The Importance of Autism Awareness

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong neuro psychological condition, affecting how a person communicates and relates with other people, it also affects how they perceive the world. Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that whilst all autistic people share certain difficulties, their condition affects them in different ways. The three main areas of difficulty which all people with autism share are; difficulty with social communication, difficulty with social interaction and difficulty with social imagination.

‘Autism’ comes from the Greek word “autos,” meaning “self.” The term describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction – hence, an isolated self. Currently there is no known cause of autism. It is a complex condition, and may occur as a result of genetic predisposition, environmental or unknown factors. There is no known ‘cure’ for autism. This does not mean, however, that nothing can be done to help a person with autism.

Astonishingly 70% of adults on the spectrum are unable to live independently, of these individuals, 49% live with family members. This can place huge strain on families and has established a need for day care establishments, to provide care for adults with additional needs. These establishments can provide these individuals with a range of skills and activities needed for a more enriching life whilst doing so in a safe, empowering environment. They also give other members of the families opportunities to partake in activities many would consider the ‘norm’, such as employment or taking non affected siblings out. 

Thank you for reading! Sorry this wasn’t overly long and posts are inconsistent, but I’m very busy with school work at the moment so hope you understand!

Sources:

– http://www.autism.org.uk/about.aspx

– http://iancommunity.org/cs/articles/adults_with_asds_where_are_they_now

– http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Autistic-spectrum-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Orajel & Reye’s Syndrome

Ever had a mouth ulcer that you’ve had to buy gel for? Ever noticed age restrictions warning against giving it to people under 16 year? Only last week , this happened to myself and I noticed that this restriction is in place due to a possible link between Salicylates and Reye’s syndrome when given to children. I had not heard of Reye’s syndrome and resolved to do some research on the disease.

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Reye’s Syndrome is a rare condition that causes serious liver and brain damage. If it is not treated promptly it may result in permanent brain injury or death. There is evidence that the child taking Aspirin may contribute towards the development of the condition (explaining why Orajel issued a warning against giving children the salicylate-containg product). Also most children that developed Reye’s syndrome were recovering from a viral infection, such as chickenpox or influenza. Often children admitted to hospital with Reye’s syndrome symptoms actually have an inherited metabolic disorder. Reye’s syndrome progresses through five stages:

Stage 1 – A rash on palms and hands and feet / Vomiting / Lethargy / Confusion / Nightmares / Fever / Headaches

Stage 2 – Encephalitis (acute inflammation of the brain) can lead to stupor / Hyperventilation / Biopsy shows fatty liver / Hyperactive reflexes

Stage 3 – Continuation of the first stage’s symptoms / Possible Coma / Possible cerebral oedema / Respiratory arrest

Stage 4 – Deepening coma / Dilated pupils, unresponsive to light / Liver dysfunction

Stage 5 – This stage follows quickly from stage 4. Deep coma / Seizures / Multiple organ failure / flaccidity / Hyperammonemia (excess of ammonia in the blood) / Death.

Despite the fact it is now estimated that 8 out of 10 people who develop Reye’s syndrome will survive, children can sometimes develop brain damage after recovery. The level of brain damage experienced depends on the amount of brain swelling, which is more likely if Reye’s syndrome was severe.And allthough it has been associated with Aspirin consumption, there have been no cases of Reye’s secondary to the use of mouth ulcer gel, so the measure is a precaution. I learnt a lot through this research and hope that any readers benefit equally.

Thanks for reading!

The NHS: A Fair Share?

The NHS is funded by the common taxpayer, so there will inevitably be limits on the amount of money that can be used to treat individuals and some treatments will be deemed too expensive. As a result, many patients are denied NHS treatment, for example, NHS breast cancer patients are currently being denied Kadcyla, a drug which is clinically proven to extend life of patients with advanced breast cancer. Due to the detrimental effects that restrictions of resources within the NHS has caused and will continue to cause in the future, it is clear that allocation of resources within the NHS needs to be carefully balanced. Below I’ve considered the treatment of people who are overweight or obese, but similar resource dilemmas apply to alcohol abusers, smokers, travellers to risky places and extreme sports enthusiasts. Therefore, should the free treatment of people on the NHS who are overweight, be reconsidered?

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As an official statistic of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2013, 61.7% of the UK population are obese or overweight. In addition, 24.9% of the UK population is obese, which is the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, ahead of countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, the 2013 report says. The level of obesity has trebled in the past thirty years due to changes in life styles. If this trend continues, more than half the population will be obese by 2050. An adult is classed as overweight if they have a BMI of between 25 and 29, furthermore, they are classed as obese if they have a BMI over 30.  By being obese or overweight, it puts you at an increased likelihood of developing illnesses and diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and cancer. Consequently, you are at increased risk of needing treatment, for example, during 2011-12 there were 11,736 hospital admissions due to obesity. This is in addition to the direct treatment of obesity with prescription diet drugs and surgical gastric bands.

Despite this, the NHS has a duty to deliver and provide free health care to all UK citizens according to their needs. Therefore, some people believe all NHS patients who are overweight should be allowed treatment, unless there is overwhelming evidence that instructs the doctors against treating the patients. Furthermore, Health England has recognised the prevalence of obesity amongst the deprived, therefore it could be classed as an act of social inequality to deny treatment to overweight patients. Patient’s socioeconomic status shouldn’t be discriminated against as it is against their human rights. In addition, the department of Health believe that care shouldn’t be denied “on the base of arbitrary blanket bans”, consequently the individual needs of the patients should be accounted for prior to doctors making the decision on whether to treat the individual.

Thank you for reading!

Seeing is believing! Or is it?

 

placebo effect
noun
  1. a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.
    (Source – Google)

Placebo effect is taken into account in every drugs trial procedure that aims to see how effective a substance can improve the health of a patient. This usually take the form of a control, a substance which in itself has no proven effect on the subject that would be similar to the effects of the drug, however neither the patient or the doctors in some cases are aware of which of the substances is the placebo, it is usually quite amazing how much of an effect the placebo can have.

However it can be said that although drug trials that usually include the presents of many people in many groups have proven the validity of the placebo effect, this shows nothing about how the effect has a relevance in the individual case of a patient or the exact physical or physiological effects.

It is thought that the placebo effect occurs by encouraging the release of naturally synthesised drugs by the body, these include substances such as dopamine. This was first studied when the power of the placebo effect was investigated in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The findings of the study were published in a paper entitled Expectation and Dopamine release mechanism of the placebo effect in Parkinson’s disease’ showed that “the placebo effect in PD is powerful and is mediated through activation of the damaged nigrostriatal dopamine system”.

Weather or not we ever actually find out how this phenomenon work one thing we can know it that its effects have been proven and therefore can and should be used in every part of medicine to improve the recovery of patients.

if_you_believe_it_will-23ho4t2                           Thanks for reading!

 

Why Obesity is Literally a Growing Problem

. The HSE reveals that about 25% of adults and over 10% of children (2-10) are clinically obese. The increasing trend is starting to worry the government and encouragement to act has been growing in the last months according to the NHS. But, why is this an health issue? By definition, a person is obese if his Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 30 (where the normal range is from 18.5-25. The results of obesity are diverse and spread throughout the body, but intrinsically connected. The cause is an excessive intake of calories that end up not being burnt and, instead, accumulate resulting on excessive weight. As more weight is gained, the heart muscle (myocardium) needs to function harder and, consequently, blood pressure increases.

Also, atherosclerosis may occur (excessive accumulation of cholesterol – fat – on the walls of blood vessels which get narrower and weaker). This may lead to lack of enough of blood supply to some tissues and organs eventually ending up on their death. On extreme situations such as the heart muscle it may lead to a myocardial infarction. Another problem that may appear is when a fat fragment breaks off from the wall of the blood vessel and gets stuck in the edges of the wall covered in cholesterol blocking the blood passage. This is, many times, the cause of a heart attack (already mentioned) and of strokes (cerebrovascular diseases). Obesity is also known to be related with respiratory and skeletomuscular diseases such as asthma and osteoarthritis respectively. As well, Type II diabetes mellitus is very commonly related with obesity since it is a type of the condition that can be regulated through diet.

To fight this issue, the NHS should attempt to alert people the dangers of this condition and the advantages of having healthy dietary habits by using advertising in the media to get a quicker effect. Also, it would be important to work collaboratively with schools to help children change their habits; this could involve: presentations to parents and to children, incentives for them to discuss these issues in class and encouragement to change and fight this disease that has been lowering the life expectancy among the British and World population.

Thanks for reading!

A Very Close Relative – Parasitic Twins

During research concerning certain cases of parasitic twins, I stumbled across a very rare and interesting type.. It is called ‘fetus in fetu’ and is when a fetus beomes encased inside its twin. The parasitic twin can survive off its twin’s blood supply directly which can grow so large, that it starts to cause harm to the host. These cases are so rare that only around 90 have been found on record. “Fetus in fetu happens very early in a twin pregnancy, when one fetus wraps around and envelops the other. The dominant fetus grows, while the fetus that would have been its twin lives on throughout the pregnancy, feeding off its host twin like a kind of parasite. Usually, both twins die before birth from the strain of sharing a placenta.”

In around 1999, a farmer named Sanju Bhagat from Nagpur, India was found to be in this situation after being misdiagnosed with a tumour. What was really special about this case was that Bhagat’s host twin survived and was also delivered. Dr. Ajay Mehta of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai was the lead surgeon and another doctor present in the operation room recalled: “He just put his hand inside and he said there are a lot of bones inside.”First, one limb came out, then another limb came out. Then some part of genitalia, then some part of hair, some limbs, jaws, limbs, hair.”

Inside Bhagat’s stomach was a strange, half-formed creature that had feet and hands that were very developed. Its fingernails were quite long.

(All italics sourced from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=2346476&page=1)

This is an example of a classic surgery and medical history that can never be forgotten. When operations like the one above are encountered and become successful, it can be an amazing gift to more than just one person. The parasitic twin which had been creating pressure on Bhagat’s diaphragm, meant that Bhagat had many breathing difficulties; but once the twin was removed, he was able to breathe fully once again and was no longer in pain.

Removing a parasitic twin from its host requires a high level of skill, the cases have varied from one end of extreme to the other. However, maybe one day, I will gain the knowledge to perform surgery to remove a parasitic twin myself.

Why Vaping Definitely Isn’t Cool

Whilst many a 21st Century teenager may argue that vaping is good, or at least not as harmful as smoking, it’s now proven that we should definitely not be using it as an alternative to cigarettes. Whether or not you think puffing out a breath full of harmful carcinogens makes you seem like the coolest kid on the block, you can face a life of long term health problems having only vaped a hand full of times. Nicotine is a large component of most  E-liquids and years of study on NRT and Swedish snus users shows that nicotine without combustion poses a considerable risk for adverse heart events or stroke. It does increase heart rate and blood pressure temporarily. So, for those with severe cardiovascular disease, nicotine — or any substance that might affect even short-term heart function — is probably best avoided.vape

 

– 3 humans, sociably conducting a brain cell homicide, whilst leaning on a building. (Above)

Moreover, recent studies have suggested that vape pens are equally as accessible for young children as alcohol is. Vaping was designed to reduce the amount of people that smoke, but could this not just lead to more smokers? Additionally, many use lithium ion batteries that are prone to exploding. Unsurprisingly, this can cause direct and serious damage to any area it is exposed to, presenting a huge risk. It is because of these reasons that I and many others would urge young people particularly, to stop vaping.

Thanks.

Curing The Blind?

Moorfield’s Eye Hospital, University College London, Sheffield University, The British Government and pharmaceutical company Pfizer have collaborated to establish the ‘London Project to cure blindness’. It aspires to tackle a disease called wet AMD (wet age-related macular degeneration, that can result in the deterioration of central vision. They’re using stem cells to grow sheets of retinal pigment epithelium cells. These cells form a brown coloured layer on the back of the eye that helps to absorb scattered light, boosting vision and nourishing rod and cone cells that detect light entering the eye. The RPE cell layer can become damaged in wet AMD, so effectively, the treatment just replaces it. However, the new cells behave exactly as the originals. In theory, this should certainly work, but it is yet to be clinically tested!

amd med blog

 

( Vision without AMD Vs. vision with AMD)

To be more specific about AMD, it comes in two forms, dry and wet. Dry is the least harmful and thankfully the most common, although this can worsen, resulting in abnormal blood vessel formation and onset of wet AMD. So, if you’re sat at home and know a victim of AMD, don’t panic, a potential cure is just around the corner! Sorry this was only a short article. It is half term next week, so I aim to make up for it then! Thanks for reading.

Meningitis and Septicaemia – Why You Should Act Fast!

Meningitis is a deadly disease, potentially obtainable through both direct contact and isolated development. After infection, the lining of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) become inflamed, unsurprisingly resulting in multiple symptoms. Septicaemia on the other hand, is a form of the same disease that leads to blood poisoning.

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 A severe case of Meningitis (Above)

Meningitis affects mainly young children, with the following potential side effects: seizures, a small lump on the head, pale blotchy skin, cold hands and feet, rapid breathing and the refusal of food and drink.

It is so important to seek medical attention if you or someone you know is suffering with these symptoms, as the onset is rapid and so extremely deadly. Meningococcus is the most common form, which is also contagious, so isolation is the safest way to initially go about treating a person with suspected Meningitis (prior to receiving medical attention of course).

Moreover, the same goes to Septicaemia, for this may develop into Sepsis if left untreated, leaving the whole body exposed to a deadly infection or disease. Sepsis occurs when your body has a strong immune response to the infection, leading to widespread inflammation throughout the body. It’s called severe sepsis if it leads to organ failure, so people with chronic diseases, such as HIV or cancer, are at a higher risk of sepsis. This is due to them having a weakened immune system, so they can’t fight off the infection without help.

The only known way of treating this is to take a course of antibiotics (broad spectrum), which may highlight a more specific cause, so slightly different treatment can be used with a higher chance of success.

Thank you for reading!

Welcome to my page!

Hi all,

Welcome to my blog! My name is Tom Dixon and I’m an aspiring medical student, currently studying maths, chemistry, biology and EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) at A level.  I thought it’d be great to begin a blog, since I’d love to immerse myself within an environment in which I’m surrounded by fellow medics, who are also keen to share information that I anticipate will be very interesting. Based around prostheses  and exoskeletons, my EPQ is currently in progress and I hope to be able to share details of this in future blogs. In addition, expect information on my volunteering, work experience and anything I learn in future school medical society meetings to feature in my content. Thank you very much for reading and I’ll be posting again soon (sorry this was only short!)

Tom Dixon