Sore Throat

Sore throat is a condition which causes pain, scratchiness, dryness in the throat. This problem usually intensifies upon swallowing of food or liquid. The most common cause of sore throat is a viral infection but usually, the condition resolves on its own.

But in cases, where the sore throat, specifically streptococcal infection, occurs because of bacteria, the condition may require medications such as antibiotics. However, other forms of sore throat may require more intense treatment depending on the cause.

Symptoms of sore throat

Symptoms of sore throat depend on the cause of the problem. However, some common signs of the condition include:

  • Pain or dryness in the throat
  • A scratchy feeling in the throat
  • Problem in swallowing
  • Soreness or swelling in the neck or jaw
  • Swelling or redness in the tonsils
  • White patches or pus formations on the tonsils
  • Hoarse or barely audible voice

However, the underlying problem of sore throat can also tend to show some symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Body pain

Also, in children, if the sore throat does not go away on its own soon, the parents should get immediate medical care in case there are other symptoms, such as:

  • Problem in breathing
  • An issue in swallowing food or liquid
  • Abnormal drooling

Moreover, if an adult experiences sore throat with the below symptoms, immediate medical attention must be sought.

  • Problem in breathing
  • Issue in swallowing
  • A sore throat that lasts more than a week
  • Rash
  • Pain in the joints
  • A problem in opening the mouth
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Formation of a lump in the neck
  • Swollen neck or face
  • High fever
  • Ear pain
  • Hoarse voice, which does not improve for more than a week

Causes of sore throat

The most common cause of sore throat is the virus such as cold and flu. But in some conditions, bacterial infections can also lead to a sore throat.

Viral infections such as colds, measles, chickenpox, COVID-19, influenza, mono, croup, etc. can cause sore throat. Moreover, bacterial infections such as Streptococcus pyogenes can also lead to a sore throat.

That said, some other causes of the problem include:

  • Allergies to dust, molds, pet dander, etc.
  • Dryness because of mouth breathing
  • Irritants including tobacco smoke, chemicals, etc.
  • Muscle strain because of excessive yelling, talking, etc.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • HIV infection
  • Tumours

Risk factors of sore throat

A sore throat is a very common condition and can impact people of all ages. However, some people may be more prone to the problem than others. These include:

  • Children between 3-15 years of age
  • People who are more exposed to tobacco or similar type of smoke
  • People that have existing allergies to molds, dust, etc.
  • People that are highly exposed to chemical irritants
  • Individuals that get serious or frequent sinus infections
  • People that have a weak immune system

Prevention of sore throat

The best way to prevent sore throat is to maintain good hygiene and avoid germs by:

  • Washing hands regularly
  • Avoiding sharing of food
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Using alcohol-based sanitizers
  • Limiting touching public places and common surfaces
  • Regularly cleaning all devices such as telephones, TV, etc.
  • Avoiding close contact with ill people

Diagnosis of sore throat

To assess a sore throat, the doctor will foremost conduct a physical exam that can include:

  • A lighted instrument, which is used to look inside the throat, ears and nasal passages.
  • Softly checking the neck to detect the presence of any swollen glands
  • Listening to the breathing

In many cases, the doctors conduct a throat swab test to check for sore throat. The doctor uses a sterile swab and rubs it over the back of the throat to obtain a sample of secretions. This sample is then sent to the lab to get the results.

Treatment of sore throat

A sore throat which is generally caused due to a bacterial infection does not harm and typically goes away in a maximum of 7 days, without any medical care. However, to reduce pain and fever, the doctor might suggest some pain relievers or fever medications.

In case, the strep throat is caused because of bacterial infection, the doctor will suggest antibiotics. The full course of antibiotics should be taken, even when the symptoms get over sooner. In case, the medications are not taken properly, the sore throat infection can worsen or spread to other body parts.

Moreover, non-completion of the antibiotic course for sore throat can lead to rheumatic fever in children or even kidney inflammation.

That said, some lifestyle and home remedies that can help improve the sore throat issue include:

  • Getting plenty of rest and sleeping well
  • Drinking more fluids
  • Opting for more warm liquids and foods such as tea, ice pops, etc.
  • Gargling with saltwater
  • Using a cool-air humidifier to remove the air, which can potentially lead to a sore throat
  • Avoiding irritants such as tobacco smoke, cleaning agents, etc.

Overall, sore throat can easily be prevented and treated after diagnosis. However, regular check-ups can help ensure the infection is monitored and prevented.

Spleen Enlargement

The spleen is the organ of the human body, located just below the left rib cage in the top part of the abdomen towards the back. The spleen is the part of the lymph system and functions as a drainage section, which protects the body from various infections. The spleen has white blood cells, which take in bacteria, dead tissue, and any foreign substances, and remove them from the blood. It also helps to maintain a healthy ratio of white and red cells, as well as the platelet count. The spleen recycles iron in haemoglobin and filters antibody-coated bacteria.

The spleen is typically the size of a human fist but conditions such as infections, liver diseases, specific cancers, etc. can cause it to swell and increase multiple time in size. That said, an enlarged spleen is not always a cause of worry. Sometimes when a spleen becomes enlarged it might imply it has become overactive and is functioning at its full capability. This is referred to as hypersplenism.

However, in other conditions, where the enlarged spleen tends to press on the other organs, it can impact the blood flow to the spleen. This will, in turn, affect the capability of the spleen to filter blood properly. Also, if the spleen becomes too big, it can remove an excessive number of red blood cells from the body, which can lead to a medical condition known as anaemia. Furthermore, the enlarged spleen can cause the body to experience infections more than usual.

Symptoms of spleen enlargement

In many cases, an enlarged spleen or called splenomegaly, might not cause any symptoms. However, in other conditions, the problem can have the following symptoms:

  • Abrupt pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen (precisely the upper left part), which can spread to impact the left shoulder
  • Anaemia
  • Fatigue
  • More risk of bleeding
  • More risk of infections
  • Feeling more full than usual even after a small meal

However, if the pain in the upper left abdomen intensifies or there is no relief, the patient must be taken to a doctor at the earliest.

Causes of spleen enlargement

An enlarged spleen can be caused because of multiple infections and diseases. However, the condition can be temporary and mild or could be severe and cause a lot of symptoms. Some of the factors that can lead to enlargement of the spleen include:

  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Infection in the inside layer of the heart
  • Cirrhosis or other critical liver issues
  • Malaria or similar parasite-based infections
  • Blood cancers including leukaemia
  • Lymphomas
  • Disorders or issues with the metabolic functioning of the body
  • Medical conditions that destroy the red blood cells earlier than their expiry age
  • A blood clot in the veins
  • Strain on the veins of the spleen or liver

Risk factors of spleen enlargement

Spleen enlargement can occur at any age and in any gender. However, some people are at higher risk of developing this condition. These include:

  • Children and young age adults that suffer from infections such as mononucleosis
  • People with inherited metabolic issues that impact the spleen and liver, such as Niemann-Pick disease
  • People who are more exposed to places where malaria is common

Complications of spleen enlargement

Spleen enlargement is not corrected and treated with adequate medical help can cause complications, such as below:

  • Infections: If not treated timely, an enlarged spleencan drastically reduce the healthy red blood cells from the body, as well as reduce the platelets and white blood cells. This can make the body more prone to infections, as well as bleeding. It can also cause a condition known as anaemia.
  • Ruptured spleen: Generally, even when the spleen is of normal size, it is more prone to being ruptured in an accident, such as a car crash. However, the possibility of spleen rupture increases manifold when the spleen is enlarged. In case, the spleen is ruptured, it can lead to excessive bleeding into the abdominal cavity, which can be life-threatening.

Diagnosis of spleen enlargement

As mentioned in many patients, the enlarged spleen does not cause any symptoms. However, it can be diagnosed by a physical exam. Moreover, thin people can feel their spleen size increase than normal. In the physical exam, the healthcare provider gently examines the upper left abdomen portion to check for pain, tenderness or feel the size of the spleen.

Further, the doctor can use the following tests to confirm the analysis:

  • Blood tests including a complete blood count assessment to determine the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • Ultrasound or Computerized Tomography (CT) scan be used to diagnose if the spleen has enlarged in size and if it is pressing on other nearby organs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to check the blood flow from the spleen

In some cases, the doctor may subject the patient to further deep tests to understand the cause of the issue. These can include a bone marrow exam or a liver function test. In some severe cases, the doctor can also remove the spleen, when there is no identifiable cause. Once the spleen is removed, the doctor can use a microscope to check for lymphoma of the spleen.

Treatment of spleen enlargement

The type of treatment for the issue depends on the underlying cause of spleen enlargement. For example, if the enlargement is diagnosed to happen because of a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the cause.

In case, the patient does not have any symptoms or no known cause, the doctor would suggest waiting until any complications occur. However, frequent check-ups would be required to assess the condition.

In other instances, where the enlarged spleen has caused a lot of complications, the healthcare provider may recommend a spleen removal surgery. However, the surgery can have possible risks depending on the general health of the patient. Hence, must be considered after careful evaluation with the doctor.

Glimmer of Hope

Glimmer of Hope

Intro: A precious tool in critical care physician’s hand, a ventilator is a life-saving and respiratory support and does not augur the end of life

Life is uncertain and in unexpected circumstances, anyone can end up on life support. While being on a ventilator is usually perceived as the end of life, it is just not true. Ventilator is an essential life support which every doctor and hospital gives to save the life of a patient and not to end life.

Necessity of Ventilation

Ventilator is a life-saving and respiratory support. Various parameters of a patient are checked before being put on ventilation. Doctors use other tools like non-invasive ventilation, high flow nasal oxygen therapy first to avoid a ventilator. It is only when those measures fail and respiratory status continues to deteriorate that a ventilator is brought in.

The Duration

It depends on the primary condition of the patient. In case of a patient suffering from Pneumonia, the ventilator gives the lungs rest. It is similar to dialysis to help the kidneys. Ventilator takes care of respiration and once the primary problem is resolved, the patient is taken out of the ventilator. In post-operative cases when lungs are weak, ventilator is given for support of the lungs. It could be for just a day. However, bad lungs, less muscle power may require prolonged ventilation.

Weaning Off Ventilation

It is a protocol driven thing. The process starts from the very day a patient is put on ventilation. Oxygen support as well as pressure on the ventilator is decreased to see how a patient is adapting. There are some international criteria and once the patient satisfies those, s/he is taken off ventilator.

While on V, what complications can be arise

The ventilator tube is directly attached to trachea. Disconnection or less oxygen delivery can cause oxygen deprivation and serious trouble to patient, even cardiac arrest. Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is the most common infection as the tube is a foreign device. The precautionary measures are called ventilator precaution bundle.

Precautions To Take

Ventilator is a dual instrument. In the initial days, it gives support and rest to the lungs. But prolonged use can cause multiple problems like ventilator associated infection as it is an invasive foreign device in the body. The breathing tube that is put in the trachea can allow bacteria to enter lungs. Oral hygiene care together with aspiration of secretions and upright posture may reduce the risk of ventilator complications.

Prolonged Ventilation

Neurological patients often need prolonged ventilation. In such cases, smaller sized tubes are inserted in trachea through which ventilation is delivered. On and off ventilation is also practised. In initial period, a tube is inserted in the oral cavity. When it cannot be taken out 7-10 days later, a smaller size tube is put in through a small procedure known as tracheostomy. It is better than having the big tube in the oral cavity. Such patients can also be discharged after a tracheostomy, provided they require no special medicine support. Nursing care is a must.

Tracheostomy patients who do not require ventilation are unconscious. Patients with paralysis, neurological problems or other conditions find it difficult to cough up secretions; so direct suctioning of the trachea is done to clear the airway. Post this, they can go home. Mini ventilators can also be arranged at home when only respiratory support and no other support is needed.

New Technologies

Ventilator has been changing since invention. Modernised ventilators require less medicines and dose of anaesthesia. Ventilator synchronisation is much better now. Besides there are new gadgets like non-invasive ventilation that does not require tubes to be put in and high flow nasal oxygen therapy. A dead person cannot be put on ventilator and unlike what is shown in some movies, it cannot revive one who is dead.

What is high fever? How dangerous is high fever for an individual?

What is high fever? How dangerous is high fever for an individual?

Fever also referred to as high fever or high body temperature is not an illness but a symptom of an underlying health condition such as an infection, in most cases. It is a body’s natural defense against infection and is generally not considered dangerous, though a very high body temperature can cause severe complications since it could also indicate a problem such as a heat stroke, side-effects of medicines, drug abuse and stroke. However, high fever is also not always worrisome, if it is given adequate medical treatment. Sometimes, high fever may not be associated with any such causes and can easily be treated with some medications.

However, the effect and severity of the impact of fever is also dependent on the age, physical condition and the underlying cause of fever. For elder people, even mild fever might require attentive medical care and for children, if fever is accompanied with symptoms such as poor appetite, sore throat, crankiness, cough, and pain in the ear, etc. – consultation of a doctor is needed. While for normal, otherwise healthy individuals, fever and high fever, many times, can be easily treated with medications and rest.

A person is said to have a fever when the body temperature of the person crosses the normal range of 98–100° F. When the body temperature rises, a person might feel cold till it stops rising or decreases. This is the normal range and fever within this range is considered mild and can be easily treated with only rest sometimes since it enables the body to neutralize the bacterium or virus causing the fever.

However, in cases where the fever or body temperature crosses 100.4° F, the fever is no longer mild and should be monitored every hour and given attentive medical care. More so, if the temperature crosses further degrees, the severity of fever increases. These are ranges for temperature checked via thermometer placed in the mouth.

Types/Severity of Fever

A fever can be categorized as low or high depending on body temperature, such as:

  • Low: 100.5–102.1°F
  • Moderate: 102.2–104.0°F
  • High: 104.1–106.0°F
  • Hyperpyrexia: 106.0°F

Moreover, fever can also be categorized per the duration such as:

  • Acute: less than 7 days
  • Sub-acute: Up to 14 days
  • Chronic or persistent: More than 14 days

 Symptoms of Fever and High Fever

A person having fever or high fever will experience all or any of the following symptoms, such as:

  • Feeling excessive cold
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Heightened sensitivity to pain
  • Concentration problems
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Sweating excessively

When the fever is very high, a person will experience additional symptoms including:

  • Severe irritability
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of consciousness
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Chills
  • Intense headache
  • Rapid heart rate or palpitations
  • Muscle ache

A high fever condition can take a serious turn, if not given medical treatment timely.

 Causes of Fever

Fever is caused when the part of the brain called the hypothalamus that controls the body temperature, resets the temperature of the body to a higher level in response to an infection, illness or any other cause.

Fever or high fever can be caused due to several reasons such as:

  • An infection such as pneumonia, strep throat, etc.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain medications
  • Heatstroke
  • Dehydration
  • Silicosis
  • Amphetamine abuse
  • Symptom of alcohol withdrawal
  • Overexposure of the skin to the sunlight
  • Ear infection
  • Other infection such as skin, bladder or kidney
  • Vaccines
  • Blood clots
  • Hormone disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Food poisoning

 Treatment of Fever

Most fevers are mild and tend to lower down with some simple steps such as taking rest and drinking a lot of water. However, when mild fever is accompanied by mild symptoms, including dehydration and discomfort, few steps such as below can help:

  • Comfortable room temperature
  • Sponge bath or regular bath to lower the temperature
  • Taking over-the-counter medicine
  • Drinking a lot of fluids

Further, immediate medical help should be taken in the below conditions:

  • If the child is 3 months or younger and has a high rectal fever of 100.4 °F
  • If the child is between 3 to 12 months and has an oral temperature of 102°F
  • If the child is 2 years or younger and has a fever that has lasted for more than 24-48 hours.
  • Adults when they have a body temperature of 104 °F for more than 48 hours or when they have a high fever with 105 °F temperature.
  • Adults who have a compromised immune system

Moreover, if fever (mild or high) is accompanied by any of the below symptoms, immediate medical help should be called for:

  • Severe headache
  • Swelling in the throat
  • A skin rash
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Breathing problem
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Stiffness and pain in the neck
  • Irritability
  • Pain while urinating

In all, mild fever is no reason for worry and can easily be cured. However, high fever at a temperature of 104 °F above can be dangerous and must be given immediate medical treatment.

Why is regular preventive health check-ups are important?

Why is regular preventive health check-ups are important?

Generally, people have tendency to visit the doctor only when they experience troubling symptoms, are ill or need immediate medical attention. However, times have really advanced today and awareness about one’s health has taken priority over other things. With the world becoming more vulnerable to health issues, it is very critical that people become even more aware towards their health and take preventive steps to keep problems at bay.

Preventive methods such as healthy diet, maintaining healthy weight, regular exercising, active lifestyle, etc. are very essential but it is also very important to get yourself screened medically at regular intervals to prevent any problems that may arise due to negligence, as well as cure problems that may have intensified due to lapse of time. Hence, it is critical to get regular preventive health check-ups done to be aware about the state-of-well being of the body and to detect health problems at an early stage, making treatment easier and more effective. In case of fatal health problems, regular preventive check-ups help to improve chances of survival and ensure effective recovery. Moreover, there are certain diseases whose progression can be detected only with the help of regular health screenings.

It is without a doubt that regular health check-up are as important as regular health screenings. One should definitely get preventive health check-ups done from time-to-time, because of the below reasons.

Lower healthcare costs: While, it is widely believed that regular health check-ups increase the overall burden on the wallet, the case is not quite so. In fact, preventive regular check-ups help to lower healthcare costs in the long run. Regular health check-up packages are available for cheaper than those check-ups performed when needed. Also, regular screenings help to identify critical problems such as cancer early on stage, which helps in effective treatment since it is at an early stage. Also, the treatment course is shorter, less intense which automatically reduces the cost of the overall treatment comparatively. It also increases the chances of the person’s survival and full recoveryIn many cases, regular health checkups help to avoid surgeries and other serious medical expenditure.

Reduce risk of existing problems: Patients suffering from health problems such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. benefit greatly from regular medical screenings. These check-ups help to closely monitor the health statistics and take preventive action, immediately in case of discrepancies. Regular monitoring of these problems helps to reduce the risk of stroke, heart problem, kidney failure, etc. Schedule checkups tend to also help take corrective measure to ensure stronger health conditions.

Improve health: Preventive check-ups act as scheduled report cards that provide information on the body’s condition and performance. This helps to stay alert and avoid triggers of health problems. Moreover, reports also help to attain ideal body results provided preventive measures are adopted. These checkups also act as a motivating factor for maintaining a healthy diet, body weight and exercise regime.

Identify-stress related problems: Today, everyone is leading a very stressful life, leaving hardly any room for relaxation. This in turn, creates a lot of problems for the body and causes lot of health issues. These can be avoided provided preventive health check-ups are taken which help to keep vitals and necessary health indicators in check. Blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, gastrointestinal problems, etc. need to be consistently checked to avoid any serious complications further.

Minimise chances of falling sick: Prevention is always better than cure and no matter if there are any existing health issues or not, it is still always a good idea to get yourself screened regularly for any health problems. Regular medical screenings help to minimize one’s chances of falling sick by providing fact checks and also promoting modifications to avoid intensification of the problem.

While the frequency and type of regular health checkups depend on person-to-person, it is dependent on a lot of factors such as:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Medical history
  • Current health problems
  • Existing health condition
  • Surrounding environment
  • Lifestyle choices (smoking, alcohol, diet, etc.)
  • Physical activity

That said, some of the health checkups that must be considered to stay abreast of one’s health include:

Annual checkups

  • Nose
  • Skin
  • Body
  • Neural

Semi-annual checkups

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Physical exam
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular
  • Dental
  • Respiratory
  • Bone strength and mineral
  • Circulatory
  • Genito-urinary
  • Lymph nodes
  • Abdomen

Further, it is also important to get screened for cancer since diagnosis of the disease plays a very important role in curing cancer. Some regular cancer screenings that one must get are:

  • Colorectal
  • Skin
  • Breast
  • Cervical
  • Testicular
  • Prostate

Additionally, a part of regular health checkups also includes getting some important immunisations such as below:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
  • Influenza
  • Pneumococcal
  • Varicella
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • MMR
  • Meningococcal
  • Chicken pox
  • Hib
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

That said, regular health checkups go a long way in preventing health problems and motoring existing conditions. In today’s world and lifestyle, it is critical that one gets health screenings to live healthy and strong.

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