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Immune System / Vaccines

A boy or a girl? Baby’s sex may influence immunity of a mother

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Will baby’s sex affect the immune system of the mother? A new research explores the connection between the fetal sex and the immune response of the mother to disease.

A lady receiving ultrasound
New research suggests that being pregnant with a girl may affect how the mother’s body responds to illness.

A team of researchers from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center set out to investigate whether or not there is any link between the baby’s sex and the immunity of the mother.

The team was led by Amanda Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher at the Wexner Institute for Research in Behavioral Medicine.

Both anecdotal data and experimental studies (referenced by the authors) prompted the study, indicating that the sex of the fetus affects many physiological responses within the mother. Glycemic regulation, blood pressure, and levels of cortisol have all been shown to vary depending on the fetal sex.

For the new research, Mitchell and team examined 80 women in their early, middle, and late pregnancy phases. Among those future mothers, 46 were male pregnant, and 34 were female pregnant. Researchers exposed bacteria to their immune cells to see whether they reacted differently depending on the sex of the fetus.

The new results have been published in Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity journal.

Female fetus raises pro-inflammatory cytokine levels

In particular, Mitchell and her collaborators have investigated cytokine levels in pregnant women. Cytokines signal molecules that regulate immunity and inflammation.

These are often referred to as emergency molecules because the body releases them to fight off disease, and these help cells interact with each other while inflammation is present in the body. Cytokines are a part of the body’s normal immune response, but when released persistently, they can cause disease. This is similar to how inflammation is a key component of the immune response, but too much of it can cause pain and fatigue.

The research analyzed cytokine levels in both the blood and the laboratory sample that had been exposed to bacteria.

The results indicate women who are pregnant with girls can experience more serious symptoms of certain diseases.

“While women did not display variations in blood cytokine levels based on fetal sex, when exposed to bacteria we observed that the immune cells of women carrying female fetuses developed more pro-inflammatory cytokines. This means women carrying female fetuses had an increased inflammatory response when their immune system was tested, compared with women carrying male fetuses.

The increased inflammation observed in this study may explain why pregnant women with female fetuses continue to experience more serious symptoms of pre-existing medical conditions. Examples provided by the investigators include asthma and allergies, all of which tend to be intensified when carrying a female fetus compared to a man.

The lead investigator of the study explains what the results mean:

This research helps women and their obstetricians recognize that fetal sex is one factor that may impact how a woman’s body responds to everyday immune challenges and can lead to further research into how differences in immune function may affect how a woman responds to different viruses, infections, or chronic health conditions (such as asthma), including whether these responses affect the health of the fetus.”

Amanda Mitchell

Further research is needed to understand precisely how the inflammation affects pregnancy. Mitchell speculates that the inflammation levels may be caused by sex hormones, or other hormones present in the placenta.

“It’s important to think about maintaining a healthy immune system, which doesn’t automatically mean improving it – getting too little or too great an immune response is problematic,” Mitchell says. “That being said, research has shown that exercise helps good immune functioning, as does eating other foods, such as leafy greens, and relaxing through meditation practices. Before making any changes to your routine or diet, Of course, it is always important to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your routine or diet,” she notes.

In addition, the authors point out that more research is required on the relationship between fetal sex and other pre-existing medical conditions in the mother (such as preeclampsia), as well as negative consequences of pregnancy (such as premature birth).

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Immune System / Vaccines

Types, symptoms, and treatments of cytomegalovirus

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Cytomegalovirus is a typical herpes virus. Many people are unaware they have it since they show no signs or symptoms.

However, the virus can cause issues during pregnancy and in people with a compromised immune system because it remains dormant in the body.

The virus spreads through bodily fluids and can be passed on to an unborn child by a pregnant woman.

Cytomegalovirus, also known as HCMV, CMV, or human herpesvirus 5 (HHV-5), is the most frequent virus transmitted to a growing baby.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all people in the United States have contracted the virus by the age of 40. It affects both men and women equally, regardless of age or ethnicity.

Causes

consulting a doctor

Fluids such as saliva, sperm, blood, urine, vaginal fluids, and breast milk can spread acquired cytomegalovirus between people.

The virus can also be contracted by touching a virus-infected surface and then touching the interior of the nose or mouth.

The virus is most commonly contracted in childhood, at daycare centres, nurseries, and other places where children are in close proximity to one another. The immune system of a child at this age, on the other hand, is typically capable of dealing with an infection.

CMV can recur in people who have a compromised immune system as a result of HIV, organ transplantation, chemotherapy, or long-term use of oral steroids.

Congenital CMV develops when a female catches the virus for the first time during pregnancy or shortly before conception.

A dormant CMV infection might resurface during pregnancy, especially if the mother has a compromised immune system.

Symptoms

Depending on the type of CMV, the symptoms will vary.

Acquired CMV

The majority of people with CMV do not show any symptoms, however if they do, they may include:

  • swollen glands
  • joint and muscle pain
  • low appetite and weight loss
  • fever
  • night sweats
  • tiredness and uneasiness
  • sore throat

After two weeks, the symptoms should be gone.

Recurring CMV

The symptoms of recurrent CMV differ depending on which organs have been affected by the infection. The eyes, lungs, and digestive system are all likely to be affected.

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • fever
  • diarrhea, gastrointestinal ulcerations, and gastrointestinal bleeding
  • shortness of breath
  • pneumonia with hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen
  • mouth ulcers that can be large
  • problems with vision, including floaters, blind spots, and blurred vision
  • hepatitis, or inflamed liver, with prolonged fever
  • encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, leading to behavioral changes, seizures, and even coma.

Any of these symptoms should be reported to a doctor by someone with a reduced immune system.

Congenital CMV

According to the National CMV Foundation, approximately 90% of kids born with CMV show no symptoms, but 10–15% will develop hearing loss during their first 6 months of life. The degree of hearing loss varies from mild to complete deafness.

The infection will affect only one ear in half of these children, but the other half will experience hearing loss in both ears. Hearing loss in both ears can increase the risk of speech and communication issues in the future.

If congenital CMV is present at birth, symptoms may include:

  • enlarged spleen
  • seizures
  • jaundice
  • pneumonia
  • spots under the skin
  • low birth weight
  • Purple skin splotches, a rash, or both
  • enlarged liver

Some of these signs and symptoms can be treated.

In roughly 75% of babies born with congenital CMV, the virus will affect the brain. This could lead to difficulties later in life.

They may be exposed to the following conditions:

  • autism
  • central vision loss, scarring of the retina, and uveitis, or swelling and irritation of the eye
  • cognitive and learning difficulties
  • deafness or partial hearing loss
  • epilepsy
  • impaired vision
  • problems with physical coordination
  • seizures
  • small head

Treatments

Scientists have been looking for a CMV vaccine, however there is no cure as of yet.

People with acquired CMV who encounter the virus for the first time can ease symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like Tylenol (acetaminophen), ibuprofen, or aspirin, and should stay hydrated.

Antiviral drugs, such as ganciclovir, can be used to inhibit the spread of CMV in people who have it congenitally or on a regular basis.

These drugs have the potential to cause side effects. Hospitalization may be required if there is substantial organ damage.

It’s possible that newborns will need to be admitted to the hospital until their organ functions return to normal.

Prevention

The following precautions may help minimise the risk of developing CMV:

  • Hands should be washed with soap and water on a frequent basis.
  • Kissing a small child should be avoided at all costs, including contact with tears and saliva.
  • When passing around a drink, avoid sharing glasses and kitchen equipment.
  • Diapers, paper handkerchiefs, and other such items should be disposed of with care.
  • To prevent CMV from spreading through vaginal secretions and sperm, use a condom.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises parents and caregivers of children with CMV to seek treatment as soon as possible, whether that means taking medication or attending all appointments for services such as hearing tests.

Types

CMV infections are classified as either acquired, recurrent, or congenital.

  • When a person contracts CMV for the first time, it is known as acquired or primary CMV.
  • When a person already has CMV, it is referred to as recurrent CMV. The virus is dormant and then becomes active due to a weak immune system.
  • When a person contracts CMV while pregnant and passes it on to the foetus, this is known as congenital CMV.

Except when it affects an unborn child or a person with a weakened immune system, such as a recent transplant recipient or someone living with HIV, CMV is normally not an issue.

CMV infection can cause organ failure, eye damage, and blindness in HIV patients. In recent years, advances in antiviral treatment have lowered the risk.

Immunosuppressants are used by people who have had organ and bone marrow transplants to suppress their immune systems so that their bodies do not reject the new organs. In these people, dormant CMV can become active and cause organ damage.

Antiviral medications may be given to transplant recipients as a prophylactic against CMV.

The virus can be passed to the foetus by a pregnant woman. This is referred to as congenital CMV.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in every 200 newborns is born with the virus.

The majority of these babies will show no signs or symptoms, but about 20% will have symptoms or long-term health issues, such as learning challenges.

Vision and hearing loss, small head size, weakness, trouble using muscles, coordination issues, and seizures are all possible symptoms.

Diagnosis

A blood test can detect antibodies produced by the body as a result of the immune system’s response to the presence of CMV.

A pregnant woman faces a low risk of CMV reactivation affecting her unborn child. If a doctor suspects a pregnant woman has CMV, an amniocentesis may be recommended. To determine whether the virus is present, a sample of amniotic fluid is extracted.

The newborn will be tested within the first three weeks of life if the doctor suspects congenital CMV. Testing for congenital CMV after 3 weeks will not be definitive because the kid may have contracted the virus after birth.

Even if the virus is not active, anyone with a weaker immune system should get tested. Testing for vision and hearing issues will be done on a regular basis as part of the CMV complications monitoring.

Complications

CMV causes just a small percentage of healthy people to become very ill.

CMV mononucleosis, a condition in which too many white blood cells have a single nucleus, can occur in people with a weaker immune system.

Sore throat, swollen glands, swollen tonsils, fatigue, and nausea are some of the symptoms. It can cause hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, as well as spleen enlargement.

Mononucleosis induced by the CMV is comparable to mononucleosis caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). Glands fever is another name for EBV mononucleosis.

Other CMV problems include:

  • gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, colon inflammation, and blood in the feces
  • liver function problems
  • central nervous system (CNS) complications, such as encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain
  • pneumonitis, or inflammation of lung tissue.

Sources:

  • http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/index.html
  • https://www.nationalcmv.org/overview/outcomes
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/173811

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Flu / Cold / SARS

What is the flu recovery timeline?

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Many sources treat the common cold and the flu as interchangeable terms, but the flu is frequently more severe than the common cold. Although most people with the flu recover in about a week, if complications arise, the sickness can persist longer.

For several days, a person with the flu may be unable to work, conduct home activities, or care for children. Some people get severe symptoms and may need to be admitted to the hospital.

We’ll go over how long the flu normally lasts, a chronology of the most common symptoms, and when to see a doctor for treatment in this post.

When to consult your doctor

flu symptoms

People should aim to contact a doctor within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, as this is when antiviral medications are most effective.

It’s also important to contact a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after 7 days or if you develop new ones, such as ear pain.

If you are experiencing any of the following people, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Breathing becomes hard or difficult.
  • Muscle pain is intolerable or severe enough to make walking impossible.
  • A fever of more than 104°F develops in a youngster.
  • When a child or infant breathes, they produce loud noises or pull on the muscles around their ribcage.
  • A person has seizures, loss of consciousness, confusion, or inability to speak properly .
  • A fever occurs in a newborn under the age of 12 weeks.
  • Chronic medical issues cause symptoms to worsen.
  • The dizziness is severe and does not subside after a few hours.
  • A person stops urinating or only urinates once in a while.
  • Symptoms improve for a while, then return and become worse.

How long?

Symptoms normally continue 3–7 days in people who do not develop major flu complications. Some people notice that their symptoms improve and then deteriorate, or that they are worse at specific times of day, such as in the morning.

Although the fever and the most severe symptoms usually go away within a week, some people can have poor energy for up to two weeks, and a cough can last up to eight weeks.

The flu vaccination lessens but does not eliminate the risk of acquiring the flu. People who catch the flu after getting a vaccination, on the other hand, tend to have milder symptoms that linger for a shorter amount of time.

Antiviral medications like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can also help to shorten the duration of the flu and reduce the risk of catastrophic consequences.

Symptoms may continue longer in infants and young children, older individuals, and people with respiratory disorders. These people are also more likely to develop significant flu symptoms including pneumonia and breathing problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu causes roughly 200,000 people in the United States to visit the hospital each year.

Complications from the flu are unlikely to go away on their own and can turn into a medical emergency. It is possible that they will necessitate a person to stay in the hospital. A person’s recovery from acute flu complications might take weeks or even months.

Timeline, signs and symptoms

Unlike the symptoms of the common cold and other viruses, which appear gradually, flu symptoms appear suddenly. A person may go from feeling normal to having a fever and other symptoms in a few of hours.

With the flu, a high temperature is more likely than with a cold, and it generally emerges before other symptoms.

The following are the most common flu symptoms:

  • a dry cough
  • a sore throat
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • weakness and extreme exhaustion
  • congestion
  • high fever

Between days 2 and 4, the symptoms usually peak. Some people start to feel better by day five. Only a few people are able to return to work or education.

After a fever has broken, however, it is important to stay at home for the next 24 hours. Stay at home if your temperature is only relieved by anti-fever medicines.

On day 7, the majority of people are feeling much better, however some are still sick. It’s very uncommon for the flu to last more than a week, so a prolonged recovery isn’t always a bad thing. However, if the symptoms persist after a week, it’s probably advisable to contact a doctor.

Treatment

An antiviral flu medicine is the finest and most effective treatment for the flu. Taking this medication within two days after becoming ill may help to decrease the duration of the flu and prevent complications.

Before using any anti-flu medicine, a person should consult with a doctor to assess the risks and benefits. Because some people encounter adverse effects when using anti-flu medications, it’s important to notify your doctor about any previous health problems or drug responses.

Antibiotics are ineffective against the flu. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, and the flu is a virus.

Some people, however, acquire secondary illnesses as a result of the flu. Ear infections are more common in children, but they can also affect adults. If your symptoms suddenly alter or worsen, it could be a sign of a new infection, either viral or bacterial.

How to aid recovery

The strategies listed below can aid in the healing process:

  • Staying in bed and resting.
  • Avoid going to work, school, or anywhere else because the flu can be spread.
  • Drinking a lot of water. To avoid dehydration, take an electrolyte drink if you have a fever or vomiting.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Hand washing should be done often to prevent the infection from spreading to other family members.

Conclusion

The majority of people who catch the flu will experience symptoms for 3 to 7 days. If difficulties arise, they may be hospitalised for a longer period of time.

Every year, the flu kills thousands of people. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are all more susceptible to flu complications. People who have the flu should rest and stay away from public places until their symptoms subside.

Even major issues can be recovered with rest and medical attention. Anyone experiencing severe flu symptoms should seek medical attention. Every year, a person can obtain a flu shot to lower their risk of contracting the virus.

Sources:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/ear-infection.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325063

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Immune System / Vaccines

When should people get the hepatitis B vaccine?

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Hepatitis B is a liver ailment caused by a virus. It might go away on its own or worsen, leading to cirrhosis or liver cancer. Since the 1980s, a vaccination against the virus that causes hepatitis B has been available.

Hepatitis B is a short-term condition that causes no long-term harm in many people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 2–6% of individuals with hepatitis B will acquire a chronic infection. Cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer are all possible effects of a chronic hepatitis B infection.

Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and a vaccination against it has been available in the United States since the 1980s. The vaccination protects people from being infected with hepatitis B and prevents them from contracting it.

Depending on the age range, multiple vaccination series are offered. For example, babies under the age of one year can receive the vaccination in three or four doses, while individuals beyond the age of one year can receive the vaccine in a two- or three-dose series. A person should consult with a physician to determine which vaccination series is best for them.

Multiple hepatitis B vaccination regimens will be discussed in this article. It will also look at who should get the vaccine and who should not.

Children under 1 year old

vaccine

A newborn may receive the vaccination in three or four doses, according to the Hepatitis B Foundation:

  • Three-dose vaccine series: All medically stable newborns in the United States with a birth weight of at least 2,000 grams should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccination within 24 hours of delivery, according to medical specialists.
  • Four-dose vaccine series: Combination vaccinations, like the ones in this series, protect against a variety of illnesses. The first dose of the combo vaccination is usually given to a newborn when he or she is 6 weeks old. This implies that until the age of six weeks, a newborn is not protected against hepatitis B. As a result, within 24 hours of delivery, a newborn should get a dose of the hepatitis B vaccination.

The following table shows the recommended HBV immunization regimens for infants under the age of one year:

Vaccine seriesBrand nameDose 1Dose 2Dose 3Dose 4
3-dose vaccine seriesEngerix-B or Recombivax HBat birth4 weeks after birth6 months after the first dose
4-dose combination vaccine seriesVaxelis or Pediarixat birth

(hepatitis B vaccine)
at 6 weeks old

(combination vaccine)
at 14 weeks old

(combination vaccine)
at 6 months old

(combination vaccine)

Those over 1 year old and adults

The three-dose course is appropriate for both children and adults. Adults over the age of 18 are eligible for the two-dose series.

The following table shows the recommended HBV vaccine schedule for people over the age of one :

Vaccine seriesBrand nameDose 1Dose 2Dose 3
3-dose vaccine seriesEngerix-B, Recombivax, or Tinrixday 11 month after the first dose6 months after the first dose
2-dose vaccine seriesHepislav-Bday 11 month after the first dose

Accelerated vaccine schedule for children and adults

A person may get a vaccination series over a shorter amount of time than the normal schedule under specific conditions.

If a person is traveling to an area where they are at high risk of exposure or working as an emergency responder in a disaster region, they may be given an expedited vaccination series.

For adults and children

The vaccination is given in three doses over the course of two months, with a one-year booster dose.

The initial expedited dosages protect against HBV right away, and the booster dose aids in long-term protection.

The following is the authorized accelerated immunization schedule for adults and children:

Vaccine seriesBrand nameDose 1Dose 2Dose 3Dose 4
4-dose vaccine seriesEnergix-Bday 11 month later2 months after the first dose1 year after the first dose

For adults only

A combination vaccination that protects against hepatitis A and B is used in the four-dose combination vaccine schedule.

This vaccination series consists of three doses given over the course of one month. After a year, the user is given a booster dosage. This is a popular option for people who need to travel outside of the United States on short notice.

The two-dose immunization regimen consists of two doses given one month apart.

For adults above the age of 18, there are two accelerated vaccination schedules:

Vaccine seriesBrand nameDose 1Dose 2Dose 3Dose 4
4-dose combination seriesTwinrixday 11 week later1 month after the first dose1 year after the first dose
2-dose vaccine seriesHepislav-Bday 11 month later

For vertical transmission

It is important that infants delivered to females who have hepatitis B receive proper hepatitis B vaccination doses. If hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIG) is available, they may be obliged to take it.

Antiviral prophylaxis is also recommended by WHO to assist prevent hepatitis B transmission.

The two recommended hepatitis B immunization regimens for children born to hepatitis B carriers are listed in the table below:

Vaccine seriesBrand nameDose 1Dose 2Dose 3Dose 4
3-dose vaccine seriesEngerix-B and Recombivax HBat birth

(hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG)
1 month later6 months after first dose
4-dose combination vaccine seriesVaxelis or Pediarixat birth

(hepatitis B vaccine and HBIG)
at 6 weeks of age

(combination vaccine)
at 14 weeks of age

(combination vaccine)
at 24 weeks of age

(combination vaccine)

International schedule

A combination vaccination, which protects against numerous illnesses, including hepatitis B, is used in many countries.

The three recommended worldwide hepatitis B vaccination regimens are listed in the table below:

Vaccine seriesDose 1Dose 2Dose 3Dose 4
3-dose vaccine series for those under 1 year oldat birth1 month after the first dose6 months after the first dose
3-dose vaccine series for those over 1 year old and adultsday 11 month after the first dose6 months after the first dose
4-dose combination vaccine for those under 1 year oldat birth

(hepatitis B vaccine)
at 6 weeks of age

(combination vaccine)
at 14 weeks of age

(combination vaccine)
at 6 months of age

(combination vaccine)

Who should get vaccinated against hepatitis B?

All babies should have the hepatitis B vaccine, according to medical experts.

The following people, according to the CDC, are at a greater risk of getting hepatitis B than the general population:

  • people who inject drugs
  • people who are at an increased risk due to exposure in their job
  • people who travel to countries with high levels of hepatitis B
  • people with chronic liver disease
  • people with HIV
  • sexually active people who are not in mutually monogamous relationships
  • people in a sexual relationship with someone who has hepatitis B

Most people are safe from the hepatitis B vaccination. After getting the vaccination, a person may encounter certain typical mild side effects.

These are some of them:

  • soreness or swelling in the arm at the site of injection
  • headache
  • fever

Who should not get the hepatitis B vaccine?

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor before having the vaccine:

  • have had an allergic reaction to neomycin (Twinrix)
  • have had an allergic reaction to yeast
  • have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine or any component of a hepatitis B vaccine

A person can still get the vaccination if they have a small sickness, such as a cold. If someone is moderately or seriously unwell, they should not obtain the hepatitis B vaccine until they have recovered.

Conclusion

Hepatitis B is a liver ailment caused by a virus. It spreads by the transmission of body fluids from an infected person to an uninfected one.

Hepatitis B vaccinations are available in a variety of forms. The hepatitis B vaccination is administered in a series of doses. These vaccines are used in two-, three-, and four-dose vaccination regimens.

A combination vaccination that protects against hepatitis B and other infections is also available.

Sources:

  • https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-b
  • https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/index.htm
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/viral-hepatitis/hepatitis-b
  • https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/hepatitis-b-vaccine.html
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/hep-b-vaccine-schedule
  • https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html
  • https://www.hepb.org/prevention-and-diagnosis/vaccination/guidelines-2/

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