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Environment / Water / Pollution

What you need to know about melioidosis

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Melioidosis is a disease that happens in contaminated water or soil, when someone comes into contact with certain bacteria.

Many medical professionals, after the pathologist who first described it, also call this disorder “Whitmore’s disease”

Though melioidosis is most prevalent in south-east Asia and northern Australia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several other countries have reported it as well.

Read on to learn more about melioidosis, including its signs, causes, diagnosis, and options for treatment.

What is melioidosis?

A lady having headache
A person with melioidis-related bloodstream infection may experience headache, breathing problems and fever.

In the United States Melioidosis is rare. In fact there are around zero to five cases on an annual basis according to the CDC.

The condition may occur when someone comes into contact with the Burkholderia pseudomallei bacterium, which is found both in soil and water.

Diagnoses of melioidosis usually occur in those who have traveled to an area outside of the U.S. where melioidosis is more common. Some examples of such fields include:

  • Malaysia
  • northern Australia
  • Singapore
  • Thailand

That said, there are many other countries where people can come into contact with the bacterium and get melioidosis from contract.

People with a chronic medical condition and those with weak immune systems are at an increased risk of melioidosis.

Some examples of such words include:

  • diabetes
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease
  • cancer
  • chronic lung conditions

Symptoms

Melioidosis can affect people in various ways, causing a wide array of symptoms.

Most people will experience the disease within 2–4 weeks of their initial bacterial exposure. However, a person can go years without having to experience any symptoms.

A person can contract the bacterial infection that leads through different areas of their body to melioidosis. Depending on the area of the body specific symptoms can occur.

These examples include:

Bloodstream infections

These may cause the following symptoms:

  • breathing problems
  • confusion
  • fever
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • stomach pain

Localized skin infections

These may cause the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • foul-smelling discharge from a wound
  • localized pain
  • redness
  • swelling
  • ulcerated skin appearance

Pulmonary infections

These may cause the following symptoms:

  • chest pain
  • coughing
  • fever
  • headache
  • a loss of appetite

Multisystem, or septic, infections

These may cause the following symptoms:

  • chest pain
  • fever
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • seizures
  • stomach pain
  • weight loss

An estimated 89,000 people die from melioidosis every year worldwide according to an article in the journal Nature Reviews Disease Primers. If a person has a septic melioidosis, death rates are as high as 90%.

Causes

A person who comes into contact with water or soil carrying the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei can get melioidosis.

This can happen if a person:

  • comes into contact with contaminated soil, especially via skin cuts or abrasions
  • drinks contaminated water
  • inhales dust or water droplets

Transmission amongst humans is unusual. Nevertheless, a person can have the bacterium transferred to another human.

Treatment

Doctors can actually treat melioidosis infections, and prescribe medications and other treatments to reduce the symptoms caused by the disease.

First, they usually give 10–14 days of intravenous antibiotics, such as ceftazidime or meropenem.

The doctor will then prescribe 3–6 months of oral antimicrobial drugs after this time. These include sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid.

A person has to complete the melioidosis treatment prescribed in full. It reduces the likelihood of the returning infection.

Diagnosis

A doctor can diagnose melioidosis by asking a person about their symptoms, taking into account their travel history, and doing a physical exam.

Infections with melioidosis can look very similar to other infections. These include tuberculosis and pneumonia. A doctor usually can tell the difference by gathering the person’s samples:

  • blood
  • pus
  • sputum
  • urine

Then a laboratory technician would “culture,” or smear, this specimens on petri plates, where they will be examined for bacterial growth.

If a doctor suspects melioidosis, then imaging scans may also be required. Including CT and MRI scans.

Patients seldom use imaging studies for treatment but can be useful in determining the degree to which a person’s body has been compromised by the disease. Melioidosis, for example, may cause abscesses on the liver, spleen or lungs to develop. These will be evident in the imaging studies.

When to see a doctor

When they suspect they have melioidosis, a person should see their doctor as soon as possible.

This is particularly important if a person has traveled to a country where melioidosis is normal, and where contact with contaminated soil or water may have occurred.

Prevention

There are several strategies to help reduce the risk of melioidsis spreading and contracting. Including:

  • always covering open wounds, especially when coming into contact with stagnant water and soil
  • wearing protective boots, with no holes or rips, when working in soil and stagnant water
  • if working in a healthcare facility, taking the standard safety precautions, such as by wearing a mask, gloves, and a gown

If a person at greater risk of melioidosis— such as those with diabetes or a weak immune system— travels to an area where melioidosis is common, they should discuss other preventive tips and safety precautions with their doctor.

Summary

Melioidosis is a condition which spreads in infected water or soil by coming into contact with bacteria.

If a person believes he has melioidosis, immediate medical treatment is needed.

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Environment / Water / Pollution

Benefits of vegan diet: Foods to eat and helpful hints

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All animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs, are prohibited in a vegan or plant-based diet. When followed appropriately, vegan people can be highly nutritious, minimize the risk of chronic diseases, and promote weight loss when followed.

Vegan diets are becoming more popular as people become more concerned about their health, animal welfare, and the environment. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2018, roughly 3% of Americans are entirely vegan, and sales of plant-based goods are increasing.

Vegan diets are nutrient-dense and low in saturated fats. According to research, eating a healthy diet can enhance heart health, prevent cancer, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

People who eat purely plant-based foods, on the other hand, should be more cognizant of how to get certain minerals, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12, that are typically found in an omnivorous diet.

In this article, we look at the vegan diet in detail, including its health benefits and risks, as well as important points to think about before committing to it. We also offer vegan-friendly meal suggestions and advice.

What is it?

vegan diet

A vegan diet consists solely of plant-based meals. All animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs, are avoided by those who follow this diet. Honey is also avoided by some people. Veganism is a nutritional choice for some, but it is also a lifestyle decision for others.

People avoid wearing clothes, soaps, and other things that use or contain animal parts, such as leather and animal hair. Some people choose this lifestyle as a sustainable diet because of its environmental benefits.

Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are commonly found in vegan diets. A wide range of important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein can be obtained by eating a variety of these foods.

People who follow this diet, however, should make sure they acquire important nutrients that they normally get from animal products. Iron, protein, calcium, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D are among these nutrients.

Vegetarian vs. vegan

The fundamental distinction between vegetarians and vegans is that vegetarians eat dairy products, eggs, or both. Vegans do not eat meat (including cows, pigs, fowl, or fish). All goods containing animal-based substances are prohibited in a vegan diet.

Because the vegan diet is more restrictive, people will have to think more about where their nutrients come from in order to meet their daily nutritional needs.

Benefits

Vegan diets can satisfy all of a person’s nutritional needs while also removing some of the risks linked with toxic animal fats, according to study. The vegan diet has been linked to a number of health benefits, including those listed below.

Improved cardiovascular health

Vegan diets can help your heart in a variety of ways.

Adults with a higher diet of plant-based meals and a lower intake of animal foods have a lower risk of heart disease and death, according to a large-scale 2019 study.

Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products such as meat, cheese, and butter. Eating foods high in these fats elevates cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Cholesterol levels that are too high raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Plant meals are also high in fibre, which the American Heart Association links to improved heart health. Plant-based vegetables and grains are the finest sources of fibre, while animal products contain very little or none.

Furthermore, people who follow a vegan diet consume fewer calories than those who follow a traditional Western diet. Moderate calorie consumption can lead to a lower BMI and a lower risk of obesity, which is a key risk factor for heart disease.

Reduced cancer risk

A 2017 research found that following a vegan diet can cut a person’s cancer risk by 15%. Plant meals are high in fibre, vitamins, and phytochemicals — physiologically active molecules found in plants that protect against cancer — which may explain this health benefit.

The impact of nutrition on the risk of certain cancers have yielded varied outcomes in research.

Red meat, on the other hand, is “possibly carcinogenic,” according to the International Agency for Studies on Cancer, which notes that research has connected it to colorectal cancer, as well as prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Processed meat is also carcinogenic and may cause colorectal cancer, according to the EPA.

These risks can be avoided by avoiding red and processed meats in the diet.

Loss of weight

Vegans tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who follow other diets.

Vegan diets were found to be more beneficial for weight loss and macronutrient provision than omnivore, semi-vegetarian, and pesco-vegetarian diets, according to researchers from a 2015 study.

Because many animal meals are high in fat and calories, substituting low-calorie plant-based diets can help people lose weight.

It’s worth noting, though, that eating a lot of processed or high-fat plant-based meals — what some call a “junk food vegan diet” — can lead to unhealthy weight gain.

Lower risk of type 2 diabetes

A plant-based diet can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a major analysis published in 2019. This effect was linked to eating healthy plant-based foods such fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, according to the study.

Nutrients

Because a vegan diet eliminates some food sources, people must carefully arrange their meals to avoid nutritional deficits. Before starting a vegan diet, people should consult with a doctor or a dietician, especially if they have any health issues.

The following nutrients may be lacking in a vegan diet:

  • Vitamin B-12: Animal products are the main source of vitamin B-12. It safeguards nerves as well as red blood cells. Fortified cereals and plant milks, nutritional yeast, and yeast spreads are all plant-based sources of this vitamin.
  • Iron: Iron is important for the proper functioning of the circulatory system. Beans and dark leafy greens are excellent providers of this nutrient. Learn more about vegan foods that are high in iron.
  • Calcium: Bone health necessitates the consumption of calcium. Calcium levels can be maintained by eating tofu, tahini, and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps to strengthen bones and teeth and protects against cancer and other chronic illnesses. Vitamin D levels can be increased by eating vitamin D-fortified foods and spending time in the sun on a regular basis.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA are three forms of omega-3 fatty acids that are important for heart, eye, and brain function. Walnuts and flaxseeds are rich sources of ALA, but the only plant sources of EPA and DHA are seaweeds and algae.
  • Zinc: Zinc is important for the immune system and DNA damage repair. Zinc is high in beans, nutritional yeast, nuts, and oats.
  • Iodine: Thyroid function is important on iodine. Seaweeds and fortified meals are examples of plant-based sources.

If a person is unsure whether to take supplements or eat more fortified foods, they should consult their doctor.

Plant-based food tips

The transition from an unrestricted diet can be difficult, but there are many simple, enjoyable, and nutritious methods to include vital vitamins and minerals in a vegan diet.

Plant-based alternatives can be used instead of cow milk. Plant milks are generally lower in calories and contain less saturated fat than cow’s milk. Vitamins and minerals are frequently added by manufacturers.

People can also buy or produce their own plant-based cheeses, yoghurts, and butters.

Some people may be concerned about not getting enough protein on a vegan diet, yet many plant foods are high in protein.

Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are soy products that give protein and a meat-like texture to a variety of recipes. 

In vegan cuisine, the following nutritious ingredients are frequently substituted for animal products:

  • eggplant
  • lentils
  • beans and legumes
  • nuts
  • tofu
  • peanut butter and other nut butters
  • beets
  • tempeh
  • mushrooms
  • potatoes
  • jackfruit
  • cauliflower

Conclusion

Vegan diets are becoming increasingly popular. Veganism has a number of health advantages, including improved heart health, weight loss, and a lower risk of chronic diseases.

Vegan diets may also be beneficial for the environment, according to research.

People who want to follow a vegan diet must carefully arrange their meals to ensure that they acquire enough important nutrients to avoid deficits.

Sources:

  • https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2016.1138447?journalCode=bfsn20
  • https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.119.012865
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149636
  • https://news.gallup.com/poll/238328/snapshot-few-americans-vegetarian-vegan.aspx
  • https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900714004237
  • https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr240_E.pdf

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Crohn's / IBD

Is there a link between IBD and microplastics?

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microplastics
A recent study investigates the relationship between microplastics and IBD.

In a recent small-scale investigation, researchers discovered a link between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and higher levels of microplastics in feces. The results were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The study, however, does not prove that microplastics cause IBD. More research is needed to confirm the findings and then seek an explanation for the link.

IBD explained

IBD is a broad term that refers to a variety of gastrointestinal disorders marked by inflammation. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most frequent kinds.

Diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain, and exhaustion are all symptoms of IBD.

Researchers aren’t sure what causes IBD, but they believe it starts when a person who is genetically predisposed to the disease is exposed to a specific trigger. More research is needed to determine how important environmental triggers are.

IBD and microplastics

The researchers wanted to discover if there was a link between microplastics and IBD in this new study. Microplastics are present in people’s bodies throughout their lives, yet the health repercussions are unknown.

“We urgently need to know more about the health consequences of microplastics since they are everywhere—including in our drinking water,” says Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director of Public Health, Environment, and Social Determinants of Health.

“Microplastics in drinking water do not appear to constitute a health danger at current levels, based on the limited knowledge we have.” However, we need to learn more. We must also halt the global surge of plastic pollution.”

The current study’s corresponding author is Dr. Yan Zhang. He works at Nanjing University’s School of Environment’s State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, where he previously discovered that microplastics accumulate in the liver, kidney, and intestine in animal models.

He also discovered that the particle size of the microplastics had a significant impact on the accumulation.

“Compelling evidence suggests that microplastics primarily collect in the guts of many species and induce intestinal inflammation and metabolic disturbance,” the researcher told Medical News Today. “Microplastics will inevitably come into contact with humans.”

“Estimating the exposure levels and loads of microplastics in people is crucial for assessing the health risk of microplastics.” However, accurate evidence on the effects of microplastics on humans is still unavailable. Furthermore, the actual health danger of human exposure to microplastics has long been a source of worry.

Fecal samples

Because microplastics are routinely ingested through the gut, the researchers wanted to see if there was a link between microplastics and IBD.

They did this by examining fecal samples from study participants. The researchers gathered 52 persons with IBD and 50 people who were otherwise healthy but did not have IBD.

The participants answered questions on the foods and beverages they consume, their working and living conditions over the past year, the state of their IBD, and their demographic characteristics on a questionnaire.

The scientists then looked at the feces samples to see how much and what kind of microplastics were present.

Microplastics linked to IBD

They discovered that those with IBD had considerably more microplastic in their stools than those who were healthy.

Further research revealed a link between the severity of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and the number of microplastics present.

The researchers also discovered that persons who had more microplastic in their stool samples drank more bottled water, ate more takeout food, and were exposed to more dust where they lived or worked.

“For the first time, this study reveals that there is a significant difference in the concentration of microplastics in feces from IBD patients and healthy people. Our study also indicates that the characteristics of fecal microplastics are useful to estimate the gut exposure of microplastics.”

– Dr. Yan Zhang

“It’s difficult to say whether microplastics play a role in the development of IBD because it’s a complex systemic disease with an unknown etiology.” People with IBD are more likely to retain microplastics, we suspect.”

The study had flaws as well, the most significant of which was its small size. Before scientists can reach more solid findings, they must perform much larger investigations.

“The concentration of [microplastics] in feces found in this study cannot directly match the concentration of [microplastics] in the gastrointestinal system or in the human body,” the study authors write.

To put it another way, just though people with IBD excrete more microplastic doesn’t mean they have more microplastic in their bodies.

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Environment / Water / Pollution

Carbon monoxide (CO): All you need to know

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Carbon monoxide, sometimes known as CO, is a silent killer. It doesn’t have a smell, a taste, or a sound. People and animals can’t tell when they’re inhaling it, but it’s deadly.

The by-product of combustion is carbon monoxide (CO). Gas fireplaces, oil-burning furnaces, portable generators, and charcoal grills, among other home goods, put people at danger of exposure to this deadly gas.

Every year, approximately 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning that is not caused by fires, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been over 20,000 visits to the emergency room and nearly 4,000 hospitalizations.

carbon monoxide alarm
A carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in every home.

Causes

Gas fires, boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, cookers, and open fires that use gas, oil, coal, or wood might all be potential CO gas sources. It occurs when the fuel does not completely burn.

CO poisoning may be caused by running an automobile engine in a closed space.

If household appliances are properly maintained and utilized securely, they should emit very little CO gas. CO emissions are increased when aging appliances are used and not serviced on a regular basis.

Other causes of CO gas emissions and accumulation include:

Smoking cigarettes causes blood levels of CO to rise.

  • Blocked flues and chimneys can stop CO from escaping.
  • Fumes from certain paint removers and cleaning fluids can cause CO poisoning.
  • Leaving a car in a closed garage with its engine running can produce deadly amounts of CO within 10 minutes.
  • Burning charcoal produces CO gas.

Methylene chloride (dichloromethane)-containing products should be handled with caution since when breathed in, it converts to CO.

Symptoms

Without a temperature, the individual may feel as if they have the flu. CO poisoning may be present if numerous people in the same building exhibit the same symptoms.

All cooking and heating equipment should be turned off, all windows should be opened, and the local gas safety authorities should be alerted if this occurs.

The symptoms of CO poisoning become more severe the longer a person is exposed to it.

A person may suffer the following symptoms within a few hours of first being exposed:

  • memory problems
  • eventual loss of consciousness
  • loss of balance
  • vision problems

If the symptoms are minor, there is a good possibility that you will recover completely.

Other signs and symptoms may appear weeks or months after breathing CO gas.

These are some of them:

  • coordination difficulties
  • memory problems
  • confusion

CO poisoning can have long-term consequences, including cardiac disease.

CO gas poisoning affects people more quickly if they have heart or respiratory difficulties. Pregnant women, infants, and small children are especially vulnerable.

Pets, too, will react quickly to CO poisoning. If a family pet becomes ill or dies abruptly, and the death cannot be attributed to anything else, such as age or a pre-existing condition, the owners should rule out CO poisoning as a possibility.

Effects

Hemoglobin is a substance found in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to all of the body’s tissues and returns carbon dioxide (CO2) to the lungs.

CO binds to hemoglobin over 200 times more effectively than oxygen, therefore if CO is present, oxygen will be unable to enter the hemoglobin. This is due to the presence of CO in the space.

Parts of the body will be deprived of oxygen as a result, and the damaged parts will die.

The human organism need oxygen, but CO is useless to it. CO does not give any advantage, but it does deplete the blood of oxygen.

Tennis player Vitas Gerulaitis died of CO poisoning in 1994. Because of a failure in the swimming pool heater, his cottage on Long Island, NY, was inundated with CO.

Someone who has been exposed to CO may realize that something is wrong, but they may not be sure what the problem is.

Diagnosis

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning.

These are some of them:

  • seasonal symptoms, which may be caused by a central heating system that is used only at certain times of the year
  • symptoms improving when a person is away from that environment, and reappearing when they return
  • a large proportion of people in the same environment developing the same symptoms

A doctor may order a blood test to check for abnormal carboxyhemoglobin levels, as well as an electrocardiogram (ECG) to see how effectively the heart pumps blood around the body.

Treatment

The first step is to get away from any potential CO gas sources and have your symptoms evaluated.

If the symptoms are severe, the person may need to be admitted to the hospital. To speed up the formation of oxyhemoglobin, which will replace the carboxyhemoglobin, hospital therapy involves 100% oxygen supplied through a mask.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may be recommended if the doctor fears nerve injury or if the patient has had a lot of CO exposure. To compensate for the shortage of oxygen produced by CO gas poisoning, this therapy supplies the blood with pure oxygen.

Patients whose oxygen supply has been lowered or cut off, those in a coma, those with a history of loss of consciousness, those with an atypical ECG reading or diminished brain activity, and pregnant women may all benefit from HBOT.

Complications

CO poisoning can have catastrophic and long-term consequences.

Damage to the brain might develop, resulting in a steady deterioration of memory and attention. CO poisoning has been connected to the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease on a very rare occasion. Stiffness, sluggish movements, and shaking are some of these symptoms.

Heart damage, including coronary heart disease, can occur if a person is exposed for an extended period of time.

Urinary incontinence can develop in women who have been exposed to a lot of CO gas.

Prevention

It’s important to understand the hazards of CO poisoning.

The following can assist in preventing CO gas leakage:

Maintain the condition of your equipment and use them carefully. Have them serviced by a competent and registered specialist on a regular basis.

  • Do not use charcoal on an indoor barbecue.
  • Never use a generator within 20 feet of a window, door or vent.
  • Service the exhaust pipe in a motor vehicle every year.
  • If the tailgate of a vehicle is open and the engine is running, open the doors and windows too.
  • Have chimneys and flues swept thoroughly regularly by a fully-qualified sweep, at least once a year.
  • Do not use gas ranges or ovens for heating.
  • Make sure all rooms are well ventilated and that vents are not blocked. Be especially careful in well-insulated environments.
  • Be careful when using gas-powered tools and equipment inside rooms.
  • Wear a mask when using products that contain methylene chloride.
  • Do not leave a gasoline-powered motor running in a garage, for example, motorbikes, cars, or lawn mowers.

Every home should have a CO alarm, according to the CDC. A digital readout is available on several detectors. When CO levels above a particular threshold, some emit a loud, high-pitched sound.

Long-term exposure to 1 to 70 ppm of CO does not generally cause harm, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, although people with cardiac issues may have chest pain.

Over 70 parts per million (ppm) can induce visible symptoms, while levels between 150 and 200 ppm can cause confusion, unconsciousness, and death.

Every sleeping location in the house can be equipped with an alarm. Alarms should be inspected on a regular basis.

Sources:

  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/carbon-monoxide-poisoning/
  • https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/171876
  • https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/464.pdf

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