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Different types of Hepatitis

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The definition of hepatitis is injury to the liver with inflammation of liver cells. There are six kinds of this disease, types A, B, C, D, E, and G, and which one you have is determined by a blood test. All six types are caused by a virus, but each is contracted differently.

Some fast facts on hepatitis include:

  • Hepatitis A (HAV) is caused by ingesting contaminated water or food.
  • Hepatitis B (HBV) is an STD (sexually transmitted disease)
  • Approximately 300 million people worldwide have hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis C (HCV) is spread by direct contact with the blood of an infected person.
  • Approximately 250 million people in the world have hepatitis C.
  • A person must already be infected with hepatitis B in order to contract hepatitis D (HDV).
  • Hepatitis E (HEV) is caused by drinking contaminated water.
  • Hepatitis G (HGV) is also caused by a specific virus.
  • There is also a hepatitis X, which is diagnosed when a case of hepatitis is contracted by a virus other than those that cause the others.
  • The initial symptoms of all of the forms of hepatitis can be confused with flu symptoms.

HAV

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1,781 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is caused by an acute viral illness; it never becomes chronic. Like other viruses, it is easily spread, especially when there are unsanitary conditions. It is spread by oral secretions (kissing) and fecal (poor or no hand washing). If proper hand washing does not occur, customers in restaurants and children in daycares are particularly susceptible.

HBV

The CDC reports that more than 1,800 people die from chronic HBV each year. It is contracted in many ways:

  • The transfer of blood or serum via shared needles
  • Transfer of contaminated blood via an accidental needle stick
  • Blood transfusions
  • Hemodialysis
  • To newborns by infected mothers
  • Sharing toothbrushes or razors
  • Body piercing or tattooing with an infected needle

About 6% to 10% of patients develop chronic HBV. It can last anywhere from six months to decades, and an infected person is contagious as long as they have the disease. Chronic sufferers are also more susceptible to liver cirrhosis, cancer, or failure. It is estimated that there are about two billion people in the world who have this form of hepatitis.

HCV

According to the CDC, there are 16,500 new cases of HCV reported each year. It is caused by shared needles, accidental needle sticks, blood transfusions, or hemodialysis. It is also contracted by sexual contact, but those incidents are rare. Over half of patients diagnosed with acute HCV develop chronic infections from which they continue to be contagious. In the United States, alone, 3.2 million people are infected with this common form of hepatitis.

HDV, HEV, and HGV

HDV is the most important one of the three, because patients can contract this virus concurrently with HBV. It requires a protein from HBV in order to survive. It is contracted by some of the same ways HBV is spread, by sexual contact, shared needles, and contaminated blood. The combination of these two viruses are very difficult to treat, and severe cirrhosis (liver scarring) occurs rapidly.

While HDV is similar to HBV, HEV is similar to HAV in terms of disease. It occurs most often in Asia and is contracted by drinking contaminated water.

HGV is a recent discovery. While it resembles HCV, there is still much to be learned about it. Caused by the flavivirus, it is currently under investigation.

Reduce Your Risk

Follow the these guidelines to protect yourself from contracting the disease:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom.
  • Only eat food that has just been cooked.
  • Only drink bottled or boiled water.
  • Do not eat fruits or vegetables until they have been disinfected.
  • Get a HAV vaccine if traveling to countries where the disease is prevalent.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Do not share needles, toothbrushes, razors, or manicure tools.
  • Get the HBV vaccine series if you are at risk.
  • Make sure piercing/tattoo equipment is sterilized.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.

Not all forms of hepatitis are viral, however. You can contract the disease from ingesting alcohol, medicines, or other chemicals. You can also develop hepatitis from certain medical conditions, such as a metabolic disorder, an immune-related injury, or a genetic problem.

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When to Get Tested for STDs

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Image is from STDcheck.com

Necessary Measures
Nobody likes getting tested for STDs. But it’s something that everybody has to do–even if sexual contact has yet to be initiated. That will be covered in a moment. First, you need to understand some of the risks which come from not getting tested:

  • Some STDs Remain Dormant For Months
  • STDs Can Affect Mental Health
  • You Can Spread Disease Unaware
  • You May Die

Dormant STDs
Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia: they’re hard to spell, they’re definitely bad for you, and they can lie dormant in your body for weeks or months after a sexual encounter. It depends on your physical constitution and age. Additionally, these are some of the most common STDs out there. Thankfully, all three are treatable–provided, of course, you don’t contract some super-gonorrhea strain resistant to modern antibiotics. And such strains don’t just exist, but they’re getting more prevalent. Getting tested quickly can help you take appropriate preventative measures, which may help you avoid being beyond treatment.

STDs Can Affect Mental Health
It’s well-known that syphilis can drive a person to insanity. Chlamydia additionally has certain qualities about it which likewise lead to negative mental health effects. But any STD is generally going to be bad for your mental health just for issues of self-esteem. Physical illness always has an impact on the mind. If you go untested, you could have something influencing how you think and act without realizing it.

You Can Spread Disease Unaware
Because certain STDs lie dormant, when you go unchecked after a “casual” sexual encounter, you could very well spread what you’ve contracted to others. This contributes to pandemic STDs which increase in strength.

You May Die
Certain STDs can lead to complications which ultimately result in fatality. HIV is manageable via medication for years, but once it hits the AIDS stage, life expectancy severely diminishes. Personal constitution can help defray the final moments, but those with fully active AIDS have been known to die very quickly. The BBC puts average life expectancy after contracting HIV at ten years.

Additional Considerations
Earlier it was mentioned that you should likely get tested even if you haven’t had a sexual encounter. This is true for several reasons. One, certain STDs can be passed on at birth, and you may not know about it. Two, on a legal basis, if you’re in a marriage with a prenuptial agreement, then contraction of an STD constitutes a demonstrable violation of the terms, and you could be protected in a legal sense.

When To Get Tested
With these things in mind, recommendations on when you should get tested include before engaging in intimate activity with a significant other, after engaging in intimate activity that you expect may be questionable, and as a general measure to establish your own clean bill of health. The latter can help you avoid difficult legal situations, while the other two have aspects of courtesy and caution defining them. It’s courteous in today’s day and age for you and your intimate partner to be open with one another, and know what your sexual health is like. It’s cautionary to get tested after the fact.

Good Advice
If you really want to avoid the risks, your best bet is to enter into a mutually committed and monogamous relationship. If neither of you have had sexual encounters before, it’s likely you won’t need testing at all–though this is still advisable just to ensure your sexual health is where you think it is. While having multiple partners is certainly something often pursued today, the fallout can be mind-altering, physically debilitating, and ultimately deadly. So get tested.

 

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Understanding the Swine Flu

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Image is from Flowing Data

Obtaining A Diagnosis

The only way to accurately diagnose swine flu is through a flu test. This is because the symptoms of swine flu look exactly the same as those found in conventional strains of influenza. Even differences of severity aren’t always indicators of one strain or another. While it is possible to see increased symptomatic characteristics stemming from swine flu, it’s just as possible to acquire this strain and feel as though you’ve contracted a regular bout of the flu. How you are affected will depend largely upon your personal constitution.

The extremely young and extremely old, like with conventional strains of the flu, will be at increased risk; likely experiencing more severe symptoms. This is because older and younger populations have immune systems which aren’t as strong as those in the prime of life. That said, if you live an unhealthy lifestyle replete with regular contact to diverse people groups, lack of exercise, and a ubiquity of vice (like smoking and drinking), you’re at an increased risk of contracting more severe influenza strains.

A Distinct History

There are actually quite a few different kinds of swine flu, including:

  • H1N1
  • H1N2
  • H2N1
  • H3N1
  • H3N2
  • H2N3

Primarily, the strain commonly referred to as “Swine Flu” is the H1N1 virus. This is that which caused a pandemic which quickly became global seven years ago, in 2009. Since then, this strain of flu has become seasonal in humans, though it still regularly circulates in swine populations. Thankfully, if you’re planning on eating pork, so long as any pork products you consume have been properly prepared, you won’t get the virus. Proper preparation includes cooking; so if you like your bacon soft and rubbery, you might have to give that up to avoid swine flu.

Avoiding Swine Flu

While properly prepared pork will not get you sick, it’s very possible to acquire the virus through poorly prepared pork products. If you can tone down your pork intake during flu season, it’s a good idea; even though you likely won’t catch the flu this way. It’s more likely to get transmitted by a sneeze, a cough, a loud phlegmy laugh, or contacting a door handle/table/hand-rail that’s been touched by an infected individual. Regular hygiene practices go a long way toward preventing influenza. That means washing your hands when you’ve come into contact with areas that may have been compromised, eating a diet high in non-processed foods that include fruits and vegetables, regularly exercising, and retaining a high level of fluids.

Additional Preventative Measures

Getting a swine flu vaccine can definitely help reduce your risk of contracting this specific strain of the flu. But to get that vaccine, you should be advised that peak health is to be recommended. A vaccine initiates an immune system response which bears some characteristics of the sickness itself. This is because an inert (or weakened) antigen is injected into the body, giving the immune system a chance to deal with it and prepare for a future incursion of the same.

Times Of Maximum Risk

Flu season conventionally begins toward the end of September, though it can begin as early as late August. It usually lasts through early spring. Conventionally, you’ll find that influenza season picks up at the end of Summer/the middle of Autumn. Several things which contribute are regular vacation travels, the new school year, and holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving where disparate people groups regularly mingle. For you and your family, retaining good eating and fitness habits, as well as a proper inoculation regimen, are great ways to combat this increasingly prominent strain of the influenza virus.

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