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Health Tip

IMPORTANT FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR LIVER.

  1. The liver takes toxins out of the blood. It does a lot other jobs in the body, including making bile — a liquid that helps you digest food. It turns our food and drinks into energy and nutrients, and helps the body use carbohydrates. The organ helps the blood clot.
  2. It is a wedge-shaped organ, about the size of a football and weighs about 3 pounds. It is located on the right side of the body, under the rib cage.
  3. Doctors use blood tests to check the liver for injury, disease, or infection. These are usually a series done at the same time. The test can be called a hepatic function panel or liver profile.
  4. It is the only organ that can grow back when part of it is damaged or removed. That’s why people are able to donate parts of their liver. You don’t have to be related to someone to give them part of your liver, although most donors are usually relatives or close friends.
  5. Some people go on “cleanses” — limiting their diets to certain juices or foods, hoping to wash away toxins from their livers. There’s no scientific proof that these detox diets work. Instead, a healthy diet will give your liver the nutrients it needs.
  6. Your skin and eyes can turn a yellow shade when there’s too much of something called bilirubin in your blood. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment your body makes when it breaks down red blood cells. Normally, the liver filters out bilirubin. But if you have too much of it or if you have liver damage, you can get jaundice. Hepatitis A is one example of an illness that results in jaundice. Also, newborns often have jaundice because their livers are still developing, and they have trouble filtering the bilirubin.
  7. It breaks down the alcohol you drink to help get it out of your body. But drinking more alcohol than your liver can process may cause damage. There are several types of alcohol-related liver disease: fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis. If you find it hard to cut back on alcohol, ask a doctor or counselor for help.
  8. Taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause serious liver damage. It can be found in more than 600 medications, including prescription drugs and many over-the-counter pain, cold, and cough remedies. For adults, the daily limit of acetaminophen is equal to six extra-strength Tylenol tablets from all sources combined. Read the ingredients carefully, and follow the directions on the label and your doctor’s advice. If you’re taking that much Tylenol for more than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor.
  9. Cirrhosis, scarring of the liver with worse function, is the most serious type of liver disease. Though alcohol can contribute to cirrhosis – up to 1 in 5 heavy drinkers gets it – it can also result from hepatitis B or C, among many other causes. You can’t reverse liver damage from cirrhosis. 
  10. Liver disease can be silent for a very long time. As many as half of people who have it don’t have any symptoms at all. If you do have warning signs, they’re often vague, like being really tired and having achy muscles. You may also have itchy skin, swelling in your belly, dark urine, confusion, or yellowing of the eyes or skin. You’ll need to see a doctor for blood tests to find out for sure if your organ is the problem.
  11. Drinking less alcohol can help prevent liver problems. If you have a drinking problem, seek help to quit. There are other things you can do for your liver, too. Get to a healthy weight with exercise and a well-balanced diet. Also, consider getting tested to see if you have hepatitis C. The CDC suggests you get tested if you’re a Baby Boomer, if you ever used IV drugs, or if you had a blood transfusion before 1992. Ask your doctor if you should get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, too.
  12. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B, but not for hepatitis C. In the U.S., the hepatitis B vaccine is given to all babies and children, as well as most adults. It’s given as a series of three shots over 6 months.
  13. Hepatitis C is usually spread by blood, either through a hospital needle-stick accident or sharing needles when injecting drugs. It can be spread from an infected mom to her baby during birth. It can sometimes be spread during sex. The rule of thumb is that if you’re at risk for an STD, you’re also at risk for hepatitis. If you’re with more than one partner, always use condoms.

SOURCE: webMD

Health Tip

IMPORTANT CANCER SYMPTOMS YOU SHOULD KNOW

 Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. There are many types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma. Symptoms depend on the type. Cancer treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery.

Changes in Your Skin

A new spot on your skin or one that changes size, shape, or color could be a sign of skin cancer. Another is a spot that doesn’t look the same as all the others on your body. If you have any unusual marks, have your doctor check your skin. She will do an exam and may remove a small piece (called a biopsy) to take a closer look for cancer cells.

Nagging Cough

If you don’t smoke, there’s very little chance a nagging cough is a sign of cancer. Usually, it’s caused by postnasal drip, asthma, acid reflux, or an infection. But if yours doesn’t go away or you cough up blood — especially if you are a smoker — see your doctor.  She may test mucus from your lungs or do a chest X-ray to check for lung cancer.

Breast Changes

Most breast changes are not cancer. It’s still important, though, to tell your doctor about them and have her check them out. Let her know about any lumps, nipple changes or discharge, redness or thickening, or pain in your breasts. She’ll do an exam and may suggest a mammogram, MRI, or maybe a biopsy.

Bloating

You may have a full, bloated feeling because of your diet or even stress. But if it doesn’t get better or you also have fatigue, weight loss, or back pain, have it checked out. Constant bloating in women may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Your doctor can do a pelvic exam to look for the cause.

Problems When You Pee

Many men have urinary issues as they get older, like the need to go more often, leaks, or a weak stream. Usually, these are signs of an enlarged prostate, but they could also mean prostate cancer. See your doctor for an exam and maybe a special blood test called a PSA test.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

You have these small, bean-shaped glands in your neck, armpits, and other places in your body. When they’re swollen, it often means you’re fighting an infection like a cold or strep throat. Some cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can also cause this kind of swelling. Talk to your doctor to pinpoint the cause.

Blood When You Use the Bathroom

If you see blood in the toilet after you go, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Bloody stool is likely to come from swollen, inflamed veins called hemorrhoids, but there’s a chance it could be colon cancer. Blood in your pee could be a problem like a urinary tract infection, but it may be kidney or bladder cancer.

Testicle Changes

If you notice a lump or swelling in your testicles, you need to see your doctor right away. A painless lump is the most common sign of testicular cancer. Sometimes though, a man may just have a heavy feeling in his lower belly or scrotum or think his testicles feel larger. Your doctor will do a physical exam of the area and may use an ultrasound scan to see if there is a tumor or another problem.

Trouble Swallowing

The common cold, acid reflux, or even some medicine can make it hard to swallow once in a while. If it doesn’t get better with time or with antacids, see your doctor. Trouble swallowing can also be a sign of cancer in your throat or the pipe between your mouth and stomach, called the esophagus. Your doctor will do an exam and some tests like a barium X-ray, in which you swallow a chalky fluid to show your throat more clearly on the image.

Unusual Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding that’s not part of your usual period can have many causes, like fibroids or even some types of birth control. But tell your doctor if you’re bleeding between periods, after sex, or have bloody discharge. She’ll want to rule out cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina. Be sure to let her know if you are bleeding after menopause. That’s not normal and should be checked out right away.

Mouth Issues

From bad breath to canker sores, most changes in your mouth aren’t serious. But if you have white or red patches or sores in your mouth that don’t heal after a couple of weeks — especially if you smoke — see your doctor. It may be a sign of oral cancer. Other things to look for: a lump in your cheek, trouble moving your jaw, or mouth pain.

Weight Loss

Of course you can slim down when you change the way you eat or exercise. It can also happen if you have other issues, like stress or a thyroid problem. But it’s not normal to lose 10 pounds or more without trying. There’s a chance it could be a first sign of cancer of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, or lung.

Fever

A fever isn’t usually a bad thing. Sometimes it’s just a sign that your body is fighting an infection. It can also be a side effect of some medicines. But one that won’t go away and doesn’t have an obvious cause could be a sign of a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma.

Heartburn or Indigestion

Almost everyone has this burning feeling sometimes, often because of their diet or stress. If lifestyle changes don’t work and your indigestion doesn’t stop, your doctor may want to do some tests to look for a cause. It could be a sign of stomach cancer.

Fatigue

A lot of things can make you very tired, and most of them aren’t serious. But fatigue is one early sign of some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon and stomach cancers can cause blood loss that you can’t see, which can make you feel very tired. If you’re wiped out all the time and rest doesn’t help, talk to your doctor.

SOURCE: WebMD

Health Tip Nature

HOW YOU CAN MAKE GREAT WEALTH BY PRACTICING MODERN BEEKEEPING

INTRODUCTION:

Beekeeping also known as Apiculture has for long been over-looked as an agro-commercial venture. In a rapidly advancing world when knowledge is increasing in leaps and bounds, and economic self-sufficient the ultimate goal, the need to harness the economic benefits of beekeeping cannot be overemphasized. The value of this art has however not received adequate recognition owing largely to lack of awareness and general misconception about bees. To compound the problem is the fact that formal education in apiculture has not been given the required acceptance until recently.

 

In Nigeria, beekeeping represents one of the untapped natural resources, often honey hunters are seen in villages harvesting honey stored up by wild bees in hollow of trees and shrubs, killing the bees with flames of fire, these hunters squeeze the honey comb along with brood (young larva). The result of this hunting is all adulterated and unhealthy honey which also cannot store well and sours easily.

 

Scientific beekeeping has evolved which now entails good management of colonies and timely harvesting and processing of hive products. Beekeeping provides a good example of one activity which has a strong local tradition in many communities in Africa and also secure rural livelihood by allowing individuals and groups to build on their strength and realize their potential, fundamental to this approach is the ability to earn some revenue, apart from income, the practice of beekeeping provide people with source of nutrition, it is a sustainable form of agriculture which is beneficial to the environment and provide economic reasons for the retention of native habitats and potentially increases yield from food and forage crops.

 

Therefore beekeeping is a viable tool for helping to meet the urgent needs of the rural poor and pragmatic aspects of cottage industrialization affordable to all socio-economic strata. The technicalities if any, are not complicated and the practice neither compels nor demand deep academic knowledge. There is thus the desperate need to highlight the importance or prospects of modern beekeeping as a priority for immediate development.

 

BENEFITS OF BEEKEEPING

  1. Pollination

Bees pollinate a wide range of crops, fruits and wild plants. This results in the production of fertilized feeds necessary for future generation of plants, and food for future generation of bees too. The activity of the bees is vital for life on earth as it ensures biodiversity.

It is in everyone’s interest to maintain strong population of honey bees. This means increasing people’s awareness of the value of bee pollination, stopping unnecessary pesticides, deforestation, and also including nectar bearing bushes and trees in planting schemes.

2. Useful products

Honey is valued by all societies as a healthy food or medicine. Other products from bees include wax, propolis, pollen, bee venom and royal jelly.

3. Income creation:

Where beekeepers have good market access, beekeeping easily generates a profit, it also creates resilient income especially when disaster happens, displaced communities can make hives and gain benefits in a relatively short time, it is not necessary for beekeepers to own a land or settled permanently.

4. Comparative advantage:

In areas of developing countries, where there are abundant natural resources and healthy bee population, there are good possibilities to market organic honey and other bee products.

5. Benefits for several sector:

Where there are beekeeping activities other people in the community generates income by making equipment, selling bee products and secondary products.

6. Sustainable:

Beekeeping is non-extractive and sustainable; beekeepers are friends of natural environment willing to conserve the forest and vegetation.

7. Land use:

Naturally bees visit flower anywhere, so wild, cultivated and protected areas all have value for beekeeping. Beekeeping does not use up land that could be uses for crops.

8. Low cost:

Beekeeping can be very low in cost, hives and other bee equipment can be made locally and bees are freely available. Bees do not depend on beekeeper for food.

9. Gender and age inclusive:

Generally bees can be kept by women and men of all ages. They

do not need daily care and can be attended to as other work allows.

BEE PRODUCTS AND USES

  • Honey:

 

Honey contains antioxidant and a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It can also be used as an antimicrobial and is a source of energy. Generally, honey has domestics, industrial, medical and pharmaceutical uses.

 

  • Bees Wax :

 

This has many uses such as in creating batik fabrics and in the lost wax method of casting small metal objects. Bee wax is used in candle making. It is an ingredient in ointments, medicines, soap, electrical insulators, crayons, polishes etc. It has over 300 industrial uses. The cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries are major uses accounting for 70% of world trade.

 

  • Bee Pollen:

 

Used as high source of protein, vitamins, fats, and minerals, amino acids for health and in cosmetics.

 

  • Royal Jelly:

 

This is one of the most expensive product of the bees, used mainly for preparing medicine, cosmetics, ointment, soap and capsules with aphrodiastic qualities.

 

  • Bee Propolis:

 

Used in the preparation of ointment, soap, toothpaste and antiseptic materials, it has been shown to have strong antifungal and painkilling activities. It is frequently used to treat toothache and gum diseases, sore throat, and for stimulating immune system.

 

  • Bee Venom:

 

This is used for the treatment of nervous system diseases, rheumatism, arthritis and lumbago. Bee sting stimulate antibodies that prevent stroke and paralysis.

 

  • Bee Bread:

 

A bee bread is a source of protein, fats, micro-elements and vitamins for the bees. It is the raw materials for production of bee milk and royal jelly, which the young nurse bees work with the help of secretion from gland in their heads.

 

Other derived products from beekeeping are also available and can be used for both industrial and domestic uses.

 

Beekeeping helps people to create livelihood in ways that are sustainable and environmentally beneficial. Everyone agrees that poverty must be addressed by sustainable development combined with conservation of the environment. The practice of beekeeping therefore is an effective way towards achieving this.

EMMANUEUL .O. UBEH

(APICULTURIST)/President Apiculture

Association of Imo State

08038799103

Health Tip

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PROSTATE CANCER

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer develops in a man’s prostate, the walnut-sized gland just below the bladder that produces some of the fluid in semen. It’s the most common cancer in men after skin cancer. Prostate cancer often grows very slowly and may not cause significant harm. But some types are more aggressive and can spread quickly without treatment.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

In the early stages, men may have no symptoms. Later, symptoms can include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting or stopping urination
  • Weak or interrupted urinary stream
  • Painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Advanced cancer can cause deep pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.

Enlarged Prostate or Prostate Cancer?

The prostate can grow larger as men age, sometimes pressing on the bladder or urethra and causing symptoms similar to prostate cancer. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It’s not cancer and can be treated if symptoms become bothersome. A third problem that can cause urinary symptoms is prostatitis. This inflammation or infection may also cause a fever and in many cases is treated with medication.

Risk Factors You Can’t Control

Growing older is the greatest risk factor for prostate cancer, particularly after age 50. After age 70, studies suggest that most men have some form of prostate cancer, though there may be no outward symptoms. Family history increases a man’s risk: having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles the risk. African-Americans are at high risk and have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world.

Risk Factors You Can Control

Diet seems to play a role in the development of prostate cancer, which is much more common in countries where meat and high-fat dairy are mainstays. The reason for this link is unclear. Dietary fat, particularly animal fat from red meat, may boost male hormone levels. And this may fuel the growth of cancerous prostate cells. A diet too low in fruits and vegetables may also play a role.

Myths About Prostate Cancer

Here are some things that will not cause prostate cancer: Too much sex, a vasectomy, and masturbation. If you have an enlarged prostate (BPH), that does not mean you are at greater risk of developing prostate cancer. Researchers are still studying whether alcohol use, STDs, or prostatitis play a role in the development of prostate cancer.

Can Prostate Cancer Be Found Early?

Screening tests are available to find prostate cancer early, but government guidelines don’t call for routine testing in men at any age. The tests may find cancers that are so slow-growing that medical treatments would offer no benefit. And the treatments themselves can have serious side effects. The American Cancer Society advises men to talk with a doctor about screening tests, beginning at:

  • Age 50 for average-risk men who expect to live at least 10 more years
  • Age 45 for men at high risk; this includes African-Americans and those with a father, brother, or son diagnosed before age 65
  • Age 40 for men with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed at an early age.

Screening: DRE and PSA

Your doctor may initially do a digital rectal exam (DRE) to feel for bumps or hard spots on the prostate. After a discussion with your doctor, a blood test can be used to measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by prostate cells. An elevated level may indicate a higher chance that you have cancer, but you can have a high level and still be cancer-free. It is also possible to have a normal PSA and have prostate cancer.

PSA Test Results

A normal PSA level is considered to be under 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood, while a PSA above 10 suggests a high risk of cancer. But there are many exceptions:

  • Men can have prostate cancer with a PSA less than 4.
  • A prostate that is inflamed (prostatitis) or enlarged (BPH) can boost PSA levels, yet further testing may show no evidence of cancer.
  • Some BPH drugs can lower PSA levels, despite the presence of prostate cancer, called a false negative.

If either a PSA or DRE test are abnormal, your doctor will order other tests.

Prostate Cancer Biopsy

If a physical exam or PSA test suggests a problem, your doctor may recommend a biopsy. A needle is inserted either through the rectum wall or the skin between the rectum and scrotum. Multiple small tissue samples are removed and examined under a microscope. A biopsy is the best way to detect cancer and predict whether it is slow-growing or aggressive.

Biopsy and Gleason Score

A pathologist looks for cell abnormalities and “grades” the tissue sample from 1 to 5. The sum of two Gleason grades is the Gleason score. These scores help determine the chances of the cancer spreading. They range from  2, less aggressive, to 10, a very aggressive cancer. Gleason scores helps guide the type of treatment your doctor will recommend.

Prostate Cancer Imaging

Some men may need additional tests to see if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. These can include ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI scan (seen here). A radionuclide bone scan traces an injection of low-level radioactive material to help detect cancer that has spread to the bone.

In the MRI scan shown here, the tumor is the green, kidney-shaped mass in the center, next to the prostate gland (in pink).

Prostate Cancer Survival Rates

The good news about prostate cancer is that it usually grows slowly. And 9 out of 10 cases are found in the early stages. Overall, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100% for men with disease confined to the prostate or nearby tissues, and many men live much longer. When the disease has spread to distant areas, that figure drops to 28%. But these numbers are based on men diagnosed at least 5 years ago. The outlook may be better for men diagnosed and treated today.

Treatment: Watchful Waiting

With low-risk cancer, one option is to watch and wait. This is determined by your biopsy, PSA test, and Gleason scores. Your doctor will order periodic testing. Other treatments — with the risk of sexual or urinary problems — may not be necessary. Some men who are older or have serious health conditions may not need treatment. However, more aggressive treatment is usually recommended for younger men or those with more aggressive disease.

Treatment: Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation to kill cancer cells can be used as a first treatment or after prostate cancer surgery. It can also help relieve bone pain from the spread of cancer. In brachytherapy, tiny radioactive pellets about the size of a grain of rice are inserted into the prostate. Both methods can impair erectile function. Fatigue, urinary problems, and diarrhea are other possible side effects.

There are some centers that provide proton therapy (a form of radiation therapy) for prostate cancer.

Treatment: Surgery

Removing the prostate, or radical prostatectomy, is used to eliminate the cancer when it is confined to the prostate. New techniques use smaller incisions and seek to avoid damaging nearby nerves. If lymph nodes are also cancerous, prostatectomy may not be the best option. Surgery may impair urinary and sexual function, but both can improve over time.

Treatment: Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy may shrink or slow the growth of cancer, but unless it is used with another therapy it will not eliminate the cancer. Drugs or hormones block or stop the production of testosterone and other male hormones, called androgens. Side effects can include hot flashes, growth of breast tissue, weight gain, and impotence.

Treatment: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells throughout the body, including those outside the prostate, so it is used to treat more advanced cancer and cancer that did not respond to hormone therapy.  Treatment is usually intravenous and is given in cycles lasting 3-6 months. Because the chemotherapy kills other fast-growing cells in the body, you may have hair loss and mouth sores. Other side effects include nausea, vomiting,  and fatigue.

Treatment: Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy freezes and kills cancerous cells within the prostate (like the highly magnified cells shown here.) It is not as widely used because little is known about its long-term effectiveness. It’s less invasive than surgery, with a shorter recovery time. Because the freezing damages nerves, as many as 80% of men become impotent after cryosurgery. There can be temporary pain and burning sensations in the bladder and bowel.

Treatment: Prostate Cancer Vaccine

This vaccine is designed to treat, not prevent, prostate cancer by spurring your body’s immune system to attack prostate cancer cells. Immune cells are removed from your blood, activated to fight cancer, and infused back into the blood. Three cycles occur in one month. It’s used for advanced prostate cancer that no longer responds to hormone therapy. Mild side effects can occur such as fatigue, nausea, and fever.

Hope for Advanced Cancer

Your doctor will continue to monitor your PSA levels and may perform other tests after treatment for prostate cancer. If it recurs or spreads to other parts of the body, additional treatment may be recommended. Lifestyle choices may matter, too. One study found that prostate cancer survivors who exercised regularly had a lower risk of dying, for example.

Coping With Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common side effect of prostate cancer treatments. Generally, erectile function improves within two years after surgery. Improvement may be better for younger men than for those over age 70. You also may benefit from ED medications. Other treatments, such as injection therapy and vacuum devices, may help.

Food for Health

A cancer-conscious diet may be the best choice for survivors who want to bolster their health and those hoping to lower their risk. That means:

  • Five or more fruits and veggies a day
  • Whole grains instead of white flour or white rice
  • Limit high-fat meat
  • Reduce or eliminate processed meat (hot dogs, cold cuts, bacon)
  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day (if you drink)

Foods high in folate may have some action against prostate cancer (such as spinach, orange juice, lentils). Studies found mixed results on lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes.

Supplements: Buyer Beware

Be wary of supplements that are marketed to prevent prostate cancer. Some herbal substances can interfere with PSA levels. A 10-year study showed an increase in the risk of cancer for men who took folic acid supplements. A 5-year study of selenium and vitamin E did not show a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking vitamins or supplements.

SOURCE: WebMD

Health Tip

WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT MENINGITIS

WHAT IS MENINGITIS, HOW DOES IT SPREAD

Meningitis is a serious infection that can cause brain damage and death. It is highly infectious. Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the thin covering of the brain and spinal cord.

Meningococcal meningitis is most often caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. It infects the meninges, the thin covering of the brain and spinal cord.

About one in every ten people carry this germ in their nose or throat without any signs or symptoms of disease. These people are called carriers. They can transmit the germs through kissing, shaking hands, coughing, sneezing, sharing eating utensils, etc.

The infection affects the delicate tissue that encases the brain and spinal cord. This thin tissue is called the meninges. Meningococcal meningitis is a serious infection of the meninges and cerebrospinal fluid. Inflammation and swelling in these tissues can exert dangerous pressure on the brain or spinal cord.

SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

Affected people may experience stiff neck, high fever, rash, headache, vomiting, confusion, a loss of hearing, loss of limbs, or loss of the ability to think clearly. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential. But the symptoms of meningitis can be similar to symptoms of other illnesses. As a result, medical attention is often delayed.

Meningococcal meningitis can be treated with antibiotic drugs. Despite rapid antibiotic treatment, a person with meningitis may have serious consequences that can last a lifetime.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

With the introduction of new vaccines, avoiding a meningitis infection is a lot easier today. Most children receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine routinely. The first dose is usually given between the ages of 11 and 12 years old. A booster shot is given about five years later. An older vaccine known as the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine can be given to people who are older than 55. Young people ages 16 to 21 are considered most at risk for contracting meningitis.

The vaccination enables the immune system to recognize proteins on the bacteria that cause meningococcal meningitis. The immune system then targets the bacteria.

Any person exposed to meningitis should seek medical attention immediately. Doctors will often prescribe a course of prophylactic antibiotics. This kind of antibiotic use can prevent the disease from taking hold in a recently exposed person. Even if doctors can’t confirm exposure, they will usually prescribe antibiotics to be safe.

Practicing good hygiene can also help you avoid exposure. Meningococcal meningitis is usually spread through contact with the saliva or nasal secretions of an infected person. Try to avoid sharing drinks, eating utensils, or other items that may contain saliva. Also, don’t engage in open-mouthed kissing with an infected person.

PRECAUTIONS

You should seek vaccination before traveling to certain regions where the disease is common.

Certain groups are more exposed to the infection. They include the military in a camp, dormitory students, laboratory workers who regularly work with N. meningitidis

Health Tip

THE NEED FOR SUFFICIENT SLEEP

 

Sufficient sleep is an often overlooked essential for optimal health and well-being. Yet a lot of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. The results of recent surveys reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Most of those with these problems go undiagnosed and untreated.

In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each week.

CAUSES OF SLEEPLESSNESS

Psychologists and other scientists who study the causes of sleep disorders have found that such problems can directly or indirectly be tied to abnormalities in various systems, such as: Physiological systems

  1. Brain and nervous system
  2. Cardiovascular system
  3. Metabolic functions
  4. Immune system

Furthermore, unhealthy conditions, disorders and diseases can also cause sleep problems. These can include:

  1. Pathological sleepiness, insomnia and accidents
  2. Hypertension and elevated cardiovascular risks (MI, stroke)
  3. Emotional disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
  4. Obesity; metabolic syndrome and diabetes
  5. Alcohol and drug abuse

Groups that are at particular risk for sleep deprivation include night shift workers, physicians (average sleep = 6.5 hours a day; residents = 5 hours a day), truck drivers, parents and teenagers.

 

HOW ENVIRONMENT & BEHAVIOR AFFECT A PERSON’S SLEEP

Stress is the number one cause of short-term sleeping difficulties, according to sleep experts. Common triggers include school or job-related pressures, a family or marriage problem and a serious illness or death in the family. Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes. However, if short-term sleep problems such as insomnia aren’t managed properly from the beginning, they can persist long after the original stress has passed.

Drinking alcohol or beverages containing caffeine in the afternoon or evening, exercising close to bedtime, following an irregular morning and nighttime schedule, and working or doing other mentally intense activities right before or after getting into bed can disrupt sleep. Traveling also disrupts sleep, especially jet lag and traveling across several time zones. This can upset your biological or “circadian” rhythms.

Environmental factors such as a room that’s too hot or cold, too noisy or too brightly lit can be a barrier to sound sleep. Interruptions from children or other family members can also disrupt sleep. Other influences to pay attention to are the comfort and size of your bed and the habits of your sleep partner. If you have to lie beside someone who has different sleep preferences, snores, can’t fall or stay asleep, or has other sleep difficulties, it often becomes your problem too!

 

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO I NEED?

The amount of sleep you need each day will change over the course of your life. Although sleep needs vary from person to person, the chart below shows general recommendations for different age groups.

Age Recommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns 16–18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children 11–12 hours a day
School-aged children At least 10 hours a day
Teens 9–10 hours a day
AduIts (including the elderly) 7–8 hours a day

If you routinely lose sleep or choose to sleep less than needed, the sleep loss adds up. The total sleep lost is called your sleep debt. For example, if you lose 2 hours of sleep each night, you’ll have a sleep debt of 14 hours after a week.

Some people nap as a way to deal with sleepiness. Naps may provide a short-term boost in alertness and performance. However, napping doesn’t provide all of the other benefits of night-time sleep. Thus, you can’t really make up for lost sleep.

Some people sleep more on their days off than on work days. They also may go to bed later and get up later on days off.

Sleeping more on days off might be a sign that you aren’t getting enough sleep. Although extra sleep on days off might help you feel better, it can upset your body’s sleep–wake rhythm.

Bad sleep habits and long-term sleep loss will affect your health. If you’re worried about whether you’re getting enough sleep, try using a sleep diary for a couple of weeks.

Sleeping when your body is ready to sleep also is very important. Sleep deficiency can affect people even when they sleep the total number of hours recommended for their age group.

For example, people whose sleep is out of sync with their body clocks (such as shift workers) or routinely interrupted (such as caregivers or emergency responders) might need to pay special attention to their sleep needs.

If your job or daily routine limits your ability to get enough sleep or sleep at the right times, talk with your doctor. You also should talk with your doctor if you sleep more than 8 hours a night, but don’t feel well rested. You may have a sleep disorder or other health problem.

 

PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH LACK OF SLEEP

  1. Lack of Sleep Slows Down Your Mind

Even just one night of insufficient sleep can heavily impact on your alertness, attention span, concentration and problem solving capabilities the next day. People who regularly do not get enough sleep, particularly when they’re young, could be negatively affecting their intelligence levels and overall mental development.

  1. Higher Risk of Accidents

Research has shown that issues with sleeping leads to more injuries on the job and a higher chance of traffic accidents. So when you don’t get enough rest and you drive the next day, you’re not just a risk to yourself, but to others as well.

Being tired behind the wheel can be just as dangerous as being drunk and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driver fatigue is the cause or significant factor in more than 100,000 car crashes and in over 1,500 road related deaths a year.

  1. Heart Disease and Diabetes

People suffering from insomnia are considered to have a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack. In fact, a recent study published in the European Heart Journal found that those experiencing trouble falling asleep, problems staying asleep and not waking up feeling rested in the morning are three times more likely to develop heart failure over an 11 year period.

Diabetes has also been strongly linked to insomnia and lack of sleep. Though there is a valid question to be raised as to whether the prediabetic condition could be contributing to sleeplessness in the first place. It’s very important to visit a doctor and have the simple test if you experience extreme thirst, regular tingling in your hands and feet, blurred vision or constant fatigue, even after a good night’s rest, as these are possible indicators of diabetes.

  1. Missing out on Sleep Can Make You Fat

Regularly sleeping less than six hours a night has been shown to increase hunger and appetite, particularly for high carbohydrate foods that promote excessive insulin secretion and lead to body fat storage.

One study found that those who slept less than six hours regularly were nearly 30% more likely to become obese than those who slept between seven and nine hours. Interestingly, after nine hours the benefits of sleep are actually reversed in the weight loss area so this may be an indication of the optimal resting time.

  1. Insomnia Ages You

Most of us know that we don’t look our best after a very late night, but sleeplessness can have longer-term aging affects as well. When we are tired we tend to run on cortisol, the stress hormone. High levels of cortisol have been shown to break down the collagen proteins that ‘glue’ your skin cells together, leading to fine lines, poor tone and wrinkles.

Deep sleep is also needed to repair your skin and release optimal amounts of human growth hormone which affects, amongst other things, the firmness of your skin and the tone of the muscles underneath it.

  1. Sleeplessness Affects Memory

During sleep the things you’ve learnt and the experiences you’ve had during the day are believed to be organized in your mind properly for future access. If you don’t get enough sleep tonight you may have trouble remembering clearly what you experienced today in the near future.

  1. Depression and Sleep

Insomnia is also linked to developing depression. Some research has found that people who regularly reported an inability to sleep were five times more likely to develop symptoms of depression. There is again a question as to whether depression led to the sleep loss or vice versa. Regardless, getting a good amount of sleep is considered vital in treating depression effectively.

 

HOW TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP

You can take steps to improve your sleep habits. First, make sure that you allow yourself enough time to sleep. With enough sleep each night, you may find that you’re happier and more productive during the day.

Sleep often is the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their schedules. Making time to sleep will help you protect your health and well-being now and in the future.

To improve your sleep habits, it also may help to:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
  • Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
  • Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
  • Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
  • Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep.
  • Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).
  • Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.

 

BENEFITS/IMPORTANCE OF SUFFICIENT SLEEP

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being

Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.

Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning. Whether you’re learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.

Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.

Children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.

 

Physical Health

Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

The deficiency of sleep also increases the risk of obesity. For example, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. Sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity in other age groups as well.

Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.

Sufficient sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility.

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

Daytime Performance and Safety

Getting enough quality sleep at the right times helps you function well throughout the day. People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.

After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two.

Lack of sleep also may lead to microsleep. Microsleep refers to brief moments of sleep that occur when you’re normally awake.

You can’t control microsleep, and you might not be aware of it. For example, have you ever driven somewhere and then not remembered part of the trip? If so, you may have experienced microsleep.

Even if you’re not driving, microsleep can affect how you function. If you’re listening to a lecture, for example, you might miss some of the information or feel like you don’t understand the point. In reality, though, you may have slept through part of the lecture and not been aware of it.

Some people aren’t aware of the risks of sleep deficiency. In fact, they may not even realize that they’re sleep deficient. Even with limited or poor-quality sleep, they may still think that they can function well.

For example, drowsy drivers may feel capable of driving. Yet, studies show that sleep deficiency harms your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk. It’s estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in about 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in about 1,500 deaths.

Drivers aren’t the only ones affected by sleep deficiency. It can affect people in all lines of work, including health care workers, pilots, students, lawyers, mechanics, and assembly line workers.

As a result, sleep deficiency is not only harmful on a personal level, but it also can cause large-scale damage. For example, sleep deficiency has played a role in human errors linked to tragic accidents, such as nuclear reactor meltdowns, grounding of large ships, and aviation accidents.

  1. More Alertness and Energy

Ditch the coffee first thing and just get a good night’s sleep. Waking up properly rested will greatly increase your energy levels, alertness and ability to concentrate.

  1. Less Stress

In a related benefit of sleep, a well rested body generally produces less of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

Sleep at the end of the day is also needed to reduce cortisol levels with other hormones like serotonin. This makes getting to bed doubly important for minimizing stress in your life.

  1. Greater Immunity and Less Disease

Your immune system that deals with invading pathogens and problems within your body needs proper sleep to work efficiently. Insomnia can heavily depress the immune system and leave a person vulnerable to various diseases and longer-term health problems. Conversely, extra sleep can help you recover from illness more quickly.

  1. Maintenance and Body Repair

During sleep your body repairs itself from all the damaging dietary and environmental pollutants that our modern world exposes it to each day. At a cellular level you’ll start to run less efficiently the longer you go without proper rest.

  1. Sleep Makes You Smarter

While your performance will probably suffer in areas where you need to use your brain, like tests or complex work projects, if you don’t get enough sleep, the opposite is true when you do.

A full night’s sleep organizes and makes connections within your mind to the information you received during the day. If you have a big test the next day probably the worst thing you could do is stay up all night studying for it as you’ll be unlikely to remember it well. To be at your best, do your main studying earlier in the week and get an early night before an exam or an important day at work.

  1. Weight Loss and Rest

Getting to bed a bit earlier and getting a good night’s sleep can balance out the hormone fluctuations that provoke appetite. In fact, having proper rest is one of the best things you can do for losing weight. By ditching late-night TV, you’ll also have the added benefit of dodging one of those diet destroying late-night junk food binges as well.

  1. Sleep Improves Happiness

Sleeping allows your brain time to get back into balance all of the necessary chemicals and hormones that affect your mental clarity, mood and emotions and are so important for being calm, relaxed and happy.

With lack of sleep so strongly associated with depression and mental illness, it’s not hard to see how getting an early night and some deep sleep can lead to a better day tomorrow.

SOURCES: www.healthambition.com, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov, www.shapefit.com

Health Tip

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MEDICAL SHOCK

MEDICAL SHOCK : INTRODUCTION

Medical shock is a life-threatening medical condition caused by an insufficient blood flow throughout the body. It often accompanies severe injury or illness. Medical shock is a medical emergency and can lead to other conditions such as lack of oxygen in the body’s tissues, heart attack, or organ damage. It requires immediate treatment as symptoms can worsen rapidly.

TYPES OF SHOCK

Septic shock results from bacteria multiplying in the blood and releasing toxins. Common causes of this are pneumonia, urinary tract infections, skin infections (cellulitis), intra-abdominal infections (such as a ruptured appendix), and meningitis.

Anaphylactic shock is a type of severe hypersensitivity or allergic reaction. Causes include allergy to insect stings, medicines, or foods (nuts, berries, seafood), etc.

Cardiogenic shock happens when the heart is damaged and unable to supply sufficient blood to the body. This can be the end result of a heart attack or congestive heart failure.

Hypovolemic shock is caused by severe blood and fluid loss, such as from traumatic bodily injury, which makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body, or severe anemia where there is not enough blood to carry oxygen through the body.

Neurogenic shock is caused by spinal cord injury, usually as a result of a traumatic accident or injury.

CAUSES OF SHOCK

Causes of medical shock include:

  • Heart conditions
  • Heavy internal or external bleeding
  • Dehydration
  • Infection
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Spinal injuries
  • Burns
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea

 

SYMPTOMS OF SHOCK

The major signs of medical shock are low blood pressure and rapid heart rate.

Symptoms of all types of shock include:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weakness

Depending on the type of shock the following symptoms may also be observed:

  • Eyes appear to stare
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Seizures
  • Confusion or unresponsiveness
  • Low or no urine output
  • Bluish lips and fingernails
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain

 

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE FOR SHOCK

Medical shock is a medical emergency. If you suspect shock after an injury, even if the person seems stable, call 911 or get them to an emergency department immediately. Prompt treatment can save a person’s life.

The sooner shock is treated, the better. When treated quickly there is less risk of damage to a person’s vital organs.

 

TREATMENT FOR SHOCK

Depending on the type or the cause of the shock, treatments differ. In general, fluid resuscitation (giving a large amount of fluid to raise blood pressure quickly) with an IV in the ambulance or emergency room is the first-line treatment for all types of shock. The doctor will also administer medications such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, or dopamine to the fluids to try to raise a patient’s blood pressure to ensure blood flow to the vital organs.

Tests (for example, X-rays, blood tests, EKGs) will determine the underlying cause of the shock and uncover the severity of the patient’s illness.

Septic shock is treated with prompt administration of antibiotics depending on the source and type of underlying infection. These patients are often dehydrated and require large amounts of fluids to increase and maintain blood pressure.

Anaphylactic shock is treated with diphenhydramine (Benadryl), epinephrine (an “Epi-pen”), steroid medications methylprednisolone, and sometimes a H2-Blocker medication.

Cardiogenic shock is treated by identifying and treating the underlying cause. A patient with a heart attack may require a surgical procedure called a cardiac catheterization to unblock an artery. A patient with congestive heart failure may need medications to support and increase the force of the heart’s beat. In severe or prolonged cases, a heart transplant may be the only treatment.

Hypovolemic shock is treated with fluids (saline) in minor cases, but may require multiple blood transfusions in severe cases. The underlying cause of the bleeding must also be identified and corrected.

Neurogenic shock is the most difficult to treat. Damage to the spinal cord is often irreversible and causes problems with the natural regulatory functions of the body. Besides fluids and monitoring, immobilization (keeping the spine from moving), anti-inflammatory medicine such as steroids, and sometimes surgery are the main parts of treatment.

 

SELF-CARE AT HOME

  • Call 911 for immediate medical attention any time a person has symptoms of shock. Do not wait for symptoms to worsen before calling for help. Stay with the person until help arrives, and if possible, stay on the line with the 911 dispatcher because they may have specific instructions for you.
  • While waiting for help or on the way to the emergency room, check the person’s airway, breathing and circulation (the ABCs). Administer CPR if you are trained. If the person is breathing on his or her own, continue to check breathing every 2 minutes until help arrives.
  • Do NOT move a person who has a known or suspected spinal injury (unless they are in imminent danger of further injury).
  • Have the person lie down on his or her back with the feet elevated above the head (if raising the legs causes pain or injury, keep the person flat) to increase blood flow to vital organs. Do not raise the head.
  • Keep the person warm and comfortable. Loosen tight clothing and cover them with a blanket.
  • Do not give fluids by mouth, even if the person complains of thirst. There is a choking risk in the event of sudden loss of consciousness.
  • Give appropriate first aid for any injuries.
  • Direct pressure should be applied to any wounds that are bleeding significantly.

PREVENTION

Learn ways to prevent heart disease, injuries, dehydration and other causes of shock.

If you have a known allergy, carry an epinephrine pen, which your doctor can prescribe. Avoid severe allergy triggers.

 

WHAT IS THE OUTLOOK FOR SHOCK?

Prompt treatment of medical shock is essential for the best outcome. Moreover, the outlook depends on the cause of the shock, the general health of the patient, and the promptness of treatment and recovery.

  • Generally, hypovolemic shock and anaphylactic shock respond well to medical treatment if initiated early.
  • Septic shock is a serious condition with a mortality rate of 24% to 50% according to some estimates. The sooner the infection is treated and fluids are administered, the greater the chances of success. Hospitals are now developing and utilizing specific protocols to identify and aggressively treat septic shock patients.
  • Cardiogenic shock has a poor prognosis, with only 1/3 of patients surviving. Because this type of shock results from injury or dysfunction of the heart it is often difficult to treat and overcome.
  • Spinal shock also has a very poor prognosis because the spinal cord mediates so many important bodily functions. There are currently very few effective treatments but medical research is making advances in the treatment of spinal injuries.

SOURCE: www.medicinenet.com

Health Tip

HOW TO STOP BAD BREATH

INTRODUCTION

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is a common problem. It is characterized by an unpleasant odor of the mouth. It is found in 1 out of every 4 persons. Bad breath is usually simple and preventable. Diet as well as tobacco and alcohol use, poor oral hygiene, gum disease, tooth decay, or mouth infections and some other infections can also be cause bad breath.

Bad breath can cause significant psychological distress, and is the third most common reason that people seek dental care.

Poor dental hygiene is the major cause of bad breath.. As bacteria break down particles of food, sulfur compounds are produced that cause odor.

 

CAUSES

  1. Tobacco products cause their own types of mouth odor and also increase the chances of gum disease which can also cause bad breath
  2. Some food particles stuck in the teeth get broken down to cause odors. Onions and garlic cause bad breath. After they are digested, their breakdown products are carried in the blood to the lungs where they can affect the breath
  3. Odours easily build up in dry mouth. The mouth is usually dry in the morning. The mouth can also be dry due to particular disease.
  4. Poor and irregular brushing and flossing can encourage a film of bacteria called plaque to build up. This plaque can irritates the gums and cause pockets of build-up between the teeth and gums called Dentures.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dentures that are not cleaned regularly or properly can also harbor bacteria that cause halitosis
  5. Crash diets: fasting and low-carbohydrate eating programs can produce halitosis; this is due to the breakdown of fats producing chemicals called ketones. These ketones have a strong aroma
  6. Use of some drugs can reduce saliva and, therefore, increase odors. Other drugs can produce odors as they breakdown and release chemicals in the breath.
  7. Mouth, nose and throat conditions: sometimes small, bacteria covered stones can form on the tonsils at the back of the throat (tonsilloliths) and produce odor. Also, infections or inflammation in the nose, throat or sinuses can cause halitosis
  8. Foreign body: bad breath (especially in children) can be caused if they have a foreign body lodged in their nasal cavity
  9. Some cancers, liver failure and other metabolic diseases can cause halitosis due to specific mixes of chemicals that they produce. Other rare causes of bad breath (halitosis) include:

Ketoacidosis: when the insulin levels of a person with diabetes are very low, their bodies can no longer use sugar and begin to use fat stores instead. When fat is broken down, ketones are produced and build up. Ketones can be poisonous when found in large numbers and produce a distinctive and unpleasant breath odor. Ketoacidosis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition5

Bowel obstruction: breath can smell like feces if there has been a prolonged period of vomiting, especially if a bowel obstruction is present

Chronic kidney failure: an odor similar to ammonia or urine has been noted in patients with chronic kidney failure. Waste products normally removed by the kidneys are left to build up in the bloodstream6

Bronchiectasis: a long-term condition where airways are wider than normal, allowing for a build-up of mucus that leads to bad breath7

Aspiration pneumonia: a swelling or infection in the lungs or airways due to inhaling vomit, saliva, food or liquids.

 

DIAGNOSIS

Ordinarily, a dentist will simply perceive the breath of a patient and rate the odor on a six-point intensity scale. The dentist may scrape the back of the tongue and smell the scrapings as this area can often be a source of the aroma.

The following instruments can be used to rate odor more precisely,

a. Halimeter: detects low levels of sulfur

b. Gas chromatography: measures three volatile sulfur compunds – hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulfide

c. BANA test: measures for a specific enzyme produced by halitosis-causing bacteria

d. Beta-galactosidase test: levels of the enzyme beta-galactosidase have been found to correlate with mouth odor.

 

REMEDIES

It is recommended that individuals visit the dentist for a check-up twice a year. Alternatively, if gum disease is present, professional cleaning may be necessary to clear out the build-up of bacteria in pockets between the gums and teeth.

Other lifestyle and home remedies for bad breath include:

The dentist may recommend a toothpaste that includes an antibacterial agent or an antibacterial mouthwash.

The best method to reduce halitosis is good oral hygiene; it ensures that cavities are avoided and reduces the likelihood of gum disease.

 

Brush teeth: brush at least twice a day, but preferably after each meal

Floss: flossing reduces the build-up of food particles and plaque from between the teeth – brushing only cleans around 60% of the surface of the tooth

Clean dentures: anything that goes into your mouth – dentures, bridge, mouth guard – should be cleaned as recommended on a daily basis. Cleaning prevents the bacteria from building up and being transferred back into the mouth. Changing toothbrush every 2-3 months is also important for similar reasons

Brush tongue: bacteria, food and dead cells commonly build up on the tongue, especially in smokers or those with a particularly dry mouth. Sometimes, a tongue scraper can be useful

Avoid dry mouth: drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and tobacco, both of which dehydrate the mouth. Chewing gum or sucking a sweet (preferably sugar-free) can help stimulate the production of saliva. If the mouth is chronically dry, a doctor may prescribe medication that stimulates the flow of saliva

Diet: avoid onions, garlic and spicy food. Sugary foods are also linked to bad breath. Reduce coffee and alcohol consumption. Eating a breakfast that includes rough foods can help clean the back of the tongue.

If breath odor persists despite the factors listed above being under control, it is recommended that an individual visits a doctor for further tests to rule out other conditions.

Health Tip

Reasons Why Cucumber Should Be Eaten Daily

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Cucumbers, scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, belong to the same botanical family, Cucurbitaceae as melons (including watermelon and cantaloupe) and squashes (including summer squash, winter squash, zucchini and pumpkin).

Cucumbers are made up of 95 percent water, and are naturally low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Their high water content helps ward off dehydration and combat the heat while their refreshing and mild taste appeals to all.

Even though long, dark green, smooth-skinned garden cucumbers are familiar vegetables in the produce sections of most groceries, cucumbers actually come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, shapes and textures. You’ll find white, yellow, and even orange-colored cucumbers, and they may be short, slightly oval, or even round in shape. Their skins can be smooth and thin, or thick and rough. In a technical sense, cucumbers are actually fruits, not vegetables. (Fruits are parts of flowering plants that come from the ovary.) But we’ve become accustomed to thinking and referring to cucumbers as vegetables.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of raw sliced cucumber with peel (approximately 119 grams) contains:

  1. 115 grams of water
  2. 16 calories
  3. 0.8 grams of protein
  4. 0.2 grams of fat
  5. 2.9 grams of carbohydrate (including 0.9 grams of fiber and 1.8 grams of sugar)

One cup of cucumber provides the following percentage of your recommended daily allowance:

  • 17 percent of vitamin K
  • 4 percent of vitamin C
  • 4 percent of magnesium
  • 4 percent of potassium
  • 4 percent of manganese
  • 2 percent of vitamin A
  • 2 percent of thiamin
  • 2 percent of riboflavin
  • 2 percent of B6
  • 2 percent of folate
  • 2 percent of pantothenic acid
  • 2 percent of calcium
  • 2 percent of iron
  • 2 percent of phosphorus
  • 2 percent of zinc
  • 2 percent of copper

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

  1. Researchers have long been familiar with the presence of unique polyphenols in plants called lignans, and these health-benefiting substances have been studied extensively in cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli or cabbage) and allium vegetables (like onion or garlic). Recent studies, however, have begun to pay more attention to the lignan content of other vegetables, including cucumbers. Cucumbers are now known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol—three lignans that have a strong history of research in connection with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
  2. Fresh extracts from cucumbers have recently been show to have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. While research in this area must still be considered preliminary—since it’s only been conducted on animals in a lab setting—the findings are clear and consistent. Substances in fresh cucumber extracts help scavenge free radicals, help improve antioxidant status, inhibit the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2), and prevent overproduction of nitric oxide in situations where it could pose health risks. It’s highly likely that cucumber phytonutrients play a key role in providing these antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, supporting health alongside of the conventional antioxidant nutrients—including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese—of which cucumbers are an important source.
  3. As a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, cucumbers are a rich source of triterpene phytonutrients called cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins A, B, C, D and E are all contained in fresh cucumber. They have been the subject of active and ongoing research to determine the extent and nature of their anti-cancer properties. Scientists have already determined that several different signaling pathways (for example, the JAK-STAT and MAPK pathways) required for cancer cell development and survival can be blocked by activity of cucurbitacins. We expect to see human studies that confirm the anti-cancer benefits of cucumbers in the everyday diet.
  4. Made mostly of water and full of important electrolytes, cucumber is a perfect food to have on hand during the hot summer months to prevent dehydration. Adding cucumber to water is a great way to increase water consumption as well.
  5. When used topically, cucumber has a cooling and soothing effect that decreases swelling, irritation, and inflammation. Cucumber slices can be placed on the eyes to decrease morning puffiness or placed on the skin to alleviate and treat sunburn.

 

CONCLUSION

Cucumbers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Some cucumbers are treated with a wax coating after they are picked. Do not wash these before storing but make sure to wash thoroughly or peel before consuming. Avoid cucumbers with ends that are shriveled or withered.

Cucumbers are best when consumed raw and have a mild taste and cool crunch. This makes them a great addition to any salad or sandwich.

As the fourth-most widely cultivated “vegetable” in the world (cucumbers are technically a fruit), cucumbers are widely available, but seek to get them from a local farmer’s market if you can. Even better, cucumbers are very easy to grow, even if you only have access to a patio. They thrive in containers (provided they have somewhere to climb on). They produce ample produce from a small number of plants, so you could try your hand at growing them yourself.

If you’re wondering whether you should choose organic cucumbers over conventionally grown varieties, I’d suggest organic. Cucumbers were ranked the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk due to their pesticide contents according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Further, cucumbers are often waxed after harvest to withstand the long journey to market unscarred and to protect against the many hands that touch it. While the wax is supposed to be food-grade and safe, there are different types used;

  • Carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree)
  • Beeswax
  • Shellac (from the lac beetle)
  • Petroleum-based waxes

The natural waxes are far preferable to the petroleum-based waxes, which may contain solvent residues or wood rosins. Produce coated with wax is not labeled as such, but organic produce will not contain petroleum-based wax coatings (although it may contain carnauba wax or insect shellac).

The other potential issue is that wax seals in pesticide residues and debris, making them even more difficult to remove with just water. To reach the contaminants buried beneath the surface of your vegetables and fruits, you need a cleanser that also removes the wax, which is what my fruit and vegetable wash does. You could also peel the cucumber, but that is one of the most nutrient-dense parts of the cucumber (the other is the seeds), so it’s better to consume it if you can.

LET US EAT HEALTHY.

Health Tip

CARROTS – THE NEGLECTED ROOTS OF LIFE

INTRODUCTION

Carrots are root vegetables, which belong to the species of plant called Daucus Carota. They exist in bright orange colour, though other colours of carrots are available in various parts of Europe, Asia and the Americas. The name “carrot” comes from the Greek word “karoton,” whose first three letters (kar) are used to designate anything with a horn-like shape.

Carrots have lengths that fall within the range of two inches to three feet, and diameters ranging from one-half of an inch to over two inches. Carrot roots are crunchy and sweet in test, while the greens are fresh tasting and slightly bitter.

Carrots can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, roasted and as an ingredient in many soups and stews. They are best stored in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag. Carrots should be peeled and washed thoroughly before consumption.

untitled-2images-2carrots of different colours

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT

Carrots contain great quantities of beta-carotene and fiber. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin B8, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese, and contains about 42 calories per 100gm.

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

  1. Steady consumption of carrots can help to prevent heart diseases. Studies have shown that carrots help to reduce the human cholesterol level.
  2. The presence of vitamin C in carrots help to boost the body immune system by stimulating the white blood cells.
  3. Carrots have great amount of dietary fiber which is very important in maintaining good digestive health. Fiber also boosts heart health by helping to eliminate excess LDL cholesterol from the walls of arteries and blood vessels.
  4. Studies have shown that beta-carotene consumption helps to reduce the risk of several forms of cancers, especially lung cancer. British researchers discovered that increasing beta-carotene consumption from 1.7 to 2.7 milligrams per day reduced lung cancer risk by more than 40 percent. The average carrot contains about three milligrams of beta-carotene. Studies also show that the consumption of fiber-rich carrots can reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 24 percent. Another study shows that women who ate raw carrots were five to eight times less likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not eat carrots.
  5. Since carrots are rich in vitamin A, it is good for improving eyesight and preventing some bad eye conditions which develop with aging.
  6. The presence of potassium (a vasodilator) can help the tension in the blood vessels and arteries to be eliminated, thereby increasing blood circulation, boosting organ function throughout the body and reducing the stress on the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure can cause atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.
  7. Carrots have antiseptic qualities and can, therefore, be used as laxatives, vermicides and as a remedy for liver conditions. Carrot oil is good for dry skin because it makes the skin softer, smoother and firmer. Furthermore, carrot juice improves stomach and gastrointestinal health.

 

CONCLUSION

Despite the fact that carrots possess the above contents and benefits, people tend to neglect them. This tells badly on human health, resulting in terminal illnesses such as cancers. You can decide to run a carrot therapy for a given period and surely you would have reasons to be happy.

In the nearest future, we shall discuss how you can successfully cultivate carrots for personal consumption and for commercial purpose. Your comments are welcome.

LET US EAT HEALTHY.

NWOSU PIUS C.