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Hepatitis Causes and Prevention

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Image is from National Hemophilia Foundation

Hepatitis means inflammation of a person’s liver cells due to an injury to the liver. There are different types of hepatitis you can get that can be determined through a laboratory test. Hepatitis can heal on its own without the need of treatment, but in some cases, treatment is necessary since the virus causes a chronic infection. The main types of hepatitis are A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A, B, and C cause the most liver damage.

Hepatitis can be a symptom of another disease, and it is mainly a symptom of autoimmune diseases. The hepatitis is a disease that is mainly caused by a viral infection. Hepatitis often starts as an acute disease but can progress and become chronic if not detected early. The disease can cause liver cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer to the patient.

Causes of Hepatitis

Hepatitis can be caused by toxins from drugs, alcohol or other sources of toxins. It can also be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the liver. However, the most known common cause of hepatitis is a virus.

Hepatitis A and E are short term viral infections that are mainly transmitted through water or food that is contaminated by human or animal waste. Other sources of these forms of hepatitis include under cooked food or raw food that has not been handled in a hygienic way.

Hepatitis B can be spread through having direct contact with infected blood. It can also be sexually transmitted or spread to a child during childbirth.

Hepatitis C can be spread through direct contact with infected blood. It is rare for the disease to be spread from mother to child during childbirth or during sexual intercourse.

Hepatitis D can also be spread through infected blood. However, you can only get hepatitis D if you were infected with hepatitis B. Those who are at the greatest risk of getting the infection include drug users since most share needles. Other at-risk groups include those who have unprotected sex with multiple partners.

Prevention

New cases of hepatitis have been significantly reduced through vaccinations. There are vaccines available for prevention of hepatitis A and B. the vaccinations are effective in reducing the number of infections in children as well as adults.

Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis D. however; the disease can be prevented once you get immunized for hepatitis B.

Babies who are delivered to mothers suffering from hepatitis B should get the vaccine within 12 hours of birth to prevent them from getting infections.

Other things that can be done to prevent infection include the following:

  • Washing your hands and encouraging other people to do the same with water and soap after changing a diaper, after coming from using the bathroom and before handling any food.
  • Avoid eating raw foods from unknown places and always drink bottled, boiled or chemically treated water.
  • Practice safe sex. Using condoms goes a long way in preventing the spread of the infection.
  • Do not share sharp objects or toothbrushes.
  • When performing first aid, always wear gloves.
  • Disinfect all blood spills and wear gloves when cleaning up any body fluids.
  • Seek regular prenatal care when you are pregnant.

To reduce the risk of getting a non-viral type of hepatitis, avoid taking excessive alcohol. Also, consult a physician before starting a new prescription and on taking supplements. Hepatitis is a disease that needs to be taken seriously as it can cause severe damage to your liver.

 

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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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Uses / Impacts of Cord Blood

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Image is from www.cordblood.com

You’ve likely heard about stem cells, given the contentious debate regarding its usage. What cannot be denied, however, is that it is immensely useful in the treatment of more than 80 different serious diseases. In a time when general medicine still struggles to keep pace with the growing numbers of cancer patients and people with immunodeficiency disorders, cord blood has proven to be a viable alternative in clinical trials.

What, Exactly, Is Cord Blood

Cord blood refers to blood from the umbilical cord of a baby. These early cells have very special properties that are absent in adult cells: they can self-renew and self-repair. Given that a majority of diseases are actually affectations on the cellular level, this property of self-repair is hugely beneficial in the treatment of such ailments.

The current status of cord blood treatment is that they are largely relegated to research laboratories and clinical trials. The hope – which has been realized with varying degrees of success already – is that cord blood will prove essential in the development of therapies for some major illnesses.

What Is the Record of Application and Success So Far?

In the past 2.5 decades, the stem cells from cord blood have been used to treat 80+ diseases and medical conditions. Many of these issues have no other current treatment, and include such debilitating conditions such as cerebral palsy, leukemia and neuroblastoma. To date, the 30,000 – and counting – cord blood transplants have been approved to treat:

  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – which is a specific type of cancer that originates in the bloodstream and adversely affects the lymph nodes
  • A cluster of disorders that target the metabolic system as well as the contribute to immunodeficiencies; such as Hunter syndrome, Osteopetrosis, Sickle Cell Anemia and Lesch Nyhan syndrome
  • Neuroblastoma, Medulloblastoma and other malignant tumors such as Retinoblastoma
  • Cancers that target the blood immune system – such as Leukemia, which is responsible for nearly 60,000 deaths per day as of 2017. Stem cells from cord blood have proved useful in treating all forms and stages of leukemia and related blood cancers

The Next Stage of Cord Blood Usage

The dozens of trials in process all around the world continue to produce very positive results; in fact, the approval of each new one is contingent on the success of the previous phases. In particular, many of the newer illnesses that the recuperative powers of stem cells from cord blood endow include:

  • Lupus
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Graft vs Host Disease
  • Multiple types of encephalopathy

Trial after trial has shown that patients who undergo cord blood therapy, and combine this treatment with regularly scheduled health check-ups and good diets show a markedly improved quality of life.

The Method of Treatment

The method of treatment is simply the normal blood transfusion; except using cord blood. The self-repairing stem cells contained therein progress through the patient’s blood stream, and perform their healing touch, so to speak, on the tissue and cells with which they come into contact. The overall effect of this is to essentially create a new, well-functioning immune system capable of warding off immune-related illnesses the same way a healthy person’s system does.

The cord blood that you, for example, would use, will be taken from either your child or a sibling. The recommended person is actually up to the specific type of disease, and your physician’s analysis. For example, cancers are best treated (usually) using cord blood from your baby; whereas inherited genetic diseases employ a sibling’s cord blood.

 

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Understanding Cord Blood

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Image is from www.cordbloodaware.com

If you are expecting a baby, you must have heard about cord blood and how it can help make your child’s life easier. You might be thinking about what cord blood is and what all the fuss is about. Parents do different things to enhance the safety of their child or children. Cord blood banking is one of those things.

Cord blood is blood in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord. The blood contains young stem cells that become specialized after regeneration. The cord blood stem cells have been used in the treatment of different infections and proven to be effective in replacing children’s damaged blood cells with healthy ones and most importantly boosting their immune system.

To improve medical treatment, cord blood banking has become a medical norm. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and storing cord blood stem cells for future medical use.

Why cord blood is special

Cord blood is special since it is not like any other kind of blood. Cord blood contains young stem cells. Stem cells are important in treatment since it gives the body the ability to regenerate and make new cells that will replace damaged ones. Cord blood can be used to treat different medical conditions in clinical trials that were once considered untreatable.

Benefits of cord blood

Cord blood has many benefits including:

  • The special blood in the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells that can get renewed and turn into other cells. These cells can be injected into other children to treat certain diseases like leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and others. The stem cells can replenish their blood supply and turn into new, healthy cells.
  • The stem cells present in cord blood can be used to help the body recover from chemotherapy or radiation that takes its toll on the body.
  • Cord blood stem cells are less mature compared to bone marrow cells. The patient is less likely to reject cord blood that is a risk when going for a bone marrow transplant.
  • The process of taking cord blood is not painful or invasive.
  • Cord blood banking comes in handy if there are siblings suffering from blood disorders. It can be used to treat them.

Cord blood banking

Cord blood banking is the process where cord blood is taken and stored for future use. The blood is stored in a special blood bank. The blood is kept in a special blood bank since unlike normal blood, it has stem cells that can regenerate and become specialized. Cord blood banking provides a way you can save beneficial blood that is normally thrown away after childbirth.

Downsides of cord blood banking

  • While parents can be encouraged to consider cord blood banking, it is not certain that they will use the blood.
  • If the child develops a genetic disorder, the blood cannot be used in treatment since it contains the same genetic flaws that brought the disorder.
  • As much as the chances of rejection are low and it reduces the risk of getting a rejection, sometimes using your blood in your treatment is not the best thing. Some genetic flaws might make it better to use a donor’s blood as it is better equipped to fight the condition.
  • Cod blood treatment is mainly used in children’s treatment since it does not have enough cells to be used in adults.

Cord blood is useful because of the stem cells. However, go through all the facts before deciding if this form of medical insurance is useful for you.

 

 

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Hepatitis Awareness Month

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Image is from American Liver Foundation

The Purpose of Hepatitis Awareness Month

The CDC strives to inform and educate individuals, communities, organizations, the medical community, and groups on Hepatitis.

  • What Hepatitis is
  • The symptoms
  • How it impacts lives
  • The treatments available
  • Testing available
  • Resources available

May is the time to heighten your awareness of Hepatitis to help yourself and those around you to become aware and educated about this insidious disease, many times a hidden and severe threat to your loved ones.

Hepatitis is a Dangerous Virus

You have no doubt heard about Hepatitis, or maybe not, but if you do you know what hepatitis is and how this can impact your life you will want to spread the word. Gain knowledge and information put out by the CDC during Hepatitis Awareness Month in May.

Many people have Hepatitis and are not even aware that they are infected. Hepatitis is a well-hidden illness of epidemic proportions. Millions of people suffer from Hepatitis in America every year.

In a nutshell, hepatitis is an inflammation process within your liver. This inflammation can remain as such or spin out of control causing fibrosis.

Fibrosis is a scarring of the liver tissues. This scarring hardens the liver tissue, which in the end resembles a stone. Hepatitis can cause you cirrhosis or cancer in the liver.

All forms of hepatitis cause liver damage in differing ways, some types of Hepatitis offer no indications the person even has a health problem. Other people suffer from minor symptoms of this disease. Other people have serious complications resulting in death.

Hepatitis, unfortunately, is very common and caused by substance abuse such as too much alcohol all the time, street drugs, and certain diseases related to immunity disorders.

Five Types of Hepatitis

There are five types of Hepatitis, A, B, C, D, and E. Type A caused by the ingestion of contaminants from food and water. Type B causes a chronic disease leading to cirrhosis and cancer, caused by contact with infected body fluids. Type C causes a chronic illness leading to cirrhosis and cancer, caused by contact with infected body fluids. Type D caused by contact with infected body fluids, and type E caused by the ingestion of contaminants from food and water

Universal Transmission

  • Blood transfusions and blood products
  • Contaminated invasive medical equipment
  • Infected pregnant women
  • Sexual contact
  • Sharing of needles among drug users
  • Accidental needle pricks among medical personnel
  • Poor sanitation conditions.
  • Symptoms

Symptoms may include a yellow tinge to the skin called jaundice, dark urine, severe fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Work to Spread the Word

May is set aside as Hepatitis Awareness Month across the Untied States. The CDC set the 19th day of May as the day of hepatitis testing.

The CDC recognizes how hidden and elusive hepatitis and their focus is to shed light on this deadly epidemic, threatening the populace.

Become a Proactive Citizen for Hepatitis every year. May is the time of year to push the CDC’s agenda for Hepatitis Awareness and what this illness stands for throughout the United States.

Help to promote things that you, your friends, and your family can do to protect them from this hidden medical menace. You can help spread the word.

  • Take the Hepatitis Risk Assessment. This assessment only takes a mere 5 minutes of your time and is well worth taking.
  • Learn vaccination recommendations
  • Access educational videos
  • Wear buttons and badges and hang posters
  • Be prepared to answer questions and provide the basics of hepatitis.

Support the CDC and May Hepatitis Awareness Month the CDC in their endeavors to make every May a successful hepatitis awareness month.

 

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How Are Women Of Childbearing Age At Risk For Hepatitis C


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What Is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a known severe liver disease. It is contagious and deadly, causing untold liver damage and sometimes liver cancer. You can have hepatitis C, and you may not know it unless you test. You can contact hepatitis C through coming in contact with infected blood or body fluids from an individual who is a hepatitis C carrier. Coming in contact with the blood from someone who is a carrier is how hepatitis C spreads from one person to another.

If you have hepatitis C, your symptoms can be mild to severe. Symptoms can last a few weeks to a lifetime. Although, if you are infected with hepatitis C chances are this disease will be long-lasting and chronic. Hepatitis is a slow progressing infection that in the end takes an enormous toll on your liver. There are treatments options that you need to work with your primary care doctor before the progression snowballs out of control.

An Increase in Hepatitis C Cases in Women

The research done by the CDC notes that during the years of 2010 – 1014 in a particular class of white women and of childbearing age, hepatitis saw an increase of nearly 25% in the hepatitis C infection. This entire group carried a history of drug use via injection, which is the most common way to get hepatitis C. The concern is the high risk for transmission of HCV to the unborn child by the mother. Recommendations from the CDC say testing for this infection is a vital part of prenatal care.

The research completed found ways in which to control this disease in an efficient manner, however, as yet; there is nothing available to prevent transmission of the infection from mother to their unborn.

Risk Factors For Contracting Hepatitis C

What puts you at risk for contracting hepatitis C when you are pregnant? If you are pregnant, think long and hard about how you live your life and avoid high risk living in less than sterile atmosphere to protect your unborn child such as,

  • Injections of drugs
  • Visiting a tattoo parlor
  • Body piercing
  • Submitting to acupuncture
  • Never share a toothbrush
  • Never share a razor
  • Unsafe sex

Other risk factors are when you expose yourself to blood transfusions, injection of drugs, and non sterile needles before you become pregnant or while you are pregnant. If you have HIV you need a specialist doctor to follow you during your pregnancy. This doctor checks for liver function on a regular basis.

If you do not have Hepatitis C or HIV your risk factors increase when you work in an industry where you come in contact with the virus, such as a nurse, doctor, paramedic, or medical technician.

If you have known hepatitis C, know that the risks are lower for you are successfully transmitting this infection to your baby, but there remains a five in 100 chance you can. These odds dramatically increase if you have HIV.

If you face this scenario, there is no way to assure your baby does not contract hepatitis C. Doctors found that it makes no difference how the doctor delivers the baby, traditional or Caesarean.

The only one option is some medications on the market could reduce these risks.

These babies contracting hepatitis C live with a chronic liver inflammation, including cirrhosis, and cancer for the rest of their life.

Researchers found that if you have hepatitis C your child’s condition relies heavily upon your Viral RNA level as how high of a risk your baby has in your transmitting hepatitis C to the infant.

Avoid all risks.

 

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How can a mother prevent HCV transmission to child

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Becoming a new mother to a precious newborn baby brings a lot of worry all on its own. Worrying about the ways to prevent HCV transmission to the newborn might be also a concern of yours if you currently have the viral infection.

To help ease your mind the information below will help provide you with a bit of insight on how to prevent the transmission of the virus to your baby during birth, but to help ease your mind even more passing the virus onto your baby if you do have it is more difficult than you think.

In general, it’s a hard disease to pass on since you cannot catch it through coughing, sneezing, kissing, or breastfeeding. The only way the disease can be caught is coming into contact with the blood.

How can mothers prevent passing HCV to their newborn?

Mothers can prevent the passing of HCV to their newborns by doing things to help support their immune system. In mothers with an HCV overload, meaning when hepatitis C is roaring its ugly head at the highest peak causing countless symptoms and illness seems to be when mothers can pass the virus onto their babies during childbirth.

Therefore, keeping the immune system healthy and strong by eating a good balance diet of lots of fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein, probiotic rich foods, and taking their prenatal vitamins daily is essential for preventing the spread of the virus from mom to baby. Even getting plenty of sleep, lots of rest and plenty of water into the body is vital for keeping the immune system up so it can fight off the virus, protect your baby and prevent the spread of infection.

Can breastfeeding a newborn right after birth pass it onto the baby?

Right after giving birth moms infected with HCV are worried about passing the virus onto their babies through breastfeeding, but this cannot occur through breast milk unless there is blood on the nipples or the nipple is cracked and bleeding. If your nipples become sore and cracked during your first few days of breastfeeding, you may have to stop until they heal up again so you do not risk passing it onto your new little one. If your baby does catch the virus, their little bodies do wonders when it comes to naturally fighting it off because you have already passed the HCV antibodies off to them during the first few moments of breastfeeding.

What can doctors do to help moms prevent the spread of it during childbirth?

The best thing doctors can do to help moms prevent the spread of the virus during childbirth is ensure the babies comes into as little contact with the mother’s blood as possible. This can be difficult since tearing of the vaginal area can happen during childbirth, which causes bleeding. You can massage the area daily with a natural non irritating oil up until birth to help reduce the risk of tearing during childbirth. Some women have had great success with the method, which can reduce the risks of your baby coming into contact with tons of your blood during childbirth.

What are some end thoughts to keep in mind?

With all that mentioned, keep in mind if your baby does contract the virus the doctors are well educated on how to treat the virus successfully. Your baby might have to stay in the hospital longer along with you, but end results are promising and happy so let your mind be at ease. After all, you are about to receive the most precious gift of your life.

 

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