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Germs

Understanding Tuberculosis

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Image is from CDC

Tuberculosis, TB, is an airborne bacterial infection. While other organs and tissues may be involved, it normally affects the lungs first.

What You Need To Know

While most people who have TB are not contagious, the disease is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, laughs, sings, or talks. If you are nearby and breath in those germs, there is a chance that you can become infected.

There is a difference between having active TB disease and being infected, known as latent TB. Latent TB is diagnosed when you have the TB germs in your body, but your immune system is strong enough to keep you from getting sick, and you are not contagious.

However, if you are diagnosed with active TB disease, you will have symptoms and you will be contagious. Therefore, it is critical to see a doctor right away.

Unfortunately, there are some forms of TB that are not eliminated with the usual medications prescribed. That means the TB germs in your body are resistant to them. These types of TB are classified as MDR TB and XDR TB.

MDR TB (multi-drug resistant) is resistant to the standard medication regime for active TB and is more serious. XDR TB is resistant to both standard and secondary drugs for treatment and any treatment rendered can be longer, expensive and more difficult. These forms of TB occur when medication is mismanaged or misused. For example:

  • If you do not complete the full course of treatment
  • If your doctor prescribes the wrong treatment, dose, or duration.
  • If medication is not available
  • If medication is of poor quality

It is more common in people who:

  • Do not take their medication regularly
  • Do not take medications for the full duration of treatment
  • Contract it a second time
  • Come from places where drug-resistant TB is more common
  • Have been around someone who has it

The good news is it is not easy to contract TB. You usually have to be close to someone infected for a long time. This is why it is often spread between family members, coworkers, and close friends.

What TB Does To Your Body

If you have a weakened immune system, you are at greater risk for developing TB. Some examples of conditions, treatments, and ages that cause weakened immunity are:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Leukemia
  • Viral Hepatitis
  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Getting Chemotherapy
  • Elderly
  • Children under the age of 5

If you any of the above apply, the bacteria associated with TB is likely to settle in your lungs and start growing right away, because your immune system isn’t strong enough to fight it off. The disease will develop quickly, within days or weeks. If you are healthy and contract TB, it may take months, or even years to develop.

While TB attacks the lungs, it can also invade other parts of the body, such as:

  • Spine
  • Brain
  • Kidneys
  • Bones
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Skin

This is because the bacteria can move from the lungs through the blood and lymphatic systems. Symptoms of active disease include:

  • Cough
  • Weight Loss
  • Night Sweats
  • Fever
  • Chills

If other parts of the body are infected, symptoms specific to that area will occur. For example, if it has spread to your bones, you will have bone pain.

Despite what many people think, TB is not a disease of the past. About one third of the world’s population are infected. That is almost 2.5 billion people. Of those people 9.6 million have active TB. It is curable, however. Therefore it is important to recognize the symptoms, see a doctor right away, and follow the treatment ordered.

 

 

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Understanding Immunotherapy

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Image is from Cancer Research Catalyst – American Association for Cancer Research

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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Keep Your Family Healthy This Holiday Season

Young mother and her daughters by a fireplace on Christmas
Once you or your family is infected with the flu virus, it is not easy to treat the infection. Just as in many other conditions, prevention of the diseases is the surest way to stay safe. With just a careful attention to hygiene, you can prevent the various flu viruses from reaching your family. As well, the inclusion of immunity boosters can come in handy for you and your family. Moreover, you can always avoid a full blown illness by acting quickly when you notice the first symptom. Here are some of the ways to prevent the flu from catching your family.

Taking up good hygiene practices

There is a myriad of means to observe proper hygiene and consequently keep off the flu and other diseases. One such way is by ensuring you wash your hands. It is an easy way to prevent both contraction and the spreading of the flu virus. Washing hands reduce significantly the proliferation of bacteria ant the flu virus from cold surfaces. Ensure your family follows these steps in washing their hands

  • Before applying soap to your hands, ensure you wet them. Scrub your palms vigorously for about twenty seconds ensuring that under your nails, the spaces between your fingers and the back of your palm are reached properly.
  • Use running water to rinse your hands and use a clean towel to dry them
  • If you can’t locate and soap and water, rub your hand on a hand sanitizer.

Ensure everyone in the family covers their nose and mouth whenever they cough or sneeze.

This should be done by putting their hands in both the nose and mouth whenever there is the need to sneeze. Doing this will considerably mitigate the risk of spreading the germs and viruses

  • Each time you develop the urge to sneeze or cough consider doing so into the crook of your elbow. This will help to avoid contaminating you’re going all over spreading germs to other people.
  • After doing so, throw away the tissue you used immediately and embark on the hand washing process.

Sanitize the places you share

Cold and flu virus spread very easily especially on shared surfaces and spaces such as bathrooms and kitchen. Disinfecting these areas of your house will take you a long way in ensuring the flu virus does not spread.

  • Focus the cleaning on shared areas including bathroom sinks, kitchen counters toilets and the kitchen sink. As well, do not forget the door handles.
  • There are a variety of surface disinfectants available in local stores. In shopping for the disinfectants, you may want to consider one that will provide you will protection against the several strains of the virus.

Boosting your immunity

Even as there is no cure for influenza, you can always get a vaccination against the disease on a yearly basis. This can significantly help to strengthen your immunity against the influenza virus during cold seasons. Ask your doctor whether getting the vaccination would be a good idea for you. When opting for the vaccination, you may want to consider the following in mind

  • Ensure you get the vaccine yearly. The vaccine you had in the previous year can never carry over into the next year.
  • Be aware that you may feel some soreness at the injection site.
  • Report to your doctor any side effects including fever, soreness and body aches.
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Tips to Avoid From Getting Sick During The Holidays

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Image is from Search Engine Land

The holidays are supposed to be a time to gather with family and friends to enjoy good food, gift giving, and to have fun. If you get sick right before the holidays, it can put a huge damper on your plans. If you want to keep from getting sick for the holidays, there are a few steps that you should take.

Avoid Germ Hot Spots

If you want to keep from getting sick, you should try to avoid germ hot spots. If possible, you should avoid doing your holiday shopping when the stores are the busiest. If you can’t, you should take a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. You should use some when you touch the door to get in the store and again when you touch the door to leave. Halfway through your trip, you should give your hands another dose. If you touch anything that a sick person touched, you can get sick. The best way to keep these germs from infecting you is to keep your hands clean and germ-free.

Get Enough Sleep

With all the stress and running around that go along with the holidays, it can be difficult to get enough sleep. If you don’t get enough, your immune system can become compromised. This can make it very easy for you to get sick. It is important to give yourself a chance to relax at the end of the day and make sure that you get a full 8 hours of sleep.

Dress Warm

Most kids are told growing up that if they don’t wear a jacket that the cold will make them sick. This is not true. It is actually the cold that will weaken your immune system. If you are exposed to germs, your immune system may not be able to fight them off. When you go out during the holiday season, be sure to wear a coat, hat, and mittens. If your feet get wet in the snow, you should change your socks as soon as possible. The same is true with wet mittens. If you keep warm, you have a less chance of getting sick. If you have been out in the cold for an extended period of time, you should take a hot bath or a hot shower. It is the best way to get the chill out. Just be sure to dry your hair completely before going back out or going to bed.

Get Your Flu Shot

It is important that you get your flu shot before the holiday season. It is the best way to protect yourself from being sick in bed for several days. The flu can completely ruin your holiday.

Take a Multi-Vitamin

It is a good idea to start taking multi-vitamins before the holiday season. They will boost your immune system and keep you healthier. The healthier you are, the harder it will be to get infected by germs that you come into contact with.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

If you want to keep from getting sick, you should drink plenty of fluids, particularly water. Doctors recommend that you drink 8, 8 ounce glass of water. You should also avoid alcohol. Getting drunk will weaken your immune system and you could end up with a hangover.

Don’t Share With Others

If you want to keep from getting sick, you should avoid sharing forks, cups, toothbrushes, and anything else that a sick person can pass their germs on.

Getting sick during the holidays can completely ruin your plans. If you follow a few simple steps, you can avoid getting sick and ruining your entire holiday.

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How to Reduce the Spread of Germs

kid washing hands with mom

Image is from Healthy Tennessee

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

You need to worry about microscopic bugs, the bugs you cannot see with the human eye. These microscopic germs you cannot see are the carriers of a lot of disease and illness.

Deadly, Simple Routines

You never stop to think about how clean the person’s hands were who used your shopping cart before you.

  • What did that person do last before grabbing the shopping cart you are now holding in your hands?
  • Did that person have their hands in their mouth?
  • Did the person go to the restroom and not wash their hands?
  • Did the person sneeze or cough into their hands?

While many people wash their hands before leaving a restroom, there are still some people who do not routinely wash their hands.

As sad as this fact is, many people still visit the bathroom and do not wash their hands after they finish using the toilet. If this makes you cringe, it should, because this scenario is all too true.

What if someone had the flu symptoms and was coughing and sneezing into their hands and then placed their hands on your shopping cart where your hands now rest?

Oops, you have an itchy nose and reach a hand up to scratch your face with a hand that was holding someone’s sneeze or a cough.

We cannot see these microscopic germs, but these bacteria are present in and on everything we touch. You can feel pretty comfortable in your home; however, when you are out in the public domain with strangers all around, you must be cautious and think the very worst you can to stay relatively healthy.

Be Aware of Your Environment

While you cannot eliminate these nasty germs from your surroundings, you can take some steps significantly decreasing unknown microscopic bacteria in your environment by using some plain and simple common sense.

  • Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in a pocket or purse and use it before and after using a shopping cart, before eating, after leaving a public restroom and just because it is time to disinfect your hands.
  • If a store supplies bacterial wipes at cart corrals, grab some wipes and cleanse the cart handles before using. You can carry wipes wherever you go.
  • When a store display a bottle of hand sanitizer, use some.
  • When you have to sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue. If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your upper arm or crook of your elbow, and use sanitizer afterward.
  • A sneeze is believed to travel, at least, 400 miles per hour. sanitizer afterward.
  • If you have the flu symptoms or a severe cold, never go out into the public, stay home.
  • If you must go out and you are ill, wear a mask.
  • Be sure to get your pneumonia and flu shot when due.
  • Never share eating or drinking utensils.
  • See your doctor if you are ill and not getting better.
  • Never use anything that you think could be contaminated by germs like towels, washcloths, and makeup.

How to Wash Your Hands in a Public Restroom.

  1. Turn on the faucet with a piece of dry paper towel.
  2. Wash hands well with warm soapy water.
  3. Rinse hands.
  4. Do not turn faucets off until you dry your hands well.
  5. Grab a piece of dry paper towel to turn the faucet handles off.

People leave germs on the faucet handles after using the toilet. These bacteria can penetrate wet paper towels and go back onto your hands.

Using common sense is the best way to help eliminate the spread of germs.

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