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Importance of Infant Immunization

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Image is from New Health Advisor

Immunization is one of the most important achievements in the last century. It has saved countless lives while preventing millions of people from getting sick or incurring a lifelong disability. It is a testament to the power of vaccines that many childhood diseases that often resulted in hospitalization or death are now preventable.

It is only natural for a parent to want a good life for their child, a life free of ailments or pain. Immunization is the single most effective way of protecting a child from many serious diseases that exist today. The decision to immunize your child, therefore, is a crucial one since there is no alternative to it.

The Immunization schedule

The vaccine schedule is recommended by the AAP, CDC and most physicians. It is always reviewed on a yearly basis by a group of qualified healthcare providers and changed as necessary based on the latest research.

For your child to be fully protected, they have to be immunized starting at 2 months of age, then 4 months, 6 months and 18 months. Immunization starts at two months since this is the safest time to start the immunization process. Those babies who are not immunized at this time stand a huge chance of developing serious harm if they get sick within the first 2 years of their lives.

It is highly advisable to follow the immunizations schedule keenly and get all the shots on time. Delaying the vaccination process can be risky. Below are some of the reasons why it is best to follow the immunization schedule;

  • It will ensure your child is protected as soon as it can be.
  • The routine schedule is based on the best science today and is safe and works well.
  • Your child will get used to the needle and this will reduce their anxiety.
  • The risk factor for side effects remains the same whether you take one vaccine or four.
  • You will have fewer visits to get your child’s shots if you follow the schedule.

Common Infant Immunization Myths

  • Vaccines cause autism- there has not been any direct link that has been established between autism and vaccines.
  • Vaccines can cause serious side effects- since it is always mandatory for a child to have a physical evaluation by a trained medical professional, it is rare to have a child develop an allergy or fatality.
  • Vaccines are not needed- Vaccination has led to a decrease in serious diseases that are fatal and a drop in vaccination will lead to a resurgence of these diseases.
  • It is okay to skip some vaccines- once a vaccination is skipped, the only thing protecting the child is the immunity of the people around them.
  • Infant immunization is too early- children are immunized at an early age since this is the time they are at risk of having fatal complications.

Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child

  1. It can save your child’s life- vaccination can now protect your child from more diseases than ever before, all thanks to the progress being made in science. A good example is polio which used to be one of the most feared diseases in the world and now there are no reports of it.
  2. Vaccines are safe and effective- after much review from doctors and scientists, vaccines have proven to be safe.
  3. Immunization protects those around you- there are still cases of babies who die from vaccine-preventable diseases because they are too young to be vaccinated, by ensuring you and your kin are vaccinated, you are also protecting these babies.
  4. Saves time and money by saving you from prolonged disabilities.

 

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Understanding Meningitis

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Image is from Pinterest

Meningitis is a fairly rare infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called meninges, hence the term meningitis. There are several types of meningitis:

  • Bacterial Meningitis is contagious among people in close contact and can be deadly.
  • Viral Meningitis is usually less severe, and most people recover completely from it.
  • Fungal Meningitis is rare and usually only appears in people with compromised immune systems.

How Does it Happen?

Most of the time, meningitis is caused by virus or bacterial infection. It begins elsewhere in the body, such as the upper respiratory tract, sinuses, or ears, and then spreads to the meninges. It can also be caused by medications, autoimmune disorders, or fungal infections, but these are more rare.

Bacterial Meningitis

This is a very serious illness that requires immediate medical attention. Death or permanent damage to the brain or other areas of the body can occur within hours if left untreated. There are several different kinds of bacteria that can cause it:

  • Meningococcus, which is the most common
  • Pneumococcus, which occurs in older patients with a weakened immune system
  • Haemophilus Influenza, type B, was common in infants and small children until a vaccine came out called hib.

Vaccines are also available for Meningococcus and Pneumococcus bacteria and are highly recommended for people with a special risk, such as a compromised immune system.

An infected person can pass the bacteria by sneezing or coughing. It is important for you to contact your health care provider if you are exposed to meningitis to find out what you can do to prevent contracting it. When bacteria gets into your bloodstream, it can travel to your brain and cause meningitis.

Viral Meningitis

This form of meningitis is more common and is usually less severe. There are many viruses that can trigger it, several of which cause diarrhea. Viral meningitis patients usually recover completely and are less likely to incur any brain damage.

Fungal Meningitis

This type of meningitis is rare. However, if you are suffering from a compromised immune system, from HIV for example, your chances of contracting it are greater.

Who is at Risk?

While anyone can contract meningitis, there are some age groups that have a higher incidence than others. These are:

  • Adults over age 55
  • Teens and Young Adults from age 16 to 25
  • Children under the age of 5

Certain medical conditions can also put you at risk, such as chronic disease or a damaged or missing spleen, and especially immune system disorders. These disorders occur when your immune system is either overactive or under active. When it is overactive, the body attacks itself; when it is under active, it decreases your ability to fight off infections. Some examples of immune system disorders are:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Guillian Barre Syndrome
  • Psoriasis
  • Graves Disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Rheumatic Fever

Meningitis outbreaks are most likely to occur in areas where people are living in close quarters, such as a college dorm or army personnel living in barracks. This is because certain germs that cause it can be contagious. People who travel are also at higher risk, particularly if you are traveling to certain parts of Africa where the disease is known to be prevalent.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are in one of the higher risk groups for contracting meningitis, it is still a rare disease, and there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting it.

 

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Understanding the Importance of Immunization

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Image is from Impatient Optimists

Many health professionals recommend immunization for protection against diseases. Immunizations are where you get vaccinated with weakened antigens to prevent you from getting that illness. It works by making your immune system produce antibodies to fight off that particular infection ensuring you get added immunity.

These diseases you are vaccinated against, are usually infectious and can be difficult to treat. Immunizations are usually given to children at a young age. There are vaccination campaigns encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated and for adults who were not vaccinated to get their vaccines. However, there is need to understand the importance of immunization and why every child should get vaccinated as early as possible.

  • Immunizations save the lives of children. New-born children get their immunity from their mothers. However, the immunity runs out within the first year, and they become more susceptible to getting infections. Through getting vaccinated, children get protection from diseases that were once fatal. Some diseases have been eradicated as a result of these vaccinations.
  • Vaccinations are effective, and there are no serious side effects after getting immunized. All vaccines undergo extensive testing and review to ensure they are safe for administration. Other than the initial soreness at the entry point, it is extremely rare for people to get seriously affected by the vaccine.
  • By getting all your vaccines, you protect those around you. Immunizations make sure your immune system is strong enough to fight infections. As a result, you will not spread infections to those who have weaker immune systems. Children and adults who are not vaccinated can pass these dangerous diseases to those who have compromised immune systems like those who have cancer or do not respond to vaccines or children who are too young to get immunized. These diseases can result in long-term complications or even death.
  • Immunizations save you time and money that would have been spent treating diseases that are preventable. In some schools and child care facilities, children who are not vaccinated are denied attendance since they pose a risk to the other children. When they get an infection, you will have to spend a lot of money getting treatments that can be avoided at an early age. You will also have to take time from work to take care of the child, and all this would have been prevented by getting the child vaccinated at an early age.
  • Immunization also protects future generations by eradicating very dangerous infections. Through vaccines, smallpox has been eradicated worldwide, and children no longer need to get the vaccination since the disease does not exist. The risk of pregnant women passing rubella to their unborn children has also greatly reduced as a result of getting vaccinated at an early age. Through immunization, other diseases are expected to be eradicated making it safer for future generations.
  • Since you interact with different people, it is easy to get infections if you are not vaccinated. Immunizations ensure that you can safely interact with foreigners without the risk of getting diseases they might unknowingly be carrying.
  • Vaccinations reduce the risk of disease outbreaks, especially in school. Outbreaks usually occur when children are not immunized.
  • Vaccination gives children protection against serious illnesses and the complications that arise as a result of these illnesses. These complications include paralysis, deformities, amputations, brain damage and in severe cases death.

It is recommended to ensure children get immunized at an early age to reduce the chances of getting an infection. Through immunization, you get increased immunity without having to get sick first.

 

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Understanding Alcoholism

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Image is from DrugAbuse.com

Drinking has become entrenched in our society and it is part of our lifestyle. From toasting the bride and groom with a glass of wine or drinking during the happy hour to brush of the stresses of work, it has become a natural part of our live and this makes it difficult to establish when it becomes a problem.

For most people, moderate drinking means two drinks a day for men or one for women, this is however one end of a range that goes through alcohol abuse to full blown alcohol dependency.

Alcohol abuse

This is a drinking habit that results in adverse effects and results in the user not being able to fulfill their daily duties, whether in school, work or family obligations. At this point, it is common to find someone with legal problems as a result of drinking such as DUI or public disturbance. It also affects an individual’s ability to relate with other people.

Alcohol dependency

Also called alcoholism. This is where an individual has lost total control of their alcohol use. It is not dependent on the type of alcohol being consumed or the amount, it is solely about a person’s inability to stop drinking, either to maintain the alcohol fueled “high” or to avoid the stress and pain of withdrawals. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, irritability, restlessness, tremors and even convulsions.

Alcoholism Warning Signs

The divide between social drinking and alcoholism can be blurred and many people don’t seem to know when they are on the verge of alcoholism. Below are some of the warning signs of a drinking problem:

  • If someone gets behind the wheel while intoxicated.
  • Drinking more than you had planned to.
  • Mixing alcohol with other drugs.
  • Poor work or school performance due to alcohol related activities.
  • Not remembering events while you were drinking, also called blacking out.
  • Inability to relax or unwind without alcohol.
  • If relationships start suffering due to alcohol.
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed and hiding it from family and friends.
  • Avoiding family commitments due to alcohol.
  • Breaking the law under the influence of alcohol.
  • Inability to stop drinking even when you try.

Causes of Alcohol Related Disorders

There are several causes of alcoholism, they include genetics, physiological and social factors. These factors do not affect everyone in the same way. For some alcoholics, psychological factors such as low self-esteem and impulsiveness my lead them to consume alcohol while others may be affected by social factors, chief of which is peer pressure. Poverty and physical abuse may also lead to alcohol dependency.

Genetic factors also play a key role in the alcohol dependency of some people. Most people who boast how much they are able to ‘hold’ liquor may be more at risk-not less- of developing alcohol problems. The absence of a history of drinking in a family does to protect the children from developing these problems.

How Alcoholism Affects People

Small amounts of alcohol may be beneficial for the body but heavy drinking is detrimental to someone’s health. Short-term effects include hangovers, memory loss and blackouts. Long-term effects that are as a result of heavy drinking include cancer, stomach ulcers, heart problems, brain damage and liver cirrhosis.

There are other dangers to alcoholism apart from ill health. People who suffer from alcoholism tend to engage in risky activities that may cause death, they include: Driving while drunk, suicide, unprotected sex and even homicide.

Drinking problems are also associated with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and memory loss. Such preexisting conditions may be made worse by alcoholism.

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