represents a more recent threat to public health. An acronym describing a Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, MERS has spread to many other countries (including the United States) since discovery in 2012. MERS is marked by acute respiratory symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Different from other types of coronavirus, MERS is also characterized by a high mortality rate — 3 or 4 of every ten cases.

The good news is that all non-middle eastern diagnoses of MERS have been linked to travel from the Arabian Peninsula. There is not currently a high risk associated with this virus domestically or with other foreign travel.

Prevention of Coronavirus

While there is no known vaccine to prevent a coronavirus infection, there are many steps you can take to help prevent yourself from catching colds this year. Coronavirus is typically transmitted through a cough or a sneeze and by close personal contact. Touching an infected object or encountering infected fecal matter and then touching your face can also transmit infection.

Avoid contagion with regular hand washing. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and always wash your hands before you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid contact with people who are sick.

If you think you may have the coronavirus, try to avoid infecting others. Stay home if possible when you are sick. If travel is unavoidable, use tissues or a mask when sneezing or coughing and dispose of soiled material in trashcans. Use sanitizing disinfectants to wipe down surfaces.

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