Category Diseases

What is anaemia?

Anemia is defined as a low number of red blood cells. In a routine blood test, anemia is reported as a low hemoglobin or hematocrit. Hemoglobin is the main protein in your red blood cells. It carries oxygen, and delivers it throughout your body. If you have anemia, your hemoglobin level will be low too. If it is low enough, your tissues or organs may not get enough oxygen. 

Anemia affects more than two billion people globally, which is more than 30% of the total population. It is especially common in countries with few resources, but it also affects many people in the industrialized world. Within the U.S., anemia is the most common blood condition. An estimated three million Americans have the disorder.

Anemia can have other affects on your body in addition to feeling tired or cold. Other signs that you might be lacking in iron include having brittle or spoon-shaped nails and possible hair loss. You might find that your sense of taste has changed, or you might experience ringing in your ears.

Different types of anemia may lead to other serious problems. People with sickle cell anemia often have heart and lung complications.


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What is bloating?

Bloating is a condition where your belly feels full and tight, often due to gas. When you are bloated, you feel as if you’ve eaten a big meal and there is no room in your stomach. Your stomach feels full and tight. It can be uncomfortable or painful. Your stomach may actually look bigger. It can make your clothes fit tighter.

Bloating happens when the GI tract becomes filled with air or gas. This can be caused by something as simple as the food you eat. Some foods produce more gas than others. It can also be caused by lactose intolerance (problems with dairy). 

Your doctor can generally diagnose the cause of your bloating through a physical exam in the office. He or she will ask you questions about your symptoms. They will want to know if your bloating is occasional or if it occurs all the time.

Temporary bloating is usually not serious. If it happens all the time, your doctor may order other tests. These could include an imaging test to look inside your abdomen. This could be an X-ray or CT scan.


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What is stomach flu?

The stomach flu (gastroenteritis) is a nonspecific term for various inflammatory problems in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Food allergies may produce eosinophilic gastroenteritis, a sign of which is increased eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) seen in the blood. Children with the stomach flu or gastroenteritis have similar symptoms to adults, but also may have symptoms such as refusing to drink or being very thirsty.

The main way contagious causes of the stomach flu are spread is person to person via the fecal-oral route. Individuals at most risk of catching the stomach flu are those in close association with an infant, child, or an adult that has a viral or bacterial cause of stomach flu .

Stomach flu is diagnosed in most cases without specific tests, however, tests can help define the underlying cause. Home remedies may reduce symptoms of stomach flu, including diet changes. Most people with viral or mild bacterial gastroenteritis require no treatment. Some individuals may require symptom reduction with medications but more serious bacterial infections may require antibiotic therapy.


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COVID-19 vaccines in India: quick facts

The year 2021 has brought new developments on the vaccine front. On January 3, India approved the emergency use of two coronavirus vaccines, namely Covishield and Covaxin. When this article was taking shape, nationwide drills were being held to train more than 90,000 health care workers to administer these vaccines. The dry runs were also intended to avoid logistical loopholes during the actual vaccination drive that will cover crores of people across the country. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government expected the first phase of vaccination – targeting around 30 crore people on priority – to be completed by August 2021. While preparations are in full swing, some scientists expressed concern over the rushed approval given to the indigenous vaccine, Covaxin.

Who has developed Covishield and Covaxin?

Covishield is the Indian variant of AZD1222, the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford. Pune-based Serum Institute of India developed and manufactured Covishield through a licence from Astrazeneca and Oxford.

The overall efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has been found to be 70.42%. Serum Institute of India has said it would price the vaccine at Rs. 440 for the government and around Rs. 700-800 for the private market.

Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. The vaccine is yet to complete late-stage human clinical trials and its efficacy rate has not been released. The price of Covaxin has not been made public

What does “restricted use approval in an emergency situation” mean?

During an emergency such as a pandemic drug regulators may allow vaccines to be given to certain people even when the studies of safety and effectiveness are ongoing. This form of approval is called Emergency Use Authorisation. Normally, the process to approve a new vaccine can take years, sometimes more than a decade. But the COVID-19 pandemic has urged governments around the world to relax certain rules and to not only speed up the process of vaccine development, but also go ahead with emergency use.

Instead of the usual requirement of “substantial evidence of safety and effectiveness, they allow products into the market as long as their benefits are “likely” to outweigh their risks.

In the case of Covishield and Covaxin, Indian pharmaceutical regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), has imposed certain conditions on the vaccines developers. The developers have to continuously submit safety, efficacy and immunogenicity data from their ongoing trials until these are complete.

They also have to submit safety data every 15 days for the next two months, and after that monthly for the duration of their trials.

Who will get vaccinated first?

Covishield will be given in the first phase of the vaccine drive. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that Covaxin will be used only in ‘clinical trial mode, where consent will be taken and side effects monitored.

The Covishield vaccine will first be given to around one crore healthcare workers in both government and private hospitals. It will also be given to two crore frontline workers associated with the state and central Police department, armed forces, home guard, disaster management and civil defence organisation, prison staff municipal workers and revenue officials engaged in COVID-19 containment, surveillance and associated activities. People above the age of 50 years and those with comorbidities are next in line to get the vaccine.

How will the vaccines be given?

Both Covishield and Covaxin are meant to be administered in two doses and stored at temperatures of 2 degrees C to 8 degrees C. While Covishield will be given between four and 12 weeks apart, the DCGI has not clarified the intervals between the shots of Covaxin. (The vaccines do not need the ultra-cold storage facilities that some others do. They can be stored in refrigerators. This makes them feasible candidates.)

The remaining population will be inoculated after the people on the priority list are covered. Once it is open to the public, beneficiaries will have to register on the COWIN app and submit ID proof for vaccination.

The Union Health Ministry has said that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will be voluntary. However, it has ‘advised’ all to get vaccinated.

What is CoWIN app?

For a smooth implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the government has developed the COWIN app, which stands for Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network. Registration on the app is mandatory to receive a vaccine.

Why are some experts concerned about the vaccines’ approval?

Some doctors have criticised a lack of transparency in the approval process.

The main concern is that developers of both the vaccines have not presented to the CDSCO the results of their respective phase 3 efficacy trials conducted on Indian participants, Covishield is backed by phase 3 data from studies in Brazil and the United Kingdom, The data from the “bridging study” showing its vaccine can elicit an immune response in the Indian population comparable with the original AstraZeneca vaccine has not been analysed fully. Further, out of a pool of 1,600 Indian participants, the Serum Institute submitted data pertaining to only 100 volunteers to the CDSCO’s subject expert committee.

In the case of Covaxin, there is no efficacy data. While Bharat Biotech has said that phase 1 and phase 2 trials have shown good results, the drug regulator has simply said the vaccine is safe and effective. Covaxin is expected to be a “backup,” to be deployed only if India faces a surge because of the new coronavirus variant that has been recently identified in the U.K.


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What is Treeman syndrome?

EV, known colloquially as tree man syndrome, is an incredibly rare genetic condition. It leads to chronic HPV infections that result in characteristic skin growths and lesions.

People who may have EV or a family history of it should notify a doctor, ideally a specialized dermatologist, as soon a possible. The goal is to manage symptoms and prevent severe complications. A person may also benefit from genetic counseling.

Symptoms can appear at any age, including infancy. In more than half of EV cases, symptoms first appear in children between the ages of 5 and 11. For nearly a quarter of people with EV, symptoms first emerge during puberty.

Symptoms may include a mix of:

  • flat-topped or bumpy lesions
  • small, raised bumps known as papules
  • large patches of raised and inflamed skin, known as plaques
  • small, raised brown lesions that resemble scabs


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What is Ice Bucket challenge?

The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, was an activity involving the pouring of a bucket of ice water over a person’s head, either by another person or self-administered, to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as motor neuron disease and in the U.S. as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and encourage donations to research. The challenge was co-founded by Pat Quinn and Pete Frates; it went viral on social media during July–August 2014. In the U.S., many people participated for the ALS Association, and in the UK, many people participated for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, although some individuals opted to donate their money from the Ice Bucket Challenge to other organizations.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a fun way to raise awareness and donations for a worthy cause. Most supporters are okay with the fact that the challenge is a trend. They understand that the campaign is harnessing the phenomenon of Internet virality and that, even if it only stays popular for a few weeks, the campaign will still have done some good.


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What is Microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a medical condition in which the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing. Microcephaly can be present at birth or it may develop in the first few years of life.

Microcephaly can be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Children with microcephaly often have developmental issues. Generally there’s no treatment for microcephaly, but early intervention with supportive therapies, such as speech and occupational therapies, may help enhance your child’s development and improve quality of life.

There are many potential causes of microcephaly, but often cause remains unknown. The most common causes include:

  • infections during pregnancy: toxoplasmosis (caused by a parasite found in undercooked meat), Campylobacter pylori, rubella, herpes, syphilis, cytomegalovirus, HIV and Zika;
  • exposure to toxic chemicals: maternal exposure to heavy metals like arsenic and mercury, alcohol, radiation, and smoking;
  • pre- and perinatal injuries to the developing brain (hypoxia-ischemia, trauma);
  • genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome; and
  • severe malnutrition during fetal life.


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What is Progeria?

Progeria is a rare genetic condition that causes a person to age prematurely. Children with progeria appear healthy, but by the age of 2 years, they look as if they have become old too fast.

Progeria is a genetic condition.

Most children with progeria have a mutation on the gene that encodes for lamin A, a protein that holds the nucleus of the cell together. This protein is also known as progerin.

The defective protein is thought to make the nucleus unstable. This instability makes cells more likely to die younger, leading to the symptoms of progeria.

It seems to happen because of a rare genetic change. One parent may have the mutation, even though they do not have progeria.

There is not usually any family history, but if there is already one child in the family with progeria, there is a 2 to 3 percent chance that another sibling will have it.

Genetic testing can show whether a parent has the mutation or not.


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Which fungal infection caused when the feet are exposed in dirty water for a longer time?

Athlete’s foot is a rash on the skin of the foot. It is the most common fungal skin infection. There are three main types of athlete’s foot. Each type affects different parts of the foot and may look different.

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that grows on or in the top layer of skin. Fungi (plural of fungus) grow best in warm, wet places, such as the area between the toes.

Athlete’s foot spreads easily. You can get it by touching the toes or feet of a person who has it. But most often, people get it by walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces near swimming pools or in locker rooms. The fungi then grow in your shoes, especially if your shoes are so tight that air cannot move around your feet.

If you touch something that has fungi on it, you can spread athlete’s foot to other people—even if you don’t get the infection yourself. Some people are more likely than others to get athlete’s foot. Experts don’t know why this is. After you have had athlete’s foot, you are more likely to get it again.

Most of the time, a doctor can tell that you have athlete’s foot by looking at your feet. He or she will also ask about your symptoms and any past fungal infections you may have had. If your athlete’s foot looks unusual, or if treatment did not help you before, your doctor may take a skin or nail sample to test for fungi.

Not all skin problems on the foot are athlete’s foot. If you think you have athlete’s foot but have never had it before, it’s a good idea to have your doctor look at it.


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Which virus is the predominant cause of common cold?

Human rhinoviruses group of viruses — of which there are more than 100 types — is by far the most common identified cause of colds. The viruses grow best at the temperature inside the human nose.

Human rhinoviruses (HRVs) are highly contagious. However, they rarely lead to serious health consequences.

Recent research has found that HRVs manipulate genes and it is this manipulation that brings about an overblown immune response. The response causes some of the most troublesome cold symptoms. This information could lead scientists to important breakthroughs in the treatment of the common cold.

Potential complications of infection include otitis media, sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, and exacerbations of reactive airway disease (eg, asthma). Although rhinovirus infections occur year-round, the incidence is highest in the fall and the spring.


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