Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases

 

The trouble with travel
Statistics show that the likelihood of experiencing a travel-related illness while overseas is almost 50%. Despite this, travel health is largely ignored. More than 240 years ago, Captain James Cook was sailing across the Tasman towards Botany Bay. He kept his crew healthy with plenty of fresh vegetables and lemon juice in the diet. And while scurvy shouldn\'t be a problem these days on a quick plane trip from Australia, Captain Cook could certainly give us some pointers on how to prepare for an extended time away from home.

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Altitude sickness
Being fit for travel is important. The longer the travel distance and time away from home, the fitter you need to be. Even having a cold can make plane travel quite uncomfortable. Modern aeroplane cabins are pressurised; but not at exactly the same pressure as we have at ground level. For a pain free take-off and especially landing, when that air pressure changes, the pressure inside and outside our ears needs to be equalised. Congested nasal passages might prevent this from happening; so appropriate use of nasal sprays (Drixine, Otrivin or Sinex) will help to open up those airways. A decongestant tablet, such as Sudafed, could also be useful.

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HIV is still here
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is primarily transmitted in blood, semen and vaginal fluids via unprotected sex or sharing injecting equipment. HIV belongs to a group of viruses called retroviruses known for the capacity to copy their genetic blueprint onto the genes of the host person’s cells. HIV has been identified as the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is not a single disease. It is a broad range of conditions that occur when a person’s immune system is seriously damaged after years of attack by the HIV. The terms HIV and AIDS are not interchangeable. It is important to remember that a person who is infected with HIV does not necessarily have AIDS. However, all people with AIDS have been infected with HIV.

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Flu vaccine; who needs it?
Each year in Australia, influenza causes an estimated 3,000 deaths in older people. There are also the economic costs to the community of over one and a half million lost work days, 300,000 doctor visits and 18,000 people admitted to hospital. However, it’s not just older people who are affected by the flu. The fact is, rates of flu infection are highest among young children; although children under the age of five are less likely to show typical symptoms of the flu – the fever and the cough – so you may not know that your child has actually contracted the infection.

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HIV/AIDS - getting to zero
One of the themes for World AIDS Day is “getting to zero”. The realisation of that aim seems a long way off, but the latest report from UNAids (the United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS) indicated a significant decline in new infections worldwide amongst both adults and children and an increasing number of people on antiretrovirals (ARVs) – the medicines used to suppress the virus and prevent the progression of the disease.

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Good health gift ideas
For many people, Christmas has deep religious significance; for others, it’s simply a time to relax and enjoy a few days off work. But for almost everyone, this time of year has traditionally become one of celebration. Throughout many societies it is commonplace to exchange gifts or simply ‘season’s greetings’, and to express sentiments of peace and goodwill. Wishes of good health usually accompany greetings at this time of year; so, perhaps some healthy gift ideas could be worth a thought as well.

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Relieving red eye
In the human population “pink eye” or maybe more commonly in Australia, “red eye” are terms generally used to describe conjunctivitis, simply meaning inflammation of the conjunctiva, by whatever cause. (The conjunctiva is that thin, clear film that lies on the inside of the eyelids and covers the white part of the eyeball)

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Vaccination – give it your best shot in 2016
No parent would knowingly put their child’s life at risk; however, according to leading scientists and medical specialists, this is what is happening as a result of misleading and inaccurate claims by an anti-vaccine campaign group.

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Cold sores – not so cool
To most people cold sores might seem to be a comparatively trivial condition; but if you are one of the thousands of people who suffer with cold sores you no doubt find them annoying beyond belief.

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Antibiotic resistance
Did you know that prior to the invention of penicillin in 1929, a simple cut or graze could cause an infection resulting in amputation or death? The first antibiotics were prescribed in the late 1930s and since then antibiotics have become an essential part of our health system.

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Becoming more aware of antibiotics
Surely, we are all aware of antibiotics. They’re those miracle medicines which successfully treat just about every infection we are likely to encounter. Well, if that ever was the case, it’s certainly not now.

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Bidding farewell to thrush
Fungi live with us - both on us and inside us - in enormous numbers; usually quite happily and generally without causing any harm at all. But now and again their presence can be quite problematic; more especially when the balance of power is disturbed amongst all those micro-organisms residing on and in our body.

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Bird flu flies again
Influenza is not just a bad cold. Certainly the symptoms are somewhat similar, but the flu is potentially a life-threatening disease.

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Coping with extremely common cold symptoms
Many of the more effective medications promoted for the relief of symptoms of coughs and colds are now available only as what are known as Pharmacist-Only products. That is the pharmacist must personally provide you with the cough/cold product and be satisfied it’s the most appropriate product to treat your symptoms.

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Mosquitoes - more than a minor inconvenience
When, later this month, most of us in Australia and New Zealand will be reflecting on the service provided by the men and women in our armed forces, much of the rest of the world will focus its attention on a tiny insect which, over centuries, has changed the course of history and in the process killed more people than all wars put together.

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TB continued
In the early eighteenth century it was suggested that TB could be caused by “wonderfully minute living creatures” and 150 years later the actual organism (mycobacterium tuberculosis) was identified by Dr Robert Koch. When he announced his discovery in 1882, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas; and was responsible for one in every seven deaths

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Treating coughs and colds
Coughs and colds are very common. Each year, adults can develop between two and four colds and children between five and ten. With our increasingly busy lives, we are often seeking a treatment for coughs and colds and the first stop is usually the pharmacy.

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