Health and Disease, Uncategorized

The Eyes Have It! Zika Virus

zika

 

The Eyes Have It!  Zika Virus

 

Zika virus is in the news right now. This virus is spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito. Currently there are outbreaks of the Zika virus in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas. Puerto Rico had its first confirmed case in December of 2015. It has also been found in returning travelers from infected areas.

 

Due to complications found in mothers in Brazil, where there is an active Zika virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a level 2 travel warning to pregnant woman to the following countries: CDC Travel List.

 

 

A level 2 warning means that you should practice enhanced precautions when traveling to infected areas. This warning is for women in all trimesters of pregnancy.

 

Currently there aren’t any ways to treat or prevent contracting the Zika virus, like a vaccine. It is recommended that you protect yourself when traveling to countries where the Zika virus is found. You can do that in a number of ways including:

 

wear insect repellent

be sure that there are screens on windows and doors

stay where it is air conditioned

wear long pants and long sleeves when out

consider mosquito netting

The level 2 warning comes after epidemiological data showing a dramatic rise in the incidence of microcephaly in Brazil. This is where the baby’s head is smaller than expected which may indicate brain growth restriction. This can also mean that the baby will suffer from seizures and developmental delays. There are also several other reports of a vague nature that the CDC does not expound upon saying, “This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

 

However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.”

 

Symptoms of the Zika Virus

The Zika virus has many symptoms. These include:

 

fever

rash

joint pain

red eyes (conjunctivitis)

For most people, the illness is not very debilitating.

 

 

The symptoms last a few days up to a week. Though there have been people who have had symptoms debilitating enough to require that they go to the hospital. This is fairly uncommon in the general population.

 

While we are not yet certain the effects that the Zika virus will have during your current pregnancy, we do know that the Zika virus only stays in your blood for up to a week, making it safe for you to have future pregnancies. The Zika virus will not affect any pregnancy in the future.

 

If You Contract the Zika Virus

The only thing that you can do if you contract the Zika virus is to treat the symptoms. You will want to ensure that you rest and get plenty of water. You can take medications containing acetaminophen to help reduce the symptoms, but you should avoid other medications like those containing aspirin. Remember, as a virus, Zika will not be treated with antibiotics.

 

If you think you have contracted the Zika virus, talk to your midwife or doctor. Be sure let them know that you have traveled to an area where the Zika virus was found.

 

Please share with family and loved ones.  Call us if you need help or don’t have a personalized healthcare plan.

Health and Wellness Associates

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312-972-Well

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Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

Can Antioxidants Prevent Cataracts?

cataracts

Can Antioxidants Prevent Cataracts?

 

 

Throughout the world, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and vision loss. In the United States, more than 50 percent of all people aged 80 years and older have had cataract surgery, costing an estimated $6.8 billion a year. Cataract surgery is the only definitive way to treat cataracts.

Because of limited resources, citizens of developing countries often are unable to afford cataract surgery and must suffer through progressive lens opacity that makes it not only harder to see under regular conditions but also especially hard to see at night or when glare is an issue.

In other words, it’s really hard (and dangerous) for people with cataracts to drive at night.

Because of the limited availability of cataract surgery in many countries throughout the world, experts in the field have long been searching for a way to prevent cataracts. It’s estimated that discovery of a preventive measure that delays the onset of cataracts by 10 years could result in a 50 percent decrease in visual and surgical burden. Currently, many eye researchers believe that consumption of antioxidants in some manner may prevent cataracts.

A generally well-accepted hypothesis concerning the development of age-related cataracts pegs oxidative stress and osmotic imbalances as a cause. More specifically, an excess of free radicals damage lens proteins and lipids in the epithelium thus obfuscating the lens and leading to progressive opacity. Antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E stabilize these free radicals, and thus squelch the destruction free radicals cause.

In fact, we know that the lens preferentially stockpiles some antioxidants like suchaslutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E, and vitamin C.

To be sure, factors other than oxidative stress and free radicals also play a role in the development of cataracts including:

  • UV light
  • alcohol consumption
  • diabetes
  • hormone therapy
  • smoking
  • obesity

Such factors likely further exacerbate oxidative stress and impair your eye’s ability to defend against damage or repair lens damage.

Results from a Swedish study published in JAMA Ophthalmology in 2014 suggest that prevalence of cataracts is reduced among people who regularly consume antioxidant-rich foods like leafy vegetables, whole grains, and coffee. In this large study of middle-aged and elderly women, confounding variables such as smoking, body mass index, physical activity, and educational level were adjusted for, and results were still statistically significant.

Because increased levels of antioxidants in a person’s diet are associated with a lower prevalence of cataract formation, it’s tempting to think that antioxidant supplements may also decrease your risk for cataracts, too. However, research into whether antioxidant supplements work to prevent cataracts has yielded inconsistent results.

One recent randomized-control trial published in the journal Ophthalmology in 2014 suggests that multivitamins rich in antioxidant mixtures reduced the risk of nuclear cataract — a type of cataract — by 9 percent during a period of 11.2 years.

 

Another study suggests that in those research participants already eating a diet rich in antioxidants, high-dose antioxidant supplementation may actually increase risk of cataract formation. This counterintuitive finding is attributed to the hypothesis that in excess amounts, antioxidants can actually convert over to pro-oxidants and cause oxidative stress.

A reason why individual antioxidant supplements or multivitamin preparations do little to prevent cataracts probably has to do with the complexity of human metabolism. To date, no limited and artificial combination can yet reproduce the antioxidant-rich milieu present in healthy foods. Furthermore, there are likely many more antioxidants that we have yet to discover, and these unknown antioxidants probably play a big role in the prevention of cataracts and other types of disease.

Research shows antioxidant supplements do little to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, a diet rich in leafy vegetable, colorful fruits and other sources of antioxidants has been associated with decreased risk for cancer and heart disease. Similarly, whereas a balanced diet rich in antioxidants may help prevent cataract formation, current antioxidant supplements likely do little to prevent the disease. Ultimately, if you hope to leverage the benefit of antioxidants, your best bet is to consume antioxidants within the context of a nutritious diet and avoid taking antioxidant supplements that likely do little and might even cause harm.

 

Please share with family and loved ones.  If you have any questions about your healthcare please call us for assistance.

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

312-972-Well

 

Health and Disease

Eye Exercises that Improve Vision

eyeexercises

Eye Exercises that improve Vision

Doing these eye exercises daily will relax eyes and improve vision for many people

Pencil Push-ups

To improve focusing power, do this in the morning and again before bed. Hold a pencil vertically 12-14 inches in front of your eyes. Focus on the tip while moving the pencil toward your nose. When you can no longer focus on it, stop trying and relax your eyes., Repeat three times.

Thumbing

Extend your arm straight in front with your thumb pointing upward. Look beyond it at a distant target for 15-20 seconds, and then look at your thumb. Repeat until your eyes and neck feel more relaxed.

If you are having trouble with various diseases, and/or you want preventative care please give us a call.

Health and Wellness Associates

312-972-WELL