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Hepatitis

HEPATITIS

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer deaths and liver transplants worldwide. Is alarming that most of those infected don’t know they have it!

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver that can be caused in a variety of ways. Most common cause of hepatitis is the viral infection of three different viruses, named A, B and C. Hepatitis can also be caused by heavy alcohol use and certain drugs. Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), while hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Worldwide, there are 1.45 million viral hepatitis deaths per year, mainly due to hepatitis B and hepatitis C (Hep C) as shown in the 2014 Lancet study with more deaths caused by viral hepatitis than HIV/AIDS. This is likely due to the fact that there are 400 million people living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C compared to HIV sufferers. InfoMed spoke to Professor Dr. Rosmawati Mohamed, the co-chairperson for WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Committee for Viral Hepatitis (STAC-Hep) and founding member of the Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific.

Prof. Rosmawati and YB Sharizat

THE BURDEN OF UNDER-DIAGNOSED HEPATITIS C

In her opening comments, she made the point of how under-diagnosed hepatitis C is, with three out of four people living with hepatitis C being unaware of their condition. Considering hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer deaths and liver transplants worldwide, it is alarming loophole of medical awareness. The problem she says is because chronic hepatitis C is a slow and silent process. There are no obvious symptoms, and by the time jaundice and water retention is noticeable, the liver disease is already too advance for treatment. Early detection is absolutely vital, she stresses, because even though no vaccine is available, unlike HIV or hepatitis B, hepatitis C can be cured. The key is early detection.

WORLDWIDE MORTALITY FROM VIRAL HEPATITIS (2012)

Asia Pacific

1,012,873

deaths per year

Rest of the World

431,681

deaths per year

 

You are more likely, by three times to die from viral hepatitis than HIV/AIDS

EXCERPTS OF THE INTERVIEW WITH PROF. DR. ROSMAWATI

In terms of global impact of hepatitis, definitely we are seeing lot more deaths due to hepatitis, mainly hepatitis B and hepatitis C, the two diseases that causes serious complications such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. The main reason for transmission of hepatitis B is mother to child transmission.

Good news for hepatitis B is that with the advent of universal neonatal vaccination for newborn since 1989, we are seeing less and less cases of hepatitis B for those born after 1989.

But for hepatitis C, we are still seeing new cases, mainly due to sharing of needles and equipment like tattoos and razors. Testing for hepatitis C was only available worldwide since the early 1990’s, and since 1993, transmission of hepatitis C through transfusion of blood or blood products does not arise at the hospital settings and is not an issue in Malaysia.

Treatment is available for hepatitis B and C. The aim of treatment for hepatitis B is to suppress the viral replication but for hepatitis C, we can achieve complete clearance of the virus with specific therapy. New drugs for hepatitis C, the direct antiviral agents, can achieve cure rates close to 100% with just 12 weeks of treatment and some are already available in Malaysia (these were only approved recently).
The standard treatment for all types of hepatitis C since 2003 is the combination of Pegylated Interferon, given as an injection once a week, and oral ribavirin.

Hepatitis C shows significant genetic variation, referred to as genotypes. There are at least 6 genotypes and the commonest in Malaysia is genotype 3 in about 60% of cases, followed by Genotype 1 in about 36%. The duration of treatment and the cure rates depend on the genotype. The standard duration of treatment for Genotype 3 is 24 weeks whereas for Genotype 1 is 48 weeks. The cure rate with the combination of Pegylated Interferon and ribavirin for genotype 3 is 80% but for genotype 1 the best at 40% to 50%. So with the new drugs we should expect cure rates of more than 90% and some approaching 100%. 

A priority action to address the hepatitis C disease burden is to enhance hepatitis C detection among those who are at risk. Possible risk factors and for hepatitis C would include those who had received blood transfusion before 1994, those who had shared needles or sharp instruments which may contain and those on haemodialysis. The prevalence of hepatitis C among the IV drug users can be as high as 60 to 70%. A lot more contagious then we thought. Strengthening harm reduction programs such as the needle exchange program has helped to reduce transmission of hepatitis C. The reduction program has to be optimised.

In Malaysia, the prevalence of hepatitis B is higher than hepatitis C and the former is the major cause of liver cancer. Although hepatitis B vaccination can reduce the prevalence of hepatitis B amongst the vaccinated group (those born after1989), the liver cancer prevalence among adults who are infected with hepatitis B is still high. Worldwide, hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer deaths and liver transplant.

KEY FACTS HEPATITIS C
  • Hepatitis c is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
  • The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus and the most common modes of infection are through unsafe injection practices; inadequate sterilization of medical equipment; and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
  • 130-150 million people globally have chronic hepatitis C infection.
  • A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Approximately 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease.
  • Antiviral medicines can cure approximately 90% of persons with hepatitis C infection, therby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
  • There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C; however research in this area is ongoing.

(Media Centre World Health Organisation)

WITH THAT IN MIND, PROF. DR. ROSMAWATI GAVE INFOMED A DEEPER LOOK INTO HEPATITIS C IN MALAYSIA.

InfoMed: What is the most up-to-date number of prevalence and incidence of hepatitis C in Malaysia?

Rosmawati: The estimated prevalence is 2.5% of the population aged 15 to 64 years (which is more than 500,000 individuals) based on a recent study, and 60% are related to IV drug use.

InfoMed: How does the Ministry track these numbers? Rosmawati: Data from the Ministry is based on notified cases, as it is compulsory to report all cases of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in Malaysia.

InfoMed: Are there any active campaigns being done that seek to reduce the problem?

Rosmawati: Most campaigns are in conjunction with WHO designated World Hepatitis Day on 28 July. There is a need for a coordinated national response to address issues relating to viral hepatitis. A National Strategic Plan for Viral Hepatitis is required to ensure specific policies and tools are incorporated to reduce the burden related to viral hepatitis.

InfoMed: What makes the disease/ infection a cause for serious concern?

Rosmawati: High prevalence and the rising disease burden for hepatitis C.

InfoMed: Who are the most vulnerable groups in Malaysia to hepatitis C?

Rosmawati: Hepatitis C is mainly transmitted through contaminated blood. Those who had received blood transfusion before 1994 are at risk of contracting hepatitis C. Other ways of hepatitis C transmission include sharing of infected needles, unsafe practices such as tattooing and sharing of sharp instruments such as razors and patients with kidney failure who are on haemodialysis. Mother to child and sexual transmission are uncommon modes of transmission.

InfoMed: What are some easy prevention methods that people can do (in Malaysia)?

Rosmawati: Knowing the risk factors for hepatitis C is an important step to prevent new infections.

InfoMed: How often do you get checked?

Rosmawati: Only one time test is required for those at risk.

InfoMed: Where can people do so?

Rosmawati: You can get checked at any general practitioners (GP) clinic or hospital.

InfoMed: If you are infected, what treatment options are available in Malaysia?

Rosmawati: Pegylated interferon and ribavirin. New treatment options are now available for Genotype 1.

InfoMed: Based on the current prevalence of hepatitis C, where would Malaysia be in five years in terms of new cases and management of the disease? Rosmawati: The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Malaysia has been estimated at

2.5% of the adult population. A recent research article by McDonald SA, Dahlui M, Mohamed R, Naning H, Shabaruddin FH, Kamarulzaman

A (2015) titled, “Projections of the current and future disease burden of hepatitis C virus infection in Malaysia” concluded, “The HCV-related disease burden is already high and is forecast to rise steeply over the coming decades under current levels of antiviral treatment. Increased governmental resources to improve HCV screening and treatment rates and to reduce transmission are essential to address the high projected HCV disease burden in Malaysia”

InfoMed: What can the general public do now to reduce the incidence?

Rosmawati: Avoid the risk factors.

InfoMed: What about general practitioners, what is their role in managing hepatitis C in Malaysia? Rosmawati: Counsel and take the test on their patients at risk for Hepatitis C.

HCV INFECTION IS DIAGNOSED IN 2 STEPS:

Screening for anti-HCV antibodies with a serological test identifies people who have been infected with the virus. If the test is positive for anti-HCV antibodies, a nucleic acid test for HCV RNA is needed to confirm chronic HCV infection because about 15–45% of people infected with HCV spontaneously clear the infection by a strong immune response without the need for treatment. Although no longer infected, they will still test positive for anti-HCV antibodies.

(Media Centre World Health Organisation)

Credits: InfoMed ( Malaysia )

Website: Infomed.com.my

Healthcare Today

Healthcare Today

-An Overview

Facing the challenges and getting to the core of the policy issue and implementation
By Mohan Manthiry

Currently the estimated annual global healthcare spending is more than USD$4.2 trillion and is increasing every year. There exists a wide variation in terms of spending for healthcare. Developed countries are spending more than 10% of their GDP, with the highest being USA at almost 18% and the majority of developing and poor countries spend less than 4% of their GDP for healthcare. Malaysia allocated 4.4% of the GDP for healthcare in 2013.

Within the countries, we are witnessing the increasing inequalities in income levels and access to social services, healthcare being a major component. The current trend globally in countries is the depleting middle class and the recent Oxfam report on wealth distribution gave us some startling statistics – “The combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked, Oxfam warned in January 2015 ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos”. Excerpts from the 2015 Oxfam report:

“Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with the revelation that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.5 billion people). That figure is now 80 – a dramatic fall from 388 people in 2010. The wealth of the richest 80 doubled in cash terms between 2009-14. Billionaires listed as having interests in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors saw their collective net worth increase by 47  percent. During 2013, they spent more than $500 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels”.

The recent Ebola outbreak laid bare the weakness in the healthcare systems in the poor countries. The current trend and experiences globally tells us that the health will not automatically evolve to become fair and equitable for all naturally. Governments need concerted and deliberate policy decisions to tackle this issue.

In the words of the Director General of World Health Organisation on 10 February 2015 in Singapore, “Universal health coverage is one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options. It is the ultimate expression of fairness. If public health has something that can help our troubled, out-of-balance world, it is this: growing evidence that well-functioning and inclusive health systems contribute to social cohesion, equity, and stability. They hold societies together and help reduce social tensions.”

“The rise of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) adds considerably to the costs of health care. The costs of cancer care, for example, are becoming unaffordable for even the wealthiest countries in the world. In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved 12 drugs for various cancer indications. Of these 12, 11 were priced above $100,000 per patient per year. How many countries can afford this cost?

Prevention is by far the better option, but this, too, is more problematic than for infectious diseases, many of which can be prevented by vaccines or cured by medicines, all delivered by the health sector.”

The latest WHO report identified chronic disease as the leading cause of death and accounts for 70% of all mortality globally. These chronic or non-communicable diseases which include heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer which can be attributed directly to negligent health behaviours are preventable. The challenge to nations is on how to address this difficult task of getting their citizens to maintain healthy habits. And also how to effectively address the increasing healthcare needs of the population at an affordable cost level.

The most probable and perhaps the only way forward is to get every individual to take charge of their own personal health. Motivating people to take responsibility for their own health is now a global initiative and has become a strategy for patient engagement. By closely associating and taking an active role in your own health, would reduce negligent and risky health behaviours and encourage patients to keep their health in check.

Now, how do we build this strategy and bring about the required change management in the attitude and behaviour of the individuals towards their healthcare? The good news is we have now the technology to assist and support this difficult lifestyle modification. The numerous strategies are all hovering around the mobile technology that has permeated the society and our daily lives. Some of the interesting developments are:

 

  • Healthcare apps to be connected real time with your healthcare providers, to receive healthcare news, services, advise, information and to monitor personal health risks;
  • Receive notification and reminders on medication and health checks;
  • Reach out to your doctors online for advise, second opinion and follow-ups;
  • Manage your own personal health record on the mobile. This eventually develops your close understanding of your own health conditions, enabling you better management of your health outcomes. At the same time be able to reach out to your doctor with accurate and detail historical information on your personal health condition. This eventually reduces medical errors and better diagnosis and treatment plan; 
  • Wearable technologies. Innovations in healthcare, capitalising on the mobile technologies is one way-forward. However, long term strategies are needed and instilling good healthy behaviour should start from the young. Education plays an important part. Introducing healthcare as a subject in the curriculum of schools from the primary level will be an excellent way to ensure that the long term strategies on healthcare geared towards prevention and wellness materialises. This would be a cost-effective strategy and would ensure the next generation of Malaysians have better control and shall take charge of their healthcare.

Instilling good habits from young is a noble and cost-effective method than trying to bring behavioural changes to adults who are already prone to unhealthy lifestyle.

Health is very important for the development and well-being of a nation and its people. It requires political leadership and highly committed public-private partnership and investment.

SOME STARTLING STATISTICS ON NCD FROM MINISTRY OF HEALTH MALAYSIA

Malaysia – NCD
(non-communicable disease)
accounts for 70% of total deaths

Total deaths

146,000

Cost of Managing
Diabetes in Malaysia

RM 19,000

PER PATIENT PER YEAR

NHMS (National Health and Morbidity Survey) 2011 estimated 1.1 million diabetes patients with MOH hospitals (1.1 m x RM 19k)

RM 20.9 

billion

NHMS 2011 data estimates 63.3% (18 years and above) are high risk and at risk factors for NCD

Credits: InfoMed ( Malaysia )

Website: Infomed.com.my

WHAT ARE URINARY CALCULI OR STONES?

Dr. Kulendran Sivapragasam, Consultant Urologist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Bukit Rimau

Dr. Kulendran Sivapragasam, Consultant Urologist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Bukit Rimau, Kota Kemuning provides an overview on stones formed in our kidney and their potential journey in our urinary system.

UROLOGIST

A Urologist is a doctor with specialized knowledge and skills regarding problems of the male and female urinary tract which includes the kidney, ureters, bladder and urethra and the male reproductive organs – testes, prostate, penis, epidydimis, seminal vesicles and associated glands.

Calculi or stones are hard masses or crystals that form in the urinary system. They can be found anywhere in the urinary system such as in the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder or even in the urethra. They are often the most common kind of urological problem that an urologist sees and treats.

WHAT CAUSES STONES?

Stones can form due to various reasons. They can form due to infective causes and non-infective causes. Non infective causes can be due to metabolic disease, hereditary causes, and abnormal anatomical structure of the urinary system or even due to certain types of medicines. They can also form when the urine lacks the normal inhibitors of stone formation. Inadequate fluid intake can also cause stone formation especially in those individuals who are already susceptible to stones due to other reasons.

WHAT SYMPTOMS CAN THEY CAUSE?

The symptoms vary according to the size and location of the stone or stones. These symptoms include pain in the flanks that can be very severe and blood in the urine. The pain can be dull and aching as in the case of kidney stones and it can be excruciating and colicky in the case of stones in the ureter. They can be accompanied with nausea and vomiting. Sometimes when the stone is in the ureter and very close to the bladder it can make a person feel like wanting to urinate all the time.

If fever and chills accompany these symptoms, it can indicate an infection. In such cases one has to contact a doctor immediately.

HOW ARE THEY DIAGNOSED?

The doctors will usually do blood and urine tests. This will help diagnose the presence or absence of infection and also assess kidney function among other things. The next will be to get diagnostic imaging done. The best form of which is a non-contrast-enhanced computed tomography (NCCT). Ultrasound, intravenous urography and plain x-rays can also be used but they do not give as much information as NCCT does and NCCT can help diagnose smaller stones that may be missed by the other modalities.

Stones in the kidney, urinary bladder and ureter

HOW ARE THEY TREATED?

Pain which can be severe will be treated with adequate painkillers. Existing infection if any will be treated with antibiotics. Any obstruction in the urinary system will have to be relieved especially if there is infection. Treatment of the stones depends on the type, location, size and number of the stones. Factor such as urinary system obstruction, presence of infection, existing kidney function and other co-existing medical conditions such as diabetes also need to be taken into account in choosing the treatment of choice. Medication which can help to dissolve certain types of stone 

in the kidney or help the stone in being expulsed from the ureter can be tried. In kidney stones as well as stones in the ureter, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is a treatment option. Another common treatment option the urologist may use is rigid or flexible endoscopes, such as the ureteroscope. These are introduced into the urinary tract and the stones removed or broken into smaller pieces that can be removed or flushed out with the urine. Surgical removal has now become less common with the advances in endourological procedures.

RISK FACTORS
  • Dehydration (decreased urine flow) increases risk significantly
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Past history of kidney stones
  • Sex (the incidence in women is increasing)
  • High-protein, salt, or glucose diet
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (can cause increase calcium absorption)
  • Other medical conditions (hyperparathyroidism can cause increase calcium absorption)
TESTING FOR KIDNEY STONES:
  • Complete health history assessment and physical examination
  • Blood tests for calcium, phosphorus, uric acid and electrolytes
  • Urinalysis to check for crystals, bacteria, blood and white cells
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine to access kidney function
  • Examination of passed stones to determine type
  • Abdominal x-rays, ultrasound of the kidney, ureter and bladder or a non contrasted CT to look at the size, site and number of the calculi and to look for signs of obstruction.
Shock wave lithotripsy
KEY POINTS
  • 85% of urinary calculi are calcium, mainly calcium oxalate; 10% are uric acid; 2% are cystine; and most of the remainder is magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite).
  • Larger calculi are more likely to obstruct; however, obstruction can occur even with small ureteral calculi (i.e. 2 to 5 mm).
  • Symptoms include hematuria, symptoms of infection, and renal colic.
  • Test usually with urinalysis, imaging, and if the calculus can later be retrieved, determination of calculus composition.
  • Give analgesics and drugs to facilitate calculus passage (eg, α-receptor blockers) acutely and remove calculi that cause infection or persist endoscopically.
  • Decrease the risk of subsequent calculus formation by treating with measures such as thiazide diuretics, K citrate, increases in fluid intake, and decreases in dietary animal protein, depending on calculus composition.

MSD Manual by Glenn M. Preminger, MD

HOW CAN THEY BE PREVENTED?

For most types of stones, fluid intake should be increased to maintain urine output at 2-3 litres per day. Salt intake and the amount of meat and animal protein eaten should be reduced. Dietary restrictions defer depending on the composition of stones. Calcium levels should be maintained. In certain types of stones medication will be prescribed to help prevent recurrence.

Credits: InfoMed ( Malaysia )

Website: Infomed.com.my

Allergies and Allergens

Prevention is the Best Cure

By Abraham Mathew Saji

An allergic reaction can manifest itself in various ways, like Itching, swelling or watering of the eyes, nose and skin, leading to increased severity if left untreated. Some reactions may warrant treatment or even hospitalization depending on its severity. Sometimes the symptoms, called anaphylactic reactions, can also be life threatening.

Our immune system, consisting of antibodies, white blood corpuscles, masts cells, complement proteins; defends the body against foreign substances, also referred to as antigens. However, in certain susceptible people, this immune system tends to overreact when exposed to certain antigens, known as allergens. An allergen is responsible for the inception of an allergic reaction. These allergens or so called “harmful foreign substances” could be from the environment, food or medications and could be harmless in others. Some people could be allergic to just one allergen or trigger factor, while some could be allergic to many allergens or trigger factors.

As the old adage goes, “Prevention is the best cure,” avoiding the trigger factor responsible for the allergy is the best option to keep it at bay.

Types of Allergies

Most allergies are hereditary and are common within the family members. In such cases, the risk of developing an allergy towards a particular allergen is higher when there is a history of any close family member possessing it. Although the reasons why allergies develop aren’t known, it is the allergens that are responsible for causing an allergic reaction.

Most common allergens that people develop allergies to are one or more of the following:

  • certain plants
  • pollen or molds pet dander
  • bee stings or bites from other insects
  • certain medications, such as penicillin or aspirin
  • certain foods, including nuts or shellfish

The most common types of allergies

Dust Allergy

The dust in our home may contain pet hair and dander, mold or pollen, spores, and dust mites or cockroach body parts and droppings, all of which are common allergens. These allergens can cause an allergic reaction when we inhale or come into contact with them. Dust allergies can cause breathing difficulties and may trigger asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Dust also just makes some people itchy. People with dust allergies often suffer the most inside their own homes or in other people’s homes, then the outdoors. Oddly enough, their symptoms often worsen during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting as the process of cleaning can stir up dust particles, making them easier to inhale and contact.

Molds live everywhere, on logs and fallen leaves, and in moist places like bathrooms and kitchens. Some people are allergic to these molds. Mold allergies can be tough to outrun. The fungus can grow in the basement, in the washroom, in the cabinet under the sink where a leak went undetected, in the pile of dead leaves in the backyard or the field of uncut grass down the road. There are so many species of molds, most of which are not visible to the naked eye. As tiny mold spores become airborne, they can cause allergic reactions.

Mold Allergy

Insect Sting Allergy

Stings from five insects, namely honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and fire ants, are known to cause allergic reactions to the venom injected into the skin. While most people are not allergic to insect venom, the pain from a sting may cause them to mistake a normal reaction for an allergic one. The severity of an insect sting reaction varies from person to person. A normal reaction will result in pain, swelling and redness confined to the sting site. A large local reaction will result in swelling that extends beyond the sting site.

If your nose runs, your eyes water or you start sneezing and wheezing after petting or playing with a dog or cat; you likely have a pet allergy. A pet allergy can contribute to constant allergy symptoms, as exposure can occur at work, school, day-care or in other indoor environments, even if a pet is not present. Pets can produce multiple allergens that are found in the fur, dander, skin, saliva and urine.

Pet Allergy

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to airborne allergens, like seasonal grass or ragweed pollen or year-round allergens like dust and animal dander. Allergic rhinitis is sometimes called “hay fever,” especially when caused by seasonal allergens. Hay fever shares many of the same symptoms as a common cold but is not caused by a virus or bacteria. Instead, it is caused by your immune system reacting to allergens you breath into your body. Despite the name, hay fever is not necessarily a reaction to hay, and it does not cause a fever. 

There are two types of allergic rhinitis namely seasonal (symptoms can occur in spring, summer and early fall and are usually caused by sensitivity to airborne mold spores or pollens from trees, grasses or weeds) and perennial (symptoms occur year-round and are generally caused by sensitivity to dust mites, pet hair or dander, cockroaches or mold.

While any food can cause an allergic or adverse reaction, eight types of food account for over 90 percent of all reactions. These eight types of food are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish shellfish, wheat and soy. One may wonder, “If we opt out of these food types, then what do we eat?”. But as elaborated earlier, not all allergens cause the same level of reactions in every individual. While food allergies may develop at any age, most appear in early childhood.

Food Allergy

Drug Allergy

People with drug allergies may experience symptoms regardless of whether their medicine comes in liquid, pill or injectable form. Reactions can occur in any part of the body. The time varies from person to person. Some people may react right away, while others might take the drug several times before they have an allergic reaction. Most of the time symptoms appear between 1-2 hours after taking the drug. Symptoms of a drug allergy can be like other allergic reactions and can include hives or skin rash, itching, wheezing, light headedness or dizziness, vomiting and even anaphylaxis. A combination of these symptoms makes it much more likely that it is an allergy than just nausea and vomiting on their own, which are common side effects of medications.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary from mild to severe. On exposure to a particular allergen for the first time, the symptoms may be mild. These symptoms can proceed to get more severe on repeated or more frequent contact with the particular allergen or its related group of allergens.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include one or more of the following:
  • hives (itchy red spots on the skin)
  • itching
  • nasal congestion (known as rhinitis)
  • rashes
  • itchy throat
  • watery or itchy eyes
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include one or more of the following:
  • abdominal cramping or pain
  • pain or tightness in the chest
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dizziness (vertigo)
  • fear or anxiety
  • flushing of the face
  • nausea or vomiting
  • heart palpitations
  • swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue
  • weakness
  • wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • unconsciousness

More severe and complicated allergic reactions can develop within seconds on exposure to the allergen. This type of reaction is known as anaphylaxis and can result in life-threatening symptoms, including swelling of the airway, inability to breathe, and a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure. It unattended to or left untreated, this condition can be fatal.

Allergies of Babies

When babies have allergic reactions, it’s the result of an inappropriate response by their immune system. The immune system is programmed to fight off illness, but sometimes it reacts to a harmless substance, like pollen, as if it were an invading parasite, virus, or bacteria. To fight back, the immune system overproduces protective proteins called antibodies. This overproduction causes swelling and inflammation of tissues — the nasal passages, for example. Babies’ allergic reaction can recur whenever they are exposed to whatever triggered it. Some of the most common allergies affecting babies are:

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Red / itchy eyes
  • Rashes
  • Dermatitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Prevention is the key

Knowing that one is allergic to a particular substance or condition, preventing the allergic reaction will improve the outlook. It can be prevented by avoiding the allergens that affect to be able to attack. The approach to managing an allergy will also depend on its severity. In case of a mild allergic reaction, seeking an immediate therapy can have a high chance of recovery. In case of a severe allergic reaction, the approach will focus on receiving effective and efficient emergency care. A more severe allergic reaction that can cause anaphylaxis can be fatal, and in such cases, emergency ambulatory medical attention may be necessary. Once the allergen responsible for the cause of allergy is identified, it is most prudent to avoid exposure to it and its related group.

“An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of Cure”

Credits: InfoMed ( Malaysia )

Website: Infomed.com.my