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Micro plastics: A Silent Threat to Reproductive Health and Fertility

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Dr. Asmita Pandey

Reviewed by Dr. Asmita Pandey, Fertility Expert, M.D. (OB/GYN) 

Microplastics, often abbreviated as MPs, are small plastic particles under 5 millimeters that are now widely recognized as an environmental issue. They have made their way into our water systems and the broader food chain, prompting extensive studies on how they might affect reproduction in different species, humans included. This article explores the possible ways in which microplastics could be affecting reproductive health and fertility.

Oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is a cellular phenomenon that happens when there’s a mismatch between the creation of free radicals, like reactive oxygen species (ROS), and the body’s antioxidant defenses that neutralize their damaging effects This mismatch can cause harm to cells and tissues, playing a role in various diseases and the aging process. (Pizzino et al., 2017).

When it comes to microplastics (MPs), oxidative stress is a major issue. MPs can cause oxidative stress by interfering with the cells’ electron transfer processes, which results in an excess of ROS. These ROS can harm important cellular components such as lipids, proteins, and DNA, all vital for cell health and function (Abdal Dayem et al., 2017). For example, research has indicated that MPs exposure can increase ROS in oyster sperm, leading to reduced fertilization success. Likewise, studies on rats have shown that polystyrene MPs (PS-MPs) can induce oxidative stress in ovarian cells, affecting ovulation (Ferrante et al., 2022)

Hormonal Havoc: Disrupting the HPG Axis

The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal (HPG) Axis is an essential hormonal system that controls reproductive functions. It’s a network involving the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonads (ovaries or testes), which are responsible for producing and regulating sex hormones vital for reproductive health. (Mikhael et al., 2019)

Microplastics (MPs) have been identified as disruptors of the HPG Axis, causing hormonal imbalances that could impact fertility. Research has indicated that exposure to polystyrene MPs (PS-MPs) in male mice can lower testosterone levels and affect the balance of other important hormones such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormonal alterations can hinder the growth and maturation of reproductive organs, adversely affecting the development of offspring (Zhang et al., 2022). In female mice, exposure to MPs has resulted in similar hormonal disturbances, with changes observed in FSH and estradiol levels. (Liu et al., 2021)

Regarding reproductive success, it’s known to be an energy-demanding process that relies on ample resources for the creation of gametes, fertilization, and embryo growth. MPs pose a threat to an organism’s energy metabolism, which can influence reproductive success.

Evidence suggests that MPs can modify the patterns of food intake and energy distribution within organisms, which may lead to a decrease in reproductive output (Jewett et al., 2022). For example, studies on oysters have shown that MPs can reduce the activity of enzymes that are crucial for energy production during sperm development. This reduction could lead to sperm quality issues and, consequently, affect the viability of the offspring. (Sussarellu et al., 2016)

Microcirculation Woes: A New Frontier

Microcirculation is the process of blood flow through the body’s tiniest vessels, like capillaries. It’s crucial for supplying tissues with nutrients and oxygen and for eliminating waste. Any interference with microcirculation can greatly affect reproductive health.

Recent research has shown that microplastics (MPs) can negatively impact microcirculation. This can cause developmental issues and raise the mortality rate of embryos in water-dwelling species such as zebrafish. For instance, exposure to MPs and nanoparticles (NPs) has been linked to microcirculation damage, especially in vital areas like the tail, which is important for proper growth. (Zhang et al., 2022)

Human Health Implications

The increasing concern about microplastics (MPs) and their effect on human reproductive health is quite substantial. There has been a noticeable decrease in male semen quality over the last 80 years, and environmental pollutants, including MPs, are suspected to be contributing factors. Insights from animal studies have highlighted potential mechanisms through which MPs may influence health, such as oxidative stress, inflammation, and hormonal disturbances.

Direct research on the impact of MP exposure on male infertility in humans is not yet available, but animal studies have suggested a minimum human equivalent dose of MPs that could result in poor semen quality. This dose is estimated to be 0.016 mg/kg/day. The proximity of this figure to the levels of MP exposure observed in some countries points to a possible threat to human reproductive health. It underscores the importance of ongoing research to fully understand the effects and to develop appropriate exposure guidelines.

Conclusion

The research collectively points to a considerable risk that microplastics (MPs) present to reproductive health in various species. It’s vital to grasp the damaging mechanisms—like oxidative stress, hormonal imbalance, energy shortage, and microcirculation problems—to devise ways to lessen their effects. With MPs increasingly becoming a part of our environment, it becomes more pressing to confront their reproductive consequences. This calls for thorough policy-making and additional studies to safeguard human health. 

For further information about reproductive health, please book your consultation with fertility expert here.

REFERENCES

  1. Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, Pallio G, Mannino F, Arcoraci V, Squadrito F, Altavilla D, Bitto A. Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:8416763. doi: 10.1155/2017/8416763. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28819546; PMCID: PMC5551541.
  2. Abdal Dayem A, Hossain MK, Lee SB, Kim K, Saha SK, Yang GM, Choi HY, Cho SG. The Role of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) in the Biological Activities of Metallic Nanoparticles. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jan 10;18(1):120. doi: 10.3390/ijms18010120. PMID: 28075405; PMCID: PMC5297754.
  3. Ferrante MC, Monnolo A, Del Piano F, Mattace Raso G, Meli R. The Pressing Issue of Micro- and Nanoplastic Contamination: Profiling the Reproductive Alterations Mediated by Oxidative Stress. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Jan 19;11(2):193. doi: 10.3390/antiox11020193. PMID: 35204076; PMCID: PMC8868557.
  4. Mikhael S, Punjala-Patel A, Gavrilova-Jordan L. Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis Disorders Impacting Female Fertility. Biomedicines. 2019 Jan 4;7(1):5. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines7010005. PMID: 30621143; PMCID: PMC6466056.
  5. Zhang C, Chen J, Ma S, Sun Z, Wang Z. Microplastics May Be a Significant Cause of Male Infertility. American Journal of Men’s Health. 2022;16(3). doi:10.1177/15579883221096549
  6. Liu, Z., Zhuan, Q., Zhang, L., Meng, L., Fu, X., & Hou, Y. (2021). Polystyrene microplastics induced female reproductive toxicity in mice. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 416, 125912. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125912
  7. Jewett E, Arnott G, Connolly L, Vasudevan N, Kevei E. Microplastics and Their Impact on Reproduction-Can we Learn From the C. elegans Model? Front Toxicol. 2022 Mar 24;4:748912. doi: 10.3389/ftox.2022.748912. PMID: 35399297; PMCID: PMC8987311.
  8. Sussarellu, R., Suquet, M., Thomas, Y., et al. (2016). Oyster reproduction is affected by exposure to polystyrene microplastics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(9), 2430-2435. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1519019113

 

Exercise and aging: maintaining mobility and independence

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Reviewed by Liza Nagarkoti , BSc Nursing, MA(Nutrition), Project Officer (Health) LWF Nepal

As we age, maintaining mobility and independence become increasingly important. Exercise is an effective way to promote these qualities and to prevent age-related health problems. In this article, we will explore the role of exercise in aging, the benefits of exercise for older adults, and how to safely and effectively exercise as you age.

The Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

Exercise is essential for maintaining physical and mental health as we age. Regular exercise can help:

Improve balance and coordination – This can help prevent falls, which are a common cause of injury and loss of independence in older adults.

Maintain muscle mass and bone density – Regular strength training can help maintain muscle mass and bone density, which can decrease the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Improve cardiovascular health – Regular aerobic exercise can improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Improve mood and cognitive function – Exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve cognitive function. Safe and Effective Ways to Exercise at Home

Start slow and gradually increase intensity – If you are new to exercise or have not exercised in a while, start with low-impact activities like walking or yoga, and gradually increase intensity as your fitness improves.

Choose activities you enjoy – The best exercise is the one that you will stick with. Choose activities that you enjoy and that are appropriate for your fitness level.

Incorporate strength training – Strength training is important for maintaining muscle mass and bone density. Use weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises to improve strength.

Be mindful of your body – Listen to your body and be mindful of any pain or discomfort. If something doesn’t feel right, stop the exercise and consult with your doctor or a qualified fitness professional.

Incorporate balance and flexibility exercises – Balance and flexibility exercises are important for maintaining mobility and preventing falls. Yoga, tai chi, and stretching exercises can help improve balance and flexibility.

Exercise and Aging: Maintaining Mobility and Independence

As we age, our bodies change, and we may experience a decrease in mobility and independence. Exercise can help slow down these changes and improve overall health and well-being. Recent research has shown that regular exercise can help older adults maintain their ability to perform daily tasks and improve their quality of life.

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that a program of moderate-intensity exercise, including strength and balance training, improved mobility and prevented disability in older adults. Another study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found that regular exercise improved balance, gait, and mobility in older adults with Parkinson’s disease.

In conclusion, exercise is an essential component of healthy aging. By incorporating safe and effective exercise into your daily routine, you can improve your physical and mental health, maintain your mobility and independence, and improve your quality of life. Consult with your doctor or a qualified fitness professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.

REFERENCES

 

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical Activity and Health. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/index.htm
  • Rikli RE, Jones CJ. Development and validation of a functional fitness test for community-residing older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 1999; 7:129-61.
  • Keysor JJ. Does late-life physical activity or exercise prevent or minimize disablement? A critical review of the scientific evidence. Am J Prev Med. 2003; 25:129-36.
  • Pahor M, Blair SN, Espeland M, et al. Effects of a physical activity intervention on measures of physical performance: Results of the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders Pilot (LIFE-P) study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2006; 61:1157-65.
  • Petruzzello SJ, Landers DM, Hatfield BD, et al. A meta-analysis on the anxiety- reducing effects of acute and chronic exercise. Sports Med. 1991; 11:143-82.
  • Fiatarone MA, O’Neill EF, Ryan ND, et al. Exercise training and nutritional supplementation for physical frailty in very elderly people. N Engl J Med. 1994; 330:1769-75.
  • Campbell AJ, Robertson MC. Rethinking individual and community fall prevention strategies: A meta-regression comparing single and multifactorial interventions. Age Ageing. 2007; 36:656-62.2.

Tubal Blockages and Infertility: Understanding Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Dr. Asmita Pandey

Reviewed by Dr. Asmita Pandey, Fertility Expert , M.D. (OB/GYN) 

Infertility is a complex and emotionally charged issue that affects many couples worldwide. Among the various causes, tubal factor infertility is a key concern, as it involves blockages in the fallopian tubes which are crucial for egg transportation and fertilization. This article explores the intricacies of tubal blockages, including their causes, methods for diagnosis, and the treatment options available.

Understanding the Causes of Fallopian Tube Blockages

Fallopian tube blockages can arise from a variety of medical conditions:

  • Female Genital Tuberculosis (FGTB):Tuberculosis can lead to both primary and secondary infertility, with a significant percentage of FGTB cases resulting in tubal blockages. The disease can cause unilateral and bilateral blockages, damage to the tubal cilia, and adhesions that affect fertilization and implantation (Sharma et al., 2018).
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID):This infection of the female reproductive organs is often caused by sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia or gonorrhea. The inflammation and scarring from PID can lead to obstructions in the fallopian tubes. (Jennings & Krywko, 2018)
  • Endometriosis:A condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of it, endometriosis can lead to the formation of adhesions and blockages in the fallopian tubes. (Smolarz, Szyłło, & Romanowicz, 2021)
  • Prior Surgeries:Surgical procedures in the abdominal or pelvic area, such as those for appendicitis or ectopic pregnancies, can result in scarring that may constrict the fallopian tubes. (Ghobrial, Ott, & Parry, 2023)
  • Hydrosalpinx:This occurs when a blocked fallopian tube fills with fluid, often as a result of infection, endometriosis, or past surgeries. (Lai, Masten, & Markese, 2024)

Diagnosing Tubal Factor Infertility

To diagnose tubal factor infertility, several methods are employed:

  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG):An X-ray procedure that uses a special dye to reveal blockages or structural irregularities in the fallopian
  • Sonosalpingogram (SSG):This technique uses ultrasound imaging and a saline solution to evaluate the health of the fallopian tubes and uterus.
  • Laparoscopy:A minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows for the direct visualization of the fallopian tubes to detect blockages, scar tissue, and endometriosis.
  • HyCoSy:An ultrasound technique that assesses whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked by using a fluid containing small bubbles (Women’s Imaging, n.d.).

Treatment Options to Restore Fertility

The treatment for tubal blockages varies based on the severity and location of the obstruction:

  • Salpingectomy:The surgical removal of one or both fallopian tubes, which can improve the chances of successful IVF treatment (Strandell et al.1999).
  • Selective Tubal Cannulation:A nonsurgical technique that uses X-ray guidance to clear blockages near the uterus. This method is an excellent alternative to microsurgical tubal anastomosis (Watrelot & Chauvi, 2011)
  • Tubal Reanastomosis and Fimbrioplasty:Surgical procedures that either reverse a tubal ligation or repair damaged parts of the fallopian tube (Alberta Health Services, n.d.).
  • Salpingostomy:A procedure that creates a new opening at the blocked end of the fallopian tube, often near the ovary. (Singhal, 2022)
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):A process where eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilized in a lab, with the resulting embryos transferred to the uterus, bypassing the fallopian tubes.

The Future of Tubal Factor Infertility Treatment

Research continues to advance in the field of reproductive medicine:

  • 3D Imaging and Robotic Surgery:These technologies are improving the precision of surgical procedures for tubal repair (Alkatout et al., 2024).
  • Tissue Regeneration:Strategies are being explored to regenerate damaged fallopian tube tissue, offering a potentially less invasive approach to restoring fertility (Sethi et al., 2024).

Conclusion

Choosing the optimal treatment for tubal blockages is a highly personalized decision. It requires the expertise of a fertility specialist who can navigate the best options, taking into account factors such as the woman’s age, the extent of tubal damage, and the cause of the blockage.

For further information, please book your consultation with expert here.

REFERENCES

  1. Sharma JB, Sharma E, Sharma S, Dharmendra S. Female genital tuberculosis: Revisited. Indian J Med Res. 2018 Dec;148(Suppl):S71-S83. doi: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_648_18. PMID: 30964083; PMCID: PMC6469382.
  2. Jennings, L. K., & Krywko, D. M. (2018). Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from https://europepmc.org/article/MED/29763134
  3. Smolarz B, Szyłło K, Romanowicz H. Endometriosis: Epidemiology, Classification, Pathogenesis, Treatment and Genetics (Review of Literature). Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Sep 29;22(19):10554. doi: 10.3390/ijms221910554. PMID: 34638893; PMCID: PMC8508982.
  4. Ghobrial S, Ott J, Parry JP. An Overview of Postoperative Intraabdominal Adhesions and Their Role on Female Infertility: A Narrative Review. J Clin Med. 2023 Mar 15;12(6):2263. doi: 10.3390/jcm12062263. PMID: 36983263; PMCID: PMC10051311.
  5. Lai JM, Masten M, Markese A. Development of Hydrosalpinx After Prior Vaginal Hysterectomy and Bilateral Salpingectomy. Cureus. 2024 Jan 19;16(1):e52573. doi: 10.7759/cureus.52573. PMID: 38371103; PMCID: PMC10870105.
  6. Strandell A, Lindhard A, Waldenström U, Thorburn J, Janson PO, Hamberger L. Hydrosalpinx and IVF outcome: a prospective, randomized multicentre trial in Scandinavia on salpingectomy prior to IVF. Hum Reprod. 1999 Nov;14(11):2762-9. doi: 10.1093/humrep/14.11.2762. PMID: 10548619.
  7. Watrelot, A., & Chauvi, G. (2011). Current practice in tubal surgery and adhesion management: A review. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 23, 53–62. doi:10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.05.010
  8. MyHealth Alberta. (n.d.). Fallopian tube procedures for infertility. Retrieved from https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=hw203637
  9. Singhal, S. (2022, August 24). What is Salpingostomy? Birla Fertility & IVF. Retrieved from https://birlafertility.com/blogs/what-is-salpingostomy/
  10. Women’s Imaging. (n.d.). Hystero-Salpingo Contrast Sonography (HyCoSy). Retrieved from https://womensimaging.net.au/what-we-do/gynaecology/hysterosalpingo-contrast-sonography/

Silent crisis on your plate: declining food quality

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Sanjogta Thapa Magar

Reviewed by Sanjogta Thapa Magar, Food Microbiologist

In an era marked by rapid advancements in food production and seemingly endless choices, a concerning paradox has emerged: the overall quality of our food appears to be in decline. This trend has far-reaching implications for public health, environmental sustainability, and the very enjoyment we derive from our meals. While the causes are complex and intertwined, several key factors contribute to this erosion of food quality.

A primary culprit lies in the intensification of industrial agriculture. Driven by demands for higher yields and lower costs, this model often prioritizes quantity over quality. The heavy reliance on monocropping, where vast swaths of land are devoted to a single crop, depletes soil nutrients and reduces biodiversity. A study published in the journal “Nature” found that intensive agriculture leads to significant declines in essential micronutrients in crops   (Assunção et al., 2022). Furthermore, the widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in this system contributes to a buildup of potentially harmful residues in our food supply and disrupts delicate soil ecosystems.

The decline in nutritional value extends to animal-based products as well. Factory farming methods, where animals are raised in confined spaces and fed diets designed for rapid weight gain, often produce meat and dairy products lower in beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. A meta-analysis published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” revealed that organic milk and meat contain significantly higher levels of omega-3s, a finding with implications for heart health (Średnicka-Tober et al., 2016). These industrial practices not only diminish food quality but also contribute to environmental degradation and raise ethical concerns about animal welfare.

The rise of ultra-processed foods represents another significant threat to food quality. Designed for convenience and long shelf life, these products are often heavily laden with refined sugars, unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial additives. Their omnipresence in supermarkets and aggressive marketing can displace the consumption of whole, minimally processed foods. Research increasingly links diets high in ultra-processed foods with a higher risk of chronic diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (Monteiro et al., 2019). Ultra-processed foods tend to be low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, essentially replacing nutrient-dense options with empty calories.

Furthermore, the pursuit of visual perfection and extended shelf life in the food industry has led to the selective breeding of fruits and vegetables for uniformity and durability rather than flavor or nutritional content. This practice can result in produce that is visually appealing but bland and less nutritious compared to heirloom varieties. Studies have shown that modern varieties of certain fruits and vegetables can have lower levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds than their older counterparts (Davis et al., 2004).

Globalization of the food supply chain, while bringing wider choices, also has downsides. Food transported over long distances often requires harvesting produce before it has fully ripened, compromising both taste and nutrients. The extended storage and transportation periods involved also necessitate higher levels of preservatives and artificial ripening techniques. This focus on non-perishability sacrifices the natural peak-season goodness of whole foods.

Economic pressures can further impact food quality. Consumers seeking lower prices may unknowingly incentivize production methods that cut corners by emphasizing mass output over the use of higher-quality ingredients or sustainable practices. This pressure can especially damage small-scale food producers who may struggle to compete with industrial operations.

Addressing the decline in food quality requires multi-faceted solutions. Supporting local and sustainable agriculture, where possible, helps shift away from industrial models and promotes growing practices that prioritize soil health and biodiversity. Choosing organic options can reduce exposure to pesticide residues and support agricultural methods that are more environmentally responsible. Moreover, prioritizing whole, minimally processed foods over ultra-processed options is a vital step toward a healthier diet.

Consumer awareness and education play a crucial role. Understanding food labels, seeking out seasonal produce, and rediscovering the art of home cooking can empower individuals to make informed choices and regain control over the quality of their food. Advocacy for policies that promote transparency in food labeling, support sustainable agriculture, and limit the marketing of unhealthy foods to children is also essential for systemic change.

While improving food quality may not be easy, it’s undoubtedly necessary. By recognizing the root causes of this decline and actively supporting alternatives, we can reclaim a food system that nourishes our bodies and the planet.

REFERENCES

  1. Assunção, A. G. L., Cakmak, I., Clemens, S., González-Guerrero, M., Nawrocki, A., & Thomine, S. (2022). Micronutrient homeostasis in plants for more sustainable agriculture and healthier human nutrition. Journal of Experimental Botany, 73(6), 1789-1800. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erac014
  2. Średnicka-Tober, D., Barański, M., Seal, C. J., Sanderson, R., Benbrook, C., Steinshamn, H., … & Mattei, J. (2016). Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol, and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: A systematic review and meta- and redundancy analyses. British Journal of Nutrition, 115(6), 1043–1060. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114515005073
  3. Monteiro, C. A., Cannon, G., Levy, R. B., Moubarac, J.-C., Louzada, M. L. C., Rauber, F., Khandpur, N., Cediel, G., Neri, D., & Martinez-Steele, E. (2019). Ultra-processed foods: What they are and how to identify them. Public Health Nutrition, 22(5), 936–941. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980018003762
  4. Davis, Donald R., et al. “Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vol. 23, no. 6, 2004, pp. 669–682.

Sexual Health after Prostate Surgery: Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Recovery

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Dr. Asmita Pandey

Reviewed by Dr. Erena Pradhan, Consultant Urologist, MS, MCH

The Journey to Recovery

Prostate cancer treatments, especially the surgical procedure known as radical prostatectomy, have profound effects on a man’s sexual health. This operation can alter erectile function, ejaculation, and overall sexual contentment (Hyun 2012). Both patients and healthcare providers need to grasp the intricacies of sexual health following prostate surgery to tackle these challenges and discover successful recovery strategies effectively.

Sexual Health and Prostate Surgery

Radical prostatectomy, a gold standard method for treating localized prostate cancer, may cause a range of postoperative sexual health concerns. One of the most common issues is erectile dysfunction caused by damage to the nerves that control erections (Bratu et al. 2017). While nerve-sparing surgeries are designed to reduce this risk, they’re not suitable for everyone, and some men may face persistent erectile dysfunction that necessitates continued support for fulfilling sexual activity. (Cancer Research UK, 2023).

Post-surgery, men might also encounter ejaculation issues, most commonly retrograde ejaculation, which is caused by destruction of the natural mechanism of preventing the backflow of semen into the urinary bladder. Also in radical prostatectomy, lack of seminal fluid production, leads to what’s known as dry orgasms (orgasm without ejaculation), which can alter the physical sensation of climax (Koren & Koren, 2020). Additionally, the removal of the prostate gland can change sexual sensations during anal intercourse, potentially affecting sexual pleasure and intimacy, particularly in same-sex relationships. (Alexis & Worsley, 2018).

Pathways to Sexual Health Recovery

Addressing the sexual health challenges after prostate surgery involves a variety of strategies and interventions to aid patients in reclaiming sexual function and satisfaction. Penile rehabilitation programs are vital in fostering erectile recovery by preserving the oxygenation of penile tissue and muscle health, as well as aiding nerve healing. (Müller et al., 2008) (Elliott & Matthew, 2017)

Medical treatments, including oral medications like sildenafil and tadalafil, can improve blood flow to the penis, aiding in achieving erections. For cases where more conservative treatments don’t yield results, vacuum devices and penile implants provide alternative solutions for erectile dysfunction (Wang et al., 2023). These methods are geared towards restoring penile erection and enhancing sexual performance after surgery.

A Holistic Approach to Sexual Well-being: 

Confronting the sexual health changes following prostate surgery which is often an unspoken aspect demands a holistic strategy that considers both the physical and psychological facets of sexual wellness. With an understanding of the potential complexities introduced by prostate cancer treatments and the implementation of personalized recovery plans, patients can improve their quality of life and rediscover gratifying sexual experiences.

In summary, active management of sexual health problems after prostate surgery through counselling, rehabilitation, and medical treatments is crucial in aiding patients on their path to restoring sexual function.  Healthcare providers can combine their medical knowledge with comprehensive care practices to help individuals effectively navigate the complexities of sexual health following prostate cancer therapy.

REFERENCES

  1. Hyun JS. Prostate cancer and sexual function. World J Mens Health. 2012 Aug;30(2):99-107. doi: 10.5534/wjmh.2012.30.2.99. Epub 2012 Aug 31. PMID: 23596596; PMCID: PMC3623527.
  2. Bratu O, Oprea I, Marcu D, Spinu D, Niculae A, Geavlete B, Mischianu D. Erectile dysfunction post-radical prostatectomy – a challenge for both patient and physician. J Med Life. 2017 Jan-Mar;10(1):13-18. PMID: 28255370; PMCID: PMC5304365.
  3. Cancer Research UK. (2023). Sex and erection problems after treatment for prostate cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancercenter.com/community/blog/2023/06/sex-after-prostate-cancer
  4. Koren G, Koren D. Retrograde Ejaculation-a Commonly Unspoken Aspect of Prostatectomy for Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. Am J Mens Health. 2020 Mar-Apr;14(2):1557988320910870. doi: 10.1177/1557988320910870. PMID: 32146870; PMCID: PMC7065283.
  5. Alexis O, Worsley AJ. The Experiences of Gay and Bisexual Men Post-Prostate Cancer Treatment: A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Studies. Am J Mens Health. 2018 Nov;12(6):2076-2088. doi: 10.1177/1557988318793785. Epub 2018 Aug 16. PMID: 30112965; PMCID: PMC6199434.
  6. Müller, A., Tal, R., Donohue, J. F., Akin-Olugbade, Y., Kobylarz, K., Paduch, D., Cutter, S. C., Mehrara, B. J., Scardino, P. T., & Mulhall, J. P. (2008). The effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on erectile function recovery in a rat cavernous nerve injury model. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5(3), 562-570. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00727.x
  7. Elliott, S., & Matthew, A. (2017). Sexual Recovery Following Prostate Cancer: Recommendations From 2 Established Canadian Sexual Rehabilitation Clinics. Retrieved from https://pcscprogram.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Sexual-Recovery-after-Prostate-Cancer-Elliott-Matthews.pdf
  8. Wang CM, Wu BR, Xiang P, Xiao J, Hu XC. Management of male erectile dysfunction: From the past to the future. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2023 Feb 27;14:1148834. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2023.1148834. PMID: 36923224; PMCID: PMC10008940.

The unseen risks of synthetic fragrance: Safeguarding your health

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Dr. Kishor Adhikari

Reviewed by Prof Dr. Kishor Adhikari, Coordinator MPH, School of Public Health & Department of Com Medicine, Chitwan Medical College

Let’s step into a room with the fresh smell of clean sheets or sweet vanilla. These scents are part of our everyday life, offering a quick getaway for our noses. But what if these nice smells are hiding something harmful? This article takes a closer look at synthetic fragrances, showing the health risks they might have and how we can stay safe.

Fragrances are everywhere in products we use all the time. They might stay on our skin like in creams and perfumes, get washed off like in shampoos or shaving creams, or be part of things we use around the house. These products have chemicals that can make our skin react and, if we’re exposed to them enough, can cause skin allergies. (van Amerongen et al., 2021).

The chemical composition of Synthetic fragrances:

It’s quite shocking to learn that about 95% of the chemicals used in synthetic fragrances come from petroleum (Landrigan et al., 2023). This includes not just any chemicals, but some really nasty ones like benzene derivatives, which are known to cause cancer, and a whole bunch of other toxic stuff (Steinemann, 2016). So, every time we enjoy these scents, we’re actually exposing ourselves to a dangerous mix of chemicals, often without realizing it (Sarantis et al., 2010).

Synthetic fragrances are more than just a pleasant aroma in the air; they mess with our body’s hormonal system (Diamanti-Kandarakis et al., 2009). It’s like they crash the body’s system, setting off a chain reaction of health problems that can affect everything from our ability to have children to increasing the risk of hormone-related cancers (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2024).

The inhalation of synthetic fragrance can cause trouble for someone with asthma, setting off symptoms that can be really tough to deal with (Rádis-Baptista, 2023). It’s sad that the scents we use to relax or feel good might actually make it hard to breathe.

When it comes to our skin, it can react badly to synthetic fragrances, leading to irritation or even allergies (van Amerongen et al., 2021). What’s meant to make us feel nice and smell great can sometimes end up causing a lot of discomfort instead.

 Health Risks associated with synthetic fragrances:

Fragrances do more than just make us feel good; they might also help with stress and boost our memory. But there’s a downside. They can cause a bunch of health issues, like skin irritation, allergies, reactions that aren’t just rashes, sensitivity to sunlight, and other sudden skin problems. These issues can really mess with our day-to-day life and how we enjoy it.  (Pastor-Nieto & Gatica-Ortega, 2021).

Respiratory Distress:

The inhalation of synthetic fragrances can be a silent trigger for respiratory issues, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions like asthma. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in these fragrances can irritate the airways, leading to asthma attacks and exacerbating chronic lung diseases (Rádis-Baptista, 2023). Moreover, a study by the (Bălă et al., 2021) has highlighted that long-term exposure to certain VOCs can result in serious respiratory complications, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) It is possible that inhalation exposure of those with asthma, or otherwise susceptible individuals, to fragrance materials (and/or other components of domestic cleaning products) might trigger or exacerbate an asthmatic reaction (Basketter, Huggard, & Kimber, 2019)

Skin Irritation and Allergies: More than Skin Deep Synthetic fragrances are a common cause of contact dermatitis, a type of skin inflammation that results in itchy, red, and sometimes painful rashes. These fragrances contain allergens that can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, making it more susceptible to irritation (van Amerongen et al., 2021). Furthermore, research has shown that certain fragrance compounds can sensitize the skin, leading to allergic reactions upon subsequent exposures  (Giménez-Arnau, 2019)

Cancer Risk: The Scented Shadow Perhaps the most alarming risk associated with synthetic fragrances is their potential link to cancer. Benzene derivatives, commonly found in these fragrances, are classified as carcinogens and have been associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma (Kazemi et al. 2022). A recent study has also raised concerns about the presence of other carcinogenic compounds in synthetic fragrances, suggesting a possible connection to breast and ovarian cancers (Steinemann, 2016).

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS): MCS is triggered by exposure to low levels of common contaminants, even at concentrations considered non-toxic for the general population. Imagine navigating a world where everyday scents transform into adversaries. (Zucco & Doty, 2021).

Chemical Intolerance (CI): CI is a condition resulting from exposure to odorous or pungent substances, impacting both physiology and brain function. Individuals with CI may process sensory information differently, experiencing heightened activity in the amygdala, responsible for emotions and fear responses. This heightened sensitivity may result in both physical and psychological distress. (Azuma et al., 2019).

Strategies to Minimize Exposure

Read Labels Carefully: Scrutinize product labels for the term “fragrance” and opt for those with transparent ingredient lists. Seek out brands that disclose the specific components of their fragrances.

Choose Natural Alternatives: Favor products scented with natural essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances. These oils not only provide delightful scents but also offer therapeutic benefits. Essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus can uplift mood without compromising health.

Ventilate Indoor Spaces: Proper ventilation helps reduce indoor fragrance exposure. Open windows, utilize air purifiers, and minimize the use of air fresheners. Fresh air serves as nature’s best deodorizer.

DIY Fragrance Solutions: Empower yourself by creating personalized scents using essential oils. Experiment with blends that resonate with your senses, either by mixing them with carrier oils or using them in diffusers.

Educate Others: Advocate for informed choices by spreading awareness about the risks of synthetic fragrances. Encourage friends and family to make conscious decisions, contributing collectively to a healthier environment.

 Conclusion

While synthetic fragrances may exude an air of harmlessness, their impact on health is profound. As consumers, we wield the power to make discerning choices, opting for scents that enhance our lives without compromising well-being. By comprehending the hidden dangers and taking proactive steps, we can shield ourselves and future generations from the fragrant pitfalls that surround us.

Remember, health is our most precious fragrance—handle it with care.

REFERENCES

  1. van Amerongen, C. C. A., Ofenloch, R. F., Cazzaniga, S., Elsner, P., Gonçalo, M., Naldi, L., Svensson, Å., Bruze, M., & Schuttelaar, M. L. A. (2021). Skin exposure to scented products used in daily life and fragrance contact allergy in the European general population – The EDEN Fragrance Study. Contact Dermatitis, 84(6), 385-394. https://doi.org/10.1111/cod.13807
  2. Landrigan PJ, Raps H, Cropper M, Bald C, Brunner M, Canonizado EM, Charles D, Chiles TC, Donohue MJ, Enck J, Fenichel P, Fleming LE, Ferrier-Pages C, Fordham R, Gozt A, Griffin C, Hahn ME, Haryanto B, Hixson R, Ianelli H, James BD, Kumar P, Laborde A, Law KL, Martin K, Mu J, Mulders Y, Mustapha A, Niu J, Pahl S, Park Y, Pedrotti ML, Pitt JA, Ruchirawat M, Seewoo BJ, Spring M, Stegeman JJ, Suk W, Symeonides C, Takada H, Thompson RC, Vicini A, Wang Z, Whitman E, Wirth D, Wolff M, Yousuf AK, Dunlop S. The Minderoo-Monaco Commission on Plastics and Human Health. Ann Glob Health. 2023 Mar 21;89(1):23. doi: 10.5334/aogh.4056. Erratum in: Ann Glob Health. 2023 Oct 11;89(1):71. PMID: 36969097; PMCID: PMC10038118.
  3. Steinemann, A. C. (2016). Fragranced consumer products: exposures and effects from emissions. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 9, 861–8661
  4. Sarantis, H., Naidenko, O. V., Gray, S., Houlihan, J., Malkan, S., Archer, L., Scranton, A. G., Nudelman, J., & Davis, M. (2010). Not so sexy: The health risks of secret chemicals in fragrance. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group. Retrieved from www.ewg.org/sites/default/files/report/SafeCosmetics_FragranceRpt.pdf1
  5. Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Bourguignon JP, Giudice LC, Hauser R, Prins GS, Soto AM, Zoeller RT, Gore AC. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocr Rev. 2009 Jun;30(4):293-342. doi: 10.1210/er.2009-0002. PMID: 19502515; PMCID: PMC2726844.
  6. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (2024). Endocrine disruptors. Retrieved from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine
  7. Rádis-Baptista G. Do Synthetic Fragrances in Personal Care and Household Products Impact Indoor Air Quality and Pose Health Risks? J Xenobiot. 2023 Mar 1;13(1):121-131. doi: 10.3390/jox13010010. PMID: 36976159; PMCID: PMC10051690.
  8. Bălă, G.-P., Râjnoveanu, R.-M., Tudorache, E., Motișan, R., & Oancea, C. (2021). Air pollution exposure—the (in)visible risk factor for respiratory diseases. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28, 19615–19628. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-12412-7
  9. Basketter, D. A., Huggard, J., & Kimber, I. (2019). Fragrance inhalation and adverse health effects: The question of causation. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 104, 151-156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yrtph.2019.03.011
  10. Giménez-Arnau, E. (2019). Chemical compounds responsible for skin allergy to complex mixtures: How to identify them? Dermatochemistry Laboratory, University of Strasbourg-Institut de Chimie, CNRS UMR 7177, Institut le Bel. Retrieved from http://www.unistra.fr/index.php?id=egimenez
  11. Kazemi Z, Aboutaleb E, Shahsavani A, Kermani M, Kazemi Z. Evaluation of pollutants in perfumes, colognes and health effects on the consumer: a systematic review. J Environ Health Sci Eng. 2022 Feb 3;20(1):589-598. doi: 10.1007/s40201-021-00783-x. PMID: 35669814; PMCID: PMC9163252.
  12. Zucco, G. M., & Doty, R. L. (2021). Multiple chemical sensitivity. Brain Sciences, 12(1), 46. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12010046
  1. Azuma K, Uchiyama I, Tanigawa M, Bamba I, Azuma M, Takano H, Yoshikawa T, Sakabe K. Chemical intolerance: involvement of brain function and networks after exposure to extrinsic stimuli perceived as hazardous. Environ Health Prev Med. 2019 Oct 22;24(1):61. doi: 10.1186/s12199-019-0816-6. PMID: 31640568; PMCID: PMC6806489.
  2. Pastor-Nieto, M. A., & Gatica-Ortega, M. E. (2021). Ubiquity, hazardous effects, and risk assessment of fragrances in consumer products. Current Treatment Options in Allergy, 8(1), 21-41. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40521-020-00275-7

Tuberculosis: Causes, Prevention and Management

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Sujata Shakya

Reviewed by Sujata Shakya, Public Health Practitioner, Assistant Professor, Public health (IOM)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs but can also impact other parts of the body. Understanding the causes, prevention, and management of TB is essential for controlling its spread and reducing its impact on public health.

Causes of Tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis is caused by the transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from an infected individual to a susceptible person. The bacteria can be spread through the air when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or speaks, releasing respiratory droplets containing the bacteria (1). Factors such as overcrowded living conditions, poor ventilation, and compromised immune systems increase the risk of TB transmission (2).

Prevention of Tuberculosis:

Preventative measures play a crucial role in reducing the incidence of TB. Some examples of preventative measures include:

Vaccination: Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is used to prevent severe forms of TB in children. It provides partial protection against TB and reduces the risk of disseminated TB in infants and young children (3). However, the BCG vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing pulmonary TB, the most common form of the disease, varies and is generally less effective in adults.

Infection Control: Implementing effective infection control measures is crucial to prevent the spread of TB. This includes identifying and promptly isolating individuals with active TB, ensuring proper ventilation in healthcare facilities, and promoting cough etiquette (4).

Screening and Testing: Active case finding and early detection of TB cases are essential for preventing further transmission. Regular screening of high-risk populations, such as close contacts of TB patients, healthcare workers, and individuals living with HIV, is recommended. Diagnostic tests such as sputum smear microscopy, molecular tests, and chest X-rays are used to detect TB infection (5).

Treatment of Latent TB Infection: Individuals with latent TB infection, who have the TB bacteria in their bodies but do not have active disease, can progress to active TB if not treated. Treating latent TB infection with antibiotics, such as isoniazid or rifampin, can prevent the development of active TB disease (6).

Management of Tuberculosis:

TB management focuses on early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and adherence to medication. Some key aspects of TB management include:

Directly Observed Therapy (DOT): DOT is a strategy in which healthcare providers or trained community health workers directly observe patients taking their TB medications. This approach ensures treatment adherence and helps prevent the development of drug-resistant TB (7).

Drug Therapy: TB is treated with a combination of antibiotics for a specific duration. The standard treatment regimen for drug-susceptible TB includes a combination of isoniazid, rifampin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide. Drug-resistant TB requires more complex treatment regimens using second-line drugs (8).

Contact Investigation: Identifying and testing individuals who have had close contact with TB patients is crucial for early detection of TB cases and preventing further transmission. Contact investigation involves screening and testing close contacts to identify latent TB infection or active TB disease (9).

Adherence Support: Ensuring treatment adherence is vital for successful TB management and prevention of drug resistance. Providing patient education, counseling, and support services can improve medication adherence and treatment outcomes (10).

Conclusion:

Preventing and managing tuberculosis requires a comprehensive approach involving vaccination, infection control measures, screening and testing, treatment of latent infection, and effective management of active TB cases. By implementing evidence-based preventative measures and ensuring early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, communities can work towards reducing the burden of tuberculosis and protecting public health.

REFERENCES

Endometriosis: Understanding Its Impact and Exploring Treatment Avenues

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Dr. Asmita Pandey

Reviewed by Dr. Asmita Pandey, Fertility Expert , M.D. (OB/GYN) 

Endometriosis is a disorder where endometrial-like tissue forms outside the uterine cavity, causing chronic pelvic discomfort, intense menstrual pain, dyspareunia, and potential infertility (Parasar et al. 2017). This ectopic endometrial tissue can adversely affect a woman’s reproductive health. While treatments focus on symptom relief and enhancing life quality, endometriosis remains incurable. (Malvezzi et al. 2020).

Symptoms of Endometriosis: Endometriosis manifests as ectopic tissue growth resembling the uterine lining, leading to symptoms that can profoundly affect a woman’s well-being. Notable symptoms include:

Dysmenorrhea: Affected women may suffer from debilitating cramps during menstruation, often radiating to the abdomen or back, surpassing typical menstrual discomfort. (Chauhan et al.2022)

Pain during Intimacy: The condition may result in pain during or following sexual activity, causing considerable distress. (Chauhan et al. 2022)

Painful Excretory Functions: Pain may occur during bowel movements or urination, especially coinciding with menstrual periods. (Mayo Clinic, 2024)

Menorrhagia or Metrorrhagia: There may be unusually heavy flows during periods or bleeding between cycles, disrupting the regular menstrual pattern. (Chauhan et al. 2022)

Infertility: Often linked to infertility, endometriosis might be identified in fertility assessments for women struggling to conceive. (Bulun et al. 2019)

Fatigue: Persistent tiredness or exhaustion can interfere with daily routines and affect overall health.

Additional Symptoms: Other possible symptoms include mood disorders, low body weight, increased pain sensitivity, and irregular spotting or bleeding outside of menstrual cycles.

Approaches to Managing Endometriosis:

Analgesics: Medications such as NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, and analgesics like paracetamol, are utilized to alleviate endometriosis-related discomfort.

Endocrine Therapy: This strategy involves reducing estrogen levels to diminish endometriosis lesions and lessen discomfort. Treatment modalities encompass oral contraceptives, progestins, and GnRH analogs.  (Bulun et al. 2019)

Operative Interventions: Selective surgery, often via laparoscopy, aims to excise endometriosis lesions while retaining reproductive organs, potentially enhancing fertility prospects. (Chauhan et al. 2022)

Reproductive Assistance: In cases of endometriosis-induced infertility, options such as surgical lesion removal, ovarian stimulation coupled with IUI, and IVF are explored. (Lee et al. 2020)

It’s crucial to recognize that treatment choices hinge on various personal factors, including age, symptom intensity, reproductive aspirations, and personal preferences. While these interventions aim to mitigate symptoms and elevate life quality, they are not curative. Engaging in a dialogue with a medical professional is vital to tailor treatment plans to one’s unique health profile.

For further information on endometriosis treatment options and considerations, please refer to the provided sources or book consultations here.

REFERENCES

  1. Parasar P, Ozcan P, Terry KL. Endometriosis: Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Clinical Management. Curr Obstet Gynecol Rep. 2017 Mar;6(1):34-41. doi: 10.1007/s13669-017-0187-1. Epub 2017 Jan 27. PMID: 29276652; PMCID: PMC5737931.
  2. Malvezzi H, Marengo EB, Podgaec S, Piccinato CA. Endometriosis: current challenges in modeling a multifactorial disease of unknown etiology. J Transl Med. 2020 Aug 12;18(1):311. doi: 10.1186/s12967-020-02471-0. PMID: 32787880; PMCID: PMC7425005.
  3. Chauhan S, More A, Chauhan V, Kathane A. Endometriosis: A Review of Clinical Diagnosis, Treatment, and Pathogenesis. Cureus. 2022 Sep 6;14(9):e28864. doi: 10.7759/cureus.28864. PMID: 36225394; PMCID: PMC9537113.
  4. Bulun SE, Yilmaz BD, Sison C, Miyazaki K, Bernardi L, Liu S, Kohlmeier A, Yin P, Milad M, Wei J. Endometriosis. Endocr Rev. 2019 Aug 1;40(4):1048-1079. doi: 10.1210/er.2018-00242. PMID: 30994890; PMCID: PMC6693056.
  5. Mayo Clinic. (2024). Endometriosis – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656
  6. Lee D, Kim SK, Lee JR, Jee BC. Management of endometriosis-related infertility: Considerations and treatment options. Clin Exp Reprod Med. 2020 Mar;47(1):1-11. doi: 10.5653/cerm.2019.02971. Epub 2020 Feb 24. Erratum in: Clin Exp Reprod Med. 2020 Jun;47(2):153. PMID: 32088944; PMCID: PMC7127898.

Licorice Root: A Simple Guide to Its Sweet Benefits

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Dr. Hari Sharan Aryal

Reviewed by Dr. Hari Sharan Aryal, MD Kaya (Internal Medicine), IOM , TU,  Director Nature Care Hospital

Licorice root (जेठी मधु), from the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra, is more than just a candy flavor. It’s been used in traditional medicine for ages because of its health benefits.

Stomach Saver: This root is like a superhero for your stomach. It’s got substances—glycyrrhizin and flavonoids—that fight off ulcers by forming a protective layer on the stomach’s surface, reducing acid, and helping heal ulcers which has been supported by findings from Rahnama et al. (2013), who studied the healing effects of licorice on Helicobacter pylori infected peptic ulcers.”

Virus Fighter: Licorice root might also be a secret weapon against viruses, especially those that mess with your liver. It’s got stuff in it that stops viruses from multiplying and tweaks your immune system to help your liver stay healthy as demonstrated by Wang et al. (2015), licorice has been identified to have significant antiviral and antimicrobial properties.”

Swelling Be Gone: Got swelling? Licorice root might help with that too. It’s got anti-inflammatory powers that could take down swelling, which is great news if you’re dealing with arthritis, asthma, or skin issues which is supported by the findings of Yang et al. (2017), who investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of licorice.”

Cough Calmer: And if you’ve got a cough that won’t quit, licorice root might be your go-to. It’s been used to soothe your throat and help you get rid of mucus, making it easier to breathe and lessening coughs ( Seladi-Schulman 2022)

Stress Buster: Licorice root is also an adaptogen, which means it helps your body deal with stress. It can help keep your cortisol—your body’s stress alarm—under control, which might make you feel more chill. (Armanini et al. 2004)

But, Heads Up: Just like with anything, you can not have too much of a good thing. If you go overboard with licorice root, it can throw your body’s mineral balance out of whack, leading to high blood pressure and low potassium, which is no bueno. (Wahab et al. 2021)

Doctor Knows BestSo, it’s super important to use licorice root the right way. Talk to a healthcare pro before diving in, especially if you’ve got other health stuff going on or you’re taking meds that might not play nice with it. And keep an eye on your potassium levels to stay safe.

REFERENCES

  1. Rahnama M, Mehrabani D, Japoni S, Edjtehadi M, Saberi Firoozi M. The healing effect of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) on Helicobacter pylori infected peptic ulcers. J Res Med Sci. 2013 Jun;18(6):532-3. PMID: 24250708; PMCID: PMC3818629.
  2. Wang L, Yang R, Yuan B, Liu Y, Liu C. The antiviral and antimicrobial activities of licorice, a widely-used Chinese herb. Acta Pharm Sin B. 2015 Jul;5(4):310-5. doi: 10.1016/j.apsb.2015.05.005. Epub 2015 Jun 17. PMID: 26579460; PMCID: PMC4629407.
  3. Yang R, Yuan BC, Ma YS, Zhou S, Liu Y. The anti-inflammatory activity of licorice, a widely used Chinese herb. Pharm Biol. 2017 Dec;55(1):5-18. doi: 10.1080/13880209.2016.1225775. Epub 2016 Sep 21. PMID: 27650551; PMCID: PMC7012004.
  4. Seladi-Schulman, J., Ph.D. (2022, November 10). The 7 best teas to help ease a cough. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/tea-for-cough
  5. Armanini D, Mattarello MJ, Fiore C, Bonanni G, Scaroni C, Sartorato P, Palermo M. Licorice reduces serum testosterone in healthy women. Steroids. 2004 Oct-Nov;69(11-12):763-6. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2004.09.005. PMID: 15579328.
  6. Wahab S, Annadurai S, Abullais SS, Das G, Ahmad W, Ahmad MF, Kandasamy G, Vasudevan R, Ali MS, Amir M. Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice): A Comprehensive Review on Its Phytochemistry, Biological Activities, Clinical Evidence and Toxicology. Plants (Basel). 2021 Dec 14;10(12):2751. doi: 10.3390/plants10122751. PMID: 34961221; PMCID: PMC8703329.

 

Influenza: Causes, Prevention and Management

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Written By THT Editorial Team

Sujata Shakya

Reviewed by Sujata Shakya, Public Health Practitioner, Assistant Professor, Public health (IOM)

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Influenza viruses are of different types (A, B, C) and are further classified into subtypes based on their surface antigens. Influenza is a significant public health concern, causing morbidity and mortality worldwide. This research-based article provides an overview of the causes, prevention, and management of influenza.

Causes of Influenza:

Influenza is caused by influenza viruses, which primarily target the respiratory system. The viruses spread mainly through respiratory droplets generated when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. Influenza viruses can also spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Prevention of Influenza:

Preventing influenza infections is critical to reducing the burden of illness. Several strategies can help prevent influenza, including:

Vaccination: Influenza vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza infections. The influenza vaccine is designed to match the circulating influenza viruses and provides immunity against the viruses. Annual vaccination is recommended for all individuals aged six months and older (1).

Non-pharmaceutical Interventions: Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as frequent hand washing, covering the nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve while coughing or sneezing, and staying home when sick can reduce the spread of influenza viruses (2).

Antiviral Medications: Antiviral medications can be used to prevent influenza infections, especially in high-risk population, such as immunocompromised individuals, older adults, and those with underlying medical conditions. Antivirals can also be used for post-exposure prophylaxis in individuals who have been in close contact with an infected person (3).

Management of Influenza:

Influenza infections can range from mild to severe, and management approaches depend on the severity of the illness. The following management approaches are commonly used:

Symptomatic Treatment: Symptomatic treatment, such as antipyretics and analgesics, can alleviate symptoms such as fever, body aches, and headaches. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used for the relief of symptoms (4).

Antiviral Medications: Antiviral medications can be used to treat influenza infections, especially in individuals at high risk for complications, such as older adults, young children, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions. Treatment with antivirals should be started within 48 hours of onset of symptoms (3).

Hospitalization: Severe influenza infections can require hospitalization, especially in individuals at high risk for complications. Supportive care, including oxygen therapy, mechanical ventilation, and antiviral medications, may be needed (5).

Examples of Preventative Measures:

In addition to vaccination and non-pharmaceutical interventions, several examples of preventative measures can be implemented to reduce the spread of influenza, such as:

Environmental Cleaning: Regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, keyboards, and countertops, can reduce the spread of influenza viruses (2).

School Closures: Closing schools during influenza outbreaks can reduce the spread of influenza viruses. School closures should be implemented early and for an extended period to be effective (6).

Social Distancing: Social distancing measures such as avoiding large gatherings, working from home, and staying home when sick can reduce the spread of influenza viruses (7).

Conclusion:

Influenza is a significant public health concern, leading to morbidity and mortality worldwide. Preventing influenza infections through vaccination, non-pharmaceutical interventions, and antiviral medications is critical to reducing the burden of illness. Environmental cleaning, school closures, and social distancing are examples of additional preventative measures that can be implemented. By adopting these preventive measures and following evidence-based management approaches, the impact of influenza can be minimized, protecting individuals and communities.

REFERENCES

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Preventing the flu: Good health habits can help stop germs. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm
  3. Uyeki, T. M., Bernstein, H. H., & Bradley, J. S. (2019). Clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America: 2018 update on diagnosis, treatment, chemoprophylaxis, and institutional outbreak management of seasonal influenza. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 68(6), e1-e47.
  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2017). Acute respiratory tract infections: Prescribing of antibiotics for self-limiting respiratory tract infections in adults and children in primary care. Retrieved from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng109
  5. Fry, A. M., Goswami, D., Nahar, K., Sharmin, A. T., Rahman, M., Gubareva, L., … & Azim, T. (2019). Efficacy of oseltamivir treatment started within 5 days of symptom onset to reduce influenza illness duration and virus shedding in an urban setting in Bangladesh: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 19(2), 209-218.
  6. Jackson, C., Vynnycky, E., Hawker, J., Olowokure, B., Mangtani, P., & The UK Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy Expert Group. (2013). School closures and influenza: systematic review of epidemiological studies. BMJ Open, 3(2), e002149.
  7. Glass, R. J., Glass, L. M., Beyeler, W. E., & Min, H. J. (2006). Targeted social distancing design for pandemic influenza. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 12(11), 1671-1681.