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Understanding Sickle Cell Disease

Microscopic view of sicke cells causing anemia disease.

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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Hepatitis Causes and Prevention

hepatitis

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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Types and Causes of Kidney Failure

dt_160111_kidneys_800x600

Image is from Medscape

Your kidneys are one of the most significant organs in the body. They are a pair of organs located towards your lower back and serve the purpose of filtering your blood to remove toxic and waste substances from the body. The toxic substances can be detrimental to your health if they are not removed out of the body.

What is a kidney failure?

Kidney failure is the condition where both of your kidneys or just one of them cannot serve their function to the required level of performance. This can be brought about by a myriad of factors that may interfere with the health and proper function of your kidney. Some of them include:

  • Kidney trauma
  • Some acute and chronic diseases
  • Toxic exposure to environmental pollutants
  • Severe dehydration

When your system is burdened with toxins and dangerous wastes resulting from a kidney failure, what follows are life threatening conditions that can be dangerous to your health. This is the reason why you should always seek the services of a doctor the moment you realize you have a kidney problem.

What causes kidney failure?

The following factors could predispose you to kidney failure

  • Loss of blood flow to the kidney

Kidney failure is often prompted by a sudden loss of blood flow to the kidneys. Some of the diseases and conditions that may lead to loss of blood flow to the kidneys include:

  • Heart attack
  • Severe burn
  • Dehydration
  • Liver failure
  • Allergic reactions
  • Urine elimination problem

When your body finds it difficult to eliminate urine from the system, there is a consequent build up and overloading of the kidneys. Certain cancers can lead to blockage of urine passageways. Such cancers include prostate cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, and bladder cancer. Other conditions which that can interfere with urination include

  • Trauma on the nerves controlling urination
  • Blood clots within the urinary tract
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged prostate

Other causes

Certain diseases and conditions can lead to kidney failure. They include:

  • A clot of blood in the kidney
  • Drug and alcohol
  • Dyes used in certain imaging tests
  • Chemotherapy drugs (medications that treat autoimmune diseases and cancer)
  • Overload of toxins from heavy metals
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. (A disorder that causes blood clot in tiny vessels)

Types of kidney failure

Below are the types of kidney failure

Acute Prerenal kidney failure

Without enough flow of blood into the kidneys, the kidneys find it difficult to filter out the toxic wastes hence the occurrence of acute perennial kidney failure. This problem is usually solved once the problem leading to the low supply of blood has been determined.

Acute intrinsic kidney failure

Direct trauma causes this kind of kidney failure to either one of the kidneys or both of them. An accident or physical impact can lead to the trauma. Its causes are ischemia and toxic overload making it difficult for the kidney to perform its function in the right manner. Ischemia may be caused by

  • Obstruction of renal blood vessel
  • Shock
  • Severe bleeding
  • Glomerulonephritis

Chronic Prerenal kidney failure

This is the condition where the kidney begins to shrink thus losing its function. The primary cause of this is insufficient blood flowing into the kidneys.

Chronic intrinsic kidney failure

This usually occurs when there is a long-term damage to the kidneys as a result of intrinsic kidney diseases. Direct trauma causes these intrinsic kidney diseases to the kidneys like severe bleeding or insufficient oxygen.

Chronic post renal kidney failure

This is caused by a long-term blockage of the urinary tract thus hindering urination. The consequent is pressure which in turn cause kidney failure.

 

 

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Understanding Hepatitis B

hepatitis-s1-liver-hepatitis-virus

Image is from MedicineNet

Hepatitis B is an infection in your liver. It can cause cancer, liver failure, or scarring, and it can be fatal if left untreated. It is transmitted when you come in contact with body fluids, blood, or open sores of an infected person.

The good news is, however, that most cases of the disease resolve in a few months, because your immune system kicks in to fight it it off. Once it is resolved, you are then immune to it, which means you cannot contract it again.

How Do You Know If You Have It

When you first get it, the warning signs include:

  • Jaundice – This is when your skin and/or the whites of your eyes turn yellow, and your urine turns orange or brown.
  • Bowel movements are light in color.
  • Fever
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Your symptoms may not show up for one to six months, and about one third of those infected, do not experience any symptoms at all. It is important to see your doctor for a blood test if you believe you have been exposed.

What Happens If You Have It

Most people recover, and your doctor will be able to confirm that when your blood tests show no sign of infection.

A few people, however, will not get rid of the infection. This is determined if your blood tests are still positive after six months. At this point you may not have any symptoms, but you are a carrier of the disease. This means you can spread it to others by:

  • Contact with your blood or an open sore.
  • Unprotected sex.
  • Sharing syringes or needles.

The disease does eventually resolve in a small number of carriers. For the rest, it becomes a chronic condition, and due to the ongoing infection, you can develop the scarring or cancer mentioned above.

If you are currently infected or a carrier, you may not donate:

  • Blood
  • Plasma
  • Sperm
  • Tissue
  • Organs

You also have a responsibility to tell anyone you may infect, such as sexual partners, your dentist, or your doctor, so that the necessary precautions can be taken.

How It Is Treated

It is important to see your physician as soon as you believe you may have been infected. He or she will administer a vaccine and a shot of hepatitis B immune globulin. This protein will help fight off the infection by boosting your immune system. You may have to go on bed rest to ensure a faster recovery.

You will also have to avoid liver-damaging substances such as Tylenol and alcohol. It is important to check with your doctor regarding all drugs, supplements, or herbal treatments. Some of them can be harmful, too. Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet. This will also help you fight off the infection.

If your infection resolves, your doctor will tell you that you are an inactive carrier. If it does not resolve within six months, your diagnosis will be chronic active hepatitis B, and he or she may prescribe some of the following treatments:

  • Interferon alfa (Intron A, Roferon A, Sylatron) – This is an injection that you take for at least six months. While it does not cure the disease, it does treat the inflammation.
  • Lamivudine (Epivir) – This medication is available in liquid or tablet form that you take once per day. Most patients tolerate it well. It is not recommended for long-term use, because you can become immune to it.
  • Aidfovir dipivoxil (Hepsera) – This works well for patients who do not respond to Lamivudine treatment. It comes in a tablet form. High doses, however, can cause kidney problems.
  • Entecavir (Baraclude) – This is the newest medication available. It is available in a tablet or liquid form.
  • Tenofovir (Viread) – This medication is available in tablet or powder form. You will need routine tests to ensure it is not damaging your kidneys.

Should You Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine

You should be vaccinated if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Come in contact with body fluids or blood of infected family members or friends.
  • Use needles to administer recreational drugs.
  • Have sex with more than one person.
  • Are a healthcare worker.
  • Work in a jail, school, or daycare center.

While Hepatitis B is not curable, it’s treatable and occasionally resolves on its own. Be sure to take the precautions above to minimize your risk of contracting the disease, and see your doctor as soon as possible if you develop any symptoms.

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Understanding Hepatitis A

hep_A_vaccine

Image is from Travel Vaccination New York

Guidelines for Understanding Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious viral disease of the liver that can be transmitted up to 14 days before you show any symptoms yourself, as well as during your symptoms. Diagnosing the disease requires a medical blood test. The typical painful and depleting symptoms indicating Hepatitis A include:

Contagion Factors

Hepatitis can be transmitted through contact with foods that have been contaminated with exposure to a diseased person’s urine, fecal matter, and polluted with foods, water, ice and bodily fluids contaminated by a person with Hepatitis A. This can be avoided by being careful to never:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, and any other foods that became contaminated during handling by infected workers,
  • Eat raw shellfish harvested from contaminated water,
  • Swallow contaminated ice,
  • Using shared hypodermic needles,
  • Unprotected sexual contact

Risk Factors are high for those residing with infected persons, traveling to areas with high concentrations of Hepatitis A and participating in sexual relations with an infected person.

Vaccine Immune Globulin

Getting vaccinated is your best defense against Hepatitis A. If you come in contact with someone with Hepatitis A, you should acquire the medication immune globulin within 2 weeks of exposure. Another defense is practicing good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, before and after handling food or contact with soiled diapers and undergarments.

The vaccine is administered by your physician in doses and is urgently recommended for anyone who may have been or may be soon exposed to the hepatitis virus. This includes all of the At Risk for Contamination persons as above referenced, plus persons with blood clotting difficulties or diagnosed with a long-term liver disease.

While there is no set treatment for this strain of hepatitis, your physician will monitor you to determine that your liver is strengthening and healing. In healthy individuals, symptoms will cease in about sixty days. If the liver does not heal and deteriorates without the availability of treatment, the only recourse for the patient is to become a candidate for liver transplant, a stressful and serious procedure that is not always successful and requires prescribing of drugs affecting the auto- immune system, increasing the patient’s risk for other diseases. Fortunately, you can only become ill with Hepatitis A once if you have a healthy body to begin with, as your healthy body will build its own defense against a future infection.

Child Care Liver Disease Dangers

The disease can spread quickly in children’s day care centers. Workers could spread the virus if they don’t wash their hands thoroughly after changing each diaper. Washing their hands and putting dirty diapers in a covered diaper pail will help prevent Hepatitis A spreading into all age groups attended as well as all staff and personnel.

Children also spread the disease as well as similar ailments due to children not yet being well trained in safe hygiene in their toilet habits. Contamination can spread very fast through a day care center if the hygiene of children and staff is not strictly enforced and watch-dogged.

Resources for Families

There are resource agencies for the education and counseling of patients and their families pertaining to viral hepatitis. They include:

  • American Liver Foundation,
  • Hepatitis Foundation International,
  • Hepatitis Branch of the U. S. Center for Disease Control.

These agencies provide educational materials and group support assistance for family members as well as patients affected by Hepatitis A.

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