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How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes

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Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar is too high. This occurs because the disease makes it difficult for your body to make enough insulin or use it properly. There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes and it occurs in children and young adults. This type occurs when the body doesn’t make insulin. The second type is Type II diabetes. This type can occur at any age and it is caused if your body doesn’t make insulin or if it doesn’t use it well.

If not treated properly, diabetes can cause serious health problems including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Food problems
  • Nerve damage
  • Dental problems
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Eye problems

What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is more than one disease that can affect people who suffer from diabetes. People who don’t keep their diabetes under control are at greater risk of eye complications. Also, each of the conditions can cause serious vision loss and even blindness. If you suffer from diabetes, it is important that you understand each of the diseases and what they can do to your eyes.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in people who have diabetes. The condition affects the blood vessels in the retina, which lines the back of the eye. If your blood sugar is often high, it can cause damage to the retina’s tiny blood vessels. This can result in the blood vessels bleeding or leaking fluid which can cause distortions in the vision. When the condition progresses, it can result in scarring and cell loss in the retina, causing complete blindness. In many cases, vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is irreversible. Early detection and treatment can reduce your risk of going blind by 95 percent.
  • Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): DME often occurs in people who have diabetic retinopathy. While it often occurs when the disease progresses, it can occur at any time. It is a build-up of fluid in the macula. This part of the eye is used for seeing straight ahead to read, drive, and recognize faces. Half of the people who develop diabetic retinopathy develop DME. If left untreated, it can cause vision loss.
  • Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. When a person has cataracts, their natural lens would be removed and replaced with an artificial one. Anyone can develop cataracts, however, people with diabetes are two to five times more likely to develop cataracts than those who aren’t diabetic.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is often the result of high pressure in the eye, and it is very common in people with diabetes. Studies have shown that adults who suffer from diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than those who don’t have the disease.

Preventing Diabetic Eye Disease

The only way to prevent diabetic eye disease is to be vigilant when it comes to your blood sugar levels. You should also see your eye doctor every six months. The sooner a problem is detected, the sooner it can be treated, saving your eyesight. Many of the diabetic eye diseases won’t show any symptoms at first, therefore, it is very important that you see your eye doctor regularly.

Diabetes can wreak havoc on many of the body’s systems including your vision. The only way to prevent permanent vision loss and blindness is to check your blood sugar levels regularly and take the necessary steps to keep it at a healthy level.

 

 

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What is ITP Awareness Month?

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Image is from Global ITP Awareness Toolkit

Many health conditions affect the daily lives of both people in the United States, and also people around the world. Some conditions are better known such as breast cancer and HIV, while other conditions may not have as much awareness. Blood disorders often fall into this category, as many people are unaware of the serious consequences these cause in patients’ lives.

ITP is one such disorder that often leaves sufferers and families feeling invisible since little is known to the general public and lack of knowledge can even be evident in many medical practices. A lack of visibility makes it difficult for this disease to obtain research funding and limits the treatments available. For this reason, ITP Awareness Month takes on additional importance, bringing public awareness and assets to a lesser known illness.

Understanding How Blood Works

In order to understand how ITP affects people, it is important to first understand how blood works. Blood is made of two primary parts: cells and plasma. The plasma is the liquid, consisting of multiple substances like fats and protein, but is primarily water. The cells are the working pieces, made up of red cells, white cells, and platelets. Red cells carry oxygen while white cells fight infection. Platelets are very tiny cells that work to stop bleeding. If a single part of your blood does not function correctly, it can have an effect on the entire system.

How ITP Affects Platelets

ITP stands for Immune Thrombocytopenia. Implied by the name, ITP is an immune disorder. As with better known immune disorders, this illness causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells. In the case of ITP, the healthy cells that are attacked are the body’s platelets. Since platelets are a vital part of clotting, problems with these cells can trigger a range of complications.

People with ITP are prone to bruises and purple spots on the skin. Signs of spontaneous bleeding, most skin conditions are mild. Many ITP patients complain of general fatigue and sometimes depression. More serious problems occur when low platelet counts begin to affect the digestive system, gastrointestinal system, or worse, the brain. Spontaneous hemorrhage caused be platelet deficiency in these areas can lead to serious complications including organ failure and even death.

ITP Treatment

Platelet counts offer a method to monitor, but not treat ITP. Normal counts should range from 150,000 to 400,000 per microliter of blood. ITP patients often have counts closer to 30,000, with a count of 10,000 indicating a serious condition and risk of catastrophic bleed. There is no known cure for ITP, but there are some treatments that have been shown to help treat symptoms and reduce the risk of fatalities.

The Mayo treatment describes the following therapies for ITP.

  • Immune globulin injections that increase blood count.
  • Steroid drugs that suppress the immune system as well as non-steroid immune suppressants.
  • Drugs that boost platelet production.

Severe cases of ITP that do not respond well to the above therapies may require additional treatment such as the surgical removal of the spleen or stronger experimental drugs with harsher side effects.

ITP Awareness Day

By promoting ITP awareness you can do your part to help improve treatments, funding and overall quality of life for those who suffer from ITP. The Platelet Disorder Support Association offers materials and media kits available online.

 

 

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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 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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Can Wildfire Smoke Affect Your Health?

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Image is from MyFOX8.xom

It seems as though there is always a story on the news about a wildfire breaking out and how difficult they are to contain. Most people think of wildfires and they think about the damage and destruction they can do to homes, vehicles, and personal belongings. What most people don’t consider is the damage the wildfire can do to their health.

How Can Smoke Affect Your Health?

The smoke that is created from a wildfire is a mixture of fine particles and gasses from the burning trees and plant materials. These particles and gasses can result in:

  • Burning eyes
  • An irritated respiratory system
  • Hacking cough
  • Worsens heart disease
  • Worsens lung disease

Who Can Be the Most Effected By the Smoke From Wildfires?

The smoke from a wildfire can affect anyone, however, there are certain people who are at greater risk of having complications.

  • People who have heart or lung problems: If you have any type of heart disease, asthma, or another type of lung disease, you are at greater risk of developing complications from the smoke from a wildfire than a healthy person would be.
  • The elderly: The elderly are at greater risk of developing complications due to wildfire smoke. The reason is that an elderly person has a weaker heart and weaker lungs than a younger person. Also, many elderly people already have lung and heart complications.
  • Children: Children are in danger when it comes to wildfire smoke. A child’s airway is still developing, therefore, they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Also, children spend a great deal of their time outdoors playing.

How to Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke

If you want to protect your family and your family from wildfire smoke complications, there are a few steps that you should take.

  • Pay attention to air quality reports: If the air outdoors is dangerous due to wildfire smoke, it will be mentioned on the news. If the news or health reports say that the air quality is poor, you should try to stay indoors.
  • Keep your windows closed: If the air quality outside is poor, you want to keep the air quality inside clean. To do this, keep the windows closed. If you need to run your air conditioner, you should close the intake for fresh air. Also, keep the filter clean to keep the smoke from outside from getting in.
  • Avoid any activities that will increase pollution: When the air quality outdoors is bad, you should avoid burning candles, using your fireplace, and using your gas stove. You should also avoid vacuuming. It can stir up particles in the air, which can make the indoor pollution worse.
  • Don’t rely on dust masks for protection: You should not put on a dust mask and expect it to protect you from the wildfire smoke. These masks are designed to trap large particles, like sawdust. They are not made to collect the small particles that are created by wildfires.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice: If you are having trouble breathing during the fire, you should contact your doctor. You should follow the instructions that the doctor gives you and take the medication as prescribed.
  • Consider evacuating: If you are having difficulty breathing both indoors and outdoors, you should consider evacuating until the firefighters have everything under control. Evacuating could be the healthiest thing for you.

In a perfect world, wildfires wouldn’t put us at risk. Since we don’t live in a perfect world it is important to know who is at risk and what you can do to protect yourself and your family during a wildfire.

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4 Illnesses That Are Common in the Winter

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Images is from Live and Learn

Learn about the most common winter illnesses and what you can do to fight them.

As the leaves began to fall off the trees and temperatures drop, illnesses such as the flu peak. Many viruses are more likely to spread in the winter. There are several reasons for this. Dry cold air makes it easier for viruses to get into your nasal passages and some germs, such as influenza, are more stable and stay in the air longer when the air is dry and cold. Plus, more people are indoors in the winter. Being indoors with all the doors and windows shut make it more likely that you will be exposed to germs. Here are some of the most common winter illnesses and ways that you can prevent them.

Flu

Influenza, also called the flu is a respiratory virus that is caused by influenza. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the flu virus is at its peak from November through March in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu is prevalent from May through September.

Symptoms of the flu include body aches, high fever, coughing, sore throat and runny nose. Flu is contagious and spreads from person to person by sneezing and coughing. It may also spread through infected surfaces. Populations most susceptible to serious complications from the flu include the elderly and very young as well as those with impaired immune systems.

The best way to prevent the flu is to make sure that you and everyone in your house is vaccinated against the flu. The flu can be treated with Tamiflu if it is diagnosed within 48 hours. Otherwise, the illness has to run its course.

Asthma

Cold air can trigger asthma symptoms and causes wheezing and shortness of breath. Allergens are often a major contributor to asthma. Being indoors leads to breathing in mold, dust and dander, all of which are asthma triggers. Wind and rain also stir up allergens. Working out in the cold weather can also exacerbate asthma, making it more difficult to breathe. Ways to deal with asthma in the winter include:

  • Understand and avoid your triggers-If you are allergic to dust mites or mold, keep your house cool and dry.
  • Exercise indoors
  • Cover your face when you go outdoors

Norovirus

Noroviruses, also known as the “winter vomiting bug” is notorious for ruining cruise passenger’s vacations and causing entire ships to turn back around for port. Noroviruses strike not only cruise passengers, but those on dry land, as well. It is common on cruise ships due to the fact that they are highly contagious. Noroviruses spread through contaminated food and surfaces. Cruise ships provide the perfect setting for noroviruses due to the large number of people confined to a relatively small area. The symptoms of norovirus include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. The best way to prevent norovirus is to wash your hands frequently.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is the irritation and swelling of the air passages of the lungs. This illness most often occurs in winter and is often a complication of another illness, such as the flu or asthma. Frequent coughing is the most common symptom of bronchitis. Although it is usually not a serious illness in healthy individuals, it can lead to pneumonia in certain individuals. If the condition does not go away in two weeks, contact your health care physician. To reduce the risk of bronchitis, wash your hands frequently and get vaccinated for the flu.

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Complications for Type 2 diabetes

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The onset of Type II Diabetes occurs after adulthood, and usually between ages of 40 and 50. The causative factors and the treatment, however, is very much the same as for juvenile diabetes: Daily blood sugar level tests and injections of insulin and/or oral medication to provide the body with necessary insulin the pancreas cannot produce.

Carrying high glucose levels damage blood vessels, nerves, and vital organs. Even a mildly elevated glucose level without displaying any symptoms can have long-term and very damaging effects. Complications of Type II Diabetes are life threatening.

  • Heart Disease and/or Stroke

If you have diabetes I or II, you’re five times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke shortening your life and quality of it. Uncontrolled blood glucose levels over a long period of time increase the chance of atherosclerosis, causing your blood vessels to clog and narrow with fatty deposits. This commonly will result in poor blood supply to your heart, causing pain in your chest. This condition also increases the blockages of vessels in your heart or brain, causing heart attack or cerebral stroke.

  • Nerve damage

High glucose levels damage blood vessels in nerves, causing tingling and burning with pain spreading from your fingers or toes through your limbs. It also causes numbness, leading to ulcers of the feet, and these ulcers contribute to eventual amputation loss of that limb. Regular examination of a foot specialist is necessary for Diabetes I and II patients. Damage to the peripheral nervous system, including all of the nervous system outside the central nervous system, is peripheral neuropathy.

  • Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the name for the disease striking the light-sensitive layer of the retina, the tissue layer in the back of the eye. Blood vessels in the retina that have become either blocked or actually leaky can experience haphazard growth, preventing light to completely pass to your eye retina. This damages vision and can blind. Annual eye checks are necessary. If significant damage has occurred the patient can be referred to a specialist in treatment of eye conditions. Therefore, the more control you have over your blood glucose levels, the lower your risk of blinding eye problems. Diabetic retinopathy can be managed by specialists using laser treatment if early enough in the disease. However, this does not improve the sight; it only preserves the sight you have left after damage.

  • Kidney disease

If the smaller blood vessels in your kidney are blocked and/or leaky, your kidneys react by not working efficiently. This condition is linked to high blood pressure and treatment is an important management process. In severe kidney disease, kidney failure occurs, requiring a kidney transplant, dialysis treatment or resulting in death.

  • Sexual Dysfunction

For Men:

Males with diabetes, particularly smokers, suffer nerve and blood vessel damage leading to impotence, usually treated with medication.

For Women:

Women with diabetes may experience the following:

  • loss of libido and sex drive;
  • vaginal dryness;
  • inability to orgasm;
  • pain during sex.

Use of vaginal lubricant or gel can ease those dysfunctions.

  • Miscarriage and stillbirth

Pregnant women with diabetes have a high risk of miscarriage or a stillbirth.

If your blood glucose level is uncontrolled during early pregnancy, there’s also a higher risk of the baby being born with a birth defect. Pregnant women with diabetes must have their checkups in hospital or diabetic clinic to provide protection for their baby and the mother-to-be. This gives your pregnancy care team a close eye on your blood glucose levels and control of your insulin dosage, including monitoring development of your baby.

 

 

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