Category: Disease

Are DIY health testing kits really a good idea?

December 11, 2009 | By | Add a Comment

eyepokeIf The Nurse was freed from prison, she could walk into any chemist and pick up a plethora of health testing kits. 

For a few quid she could examine her cholesterol level, blood pressure and blood sugar, test for allergies and find out whether she’d caught any number of lurid STDs.

For a few quid more she could have her DNA tested to see if she had a genetic propensity for nasties like cancer and heart disease.

At the same time she’d probably be following the trend for poking oneself in various intimate places on a regular basis to check all’s well. If she was a bloke she’d be fondling her own testicles every five minutes just in case they’d mysteriously swollen to gargantuan proportions while her attention was elsewhere. 

OK, it’s good to be aware of your body on a common sense level. But is it a good idea to obsess about it? Do we really need to poke and prod, test and re-test our bodies, treating them like unexploded bombs?

The Nurse thinks it’s all a bit intense and panicky. Surely it can’t be good for you to expect your poor body to explode the second you take your eye off the ball?

Instead of pestering it with endless enquiries and questions, she’s leaving her body in peace to get on with being healthy.

Swine Flu Panic Unnecessary – Just Use a Hanky

May 3, 2009 | By | 4 Comments

tissue_boxSo Egypt has begun mass slaughter of pigs and Ghana has banned the import of pork as a precaution against swine flu. Both are pointless as the swine flu virus is transmitted human to human and cannot be caught from pork meat. I think they just don’t like pigs.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now ‘rebranded’ the virus as virus influenza A or H1N1, rather than the misleading but more memorable name ‘swine flu’.

It has now been confirmed that the virus has spread from Mexico to over 15 countries in North America, Europe and Asia. The good news is that, so far, this particular strain of the flu virus is looking no worse than any other mild seasonal influenza.

While it’s true that any form of influenza is a potentially life threatening disease, there is nothing so far to suggest that this latest outbreak is actually any more dangerous than other seasonal rounds of flu. But that is not the message presented by much of the media. The newspapers in the UK have done very little to reassure people, instead choosing to fuel and promote fear with sensational headlines and scary statistics predicting how many could die.

The EU Health Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, has said that there is ‘no need to panic’ as Europe is well prepared and a global epidemic or pandemic would not necessarily cause widespread deaths. She is clearly hedging her bets but, so far, indications are that this outbreak will not result in the death toll predicted by some of our newspapers.

One positive aspect of this current flu drama is that people are being reminded of the need to be aware of how they might catch or transmit the disease. I’ve become increasingly disgusted, in recent years, by bad manners and the lack of consideration for others shown by some people when they sneeze or cough. It’s actually become rare to see someone use a handkerchief or tissue. Instead people sneeze or cough into their hands and then use their germ-laden hand to grasp a door handle or hand rail.

Only a couple of weeks ago a young lady behind me on a crowded London tube train sneezed directly onto the back of my neck. I could feel the wetness of her sputum dribbling down my back, but before I had a chance to remonstrate with her regarding her complete lack of consideration she had hopped off the train. If she’d done the same thing during the past week she would have potentially had the whole train compartment to herself, or even provoked an act of ‘flu rage’.

Ref: BBC News

Everybody Off Sick

December 19, 2008 | By | 9 Comments

rhinovirus.jpgI haven’t written anything for the ABS blog for some time, but I’m at home, off sick, coughing globs of phlegm all over my keyboard, nursing a nasty cold, or flu, or worse…

I just called in sick, which is always a bit stressful. I find myself exaggerating my symptoms while talking to some girl in the office whose name is only known by the other girl who files her nails at the next desk. Why I feel I need to make certain she thinks I’m two steps away from death’s door, I don’t know.

Anyway, she tells me that I’m not the only one off sick. Apparently around 30% of the college staff (I work in the biochemistry lab at a local university) are currently off sick and an even higher percentage of the students (no surprises there). So it sounds like an epidemic.

So its looking like the Rhinovirus has laid the staff of our humble university to waste. What a pointless thing the Rhinovirus is. The name is derived from the Greek word rhin which means ‘nose’. It can live for up to 3 hours almost anywhere, on your skin, on doorknobs, banisters, telephones etc. Its no wonder that the virus can spread so quickly in environments like colleges and offices.

And there is no cure. Just a bewildering selection of over-priced symptom suppressants. I often find myself thinking that maybe the drug companies are responsible for purposely infecting people with the virus, just to sell more drugs. I’ve spent a small fortune on a selection and I plan to take the lot in the hope of some relief. I just wish there was a simple cure. Right now, I feel like sawing my own head off.

Water Borne Infections Can Withstand Chemical Treatments

February 4, 2008 | By

Water borne infections are no joke. I just came across this blog post: 5 Diseases You Can Catch in a Swimming Pool or Hot Tub and it reminded me of the time my wife contracted hot tub folliculitis.Cryptosporidiosis

We had been holidaying with friends in Spain where we had the use of a communal swimming pool and hot tub. We’d spent most of our holiday either travelling and sightseeing or on the beach, but decided to spend the last day resting and thought that a soak in the hot tub would be a good way to unwind a little. Within 48 hours my wife’s underarm areas had developed itchy red blotches that quickly became swollen as the itchiness became almost unbearable. Out G.P. prescribed something to alleviate the itchiness and told us that we needed to contact the hot tub owners and others who had shared the tub with us.

I’ve since learned of many water borne infections and parasites that can withstand normal anti-bacterial water treatments. Cryptosporidiosis, for example, is a diarroheal disease caused by microscopic parasites that have protective outer shells that enable the parasite to survive chlorine based disinfectants.

What can you do to avoid infection? Stay out of shared pools and buy your own is what I suggest. At least that way you can be sure that the water treatment has been carried out correctly.