Category: Medical News

Understanding the Covid-19 tests

Understanding the Covid-19 tests

There are generally two types of tests being used currently to detect Covid-19 infections.

The first type of test looks for the presence of the virus in the body. It is called rt-PCR test (real time polymerase chain reaction). It can be used in the early phase of the infection to detect whether the virus is in the body or not. This is a swab test of the nose and throat. A positive result is diagnostic of a Covid-19 infection. A negative result means there is no virus presence in the body. However, this is also dependent on how the swab is done. There is still a small chance that the area swabbed was free of the virus despite it being present elsewhere. This is the sensitivity rate of the test. No test is 100% sensitive.

The second type of test looks for the antibody response to the Covid-19 virus. Since these antibodies take some time to appear in the body even after the virus is present, this test may not pick up an infection if it is used too early. This is called a false negative. A repeat test after 7 – 10 days is recommended. This is a blood test.

There are two types of antibodies that can be detected in the body. IgM appears earlier than IgG, which can remain for a long time even after recovery from the infection. Thus, a positive test for IgG does not necessarily mean the infection or virus is still in your body. It unsure, it is best to get your doctor to interpret the result for you.

Get to know your Covid-19 enemy

Get to know your Covid-19 enemy

How you may be infected

A typical Covid-19 infection begins with a close contact with an infected person as that contact exposes you to a possible infection. It is not certain that you will be infected. That depends on many factors, including the viral load, how well you are protected and how good is your own immunity.

Close contact is a very specifically defined term. It does not apply to you if you just happened to walk past a known Covid-19 patient, or even if you happened to talk to the patient for a brief time when both are wearing masks. See the image before for its definition as applied to HCW.

For a more general definition of a close contact encounter with a Covid-19 patient, see this image below:

(PUI stands for Person Under Investigation)

Generally, the rationale is that the longer you are exposed to the patient, the higher is your risk of getting the infection. As a general guideline, the recommended cut off point for the encounter is taken as 15 minutes, i.e. if your encounter lasted less than 15 minutes, you are less likely to be infected. This is, however, not absolute, and should be assessed together with other factors, such as whether face masks were worn, there was any cough or sneeze, or vigorous talking, and the infectious period of the patient.

A viral load is the amount of virus present. The bigger the viral load, the more viruses are present, and therefore the higher the risk of infection. Viral load is determined by how much viruses are in the body of the infected person that you are in contact with at the time of the close contact. It is also determined by whether the infected person sneezes or coughs in your presence, or whether he or she talks to you, and how long. The duration of your exposure is another factor to consider. The longer you are exposed, the higher the risk of infection. Therefore, minimise your contact with other people, and if you cannot avoid the contact, make it as brief as possible.

On the other hand, the further away you are from the infected person, the less likely you are of getting the infection. This is why physical distancing is so important.

How the virus may get into your body

Fortunately, the virus cannot enter your body through the skin. Its most common route of entry into the body is through the eyes, the nose and the mouth. That is why it is important to wear your mask. Your mask protects your nose and mouth, preventing the virus from entering your body. Nose swabs and throat swabs often yield more positive results from the nose than the throat, suggesting that the nose may be a more important entry point for the virus compared to the mouth. Therefore, make sure you wear your mask properly and cover both the nose and the mouth. For added protection, especially for HCW (healthcare workers) who are frequently in contact with patients, a face shield is recommended to protect the eyes as well.

So, whether you get infected or not depends on how well you protect yourself. Wearing a mask greatly reduces the risk. If the infected person also wears a mask, the risk even even smaller.

What happens when the virus gets into the body

Once the virus gets into your body, it incubates for about 5 days, multiplying in your body and increasing the viral load.

Symptoms typically appear about day 5 of the infection. Symptoms are fever, body ache, cough, and general feeling of unwell (often indistinguishable from other viral infections like flu and dengue). In severe cases, there is difficulty in breathing.

You are infectious about 1 – 2 days BEFORE your first symptom appears, so you may not know it and may spread it to others unintentionally. The infectious period may last 10 days, i.e. day 3 to day 13. This is the rationale for the 14 day quarantine.

However, we must also bear in mind that some Covid-19 infections may present atypically, meaning they differ from the above typical infection. Some may actually last longer, and become more severe, even deadly.

How to protect yourself from infection

Very important – follow the SOP strictly. Do not be negligent. Do not take this lightly, yet at the same time there is no need to panic. Be rationale in your approach.

  1. Wear your face mask properly

2. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially before you touch your face or after you have touched your mask. Always regard your mask as though it is contaminated with the virus. In this way, you will be more careful when you handle your mask. Also, dispose your mask properly and safely.

3. Practice physical distancing. The further you are, the less likely for you to be infected. The minimum recommendation is 6 feet apart.

4. Regard everyone as a potential spreader. Therefore, limit your contact with others. Avoid unnecessary contact. Where contact is unavoidable, make it as brief as possible.

How do I know if I have Covid-19 infection?

How do I know if I have Covid-19 infection?

With the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, it is understandable if you are concern and wonder if you have the infection and not know about it, since some people may be asymptomatic. On the other hand, your healthcare facilities can easily get overwhelmed with unnecessary screening and testings.

So, what should you do if you are not sure whether you may have the Covid-19 infection or not? Well, here is a simple and quick method to assess your risk by yourself. It is not foolproof but it can be used as a first step to assessing your own risk of getting the infection.

Are you at risk of having the Covid-19 infection?

If, after doing the self assessment above, you think you may have the Covid-19 infection, here is what you need to do next.

Eating curry has unexpected health benefit after study finds it improves your memory

Eating curry has unexpected health benefit after study finds it improves your memory

Scientists have uncovered some good news for curry fans, as the popular dish could boast some unexpected health benefits.

Research has found that a key ingredient can both improve your mood and your memory.

A study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reveals that people regularly taking curcumin performed better in memory tests and had longer attention spans.

Curcumin goes into in tumeric, which is used in curry.

Following the study, author Dr Gary Small said, according to Science Daily : “Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression.”

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Even one cigarette a day can still kill you, study finds

Even one cigarette a day can still kill you, study finds

If you think having just one cigarette a day won’t do any harm, you’re wrong. British researchers say lighting up just once a day was linked to a much higher risk of heart disease and stroke than might be expected.

The bottom line: “No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease,” wrote the team led by Allan Hacksaw, of UCL Cancer Institute at University College, London.

“Smokers should quit instead of cutting down, using appropriate cessation aids if needed, to significantly reduce their risk,” the study authors said.

And it’s a warning to the young that even so-called “light” smoking carries a heavy price, one expert said.

Young adults “often smoke lesser amounts than older adults,” noted Patricia Folan, who directs the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health, in Great Neck, N.Y.

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High-cholesterol diet causes tumours to form 100 times faster

High-cholesterol diet causes tumours to form 100 times faster

High-cholesterol diets send cancer cells into overdrive and cause tumours to grow 100 times faster, according to new research.

Scientists have shown for the first time the mechanism which means fatty cholesterol significantly increases the risk of colon cancers, opening the door for new drugs which could prevent this.

As well as looking at ways this cancer-boosting pathway could be blocked, researchers from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) who made the discovery are investigating whether other forms of cancer are also sent into similar growth frenzy by high levels of cholesterol.

“We were excited to find that cholesterol influences the growth of stem cells in the intestines, which in turn accelerates the rate of tumour formation by more than 100-fold,” said Dr Peter Tontonoz from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

”While the connection between dietary cholesterol and colon cancer is well established, no one has previously explained the mechanism behind it.”

Cholesterol is an essential component of the outer membrane of all human cells and is produced in the liver as an essential building block for other key substances.

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A bedtime to-do list could help you sleep better

A bedtime to-do list could help you sleep better

For better shut-eye, don’t count blessings or sheep at bedtime; take stock instead.

A small but intriguing study found that writing a to-do list before turning in helps people get to sleep faster.

The reason? The mental housekeeping “offloaded” worry about what’s upcoming, according to research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

The study, led by Michael K. Scullin, Director of the Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory in Baylor University’s department of Psychology, involved a team of researchers following 57 student volunteers. Each volunteer spent one night sleeping in the lab.

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Drinking alcohol raises risk of cancer by snapping DNA, scientists find

Drinking alcohol raises risk of cancer by snapping DNA, scientists find

Drinking alcohol raises the risk of cancer by damaging DNA, scientists have discovered for the first time, leading health experts to call for people to cut down on their consumption.

Alcohol is contributes to more than 12,000 cases of cancer each year in Britain, but nobody had shown why it was so harmful.

Now a new study by the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University, has found that when the body processes alcohol it produces a chemical called acetaldehyde which is harmful to DNA.

The damage happens in blood stem cells, which create the red and white blood cells that carry oxygen through the body and help fight infections.

The researchers found that acetaldehyde snaps the DNA of stem cells, permanently altering the genetic code and triggering cancer.

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Eating fish may help you sleep better

Eating fish may help you sleep better

Forget warm milk. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania says that fish may be the key to a good night’s sleep.

The paper, published Thursday in Scientific Reports, found an association between regular fish consumption and high sleep quality among Chinese schoolchildren, likely thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Largely as a result of that improved sleep, the researchers found, the children also scored higher on IQ tests.

“There’s a relationship between fish consumption and higher cognitive functioning. What what we document here is that it’s the better sleep that explains the relationship,” says Adrian Raine, one of the paper’s authors and a professor of criminology, psychiatry and psychology at Penn. “From A to B to C: From fish consumption to better sleep to higher cognitive functioning.”

 The researchers asked 541 schoolchildren in China between ages 9 and 11 to describe their eating habits, including how often they ate fish. Their parents, meanwhile, were asked to answer questions about the kids’ sleep patterns. Researchers then administered IQ tests when the children turned 12.They found links between eating fish regularly — the more, the better — and both improved sleep and higher IQ scores. But, Raine explains, it appears that many of the cognitive benefits can be traced back to bedtime. “The brain is so much more plastic early on in child development,” he says. “We might anticipate that fish consumption earlier in life may be particularly beneficial for a child’s sleep and cognitive functioning.”

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