Archive for the ‘General health’ Category

IMMUNE SYSTEM: STUDIES AND DISCOVERIES ON IMMUNITY AND IMMUNOLOGY

Although babies born with defective immune systems are rare, the world is experiencing the horror of defective immunity in thousands of people who have AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). They acquired this condition from infection with a virus that knocks out a key white blood cell in the body’s delicate immune system. Without effective immunity, AIDS patients fall prey to bacteria and fungi that live harmlessly on the skin or inside healthy persons. Resultant infections ravage the body. AIDS can kill almost all who contract it, making it the most deadly illness of modern times. In 1996, scientists discovered medicines that slow down the growth of the AIDS virus in an infected person. At the same time, other drugs plus antibiotics control the lethal infections that commonly afflict people with AIDS. This new era in AIDS control has reduced the growth of the AIDS virus to extremely low levels so as to be immeasurable. People with AIDS, who at first expected to live 2 or 3 years, can now look forward to staying alive for at least 10 years.
The new knowledge about immunity has allowed scientists to move fast against AIDS. The first cases in the United States were reported in 1981 as a strange pneumonia. But, in a year or two, scientists had pinpointed the defect in immunity. In 1984, they isolated the killer virus. Although researchers hailed the identification of HIV as signaling the development of a vaccine, over 10 years have elapsed without a usable one. That’s because the AIDS virus is constantly changing (somewhat like the influenza virus, but much more rapidly).
Herpes viruses live forever in nerve cells. Some scientists believe they are triggered by cold, heat, fever, chemicals, or menstruation. The virus grows out of the affected nerve cells and attacks other tissues. Shingles is really the reactivation of an old chicken pox virus, responding, some theorize, to the same triggers.
Four major discoveries have brightened the promise of immunology:
•   The unraveling of the complex way in which the different types of white blood cells cooperate to attack foreign substances that get into the body
•   The discovery of chemicals released by the cells that give signals for white cell action. Interferon and interleukin, for instance, are both promising cancer treatments.
•   The development of genetic engineering. Scientists now know how to alter the biology of common sewage bacteria so that the germs can create unlimited amounts of human chemicals like insulin, interferon, and interleukin.
•   The creation of a strange and wonderful cell called a hybridoma. These hybrid cells can produce boundless amounts of antibodies – chemicals that attack invading viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Hybridoma antibodies also hold promise against cancer.
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DIET THERAPY: ESSENTIALS OF DIETARY COUNSELING

Counseling may take place at the bedside of a patient, in a clinic, or in the home. Regardless of the setting it is essential that privacy be maintained, that interruptions be avoided, and that there be no distracting noise. A patient is more likely to be attentive some time following a meal than he would be when he is hungry or when he has just finished his meal.
Effective counseling takes time. An initial session during which the diet history is obtained requires one-half to one hour. Later sessions might require as little as 15 minutes. For patients in the hospital it is often advantageous to break up the initial counseling into several shorter sessions. In this way the patient is more alert, and also has opportunity to think about the content between sessions and to raise questions.
Dietary counseling requires constant interaction between patient and counselor. It is not a one-sided lecture by the counselor telling the patient what to do.
The dietary counselor must be able to interpret the principles of dietary change into practical terms that the patient can understand. She believes that the individual can change his dietary habits, but also realizes that change is likely to occur gradually. She understands the patient’s needs and values. She is able to communicate at the level of the person being counseled. She respects the individual’s dignity and maintains confidentiality.
The patient is an active participant in the counseling process. He provides the information pertaining to his diet history and food intake; listens to the counselor’s evaluation of his food patterns and the reasons why changes are recommended; sets his own goals for what he can realistically accomplish; studies the materials that he is given; and makes notations of questions he needs to ask.
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YOUR CHILD’S HEALTH/THE WIDER WORLD: BABYSITTERS

While a small baby can generally be taken out with you, there will come a time when you will want or need to leave him in the care of someone else. As he gets older, taking him out, especially at night, will be disruptive to his routine.

Sometimes members of the extended family may be able to take care of the baby on a regular basis. Alternatively, there may be an older sibling who can perform this task. It is difficult to specify at what age a child can be entrusted to look after his or her sibling(s). It depends on a number of factors such as the maturity and personality of the older child, the number and ages of the younger siblings that will be looked after, how long the parents will be gone, and so on. It is unlikely that a pre-adolescent child will have the maturity to be able to take responsibility for younger children on a regular basis.

Often you will need to seek the services of a babysitter.

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SUPER LOVE FOR SUPER SEX/LOVE-MAP LANDMARKS: HOW WOULD YOU BRIEFLY

DESCRIBE THE FEMALE SEX ROLE?

The female sex role is just as stereotyped as the male’s among the people interviewed in this sample. How about you? How do you view the female sex role, personally view it, not intellectually think it should be?

“Simply stated, I’d say women are emotional, essentially the caretakers of the family. They are stronger psychologically, more mature, and have to sort of nurture men along,” reported one wife.

“Well, women are really inferior copies of men. They have their own strengths, but they are not up to men in most things. They are really just a little short of men in most things except having and raising kids,” reported one husband.

Both male and female sex-role expectations influence the love maps of both genders profoundly. Talk these roles over with your partner. Your sex role is how you behave sexually in our society and your sex or gender identity is how you feel, your sexual self-concept. Both are the result of love-mapping, and the gender identity is the capital city, the control center on the map.

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VARICOSE VEINS – GENERAL INFORMATION

The essential defect when a vein becomes varicose is a breakdown in this valve system — not only in the superficial veins but also in the communicating channels between the deep and the superficial veins.

This vein, then, becomes distended with blood and becomes lengthened and tortuous.

Those small dilated veins which may appear on the thigh or on the foot are not varicose and are not amenable to treatment.

Prolonged standing and the wearing of tight garters or underclothes, especially the panty-girdle, all contribute to the formation of varicose veins.

As well, there is an heredity factor, with some people having an inbuilt weakness in the vein and its valves.

When the pressure inside the abdomen is raised, such as with pregnancy, the enlarged womb may press on the abdominal veins and lead to varicosities in the leg.

Apart from their appearance, varicose veins may cause aching in the legs and, eventually, because of the pressure effect, pigmentation and thinning of the skin in the lower leg.

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ELECTRO-CONVULSIVE THERAPY

A form of medical treatment which has been greatly criticised is electro-convulsive therapy (ÅÑÒ, or shock treatment).

This was first used in medicine more than 40 years ago. Although effective, its exact mode of action still is not understood.

ÅÑÒ is used for depression, particularly in involutional melancholia, in the severe depression of the elderly, or depression as part of an affective disorder such as manic-depressive psychosis. It may also be used in the depression accompanying schizophrenia.

This form of treatment once was regarded as unpleasant. (An electric current is applied to the head and this induces a series of convulsions like an epileptic fit).

Now, ÅÑÒ is easy to administer and regarded as acceptable to patients. An injection given directly into a vein contains a quick-acting general anaesthetic combined with a muscle relaxant drug.

The patient is unaware of the muscular spasms, which are reduced to a minor twitching.

Consciousness is regained quickly and usually there are no after-effects beyond a temporary loss of memory.

This amnesia becomes more marked with more treatments and sometimes the person cannot remember what went on in hospital over the two to three weeks of his stay. Memory function returns to normal, however, when the treatment ends.

There is no doubt that ÅÑÒ is effective, especially in severe depression. In the elderly it may be safer than using drugs. At times it may be life saving.

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POISONING – CONCLUSION

Do not try to think of an antidote such as weak acid like vinegar or lemon juice, for an alkaline substance. Give large quantities of milk, which can dilute the poison and delay absorption.

This advice also applies to volatile substances like kerosene and petrol where vomiting might lead to the inhalation of fumes which could damage the lungs.

If you have small children in your house or likely to visit you, I would ask you to do three things after reading this article.

FIRST, check your phone book and see where the Poisons Information Centre number is listed, so you will be able to find it in a hurry.

SECONDLY, please see that all substances such as drugs or chemicals are in a secure place. If you don’t have a locked cupboard, get one.

THIRDLY, put on your shopping list for this week a bottle of Syrup of Ipecac from your chemist.

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CHILDREN’S TONSILLITIS: HOME CARE, PRECAUTIONS AND TREATMENT

Home care

Treat tonsillitis the same way as a common cold, a sore throat, or hay fever. A throat culture will usually be required to help your doctor identify the illness. Give aspirin or paracetamol and plenty of fluids. A peritonsillar abscess requires treatment by a doctor.

Precautions

• If drooling occurs with a sore throat, the child should be seen by a doctor immediately.

• Enlarged adenoids and tonsils are common in healthy children three to nine years of age.

• Tonsils often contain a white, cheesy material. This is normal and does not indicate infection.

• Tonsils and adenoids may be infected without becoming enlarged.

• Enlarged tonsils do not cause poor eating habits.

Medical treatment

The decision to remove tonsils and adenoids surgically requires careful evaluation. Some doctors insist that they should never be removed; others recommend routine removal. Both groups are mistaken.

The tonsils can be removed as part of the treatment of: a quinsy sore throat; frequent infections (for more than a year) of the tonsils; a tonsillar tumour; or a diphtheria bacilli-infected tonsil.

Upper airway obstruction resulting in sleep apnea (temporary halt in breathing) is an indication for removing the adenoids (adenoidectomy). The adenoids can also be removed to correct: a nasal obstruction that has led to facial peculiarities such as a pinched face, narrow nostrils, or constantly open mouth; snoring; or a nasal voice. In some cases, it also may be wise to have adenoids removed if their enlargement is causing a hearing loss or frequent middle ear infections. Alternatives to adenoidectomy include prolonged use of decongestants and antibiotics.

Your doctor will treat a peritonsillar abscess with antibiotics; occasionally surgical drainage is necessary.

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VARICOSE VEINS PREVENTION

•     Eat a high-fibre diet rich in fruit and vegetables, whole-grain breakfast cereals, and whole meal bread and other whole meal-flour products (including pasta), and cut down on refined sugar and refined flour.

•     Drink more fluid to ensure that constipation is a thing of the past.

•     Avoid long periods of sitting and standing if you have a history of varicose veins in your family or if you have early signs of them yourself. Do exercises frequently if you are in this group. Wiggle your toes a lot, raise and lower yourself on the balls of your feet while standing in a queue in the supermarket or at a bus stop. Raise your legs on to a table whenever you sit down (get them above heart level), break up long rail or car trips by walking every hour or so, and walk around on long plane journeys.

•     Get more exercise. Swim, run, jog, walk or cycle to improve nature’s muscle pump in your legs. Walking lowers the venous pressure to a third of standing pressure under normal conditions.

•     Go barefoot at home as much as possible to exercise your foot muscles and improve your venous flow.

•     If you have even a hint of varicose veins starting, shun tight boots, pants that are too tight at the groin and anything that restricts the legs such as self-supporting stockings.

•     Make trips to the lavatory short and to the point-don’t sit there reading for ages.

•     Avoid very hot baths – these seem to encourage varicose veins.

•     If you have a family history of varicose veins wear support stockings throughout pregnancy.

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SELF-HELP PREVENTION: BRONCHITIS AND EMPHYSEMA

What are they?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the air passages of the lungs and emphysema is a condition in which the tiny air sacs (alveoli) at the ends of the passages become distended and weakened. They are usually thought of together because they so often occur alongside one another.

Bronchitis usually starts with a cold on the chest, often with a sense of ‘rawness’ behind the chest bone, tightness in the chest or pain or irritation between the shoulder blades. There is often a dry cough and a moderate fever. Gradually the cough becomes looser and the sufferer starts to produce phlegm. This cough and phlegm can continue for weeks. This type of bronchitis is called acute but it can keep on recurring and become chronic. When it becomes chronic the lungs begin to shrink and permanent damage reduces their efficiency.

Chronic bronchitis is extremely common, especially in the UK. About one in twenty of all deaths are caused by bronchitis and emphysema. The total number of deaths is the same as that caused by lung cancer. These conditions also result in the loss of about 300 million working days each year.

What causes them?

• Cigarette smoking. There is no doubt that the largest single culprit is smoking, though it should also be borne in mind that deaths from these conditions are more common in parts of the country where air pollution is high. No one knows why all smokers do not get the disease but some studies suggest a hereditary link. This has been traced to a deficiency of alpha 1-anti-trypsin in the blood of susceptible people. Such people are then especially sensitive to cigarette smoke and infection.

• Physical variations. The north of England has more bronchitis and emphysema than does the south and it appears that the wetness of the atmosphere could have something to do with it.

• Certain occupations are particularly connected with these diseases. Workers in the linen and cotton industry and those who are exposed to cadmium are especially at risk.

• Poor personal resistance to infections. This is caused by poor diet, bad breathing, poor posture, lack of exercise and smoking.

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