Before I started studying pharmacy, my mother used to tell me often that she did not feel quite right, she was always tired and had been recently gaining some weight without any apparent trigger or change in eating habits. It never occurred to me that these symptoms were the onset of hypothyroidism. After being diagnosed, my mother joined the number of people suffering from the thyroid, along with my grandmother and grandfather and many other Puerto Ricans.
Last semester, I did an internship at the Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Clinic of the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where we specialize in treating patients with chronic respiratory disease. Soon after starting my clinical rotation, I noticed the large number of visits from Puerto Ricans, especially women. Alarmed, I decided to investigate the reasons for this trend, and I went to the library to find more information about the subject.
Did you know that diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the world and of which there is no cure? Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body's ability to use the energy contained in food. As a result, blood sugar (glucose) levels increase, resulting in a chain of short and long-term adverse effects. Depending on the type of diabetes patients need insulin or pills to control it.
After consuming food, our body transforms it into glucose and other nutrients that are absorbed by the blood. After eating, blood sugar level increases activating the pancreas that generates insulin and releases it into the bloodstream. In people with diabetes this does not happen because the body is not able to produce or react to insulin properly.
Due to the floods and lack of potable water caused by Hurricane Maria, leptospirosis has become a real public health concern for Puerto Rico. There are two suspected deaths due to leptospirosis and five cases with symptoms consistent with this disease so far.
Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria. Infection occurs when people come into contact with surfaces, soil, water, or food contaminated with urine from rats, mice, and other infected animals. One can get infected through the nose, mouth, eyes and open wounds on the skin. In addition, the disease can be contracted by drinking contaminated water.
We don’t often think about the purpose of sleep, yet we always feel better and more energized after a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that we spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. Why is this so? There is no scientific consensus on the specific reason why we need sleep. While the question of exactly why we sleep is difficult to answer, sleep has many benefits. The effects of sleep deprivation can either manifest immediately, such as crashing your car due to excessive tiredness, or can build up with time and lead to chronic conditions. Research shows that sleep deficiency impairs your driving ability as much as being drunk. It is estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in about 100,000 car accidents a year, and this may cause up to 1,500 deaths a year.
World Immunization Week is celebrated during the last week of April and its purpose to protect people of all ages against preventable diseases through the use of vaccines. #VaccinesWork is this year’s theme.
Heart disease affects the population of Puerto Rico in multiple ways: their physical and emotional health, quality of life, social and work relationships, and their wallet. February is heart health awareness month so we’ll take the opportunity to discuss some of the conditions that affect the heart and how we can prevent them.
Designer drugs are substances designed to mimic the effects of an existing drug. Their chemical structure is altered, which prevents them from appearing in standard drug screening tests. The idea behind these drugs is to create a new substance that is not classified as illegal, allowing dealers to sell it without breaking the law. As law enforcement officials get to know these drugs, they are classified as illegal. Dealers then alter the structure again, repeating the cycle. In the United States, around 200-300 new designer drugs were identified between 2009-2014. These drugs are often distributed in night clubs, parties, and raves. Aside from their many detrimental effects on the body, these drugs have an added danger and lethality.
Written by: Uriyoán Colón Ramos, Assistant Professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of the George Washington University & Josiemer Mattei, Assistant Professor in the TH Chan Harvard School of Public Health.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. We are participating in this worldwide campaign in order to promote awareness about what is diabetes, as well as prevention and treatment measures.