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Some less common COVID-19 symptoms you can miss


We’ve written previously about a lesser known COVID-19 symptom to look out for. But as experts learn more about COVID-19, new symptoms of the infection are coming to light. In addition to fever, coughing and difficulty breathing, plus a sudden loss of smell or taste (as per our above-referenced post), some people with COVID-19 have also presented with less typical symptoms, including nausea, diarrhea, delirium, chickenpox-like lesions, and more. Indeed, according to a study by Stanford Medicine, which analyzed the medical records of 116 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19, almost a third displayed digestion related symptoms, including loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Meanwhile, a study in Italy that looked at 88 patients who has tested positive for COVID-19 found that approximately 20% displayed skin symptoms, including a red rash, widespread hives, or chickenpox-like lesions. While people with atypical COVID-19 symptoms may also develop more classic symptoms too, not all will. And then there are the individuals who contract the virus and don’t have any symptoms at all i.e. are asymptomatic. This is why it is useful to spread awareness about some of the less common COVID-19 symptoms, so that people can potentially spot if they or someone they know develops the disease.

More than one million new STI cases every day - WHO


There are more than 376 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis among people aged 15-49 every year, according to figures recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO). That equates to over one million new cases of these sexually transmitted infections (STIs) every single day. It’s a reality, the WHO says, that should serve as a wake-up call – especially as such diseases can cause serious and chronic health effects like infertility, stillbirths, ectopic pregnancy, and increased risk of HIV. In 2016 alone, syphilis caused an estimated 200,000 stillbirths and newborn deaths globally. The figures show that one in 25 people, on average, has at least one of these STIs. However, many continue to live with multiple infections simultaneously. Sexually transmitted infections are predominantly spread through unprotected sexual contact, but chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth. The number one way to prevent STIs is to practise safe sex, which includes wearing a condom and having an understanding of sexual health education. People who are sexually active should also undergo regular STI screening to pick up any infections they might be carrying – sometimes completely obliviously. There is a wide variety of medications that can cure bacterial STIs. Speaking about the figures, Dr Peter Salama, Executive Director for Universal Health Coverage and the Life-Course at WHO, said: “This is a wake-up call for a concerted effort to ensure everyone, everywhere can access the services they need to prevent and treat these debilitating diseases.”  

Major HIV breakthrough: New antibody attacks 99% of strains


Scientists have developed a new antibody that can kill 99% of HIV strains and even prevent infections in primates. It works by attacking three different parts of the virus, making it difficult for HIV to resist its effects. The antibody, which has been engineered by scientists at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, has been hailed as an “exciting breakthrough” by the International Aids Society. The human body struggles to fight HIV because of the virus’s incredible ability to mutate and change. As a result, the immune system finds itself combatting multiple strains all at once – a task that is insurmountable. Human trials will now commence in 2018 to see whether the antibody can prevent and treat infections. Dr Gary Nabel, the chief scientific officer at Sanofi and one of the report authors, said the new antibody is “more potent” and has “greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that's been discovered”. Until now, the best naturally occurring antibodies target 90% of HIV strains. At 99%, the new antibody is significantly more powerful. The findings of the study were published in the journal Science.

The Health Benefits of Honey


Honey is one of the sweetest and most natural food products there is. It’s made by bees through a process of regurgitation and evaporation, then stored as a primary food source in wax honeycombs within the beehive. This is usually from where it is harvested for human consumption. But whether you’re a huge fan of honey, or will happily pass it up, there’s no denying the strong association it has long held with health benefits. First up, there’s the fact that many health experts believe that consuming honey instead of sugar results in a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels, which in turn helps to regulate your hunger levels. Honey is also recommended as a natural cough remedy by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Academy of Paediatrics. In fact, a 2007 study by Penn State College of Medicine found that honey consumption led to reduced night time coughing and improved sleep quality for children suffering with upper respiratory tract infections. If you suffer with heartburn, you may already know about honey’s effectiveness as a treatment. Experts believe its viscose nature enable it to coat the upper gastroesophageal tract, preventing stomach acid from rising. Lastly, there are honey’s antibacterial properties. It contains the protein defensin-1, which can actually kill bacteria. Furthermore, unpasteurised, raw honey can actually be used as a topical agent on open wounds because of its antibacterial qualities, but should never be used in place of a topical solution prescribed by a doctor.

How Cancer Drugs are Being Used to Flush Out HIV


Scientists have developed a way of flushing HIV out of its hiding places in the body using a cancer drug, combating its survival mechanism and killing it in the bloodstream. Dormant HIV reservoirs are targeted by the “highly potent” cancer drug and while more testing is needed, experts have described the treatment as “interesting”. Researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine in California believe that a skin cancer drug known as PEP005 may be able to “kick and kill” these hidden HIV reservoirs. At present, anti-retroviral therapy – the “cornerstone” of cancer treatment – kills HIV in the bloodstream, but leaves its reservoirs untouched. According to their report, "PEP005 is highly potent in reactivating latent HIV". It’s one of a number of "lead compounds for combating HIV". It’s the “kick and kill” strategy that interests scientists the most. The kick effectively wakes up the dormant virus allowing the drugs to kill it. Dr Satya Dandekar, who led the research study, said: "We are excited to have identified an outstanding candidate for HIV reactivation and eradication that is already approved and is being used in patients. "This molecule has great potential to advance into translational and clinical studies." The down side is that the drug has still not yet been tested in people who are HIV-positive. So while the research carries immense amounts of potential, a significant amount of testing and further investigation is needed.

‘Smart’ Single-Use Syringes Approved by WHO


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently announced that smart syringes that break after a single use should be being used for injections worldwide by 2020. It’s thought that reusing syringes contributes to over two million people annually being infected with diseases like HIV and hepatitis every year. Despite being more expensive, the WHO has said that the extra cost is still lower than treating the diseases. And with more than 16 billion injections being administered annually, plus the fact that normal syringes can be used over and over again, the switch to smart syringes is a significant step in the right direction. The smart syringes work by either retracting the needle or preventing the plunger from being pulled back after use. The Director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department, Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, said: “Adoption of safety-engineered syringes is absolutely critical to protecting people worldwide from becoming infected with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. This should be an urgent priority for all countries.” However, the switch to smart syringes won’t be easy and will need the backing of all stakeholders to ensure that supply meets demand during the crucial switchover phase. More information about the smart syringe announcement can be found in the full WHO press release.

Facts about Anaesthesia


If you are contemplating surgery then you will most likely be having some form of anaesthesia and so knowing the facts will help you to make an informed choice and understand what will happen. Anaesthesia simply means ‘loss of sensation’, which is what anaesthetic medications are designed to achieve. A mixture of medications are combined to either put a patient to sleep or numb the pain in a specific area so that surgery can be carried out without the patient experiencing any pain. General anaesthetic This is the term used to refer to the type of anaesthetic that makes a patient completely unconscious so that they are not aware of the procedure and so will feel no pain. This type of anaesthetic is administered via injection or gas which puts the patient to sleep and is used for serious, complex or lengthy procedures. Regional/local anaesthetic This type of anaesthetic is used for minor surgery or procedures where the patient does not need to be unconscious but do need to feel no pain. This anaesthetic is given for a specific area of the body and is only intended to numb that area. There are different types of regional anaesthetic: epidural – type of regional anaesthetic that is used to numb the lower half of the body and is usually used during labour and childbirth spinal – regional anaesthetic that is used to give total numbness that lasts approximately three hours Possible side effects As with any medical procedure there are potential side effects that can affect people who have anaesthetic. Whilst these side effects are not usually serious they can make it uncomfortable to have anaesthetic. They do not often last for a long period of time. The side effects can include: feeling nauseous vomiting feeling faint or dizzy headache feeling cold and shivery aches and pains Photo credit: © dmitrimaruta -

Christmas Markets that continue to the end of December


Christmas markets are a very popular part of Christmas and they seem to get more and more popular every year. People are increasingly traveling for miles to meet up with friends and family, grab a few gifts and generally get in the Christmas mood. Fortunately it is not too late to get involved in this festive tradition. Many Christmas markets actually continue past Christmas to the end of December and some even into January. So if you are looking for a market to get you in the Christmas spirit, check out one of these: Christmas Market at Kaiser Wilhelm – BerlinEnds Jan 1 This market is the biggest and arguably the most popular with approximately 2 million visitors who arrive to buy the perfect Christmas gifts each year. Plaisirs d’hiver (Winter Wonders) – BrusselsEnds Jan 6 This Winter Wonder offers 2 kilometres of festive Christmas treats with 240 stalls to choose gifts for yourself and others and Christmas foods and drinks to indulge in. Shopping is not the only option, with a toboggan slope, big wheel and 200ft skating rink. The Christmas Markets – PragueEnds Jan 1 Prague offers something a bit different that should be experienced. With huge tubs of water filled with carp on the streets reflecting the traditional Czech dish, visitors should also sample other different foods and drinks that this dazzling destination has to offer. Photo credits: Flickr

Recover from Surgery in Marmande


France Surgery has a lot to offer patients who are considering medical tourism. The level of healthcare across France is of exceptional standard and ranked number 1 in the world by the World Health organization. France Surgery have first class surgical and medical teams waiting to assist in your choices and offering excellent healthcare packages should you choose to have your surgery carried out by them. However, the medical side is not the only consideration why contemplating medical tourism. A patient needs to be happy to travel to chosen destination and to feel comfortable and relaxed enough to recover after the surgery. Marmande in south west France is a great option for a patient who’s not looking for the hussle and bussle of a city and who is not wishing to fill their time with days of tourist attractions. That’s not to say that there are not some fantastic sights. For anyone interested in the history of the area there is the church of Notre-Dame dating from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries and the chapel of St Benoit which dates from the 18th century and has to be seen to appreciate the painted ceilings which represent the Holy Trinity, the Assumption and the Annunciation. With not being a hive of tourist activities, Marmande is a perfect choice for a patient who may not be capable of engaging in many activities before their return home. Photo credit: Flickr