Tag Archives: immune system

Lymphoma Fast Facts

Lymphoma is a form of blood cancer that targets the immune system. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s. Lymphoma is a relatively common type of cancer; there were more than 81,000 new cases of lymphoma diagnosed in the United States in 2016 alone. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key facts about lymphoma:

  • Luckily, in many cases, lymphoma is a relatively curable type of cancer, with the survival rate nearly doubling for both types since the 1960’s. Having said that, many people sadly still die annually from the disease, but it does not claim nearly as many lives as some other forms of cancer.
  • Blood cancers account for more than 10% of all new cancer cases.
  • Every 3 minutes an American is diagnosed with some type of blood cancer (lymphoma, myeloma or leukemia).
  • B-cell and T-cell malignant growths are associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • One of the most defining symptoms of lymphoma is painless swelling of the lymph nodes (such as those in the neck or armpits) that doesn’t go away.
  • Other symptoms may include: sweating (particularly night sweats), weight loss, fatigue, chills, general itching or swelling in random parts of the body.
  • Lymphoma is often mistaken for a nagging cold until the symptoms linger for weeks or months.
  • Lymphoma is associated specifically with a sub-type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
  • There are 5 stages of lymphoma, 1 being cancer that is localized to the lymph nodes only, and stage 5 is widespread cancer that has migrated throughout the body.
  • Diagnostic tests for lymphoma may include: a subcutaneous tissue biopsy, platelet and white blood cell lab tests, an MRI, PET scans or x-rays. If your doctor suspects lymphoma he or she will likely perform a combination of these tests to confirm lymphoma or rule it out.

That concludes our look at lymphoma. Thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you return again soon.

Frequently Asked Questions about AIDS (Part 1)

HIV/AIDS has caused over 35 million deaths globally since the virus first surfaced. The CDC estimates about 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS, and what’s more is that 1 out of 8 of those infected don’t even know it. Because of this, AIDS awareness and screening is vitally important.

What is AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final and most serious stage of HIV infection. When a person contracts the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from another person or a contaminated needle it begins attacking the immune system’s CD4+ cells which renders the body unable to fight off infections. This can open up the person to many dangerous opportunistic infections and diseases (like cancer), which usually happens when AIDS sets in.

How Many HIV Positive People Develop AIDS?

Approximately 50% of those infected with HIV develop AIDS within 10 years. About 75% of HIV-positive people will develop AIDS before the 15-year mark of contracting HIV hits. There is a small percentage of HIV patients who manage to avoid steady immune system decline and can keep HIV in the early and moderate stages for much of their lives.

What is the Prognosis for AIDS?

While there have been excellent advancements in AIDS treatment and medications, there is still no cure so without treatment, AIDS is fatal. However, treatments like antiretroviral medications slow the progression of the disease, allowing AIDS patients to live a much longer and healthier life than ever before. 30 years ago, nearly everyone who contracted HIV/AIDS would be deceased within 5 years.

Does HIV/AIDS have symptoms?

Most people don’t experience symptoms early in the disease, however they may experience more cold symptoms than usual or a sore throat that isn’t attributed to anything else and doesn’t seem to go away. As the disease progresses, a person may experience such symptoms and complications as:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Chronic cough
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Recurrent infections or colds

How is HIV Transmitted?

HIV cannot be contracted by giving an infected person a hug or handshake, or even sharing a drink. HIV can only be transmitted when any of an infected person’s bodily fluids aside from saliva,  (blood, semen, rectal or vaginal fluids or breast milk) comes in contact with:

  • a mucous membrane (found in the rectum, vagina, penis and mouth)
  • an open cut
  • the bloodstream

This can happen during any type of unprotected sex (rarely via oral sex, but it is possible), a blood transfusion, tattoo or injection with an HIV contaminated needle, or it can be passed from the mother to a baby during the birthing process. Very rarely transmission has occurred when an HIV-positive parent with a mouth sore has pre-chewed food for their baby or when an HIV-positive person and an HIV-negative person have engaged in deep kissing where one or both partners have open sores, from being bitten by an HIV-positive person or from skin-to-skin contact where open wounds from both the infected and non-infected person touch.

That concludes part 1, but keep an eye out for Part 2 to find out about prevention and screening next! Thanks for visiting DocChat!


Does Changing Weather Cause Sickness?



We’ve all heard the old adage that changing weather brings on sickness, but is there truth to this age-old assertion? For some time, the science community said ‘no’, but recent thinking is leaning more towards ‘kind-of’. While there are medical professionals who maintain the rise in colds and infections during seasonal transitions is purely coincidental, there seem to be more facts supporting the idea that temperature changes can contribute to illness, especially for particular demographics. The reasoning behind this new thinking isn’t straightforward, there are many factors that work in accordance to cause sickness to rise as the seasons blend.

Coinciding Factors

Some people think they are experiencing a cold that just won’t leave, or as people dubbed it years ago “The spring flu” but they are most likely experiencing allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), allergies brought on by airborne particles such as pollen from plants and trees that start budding in the spring. The Weather Channel claims another factor that makes it appear as though the changing weather causes sickness is that the structure of cold viruses allows them to breed and spread easily in the cold dry air of the beginning of spring. So it may still be viruses, not the weather itself, that causes cold-like symptoms in so many people around this time of year.

Weather Can Confuse Immune Systems

While weather in itself may not cause sickness, fluctuating mercury levels certainly play a role in how the body functions. Our bodies grow accustomed to whatever the current season and temperature is, so when that changes (sometimes drastically) as winter turns into spring our bodies are forced to re-adapt to the new weather and changes in atmospheric pressure. This can cause confusion within the immune system. It has a distracting effect, so while our front line of bodily defence is busy trying to reconfigure based on weather changes, pre-existing conditions may flare up or new germs may set in as our defenses glitch-out.

Healthy Versus Vulnerable

As with many contagious illnesses, people who fall into the immunocompromised category are often the most affected demographic when winter recedes and spring shows its face. Dr Adham Alameddin, medical director of Synergy Integrated Medical Clinic in Dubai says “The community is divided into two groups – those who are vulnerable to illness and those who are healthy. For the healthy sector, as long as they continue to eat a balanced diet, take a lot of exercise and drink plenty of fluids, their body will be able to cope with the dramatic onset of heat. For those who fall into the vulnerable category – young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or cancer – the risk of feeling unwell is much higher.”

How to Prevent the Season-Based Sickies

If you fall ill every spring and suspect allergies may be at play, ask your doctor for an allergy test to see if hay fever may indeed be the culprit. Or, if you are a known hay fever sufferer or a severe asthmatic, be sure to contact your doctor or allergist to get a medication plan in place or adjust your current one if necessary, and to find out how to avoid getting hit too hard by your allergies when pollen starts up. If you are immunocompromised and contract a cold or illness, be sure to contact your doctor or one of our qualified physicians at DocChatto make sure you won’t get in over your head trying to fight off the bug. For the general non-allergenic public, be sure to get plenty of rest and quit burning the candle at both ends which will help keep your immune system strong. You should also eat well and exercise regularly, and check in with your body intermittently to make sure you are still in tip top shape.


Why Allergies Should Not Be Neglected

Young woman blowing her nose while being in the nature

Exposure to common allergens like pollen, animal dander, weed, and even some foods makes your immune system vulnerable, thereby causing allergic reactions. You are likely to be at more risk to develop allergy when your body is weak and healing after suffering through a fever or viral infection. Even though it is the allergens that trigger allergic reaction in your body, in reality it is when you neglect them that they worsen.

Although there is no cure for allergies, you can however treat them in order to control them and not let it worsen. Since allergy is a form of chronic illness, if you do not treat it in due time, it will aggravate.

Here are some problems that you could face if you neglect your allergies.

· You are likely to develop additional allergies

Common symptoms of allergy are cough, watery eyes, sore throat, runny nose, and itchiness. With time, people who already have some sort of an untreated allergy notice that their symptoms have become much more severe and unbearable. This might mean that you have developed additional allergies. For instance if people suffer from pollen allergy, they may also suffer allergy triggered by foods that contain similar elements.

· Your symptoms are likely to worsen

Allergies are chronic and they don’t go away on their own. If you don’t undergo a proper treatment plan in order to control the allergic reaction, it is likely to lead to much more severe symptoms like sinus infection, ear infection and advanced asthma.

· You may suffer from life threatening asthma

Basic symptoms of asthma are similar to most of the allergies, except that they are on a much more severe scale. Almost all sorts of allergies result in the allergic person suffering from cough. If you neglect it and leave it untreated, your allergy is likely to turn into a much more serious problem including asthma. Symptoms like severe coughing, shortness in breath and chest tightening are common in asthma. Delayed treatment of preexisting allergies like food allergy may cause chronic asthma.

Whether, you are an adolescent or an adult, neglecting allergies can cause severe problems and diseases in the future. One should avoid exposure to allergens, and in case it worsens, you ought to have a doctor’s advice and treat it with medicine such as nasal sprays and allergy shots.