Food for thought about how to live healthy!

Archive for the ‘Disease’ Category

Cold vs. Flu: What’s the Difference?

It’s that time of year again. Kids go back to school, adults go back to work after summer vacation, one person you know starts coughing and sneezing and before you know it you’re in bed with a fever, congestion, and aches all over. But how do you tell if you’ve caught the common cold or the flu. Here’s what you need to know about both.

How They’re Alike:

Rhinovirus, also known as the common cold, and Influenza, nicknamed “the flu,” are both respiratory illnesses. Both are caused by a virus, however there are over 200 known strains of the common cold and only a handful of known flu strains. Common symptoms of both illnesses are fever, congestion, runny nose, fatigue and muscle aches. The severity of each symptom depends on a variety of factors, such of what strain of virus you have, the time of year and your current health. And the big similarity these two share is the biggest downer: there is no known cure or drug to kill either one.

How They’re Different:

The flu is typically more severe than a cold, but there are such things as a severe cold or a mild flu. Typically, a runny nose, sore or scratchy throat and watery eyes are tall tell signs of a cold. Fevers in colds also don’t tend to exceed 102 degrees. The flu also has distinctive symptoms. Nausea, body aches or chills, sweating, loss of appetite and a fever greater than 102 degrees are more often seen in flu cases. Colds also tend to develop gradually, with one symptom transitioning to the next. Cold symptoms, such as mucus-y coughing, can last weeks. Symptoms of the flu often come on fast and all at once. The flu also doesn’t last as long. Most symptoms are gone within a week. It’s never too late to get a flu shot. This year’s vaccines are about 80% effective at preventing the flu. But common colds are a part of life, and there is no reliable way to prevent them.

How They’re Treated:

As I mentioned earlier, there is no drug or treatment that can cure either virus. There are drugs to alleviate flu symptoms, such as Tami-Flu, but the only way to fight the virus is the down and dirty way: with your white blood cells. There are a lot of things you can do to help your body in the fight though. If you feel yourself getting sick, immediately taking zinc tablets has been shown to cut the duration and severity of the virus. Make sure you are constantly hydrating. Your body goes through a lot of water fighting the virus. Constantly sipping on water is one of the best things you can do for your body. Taking Vitamin C, either by a supplement or a fruit smoothie or otherwise, can give your immune system a little boost. Take a hot shower or bath to alleviate muscle aches. Take over the counter meds such as cough syrup and decongestants as you need them, but avoid drowsy medication during the day. Avoid exercise, smoking, drinking, dairy products, and unneeded stress. And the number one thing you can do is rest. If you have a fever over 102 degrees for more than 3 days, unrelenting chills, or you are too nauseous to keep down food, you should make an appointment with your doctor right away. If your fever exceeds 104 degrees, you should visit an emergency room.

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Man’s Best Friend? More Like Babies’ Best Friend!

What’s cuter than seeing a picture of a baby or a dog? Seeing a picture of a baby AND a dog! It turns out pairing babies with dogs doesn’t just make for good pictures. It’s also good for the baby’s health.

A study by Finland’s Kuopio University Hospital found that babies that were raised around dogs had a significantly lower rate of infection than babies not raised around dogs. The effect was similar is households with cats, but the decrease in infection rate was larger in households with dogs.

Some parents would shake their heads at the fact that some families would allow animals near babies, especially during the first few months of life. Coincidentally, these parents are the ones that scrubs the walls of their child’s room every week, force anyone holding the baby to bathe their hands in sanitizer yet refuse to give their child a flu shot even though this strain of flu is extremely high risk and 20 children have died from it…Americans!

Little do those parents know that sterilizing their child’s environment is detrimental to their baby’s health and that the parents that let their child and dog live under the same roof are doing their child a favor!

The Hygiene Hypothesis, a relatively new theory introduced during the 90’s era boom of super-duty cleaning products, states that children’s immune systems develop best when they are kept in a moderate germ environment. That’s not to say that every child should be bathed in a mud bath. Too many germs can overload a child’s immune system. However, too few germs can stifle the development of the immune system, leading to more frequent and more severe infections later.

Babies love chewing EVERYTHING they can find, including their own hands and feet, which turns out to be a good thing sometimes. The microbes and germs on the baby get sent to the babies stomach, where there is a pool of good bacteria and other flora. That good bacteria is able to modify itself so it can not only destroy the bad microbes but protect the rest of the body from those microbes in the future. It can also help prevent the body from attacking itself and lead to less allergies. Plus the stomach is a low-risk zone for infection. Almost all bacteria and viruses either get beaten down by the good intestinal bacteria or they get destroyed by stomach acid.

Dogs are perfect for keeping a moderate germ environment. Dogs that go outside bring back germs into the home. The child gets exposure to germs from outside, but is still kept in a relatively clean environment inside, as long as the parents keep a clean home around their baby. A few other tips if you have a dog at home: if your child is less than 3 months old, it’s probably best to not let the dog touch the child especially if your dog is a big dog.From 3 to 12 months old, you can lay the baby and dog down on the same carpet but try not to let your baby touch any of the dog’s chew toys and don’t let the dog lick the baby. The outside of a dog is not nearly as germy as the inside of a dog’s mouth.

Do you need a dog for your child to develop a healthy immune system? Absolutely not. But should you kick out your dog to keep your baby healthy? No way. Unless your child has asthma or is allergic to the dog, dogs can be great ways to keeping your child happy and healthy.

Flu Side Note: I’m so sick and tired of hearing about flu stories so I’m just going to post this short blurb. The best and most guaranteed way to protect your child from the flu is to get a flu shot. Children and the elderly are the most high-risk people, and this year’s strain of flu is BAD. The vaccine is shown to be 60-80% effective at preventing the flu. And last I checked, the rate of developing a mental disorder from the flu shot this year is somewhere around 0-0%. That 0% is also the same percentage of kids who received the flu shot and later died from the flu. All flu deaths in kids this year were in kids that had not been vaccinated. I’m not trying to scare you into getting a flu shot for your child, but there really is zero risk in getting one and it is the best protection against the flu.

Tips for helping your New Year’s hangover

About two years ago, I did a post about why hangovers happen and what can be done to “cure” them. Basic idea from that post: there is no real cure for a hangover.

Hangovers are the result of a night of heavy drinking. The medical term for a hangover is acute ethanol withdrawal. When you wake up in the morning, all the alcohol has already been flushed out of your system by now, assuming the last time you had a drink was over 4 hours ago. People say that binge eating cheeseburgers and fries or taking a hot shower are all cures for a hangover. While there is no one-step solution to getting rid of a hangover, there are lots of methods to help you feel better.

Drink lots of water. Lots and lots: Most of the symptoms from hangovers can be attributed to one problem: dehydration. The alcohol not only zaps all the water from your system but prevents your brain from releasing chemicals reminding you that you’re thirsty for water! The headache you get from a hangover is caused by your brain literally shrinking because it is dehydrated. It would be wise to drink as much water as you can. Try to aim for 32 oz an hour for 4 hours, then if you’re starting to feel better you can bump it down to 16 oz an hour.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol:  Caffeine makes you dehydrated, which you already are beyond your belief. And if you do drink coffee with a hangover, the caffeine will rush to your head and make your headache feel worse because now all your neurons are firing off and are more sensitive. And although a beer might make you feel better for maybe an hour, your headache will come back with a vengeance and you’ll be curled up on your bed swearing you’ll never drink again.

Eat asparagus and bananas, but don’t binge eat: The amino acids in asparagus help protect the liver from the toxicity of ethanol. Asparagus also makes you pee more which will help rid your body of toxins more quickly. Bananas are also good for replacing the salt and potassium that you’ve lost. Crackers, toast, really any bread product can help bring your blood sugar up and give you some carbs.

Do yoga and drink Gatorade: It’s true that working your body will help eliminate the toxins faster, but doing a full on workout will dehydrate your body, which you know by now is the last thing you want. Yoga is a great way to stimulate the body and get yourself moving without having to lose more water. Drinking Gatorade or any other sports drink will also help since the fructose in the drinks metabolize the alcohol more quickly.

Take a Advil, then nap: Chances are you didn’t get your 8 hours sleep last night, with all that tossing and turning and waking up to either pee or wolf down water. Take one Advil, not two or three, ONE Advil and then try to sleep. The combination of painkiller + sleep will help calm your brain and could help relieve that headache. The reason I say to take one Advil is because your liver is already exhausted after converting all that alcohol. Excess acetaminophen is actually dangerous, and could lead to some unpleasant stomach pains.

There are also other things you can do while you’re out drinking to minimize the effects of your hangover the next day. Alternate drinks with one glass of water. Don’t smoke cigarettes, they’ll just send more chemicals into your body that your organs will have to process and they’ll hate you for it. Mix drinks will a little more soda than rum. Shaving off ounces of liquor from your drinks can spare you some pain. And although this is weird, if you’re really concerned about a hangover only drink clear or light-colored liquor. Darker liquors are more potent and thus can pack more a punch when it comes to hangovers.

Being Pro-active and Aware of Mental Health Defects

Seuing-Hui Cho. 23. Jared Laughner. 24. James Holmes. 24. Jacob Tyler Roberts. 22.

All four men, in their early 20’s, were involved in mass shootings that, combined, have killed dozens and crippled communities. While you wonder how some can be deranged enough to (allegedly) fire a gun into an open crowd, you also wonder how this could have been prevented and whether anyone saw signs beforehand of planned incidents like the Virginia Tech, Tuscon, Aurora, and Happy Valley shootings.

These four shooters all have a history of mental illness. These illnesses include schizophrenia, a disease that manifests around age 20, social anxiety, depression, and more. Many people argue that stricter gun control laws would help prevent these issues, but stricter gun control would only meet the solution halfway. On the other end of the spectrum, there needs to be more pro-activity in recognizing mental health illnesses and getting help quickly and early for those suffering from it.

Depression

Depression and social anxiety are two mental illness that are often the most expressed and easy to recognize. Although those who are depressed don’t always express it clearly, there are signs that friends and family members can look out for if they believe someone they know is depressed. Symptoms include attention deficit, fatigue and decreased energy, insomnia, irritability, feelings pessimism or emptiness, changes in appetite, constant headaches or physical pain, difficulty maintaining relationships, and thoughts of suicide. More symptoms stand out than others, but if you believe someone is depressed it’s better to be safe than sorry about confronting it.

Ask the person if they are having trouble with work, school, friends, spouses, money, or anything like that. If they complain they’re having headaches or other body pains often, getting a check up by a physician can determine whether or not the cause is depression. There are effective ways to treat depression, including SSRIs, individual and group talk therapy, and other psychotherapies. The worst thing about depression, particularly suicide, is that it is not taken seriously as a mental illness. If someone you know ever mentions committing suicide, even if it’s in a humorous manner, pull them aside and ask them if they’ve had thoughts of killing themselves. If they say No, make them insist and swear that they’re telling the truth, and if they Yes then stay with them and go with them to a counselor or psychiatrist. By being more pro-active about recognizing symptoms of depression, people can not only save lives of those who are depressed but also the lives of those they could hurt.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety isn’t just being social awkward. It is a fear of social situations and interactions. An estimated 19 million Americans are living with social anxiety. Social anxiety can be triggered by anything involving people, from eating at a restaurant to using public restrooms. Even future social situations that haven’t even happened yet can give someone social anxiety. It often starts in the adolescent years, but can be seen in childhood. In the cases of violent people who have social anxiety, they normally tailored  anxiety from a nervousness of people to a hatred of people. Rather than fearing social interaction, they loathed it and threatened or harmed those who forced social interaction upon them.

Some mild forms of social anxiety can include only one situation involving people, such as public speaking. However, more severe forms of social anxiety can interfere with relationships, work, and daily routines. People with social anxiety also have false and negative perceptions of people or events. Social anxiety is rarely diagnosed on its own. Those who suffer social anxiety often suffer from depression, OCD, and/or panic disorders. Symptoms of those mental illnesses lead to doctors to recognizing and diagnosing social anxiety. Signs of social anxiety include fear of talking or interacting with people, isolation, intense anxiety in social situations, severe mood swings, panic attacks, and confusion. Social anxiety can also manifest into physical symptoms which include muscle tension, upset stomach, sweating and blushing, shaking, increase heart rate and “pounding” heart sensation, and sometimes yelling or crying.

Social anxiety can be cause by biological, psychological, or environmental factors. Disrupted levels of serotonin in the brain can cause social anxiety and depression. There is also evidence that shows biological conditions like this tend to run in the family, so family history is a big factor to consider when diagnosing social anxiety. An embarrassing or humiliating past experience may leave psychological scarring and cause social anxiety in that manner. Environmental factors can influence social anxiety by observing other people and being over-sheltered or overprotected by parents during childhood. Treatments for social anxiety include medication, such an anti-depressants or beta blockers, and CBT, cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches people how to react to situations that trigger anxiety.

Schizophrenia

The third, and often most severe, illness often seen in perpetrators of violent acts is schizophrenia. Jared Laughner, the Tuscon shooter, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is often misunderstood and therefore perceived wrongly. Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis, where the person suffering from it cannot tell what is real and what is a product of their mind. To them, the world is a jumble of confusing thoughts, images and sounds. About 2.2 millions Americans live with schizophrenia, and the disease affects about 1% of the world’s population. The causes of schizophrenia are not well understood, but researchers believe it is caused by imbalance in brain chemistry, particularly sensitivity to a neurotransmitter called dopamine. There are different types of schizophrenia that each affect people differently and have their own severity. The most often seen and heard about is paranoid schizophrenia. People with this type are preoccupied with false beliefs or delusions about certain people or things, or even themselves. Their thinking, speech and emotions, however, remain fairly normal.

Schizophrenia is most commonly, but not always, a sudden onset disease. If often onset around age 19-22, but can occur earlier or later. Schizophrenia in children is extraordinarily rare, but has been diagnosed in children as young as 6. People with schizophrenia exhibit a number of rapid onset symptoms, including sudden changes in personality, ability to perform routine activities, trouble paying attention, and radical changes in behavior.  Other more subtle symptoms of schizophrenia include moodiness, loss of pleasure in certain activities or loss of interest in life, poor hygiene habits, and lack of motivation.

One of the most common and most observed, yet least acted on, symptoms of schizophrenia is withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities.  In the case of Jared Laughner, and many other people suffering from schizophrenia, he very quickly and inexplicably became isolated from friends and family, not talking to them or interacting with them for weeks or months at a time. If you notice a friend or family member exhibit this sort of isolation or any of the other symptoms of schizophrenia for a period longer than 6 consecutive months, get in contact with them as soon as possible. If they refuse to answer calls, emails, or knocks at the door, then you can contact your local law enforcement and let them know about the situation. The sooner schizophrenia is diagnosed, the sooner the sufferer can receive treatment.

Schizophrenic people are usually not violent, but there occasional violent patients. They are often prone to violence not only towards others but towards themselves. Suicide is the number one cause of premature death in schizophrenics. By being aware of the symptoms of schizophrenia, people can help recognize those suffering from schizophrenia and get them the help they need before something worse happens.

While not every shooting can be prevented, be aware of symptoms of mental disease can truly help save lives, whether it’s preventing a mass shooting or stopping a suicide. If you are ever unsure if someone is suffering from a mental illness, it never hurts to try and talk to them. Talking to them might encourage them to talk to others and seek help. Mental illness, unfortunately, is overlooked by physical disease. Maybe it’s because physical disease are more tangible and people empathize with those patients, maybe it’s because there is less hope for those who suffer from mental illness. Regardless, because of the lack of national awareness, it’s up to individuals to look out for each other. You never know when mental illness could set in and it’s difficult to recognize, but if you see signs of illness and fail to act before a friend or family members injures someone else or themselves, it could leave you asking “Why didn’t I do something before this happened?”

 

UPDATE: Now we add the Newtown shooter. Reports are conflicting his age but he is somewhere between 20-24 years old. This is not coincidence. People need to wake up and realize the threat that those suffering from mental health have to the community. Gun control isn’t the only issue at hand. We need to raise national awareness about the horrors of mental illness. We need to make people more aware of recognizing the signs and being more pro-active about getting help for their friends and family. Obviously, the government isn’t going to do anything because they have their heads up their asses, so it’s up to us as members of our communities to look out for one another. Be aware. Speak up. Offer assistance. Like I said, by recognizing helping out someone who may be suffering, you could potentially be saving the lives of dozens.

Rising Rates of Autism: How and Why

With the election soon approaching, people will say anything to get people to vote for Obama or Romney. One of the things I saw on Twitter seriously irked me. It was a tweet from Donald Trump regarding the high rates of autism:

@realDonaldTrump: “Autism rates through the roof–why doesn’t the Obama administration do something about doctor-inflicted autism. We lose nothing to try.”

So Donald Trump is suggesting two things here: 1) The president has a direct influence over the rates of autism in the country (I’d like to see how that can be proved) and 2) Doctor-inflicted autism is a thing.

So first of all, if Obama should be blamed for the rise in autism, then I think Bush deserves equal blame for the rise in obesity, diabetes, infertility, and cancer during the 2000’s. Just sayin.

Secondly, there is absolutely no hard evidence that doctors can inflict autism on children without getting caught. There are a lot of modifiers to that sentence so I’ll break it down.

Most people think autism is administered via vaccines, even though all the research done on that theory has been debunked and it was proved that law firms payed researchers to botch data to publish those theories. So if your child is given a vaccine, with your consent, and develops autism, it’s not the doctor’s fault. It’s either the vaccine companies fault (which it has been proved dozens of times that it isn’t, hence the hard evidence) or your child just has autism that was either triggered by a prominent immune response (which is extremely rare) or your child just has autism. Parents assume vaccines give their kids autism because kids are taken for their MMR vaccines when they’re 12 months old, the same age when they start exhibiting signs of autism! Go figure!

Now, if your doctor had given your child a vaccine, without your consent, and your child developed autism, then it would be fair to say that the doctor was at fault however the doctor would be sued for medical malpractice and never be allowed to practice again. That’s the without getting caught part.

Now to understand why doctors can’t deliberately inflict autism or how the president has no control over autism rates, we have to understand autism. Unfortunately, autism is not extremely well understood because it is hard to research.

Autism is a developmental disorder that delays mental development of toddlers and children. It is typically diagnosed around age 2, but doctors are working on more methods to diagnose it earlier. The sooner autism is diagnosed, the more ways there are to treat it. Symptoms of autism include difficulty talking, difficulty making eye contact, attention deficit, lack of facial expressions, among others. Autism is also associated with mental retardation. About 75% of children born with autism are also mentally retarded. But what’s the difference between autism and retardation? Retardation involves a lack of the capacity to learn while autism is primarily a delay in learning. Some of the smartest people in the world are also autistic.

What causes autism? Certainly not vaccines. There is no definitive proof as to what causes autism because most researchers believe it happens with brain development while the baby is in utero. It can also be hereditary, considering autism affects boys 4 times more than girls. The rarest cases of autism come from infections, where the immune response damages the brain and causes autism-like symptoms.  Childhood infections have also been linked to OCD, ADHD, and other mental disorders. Crazy parents use this theory of immune response against vaccines since vaccines produce a similar immune response, but the immune response in vaccines is not nearly as powerful as a real infection.

So why the rise in autism over the years? It’s actually several factors: 1) Women are having children at older ages. In the 20th Century the average age for having a child was in the late 20’s. Now in the 21st Century it’s in the low 30’s. While having a child when you’re 32 doesn’t pose a lot of risk, it’s usually the age when risk factors begin to rise. After age 35, the risk of a child being born with a mental defect doubles after every year. So imagine women having children when they’re 40, even 45 years old. Modern medicine has allowed women to get pregnant, but older mothers really shouldn’t be too surprised if/when their children are born with a defect.

2) Because women are having kids at older ages, they are using IVF more. IVF, in-vetro fertilization, is used when the woman has exhausted all of her options of getting pregnant sexually. A fertilized egg is implanted into the uterus during the woman’s peak hormonal fertility. IVF is a fairly new procedure, and the more research is done about it, the more risks are being discovered. IVF has been linked to cancer and is now being linked to hormonal abnormalities in babies.

3) Environmental factors. We live in an age where some sort of preservative is in all the food we eat and everything is made out of BPA. We don’t know how these chemicals directly affect the growth of babies and children, but we know it’s not good. These chemicals can influence the fetus in utero and can also impact the baby after it’s born. The same environmental factors have also been linked to increase in cancer, genetic disorders, allergies, etc.
There is tons of research being done on autism, but as I said earlier research as to why kids get autism is difficult. Any research being done on a fetus in utero is difficult because researchers want to get answers but at the same time don’t want to risk the health of the baby. There are several treatment options being researched and doctors are looking into specific genetic sequences that could cause autism. But as for research as to why autism happens, that answer could be years, even decades, away.

So how do you avoid having a child with autism? Any doctor wishes they knew the answer, but there are several ways to cut the risk of your child developing autism. Having children at an early age is always beneficially for your baby. The earlier, the better. Woman are most fertile in their early 20’s, but since women are getting married later they’re having kids later. It’s generally wise not to have kids after the age of 32, especially if you or the baby daddy has a history of autism or genetic disorder. My mother had me when she was 34, but that was in 1991 and my mother is the healthiest person I know. If you want to have a kid, try to get pregnant anytime between ages 25 and 32.

Avoid IVF or any other drugs that could influence your endocrine system. The endocrine system influences fertility and development in the woman, and if thrown off balance could be disastrous for a baby. If you need to use IVF as a last resort than do it, but always try to get preggers naturally first.

Get rid of BPA in your home. BPA can be found in any and all things plastic, and can also be found in make up, a product women are very fond of.  Getting rid of plastic tubberware and kitchen ware is a good place to start. Avoid drinking out of plastic water bottles. Throw out make up for more natural, organic make up that is specifically labelled BPA-free.

Lastly, if you think your child might have autism, take him/her into the doctor’s office as soon as possible. The earlier autism is diagnosed, the easier it can be treated. Usually if autism is caught within the first 12 months of life, those children can go on to lead a pretty normal life as teens and adults.

And if you don’t like what science has to say about autism, well you can always blame the president for it.

Nobody Nose the Common Cold Better than Your Nose!

It’s that time of the year! The temperature gets cooler, the leaves change color, and the common cold spreads like wildfire. But you don’t need to tell me that since I’m currently suffering from it! And this virus hit me HARD.

Commons cold truly are unavoidable because the virus is so adaptable. Humans have been suffering from the common cold since they first evolved into human beings. Adults catch a cold, on average, twice a year. Scientists believe there are over 200 different types of the common cold and during your lifetime you’ll probably catch around 60-80 forms of the virus. But as you age, you become more and more protected against it because you’ve been more exposed to it.

The most common, and complained about, symptom of a cold is nasal congestion. That’s how the common cold got its scientific name rhinovirus, rhino obviously meaning nose. There is a myth that cold weather is the most prominent cause for colds (hence the name cold), but that myth has little evidence to support it.

The production of mucus in the nose is a natural response to the common cold. Medication can help relieve a stuffy nose, but there’s no real where to cure it because there’s no way to turn off the body’s natural immune response. And even if there was, that would put you in more danger since you’d be susceptible to other infections.

The virus can be transferred in many ways. Hand to hand, mouth to mouth, doorknob to hand to nose, even just by breathing in the airborne virus. Depending on how the virus is transmitted, that’s how the symptoms start.

My first symptom was a sore throat (I’ll remember to rinse my mouth out with Listerine he next time I kiss a guy :P) and my congestion came a couple days later. For some people, the congestion comes first and then the infection moves down into the throat. It really all depends how the body responds to the virus.

When the virus is absorbed into the nose, the body release a chemical known as a histamine, that drastically increases blood flow to the nasal cavity. This histamine is also the same chemical responsible for congestion caused by allergies. The increase in blood flow causes the nasal tissue to swell, and the inflamed tissue produces massive amounts of mucus as a response.

Diphenhydramine is a popular anti-histamine that is used in most cold and allergy products. However, it can also make you drowsy so you should only take it at night and avoid driving. Saline rinses can also help relieve a stuffy nose, but those can be uncomfortable for those who haven’t tried it. Vitamin C is also shown to help reduce the duration of a cold. The real cure for a stuffy nose is time. Once your body clears the infection, the histamine response will go away.

Always remember that blowing out is better than sniffing in. It’s tempting to keep sniffing in the mucus, but mucus can build up and create pressure in the nasal cavity, which can result in sinus infections and sinus headaches. When you blow out your mucus, it should be a clear or slight green color. If your mucus turns a darker green or yellow, or there’s blood it in, you should see your doctor as soon as possible since it could be a more serious sinus infection.

Other symptoms of a cold include sore or scratchy throat, swollen glands, chest congestion, headaches, and mild fever. Severe colds often have fevers over 101.5 and can cause some nausea. If you have a fever, you should probably stay home from work. If you’re still healthy enough to work, carry tissues and a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Just because you experience a cold one way, someone else could respond to it much worse. And if one of your coworkers gets sick, that means more work for you 😦

If you have a mild to moderate cold, don’t go to your doctor and demand a prescription for something!!! There is no prescription drug, no antibiotic that can cure a cold. Antibiotics only work on bacteria, and the cold is a virus. And if you take antibiotics while you have a cold, you could kill the natural bacteria that reside in your body and make yourself vulnerable to other infections.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent yourself from getting a cold. You can wash your hands every half hour of every day and you’ll still get sick. To help raise your odds though, you can try taking Zinc supplements to boost your immune system.

So remember to keep eating healthy, avoid dairy products (they also promote mucus production), and constantly was your hands. And if the cold brings you down, here’s something optimistic to remember: Your body creates a signature antibody for the infection so it knows to attack it whenever it sees it, so you’ll never get sick from this type of virus again!

Undestanding the Complexity of (sometimes) Complex Seizures

Earlier this week, Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigned sighting his seizure problems (he allegedly committed two hit and runs while seizing) and was leaving his office to seek treatment. So the next time I get caught running someone over in Grand Theft Auto and I can’t make it to the car garage, I’ll be sure to tell police I had a complex partial seizure and they’ll let me off the hook, right?…that was a joke, just fyi. People being run over in Grand Theft Auto is a serious problem.

Although people often associate seizures with violent thrashing, seizures come in several forms of unusual physical effects. About 4% of people experience an unprovoked seizure by the time they’re 80. Out of those people, 30 to 50% of them will experience a second seizure. Seizures can produce a wide variety of effects from violent thrashing to deja vu to paralysis and syncope (fainting). There are several different kinds of seizures, both epileptic and non-epileptic.

Epileptic seizures occur where there is access number of neurons sending off electrical signals in the brain. There are several different speculations as to why seizures occur but there is no cure for epilepsy. About 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy and 90% of those people live in developing countries. Some cases of epilepsy, such as photo-epilepsy, seizures brought on by bright or flashing lights, can be controlled. Most epileptic seizures occur without warning and can lead to serious injury depending on the environment the seizure is taking place in.

Types of Seizures

Seizures are classified by two categories, location of neural activity and whether or not syncope occurs. If the electrical activity is localized to a specific area of the brain it is a partial seizure. If the activity is widely distributed it is a generalized seizure. If loss of consciousness does not occur it is a simple seizure, otherwise it is a complex seizure. If a partial seizure develops into a generalized seizure, it is then classified into one or more categories: abscence (short, 20-second syncope), myoclonic (twitches or jerks), clonic (muscle contractions or relaxations),  tonic (sudden, rigorous, and extreme contractions), tonic-clonic (tonic stage with violent shaking after),  and atonic (loss of muscle tone). Those six categories only apply to generalized seizures.

In the case of John Bryson, he suffered a complex partial seizure, meaning the area of  activity was localized and he experienced syncope. It is unclear what part of the brain it affected, though. The type of seizure most people define as a “seizure” and is featured the most on medical shows is a complex generalized tonic-clonic seizure.

Causes of Epilepsy

The most common cause of epilepsy in people under 18 is an infection in the Central Nervous System or a congenital defect. As people age, the chances of developing epilepsy grow because there are more potential causes such as stress, trauma, brain tumors, drug or alcohol withdrawal, and cerebrovascular disease (a condition that limits blood supply to the brain).

However, the most severe and uncontrollable cases of epilepsy are the result of a genetic mutation.  When your brain sends an electrical signal, it uses sodium and calcium to deliver the electric charge. When this genetic mutation occurs, the sodium gates stay open for too long and causes the release of glutamate, a transmitter that makes the nerves hyper sensitive.  The release of too much glutamate results in the release of Calcium molecules that carry an electric charge. The nerves get overloaded with signals and thus a seizure occurs.

Treatment Options

The most modern medicine suggests that people who are susceptible to epilepsy have a weak blood-brain barrier, a sheath that separates the blood vessels in the brain and the raw brain matter. It moderates the transportation of proteins to neurons and prevents pathogens from destroying neural matter. Most of the anti-seizure medications available are used to help the blood-brain barrier function. These anticonvolusant medications do carry side effects, however.

In severe cases of epilepsy, for people who experience over 4 seizures a day, surgery may be the only way to treat seizures. A lobectomy, the removal of one of the lobes of the brain (usually the temporal), might be necessary. In children 2-5, a hemispherectomy, the removal of the entire left or right hemisphere,  is also an option. Most seizure activity stems from the hippocampus, a portion of the brain that separates short term and long term memory and is also responsible for spacial recognition. A hippocampectomy is shown to be effective for those kind of seizures. Other methods such a deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and radiation treatments are known to reduce or remove seizure activity. However, some surgical options are only used as a last resort effort and carry high risks.

Difference Between Epilepsy, Non-epileptic Seizures, and Provoked Seizures

Many people are diagnosed with epilepsy even when the do not have a seizure disorder. There are several different kinds of episodes that may look like epileptic seizures but are not, or there are seizures that have a treatable outside cause. Provoked seizures are often caused by other medical conditions including dehydration, sleep deprivation, a cavernous malformation, infection and fever, withdrawal, metabolic disorders, head injuries, and more. These types of seizures usually occur once and are often caught by doctors. If you or someone you know experiences a seizure and you think there might by an underlying cause, alert a doctor of any potential physical abnormality. Don’t ever assume it’s epilepsy.

Non-epileptic seizures are episodes that often mimic epilepsy. It is more common for children to be misdiagnosed than adults. About 40% of children who suffer non-epileptic seizures are misdiagnosed with epilepsy. In adults, the figure is around 26%.  They are caused by pathophysiological effects including vertigo, repetitive behavior, tics, migraines, night terrors, CNS lymphoma, and more. Most of these conditions can be treated or even cured, either with medicine or some sort of psychological therapy.

What happens if you or someone you know has a seizure.

If you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy or are known to be prone to experience seizures, make sure your close friends and family know proper protocol. If someone experiences a seizure and they lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 immediately. If the person is thrashing and moving violently, do not attempt to stop them from moving. Move any objects he/she could hit out of range and put your hands around the head to attempted him/her from sustaining a head injury.