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Understanding Sickle cell

Microscopic view of sicke cells causing anemia disease.

Image is from guardian.ng

There are many kinds of diseases that are associated with blood. Some are contagious diseases. Others are developed within the body because of lifestyle or unhealthy habits. On the other hand, there are also such diseases that are inherited, and one of these diseases is sickle cell.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle cell disease or SCD is a red blood cell disorder that is passed on from parents to children. This red blood cell is identified as sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. There are many people with abnormal hemoglobin such as hemoglobin S, but the most common type of SCD is hemoglobin SS or sickle-cell anemia.

Overview

Our body tissues require oxygen, and this is being supplied by our hemoglobin or red blood cells throughout our body. Since hemoglobin has a round shape, it becomes flexible enough to easily flow through blood vessels. It’s soft and elastic, so it can fit freely flow along with other red blood cells.

Meanwhile, sickle cell has a sickle shape similar with that of a leech. Inside the sickle cell, there are strands that form such a shape, and these stands are hard. As a result, sickle cells don’t easily flow through blood vessels. Instead, they stick to the wall and block the blood vessel. Because of this, the supply of oxygen to our tissues are slowed down or even blocked completely.

When your body tissues don’t have enough supply of oxygen, you may suffer from severe pain crises. Such pain comes without early signs or warning, and this usually ends up being sent to the hospital for immediate treatment. In some cases, it can also harm or damage organs such as lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, and liver.

Causes

SCD is only inherited from a parent as it’s not contagious nor developed overtime. Nevertheless, the probability of inheriting sickle cell disease is low because even if your parent has SCD doesn’t necessarily mean you have also inherited it. There are factors that affect the transfer of SCD such as another parent’s condition. This means that both parents should have SCD in order to pass it on to their children. If only one of the parents has SCD, the disease will not be passed down.

Symptoms

There are different symptoms of sickle cell disease, and they vary from one patient to another depending on health condition. Nonetheless, these are some common symptoms you should observe:

  • Eye Problems
  • Slow Growth
  • Infections
  • Swelling
  • Pain

Swelling takes place in hands and feet; however, chronic pain is usually experienced by young adults who have SCD. If not managed properly, it may lead to bone damage and ulcers. Meanwhile, vision problems happen when eyes have the lack the supply of blood as a result of sickle cell blockage.

When You Should See a Doctor

Symptoms may be a false sign or just a sign of another different disease. It’s difficult to predict until you see a doctor. Visit a doctor if you see and experience the following signs:

  • Yellow Skin
  • Frequent Fever
  • Abnormal Swelling
  • Episodes of Pain

Treatment

The only cure for SCD is stem-cell transplant or bone marrow transplant. However, it has a lot of challenges to do so. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to find a donor, only those who are16 years old or below are able to undergo such an operation. Moreover, the operation is risky, and it sometimes leads to death. Nevertheless, antibiotics are administered to cure the crises or pain.

 

 

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World Sickle Cell Day

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Image is from TheHealthSite.com

World Sickle Cell Day is acknowledged on June 19th each year to bring awareness to this widespread blood disorder. Sickle Cell Disease is the most frequent genetic disease worldwide and is present on four continents. The United Nations estimates that over 500,000 people are born with this condition each year and that 50% of those affected could die before the age of 5.

What is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Disease is a red blood cell disease that is inherited, meaning it is not contagious but a genetic event that people are born with. The affected red blood cells contain mostly hemoglobin S, considered an abnormal type of hemoglobin.

This abnormality causes many of the cells to form an abnormal sickle, or crescent-like, shape. Abnormally shaped blood cells are not able to travel the body as typical round cells, getting stuck or slowing down blood flow to affected areas, and causing further problems.

In addition to affecting blood flow, these crescent-shaped cells are also less hearty than traditional blood cells and are destroyed faster within the body. Patients frequent suffer from anemia, gallstones, and jaundice. Serious illness can be caused by limited blood flow to the lungs and limbs, including stroke and organ damage. Patients are also highly susceptible to bacteria and infection.

How is Sickle Cell Treated?

There is no universal cure for Sickle Cell Disease. Affected patients are divided into three primary groups including Sickle Cell Anemia, Sickle-Hemoglobin C Disease, and Sickle Beta Thalassemia. Treatments for each disease subgroup will vary.

Treatment of symptoms is common, using antibiotics for infection, blood transfusion for blood clots, and medication for pain. Frequent blood transfusion can cause their own problems too, increasing iron in the blood too much, so this is not an ideal solution. Current treatments focus on maintaining patient overall health, and treating symptoms as they arise.

Droxia, the manufacturer name for a drug called hydroxyurea, has been used with some success since FDA approval in 1998, but further research and treatment is still needed.

How Can I find out more about World Sickle Cell Day?

This specific day of awareness was created by a United Nations resolution and features worldwide activities, many of which can be found on the World Sickle Cell Day’s Facebook page.

While different areas may have additional Sickle Cell Awareness events, including Sickle Cell Awareness month in the United States, June 19th represents the united global event. World Sickle Cell Day online provides many resources about this global awareness event including history, the text of the United Nations resolution and involved organizations, and event listing of years past.

Contact these groups to join Sickle Cell awareness and fundraising events in your area.

 

 

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What to Avoid: Gluten Allergy

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Do you or a family member suffer from frequent or infrequent brain fog, lethargy, painful stomach maladies or a combination of each? The struggle is real. The acknowledgement of gluten allergies in the last decade has recently illuminated the often debilitating symptoms that affect upwards of 18 million people in the United States. One grain of wheat could make the difference between a better quality of life and barely getting by. So what can you do to stop something so seemingly insignificant from negatively impacting the way you live? Discover what to look for and what to avoid in your day-to-day routine to avoid needless pain and suffering.

Show Me the–Ingredients

When going gluten-free, consummate foodies may find the “food lifestyle” change a little daunting. It doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ways you can satisfy your taste buds and avoid the dangers gluten allergies can bring to your everyday nutriments.

1. Be vigilant. It’s simple, read the nutritional information! Do this and at the very least you will be aware of the possibility of gluten in your food choices.

2. Don’t just read the ingredients, read by the asterisk. For gluten sensitive stomachs, cross contamination of food items in factories that also process nuts, soy and wheat products can affect the most sensitive of stomachs. Many packaged products have additional information marked by an asterisk at the beginning or end of their ingredient list. If the product is produced in the same building as wheat products, you may want to set the food item back on the shelf.

3. Know your trigger words. Dextrin, barley, bleached flour, bulgur, beer, brown flour, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, various malt products and yeast products in food can cause the troubling and debilitating symptoms of a gluten allergy attack. If you see any of these in the ingredients, it’s best to steer clear and opt for a clearly marked “gluten-free” substitution.

4. Stay positive and look for options. The more options you find to replace gluten-rich products with gluten-free delicious alternatives the less tempted you’ll be to indulge in that little bit of tainted decadence that can bring on fogginess, cramping, nausea or shooting pains.

5. It is best to abstain. If you can’t find the information you need to determine without a doubt that what you put in your mouth is untouched by gluten, don’t bite. If there is a snack you just can’t live without, do the research. With gluten allergy awareness quickly becoming a must-have for food-producing companies in the current market, food companies post gluten information on their websites for quick and easy answers.

6. Expect nothing. What you may think as naturally gluten free, may be contaminated in processing and packaging. Gluten-free products are not guaranteed to remain gluten-free. Some companies may change the ingredients they use at their own discretion. Many companies engage in their own comprehensive food-testing and may have discovered gluten contamination in the process. If you peruse the numerous gluten-free food lists online that are periodically updated online, what was once gluten free could now be off the list.

Gluten isn’t just found in various foods. Shampoos, cosmetic products, medications, vitamins and even stamps and envelopes may all contain a form of gluten. From hot dogs to precooked flour dusted French fries, gluten is an ingredient that continues to find its way into our lives, but it is possible to avoid it. Thankfully as awareness grows, so does the list of food alternatives. Protect yourself by never making assumptions and you’ll be able to exemplify what it means to live a gluten-free life!

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Celiac Disease

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Image is from Gastroenterology Consultants Orlando

Celiac Disease: Patient Guide and Treatment Information

For people with celiac disease, going gluten-free is a medical necessity rather than a choice. Celiac disease is a serious digestive disorder that is triggered by the protein gluten. When people with celiac disease eat foods that have gluten, such as barley, rye and wheat, their immune system responds by damaging the intestine. Over time, this results in the body being unable to absorb nutrients. Celiac disease leads to a host of problems, including:

  • Malnourishment
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Cancer

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Here are some of the symptoms of celiac disease. If you have these symptoms, check with your doctor for an official diagnosis. There are many other diseases that could be causing these symptoms, as well.

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Swelling in the abdomen or feeling of fullness
  • Foul-smelling, pale stools that float
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed?

Celiac disease can be diagnosed by your physician. They will ask you for a complete family medical history. Then, you physician may order a physical exam and other tests, such as genetic tests, blood test or a biopsy.

Treatments for Celiac Disease

There is no cure for celiac disease. The only treatment is to remain on a gluten-free diet. Following a gluten-free diet will significantly reduce the symptoms of this disorder and may eventually end the symptoms altogether as the villi of your intestines are healed. Eating any gluten at all will restart the damage to your intestine. Therefore, you will have to remain on a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life.

In some cases, the damage to the intestines is so significant that eating a gluten free diet will not help. If this happens, the only way to get nutrients is intravenously.

Living with Celiac Disease

Living with celiac disease requires a big change in your diet. A true gluten-free diet will limit what you can eat. You cannot eat many of the staples, including:

  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Ice cream
  • Instant coffee
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Yogurt
  • Pizza
  • Processed foods

Read food labels carefully before eating any food to be sure that it does not contain wheat or any other type of gluten. Some patients with celiac disease can eat oats and others cannot. So, if you have celiac disease, ask your doctor whether or not you should consume oats. Just be aware that packaged oats are sometimes contaminated with wheat.

It is also a good idea to pay close attention to over-the-counter capsules, vitamins and tablets as many of these contain wheat starch, which is used as a binding agent in capsules and tablets. Gluten is present in barley so avoid beer. Brandy, whiskey, wine and other alcohols are fine as they do not contain gluten.

It is always a good idea to work with a dietitian, who can provide you with more information about a gluten-free diet.

When eating in restaurants, you will have to ask what the ingredients are in each dish that you order. Eating just a small amount of gluten will cause some people with celiac disease to vomit or have severe diarrhea that lasts for hours.

Even though you have celiac disease, you can still enjoy a healthy diet. You can get pasta and bread that are made from other types of flour, such as rice flour. In addition, many food companies have significantly increased their gluten-free offerings over the last couple of years as gluten-free has become quite popular. In addition, you can enjoy fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and meats, as long as they have not been artificially processed.

 

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Understanding Celiac Disease

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Image is from Dr.Starpoli

Celiac Disease is a genetic, digestive, autoimmune disorder that is characterized by damage to the small intestine when you consume gluten. Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat. If you have Celiac Disease and ingest gluten, your body reacts with an immune response that attacks and eventually damages the villi in the small intestine. Villi are tiny, finger-shaped projections that line the small intestine and promote nutrient absorption. Malfunction of the villi can lead to malnutrition.

Diagnosis

Celiac Disease is diagnosed symptomatically, along with a blood test to look for a high level of certain antibodies and a biopsy of the small intestine. An estimated 1 out of every 100 people worldwide have the disease. It is also hereditary, so if you have a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with it, your chances of developing the disease increases to approximately 1 out of 10.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Weight loss

While Celiac Disease cannot be cured, it can be managed, so that you can go on to live a long, healthy life.

Treatment

There is only one treatment for Celiac Disease and that is to eat a gluten-free diet. Fortunately, there are many foods that are naturally gluten-free such as:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Eggs
  • Nuts

There are also a growing number of gluten-free products that are being developed by manufacturers.

There is, however, a little bit more to managing Celiac Disease than just eliminating gluten from your diet. You also have to make sure you are getting the proper amount of nutrients and vitamins including:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Fiber

Weight gain can also be a problem for you if you are treating Celiac Disease, because you are now absorbing more calories from your gluten-free food.

Life with Celiac Disease

There are several steps you can take to live more healthfully:

  • See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) – He or she can help you to understand what foods are safe to eat and what you should avoid. An RDN can also help you with meal planning and what to do when eating in a restaurant. They will also ensure that you are receiving the proper vitamins and nutrients from your gluten-free diet and help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Try Alternate Grains – There are several grains that can be used in place of grains with gluten. These include: corn, rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet, quinoa and teff. There is also a large variety of plant foods and starches you can consume, such as: potato, buckwheat, flax, lentils, soy, tapioca, yucca, wild rice, and Indian rice grass. You can also speak to your grocer and ask for some of these alternatives to be put in stock. Most grocers will do their best to accommodate you.
  • Learn about Ingredients – Many foods contain gluten even if they are barley, rye, and wheat-free. For example, soy sauce, malt, and modified food starch all contain gluten. Most processed foods and condiments contain gluten, as well. If you have Celiac Disease, it is critical to start reading ingredient lists on labels.
  • Look for Gluten-Free Labels – While manufacturers are creating more and more gluten-free foods, if it doesn’t say gluten-free on the label, don’t purchase it. Something as seemingly innocuous as a rice mix can have traces of gluten in it.

While it may seem overwhelming at first, it can actually be fun to create your own gluten-free recipes. After awhile, you will know exactly what products you can enjoy to live a healthy, happy, productive life.

 

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