World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28th July bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change.
Worldwide, 325 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28th July, we call on people from across the world to take action, raise awareness and join in the quest to find the “missing millions”.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver, commonly caused by a viral infection, or also from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol over several years.
Out of the 325 million people with viral hepatitis globally, upward of 290 million (9 in 10 people!) are living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C without knowing. A cure for hepatitis C is available, as well as treatment and a vaccine for hepatitis B.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
Short-term hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms, so it may be difficult to know whether you have it.
In the later stages it can cause jaundice, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, confusion, and blood in your stools or vomit.
We’d recommend seeing your GP if you have any of these symptoms persistently.
Types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It’s most commonly contracted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a person infection with hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B is common infection worldwide and is usually spread from infected pregnant women to their babies. In rare cases it can be transmitted by infectious body fluids, such as blood, unprotected sex and injecting drugs. It’s uncommon in the UK.
Hepatitis C is the most common type of viral hepatitis in the UK. Again it can be transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, usually by shared needles.
Hepatitis D only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, as it needs it to survive. Long-term infection with hepatitis D and hepatitis B can increase your risk of developing serious problems, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis E is mainly associated with the consumption of raw or under cooked pork meat or offal, but also with the wild boar meat, venison and shellfish.
It’s generally a mild and short-term infection that doesn’t require any treatment, but it can be serious in some people, such as those who have a weakened immune system.
Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption over many years. This type is common in the UK with many people not realising they have it due to the lack of any symptoms.
Stopping drinking will usually allow you to recover, but if you continue to drink alcohol there’s a risk that you can develop cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.
Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare cause of long-term hepatitis in which the immune system attacks and damages the liver. It’s not clear what causes this type of hepatitis.
Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis involves medicines that suppress the immune system and reduces inflammation.
Vitalograph’s Bacterial Viral Filters Could Save Practices Thousands
Between early October to mid-January, figures from the Guardian say, 120 people died of flu-related symptoms in the UK, nearly three times as many as the previous year. With up to 30,000 people visiting a GP each week with influenze-like symptoms, the chance of infection spreading during spirometry tests is much higher.
Using one-way valve cardboard mouthpieces during spirometry testing provides very little protection from bacteria and viruses passing straight through the spirometer, potentially infecting the member of staff administering the test. This lack of protection can lead to cross infection between patients, lost work from staff illness and increased treatment costs later on from infected patients.
The Solution: Vitalograph’s Bacterial Viral Filters
According to Dr Derek Cramer and Simon Ward, of the Royal Brompton Hospital, using a BVF is common practice in lung function testing in secondary care, however, it is far less common in primary care. By assuming any patient taking a lung function test is infectious and using a BVF for all patients, GP surgeries could dramatically improve their rates of cross infection and protect their equipment, staff and patients.
By reducing the contamination risk during testing, GP surgeries could save thousands of pounds in lost staff hours and the further treatment of patients.
How Do Bacterial/Viral Filters Work?
Vitalograph’s BVFs use an electrostatically charged material to trap bacteria and viruses (including TB, MRSA & influenza) with a validated cross-contamination efficiency of 99.999%. This doesn’t affect air-flow at all, meaning you will see the same results as with cardboard mouthpieces but with reduced risk to the patient and clinician administering the test.
On top of the hygiene benefits of using BVFs, they can also reduce the time spent cleaning and sterilising test equipment, which means more patients can be seen in a shorter time.
Introducing BVFs into your practice is not just a cost-effective solution to infection control, it also protects your staff and could end up saving a lot of money, both directly and indirectly.
As November kicks off Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a chance for all of us to take a deep breath, and reflect on lung health. As health professionals, we see the impact of environmental and industrial pollution, and its negative effect on global air quality and lung health. Therefore, as advocates of health, it’s important to focus on preventative measures, by raising awareness and preventing hazardous exposure to common airborne contaminants.
One surprisingly prevalent carcinogen that demands global attention is a mineral that’s been used for decades in the construction and manufacturing industries: asbestos.
While these medical apps shouldn’t replace a routine trip to the Doctor, they may just make your life a little easier.
Keeping track of diabetes is essential to keeping it under control and Diabetes:M helps perfectly by being the logbook app you need.
The app includes a vast nutrition database so you can keep track of food and nutrition as well as exercise time. With detailed reports, charts and statistics provided on almost all aspects of the diabetes treatment, Diabetes:M could well be a valuable addition if you need help keeping it under control.
iOS/Android/Free to download – premium versions available
Calculate normal and prolonged insulin boluses using the highly effective, top-notch bolus calculator
Send the reports to your supervising physician via email
Additional lab result records – Add a comprehensive metabolic panel, kidney function tests and much more
Expanded Food Database – This will allow greater access to server food database, as well as an option to save selected food as Meals and Dishes
Synchronization – Automatically sync multiple devices on data change. Allows you to use any of your available mobile devices to keep track effortlessly.
Reports – Get your reports in PDF or XLS format
2. St John Ambulance First Aid
The first aid app from the extremely reputable St John Ambulance is a simple but potentially life saving one. It’s basic, simple and doesn’t necessarily replace the benefits of learning first hand first hand, but what it does, it does right. When there is an emergency the app will help you know what to do in those crucial moments when basic knowledge is needed.
Latest first aid advice and protocols for dealing with emergency situations
Simple to follow with illustrated guides and voiced instructions
Teaches common techniques such as using an AED, the recovery position, and treating shock
Covers both major and minor subjects in an easy to find category layout system. Major subjects include burns, choking, poisoning and strokes, while minor subjects include allergic reactions and feeling faint
iTriage is a huge healthcare and medical database where you can search for answers to do with medication, diseases, symptoms and procedures. It was created by two ER doctors and the medical content is reviewed by Harvard Medical School to prove its authenticity and how safe it is.
Over 12 million people have downloaded iTriage giving it a 4.5 star rating from over 100k reviews proving that it is a well known and loved app that can perhaps put your mind at ease or potentially save your life. It may sound dramatic but with critical warnings included with some causes depending on the issue, it could well be the motivation you need to get you to the doctor.
You can search symptoms, learn about potential causes, and then iTriage will help you find the most appropriate treatment, facility or doctor
iTriage Doctor Search lets you find any doctor or physician quickly and easily
Thousands of medical symptoms, diseases, conditions, procedures, medications and drugs
Find the nearest hospital, emergency room, urgent care, retail clinic, pharmacy, physician, doctor, imaging center, mental health clinic, substance abuse clinic, and community health center
Save your personal healthcare facilities, doctors, diseases, conditions, procedures, medications, insurance information and health plan advice lines
Emergency hotlines, and physician and nurse advice lines
4. Instant Heart Rate: Heart Rate & Pulse Monitor
Continuously rated as the world’s best mobile heart rate measurement app, Instant Heart Rate can measure your heart rate by using the camera on your phone.
It works by detecting a colour change in your finger top each time your heart beats, using an advanced algorithm to show your heart rate. Judging by the reviews and Apple’s usability of the app in its “Strength” TV ad, Instant Heart Rate produces accurate results – especially coming from a smartphone.
BabyBump is one of the many popular pregnancy apps out there but we’ve chosen this on in particular due to it’s ease of use, many features, and it’s reviews.
BabyBump keeps soon-to-be parents informed about each stage of the pregnancy, making for an even more in-depth experience that you can track and share with family and friends. The forums and community are a great inclusion to help you get prepared for the big day and years to come.
Daily info/images – schematic embryo picture of your baby each week
Create a slideshow of belly photos
6. CareZone | Health Info Organiser
If you and/or family members need medications, it can be hard remembering names, dosages and days that they need to be taken, especially if you’re looking after an aging parent. This is where CareZone comes in.
With CareZone you can stay organised, coordinated, and in sync by always having medication details and schedules on hand, and helpfully gives you notifications when it’s time to take a med, refill a subscription or record a taken dose. Being able to create a detailed med list by taking photos is another great and time saving idea – making this app the full package.
Journal: document symptoms and privately share updates with family members
Calendar: keep track of appointments and share access with others
Contacts: organise & share info for doctors, pharmacies, and insurance providers
Notes: store insurance info, online account credentials, and other hard-to-remember details
Store important files and documents
News: receive helpful info & tips on health topics relevant to you and your family
7. Migraine Buddy
Hopefully you don’t suffer with migraines, but if you do, it needs be dealt with in the quickest and easiest way. Ideally the migraine would be prevented in the first place.
Migraine Buddy is an advanced migraine headache and tracking app that helps users record and identify triggers, symptoms, frequency, duration, intensity and location etc, so users can prevent and take the appropriate action if one does occur. This is an app that has thought of everything to help you get easy to read reports but make sure you fill in all the fields needed when you’re completely free of a migraine, because it might just give you one.
Easy to use, beautifully designed interface and icons with wizard style questionnaires that guides users through the recording process
Record ongoing and past migraines
Quick tapping motion to answer the questionnaire
Quick access to skip and record entries at a later time
Add a “Buddy”: Share your migraine status with your “buddies” within the app. Let each other know when you’re migraine-free, having a migraine, and how you feel.
Notes section to add additional information such as food, weather conditions, barometric pressure, mood, etc.
Add custom fields to the questionnaire so it becomes a permanent option for users
Customized reports including frequency and duration, pain intensity, pain location, migraine triggers, migraine medications, migraine symptoms and helps to understand the effectiveness of medication and other migraine relief methods
Data is secured and protected by HIPAA-compliant cloud
8. Calm: Meditation to Relax, Focus & Sleep Better
High stress levels? Perhaps meditation is the way forward – even on a (usually) distracting smartphone.
Once you have download the app for free, you get a 7 day course of guided-meditation exercises, with more programs and features becoming available after buying a reasonably priced subscription. If you feel like you need to take a step back away for 10 minutes a day from an increasingly busy and stressful world, or if you need to work on topics such as calming anxiety, happiness, or non-judgment, then Calm is the app for you.
Daily Calm: a new 10-minute program added daily to help ease you into the day or unwind with before bed
Guided meditation sessions including hundreds of programs
20+ Sleep Stories: adult bedtime stories guaranteed to lull you to sleep
7 day and 21 programs for both beginner and advanced users
Breathing exercises to relax
Unguided timed meditation
25+ soothing nature sounds and scenes to use during meditation, yoga or to help you sleep
Track your progress with daily streaks and time spent meditating
9. Bowelle – The IBS tracker
Bowelle is for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or other gastrointestinal symptoms and is a simple to use app that keeps a record of how you feel, bowel movements, and other elements.
The app was made in hope that it helps identify some of the triggers causing your symptoms – and with such a clear and easy to use app that is completely clear of ads, it could certainly be a useful tracker.
Records how you feel, food & water intake, stress levels, bowel movements
Works with Apple Health
10. My Pain Diary & Symptom Tracker: Gold Edition
My Pain Diary does exactly what it says on the tin. With the app you are able to record pain and symptoms you get, to report to and improve communication with doctors.
An incredibly useful app for a chronic pain sufferer, this highly customisable and well thought out app can create PDF reports to send to your doctor or archive, so you both have a better idea on how to help yourself.
Diabetes is a serious condition that requires careful monitoring and management. It costs the NHS an estimated £14 billion pounds a year to treat. Medical scientists have been studying diabetes for many years and looking for a cure or long term treatment.
Exciting research studies and clinical trials in the last 5 years give hope of cures, or at least greatly reduced symptoms for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
A Possible Diabetes Vaccine
Diabetes is an immune system disorder. The pancreas creates insulin, a hormone that regulates the level of glucose in your blood. With Type 1 diabetics, the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells (islets cells) and stops the production of insulin in the pancreas. This means they are unable to regulate their own glucose levels.
Many companies are working to find a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes. The theory is that a vaccine with immunosuppressant drugs could prevent the immune system from attacking the islet cells so the patient could produce insulin.
The problem with this, however, is that by suppressing the immune system you are then making the patient vulnerable to other infections and illness. There can also be a variety of unwanted side effects, such as stomach upsets, kidney problems and reduced production of blood cells.
Scientists are currently experimenting to see if they can target specific parts of the immune system rather than the system as a whole. If this is successful it could also offer hope of a cure for other autoimmune disorders.
Dr Christie hopes to develop a therapy that can specifically target these damaging cells and leave the rest of the immune system to work as normal. He is looking to combine a protein found on islet cells with a with antibody protein, which marks the cells to be destroyed. The hope is that this new molecule will attract the destructive cells, which will bind with it and then also be destroyed.
Another project funded by Diabetes UK is the study by Lucy Walker at University College London, she has found immune cells (T-Cells) that can trigger the immune system attack on diabetes cells. They are looking at early autoimmune responses to find how these cells cause diabetes and if they can stop the condition from occurring.
Dr Faustman’s team found that the BCG vaccine was killing high levels of T Cells in Type 1 diabetic participants. This shows not only that the vaccine can destroy these cells but that people with Type 1 diabetes have a higher than normal level of T cells.
Further trial phases hope to find if the BCG vaccine can effectively work as a long term affordable treatment for Type 1 diabetes.
The Artificial Pancreas
Dr Roman Horvorka has created a prototype artificial pancreas. This uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to check glucose levels every minute. The machine will then calculate the insulin dose required; and automatically administer it.
The artificial pancreas is worn like a diabetes pump. It sits under the skin and uses wireless transmission to transfer the blood sugar levels to the monitor. The great news is that this can work 24 hours a day, so it offers the potential to maintain good glucose levels throughout the night as well as all day.
Dr Harkorva’s team completed a clinical trial with the artificial pancreas being worn 24 hours a day by participants with Type 1 diabetes. The results showed that the artificial pancreas was halving the amount of time for which participants had low sugar levels. As everything is done automatically the chance of incorrect dosing is greatly reduced.
This research is still in early testing stages, however, it offers hope of an easier way to monitor and administer insulin. This could be the ideal option for people who struggle to calculate their require insulin dose.
Islet Cell Transplants
In Type 1 diabetes, the insulin producing islet cells have been destroyed by the immune system. The Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has been studying these cells and possible ways for patients with Type 1 diabetes to reproduce insulin. They recently completed an islet cell transplant for diabetic Wendy Peacock.
Wendy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 17, she is now 43. Since receiving the minimally invasive surgery she has not needed insulin injections. Other trial participants have not required any treatment for diabetes for more than a decade.
The current islet cell transplant procedure is to infuse the cells into the liver. Although this has had some success, the islet cells don’t always survive in the liver. DRI are currently working to develop their ‘BioHub’. This is a bio-engineered mini-organ that will mimic the pancreas and create insulin. This will be a significant development in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.
Could Tea be a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes?
Dr Michelle Keske, a senior research fellow at the Menzies Institute in Tasmania has found a surprising potential treatment for Type 2 diabetes – blueberry tea. Their 2015 research trials show blueberry tea may reduce the dependence on insulin as it improves glucose intake in muscles and reduces blood glucose levels.
Other studies, such as those by the Journal of Nutrition have shown berries to be beneficial for diabetes as they have a chemical called anthocyanin that reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases ‘good’ cholesterol. This chemical also reduces insulin resistance and decreases fasting plasma glucose levels.
Cinnamon has also been proven beneficial in reducing blood glucose levels, lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol and increasing sensitivity to insulin so our body is more responsive to it. Other ingredients such as spearmint leaves and raspberry leaf are also suggested to have helpful properties for managing diabetes. This ingredient combination may enhance the effects of berry chemicals, however, research has not yet confirmed this.
The Menzies Institute have conducted pre-clinical trials testing regular intake of herbal blueberry tea and its effects on glucose levels. Gerard Spicer, a participant in one of these trials, found that introducing blueberry tea to his diet greatly reduced his glucose readings.
“Since [drinking the tea] I’ve been waking up with a more normal reading… very rarely high” – Gerard Spicer, trial participant
The tea includes raspberry leaf, spearmint and cinnamon as well as blueberry. Senior Research Fellow Michelle Keske has been studying the tea and its effects on diabetes, with the possible suggestion that it could reduce the need for insulin.
“The tea has enabled that hormone, insulin, to improve glucose uptake into muscle and by doing that it lowers blood glucose levels and it does that by stimulating blood flow”
– Michelle Keske, Senior Research Fellow, Menzies Institute
Keske believes the polyphenols and flavonoids in blueberries may be the vital ingredient in the tea. Currently, it is unknown if it is the blueberry alone that stimulates blood flow or if it is a combination of ingredients. Arguably, you could say it may be more beneficial to eat blueberries themselves as these would contain higher levels of polyphenols and flavonoids.
Green Tea to Increase Insulin Sensitivity
Diabetics will have a greater risk of developing heart disease. Suzanne Steinbaum is a Cardiologist and the Director of Women’s Heart Health at Lennox Hill Hospital. She has found that green tea is very beneficial for Type 2 diabetes and may help to lower your risk of heart disease.
Steinbaum has been researching Japanese studies and notes that people who drank 6 or more cups of green tea a day were 33% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than people who drank less than 1 cup of green tea a week.
Tea contains Polyphenols, these are natural antioxidants found in plants. As green tea contains higher levels of polyphenols than black tea this is better for diabetics. Polyphenols help reduce glucose and makes them ideal for preventing and controlling diabetes. Polyphenols are also great for anyone at risk of heart problems as they widen arteries, this reduces blood pressure, helps to prevent clotting and lower cholesterol.
Dr Stenibaum explains it is the Polyphenols that give the bright colours in fruit and vegetables. Unfermented leaves will contain higher levels of polyphenals and therefore green tea has a higher antioxident level than black tea.
Dr Steinbaum’s research supports the results of studies by the Menzies Institute which found blueberry tea to greatly reduce glucose levels. The brightly coloured berries contain a high level of polyphenols, so knowing these help reduce glucose, it is not surprising to find that blueberry tea lowers sugar levels.
A Potential Drug to Prevent Diabetes
The Menzies Institute have also been looking closely at the causes for Type 2 diabetes, in the hope of preventing the condition before it develops. The have discovered that insulin has a significant stimulatory effect on the flow of blood within our muscles. This also led to the discovery that increasing muscle blood flow will improve the access to insulin and the flow of glucose to the muscle cells.
With this new information, they are looking at how blood flow effects insulin up-take, and how this relationship can be used to improve insulin intake. Dr Stephen Richards is one of the researchers leading this study, along with Dr Keske and professor Stephen Rattigan. He gives hope that new drugs to stop Type 2 diabetes may be close to development:
“We are now actively investigating how insulin causes this blood flow effect, with a view to finding ways of enhancing it. As a result new drugs that reverse the impairment in insulin resistant states and prevent the onset of diabetes may soon be discovered.” – Dr. Stephen Richards, Lead Researcher, Menzies Institute
Looking at the results from recent diabetes studies, we can be confident that more efficient and manageable ways to administer insulin are under development. There is hope that we could have a cure for diabetes in the next decade or two.
For Type 2 diabetes we can look at not just sugar intake but also consider foods that may help to reduce sugar levels, such as herbal teas and brightly coloured berries.
We will keep our fingers crossed and hope for another medical breakthrough!
Please be advised that there are many on-going and completed diabetic studies and clinical trials. While we have picked some of these to discuss we are not disregarding other diabetes studies, this is a sample of the studies we located during our research. We hope it will keep you positive with the outlook of finding a long term cure for diabetes.
Late in 2015, 3M released their spares range in a handy new kit format. Combining diaphragms, rims and ear tips in one pack. The Littmann Cardiology III Spare Parts Kit is a cost-effective and convenient way of replacing worn-out stethoscope parts.
To learn how to safely swap to your Littmann Cardiology III spare parts, read our guide and watch our video below.
In November 2015, 3M brought out their Littmann Spare Parts Kit range for stethoscopes. Since then, we have been asked many times whether it is safe to change diaphragms, rims and earpieces yourself. The answer is a definite yes. To learn how to safely swap to your Littmann Classic II SE spare parts, read this guide and watch our video below.
Your CV is possibly the most important piece of paper in your medical career. Your medical CV can open doors to job interviews, create a positive impression with people you’ve never met, or kill your career hopes dead.
The principles of an excellent CV are the same whether you’re a nurse, a doctor, a paramedic or in any other healthcare role. It needs to be clear, concise, highly relevant to the role you’re applying for, and accurate. Continue reading How to Write a Medical CV→
Have you ever passed a box marked ‘AED’ or ‘life-saving device’ and wondered: “What is a defibrillator?” They’re appearing in public places all over the UK, with the intention of making it easier to prevent deaths from cardiac arrests. As defibrillators become more commonplace, it’s useful to know how they work and how to go about using one.
There are various types of defibrillator. The AED, or automated external defibrillator, is the version you’re most likely to encounter, as it’s these that are appearing on streets and in busy venues such as sports centres and railway stations.