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Antibiotics: Abuse, Side Effects, and Resistance

Antibiotics are one of the numerous categories of prescription drugs, commonly misused in this part of the world. 
A 2019 study showed that only 68.3% of adults in Nigeria used antibiotics following a doctor’s prescription.
It was also found that only 42% of Nigerian adults complete their prescribed antibiotic regimen.

The Corona Virus pandemic has contributed further to this vice, as there have been widespread reports of panic buying and hoarding of all sorts of prescription medication (antibiotics inclusive) since the pandemic started.  It is also no secret that many people have recently resulted to self-diagnosis at the slightest sign of a sore throat or fever.

What are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are drugs used to slow down the growth of bacteria and treat bacterial infections, by stopping them from reproducing or destroying them completely. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat viral infections like flu, most coughs, and COVID-19.

It is important to note that, as much as antibiotics fight bacteria, they may also harms us slowly in ways we don’t even notice. Shocking right? “How could something so helpful be harmful at the same time?” you might ask.

dangers of misusing antibiotics

Well here’s a thought – While some bacteria can cause infections, most species are harmless or perform beneficial functions, such as aiding digestion. These beneficial bugs are called commensal bacteria – one of the most important functions of commensal bacteria is boosting the immune system. This is a major reason why excessive use of antibiotics can be harmful to the human body.

Ever heard of the hygiene hypothesis?

Well, this is a theory that states “in early childhood, exposure to particular microorganisms such as; Gut flora, and Helminth parasites can protect against allergic diseases by contributing to the development of the human immune system”. What this simply means is that early exposure of bacteria to the human system will give the white blood cells a fighting chance against that bacteria.

Interesting isn’t it?

Now consider what happens when antibiotics are abused, and these bacteria that could help the immune system, are eradicated completely.

Antibiotic Resistance

Excessive use of antibiotics helps certain harmful bacteria develop higher resistance, and reduces the potency of the drugs in fighting against them. This occurrence is called antibiotic resistance.

The result of this occurrence is that these drugs that would normally kill or inhibit the growth of such bacteria, no longer work effectively.

Medical professionals believe that the growing number of bacterial infections that are developing resistance to antibacterial medication, has largely been caused people overusing antibiotics.

This is not a complete shock however, as Alexander Fleming (the man who discovered the first antibiotic) predicted this occurrence in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1945, where he said:

“Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily under-dose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug, make them resistant.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. It results in longer hospital stays, increased health costs and higher mortality.

Additional research by WHO has shown that a growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis, are becoming harder to treat, as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.

Antibiotic resistance is natural and can affect anyone, regardless of age or location. However, the abuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.

Side Effects of Antibiotics:

As with many other drugs, there are side effects that can occur when using antibiotics. They include:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rash
  • upset stomach
  • with certain antibiotics or prolonged use, fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina

Other less common side effects include:

  • formation of kidney stones, when taking sulphonamides
  • abnormal blood clotting, when taking some cephalosporins)
  • sensitivity to sunlight, when taking tetracyclines
  • blood disorders, when taking trimethoprim
  • deafness, when taking erythromycin and the aminoglycosides

Need a second opinion on some antibiotics, or any medication at all?

You can talk to a licensed doctor right now using the Tremendoc mobile application, and get professional advice on dosage and any other concerns you might have.

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How To Cope with Stress Effectively – 6 Expert Tips

Your phone is ringing nonstop. Your inbox is overflowing mails. You’re 45 minutes late for a deadline and your boss is knocking on your door, asking how your latest project is going. It seems impossible to cope with all the stress.

These are some examples of acute stress, which may not last beyond your workday. However, if your life feels like this every day, you may be experiencing long term or chronic stress. 
This kind of stress can be potentially harmful to your health if you do not find ways to cope with it properly.

Major stressors include money troubles, job issues, relationship conflicts, and major life changes, such as the loss of a loved one. Smaller stressors, such as long daily commutes and rushed mornings, can also add up over time.

Here are 6 simple ways you can effectively cope with stress better:

1. Exercise

exercise often to cope with stress

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to cope with stress. Physical activities such as walking or jogging — that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.
Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and improving your sleep and self-image.

2. Reduce your caffeine intake

reduce your caffeine intake to cope with

Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses can increase anxiety, although people have different thresholds for how much caffeine they can tolerate.
If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back.

3. Write it down

Write down the things that stress you out

One way to cope with stress is to write things down. While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for.
Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.

4. Chew Gum

chew gum to cope with stress

According to several studies, chewing gum may help you relax. It may also promote wellbeing and reduce stress. One possible explanation is that chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain.
Additionally, one recent study found that stress relief was greatest when people chewed more strongly.

5. Learn to Avoid Procrastination

avoid proscastion to reduce stress

Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating. Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.

6. Take a deep breath

take a deep breath to cope with stress

Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signaling your body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode. During this reaction, stress hormones are released and you experience physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing, and constricted blood vessels.
Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response.

Everyone experiences stress from time to time. In the short term, acute stress can give you the motivation you need to power through a tough situation or meet a pressing deadline. However, long-term (chronic) stress can negatively affect your health.
If you feel run down, or like your health might be negatively affected by stress, you can speak with any of a licensed doctor on the Tremendoc app and receive professional advice on the appropriate steps to take, to minimize the effect of stress on your health

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Updated WHO guidance on the use of Face Masks – What’s New

“Are fabric face masks effective in protecting myself from COVID-19?”

“Should I wear a mask if I don’t have the virus?”

“How do I know the right mask to wear?”

These are only a few of the numerous questions commonly asked by people since the use of face masks became an essential part of our everyday lives, in order to control and slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Based on new research and discoveries, the World Health Organization (WHO), announced updated guidelines on the use of face masks for the prevention or management of COVID-19, which helps answer some these commonly asked questions.

  "Masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19."  -  WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
 “Masks alone will not protect you from COVID-19.” – WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

“Today, WHO is publishing updated guidance on the use of masks for control of covid-19,” said the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a press briefing on Friday, June 5th, 2020.

Here’s What’s New:

  • In areas with widespread transmission, WHO advises medical masks for all people working in clinical areas of health facilities, not only workers dealing with COVID-19 patients
  • In areas with community transmission, people aged 60 years and above, or with underlying health conditions should wear medical face masks when physical distancing is not possible
  • WHO has also updated its guidance on the use of medical face masks by the general public. Dr. Tedros advised that governments instruct people to wear medical face masks in areas where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops, or in other confined or crowded environments.
  • Based on academic research requested by WHO, the health body has also provided new information on the composition of fabric masks. WHO recommends that fabric face masks should consist of at least 3 different layers of material – an inner layer being an absorbent material like cotton, a middle layer of non-woven materials such as polypropylene (for the filter) and an outer layer, which is a non-absorbent material such as a polyester or a polyester blend.

Dr. Tedros also went on to add that “masks are not a replacement for physical distancing, hand hygiene, and other public health measures.” It is possible for people to infect themselves by using unsanitized hands to repeatedly take off and put on face masks.

Prevention of COVID-19 is a 360-degree effort, and while the use of masks is an important part, doing so in isolation could still leave you susceptible to infection.