The third Conference on Health Tourism in Islamic Courtiers kicked off in Razavi Hospital in the northeastern provincial capital city of Mashhad. Experts and officials from different Islamic countries as well as representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), World Tourism Organization and several other international bodies are attending this two-day event.
The first Conference on Health Tourism in the Islamic Countries started work in Mashhad two years ago. It was aimed at reviewing the challenges facing health tourism as well as taking opportunities to promote the issue in the Islamic countries. Source: IRNA
Are men unfairly castigated for having “man flu” and running to their sick beds at the merest sign of a sniffle?
Research suggests that women are at greater risk of getting flu than men because they tend to spend more time around children, who are more likely to have a flu-like illness in the first place.
A nationwide flu survey carried out by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine during last winter found that women were 16% more likely to say they had flu symptoms. So is it really women who are making all the fuss about being unwell?
This winter, the online flu survey is up and running again and aiming to find out the answer.
The survey needs people of all ages around the country to report any flu-like symptoms by filling in an online questionnaire. This data will be used to map the spread of flu across the country during the winter. Researchers can then analyse how the virus spreads and who it affects.
Dr Alma Adler, who runs the project, says they wanted to find out more about gender differences and flu in this year’s survey.
“We haven’t found any evidence of ‘man flu’ yet. “The biggest risk factor is having children under the age of 18 and for this reason women are more at risk of flu. “This year we have included some new questions, such as ‘How bad do you feel?’
“People can answer on a number scale of one to 10.”
This is the crucial part, asking people how they feel when they have flu, by delving into the psychology of illness – not just the science.
And that could help scientists discover if men and women experience flu differently. John Oxford, professor of virology at Queen Mary, University of London, says there is no scientific evidence for “man flu” but there is a difference in behaviour.
“We know that women react differently to infection. They are more sensitive to their health. Men bluster around a bit.
“So there are differences in how men and women perceive illness and then differences in behaviour. “Men think they are going to die when they are unwell, so they go to bed and expect women to look after them.” Dr Douglas Fleming, from the Royal College of GPs’ flu research unit, says there is no rule when it comes to how flu viruses affect people.
“Every flu virus is different. It depends on the strain. We don’t know ahead of time how it will affect people. “Different viruses affect men, women and children differently.”
Previous research from the University of Cambridge came to a different conclusion. It found evidence that women were better at fighting infections than men. Evolutionary factors and hormonal differences were thought to make males more susceptible to infection than females.
In the animal world too, across a range of species, males tend to be the “weaker sex” in terms of immune defences, the Cambridge research team said. This would back up the argument that “man flu” exists because men would be more susceptible to viruses and therefore more likely to be unwell. But if children are the main sufferers and harbourers of influenza, spreading it to their parents and grandparents, then won’t mothers automatically be in the firing line?
Prof Oxford says men will still be infected just as much. “If the parents are sleeping together in the same bed, spending at least eight hours in the same room sharing pillows, then the flu virus will soon move on to the husband.”
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) started its weekly monitoring of flu activity in the UK population in October. So far this winter, the number of people with flu symptoms going to see their GP is low (6.9 per 100,000 in England).
This could explain why just 65% of those aged over 65 and 32% of pregnant women have taken up the offer of a flu vaccine.
Dr Richard Pebody, head of seasonal flu surveillance at the HPA, said they are hoping this winter will mirror last winter’s trend. “The 2011/2012 flu season was one of the lowest on record – following two years of high flu activity, including the 2009 flu pandemic. This demonstrates how unpredictable the flu season can be.”
Whether you are a man or a woman, there is a chance you could be infected by the flu virus in the coming months. If you are in any of the “at risk” groups, the key is to be protected in advance by getting the flu jab. Then keep a box of tissues and a hot water bottle handy. Source: BBC health
The most common type of dementia occurs when brain tissue degeneration causes a progressive deterioration in mental function and ability. It’s more likely to develop as people get older, but can affect younger people too.
Causes of Alzheimer’s disease
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease isn’t known, although some risk factors are known. The risk of developing the disease increases with age, for example.
There’s a higher risk of Alzheimer’s if a family member has the disease. However, inherited genetic factors are responsible in only a small number of families.
When the disease is inherited, it tends to lead to early onset of Alzheimer’s, usually between the ages of 35 and 60. One of several different genes may be at fault, such as the presenilin-1 gene on chromosome 14 or the amyloid precursor protein gene on chromosome 21.
Most cases of Alzheimer’s develop later in life and the genetic link is weaker. The genes at fault here are those for apolipoprotein E. Problems with these genes increase the risk of disease but don’t make it certain – other factors are involved.
Scientists believe other problematic genes may be located on chromosomes 9, 10 and 12. Clearly, it’s a complicated situation with much yet to be explained.
Alzheimer’s disease symptoms
Memory and the ability to think clearly are gradually lost over time. There may also be a change in personality. Someone who used to be a calm person may become agitated or upset more easily, for example. Behaviour problems and communication difficulties may also occur.
People with severe Alzheimer’s may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as dressing, washing and eating. As time passes they may not recognise people or their surroundings, so it’s common for them to go for a walk and get lost.
Other problems, such as depression, may also develop.
Alzheimer’s disease treatments
There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but drugs are available that may specifically slow the loss of mental function in mild to moderate cases. These include the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine, which improve brain cell communication, and memantine, a glutamate blocker which protects brain cells against damage.
Other drugs such as aspirin and the cholesterol lowering treatments such as statins may be of use in slowing the vascular damage that may also play a role in many types of dementia including Alzheimers.
Anti-psychotic drugs are used to try to control behaviour in more severe dementia but their use has been criticised by many as a poor substitute for more expensive and time consuming management plans including counselling, psychotherapy and one to one nursing care.
There’s some evidence the herb ginkgo biloba and possibly also vitamin E may help delay progression of the disease, too, but further research is required.
Treatment can be given for symptoms such as depression. Techniques to aid memory, such as writing lists or reminders, can be helpful in the early stages.
Support and help can be provided by social services for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their carers, but full-time residential care may be necessary in the later stages of the disease.
Tests to identify those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease are in development.
Preventing Alzheimer’s disease
The same risk factors for heart disease are believed to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. So although there’s no definitive way to prevent the disease, not smoking, keeping blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels, taking regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E and oily fish are all sensible.
Some research has suggested that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drigs (NSAIDs) or cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but this research continues.
Other research into brain stem cell therapy, antioxidant therapy and a vaccination to prevent build up of plaques on the brain is also ongoing. Source: BBC Health