Friday, 29 August 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge

You probably have seen at least a couple of videos of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The videos are basically records of activities which involve dumping a bucket of ice water on someone's head. This is done to promote awareness of the disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis while at the same time encouraging more people to donate to its research cause.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. When muscles no longer receive the messages from the motor neurons that they require to function, the muscles begin to atrophy (become smaller). Limbs begin to look "thinner" as muscle tissue atrophies.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral throughout a wide variety of social media platforms (particularly on Facebook) during late July and August of 2014.

There's no cure for the disease as of the moment. The goal of the several groups affiliated with ALS Association is to raise money for research and patient services while at the same time raising awareness.

High blood sugar levels linked to memory loss

New research suggests that people with high blood sugar levels, even those who do not have diabetes, may have an increased risk for developing cognitive impairment.

According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetes is considered a risk factor for vascular dementia as it can damage blood vessels in the brain. This form of dementia is often caused by reduced or blocked blood flow to the brain. But researchers from Germany now say that even those without diabetes who have high blood sugar levels may be at risk for impaired memory skills.

Clinically, even if your blood sugar levels are normal, lower blood sugar levels are better for your brain in the long run with regard to memory functions as well as memory-relevant brain structures. Furthermore, the researchers say their research suggests that changes in lifestyle strategies looking at improving glucose levels long-term could be a promising strategy to prevent cognitive decline in aging.

These findings are important because they indicate that even in healthy non-diabetic, non-impaired glucose tolerant individuals, lifestyle choices that tend to lower blood glucose levels in young and old individuals should be recommended.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Blood sugar measured by laser may do away with pin pricks

Researchers from Princeton University are working on a way to use laser technology to measure blood glucose non-invasively. While there is still a way to go before they have a laser device that is portable and suitable for home use, they believe one day it will replace the need for diabetics to draw blood to test their glucose levels.

The device works by sending a laser beam through skin cells - without causing damage - to be absorbed by sugar molecules. The target is not blood sugar as such, but the sugar content of dermal interstitial fluid, which has a strong correlation with blood sugar.

The new monitor uses a laser, instead of blood sample, to read blood sugar levels. The laser is directed at the person's palm, passes through skin cells and is partially absorbed by sugar molecules, allowing researchers to calculate blood sugar levels. The amount of absorption of the laser beam is thus an indicator of the amount of glucose in the blood. The challenge now is to improve the technology - and not least to bring down the scale.

Blood Test Can Reveal Your Eating Habits !

Blood sample is the key source for diagnosing several diseases and conditions. It can also reveal simple things like what you’re eating!

In a study that appeared in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers reveal a method to measure adherence to diet using blood sample. Their findings suggested that it is possible to assess dietary compliance by measuring certain biomarkers in the blood.

For the study, researchers involved 154 participants who were advised to follow a healthy diet rich in berries, vegetables, fatty fish, canola oil and whole grains. Later, blood samples were collected from these participants and several blood biomarkers reflecting the consumption of different key components of the diet were assessed.
  • These biomarkers included:
  • Serum alpha linoleic acid as a biomarker of canola oil consumption
  • Plasma beta carotene as a biomarker for vegetable intake and
  • Plasma alkylresorcinols reflecting whole grain consumption
Researchers suggested that to investigate health effects of whole diets, measurement of multiple biomarkers is required to reflect the intake of different components of the diet. This way of assessing compliance may help to better detect changes in risk factors.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Gene Panel Tests Detects Hundreds of Diseases at Once

A new genetic sequencing test moves beyond testing for one disease at a time, making it possible to identify more than 750 diseases triggered by mutations in children in one shot and deliver results within 6 to 8 weeks.

The screening panel, called the Targeted Gene Sequencing and Custom Analysis (TaGSCAN), covers the 514 genetic regions that code for pediatric conditions with possible hereditary or elusive diagnoses. This innovation is made possible by The Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children's Mercy in Kansas City.

Currently, most genetic tests for childhood diseases are conducted one at a time. This trial-and-error process eats up valuable time for clinicians in the search for the most effective treatment options for their patients. For families and the healthcare system, the prolonged hunt means higher costs.

TaGSCAN is a hybrid of hypothesis-based and no hypothesis-based testing.. The test looks at the genetic history of the patient's family, tests large numbers of genes, and combines the data with bioinformatic analysis. It is not a revolutionary concept within genetic circles, ultimately, the turnaround time; support service, cost, and bioinformatic analysis will determine whether it will do well as a product.

One advantage of the new test is that it can be ordered routinely. Cost depends on the number of genes or conditions a physician asks to test for -- from roughly $1,000, up to $3,000, which includes the full panel and a custom software analysis that accounts for symptoms.

TaGSCAN is an intermediate step towards the future of genetic testing. For very sick newborns without a clear diagnosis, this is a great idea. Although the turnaround time is still somewhat prohibitive for actual lifesaving interventions.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Alkaline Phosphatase Test

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is present in a number of tissues including liver, bone, intestine, and placenta. Serum ALP is of interest in the diagnosis of 2 main groups of conditions-hepatobiliary disease and bone disease associated with increased osteoplastic activity. It also is made by the placenta of a pregnant woman. The liver makes more ALP than the other organs or the bones. Some conditions cause large amounts of ALP in the blood. These conditions include rapid bone growth (during puberty), bone disease (such as Paget's disease or cancer that has spread to the bones), a disease that affects how much calcium is in the blood (hyperparathyroidism), vitamin D deficiency, or damaged liver cells.

If the ALP level is high, more tests may be done to find the cause. The amounts of different types of ALP in the blood may be measured and used to determine whether a high level is from the liver or bones. This is called an alkaline phosphatase isoenzymes test.

A test for alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is done to:
  • Check for liver disease or damage to the liver. Symptoms of liver disease can include jaundice, belly pain, nausea, and vomiting. An ALP test may also be used to check the liver when medicines that can damage the liver are taken.
  • Check bone problems (sometimes found on X-rays), such as rickets, bone tumors, Paget's disease, or too much of the hormone that controls bone growth (parathyroid hormone). The ALP level can be used to check how well treatment for Paget's disease or a vitamin D deficiency is working. An alkaline phosphatase test is often done at the same time as a routine blood test. You do not need to do anything before having a routine blood test.
If you are having a follow-up ALP test, you may be asked to not eat or drink for 10 hours before the test. The ALP level generally goes up after eating, especially after eating fatty foods. Many medicines may change the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you take. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form.

An alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test measures the amount of the enzyme ALP in the blood.
  • High values
Very high levels of ALP can be caused by liver problems, such as hepatitis, blockage of the bile ducts (obstructive jaundice), gallstones, cirrhosis, liver cancer, or cancer that has spread (metastasized) to the liver from another part of the body.

High ALP levels can be caused by bone diseases, such as Paget's disease, osteomalacia, rickets, bone tumours, or tumours that have spread from another part of the body to the bone, or by over-active parathyroid glands (hyperthyroidism). Normal healing of a bone fracture can also raise ALP levels.

Heart failure, heart attack, mononucleosis, or kidney cancer can raise ALP levels. A serious infection that has spread through the body (sepsis) can also raise ALP levels. Women in the third trimester of pregnancy have high ALP levels because the placenta makes ALP.
  • Low values
Conditions that lead to malnutrition (such as celiac disease) or are caused by a lack of nutrients in the diet (such as scurvy) can cause low ALP levels. If the ALP level is high, other tests may be done to determine whether a liver or bone problem is present. If liver disease is suspected, more blood tests, an ultrasound, or a CT scan are generally recommended to find the problem. Other tests to check liver function, such as alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and bilirubin, are often done at the same time as an alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test.

In addition, an increase of 2 to 3 times normal may be observed in women in the third trimester of pregnancy, although the interval is very wide and levels may not exceed the upper limit of the reference interval in some cases. The additional enzyme is of placental origin. Pediatric reference values should be used to properly interpret alkaline phosphatase values in children and adolescents

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blood Alcohol Content

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), also called blood alcohol concentration, blood ethanol concentration, or blood alcohol level is most commonly used as a metric of alcohol intoxication for legal or medical purposes. The definition of blood alcohol content is the concentration of alcohol in one's bloodstream, expressed as a percentage. It is used to determine whether a person is legally intoxicated, especially under a driving while intoxicated law. In the field of traffic safety, BAC is expressed as the percentage of alcohol in deciliters of blood–for example, 0.10 percent. A 160-pound man, for instance, will have a BAC of approximately 0.04 percent 1 hour after consuming two 12-ounce beers or two other standard drinks on an empty stomach. Laws have specific driver BAC limits, which vary from place to place.

A blood alcohol test measures the amount of alcohol (ethanol) in your body. Alcohol is quickly absorbed into the blood and can be measured within minutes of having an alcoholic drink. The amount of alcohol in the blood reaches its highest level about an hour after drinking. But food in the stomach may increase the amount of time it takes for the blood alcohol to reach its highest level. About 90% of alcohol is broken down in the liver camera.gif. The rest of it is passed out of the body in urine and your exhaled breath.

Alcohol has a noticeable effect on the body, even when consumed in small amounts. In large amounts, alcohol acts as a sedative and depresses the central nervous system. A blood alcohol test is often used to find out whether you are legally drunk or intoxicated. If this test is being done for legal reasons, a consent form may be required, but refusing to take the test may have legal consequences.

A test for blood alcohol level is done to:
  • Check the amount of alcohol in the blood when a person is suspected of being legally drunk (intoxicated). Symptoms of alcohol intoxication include confusion, lack of coordination, unsteadiness that makes it hard to stand or walk, or erratic or unsafe driving.
  • Find the cause of altered mental status, such as unclear thinking, confusion, or coma.
  • Check to see whether alcohol is present in the blood at times when the consumption of alcohol is prohibited—for example, in under-age people suspected of drinking or in people enrolled in an alcohol treatment program.
Many medicines may change the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you take. The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Antistreptolysin O Titer (ASO) Test

Antistreptolysin O (ASO) titer is a blood test to measure antibodies against streptolysin O; a substance produced by group A Streptococcus bacteria. You should not eat for 6 hours before the test. When the needle is inserted to draw blood, you may feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. When you are exposed to harmful bacteria, your body produces antibodies. These antibodies help protect your body against future infections from the same bacteria. They are specific to the bacteria they were produced against. These antibodies can be detected using blood tests. One such blood test is an antistreptolysin O titer (ASO) test. The ASO test measures antibodies against streptolysin O. These antibodies are made when you are exposed to group A Streptococcus (GAS). Symptomatic infections caused by GAS are treated with antibiotics. However, many people don’t have symptoms. Therefore, their infections may not be detected and treatment may not be provided. Complications—referred to as post-streptococcal complications—can arise if GASremains in your body. The ASO titer test is essential in detecting and treating GAS (group A Streptococcus).

Your doctor will order the ASO test if you have symptoms of poststreptococcal complications. Such complications include:
  • bacterial endocarditis
  • glomerulonephritis
  • rheumatic fever
  • scarlet fever
  • strep throat
The antistreptolysin antibody remains in the body four to six weeks after you contract GAS bacteria. Your doctor can determine if symptoms are being caused by a post-streptococcal complication by checking antibody levels.

Generally, an ASO test value below 200 is considered normal. In preschool-aged children, the test value should be less than 100. However, specific results will vary by laboratory. If your results show that your ASO value is elevated, you may have a post-streptococcal complication. Your doctor may repeat the test within 10 to 14 days to confirm your results. The body produces ASO antibodies within a week after infection with GAS. If both tests are negative, your symptoms are probably not caused by a Streptococcus infection. If the results of your tests show that your ASO antibodies are increasing, it is likely that your infection is recent. Declining antibody levels suggest that your infection is probably getting better.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Why HbA1c?

Haemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying pigment that gives blood its red colour and is also the predominant protein in red blood cells. About 90% of haemoglobin is haemoglobin A (the "A" stands for adult type). Although one chemical component accounts for 92% of haemoglobin A, approximately 8% of haemoglobin A is made up of minor components that are chemically slightly different. These minor components include haemoglobin A1c, A1b, A1a1, and A1a2. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is a minor component of haemoglobin to which glucose is bound. HbA1c also is sometimes referred to as glycosylated or glycosylated hemoglobin or glycohaemoglobin.

In addition to random fasting blood glucose levels, HbA1c levels are routinely measured in the monitoring of people with diabetes. HbA1c levels depend on the blood glucose concentration. That is, the higher the glucose concentration in blood, the higher the level of HbA1c. Levels of HbA1c are not influenced by daily fluctuations in the blood glucose concentration but reflect the average glucose levels over the prior six to eight weeks. Therefore, HbA1c is a useful indicator of how well the blood glucose level has been controlled in the recent past (over two to three months) and may be used to monitor the effects of diet, exercise, and drug therapy on blood glucose in people with diabetes.

In healthy people the HbA1c level is less than 6% of total hemoglobin. Studies have demonstrated that the complications of diabetes can be delayed or prevented if the HbA1c level can be kept below 7%. It is recommended that treatment of diabetes be directed at keeping an individual’s HbA1c level as close to normal as possible (<6%) without episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels).

The following are the results when A1c is being used to diagnose diabetes:
  • Normal (no diabetes): Less than 5.6%
  • Pre-diabetes: 5.6% to 6.4%
  • Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

If you have diabetes, you and your doctor or nurse will discuss the correct range for you. For many people the goal is to keep your level below 7%.

The test result may be incorrect in people with anemia, kidney disease, or certain blood disorders (thalassemia). Talk to your doctor if you have any of these conditions. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results. Abnormal results mean that you have had a high blood sugar level over a period of weeks to months.
  • If your A1c is above 6.5% and you do not already have diabetes, you may be diagnosed with diabetes.
  • If your level is above 7% and you have diabetes, it often means that your blood sugar is not well controlled. Your target A1c should be determined by you and your health care provider. 
The higher your A1c, the higher the risk that you will develop problems such as:
  • Eye disease
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke
If your A1c stays high for a long period, the risk of these problems is even greater. Ask your doctor how often you should have your level tested. Usually, doctors recommend testing every 3 or 6 months.
Other names for this test includes: HbA1C test: Glycated hemoglobin test; Glycosylated hemoglobin test; Hemoglobin glycosylated test; Glycohemoglobin test.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

GGT test for your Liver

The Gamma-Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT) test measures the amount of the enzyme GGT in your blood. Enzymes are molecules that are necessary for chemical reactions in your body. GGT functions in the body as a transport molecule, helping to move other molecules around the body. It plays a significant role in helping the liver metabolize drugs and other toxins. GGT is concentrated in the liver, but is also present in the gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and kidneys. GGT blood levels are usually high when the liver is damaged.

This test is often done in conjunction with other tests that measure liver enzymes. The liver is crucial for producing proteins in the body and filtering out poisons. It also makes bile, a substance that helps the body process fats. Your doctor may order the GGT if your liver is suspected to be damaged. Often, this stems from heavy use of alcohol or other toxic substances, like drugs or poisons.

Symptoms of liver problems include:
  • decreased appetite
  • vomiting or nausea
  • lack of energy
  • abdominal pain
  • jaundice (a yellowing of the skin)
  • unusually dark urine or light-coloured feces
  • itchy skin

If you have finished an alcohol rehab program and are trying to abstain from alcohol, your doctor might order this test to check compliance with your treatment program. The test can also monitor levels for people who have been treated for alcoholic hepatitis.Your doctor may instruct you to fast for eight hours before the test and to stop taking certain drugs. Phenobarbital, phenytoin, and alcohol can raise your GGT level. Birth control pills and clofibrate may decrease your GGT level. If you drink even a small amount of alcohol within 24 hours of the test, it can affect your results. The GGT test is somewhat equivocal, because while it can diagnose liver damage, it can’t determine the cause. If your GGT is elevated, you’ll probably have to undergo more tests.

Some of the conditions that result in increased GGT include:
  • overuse of alcohol
  • hepatitis
  • lack of blood flow to the liver
  • liver tumors
  • cirrhosis (scarred liver)
  • overuse of drugs or other toxins
  • heart failure

GGT is often measured relative to another enzyme, alkaline phosphatase (ALP). If both are elevated, doctors will suspect problems with the liver or the bile ducts. If GGT is normal and ALP is elevated, this could indicate bone disease. Therefore, the GGT test may be used to rule out certain problems when making a diagnosis.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

ESR- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate

An erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test does not diagnose one specific condition. Instead, it helps your doctor determine whether you are experiencing inflammation. ESR is a blood test that can reveal inflammatory activity in your body. ESR test isn't a stand-alone diagnostic tool, but it may help your doctor diagnose or monitor the progress of an inflammatory disease. When your blood is placed in a tall, thin tube, red blood cells (erythrocytes) gradually settle to the bottom. Inflammation can cause the cells to clump together. Because these clumps of cells are denser than individual cells, they settle to the bottom more quickly.

The ESR test measures the distance red blood cells fall in a test tube in one hour. The farther the red blood cells have descended, the greater the inflammatory response of your immune system. The doctor will look at ESR results along with other information or test results to help figure out a diagnosis. Which tests are ordered will depend on your symptoms. Your doctor may order an ESR test to help detect inflammation in your body. This can be useful in diagnosing conditions that cause inflammation, such as autoimmune diseases, cancers, and infections. The ESR test is rarely performed alone. Instead, it will be combined with other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Tell your doctor if you are taking any medications. You will be told whether you should temporarily stop taking them before the test. All this test involves is a blood draw. The skin directly over a vein will be cleaned, and a needle will be inserted to collect your blood. After the blood has been collected, the needle will be removed, and the site of the puncture will be covered to stop any bleeding. It should take only a minute or two.

An abnormal ESR result does not diagnose any particular disease. It just identifies any inflammation in your body. This test is not always reliable or meaningful and abnormal test results don’t always mean you have a disease (HHP, 2003). Many factors, such as age or medication use, can alter your results. In addition, abnormal results don’t tell your doctor what is actually wrong. Instead, they indicate a need to look further. Your doctor will usually order follow-up tests if your ESR results are too high or low.
There are multiple causes of high ESR rates. Some common conditions associated with high rates include:
  • anemia
  • kidney disease
  • lymphoma
  • multiple myeloma
  • old age
  • pregnancy
  • temporal arteritis
  • thyroid disease

Some types of infection that cause ESR rates to become higher than normal are:
  • bone infection
  • heart infection
  • heart valve infection
  • rheumatic fever
  • skin infection
  • systemic infection
  • tuberculosis

Low ESR rates may be caused by:
  • congestive heart failure
  • hypofibrinogenemia (Fibrinolysis syndrome is characterized by an acute hemorrhagic state brought about by inability of the blood to clot, with massive hemorrhages into the skin producing blackish, purplish swellings and sloughing)
  • leukocytosis (an increase in the number of white cells in the blood, especially during an infection)
  • low plasma protein
  • polycythemia (an abnormally increased concentration of haemoglobin in the blood)
  • sickle cell anemia

Some causes of abnormal ESR rates are more serious than others, but many are not a huge deal. That’s why it’s important not to worry too much just because your ESR levels are abnormal. Instead, work with your doctor to find out what’s causing your symptoms.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Ebola Virus

Ebola virus cause haemorrhagic fevers — illnesses marked by severe bleeding (haemorrhage), organ failure and, in many cases, death. This virus is native to Africa, where sporadic outbreaks have occurred for decades. Ebola virus lives in animal hosts, and humans can contract the viruses from infected animals. After the initial transmission, the viruses can spread from person to person through contact with body fluids or contaminated needles.

No drug has been approved to treat the virus. People diagnosed with Ebola virus receive supportive care and treatment for complications. Scientists are coming closer to developing vaccines for these deadly diseases. Signs and symptoms typically begin abruptly within five to 10 days of infection with Ebola virus. Early signs and symptoms include:
  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Weakness
And overtime, increased condition may include symptoms like:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (may be bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)
  • Internal bleeding
Experts suspect that it is transmitted to humans through an infected animal's bodily fluids. Examples include:
1. Blood: Butchering or eating infected animals can spread the viruses. Scientists who have operated on infected animals as part of their research have also contracted the virus.
2. Waste products: Tourists in certain African caves and some underground mine workers have been infected with the Ebola virus, possibly through contact with infected bats.

Infected people typically don't become contagious until they develop symptoms. Family members are often infected as they care for sick relatives or prepare the dead for burial. Medical personnel can be infected if they don't use protective gear, such as surgical masks and gloves. Medical centres in Africa are often so poor that they must reuse needles and syringes. Some of the worst Ebola epidemics have occurred because contaminated injection equipment wasn't sterilized between uses.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Culture & Sensitivity Test

A culture is done to find out what kind of organism (usually bacteria) is causing an illness or infection. A sensitivity test checks to see what kind of medicine, such as an antibiotic, will work best to treat the illness or infection. A culture is done by collecting a sample of body fluid or tissue and then adding it to a substance that helps promote the growth of bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. If there are bacteria (or other organisms) in the sample, they will grow in the culture. Bacteria usually grow quickly in a culture (2 days), while other types of organisms, such as a fungus, can take longer.

Sensitivity analysis, also called susceptibility testing, helps find the right antibiotic to kill an infecting microorganism. This test determines the “sensitivity” of a colony of bacteria to an antibiotic. It also determines the ability of the drug to kill the bacteria. Unfortunately, many bacteria are resistant to common antibiotics. Resistant means that the drug can’t kill the bacteria. Sensitivity analysis is a useful tool to help quickly determine if bacteria are resistant to certain drugs. It may also be used if you have a fungal infection. Sensitivity analysis starts with a bacterial sample. Your doctor will obtain this sample by swabbing the infected area or secretions of the infected area. Your doctor can sample any area that has an infection.
Cultures may be taken from:
  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Sputum (“spit”)
  • Inside the cervix
  • A wound
Your doctor will send the specimen to a laboratory, where it will be spread on a special growing surface or culture. Bacteria in the culture will grow and multiply. The bacteria will form colonies (large groups of bacteria) that will each be exposed to different antibiotics. The colonies show up as susceptible, resistant, or intermediate.
  • Susceptible means they can’t grow if the drug is present. This indicates an effective antibiotic.
  • Resistant means they can grow even if the drug is present. This indicates an ineffective antibiotic.
  • Intermediate means a higher dose of the antibiotic is needed to prevent growth.

Your doctor can use the results to determine the best antibiotic to treat your infection.Few risks are associated with this test. Blood collection comes with small risks. For example, you may feel slight pain or a mild pinching sensation during the blood draw. You may feel throbbing after the needle is withdrawn. An antibiotic that bacteria, fungus, or another micro-organism shows resistance to shouldn't be used to treat your infection. Your doctor will decide which drug is best if several antibiotics are shown to be effective in killing the micro-organism causing your infection.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Glucose Tolerance Test

The glucose tolerance test, also known as the oral glucose tolerance test, measures your body's response to sugar (glucose). The glucose tolerance test can be used to screen for type 2 diabetes. More commonly, a modified version of the glucose tolerance test is used to diagnose gestational diabetes — a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. The glucose tolerance test identifies abnormalities in the way your body handles glucose after a meal — often before your fasting blood glucose level becomes abnormal. 

A glucose tolerance test measures how well your body is able to break down glucose, or sugar. Those who suffer from diabetes (type 1) have trouble processing glucose because the body is not able to make an adequate supply of insulin. This test is also used to diagnose the presence of gestational diabetes and type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes develops during adulthood, unlike type 1 diabetes, which occurs during childhood. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. In this type, your body either doesn't produce enough insulin, the hormone in the body that metabolize sugar, or the cells in your body are resistant to insulin.

Gestational diabetes is when a pregnant woman who is not a diabetic, has high blood sugar levels as a result of the pregnancy. Generally most healthcare providers recommend that all pregnant women be screened for gestational diabetes. Experts recommend this test to pregnant women who are between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. This test is also recommended for anyone suspected of developing adult diabetes.

If your test shows that your glucose levels are higher than normal, you may be asked to test again on a different day. Higher-than-normal levels of glucose may mean you have pre-diabetes, diabetes, or gestational diabetes

Friday, 1 August 2014

Liver Care

Liver function tests are blood tests used to help diagnose and monitor liver disease or damage. The tests measure the levels of certain enzymes and proteins in your blood. Many tests can be performed on the liver, but most of them do not measure the overall function of the liver. The most widely used tests to check liver function are the albumin test and the bilirubin test. These tests measure how well the liver creates albumin, a protein, and disposes of bilirubin, a waste product of the blood.

Some of these tests measure how well the liver is performing its normal functions of producing protein and clearing bilirubin, a blood waste product. Other liver function tests measure enzymes that liver cells release in response to damage or disease. Conditions other than liver disease or damage can lead to abnormal liver function test results. Test results can be normal in people who have liver disease or damage. Albumin is the main protein made by the liver. It performs many important bodily functions. For instance, albumin:
  • stops fluid from leaking out of blood vessels
  • Nourishes tissues
  • Transports hormones, vitamins and other substances throughout the body.
An albumin test measures how well the liver is making this particular protein. A low result on this test indicates that the liver is not functioning properly. Bilirubin, on the other hand, is a waste product ordinarily processed by the liver. This waste product is caused by the breakdown of red blood cells. It passes through the liver before being excreted through your stool. If your liver is damaged, it cannot properly process bilirubin. This will lead to an abnormally high level of bilirubin in the blood. Thus, a high result on the bilirubin test indicates that the liver is not functioning properly.

Liver tests are performed to determine if the liver is working correctly. The liver performs a number of vital bodily functions, such as:
  • removing contaminants from the blood
  • converting the nutrients from the food you eat
  • storing minerals and vitamins
  • regulating blood clotting
  • producing proteins, enzymes, and bile
  • making factors that fight infection
  • removing bacteria from the blood
  • processing substances that could harm the body
  • maintaining hormone balances
Problems with the liver can make a person very sick and can lead to death. Symptoms of a liver disorder include:
  • weakness
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • weight loss
  • jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • symptoms of nephritic syndrome (swelling around the eyes, belly, and legs)
  • discoloured bodily discharge (dark urine or light stools)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
The different liver function tests can check for infection, monitor the progression or treatment of a disease, and test for the side effects of certain medications.