Saturday, 28 February 2015

Typhus Fever

Mass death Grave of Typhus in 1945
Typhus Fever – Rickettsia Bacteria

Typhus fever is caused by Rickettsia bacteria and transmitted by arthropod like mite, flea or tick bites. When arthropods bites a victim they tend to leave behind the rickettsaie bacteria and on scratching the bite, it opens the skin to the bacteria enabling them to enter the bloodstream and the bacteria grow and get replicated within the blood stream.

The name is derived from the Greek word typhos which means smoky or hazy and describes the state of mind of those victim affected with this condition. The organism Rickettsia is an obligate intracellular parasitic bacterium which does not survive for long outside the living cells and this condition should not be confused with typhoid fever.

Typhoid means `typhus-like’ wherein the diseases are distinct and is caused by different genera of bacteria. Different types of arthropods carry specific rickettsaie bacteria for each type of typhus and the symptoms vary slightly by type, the most common are universal which affect almost all typhus victims.

Three Types of Typhus 

Typhus is of three types – Epidemic typhus which is the most serious type, occurs in Africa, South America and Asia. Epidemic typhus is transmitted from person to person by body lice and is not the same as head lice of pubic lice, though a nuisance does not transmit disease.

The body lice get infected with Rickettsia prowazekii bacteria when they tend to feed on the blood of an infected person and if one gets infected by body lice their infected faeces will be deposited on the skin as they feed on the blood. On scratching a bite, the contaminated lice faeces get rubbed in the tiny wound on the skin and become infected. Rare cases of epidemic typhus are by breathing infected dried body louse faeces in the atmosphere.

Endemic typhus, the milder form of the condition, occurs throughout the world and is transmitted by mites, ticks and fleas that are infected with Rickettsia bacteria. These animal carriers tend to live in thick scrub vegetation or on small rodents or mammal like the rats.

Scrub typhus which is also known as Tsutsugamushi fever is transmited from mites which are infected with Orientia tsutsugamushi bacteria. They tend to live in heavy scrub vegetation in rural parts of Southeast Asia, Oceania and northern Australia.

Symptoms of Typhus 

The symptoms are somewhat similar in all the three types of Typhus wherein the person will begin to feel unwell for 10 to 14 days after getting infected. A severe headache which is sudden is often the first symptom.Other symptoms could comprise of a fever with the temperature rising above 38.9C or 102F for around 2 weeks, a feeling of nausea and vomiting, a pink or red rash which appears on the chest, spreading to the arms, hands, legs and the feet though not on the face, palms and soles.

The person may also experience abdominal pain and diarrhoea, joint and muscle pain, the most common being the backache, and cough. They may also feel mentally dazed or delirious. Treatment given is antibiotic medication in order to stop the infection and if not treated it could lead to serious complications. Prevention is better than cure and this condition can be prevented by focusing on destroying or avoiding arthropod infestations

Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Norovirus – Winter Vomiting Bug/Food Poisoning/Stomach Flu

Norovirus at times known as winter vomiting bug, is a common stomach bug in the UK. Noroviruses are group of viruses which cause inflammation of the stomach and the large intestine lining and are the main cause of gastroenteritis. The viruses are very contagious and can affect people of any age causing diarrhoea and vomiting. Originally, norovirus was known as the Norwalk virus after the town of Norwalk, Ohio which was the first confirmed outbreak location in the year 1972.

The noroviruses are also called food poisoning sometimes due to being transmitted through food which tends to get contaminated with the virus. Though they are not always the cause of food contamination, Noroviruses are also called stomach flu but they are not the influenza virus. There does not seem to be any specific cure for norovirus and it usually tends to be mild and does not last more than a couple of days.

The period from the time of infection to when the symptoms show up being the incubation period tends to last between 12 to 48 hours and the person could be infectious to others during this period. Norovirus is not usually dangerous and mostly people make a full recovery within a few days without the need of visiting their physician.

Causes & Symptoms

Individuals tend to get infected when they consume food or drink that has been contaminated, raw or undercooked oysters and raw vegetables and fruits which have been implicated during outbreaks. One could also get infected if one touch an object or a surface which has been infected with the virus and the same is touched to one’s nose, mouth or eyes.

When a person get infected from contaminated food, the virus can be passed from person to person by sharing food or vessels, by shaking of the hands through a handshake or through other close contact and those with a weak immune system are more vulnerable in catching noroviruses.

The person suffering from norovirus can undergo a drastic change from being completely healthy to feeling absolutely miserable within a day or two after being infected.The symptoms include vomiting – often among children, nausea, watery diarrhoea – often in adults and stomach cramps.

Prevention & Treatment

Noroviruses unlike other viruses does not respond to antibiotics that are meant to kill bacteria and no antiviral medicine can treat noroviruses. In healthy persons, the ailment passes off on within a few days and most of them do not have any long term problem from the virus.

To prevent the infection of norovirus, one needs to maintain good hygiene especially in the case of being surrounded with many people during an outbreak. Hands need to be washed often with soap for at least 15 seconds or a alcohol-based hand sanitizer particularly after visiting the bathroom or changing a child’s diaper and prior to the preparation or consumption of a meal.

Contaminated items should be carefully disposed, raw fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly, disinfect and clean surface with mixture of detergent and chlorine bleach after a person is sick, oyster and other shellfish should be well cooked etc.

A person suffering from norovirus should avoid cooking food for at least a couple of days or till they feel much better and consumption of food prepared from a person suffering from norovirus should be avoided.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Perforated Eardrum

Image Credit: entclinic
Perforated Eardrum – A Hole/Tear in the Eardrum

Perforated eardrum or ruptured eardrum or a tympanic membrane perforation,is a hole in the eardrum that could lead to complications like a middle ear infection and hearing loss. A ruptured eardrum is a tear in the thin membrane which separates the outer ear from the inner ear which is made up of tissues resembling skin. Sometimes it would need surgery to repair the damage to the eardrum.

It can be quite uncomfortable though it heals on its own without much treatment within two months. The functions of the eardrum is of two types wherein it senses vibrating sound waves and converts the vibration into nerve impulses conveying the sound to the brain and protects the middle ear from bacteria, water and other foreign objects.

The middle ear is normally sterile though when the eardrum tends to get ruptured, bacteria could get in the middle ear causing infections known as otitis medi. If one is suffering from perforated eardrum, their hearing could be affected and they will experience earache and any hearing loss could be temporary. If the person experiences pain and discomfort in the ear for more than a couple of days, a visit to the physician should be done for timely treatment.

Causes of Rupture

Several causes could be responsible for eardrum rupture one being the most common cause is an ear infection. This occurs when the middle ear gets infected and pressure builds up pushing against the eardrum which when it tends to be great, causes the eardrum to perforate. When this occurs, one may notice that the pain and pressure experienced earlier suddenly tends to stop and pus drains from the ear.

Another cause of ruptured eardrum could be the result of poking the eardrum with a foreign object like a cotton-tipped swab or a bobby pin used to clean the wax out of the ear canal. Children at times tend to puncture the own eardrum by putting objects like small toy or stick in their ear. Some eardrum ruptures could be the result of what is known as barotrauma which happens when the pressure in the ear and the pressure outside the ear in not balanced.

For instance, when the airplane changes altitude resulting in the air pressure in the cabin tends to drop or rise. Scuba divers also face this problem when there is a rise or fall change in pressure. Besides this, a head injury or a slap near the ear could cause the eardrum to rupture or an acoustic trauma caused by sudden loud sound, like an explosion or a sudden blast of loud music.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

The symptoms of ruptured eardrum could include drainage from the ear which may be bloody, clear or resembles pus, sudden sharp ear pain or sudden decrease in ear pain, ear noise or buzzing sound, hearing loss which may be partial or complete in the affected ear, facial weakness or dizziness and episodic ear infection.For diagnosing a ruptured eardrum the doctor will do an otoscopic examination wherein an otoscope, an instrument with a light is used to look in the ear giving the clear view of the interior of the ear.

At times there may be too much wax or drainage which may not be possible for the doctor to view the eardrum. In such a situation, he may have to clean the ear canal or prescribe eardrop to clear the same. At other times the doctor may use a rubber bulb attached to the otoscope to blow a puff of air in the ear and if the eardrum is not ruptured, it will move when the air hits it and if ruptured, it will not move.

The doctor would also test the hearing to find out how much hearing has been affected due to the ruptured eardrum by using a tuning fork to test it. An audiology test may also be conducted which is a series of tone one listens to with the headphones to determine the level of hearing.

Treating Ruptured Eardrum

Several cases of ruptured eardrum could be temporary and normal hearing returns back after the eardrum gets healed. There is no specific treatment for ruptured eardrum and mostly gets healed within a few months. Antibiotic could be prescribed which could be in oral or in the form of eardrops in order to prevent an ear infection or to treat the prevailing infection.

If the eardrum is slow in healing, the doctor could put a patch on the eardrum where in some cases a surgery would be needed to repair the ruptured eardrum. This is done through a procedure which could take a couple of hours wherein the doctor would attach a piece of one’s own tissue to the eardrum to rebuild the eardrum.

This surgery is used typically for large perforations, for perforations that would involve the edges of the eardrum or ruptured eardrum caused by ear infection. Thereafter care should be taken to ensure that the ear is kept dry in order to help in the healing process.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

West Nile virus

Image Credit: The Mississippi
West Nile Virus – Bites from Mosquitos 

West Nile encephalitis is an infection of the brain which is caused by a virus known as the West Nile Virus.People get infected with West Nile virus from the bites of mosquito which are found in several countries all across the globe and most of the cases are not serious.

The person either has no symptoms or mild flue like symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches along with high temperature. Serious problems could include infection of the brain or encephalitis, spinal cord and the tissues surrounding the brain as well as the spinal cord – meningitis which could be dangerous. Symptoms or signs of severe infection may comprise of muscle weakness, seizures or fits, disorientation and loss of consciousness.

West Nile is a virus which is capable of causing disease in humans. The symptoms include skin rash, swollen lymph glands besides the fever, headache and body aches. The severe symptoms may include stiff neck, tremors, coma, paralysis besides convulsions and disorientation.

This virus is carried from infected birds to people through the mosquitoes and there is no evidence of transmission from person to person. To reduce the risk of getting infected, the use of insect repellents could be helpful.

Diagnosis – Blood & Cerebrospinal Fluid Test

West Nile virus is found in several parts of the world which may include Africa, west and central Asia, Middle East, Southern Europe, North, Central and South America, The Caribbean and Australia. While travelling to these destination, one should wear loose fitting, long sleeved tops with long trousers which can cover the skin to avoid the mosquito bites.

The use of insect repellent on exposed skin should be maintained, insect proof screens on window and door together with nets impregnated with insecticide over the bed could be of great help and reduce mosquito bites in the interior of the dwelling place.

Care should be taken to avoid the area where there could be large number of mosquitos like areas near stagnant pools of water. Diagnosis of this condition is confirmed with a blood or cerebrospinal fluid test. If meningitis is suspected, a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid which is the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is removed during a lumbar puncture and then tested.


If the symptoms tend to be severe, the person may have to be hospitalized with treatment like intravenous fluid given through a drip in the arm, medication to control seizures and aid provided for breathing. There is no specific treatment for this infection though intensive support therapy is given for the complication of brain infections with anti-inflammatory medication, intravenous fluid and close medical monitoring is done in cases which are serious.

There is no vaccine for the prevention or specific antibiotic or antidote for the viral infection. The risk of this infection is high at the time of mosquito season which does not lower till the mosquito activity ends for the season which is when the freezing temperature takes place.

Cases of West Nile virus infection takes place in temperate area especially in late summer or early fall and in southern climate where the climate tends to be mild, infection could take place all year round.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Lichen Planus

Lichen Planus – Disease of the Skin 

Lichen planus is a disease of the skin, a chronic recurrent rash which is caused due to inflammation. The rash is characterized by small, flat topped with many sided bumps which tend to grow together into rough, scaly plaques on the skin. It resembles lichen that grows on tree bark or on rocks.

The cause of this disease is not known though it is presumed to be the result of an autoimmune process with an unknown trigger. There is no cure though various medications and procedures can be used in order to control the symptoms. Lichenoid reaction or lichenoid lesion is referred to a lesion of identical or similar histopathologic and clinical appearance to lichen planus which is an area that seems the same as lichen planus to the naked eye as well as under a microscope.

At times dental materials or some medication could cause lichenoid reaction. Besides this it could also occur in association with graft versus host disease. Lichen planus can be distinguished from psoriasis, eczema and other rashes on the basis of its clinical appearance wherein the lesions are small bumps or aggregations of bumps which are flat, topped, polygonal, shiny, and purple to grey in colour and may tend to appear at the wrist, elbows and ankles. On observing closely, it may have thin white lines known as Wickham’s striae.


Lichen planus tend to itch with an intensity which may vary in different cases from mild to severe. Its onset could be sudden or gradual and the first attack could last for weeks or months with recurrences that may take place for years.

 The bumps in its initial stage are 2mm to 4mm in diameter with angular borders together with a violet colour. Excess of pigment – hyperpigmentation, may tend to develop in the affected area as the lesions persist. In rare cases, a patchy, scarring balding appears on the scalp.

Skin involvement with lichen planus comprises of flat topped lilac or violet spots of a few millimetres in diameter on the skin which appear in areas of the wrists, forearms, lower legs above the ankles as well as the lower part of the back. Variant of this disease is known as hypertrophic lichen planus. In this condition a thick, reddish brown lesion appears which are covered with scales.

These spots appear to be on the skin though they could occur on any area of the body and are itchy with persistent variant of lichen planus.


Dentists often come across a white lacy rash on the inside of the cheeks of people who may not be aware of this condition and are affected with lichen planus. They tend to have the rash inside their mouth – oral mucosa. This rash often appears prior to any skin involvement. Rare but more troublesome is erosive lichen planus which could be quite sore and uncomfortable causing the person to complain of the shallow and painfully recurrent ulcers in the mouth.

Lichen planus could also affect the female genitals.Most cases of lichen planus of the skin disappears on their own within six to nine months and the rash rarely last longer than eighteen months. If the itch or the appearance of the rash is unpleasant, topical corticosteroid creams could be helpful. In more severe cases, physician may recommend oral medications or therapy with ultraviolet light.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Sjögren's Syndrome

Sjogren’s Syndrome – Chronic Autoimmune Disorder

Sjogren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks glands that secrete fluid like the tear and saliva glands. The white blood cells attack moisture-producing glands which make it difficult for the body to produce saliva and tears. Certain glands could tend to get inflamed thereby reducing the production of tears and saliva causing the main symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome which are dry mouth and dry eyes.

Its effect could be widespread. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition, wherein instead of protecting the body from illness and infection, the immune system reacts abnormally and attacks the healthy cells and tissues. The immune system attacks the other secretory glands in the body, besides the tear and saliva glands.The cause of this disorder is not known, though researchers are of the opinion that it is triggered by a combination of genetic, environment and probably hormonal factors. Some people are prone to be more vulnerable to this ailment when they are born and certain events like an infection could trigger the problems with their immune system.

Primary SS/Secondary SS

Sjogren being a systemic disease could affect the entire body and is not localized to one area and its symptoms could remain steady or worsen or go into remission. Some may experience a mild discomfort and have a normal life while others could suffer from debilitating symptoms which could severely affect their daily routine activities. Diagnosing the condition in its initial stage with timely treatment could help to prevent serious complications and lead to improvement of the disease.

At times this disorder occurs alone while at other times it could occur in the presence of another autoimmune connective tissue disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma that are often linked with Sjogren’s. Whenever one or more autoimmune disorders take place simultaneously, they are known as overlap diseases and when it occurs alone, Sjogren’s syndrome is called primary Sjogren’s syndrome (Primary SS). When it tends to occur with another connective tissue disease it is said to be secondary Sjogren’s syndrome (Secondary SS).

Signs & Symptoms 

Those suffering from secondary Sjogren’s have a milder condition though they could deal with symptoms of the co-existing or overlap disease, the most common condition taking place with secondary Sjogren’s is rheumatoid arthritis. Signs and symptoms of this condition may differ from person to person, from extreme fatigue and joint pain to dysfunction in main organs like the kidneys, circulatory system, lungs, gastrointestinal system, liver, pancreas and the central nervous system where the most pronounced symptoms are dry eyes, dry mouth and throat.

Common oral symptom is xerostomia or dryness of the mouth – burning or cracking of the tongue, need for lubrication while speaking, cracked or peeling lips, intensified dental decay – cavities or root decay, painful swelling of salivary glands. There is no treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome but treating this condition could help to reduce the symptoms. Dry eyes and mouth could usually help with the aid of artificial saliva and tears. It is essential to maintain good eye and mouth hygiene since the risk of developing the infection could be greater. Maintenance of good hygiene of eyes and mouth could help to avert the problem like corneal ulcers as well as tooth decay.

Other Symptoms

Symptoms which may develop in the throat and nose include difficulty in swallowing, limited ability in taste and/or smell coughing and dry nose. The most prominent symptom around the eyes is a sandy or gritty sensation together with limited potential to produce tears, constant itching, redness and burning, decrease in mucus leading to coughing with irritation in the throat, photosensitivity, and difficulty in swallowing with irritation in the stomach.

In rare cases, Sjogren’s could cause symptoms outside the glands, like skin rash, gastrointestinal problems or inflammation of the liver, pancreas, kidneys or lungs and these symptoms are seen in 1/3 of people with primary Sjogren’s though rarely with secondary Sjogren’s. The extra glandular symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, low-grade fevers and increased fatigue.There is a possibility that some of these symptoms and signs could be associated with lung, kidney, and or vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) involvement. There is also the possibility of experiencing lymphomas – tumours of the lymph glands, which tend to develop in 6% of cases with primary Sjogren’s.


Just in the case of lupus, there is no single definite test for Sjogren’s and diagnosis usually takes place when a person with a diagnosed autoimmune disease tends to experience extreme dryness of the mouth and eyes. The diagnosis involves a complete medical history together with a physical examination of the individual. It takes around 4-7 years to receive a diagnosis since the disease is usually mild and the first signs of dryness in the mucous membrane could be present for years before the disease is eventually diagnosed. The test carried out to confirm the diagnosis includes:

Schirmir’s Test: where a piece of paper is placed at the corner of the eye to determine the degree of wetting over a period of 5 minutes.

Salivary Gland Flow Rate Test: determines if there is a decrease in the production of saliva.

Rose-Bengal Staining Test: test determines the cornea is inflamed or not.

Biopsy: the lip or the parotid gland which is the gland producing saliva could be biopsied to determine the diagnosis

Monday, 9 February 2015


Impetigo – Highly Common Contagious Skin Infection

Impetigo is a highly and acommon contagious skin infection which can affect individuals of any age butmainly the infants and children. It usually appears as red sores on the face especially surrounding the nose and mouth of a child.

The sores tend to burst developing a honey coloured crusts. It is not usually serious and tends to clear on its own within two to three week though antibiotics could shorten the course of the ailment and prevent the spread of the same. The child suffering from impetigo may be kept home from school or a day care centre till the condition is not contagious which is between 24 to 48 hours after the antibiotic treatment has been started.

Impetigo could be contagious without the treatment of antibiotics till the sores tend to disappear and are of two types namely – non-bullous impetigo which affects the skin around the mouth and the nose resulting in sores to develop and quickly leaving a yellow brown crust and bullous impetigo that affects the trunk which is the central part of the body between the waist and the neck, resulting in fluid filled blisters or bullae to form which burst after a few days leaving a yellow crust. These two forms of impetigo could leave some red scars when the crusts tend to disappear though they usually improve after several days or weeks.

Non-Bullous/Bullous Impetigo

Non bullous impetigo is the common form of impetigo which accounts for over 70% of cases while bullous impetigo is common in babies though it could also affect older children as well as adults. Impetigo is caused by bacteria which affects the outer layers of the skin and can infect the skin in two ways – through a break in a healthy skin like a cut, any injury or insect bite and through skin which is damaged through skin conditions like scabies or eczema.

Should a person get infected with the bacteria, the infection has a tendency of spreading easily through contact or on using personal items of the infected person. Though this condition tends to get better without treatment in two or three weeks, treatment is recommended since it reduces the length of the condition from 7 to 10 days as well as lowers the risk of spreading the infection to those around them.

Treatment to Minimise Spread

At the time of the treatment, it is essential to maintain precautions in order to minimise the risk of spreading the infection to others by ensuring not to touch the sores, washing the handing regularly, avoid sharing personal items with others and staying away from work, school, play school or day care, till the sores have dried up or treatment has been carried out for a minimum of 48 hours since the infection is not contagious after a treatment of 48 hours or when the sores appear to be dried and healed.

Impetigo is rarely serious though in some cases it could spread to other areas of the body which could lead to problems like cellulitis and scarlet fever and in other rare cases; it could also lead to some scarring especially if one tends to scratch the blisters, sores or crusts.

Friday, 6 February 2015


Phenylketonuria – Rare Genetic Condition 

Phenylketonuria or PKU is a rare inherited genetic condition which is present from birth wherein, there is a build-up of phenylalanine in the body which is a natural substance and a building block of protein. Most of the time several parents who are carriers of PKU genes are not aware that they have this mutation since being carriers does not cause any medical problem. In new-borns, the PKU is checked by measuring the phenylalanine levels in the heel prick blood test and babies need to have this test to start with the treatment in its initial stage of life.

In this condition, the body is unable to break down phenylalanine which tends to build up in the blood and brain wherein the high levels of phenylalanine could damage the brain. PKU does not usually show any symptoms if treated in its early stage but if not treated, it could cause damage to the brain and the nervous system which would lead to disabilities in learning, epilepsy, or behavioural difficulties and high levels of phenylalanine could also cause eczema.

The body takes in phenylalanine from the digestion of protein in the gut and when it enters the body, it is either used in making proteins or removed by protein or enzyme known as phenylalanine hydroxylase. Phenylketonuria is a treatable ailment and is found in the protein part of the food that is consumed.

Treatment – Artificial Protein/Amino Acid Supplement 

In PKU victims, phenylalanine hydroxylase does not work properly due to genetic mutation – alteration in their DNA, thus resulting in the rise of phenylalanine levels in the blood as well as other tissues. Treatment would include a low protein diet which means that food contents of high protein food like meat, cheese, eggs, milk and poultry should be avoided. Besides these, the person also needs to control the intake of several other foods, like potatoes and cereals as well.

The diet could be supplemented with artificial protein containing no phenylalanine and this kind of a diet is very effective in lowering the levels of phenylalanine enabling normal growth and development of the child. In addition to this, the person could also take amino acid supplement in order to get all the required nutrients for normal growth and in maintaining good health.A number of specially designed low protein food of popular products like flour, rice, pasta and many more are available for people suffering from PKU to incorporate in their diets most of which are also available on prescription.

Regular Monitoring 

Without treatment in early stages, the person with PKU could develop severe learning disabilities and would need care throughout their lives. If an infant shows a high phenylalanine level, they are immediately started with a low protein diet and amino acid supplements with regular monitoring of phenylalanine levels in the blood. This is done by collecting blood from a finger prick onto a special card and sent to a laboratory. So long as the PKU victim maintains a low protein diet, the phenylalanine level tends to stay within certain limits and the person can maintain a normal life.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


Sepsis – Life Threatening Condition

Sepsis is potentially a common life threatening condition which is triggered due to an infection and the body’s immune system gets affected, setting off a series of reactions which could include widespread inflammation, blood clothing and swelling. This in turn could lead to decrease in blood pressure wherein the blood supply to vital organs like the brain, heart and kidneys get reduced.

Sepsis takes place when the chemicals release in the bloodstream in order to combat the infection, trigger inflammation responses in the body where the inflammation could result in various changes that could damage multiple organ systems leading it to failure. If not treated in time and should sepsis progress to septic shock, blood pressure drops down drastically which could lead to death. Sepsis could affect anyone though it is common and most dangerous in older individuals or with those with weak immune systems. Timely treatment of sepsis is usually treated with antibiotics together with intravenous fluids, which could improve the chances of recovery.

Sepsis – Three Stage Syndrome

As sepsis tends to get worse, the flow of the blood to vital organs like the brain, kidneys and heart gets impaired. Moreover sepsis could also lead to blood clots which form in the organs, arms, legs, fingers as well as toes, causing varying degrees of organ failure as well as tissue death – gangrene. Sepsis is viewed as a three Stage Syndrome which begins with sepsis and progress through sever sepsis to septic shock and the aim is to treat sepsis during its initial stage before it tends to get very serious.

Sepsis: To diagnose sepsis one could have at least two of these systems which comprises of body temperature above 101 F or below 96.8 F, heart rate could be higher than 90 beats a minute, probable or confirmed infection and respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute.

Severe Sepsis – Diagnosis could upgrade to severe sepsis if the person shows at least one of the signs or symptoms such as abrupt change in mental status, significantly decreased urine content, decrease in platelet count, difficulty in breathing, abdominal pain and abnormal heart pumping function.

Septic shock – A person could be diagnosed with septic shock if they have signs and symptoms of extremely low blood pressure which does not responds adequately to simple replacement of fluids.

Early Diagnosis & Treatment

Sepsis which is detected and treated in its early stages and has not affected the vital organs could be possibly treated with antibiotics at home and those individuals treated at this stage tend to make a full recovery. In case of severe sepsis and people with septic shock, the need for admission to an intensive care unit – ICU may be needed where the body’s organs could be supported till the infection is being treated.

Due to the infection of vital organs in the case of sever sepsis, they are more likely to be ill and at times their condition could be fatal. Many individuals recover from mild sepsis though the mortality rate for septic shock is about 50 percent and a series of severe sepsis could leave a person at a higher risk of future infections. If sepsis is diagnosed and treated quickly, there are possibilities of being restored to normal health without lasting problems.

What is an Urgent Care Center?

An urgent care center is a walk in medical clinic that is the appropriate medical facility to go to if your issue is too urgent to wait for a doctor's appointment, yet not urgent enough to warrant a trip to an emergency room. Or, if your physician's office is closed and you're in need of medical care that is not of an emergency nature, an urgent care facility would be the appropriate choice.

When to use an urgent care center:

Head to an urgent care center if you need to see a doctor and your family physician's office cannot fit you in, or if they are closed. Or, if your issue is urgent and you absolutely cannot wait for an appointment, an urgent care facility would be appropriate.

Example situations that warrant a visit to an urgent care clinic instead of a hospital emergency department include:

open wound in need of stitches sprains, strains, minor fractures dehydration associated with vomiting and/or diarrhea skin rashes, skin infections suspected ear infection, strep throat, urinary tract infection, or similar neck or back pain pain after a minor fall

When to go to the nearest hospital:

Immediately head to your nearest hospital's emergency department if you have a major wound, have sustained a possible concussion, have a major fracture, are having chest pains or breathing difficulties, or if there is a loss of consciousness.

Sunday, 1 February 2015


Vertigo – A Sensation of Spinning 

Vertigo is a sensation of spinning and this feeling could be slight and barely noticeable or it could be so severe that one would find it difficult to maintain their balance and perform the daily routine functions. If the person experiences dizzy spells, they would have the feeling that the world is spinning around.

Vertigo attacks could occur suddenly and last for a few seconds or it could last much longer. If the symptoms tend to be severe, it could be constant, lasting for several days, making it difficult to lead a normal life. Some of the symptoms associated with vertigo could include – nausea or vomiting, light-headedness and loss of balance which could make it difficult to stand or walk.

It could be triggered by a change in the position of the head and experience a feeling of spinning, titling, swaying, unbalanced or pulled to one direction. Other symptoms could also include abnormal or jerking eye movement, sweating, headache and ringing in the ears or hearing loss.

Causes of Vertigo

Vertigo is often the result of an inner ear problem which may include BPPV – Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo which occurs when tiny calcium particles or canaliths clump up in canals of the inner ear and the inner ear sends signals to the brain regarding head and body movements related to gravity which helps to maintain the balance.

BPPV could occur for unknown reasons and could be associated with age. It could also be due to Meniere disease, an inner ear disorder which could be caused by an accumulation of fluid and changing pressure in the ear leading to vertigo together with ringing in the ears and hearing loss.

Another cause is vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis which is also an inner ear problem related to infection, usually viral, causing inflammation in the inner ear around the nerves which are helpful for the overall balance of the body. In rare cases, vertigo could also be associated with head or neck injury, brain problems like a tumour or stroke, migraine headaches and certain medication causing ear damage.

Treating Vertigo

Treatment would depend on the cause of vertigo and in most cases; it tends to go away without the need of any treatment. This is due to the fact that the brain is capable of adapting in some ways to the inner ear changes, relying on other mechanisms in maintaining balance.

In other cases, treatment may include vestibular rehabilitation which is a form of physical therapy focused in helping to strengthen the vestibular system. The vestibular system functions by sending signals to the brain regarding head and body movements with regards to gravity.

Several people suffering from vertigo tend to benefit from vestibular rehabilitation training – VRT that are provided by trained therapist who helps the brain to adapt to the confusing signals from the ear causing vertigo and reduces the symptoms. Other medications too help to relieve episodes of vertigo which are useful in the early stages and should not be taken on long term.

If a person experiences recurrent or persistent signs of vertigo, the need to consult a physician is essential to begin with timely treatment.