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What is Stomach Ulcer?

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Stomach ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. They occur when the protective mucus that lines the stomach becomes ineffective.

The stomach produces a strong acid to help digest food and protect against microbes. To protect the tissues of the body from this acid, it also secretes a thick layer of mucus

Symptoms of Stomach Ulcer

The classic symptom of a stomach ulcer is indigestion, also called dyspepsia.

Indigestion causes pain or discomfort in the stomach area. This symptom can be mistaken for heartburn, which can occur at the same time.

Heartburn can be caused by acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It occurs slightly higher up from the stomach and is felt in the lower part of the chest.

It is worth noting that not all stomach ulcers cause indigestion.

Stomach ulcer symptoms tend to be more distinct than heartburn, but symptoms can still be vague.

An ulcer tends to produce a burning or dull pain in the stomach area. This pain is sometimes described as a “biting” or “gnawing” pain. Some people may describe a hungry sensation.

Other symptoms include:

  • weight loss
  • nausea and vomiting
  • not eating because of pain
  • burping
  • bloating
  • pain may be relieved by eating, drinking, or taking antacids

Some stomach ulcers go unnoticed and show no typical indigestion-type pains. These ulcers are less common and tend to be diagnosed after the ulcer has started bleeding. Some ulcers can cause a hole in the stomach wall. This is known as perforation and is a serious condition.

Stomach ulcer symptoms often change over time and can be difficult to spot.

What causes stomach ulcers?

Stomach ulcers are almost always caused by one of the following:

  • an infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen

Treating stomach ulcers

Treatment will vary depending on the cause of your ulcer. Most ulcers can be treated with a prescription from your doctor, but in rare cases, surgery may be required.

It’s important to promptly treat an ulcer. Talk to your doctor to discuss a treatment plan. If you have an actively bleeding ulcer, you’ll likely be hospitalized for intensive treatment with endoscopy and IV ulcer medications.

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Why Vaccination is important for Children?

A vaccine (or immunization) is a way to build your body’s natural immunity to a disease before you get sick. This keeps you from getting and spreading the disease.

For most vaccines, a weakened form of the disease germ is injected into your body. This is usually done with a shot in the leg or arm. Your body detects the invading germs (antigens) and produces antibodies to fight them. Those antibodies then stay in your body for a long time. In many cases, they stay for the rest of your life. If you’re ever exposed to the disease again, your body will fight it off without you ever getting the disease.

Some illnesses, like strains of cold viruses, are fairly mild. But some, like smallpox or polio, can cause life-altering changes. They can even result in death. That’s why preventing your body from contracting these illnesses is very important.

Why it’s important?

Childhood vaccines or immunizations can seem overwhelming when you are a new parent. Vaccine schedules recommended by agencies and organizations, such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians cover about 14 different diseases.

Vaccinations not only protect your child from deadly diseases, such as polio, tetanus, and diphtheria, but they also keep other children safe by eliminating or greatly decreasing dangerous diseases that used to spread from child to child.

Top Reasons to Protect Children through Vaccination

  • Parents want to do everything possible to make sure their children are healthy and protected from preventable diseases. Vaccination is the best way to do that.
  • Vaccination protects children from serious illness and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases which can include amputation of an arm or leg, paralysis of limbs, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage, and death.
  • Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, are still a threat. They continue to infect children, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths every year.
  • Though vaccination has led to a dramatic decline in the number of cases of several infectious diseases, some of these diseases are quite common in other countries and are brought to the by international travelers. If children are not vaccinated, they could easily get one of these diseases from a traveler or while traveling themselves.
  • Outbreaks of preventable diseases occur when many parents decide not to vaccinate their children.
  • Vaccination is safe and effective. All vaccines undergo long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and the federal government to make sure they are safe.
  • Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all strongly support protecting children with recommended vaccinations.
  • Vaccination protects others you care about, including family members, friends, and grandparents.
  • If children aren’t vaccinated, they can spread disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients and people with cancer. This could result in long-term complications and even death for these vulnerable people.
  • We all have a public health commitment to our communities to protect each other and each other’s children by vaccinating our own family members.
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What is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition in which you lack enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your body’s tissues. Having anemia can make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe. See your doctor if you suspect that you have anemia. It can be a warning sign of serious illness.

Treatments for anemia range from taking supplements to undergoing medical procedures. You might be able to prevent some types of anemia by eating a healthy, varied diet.

Symptoms of Anemia

Anemia signs and symptoms vary depending on the cause. If the anemia is caused by a chronic disease, the disease can mask them, so that the anemia might be detected by tests for another condition.

Depending on the causes of your anemia, you might have no symptoms. Signs and symptoms, if they do occur, might include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Headaches

At first, anemia can be so mild that you don’t notice it. But symptoms worsen as anemia worsens.

What causes anemia?

Dietary iron, vitamin B-12, and folate are essential for red blood cells to mature in the body. Normally, 0.8 to 1 percent of the body’s red blood cells are replaced every day, and the average lifespan for red cells is 100 to 120 days. Any process that has a negative effect on this balance between red blood cell production and destruction can cause anemia.

Causes of anemia are generally divided into those that decrease red blood cell production and those that increase red blood cell destruction.

Different types of anemia have different causes. They include:

  • Iron deficiency anemia. This most common type of anemia is caused by a shortage of iron in your body. Your bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin. Without adequate iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells.

Without iron supplementation, this type of anemia occurs in many pregnant women. It is also caused by blood loss, such as from heavy menstrual bleeding, an ulcer, cancer and regular use of some over-the-counter pain relievers, especially aspirin, which can cause inflammation of the stomach lining resulting in blood loss.

  • Vitamin deficiency anemia. Besides iron, your body needs folate and vitamin B-12 to produce enough healthy red blood cells. A diet lacking in these and other key nutrients can cause decreased red blood cell production.

Also, some people who consume enough B-12 aren’t able to absorb the vitamin. This can lead to vitamin deficiency anemia, also known as pernicious anemia.

  • Anemia of inflammation. Certain diseases — such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease and other acute or chronic inflammatory diseases — can interfere with the production of red blood cells.
  • Aplastic anemia. This rare, life-threatening anemia occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. Causes of aplastic anemia include infections, certain medicines, autoimmune diseases and exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • Anemias associated with bone marrow disease. A variety of diseases, such as leukemia and myelofibrosis, can cause anemia by affecting blood production in your bone marrow. The effects of these types of cancer and cancer-like disorders vary from mild to life-threatening.
  • Hemolytic anemias. This group of anemias develops when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them. Certain blood diseases increase red blood cell destruction. You can inherit a hemolytic anemia, or you can develop it later in life.
  • Sickle cell anemia. This inherited and sometimes serious condition is a hemolytic anemia. It’s caused by a defective form of hemoglobin that forces red blood cells to assume an abnormal crescent (sickle) shape. These irregular blood cells die prematurely, resulting in a chronic shortage of red blood cells.

Prevention

Many types of anemia can’t be prevented. But you can avoid iron deficiency anemia and vitamin deficiency anemia by eating a diet that includes a variety of vitamins and minerals, including:

Iron. Iron-rich foods include beef and other meats, beans, lentils, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruit.

Folate. This nutrient, and its synthetic form folic acid, can be found in fruits and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, green peas, kidney beans, peanuts, and enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice.

Vitamin B-12. Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include meat, dairy products, and fortified cereal and soy products.

Vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, melons and strawberries. These also help increase iron absorption.

If you’re concerned about getting enough vitamins and minerals from food, ask your doctor whether a multivitamin might help.

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Jaundice in New born – Why not to worry?

Newborn jaundice is a yellowing of a baby’s skin and eyes. Newborn jaundice is very common and can occur when babies have a high level of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced during normal breakdown of red blood cells.

Infant jaundice is a common condition, particularly in babies born before 38 weeks’ gestation (preterm babies) and some breast-fed babies. Infant jaundice usually occurs because a baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream. In some babies, an underlying disease may cause infant jaundice.

Most infants born between 35 weeks’ gestation and full term need no treatment for jaundice. Rarely, an unusually high blood level of bilirubin can place a newborn at risk of brain damage, particularly in the presence of certain risk factors for severe jaundice.

Symptoms of newborn jaundice

The first sign of jaundice is a yellowing of a baby’s skin and eyes. The yellowing may begin within 2 to 4 days after birth and may start in the face before spreading down across the body.

Bilirubin levels typically peak between 3 to 7 days after birth.

If a finger lightly pressed on a baby’s skin causes that area of skin to become yellow, it’s likely a sign of jaundice.

Causes of newborn jaundice

Excess bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia) is the main cause of jaundice. Bilirubin, which is responsible for the yellow color of jaundice, is a normal part of the pigment released from the breakdown of “used” red blood cells.

Newborns produce more bilirubin than adults do because of greater production and faster breakdown of red blood cells in the first few days of life. Normally, the liver filters bilirubin from the bloodstream and releases it into the intestinal tract. A newborn’s immature liver often can’t remove bilirubin quickly enough, causing an excess of bilirubin. Jaundice due to these normal newborn conditions is called physiologic jaundice, and it typically appears on the second or third day of life.

When to see a doctor

Most hospitals have a policy of examining babies for jaundice before discharge. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborns be examined for jaundice during routine medical checks and at least every eight to 12 hours while in the hospital.

Your baby should be examined for jaundice between the third and seventh day after birth, when bilirubin levels usually peak. If your baby is discharged earlier than 72 hours after birth, make a follow-up appointment to look for jaundice within two days of discharge.

The following signs or symptoms may indicate severe jaundice or complications from excess bilirubin. Call your doctor if:

  • Your baby’s skin becomes more yellow
  • The skin on your baby’s the abdomen, arms or legs looks yellow
  • The whites of your baby’s eyes look yellow
  • Your baby seems listless or sick or is difficult to awaken
  • Your baby isn’t gaining weight or is feeding poorly
  • Your baby makes high-pitched cries
  • Your baby develops any other signs or symptoms that concern you

Prevention

The best preventive of infant jaundice is adequate feeding. Breast-fed infants should have eight to 12 feedings a day for the first several days of life. Formula-fed infants usually should have 1 to 2 ounces (about 30 to 60 milliliters) of formula every two to three hours for the first week.

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What is Breast Cancer?

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Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in most of the countries. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it’s far more common in women.

Substantial support for breast cancer awareness and research funding has helped created advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have increased, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease.

Breast cancer symptoms

Breast cancer may not cause any symptoms in its initial stages. A tumour may be too small to be felt in many cases, but on a mammogram, an abnormality can still be detected. Usually, the first sign is a new lump in the breast. But not all lumps are cancer.

The most common symptoms include:

  • A new breast lump that feels different from surrounding tissue
  • Pitted, red skin over your breast
  • Swelling in your breast
  • Bloody discharge from your nipple
  • Scaling, peeling, or flaking of skin on your breast or nipple
  • An unexplained or sudden change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Inversion of nipple
  • Swelling or a lump under your arm

But just because you have these symptoms doesn’t mean you certainly have breast cancer. For instance, a benign cyst can cause pain in your breast or a breast lump. Still, you should see your doctor for further examination and testing.

Types of Breast Cancer

  • Ductal carcinoma
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Paget’s disease of the breast
  • Various types of sarcomas like cystosarcoma phyllodes, angiosarcoma, etc.

Risk factors

Here are some of the factors that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

  • Higher chance in female
  • Increasing age
  • A personal history of breast cancer
  • A family history of breast cancer
  • Inherited cancer genes
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Obesity
  • Beginning your period before age 12
  • Starting menopause at an older age
  • Having your first child after age 30
  • Women who have never been pregnant
  • Postmenopausal hormone medications
  • Alcohol consumption

Being breast aware

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. So it’s important to check your breasts regularly and see your doctor if you notice a change.

 

Article by

Dr. M. Banupriya

MBBS, MDRT, FIAMS, Ph.D, CCEPC (Palliative care),

Consultant Radiation Oncologist

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Adult Vaccination

Vaccination is one of the most beneficial and cost effective measures we can adopt to protect ourselves from potentially fatal diseases. Vaccination is not only meant for kids, in fact there are specific ages in your adult life when the need for immunization arises.

All over the world millions of adults fall seriously ill and get hospitalized for diseases that could be easily prevented by vaccines. The need for vaccinations does not go away with age and regular vaccines for adults help boost the efficacy of childhood vaccines, aid immunity for newer comorbidities and provide protection against diseases when immunity is suppressed. 

Vaccines Recommended For Adults

Vaccines for adults are recommended on the basis of various factors like age, prior vaccinations, health conditions, lifestyle, occupation and travel. The various vaccines for adults recommended by CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, United States) and ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practises, United States) are discussed below;

1) TDAP (TETANUS, DIPHTHERIA AND ACELLULAR PERTUSSIS) VACCINE 

Adults who have completed their primary vaccination series should receive a Td vaccine every 10 years till the age of 65. One dose of Tdap vaccine can be administered in place of Td vaccine at any time.

Who should get it – This vaccine is recommended for everyone, especially people with weakened immune systems.

Who should not get it – People who’ve had seizures or an allergic reaction to Tdap need to avoid this vaccine.

2) MMR OR MEASLES, MUMPS AND RUBELLA VACCINE 

The MMR vaccine as it is called protects against three highly contagious diseases-measles, mumps and rubella. All adults should receive two doses of MMR vaccine or one dose of measles followed by one dose of MMR vaccine.

Who should get it – People who haven’t gotten their MMR vaccine and have never had measles.

Who should not get it-  MMR vaccine is a live vaccine and hence pregnant women are not given this vaccine. Also people with HIV or AIDS, undergoing cancer treatment, having blood disorder and immunosuppressed are generally asked by doctors to avoid it.

3) VARICELLA VACCINE 

Varicella vaccine or chicken pox vaccine is a regular part of today’s vaccination program.

Who should get it All adults without evidence of immunity to varicella or previous infection should receive two doses of single antigen varicella vaccine or the second dose of single antigen varicella vaccine if they have received only one dose.

Who should not get it – Varicella is a live vaccine and hence is contraindicated in pregnant women and immunosuppressed people. People who’ve had a blood transfusion or with HIV/AIDS or cancer should also refrain from taking this vaccine.

4) HERPES ZOSTER VACCINE OR SHINGLES VACCINE 

The shingles vaccine is a lyophilized preparation of the OKA strain of live attenuated varicella zoster virus. This vaccine also protects from a condition called postherpetic neuralgia, which is a complication that brings about burning pain after the symptoms of shingles subsides.

Who should get it – All adults above 50 years of age should get this vaccine. People who’ve had chicken pox should also get this vaccine, even people who’ve already had shingles should get the Herpes Zoster Vaccine.

Who should not get it – Pregnant women and people with weakened immunity should best avoid this vaccine. Those who are allergic to gelatine or the antibiotic neomycin should also best stay away from this vaccine.

5) HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV) VACCINE 

The HPV vaccine safeguards from a series of infections that can lead to cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer in women and penile cancer in men. The infections caused by human papillomavirus can also lead to anal cancer, genital warts and throat cancer.

Who should get it – The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls at age 11 or 12 so they are protected from the virus through any future sexual activity. Men with sexual relationships with other men can also get the vaccine until 26 years of age.

Who should not get it – Pregnant women and people allergic to it are advised against having this vaccine.

6) PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINE

Pneumococcal vaccination acts as a safeguard from infections caused by the Streptococcus Pneumoniae bacteria that can potentially lead to pneumonia, meningitis, blood infections and death. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine – a conjugate vaccine consisting of 13 strains (Pneumococcal 13) and a polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumococcal 23) containing 23 strains of the bacteria.

Who should get it – The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended by doctors once an individual turns 50. People living with chronic illness, sickle cell disease, cochlear implants, transplanted organs and immunosuppressed people should consider taking this vaccine.

Who should not get it – People having known allergic reactions to the vaccine. 

7) HEPATITIS A AND B VACCINE

Both these viruses infect the liver and hence, Hepatitis A and B vaccine is warranted to protect oneself from potentially fatal infection caused by these two bacteria.

Who should get it Anyone and everyone can take Hepatitis A and B vaccine to protect oneself. Also people who regularly travel outside the country, men having sexual relations with other men, people using illegal drugs, people suffering from haemophilia and having chronic liver disease.

Who should not get it People having allergic reactions to hepatitis A and B vaccine need to stay away from the vaccine.

8) MENINGOCOCCAL VACCINE

They are two different types of meningococcal vaccine – the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccines and meningococcal conjugate vaccines.

Who should get it – Adults with anatomic or functional asplenia or complement component, microbiologists routinely exposed to isolates of Neisseria meningitides

 9) INFLUENZA VACCINE 

The influenza vaccine is a yearly vaccination that protects from flu

Who should get it – Influenza vaccine is intended for everyone over the age of six months.

Who should get it – People having severe, life threatening allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, are allergic to eggs or have had Guillen – Barre syndrome

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How to make kids wear Mask

If you’ve ever tried to persuade a willful toddler to wear sunglasses or a hat on a sunny day, you know how tricky it can be to get kids to do something they don’t want to. Convincing a young child to wear a face mask may feel like a similar struggle.

Keep in mind that the CDC recommends that children under age 2 not wear a face mask because of the danger of suffocation.

Generally, everyone ages 2 or older have to wear a face mask when leaving the house, regardless of whether symptoms are present.

Tips to Encourage Your Child to Wear a Mask

Face masks seem scary for some kids, while others may simply not want to wear one. Here are tips to encourage children to wear them when needed.

Lead by example. If you have a toddler over age 2 or a preschooler, introduce the concept of wearing a face mask by putting one on at home with your child. A little practice for a few days can help kids feel comfortable wearing a mask before they actually need it.

Keep it positive. Answer your child’s questions about masks simply in a way your child can understand. You might say, for example, that wearing a mask when we go to the grocery store helps keep us healthy. Or, that by wearing a mask, you’re helping others stay healthy and being a good helper in the community. Your child just might feel proud to wear a mask.

Make it playful. Incorporate a face mask as part of your child’s playtime — put a face mask on a favorite stuffed animal or doll. Have your child play with the masked stuffed animal or doll for a day or two until the mask seems less noticeable. Have your child draw face masks on animals in coloring books, too.

Get creative. Decorate the mask with your child. Markers can turn your child’s disposable mask into art and make wearing it more fun.

Show others modeling mask-wearing. Do so by showing your child pictures of other kids and adults wearing masks. A quick Google or social media search can show your child lots of examples of others just like him. “See, everybody’s wearing one!”

Make it fun. Whether you’re making your own masks or buying them, try to choose a pattern that your child likes. Think kid-friendly superheroes, favorite characters, animals, cars and trucks or a favorite color, and then talk it up. “Look, it has dinosaurs on it!” Try finding one for yourself in a matching pattern or color to show your child you’re in this together.

Make it comfy. If your child complains that a mask is uncomfortable, try a different style, such as a mask with ties instead of elastic around the ears

How to Get the Right Fit  

Once your child is used to the idea of wearing a mask in public, talk with them about how to wear a cloth face mask correctly. Remind them that it should cover both your nose and mouth. Before helping your child put on a face mask, help them wash their hands. Help your child fit the mask over their mouth and nose and make sure it is snug against the sides of their face.

Encourage your child not to touch the face covering when it’s on his face and to wash his hands if he does. Then, ask your child if he can breathe easily. If everything’s all good, give your child an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Once your outing is over and you’re home again, be sure to praise your child for doing such a good job wearing his or her mask. Positive reinforcement can empower kids to keep up the good work.

Remind your child to keep at least six feet from anyone who isn’t part of your household. And provide lots of praise and positive reinforcement as they adjust to this new aspect of everyday life.

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Why Hand washing is Important?

Germs spread from surfaces to people when we touch a surface and then touch our face with unwashed hands.

A number of infectious diseases can be spread from one person to another by contaminated hands. These diseases include gastrointestinal infections, such as Salmonella, and respiratory infections, such as influenza. Washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of the germs (like bacteria and viruses) that cause these diseases.

Some forms of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections can cause serious complications, especially for young children, the elderly, or those with a weakened immune system.

Proper hand washing is the best way to protect yourself and others from being exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

When to wash your hands

You should wash your hands thoroughly:

  • after using the toilet or changing nappies
  • before, during and after preparing food
  • between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food
  • before eating
  • after using a tissue or handkerchief
  • Before and after attending to sick children or other family members.
  • after smoking
  • after handling rubbish or working in the garden
  • after handling animals

What’s the best way to wash your hands?

Washing your hands with soap and water has been found to reduce more bacteria than washing with water alone. Antibacterial soap may not be necessary to use every day at home outside of healthcare settings. Regular soap and water can be effective.

Steps for washing hands effectively include:

  1. Rinse your hands under running water at a comfortable temperature. Warm water isn’t more effective than cold water at killing germs.
  2. Apply the type of soap you like best. Soaps to try include liquid formulas, foams, and those with added moisturizers.
  3. Work up a lather for half a minute or longer. Make sure to spread the lather on all parts of your hands and wrists, including under your fingernails and between your fingers.
  4. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  5. If you’re using a public bathroom, use a paper towel both to turn off the faucet and turn the door handle when exiting.

When and how to use hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizers are available as wipes and in gel form. They’re a convenient on-the-go option to use when soap and running water aren’t readily available.

However, they shouldn’t be used regularly instead of handwashing, since soap and water are more appropriate for regularly removing dirt, debris, and harmful germs than hand sanitizers.

Using hand sanitizers too frequently can also reduce the number of helpful bacteria on your hands and skin.

Make the most of hand sanitizer by keeping these things in mind:

  • Use alcohol-based products. It’s important to check ingredients and use a sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Ethanol alcohol and isopropanol alcohol are both acceptable types.
  • Scrub your hands. Use the amount of hand sanitizer recommended on the label, and rubs it into both hands vigorously. Make sure to get all areas of the hands, including the wrists and under the nails, just as you do when washing. Rub until they air dry.
  • Have some within reach. It’s a good idea to keep some hand sanitizer with you. It can come in handy when you walk your dog, travel, or attend class.
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What is Vaginal Yeast Infection?

A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva — the tissues at the vaginal opening.

Also called vaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience at least two episodes.

A vaginal yeast infection isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection. But, there’s an increased risk of vaginal yeast infection at the time of first regular sexual activity. There’s also some evidence that infections may be linked to mouth to genital contact (oral-genital sex).

Medications can effectively treat vaginal yeast infections. If you have recurrent yeast infections — four or more within a year — you may need a longer treatment course and maintenance plan.

Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infections

Itchiness and discomfort are the main symptoms of a yeast infection, but there are others. You may also experience any or all of the following:

  • Burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the vulva (the outer part of the female genitals)
  • Pain or burning when you pee
  • Pain during sex
  • A thick, white, odorless discharge, similar to cottage cheese

If you think you have a yeast infection, see your doctor before treating yourself. The symptoms of yeast infections are similar to other, more serious conditions, including sexually transmitted infections and bacterial vaginosis (bacterial overgrowth in the vagina). An accurate diagnosis is important so you can get the best treatment.

Causes of Vaginal Yeast infections

There are many reasons you could get a yeast infection, including:

Hormones: Changes during pregnancy, breast-feeding or menopause (or if you’re taking birth control pills) can change the balance in your vagina.

Diabetes: If your diabetes is not well-controlled, the increase in sugar in the mucus membranes (moist linings) of your vagina can create a place for yeast to grow.

Antibiotics: These drugs can kill off many of the good bacteria that live in your vagina.

Douches and vaginal sprays: The use of these products can change the balance in your vagina.

A weakened immune system: If you are HIV-positive or have another immune system disorder, the yeast may also grow uncontrolled.

Sex: Though a yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed from person to person through sexual contact.

Prevention

To reduce your risk of vaginal yeast infections, wear underwear that has a cotton crotch and doesn’t fit too tightly.

It might also help to avoid:

  • Tight-fitting pantyhose
  • Douching, which removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protect you from infection
  • Scented feminine products, including bubble bath, pads and tampons
  • Hot tubs and very hot baths
  • Unnecessary antibiotic use, such as for colds or other viral infections
  • Staying in wet clothes, such as swimsuits and workout attire, for long periods of time

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • This is the first time you’ve had yeast infection symptoms
  • You’re not sure whether you have a yeast infection
  • Your symptoms aren’t relieved after treating with over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams or suppositories
  • You develop other symptoms
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Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Mostly infections occur in the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.

Compare to Men, Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI. Infection limited to your bladder can be painful and annoying. However, serious consequences can occur if a UTI spreads to your kidneys.

Symptoms

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • A frequent or intense urge to pee
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or strong-smelling pee
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Feeling tired or shaky
  • Fever or chills (a sign that the infection may have reached your kidneys)
  • Pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen

Types of UTIs

An infection can happen in different parts of your urinary tract. Each type has a different name, based on where it is.

Cystitis (bladder): You might feel like you need to pee a lot, or it might hurt when you pee. You might also have lower belly pain and cloudy or bloody urine.

Pyelonephritis (kidneys): This can cause fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and pain in your upper back or side.

Urethritis (urethra): This can cause a discharge and burning when urinating

Reasons for UTI

Large numbers of bacteria live in the area around the vagina and rectum, and also on your skin. Bacteria may get into the urine from the urethra and travel into the bladder. They may even travel up to the kidney. But no matter how far they go, bacteria in the urinary tract can cause problems.

Some factors that can add to your chances of getting a UTI are:

Body Factors

Some women are genetically predisposed to UTIs and have urinary tracts that make it easier for bacteria to cling to them. Sexual intercourse can also affect how often you get UTIs.

Birth Control

Women who use diaphragms have also been found to have a higher risk of UTIs when compared to those who use other forms of birth control.

Abnormal Anatomy

Anatomical abnormalities in the urinary tract may also lead to UTIs. These abnormalities are often found in children at an early age but can still be found in adults. There may be structural abnormalities, such as outpouchings called diverticula, that harbor bacteria in the bladder or urethra or even blockages, such as an enlarged bladder, that keep the body from draining all the urine from the bladder.

Immune System

Issues such as diabetes (high blood sugar) also put people at higher risk for UTIs because the body is not able to fight off germs as well.

Contact your doctor if you have any signs and symptoms of a UTI.

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