The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.
Early this month, the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine was approved within 11 months of the discovery of the Covid-19 virus. Pfizer vaccine is the most rapid vaccine deployment in history, completing all the mandatory stages (the Russian and Chinese vaccines have been approved before Phase III trials).
The history of vaccine development has been chequered and not very encouraging. It took 26 years to develop a vaccine for the human papillomavirus (for cervical cancer) and 25 years for a vaccine for rotavirus (against gastroenteritis). Thirty-five million people have died of AIDS in the last 40 years. Since 1987, thirty vaccine candidates have been tested in human clinical trials but no candidate has cleared the phase III trial till date. Malaria affects 400 million people annually, resulting in two million deaths. Over $100 million is spent annually on malaria vaccine research but there is no vaccine in sight. There is no vaccine against other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS.
How (and why) is it that within 100 days of the discovery of Covid-19, there were 45 vaccines in development? How was it possible that in just 63 days, Moderna could develop a vaccine candidate, do animal trials and then inject in the first volunteer. Today we have over 321 vaccine candidates in various stages of development with 40 vaccine candidates in human clinical trials, nine in phase III trials, and two already approved.
There are broadly four steps of vaccine development and deployment which include understanding the structure of the virus, studying the interactions of the virus in the human body to find a suitable vaccine candidate, clinical trials followed by regulatory approval, and large scale production.
Traditionally, upon identification of a novel virus, the virus had to be taken apart piece by piece to understand its different components. A decade ago, this used to take one to two years. There have been tremendous advancements in genome sequencing in the last decade. As an example, the cost of human genome sequencing has dropped from $100 million in 2001 to just $500 in 2020. With the advanced technologies now available, the scientists in Shanghai could decode the virus in less than 40 hours after receiving the samples. Sequencing the genome of the virus is crucial for developing specific diagnostic tests and identifying potential vaccine candidates. The second step is to identify which elements of the virus trigger an immune response in our body, purify that agent (epitopes), and test it on animals. A decade ago, this process would have taken another one to two years, sometimes more than five years. Various technology breakthroughs along with the use of computational models and Artificial Intelligence have helped shrink these steps to weeks if not days. Moderna vaccine candidate was developed within two days of the publishing of the virus structure.
The last decade has seen the development of computational methods to discover new candidate drugs and vaccines in silico (research conducted by computational models or computer simulations). Machine learning-based models have offered inexpensive and rapid methods for the discovery of effective viral therapies. Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being used in predicting the properties of a potential compound such that only compounds with desired properties are chosen for further development, saving time and money. The third and most crucial step is clinical trials. Like all medicines, vaccines go to clinical trials after they are tested in experimental animals. Based on typical FDA processes, the time for clinical trials could be many years, as the regulatory body requires vaccines to undergo at least three phases of clinical trials before the application for approval is submitted.
Phase I is to assess the safety of the vaccine candidate in a few healthy volunteers (between 20 to 80 volunteers). In phase II, the vaccine is given to a larger number to see if the vaccine has the potential for a protective immune response and to study the candidate vaccine’s safety, proposed doses, schedule of immunisations, and method of delivery (such as oral or nasal or injection), etc.
In phase III, several thousand participants are divided into two groups. One group receives the vaccine, and the other receives a placebo (like a distilled water injection). This phase aims to compare the two groups and establish if the vaccine is effective at preventing the disease. Phase III trial is the most time-consuming step because researchers have to wait for enough participants to be exposed to a virus naturally. Pfizer completed the phase III trial when there were 170 cases of the disease in its trial of around 43,000 volunteers, of which 162 were observed in the placebo group and eight in the vaccine group. Historically, from Phase I clinical trials, around 90% of vaccine candidates fail to make it to final approval, and from Phase III, 25% fail. The investment by a manufacturer in a vaccine candidate typically exceeds $1 billion.
It usually takes one to two years for regulatory approval. Regulatory filing is required after each phase. Due to the pandemic, regulators allowed combining phases I and II trials in some cases. Some regulators (like the UK) have gone for a “rolling review” approval process where they have been studying and auditing the data as it comes instead of starting the review after the complete data is received. Though the regulators are working overtime to evaluate the vaccine candidates, there is a need to develop disruptive technologies and protocols for clinical trials. In terms of the structure of clinical trials, the process of randomised control trials has essentially remained the same since the first such trial of streptomycin in 1946 in the UK. How can we reimagine the clinical trial protocols that imbibe new computational technologies? We also need to adopt an “adaptive trial” framework where the trial can be tweaked as the results come in. How can we find a solution to the paradox of having a vaccine candidate within 42 days which eventually gives 95% efficacy but requires a clinical trial extending ten months while millions die?
Pfizer and Moderna have used a novel mRNA technology for their vaccines which are faster to develop. This new technology does not require a weakened or dead virus for the vaccine. The genetic material mRNA is easy to make in a laboratory, and manufacturing an mRNA vaccine rather than a protein can save months. The mRNA technology only needs the genetic sequence of coronavirus to make a vaccine and no live virus has to be cultured and grown in labs. This new technology is like writing a software upgrade instead of finding new hardware each time.
The Oxford vaccine also uses a scaffold or a ‘carrier virus’ made in a lab to inject the active agent which triggers immunity. The same ‘carrier virus’ is used for various vaccines. Thus we have entered the age of designer and editable vaccines.
The fourth step is rapid manufacturing and deployment. The manufacturing of various Covid vaccine candidates is already underway before clinical trials have concluded. A tremendous amount of risk capital has been available for this to happen. In the US, the White House’s “Operation Warp Speed” has brought together public and private stakeholders to deliver 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by January 2021. The US government has given grants of over $5 billion for vaccine development. Governments across the world have given out advance purchase contracts for more than six billion doses even before a single vaccine was approved. Together, Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca will be producing over 1.5 billion doses by June 2021. However, some questions still remain. How long does the immunity to the virus last? Immunity to cold-causing coronaviruses typically lasts only one to two years suggesting that people might need seasonal shots of any Covid-19 vaccine.
To summarise, rapid advances in multiple technologies will lead to even faster development of drugs and vaccines in the future. Today, drug and vaccine development has moved from cell culture and fermentation processes to computational models, data analytics, and AI. The huge amount of money pumped into vaccine research this year will lead to the rapid adoption of new technologies. In the future, we may have a vaccine within three to four months of a new outbreak or a pandemic that may impact the developed world. The global pharma companies and scientific institutions may still not have much interest in the pandemics of the developing world including TB, Malaria, AIDS, etc, and these diseases will continue to kill millions despite the technological advances.
The writer is the founder of NeuroEquilibrium, an Angel Investor and Healthcare thought leader.
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Signs Your Perfume Has Expired and It Is Time to Buy a New One
Do you love to have a collection of perfumes? Having a variety of fragrances can be a good thing and it means that you have a perfume for every occasion. When you are going out with the girls, you have a fun and energetic perfume. Then, when you are going on a day, you can enjoy feeling confident and attractive with an alluring one.
But, one thing you do have to be careful of is that your perfume does not expire. When a fragrance is opened, it can lose its scent over time. So, you have to ensure that you are going to use it. Have you had a perfume for a while and are not sure whether it has expired? Here are some signs you should look out for.
There are Light Base Notes
If you have had a perfume for a while and you know it contains light base notes, it could have expired. This is because light base notes are more fragile, which can mean that they do not last as long as heavier base notes. Thus, if your perfume is citrus or floral, this may apply to you.
Alternatively, if you have heavier base notes in your perfume, you may be able to keep it for longer. For instance, oriental scents are thought to have a long life. Look out for ingredients such as amber. For instance, Emporio Armani Diamonds is an Eau De Parfum that contains amber as a base note. You can view this fragrance here. This might have a longer life than other perfumes that have more volatile ingredients. So, the perfume you buy can affect when they expire too.
There is a Sour Scent
First of all, you are going to know if your perfume has expired if it does not smell like it used to. It might seem less fresh and you might struggle to smell the top notes that you did before when you use it. In addition, there is going to be a slightly sour scent to the perfume. This often happens because oxygen gets into the fragrance. In particular, the top notes can be sensitive to this oxidisation.
So, spray the perfume onto a piece of paper and smell it. This is going to be a very helpful test to know if it has expired. If there is something strange about the perfume and you know it has been open for a while, it might be time to put it in the bin.
The perfume Has Changed Colour
Some bottles of perfume are transparent. In other words, you can see the liquid itself in the bottle. This can be a good thing and it is going to be useful when you are trying to see if the perfume is off. Indeed, the perfume can change colour and it may go darker than it was before. In addition, there might be a yellow tint to the liquid. These are signs that the perfume has oxidized and it is not going to be at its best. The safest thing you can do is throw away the perfume.
When you are shopping for perfume, there may be some that are going to last longer than others. According to experts, those with base notes such as vanilla may have a less volatile formula. In particular, it could mean that the perfume will not oxidise quickly.
It has Been Open Longer than the PAO Number
If you still have the original box or packaging of the perfume, this can indicate whether it has expired. In particular, look out for a period after opening or PAO number. This demonstrates how long you can have this product open before it starts to expire. Often, this is found on a lot of cosmetic product packaging.
If you cannot find this number or you do not have the original packaging, you do not have to worry. Think about when you opened the perfume. Was it more than 18 months ago? This is when you should start to test the perfume and see if it is still the same quality as when you bought it.
Ask One of Your Friends
The truth is, if you are used to a fragrance, you might not know if it smells off. You can become used to it over time. But, perhaps your friend is going to be able to help you out. They can be impartial if they do not own the scent and they are going to be able to tell you if something does not smell right. So, ask one of your friends to help you. You can spray the perfume onto a piece of paper, as well as letting them see the bottom and liquid.
Top 6 Causes of Electric Fires That You Must Know
Electricity is one of the greatest inventions that the human race has seen. It has changed the way humans live and brought about many other positive inventions. Indeed, many of our ancestors will desire to live in this age, considering many things this generation has access to.
However, such a great invention as electricity comes with significant risk. While electricity has made life better in unimaginable ways and improved human life, the risk of an electric fire is always there.
While electric fire is common mainly when electricity is mishandled, there are several other causes of electric fire one needs to know. Many things can trigger electric fire, from faulty appliances to old wires and connection problems. However, this article explores several causes of electric fires:
- Old Appliances
Some old appliances come with faulty wiring that sets the electric wire stage. Also, when you consider that old insulation used in various devices could be highly flammable, they might set the stage for electric fire. As a result, replacing such could help prevent this issue.
When purchasing any gadget, ensure that the appliance is updated. There is a high probability that such gadgets might not be up to standard with an old instrument. Safety regulations, material quality, and wattage usage might not be up to standards for such devices. Various household appliances and kitchen gadgets are prone to fire when they do not meet safety regulations.
- Power Or Extension Cords
A power strip or surge protector is another common form of electrical extension. It comes with five or more outlets with the main cord that enters the outlet. Individuals use such extensions when there is a need to plug multiple devices in a common area like an office, kitchen, or office.
One requires investing in some good quality cords as low or cheap ones are not safe, and if they get overheated, they can cause a fire. Cords Consider using a high-quality extension cord with switch to prevent overloading of the extension cord.
Also, when using an extension cord, avoid piggybacking one cord to the other. It can affect the power switch, start a fire or cause an electric shock. Only plug it in a spaced outlet to prevent a potential fire outbreak when using a power strip.
One way to upgrade your home’s outlet safety is to replace all two-pronged outlets with three-prongs. Don’t forget prongs on plugs simultaneously. You get a stable outlet that will give your plugs a secure grip.
- Light Fixtures
Another extreme cause of the electric fire is lamps and light fixtures. There is a high risk of electric fire if you install a bulb with high wattage for the fixture. Ensure you check and observe the maximum recommended wattage on all light fixtures and don’t exceed the recommended specification.
Additionally, placing materials like cloth or paper over a lamp might trigger a fire. The lamp could heat the material, igniting and starting a fire. This is in addition to faulty light fixtures that might result in a fire.
When buying light bulbs, ensure to check the wattage instructions for the fixtures in your home. If you have a light fixture with a capacity of 60 Watt, putting a 100 Watt fixture in it might trigger a fire. As a result, never go over the recommended wattage fixture.
- Faulty Outlets
One of the significant causes of electric fires is an old, outdated, and faulty electrical outlet. Also, there is a fire risk if there is a fault in appliance cords, switches, and receptacles. As a result, avoid using frayed cords or worn-out switches and receptacles.
Some people could be guilty of removing the grounding plug from a cord to convert it into a two-teeth outlet which might cause a fire. Also, cords running under rugs or carpets cannot be a good idea. Such appliances come with an extra prong, making it possible to use an outlet to handle the excessive electricity amount that such devices draw.
- Overloading Of Extension Cords Or Power Outlets
Another risk of fire hazard is the unrestricted use of power outlets. Plugging various gadgets like TV, laptops, phones, home theaters, etc., into a single extension cord can overload it. Fire output is at risk if such a socket or extension cannot handle the load. This causes a circuit overload which puts you at serious risk.
With this, ensure you never overload your electric outlets. Installing an extra outlet is the way to go if you do not have enough to accommodate all your electric gadgets at home. Also, remember that smashed or kinked cords might produce excessive heat, melting the insulation and triggering an electric fire.
- Portable Heaters
During winter, be conscious of the location of your space heaters, and do not leave them for too long. Be careful when sleeping or going away for a long time. Your heater should not be near rugs, curtains, couches, beds, etc. This is the cause of various home fires.
It is advisable for people who use space heaters to use the radiator-type as it diffuses the heat over the appliance’s surface. With such devices, the chance of catching fire is low, even though one should still be cautious while using the device.
No one wishes or prays to experience an electric fire. It can lead to loss of life or property, which could be devastating. However, one needs to take the necessary steps to ensure a limited chance for such occurrences.
5 Important Uses Of Hemp Seeds
Have you ever considered hemp as a natural alternative for your health? Did you ever wonder what hemp seeds are or why they have such a huge following? If so, then this blog is for you!
This blog will explore the health benefits of hemp seeds and five other uses for these universally loved plant products!
The hemp plant is an industrial crop that produces a non-psychoactive compound called CBD – Cannabidiol, with many medical benefits. It is one of the first agricultural plants to have been domesticated. It has been used for everyday household products like paper, textiles, and medicines.
And hemp seeds are a versatile plant and have been eaten by humans for centuries. These seeds are healthy and contain a lot of nutritional benefits. They’re also used in medicine and beauty products to treat various ailments and problems.
They have become popular as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs and other supplements because they don’t have many adverse side effects. These specific health supplements have helped with everything from chronic pain relief to nausea!
This article will see five different ways to use hemp seeds, like CBD vape pen.
What Are Hemp Seeds?
Hemp seeds are the edible part of Cannabis Sativa, a plant that produces industrial and food products. These seeds are exceptionally healthy and rich in healthy fats, protein, and minerals.
Hemp is one of the most ancient forms of agriculture. This plant is not a drug; it is, in fact, a beneficial industrial crop that has been used for thousands of years by humans. The uses for hemp oil, hemp seeds, and hemp fiber are numerous and diverse. And these hemp seeds are very nutritious and delicious and can be eaten raw or cooked.
They contain a rich source of essential fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Because of these nutritional qualities, hemp seeds offer health benefits. These seeds contain essential fatty acids that the body needs to maintain healthy skin and hair. Further, they might help provide immunities to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; they might help with digestion and improve blood circulation; they may fight intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s Disease. As a protein and complex carbohydrates source, they are an essential energy source during exercise.
5 Important Uses Of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are the most innovative and versatile nutritional source of food today. Its seeds are renowned worldwide for their fiber content and versatility when used. It contains the seeds of the flowering plant Cannabis sativa that can be used to make pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, and food additives. These hemp seeds have a high concentration of proteins that can help with the growth and development of the body.
Let’s check out the actual uses of the hemp seeds:
- As A Skin Care Product
Hemp seeds are a nutritional and dietary supplement that works as a skin cleanser and moisturizer. Although hemp seed oil does not contain the same compounds found in cannabis, it contains high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids, which are beneficial for your skin. These nutrients help to moisturize the skin and form a protective barrier of the skin’s natural oils. The hemp seed oil is commonly used in skincare products because it is similar to olive oil-rich oils. It is also a stable product that can get easily blended into various products without affecting the shelf life.
- As A Medicinal Product
Hemp is a versatile crop that can get used in various ways. Due to its versatility, hemp seeds are high in nutrients and have worked as an alternative medicine to treat various ailments. The health benefits of hemp seeds include:
- It may help relieve symptoms of inflammation, muscle pain, cramps, and digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis.
- It may control diabetes and hypertension.
- It may improve mood.
- It may suppress appetite.
- It may help treat various cancers, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer.
- As A Dietary Supplement
Hemp seeds can get taken as a dietary supplement for their high content of essential fatty acids and amino acids. Hemp seeds have a low glycemic index, not raising your blood sugar levels. It makes them an excellent food option for people with diabetes and those with other health conditions that require insulin or other supplements to manage. They may also reduce inflammation and act as an antiseptic, likely to help heal skin conditions such as acne. The seeds themselves have a mild nutty taste and can be eaten on their own or added to bread, cereals, and spreads for a somewhat unique take on breakfast cereal.
- As A Protein Booster
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, so it’s essential to regularly include them in your diet. They are high in protein content and contain a naturally occurring oil good for your skin. They’re also high in fiber, which can help you feel full and lose weight. These hemp seeds are also easy to digest, making them ideal for smoothies or salads. You can use hemp seeds as a protein booster by:
- Add hemp seeds to smoothies or juices.
- Making hemp milk.
- Using hemp oil in dressings (the most well-known use of hemp is for cooking), spreads, dips, and more.
- As A Good Food Additives
Hemp seeds are a relatively new and exciting food additive, which you can use to add enrichment and improve the taste of your food. They are an excellent food additive as they are high in proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, and minerals such as zinc, calcium, and iron. For best results, add the hemp seeds to a well-balanced diet. It can get done by mixing it with milk or adding them to smoothies.
Hemp seeds can be beneficial in making your life better. They have got used for a long time, and they continue to provide many benefits. They are a great source of protein, which is beneficial for people who don’t eat meat. They are also helpful for people who need to work hard to lose weight, as the protein will help them not feel hungry all the time.
They also have many benefits to human health. For example, hemp seeds can help your digestive system as they contain healthy fiber that helps cleanse your intestines. They also have been shown to increase energy levels, balance blood sugar levels, and reduce inflammation. Some are not well known, while others are quite popular and widely used.
These seeds are great for many uses in your life. The leaves can get eaten in salads, and the flowers can be made into tea or infused with olive oil.
You can eat them, make your body care products, or even use them as an energy supplement. You’ll want to keep a jar of hemp seeds on hand with many uses!
DOS AND DON’TS OF YOGA INVERSIONS DURING PERIODS
Can we do inversions during periods? Which postures are safe to do at that time of the month? Are twisting postures harmful during menstruation? If you’ve been struggling to get clarity on these questions without much success, then continue reading. On International Yoga Day, we are demystifying a lot of myths while understanding the best way to approach yoga practice during periods.
Our hormones change throughout the month along with our menstrual cycle, which means our productivity levels also fluctuate. It is these hormonal changes that can cause some of us to be more sensitive and emotional during the PMS week. They are also the reason why women are eight times more likely than men to get knee injuries, which mostly tend to happen in the first half of their menstrual cycle.
So, our cycle impacts both our body and mind, which means it is only prudent to align our practices with our current energy levels, rather than sticking to doing the same thing every day. Here’s how you can align your yoga practice to your cycle.
The first phase of the cycle is menstruation which usually lasts anywhere between three to seven days. During menstruation, hormones oestrogen and progesterone are at a low level and therefore it can be a time of low energy and poor concentration. This also means that there’s a greater risk of injuries as our body is operating differently. So, if you’re new to inversions, you can avoid them. But if you’re a seasoned practitioner and confident about inversions, then there’s a lesser chance of things going wrong and you may continue.
Generally, the menstrual phase is best suited for slow, moderately paced practices with postures like Bound Angle Pose, Child Pose or restorative supine postures. Since what is moderate for one person can be intense for another, you should allow listening to your intuition and choosing as per your energy levels.
The next phase of the cycle is the follicular phase which starts once the period ends and continues up to day 12. Your energy levels start increasing and you’ll be able to do more dynamic practices. You may find yourself naturally enjoying creatively sequenced Vinyasa flows. Your motivation and endurance levels may be highest during this period. And you can certainly explore inversions in this phase, it’s the ideal time to start something new.
The third phase is ovulation, which is only one day, and you’ll likely be your most exuberant self. It makes us naturally extroverted and you can certainly tap into it with your yoga practice.
The final phase is the Luteal phase which lasts about two weeks. In the beginning, your hormones are still high and you will carry forward the energy levels from the previous phase. However, this will gradually decline as your body starts preparing for the next menstrual cycle. So, your endurance may not be as high as before, and you may find it harder to finish your usual workouts. Your progesterone levels are higher in this phase, which makes you calm and relaxed, improves your sleep and also makes you more aligned to meditative practices. You may notice a natural increase in your concentration and focus levels in this phase. You should definitely make the most of them with your yoga practice. You can practice headstands for most of this phase. Just be careful about pushing yourself or trying to up-level your inversion practice in this.
In summary, the menstruation phase is ideal to slow down, follicular and ovulation phases are great for new, dynamic and intense practices that challenge you, including headstands. And luteal phase is a time to gradually start preparing for the upcoming period by starting to slow down again. You don’t have to altogether stop your workouts or practices during this time, but you should become mindful of your energy levels.
By aligning your practice with your cycle, it will also help you with your mood swings and food cravings that can be disruptive during PMS.
The writer is a Yoga and Ayurveda Lifestyle Specialist and Founder of Yoganama.
Healthcare review: The key to developing an authentic information system
Over the years, healthcare leaders have worked to ensure that medical procedures, equipment, and staff recruitment processes are established in such a manner that they provide optimal quality while minimising risks and costs. However, it is also vital to place a strong emphasis on the necessity for a transparent system that provides patients with unbiased information. Several industries have already adopted methods that give a transparent operating mechanism to assist patients/customers in gaining accurate information about the system.
Taking inspiration from Ratan Tata who once quoted- “Business need to go beyond the interest of their companies to the communities they serve.” Even the healthcare sector has recognised itself to be a knowledge business that needs to grow for the interest of the community. Different opinions on the healthcare sector existed during previous healthcare revolutions. While the second healthcare revolution declared healthcare to be a technological company, the third industrial revolution, which was driven by people, revealed that information is the most valuable resource in the health sector, and the internet facilitates the diffusion of this knowledge. Only through disseminating accurate and reliable information can the finest possible health care be offered to the people we call patients.
According to the traditional healthcare processes, it is on the clinicians to inform the patients and the masses about the risks, benefits, and other aspects of a procedure. However, this monopoly of information has now been changed and after recent developments in the healthcare laws, the scope of the right to information regarding medical procedures has widened. Earlier patients were given limited information about the medical procedures and processes and were asked to make a decision regarding their preferences for the treatment. But now it is mandatory that all healthcare institutions provide complete information on the treatment process, cost and other details to help the patient and the family members make an informed decision.
Conducting research on the healthcare information system in India, it was revealed that “The data available from these sources are often incomplete mainly due to administrative, legal, social and ethical reasons. For example, understanding the compulsion and laws about cancer registrations.” Such flaws in the information system result in the spread of inaccurate information to patients, which can have serious consequences for many people’s lives. As a result, openness in the healthcare information system, both in the public and commercial sectors, is critical.
Healthcare review helps in eliminating such discrepancies from within the healthcare ecosystem in the country. These are non-bias hospital/healthcare reviews focused towards providing the people of India an opportunity to review food, just like they review any other product/service. While there are reviews for everything else, you can also review doctors/hospitals now. The information on such platforms is authentic and can be viewed by one and all which makes it more transparent. It helps the healthcare providers in understanding the perception of the patients towards their services, enabling them to feel motivated or to improve their system. In both ways, the authentic reviews help in creating a better healthcare system in the country.
We need to remember that we have options to find out the best hospitals, Doctors, and Nurses for our problems and this can only happen the all Indians come together to review such healthcare services. Today, certain platforms provide crucial information to end-users (patients) of healthcare services, healthcare providers, chemists, vendors as well as reviewers.
The writer is the co-founder of 750AD Healthcare Pvt. Ltd.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAMSAY HUNT SYNDROME
After Justin Bieber, TV actress Aishwarya Sakhuja opened up about battling Ramsay Hunt Syndrome eight years back. Let’s find out more about this illness.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (RHS) is a rare neurological disorder that causes facial nerve paralysis (facial palsy) as well as an ear or mouth rash. Ear symptoms include tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which also causes chickenpox in children and shingles (herpes zoster) in adults. VZV is dormant in the body and can be reactivated during periods of poor immunity or insufficient food.
Early treatment of Ramsay Hunt syndrome can reduce the risk of consequences such as permanent facial muscle paralysis and hearing loss.
THE TWO PRIMARY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
• A severe red rash with fluid-filled blisters on, in, and around one ear
• Facial paralysis or weakness on the same side as the afflicted ear
Typically, rash and facial paralysis occur together. Sometimes one occurs before the other. Sometimes the rash never appears.
• Hearing impairment
• Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
• Having difficulty shutting one eye
• A spinning or moving feeling (vertigo)
• A change in taste perception or taste loss
• Dryness in the mouth and eyes
WHEN YOU SHOULD SEE A DOCTOR?
If you have facial paralysis or a shingles outbreak, visit a doctor right away. Early treatment beginning three days post the onset of symptoms may assist to prevent long-term problems.
CAUSES AND RISK ELEMENTS
It is most common in the elderly, pregnant women, persons with uncontrolled diabetes, and people with weakened immune systems. Patients will experience facial paralysis and sores around the ear, as well as hearing loss.
· People who have had chickenpox have high chances of developing Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The virus persists in the body post-recovery from chickenpox, occasionally reactivating years later to create shingles, a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters. It is more frequent in elderly people, usually affecting those over the age of 60. In children, it is uncommon.
· Ramsay Hunt syndrome does not spread. The varicella-zoster virus, on the other hand, can cause chickenpox in people who have never had chickenpox or been immunised against it. The sickness can be fatal in persons with weak immune systems.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is commonly treated with antiviral medicines such as acyclovir or famciclovir, as well as corticosteroids such as prednisone. The majority of specialists feel that starting antiviral treatment within three days after starting appears to be the most effective since early diagnosis and care are likely to improve outcomes. Facial paralysis and hearing loss may become permanent in certain cases, despite therapy.
Further treatment focuses on the symptoms that are unique to each individual. Neuralgic pain and vertigo suppressants may benefit from pain medicines, carbamazepine, and an anti-seizure prescription Because the failure to properly seal the eye may expose the cornea to abnormal dryness and foreign body irritation, persons with Ramsay Hunt syndrome should use artificial tears and lubricating ointments to avoid corneal injury. Facial physiotherapy, on the other hand, can assist keep muscles active while they recover.
Booster chicken pox vaccinations are also expected to help reduce the spread of the illness.
The writer is Consultant ENT – Head & Neck Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore.
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