Toll Free: 1-877-335-2455
Fax: 877-889-9157

spleen

Understanding Meningitis

7ab7d5a4905749f8d59d5c0190d39652

Meningitis is a fairly rare infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called meninges, hence the term meningitis. There are several types of meningitis:

  • Bacterial┬áMeningitis is contagious among people in close contact and can be deadly.
  • Viral┬áMeningitis is usually less severe, and most people recover completely from it.
  • Fungal┬áMeningitis is rare and usually only appears in people with compromised immune systems.

How Does it Happen?

Most of the time, meningitis is caused by virus or bacterial infection. It begins elsewhere in the body, such as the upper respiratory tract, sinuses, or ears, and then spreads to the meninges. It can also be caused by medications, autoimmune disorders, or fungal infections, but these are more rare.

Bacterial Meningitis

This is a very serious illness that requires immediate medical attention. Death or permanent damage to the brain or other areas of the body can occur within hours if left untreated. There are several different kinds of bacteria that can cause it:

  • Meningococcus, which is the most common
  • Pneumococcus, which occurs in older patients with a weakened immune system
  • Haemophilus Influenza, type B, was common in infants and small children until a vaccine came out called hib.

Vaccines are also available for Meningococcus and Pneumococcus bacteria and are highly recommended for people with a special risk, such as a compromised immune system.

An infected person can pass the bacteria by sneezing or coughing. It is important for you to contact your health care provider if you are exposed to meningitis to find out what you can do to prevent contracting it. When bacteria gets into your bloodstream, it can travel to your brain and cause meningitis.

Viral Meningitis

This form of meningitis is more common and is usually less severe. There are many viruses that can trigger it, several of which cause diarrhea. Viral meningitis patients usually recover completely and are less likely to incur any brain damage.

Fungal Meningitis

This type of meningitis is rare. However, if you are suffering from a compromised immune system, from HIV for example, your chances of contracting it are greater.

Who is at Risk?

While anyone can contract meningitis, there are some age groups that have a higher incidence than others. These are:

  • Adults over age 55
  • Teens and Young Adults from age 16 to 25
  • Children under the age of 5

Certain medical conditions can also put you at risk, such as chronic disease or a damaged or missing spleen, and especially immune system disorders. These disorders occur when your immune system is either overactive or under active. When it is overactive, the body attacks itself; when it is under active, it decreases your ability to fight off infections. Some examples of immune system disorders are:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Guillian Barre Syndrome
  • Psoriasis
  • Graves Disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Rheumatic Fever

Meningitis outbreaks are most likely to occur in areas where people are living in close quarters, such as a college dorm or army personnel living in barracks. This is because certain germs that cause it can be contagious. People who travel are also at higher risk, particularly if you are traveling to certain parts of Africa where the disease is known to be prevalent.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are in one of the higher risk groups for contracting meningitis, it is still a rare disease, and there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting it.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is ITP Awareness Month?

streaming-blood2

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.

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Understanding Meningitis

7ab7d5a4905749f8d59d5c0190d39652

Image is from Pinterest

Meningitis is a fairly rare infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. These membranes are called meninges, hence the term meningitis. There are several types of meningitis:

  • Bacterial Meningitis is contagious among people in close contact and can be deadly.
  • Viral Meningitis is usually less severe, and most people recover completely from it.
  • Fungal Meningitis is rare and usually only appears in people with compromised immune systems.

How Does it Happen?

Most of the time, meningitis is caused by virus or bacterial infection. It begins elsewhere in the body, such as the upper respiratory tract, sinuses, or ears, and then spreads to the meninges. It can also be caused by medications, autoimmune disorders, or fungal infections, but these are more rare.

Bacterial Meningitis

This is a very serious illness that requires immediate medical attention. Death or permanent damage to the brain or other areas of the body can occur within hours if left untreated. There are several different kinds of bacteria that can cause it:

  • Meningococcus, which is the most common
  • Pneumococcus, which occurs in older patients with a weakened immune system
  • Haemophilus Influenza, type B, was common in infants and small children until a vaccine came out called hib.

Vaccines are also available for Meningococcus and Pneumococcus bacteria and are highly recommended for people with a special risk, such as a compromised immune system.

An infected person can pass the bacteria by sneezing or coughing. It is important for you to contact your health care provider if you are exposed to meningitis to find out what you can do to prevent contracting it. When bacteria gets into your bloodstream, it can travel to your brain and cause meningitis.

Viral Meningitis

This form of meningitis is more common and is usually less severe. There are many viruses that can trigger it, several of which cause diarrhea. Viral meningitis patients usually recover completely and are less likely to incur any brain damage.

Fungal Meningitis

This type of meningitis is rare. However, if you are suffering from a compromised immune system, from HIV for example, your chances of contracting it are greater.

Who is at Risk?

While anyone can contract meningitis, there are some age groups that have a higher incidence than others. These are:

  • Adults over age 55
  • Teens and Young Adults from age 16 to 25
  • Children under the age of 5

Certain medical conditions can also put you at risk, such as chronic disease or a damaged or missing spleen, and especially immune system disorders. These disorders occur when your immune system is either overactive or under active. When it is overactive, the body attacks itself; when it is under active, it decreases your ability to fight off infections. Some examples of immune system disorders are:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Guillian Barre Syndrome
  • Psoriasis
  • Graves Disease
  • Vasculitis
  • Rheumatic Fever

Meningitis outbreaks are most likely to occur in areas where people are living in close quarters, such as a college dorm or army personnel living in barracks. This is because certain germs that cause it can be contagious. People who travel are also at higher risk, particularly if you are traveling to certain parts of Africa where the disease is known to be prevalent.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are in one of the higher risk groups for contracting meningitis, it is still a rare disease, and there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of getting it.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,