Ask The Doctor
Find out if your blood pressure is on the rise.
With Dr Ahmed Adam
Q: What is the normal blood pressure range? --A: Blood pressure measurements consist of two numbers systolic and diastolic.
measurement is the pressure of blood against your artery walls when the heart
has just finished pumping. It is the first or top number of a blood pressure
Normal blood pressure for an adult over the age of 18 is less than 130 for the systolic pressure and less than 85 for diastolic.
Blood pressure levels at or above 140 over 90 are considered high and can lead to heart, artery and/or kidney damage; atherosclerosis and stroke.
called a "silent killer'' because it does not usually cause symptoms. So
know your numbers and get checked out.
Do topical acne medications containing salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide have
an effect on fetuses? --
Nevena, acne at any age is no fun. And pregnancy is known to cause skin changes.
and salicylic acid are both popular over-the-counter topical medicines effective
against mild acne.
nonprescription creams are considered safe to use, but the FDA classifies them
in category "C", which means their effects on a fetus are not known.
So please check with your health-care provider.
Nurses too busy to take bathroom breaks
nurses are putting are putting their health at risk because they are too busy to
take a toilet break, a survey said today.
All call centre operators questioned said it was difficult to take a toilet
break except during lunch or other designated breaks.
The research, by laxative maker Ex-Lax, also showed 85% of nurses and 75% of teachers found themselves skipping loo breaks because of work patterns.
Jeanette Haslam, a clinical
specialist and lecturer at East London University, said: ``Many people do not
realise that they are already suffering from the effects of putting off a trip
to the loo. Most commonly, they complain of stomach pain, nausea and bloating -
many of the symptoms associated with constipation, which affects nine million
people in the UK.''
She added that along with
physical symptoms, putting off toilet trips could also cause psychological
problems such as lethargy, indecisiveness and poor concentration.
Craig Shaw from Ex-Lax
added: ``Discussing going to the toilet is still taboo in polite society, but
people should never put off going to loo, it can lead to all manner of
Malaria drugs for travelers under debate
Saturday, November 30, 2002
of the several million Travelers who travel to malaria-plagued countries
come home healthy thanks to
swallowing protective drugs during the trip.
But the number
sickened each year because they didn't take those pills has risen by a few
hundred since the mid-1990s. Even as tourism in developing countries grows, too
many travelers don't know to take anti-malaria medicines -- or skip them from
worry about side effects, such as rare psychiatric symptoms linked to Lariam,
the most-prescribed drug.
Don't expect a
parasite has developed resistance to that old standby drug, chloroquine, in most
of the world, rendering it largely useless. That leaves most travelers three
options: Lariam, a newer and possibly safer drug called Malarone, and the
one-week business traveler vs. your teenage backpacker across Africa have very
different risks," agreed Dr. Kevin Kain, director of the University of
Toronto's Center for Travel and Tropical Medicine.
All three drugs
"work well if you take them," Kain said. Customizing the prescription
to each patient's health and destination can limit side effects, ensuring
travelers don't abandon their pills.
Lariam isn't supposed to be used by anyone with depression, a history of other
psychiatric disorders, or epilepsy. Also, it's losing effectiveness in parts of
Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar. On the other hand, Lariam is the only
once-a-week pill; the others require remembering a daily dose.
But the backpacker
spending three months amid malaria-carrying mosquitoes may want the cheapest
option, doxycycline. The busy executive may prefer Malarone because treatment
ends one week after returning home; the other two drugs must be taken for a
month after returning to kill any still-lurking malaria.
Large areas of
Central and South America, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Africa, the Indian
subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania are considered
malaria-risk areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Adding to the
complex decision, the Food and Drug Administration recently took two steps that
may influence prescriptions:
FDA strengthened warnings that Lariam may cause psychiatric side effects ranging
from anxiety and dreams to hallucinations, depression, occasionally even
psychotic behavior. Those risks have long been known, but the updated warnings
stress that people with active or recent depression and other risk factors
shouldn't take Lariam.
However, the FDA
cautions that the drug's alleged link to suicide has not been proven, and calls
Lariam an important option. Travel-medicine specialists estimate serious side
effects occur in one in 10,000 to one in 15,000 Lariam users.
the FDA added to competitor Malarone's label results of a new study of 1,000
travelers that favorably compared Malarone to Lariam. The drugs appeared equally
effective, but 5 percent of Lariam users had side effects bothersome enough to
stop the drug, compared with 1.2 percent of Malarone users, says Kain. The
Toronto physician headed the study funded by Malarone maker GlaxoSmithKline. The
side effects were bothersome but not serious.
risk-free -- people with serious kidney damage can't use it -- and after just
two years of sales, it doesn't have Lariam's 17-year track record. Likewise,
doxycycline's side effects include nausea, heartburn, sunburn and, for women,
and disadvantages are the reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
wants to debate the matter at its January meeting, before it updates the
government's official health advice for travelers.
specialists advise people heading for developing countries to consult a travel
clinic or other doctor with specific expertise in the destination; a regular
doctor might not know they need anti-malaria pills, much less which one. Give
the clinic a complete history of medical or psychiatric problems.
"It's not in any of our interests to make people sick with malaria drugs. What we're trying to do is stop people from coming back in body bags from their holiday," Kain said.
AIDS Day warns of HIV spread
Saturday -- the eve of World AIDS Day -- UNAIDS head Peter Piot said the social
prejudice suffered by people with AIDS could be as destructive as the disease
"Discrimination and stigma continue to stand as barriers.
silences individuals and communities, saps their strength, increases their
vulnerability, isolates people and deprives them of care of support.
break down these barriers or the epidemic will have no chance of being pushed
back," he added.
Piot said Africa's
HIV/AIDS epidemic was fuelling a widening and increasingly serious famine threat
in southern Africa, where more than 14 million people in Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe face critical food shortages.
combining with other factors including droughts, floods and in some cases
short-sighted national and international policies cause a steady fall in
agricultural production and to cut deep into household income," he said.
As nations prepared to mark World AIDS Day, the UK revealed that the number of new cases of HIV looks set to rise by 25 percent.
Dr Kevin Fenton,
head of the HIV and STI division of the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance
Centre, told the Press Association: "We now appear to be seeing more than
twice as many new HIV diagnoses each year than we were at the end of the 1990s.
"We were very
concerned last year when we saw a record number of new HIV diagnoses but these
latest figures are even more disturbing.
"We are not
only diagnosing infections that were acquired many years ago. HIV is a current,
not historical problem."
To mark World AIDS Day on Sunday, an eastern Indian state plans to unfurl what local officials say is the longest banner ever.
Up to 100,000
people -- mostly students campaigning to raise awareness about AIDS -- will sign
the banner, which will be displayed on the main street of the state capital,
About 4 million people in India are affected with HIV, according to the government.
P. Diddy gets a hug from an adoring fan while visiting South Africa.
visiting South Africa.
South Africa U.S. rapper Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs will headline MTV's
"Staying Alive Concert" to be broadcast globally to mark World AIDS
that one child dies every minute from AIDS complications and one in five people
"This is a
human race war," he said. "And we shouldn't be able to go to sleep at
night ... with the knowledge that there are millions and millions of people
dying in Africa."
In February, U2 singer Bono joined Microsoft founder Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum to bring attention to several issues confronting Africans, including AIDS.
"What's going on is actually a crisis of the order never experienced
before. I think HIV-AIDS has set back development to the point where we're
living with statistics that we should not be living with. It's an everyday