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One of the most common respiratory diseases, asthma affects 5% of the general population, according to the Brazilian Society of Allergy and Immunology, and 10% of children. It is characterized by an exaggerated inflammatory reaction of the organism, which, when exposed to an irritant agent, closes the bronchi, the ramifications of which transport the air to the pulmonary alveoli, where gas exchange occurs - the exit of carbon dioxide and the entrance of oxygen, which falls into circulation. Therefore, during an asthma attack, the inspiration and, above all, the expiration are compromised, which causes breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and fast and short breathing. These manifestations worsen at night, disrupting sleep, and in the early hours of the morning, including after physical or day-to-day activities. This suffocation stems from a combination of genetic factors, that is, a predisposition to allergies, inherited from one’s parents, and environmental factors, such as exposure to domestic dust, dust mites, pollen and fungi, among other allergens, exposure to strong odors, sudden changes in temperature and infections caused by viruses. In practice, therefore, a child is already born with this propensity and, when coming in contact with one or more of these stimuli, they have their first attack, and despite the fact these attacks can be controlled with medication, they end up repeating themselves whenever the affected person faces the same triggers, at any age. The diagnosis is clinical, based on history and symptoms, and can count on the support of some respiratory tests, except in young children, such as the bronchoprovocation test, which quantifies the response of the organism to a stimulus, and spirometry, which measures lung function, since the disease can lead to changes in lung function. Since most cases are allergic in origin, blood tests or skin tests can also be performed to screen the allergens that trigger the attacks. Many asthmatics cannot tolerate animal hairs, for example, but not all have the same sensitivity. Medications and education to treat asthma Asthma treatment requires bronchodilators to reduce the reflex of the lung muscles from contracting the bronchi, combined with inhaled corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, which, as if that were not enough, still produces a lot of mucus to hinder the airways to the pulmonary alveoli. The well-known inhalers today associate the two categories of medicines. The doses of the drugs are usually increased during the attacks and reduced when they are only aimed at keeping the disease under control. Experts prefer to say that asthma has no cure, but control. Given the genetic predisposition and the permanent exposure to irritants - even if some are avoided, those who live in large cities, for example, will always be exposed to pollution and dust - the possibility of having an attack may persist throughout one’s life. Thus, it is imperative that the treatment include educational measures and management of the factors that aggravate the disease (link to Avoiding wheezing) so that the individual can live well with asthma and can reduce the dependence on the medicines. In addition, both the family and the patient need to learn how to manage the attacks so that they are able to identify them before they happen, make the necessary arrangements before the symptoms worsen and, if they do not deliver the expected results, seek emergency services (link to When to look for an emergency room). As in any disease that affects respiration, one of the vital processes for the body, you cannot waste time in these cases. Always follow medical guidance and do not hesitate to seek professional help if you have any questions in-between consultations. Avoiding wheezing - Prevent yourself from catching colds and the flu by always washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol at 70%, but especially when you come in contact with contaminated people or surfaces. Also take the annual flu vaccine against the influenza virus, available on the public health system for people with asthma.- Stay away from cigarettes and smokers. In a family of asthmatics, the habit of smoking is a very bad idea.- Keep the environment where you live clean and airy, free of dust and dust mites. Getting rid of items that accumulate a lot of dust, such as curtains and rugs, especially in the bedroom of an asthmatic, is advisable. - Use anti-allergic mattresses, pillows and blankets. In case these are not available, the good old habit of exposing these items to sun light on a daily basis helps eliminate mites.- The possibility of having a dog or cat should be reconsidered. In addition to their hairs, which can serve as a trigger for attacks, skin desquamation, saliva and urine of animals also work as irritants for asthmatics.- Other inhalants can trigger attacks, such as the smell of paint and solvents, cleaning or personal hygiene products, perfumes, in addition to smoke. Try not to have contact with these possible irritants.- Avoid sudden changes in temperature. For example, do not step out of a hot shower onto the street on a cold day, or step in an overcooled environment on a hot summer day. - Wear warm clothes in the cold and do not breathe through your mouth when you are walking on the street. Breathing through your nose will warm the air that reaches your lungs.- Try to exercise every day, always in a moderate way, with medical supervision. Activities that exercise the respiratory muscles, such as swimming, are particularly recommended.- Drink plenty of fluids, about two liters a day, to help dilute the bronchial secretion and facilitate clearing the mucus from your lungs.- Invest in a healthy, high-fiber diet that helps control weight and reduce inflammatory processes in the body, including those behind asthma. - Try to control anxiety and panic when having an attack, as this condition may exacerbate the defense reaction of the lung muscles. When to look for an emergency room in an asthma attack When the symptoms are more intense than the usual; When your speech is broken; In case of inadequate use of inhalers given the intensity of your shortage of breath; When inhalers have a short effect and the symptoms return quickly; When there is a feeling of exhaustion and restlessness; In case of bluish nails and lips (cyanosis). Opportunities:June - National Asthma Control Day Related topics:Pediatrics | Allergy and Immunology | Pneumology | Spirometry | Allergy Tests | Bronchoprovocation test | Child | Family | Prevention| Physical activityLearn More
The arrival of the cold winter wind coincides with the great demand of people for health services, in search of relief from the symptoms of the typical diseases of the season, such as coryza, cough, sneezing, fever, body aches and general malaise, among others, due to the flu, colds and allergies. The truth is that it is not easy to escape a respiratory infection or even an allergic crisis in the coldest months of the year. Those who have children at home know that a good part of the 8 to 12 colds that they have each year, according to experts, happen during this season. Of course there are technical explanations for this phenomenon. The low humidity of the air between June and September, combined with a higher concentration of pollutants in the atmosphere in big cities, makes the airways drier and more unprotected, especially the nose and throat. With less ability to block unwanted visitors, viruses and bacteria, as well as irritants such as mites and fungi – which are terrible for allergic people - they can enter the respiratory system more easily. And all this in the midst of a fall in immunity, given that in the cold, the body is more concerned with getting warm and naturally devotes less time to fighting the invaders. If they already have a more accessible and poorly guarded entryway, disease-causing microorganisms get back up to their team at this time of year, as winter pushes people to remain indoors, which facilitates proliferation of infectious agents. To get an idea, a single sneeze can contain up to 40,000 droplets, some with the ability to come out of the nose at 45 meters per second, according to a paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. With such power, it can contaminate an enclosed space for up to six hours. It is not by chance that it is so common to get a cold in a classroom or in a subway car. Temperature variations can increase winter diseases To top it all, sudden changes in temperature also cause people to get respiratory diseases because of the body's shifting focus - the priority is to keep warm, remember? However, according to researchers at the University of São Paulo who have carried out a study on this relationship, people who suffer from allergic diseases, such as rhinitis and asthma, suffer more on the sudden arrival of a cold front after a relatively hot day. For an asthmatic patient, for example, it is very likely that sudden climatic variations would mean a greater need for medication and, quite often, for emergency room visits due to uncontrolled attacks. Asthma In any case, people most affected by this combination of winter disease triggers are either children under the age of five on the one hand and the elderly on the other because of the fragility of their defense system, which can even turn colds into more serious problems, such as sinusitis and pneumonia. The fact is that, in these groups, the symptoms cannot be expected to disappear with rest and symptomatic medication, especially when there is fever and productive cough. In such cases, it is worth seeing a family trusted doctor or going to the nearest emergency room. Learn more about the difference between the flu and a cold In the face of any manifestation involving the airways, people often report that they have the flu. Who’s never done that? But although they may have similar symptoms, the flu and colds differ in their clinical condition and severity. Colds are caused by more than 200 different viruses, especially those in the rhinovirus family. They start slowly, with symptoms emerging gradually, and usually heal quickly, requiring only medications to relieve the symptoms, such as analgesics and antipyretics. The body itself gets rid of the infection after a few days, developing defenses to fight the virus. In the most vulnerable people, of course, complications can occur. Babies, when infected with the respiratory syncytial virus, for example, are at risk of developing bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the bronchioles that requires close medical attention. The flu comes from the action of the influenza virus, which has three types: A - with two subtypes currently in circulation, according to the Ministry of Health, one of which is the H1N1, which causes the swine flu -, B and C. It starts with a sudden high fever accompanied by dry cough and general malaise. Although it can also be quelled by the immune system, due to the aggressiveness of the symptoms and the risk of progression to severe acute respiratory syndrome, it is not uncommon to prescribe antiviral drugs for the treatment of patients - preferably, in the first 48 hours after the onset of symptoms. In these cases, the infection caused by the influenza virus must be detected first. To do so, there are rapid tests today, through methods of molecular biology, that can give that answer in a few hours. It is easy to remember that influenza can be prevented by vaccination, which needs to be applied annually because circulating influenza strains change every season. Every year, in September, the World Health Organization recommends the strains that are to be used in the manufacture of the immunizers for the next year in the Southern Hemisphere. Cold, on the other hand, don’t have this resource, but the number of cases can be reduced with some care. Tips to protect yourself from winter diseases - Take the flu jab every year. The Brazilian Society of Immunizations recommends the vaccine for everyone from 6 months of age, regardless of their vulnerability. In the public health system, children aged 6 months to 5 years, the elderly, people with chronic and immunosuppressed diseases, among other special groups, have priority. - Often wash your hands with soap and water. This prosaic care is vital to taking away viruses that have been transmitted by people or contaminated surfaces. - Drink plenty of water to hydrate the airways, always enough to leave the urine light yellow. - Eat foods rich in vitamin C – citric fruits, cabbage and broccoli, as well as products enriched with this nutrient. - Wash the nostrils daily with saline solution. - Increase humidity by using basins with water and wet towels in the rooms. An air humidifier is an option, but it requires impeccable maintenance. Without good cleaning, the device may spread more infectious agents around the house. - Take good care of your immunity with a healthy diet and sleep well. - Avoid staying indoors where there are too many people. It is healthier to go to a park on a sunny cold day than to a movie session packed with people. - Wear warm clothes when leaving the house and cover your mouth and nose to warm up the air that will enter the airways – a warm scarf does the trick. - Keep the house clean and free from dust, especially rooms where the most vulnerable people sleep. -Do not send children to school if they have a fever and other typical flu and cold symptoms. In a closed classroom, it is high the risk of contagion. - If you have any symptoms, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or even with your hands, and wash them well afterwards. In case of the H1N1 flu, it may be advisable to wear a mask until there is no further possibility of transmission of the agent.Learn More
In Brazil, blood donation campaigns often focus on periods leading up to large holidays or school holidays, when a significant drop in blood bank stocks is accompanied paradoxically by increased demand. After all, with the great concentration of vehicles on the roads, there are more accidents and, therefore, more people who need blood transfusions or blood components. The donation, however, does not only benefit the injured. A single blood bag helps up to four people because all blood elements - red blood cells, platelets and plasma - are used in a variety of situations, such as multiple surgeries not arising from trauma, organ transplants, chemotherapies, coagulation disorders, anemia and burns , among others. The extent of this act of citizenship is therefore vast. If you intend to donate, simply go to the collection center closest to your home or place of work, such as the various blood centers around Brazil, Hemointo, linked to the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics of the Ministry of Health, the Pro-Health Foundation centers and the Hemotherapy Service of the National Cancer Institute, just to name a few, provided you meet some basic requirements: - To be between 16 and 69 years old (or up to 60 years old, if it is the first donation); - To weigh at least 50 kg; - Not to be on an empty stomach (avoiding greasy food in the three hours prior to the donation); - To have slept a minimum of six hours the night before the donation; - To be in good health conditions; - To present an original identity document with photo and, for people under the age of 18, to present an authorization form signed by a legal guardian. Before taking this step, however, you should check the list of temporary and permanent deferrals (link to boxes of deferrals) and, if there are any extra doubts, please call a collection center to avoid wasting your time. The chronic use of medications, for example, needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. How to donate blood: what happens at a blood center The act of donating blood is simple, safe and painless, taking only about 40 minutes. This period includes the applicant’s registration, the measurement of their vital signs, such as body temperature, weight, blood pressure and heart rate, an anemia test - for the safety of the donor, who cannot have their blood stock reduced if they are anemic - and clinical screening, which includes an interview on the individual’s health history. If no screening impairment is detected, the next step is to collect the 450 ml blood donor bag and to perform tests for hepatitis B and C, syphilis, Chagas disease, HIV/AIDS and HTLV-I and II virus infections, as determined by current legislation. Obviously, the material collected is only used by the blood bank after the test results have confirmed the absence of these diseases, but there are other conditions that can harm the patient who will receive the blood and are not caught by these tests. Therefore, it is crucial to be absolutely honest during your interview. After the donation, the donor receives a snack still at the collection center, so that they don’t feel weak or dizzy, and are instructed not to make great efforts for 12 hours, including practicing extreme sports and professional activities involving some risk. In addition to these instructions, the donor should not smoke for two hours or drink alcohol for 12 hours and drink plenty of water to help the body replenish its blood supply - the body can do that within 24 hours after the donation. A bandage cover over the puncture needs to be maintained for at least four hours. The benefit for those receiving blood is hard to measure. For the donor, there is a feeling of satisfaction to find that their attitude has helped someone survive a surgery or an accident, or else breathed new life into the health of so many people who often rely on transfusions for life quality. The fact is that it is worth embracing this cause. If you have any questions regarding your health condition or even your deferrals to donate, you should first consult with a doctor you trust. Temporary deferrals: when you have to wait to donate Condition/situation Waiting time before donation Colds and the flu 7 days after the symptoms have disappeared Pregnancy 90 days after vaginal delivery180 days after a cesarean section Breast-feeding Up to 12 months after delivery Intake of alcoholic drinks 12 hours Tattoo or piercing* 12 months Dental extraction 72 hours Various surgeries From 3 to 6 months, depending on the type of intervention Blood transfusion 12 months after receipt of blood and blood components Vaccination From 3 to 4 weeks after attenuated vaccines 48 hours after inactivated vaccines Risky exposure to sexually transmitted infections (unprotected sex, multiple partners, sexually transmitted infection partner and other related conditions) 12 months Endoscopic examinations (colonoscopy, endoscopy, etc.) 6 months * If the stud is in the oral cavity or in the genitals, the deferral is permanent. Permanent deferrals: when it is not possible to donate - Hepatitis diagnosed after 11 years of age- Clinical or laboratory diagnosis of hepatitis B or C, HIV/AIDS, diseases linked to HTLV-I and II viruses, and Chagas disease- Current or past malaria- Use of injection drugs - Previous diagnosis of any type of cancer- Piercing of the oral cavity or genitals For additional information access: http://portalms.saude.gov.br/saude-de-a-z/doacao-de-sangue Opportunities: June – World Blood Donor Day November – Voluntary Blood Donor Day Related topics: Hematology | Infectiology | Family | Behavior | Citizenship | WelfareLearn More