Saturday, October 3, 2009


People are often beset with health problems that affect them daily. Parents are often found to be paranoid when it comes to ailments that affect their children. Everybody is, in fact, always on the lookout but never seems to come out with the clean bill of health they desire. Some of these ailments are mild, others fatal; either of the two when left untreated can cost everything- money, time, effort, and even lives.

In my desire to be of help to others, I selected the most common diseases that threaten our day-to-day health. Again, I find our old book, Reader's Digest Family Health Guide and Medical Encyclopedia very handy and informative. Typhoon Ondong left the affected provinces in Northern Philippines highly at risks to common diseases brought about by dirty flood waters, mud, and heavy silt, and the putrid smell of undisposed garbage and dead animals, even dead bodies buried in shallow graves or decomposing when discovered. When causes of ailments are properly recognized and their symptoms accurately identified, it can lead to the application of appropriate remedies and at the same time help the victims move on.


A contagious infection of the foot caused by a fungus that thrives in wet, warm places. There are lesions and blisters between the toes, and scaling of the skin. Often, the sole becomes involved. Excessive perspiration aggravates the condition.

Athlete's foot is normally a minor irritation, and people may have it for some time without being particularly bothered by it. It may, however, spread to other parts of the body, where it can produce an annoying rash. The cracks or blisters may also become a site for other infections. Thus, if the condition persists, it should not go untreated.

TREATMENT: Good foot care is indispensable. The scaly or damp peelings should be rubbed gently away. Dry the feet. Apply water mixed with a little rubbing alcohol. Dry the feet again, and apply a bland dusting powder. Try to expose the foot to the air as long as possible. When you go to bed, and again in the morning, put a mild fungicidal ointment obtainable at your drugstore on the affected area. Wear cotton or wool socks, which absorbs perspiration, rather that nylon. In summer, light shoes should be worn.

Potassium Permanganate solution, in the strength your doctor advises, makes a helpful footbath if the blisters are oozing. Soak your feet in the warm bath for 10 to 15 minutes; dry them, and apply Calamine Lotion. If the condition persists or becomes more troublesome, visit your physician. He can often provide quick and thorough relief.


An abnormal rise in body temperature; also known as pyrexia. It is most often the result of viral or bacterial infection and is an important clue to the seriousness of the condition.

Temperature is measured with a thermometer of either the oral or rectal type. When the temperature rises above 100 degrees on the oral thermometer, the individual is febrile, or running a fever. When the fever reaches 101 degrees, a doctor should be contacted.

Fever usually occurs in combination with other symptoms. While the temperature is still rising, the person's skin is often cold and he feels a chill. He may feel very weak and light-headed. Often, he has an ache in the joints. His pulse rate increases. The febrile individual loses his appetite, and he may be constipated. When he begins to perspire, it is a sign that the temperature is falling.

TREATMENT: For the person running a low fever, the doctor may advise the taking of Aspirin several times a day to help bring down the temperature. Encourage the individual to drink water, and juices. For the person with a high fever, sponging with alcohol may provide relief. The doctor may prescribe an antibiotic or Sulfonamide, depending on the cause of the fever. The individual should be given something light to eat, to help maintain his strength.


A serious infectious disease caused by a type of Clostridium bacterium. Tetanus is characterized by spasms of the voluntary muscles, usually beginning with a clamping together of the jaws, whence comes the name lockjaw.

All cuts, wounds, and scratches are potential entrances for infections. One of the most serious dangers is tetanus(lockjaw). The tetanus germ is commonly found in the soil and wherever there are horses, cows, and manure. It is also found in the dust of city streets. A deep puncture by a nail is serious. Many people think it is the rust of the nail that causes trouble, but that is not true. The danger lies in the germs that may be on the nail.

TREATMENT: The best preventive against tetanus is immunization by toxoid. A series of three toxoid injections followed by a fourth about a year later, with booster shots at four-years intervals, provides the best possible protection.

For the person who has not been immunized with toxoid, deep wounds or scratches require tetanus injection antitoxin (TAT). Some people suffer unpleasant reactions to TAT. For this reason, doctors always test for possible sensitivity to the horse serum with which TAT is made. Recently, TAT made from human serum has become available.


An acute, infectious disease, often called flu or grippe. (Intestinal flu is a popular, non-medical term for several kinds of intestinal upsets that have no connection with influenza) . It is caused by a virus. The symptoms of influenza include chills , sweats and fever, headache, loss of appetite, general aches and pains especially in the head, back and legs, weakness, sore throat due to the inflammation of the membranes of the nose and throat, cough, runny nose , and a feeling of malaise.

Like a cold, it is spread from one person to another, most often when a person in the early stages coughs or sneezes, spraying the virus into the air that other people breathe. The influenza virus weakens the body's defenses against bacteria. Persons with influenza risk developing pneumonia, either from the influenza virus itself or from a secondary bacterial infection. In uncomplicated cases, the acute symptoms usually last for only few days, followed by a gradual recovery of normal strength and fitness.

TREATMENT: There are no specific treatments for influenza. A person should stay in bed while the acute symptoms last, and during convalescence , should only gradually return to normal activity. Your doctor will prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms, as well as appropriate Antibiotics if bacterial infection threatens or has developed. Temporary immunity to a particular variety of flu virus can be acquired by injection of virus vaccine. After injection, it takes about two weeks for a person to develop immunity. It is useless to have flu shots once symptoms have developed.


Acute illness resulting from eating contaminated food. Food poisoning should always be suspected if several persons at the same time suddenly develop such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain or tenderness in the abdomen. The symptoms may develop shortly after the food is eaten, or they may be delayed for 24 hours or more.

Although most cases of food poisoning are caused by bacteria, there are also non bacterial forms. Nonbacterial food poisoning can result from eating poisonous mushrooms, plants or berries mistakenly thought to be edible, milk from diseased cows, oysters from polluted bed, vegetables fertilized by human manure, spoiled food. Acute or chronic poisoning can develop from eating residues of insecticides and other sprays on fruits and vegetables.

Bacterial food poisoning is of two types. One is due to food-borne bacteria infecting the system, the other to toxic substances produced by bacteria and present in food before it is eaten. The most common food-borne infection is Salmonellosis, caused by several kinds of bacteria belonging to the genus Salmonella. Shellfish growing in sewage-polluted waters or vegetables fertilized by human manure are often contaminated with such bacteria. Food may also be contaminated by human carriers in the process of handling. For example, a baker with a sore on his hands might introduce bacteria from it into food- perhaps on cream puffs or custard pies, which make excellent breeding spots for such microbes, especially in hot weather.

A number of different bacteria cause food to spoil, and many of them produce toxic substance in the process. The most common of these food-spoiling bacteria is Staphylococci. Persons otherwise in good health usually recover from this kind of food poisoning in from one to four days.

Botulism is a serious, but fairly rare food poisoning that is due to toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This toxin is of the most potent poisons known; fortunately, an anti-toxin has been developed. If not treated, botulism is often fatal. the organism grows slowly in food of low acid content. Home-canned food that has not been properly processed may contain dangerous amounts of botulism toxin.

TREATMENT: People who eat poisoned food are apt to get sick, but if the condition is treated promptly, the mortality is very low. It is important to see the doctor immediately if you suspect food poisoning. Fortunately, our public health officials do an excellent job of inspecting our water, our milk, and food supplies to make sure they are safe. If you cannot be sure from its appearance whether or not food is safe to eat, observe the obvious rules of cleanliness. Do not let food stand all day at the back of a warm stove where any germs that fall on it will flourish. If food is meant to be cooked a long time, let it cook, heat destroys germs, do not let it sit.

My dear folks, here is a result of my readings that I share with you. Of course, your good sense is still the best source of decision. Only you can decide what is best for you. When in doubt, never underestimate the advice of your trusted doctors.

Photo by Shapendra

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