December: AIDS Awareness (World AIDS Day - Dec 1) and also National Handwashing Awareness
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DECEMBER: A Comprehensive Guide to HIV and AIDS
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that damages the immune system. The immune system helps the body fight off infections. Untreated HIV infects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell called T cells. Over time, as HIV kills more CD4 cells, the body is more likely to get various types of infections and cancers.
HIV is a lifelong condition and currently there is no cure, although many scientists are working to find one. However, with medical care, including treatment called antiretroviral therapy, it’s possible to manage HIV and live with the virus for many years.
Without treatment, a person with HIV is likely to develop a serious condition called AIDS. At that point, the immune system is too weak to fight off other diseases and infections... [Read more]
NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL LUNG CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Are there different types of lung cancer?
Lung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. The most common type is non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC makes up about 80 to 85 percent of all cases. Thirty percent of these cases start in the cells that form the lining of the body’s cavities and surfaces.
This type usually forms in the outer part of the lungs (adenocarcinomas). Another 30 percent of cases begin in cells that line the passages of the respiratory tract (squamous cell carcinoma). A rare subset of adenocarcinoma begins in the tiny air sacs in the lungs (alveoli). It’s called adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS)... [Read more]
OCTOBER IS NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME AWARENESS MONTH
What is Down syndrome?
Down syndrome (sometimes called Down’s syndrome) is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome — hence its other name, trisomy 21. This causes physical and mental developmental delays and disabilities.
Many of the disabilities are lifelong, and they can also shorten life expectancy. However, people with Down syndrome can live healthy and fulfilling lives. Recent medical advances, as well as cultural and institutional support for people with Down syndrome and their families, provides many opportunities to help overcome the challenges of this condition... [Read more]
SEPTEMBER IS OVARIAN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
The ovaries are small, almond-shaped organs located on either side of the uterus. Eggs are produced in the ovaries. Ovarian cancer can occur in several different parts of the ovary.Ovarian cancer can start in the ovary’s germ, stromal, or epithelial cells. Germ cells are the cells that become eggs. Stromal cells make up the substance of the ovary. Epithelial cells are the outer layer of the ovary.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States in 2018, and 14,070 deaths will occur from this type of cancer in 2018. About half of all cases occur in women over the age of 63
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
Early stage ovarian cancer may not have any symptoms..... [Read more]
AUGUST IS NATIONAL BREASTFEEDING MONTH
Breast Milk Provides Ideal Nutrition for Babies Most health authorities recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months.
Continued breastfeeding is then recommended for at least one year, as different foods are introduced into the baby's diet.
Breast milk contains everything the baby needs for the first six months of life, in all the right proportions. Its composition even changes according to the baby's changing needs, especially during the first month of life.
During the first days after birth, the breasts produce a thick and yellowish fluid called colostrum. It's high in protein, low in sugar and loaded with beneficial compounds.... [Read more]
JULY IS JUVENILE ARTHRITIS AWARENESS MONTH
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), previously known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis in children. Arthritis is a long-term condition characterized by stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joints.
An estimated 300,000 children in the United States have a form of arthritis. Some children have arthritis for just a few months, while others have arthritis for several years. In rare cases, the condition can last a lifetime.
The exact cause of JIA isn’t known. However, researchers believe it’s primarily an autoimmune disease. In people with autoimmune diseases, the immune system can’t differentiate between the healthy cells in the body and harmful substances, such as viruses and bacteria. This causes the immune system to mistakenly attack harmless cells as though they are dangerous invaders... [Read more]
ARE YOU AWARE OF HIDRADENITIS SUPPURATIVA (HS)?
Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a painful, long-term skin condition that causes abscesses and scarring on the skin.
The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is unknown, but it occurs near hair follicles where there are sweat glands, usually around the groin, buttocks, breasts and armpits.
For reasons that are unclear, more women than men have the condition. It's thought to affect about 1% of the population.
The symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa range from mild to severe.
It causes a mixture of red boil-like lumps, blackheads, cysts, scarring and channels in the skin that leak pus.
The condition tends to start with a firm pea-sized lesion that develops in one place. This will either disappear or rupture and ooze pus after a few hours or days.
New lumps will then often develop in an area nearby. If these aren't controlled with medication, larger lumps may develop and spread. Narrow channels called sinus tracts also form under the skin that break out on the surface and leak pus.
Hidradenitis suppurativa is very painful. The lumps develop on the skin in the following areas:
- around the groin and genitals
- in the armpits
- on the buttocks and around the anus (back passage)
- below the breasts
The abscesses may also spread to the nape of the neck, waistband and inner thighs. Other isolated areas that have been known to be affected include the front or back of the legs, the sides, the back area and even the face.
Some of the lumps may become infected with bacteria, causing a secondary infection that will need to be treated with antibiotics (see below).
Many people with hidradenitis suppurativa also develop a pilonidal sinus, which is a small hole or "tunnel" in the skin.
What causes hidradenitis suppurativa?
The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is unclear, but the lumps develop as a result of blocked hair follicles.
Smoking and obesity are both strongly associated with hidradenitis suppurativa, and if you're obese and/or smoke it's likely to make your symptoms worse.
Hidradenitis suppurativa usually starts around puberty, but it can occur at any age. It's less common before puberty and after the menopause, which may suggest that the sex hormones play a part. Many people with the condition also have acne and hirsutism (excessive hair growth).
In rare cases, hidradenitis suppurativa may be linked to Crohn's disease, particularly if it develops around the groin area and the skin near the anus. Crohn's disease is a long-term condition that causes the lining of the digestive system to become inflamed.
Hidradenitis suppurativa runs in families in about a third of all cases. It's not infectious and isn't linked to poor hygiene.
Treating hidradenitis suppurativa
Hidradenitis suppurativa is a lifelong, recurring condition that requires constant management and is often difficult to manage.
It's important to try to recognise and diagnose the condition in its early stages and prevent it getting worse.
Treatment for hidradenitis suppurativa will be tailored to the individual. In the early stages, it may be controlled with medication. Surgery may be required in severe or persistent cases. The treatments are outlined below.
Women whose hidradenitis suppurativa flares up before their period may benefit from taking the combined contraceptive pill.
Immunosuppressive treatments (Infliximab and adalimumab)
Surgery may be considered in cases where hidradenitis suppurativa can't be controlled with medication.
If you have hidradenitis suppurativa you should:
- lose any excess weight
- stop smoking, if you smoke
- use an antiseptic skin wash or antiseptic soap – this may be prescribed alongside other treatment (see above)
- hold a warm flannel on the lumps to encourage the pus to drain
- wear loose-fitting clothes
- avoid shaving affected skin and avoid wearing perfume or perfumed deodorants in the affected areas
Although hidradenitis suppurativa can persist for many years, if it's diagnosed early the symptoms can be improved with treatment.
However, the condition can have a significant impact on a person's everyday life. Having to regularly change dressings and constantly live with the pain, discomfort and embarrassment of the symptoms can affect your quality of life and lead to depression.