Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Sting of Pneumonia

WPA poster, 1936/1937 (c/o Wikipedia)
Last February I had a very bad flu with temperature reaching 39 to 40 degrees Celsius. I thought that it was just a common cold and cough so I just took simple over the counter medicines we see on TV commercials. However, to my dismay, they did not give relief.

When my fever died down, I thought I was getting well although the cough persisted and the phlegm seemed to accumulate more and deeper inside my chest. I just thought that it would go away soon.

February 18 was an important day because we would be having a musical play in church, which I wrote. Some of the songs were my composition too and our band would be doing the songs live so I could never skip that event!

The event was a success. However, right after the event, perhaps my adrenalin had somehow died down, I began to feel sick. The cough worsen and I began to have difficulty in breathing. Our pastor and some of the church elders who were still there that night decided to rush me to the nearest hospital. While in the emergency room, I learned from the doctor that I was showing signs of pneumonia infection.

I was confined for 2 days in the hospital and they gave me intravenous antibiotic to fight the infection. Medications continued at home with oral antibiotics, nebulizer and oral expectorant. The cough was so hard that I could not sleep. It seemed to worsen whenever I lie flat on my back.

A few weeks after, I recovered from the illness and in a matter of days, I went back to my usual routine. Again to my shock, after a two to three weeks, I was down with fever again. When I went to my doctor for check up, he said that I had pneumonitis again. It was twice in just two months time! My doctor gave me oral antibiotic, which is stronger than the previous one, antihistamine, liquid expectorant and nebulizer.

The saddest part, my Mom also had pneumonia at the same time and she was hospitalized. I might have transmitted it to her so we had to take medication together. She was confined for two days and received intravenous antibiotic. Thank God she recovered fast.

I realized that pneumonia is vicious and must not be undermined.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Can We Prevent Birth Defects?

This handout photograph released by the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) on April 16, 2012, shows a newly-born child with six legs as he lies in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward at a hospital in Karachi. Doctors in Pakistan are fighting to save the life of a baby boy born with six legs because of a rare genetic condition, hospital officials said.AFP PHOTO/NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH (c/o Yahoo!News)

There are bizarre circumstances in life that are hard to explain and understand like birth defects.

When I have seen in Yahoo News this photo of an infant in Pakistan who has been born with six legs, I have felt a sense of sorrow for his condition. Doctors are currently working to find a way to resolve the infant’s physical abnormality through surgery. I do pray that the doctors succeed with the operation so that the baby may have a chance to lead a normal life.

Well, science explains birth defects as structural or developmental abnormalities that are present at childbirth, which cause certain disability. Genetic disorder, chromosomal imbalance or infections during pregnancy are the possible causes of birth defects.

I’m wondering, is there a way of preventing birth defects?

Birth defect prevention is not an easy process as I have learned from some reading around the internet. Health professionals are still in the process of collecting valuable data to come up with a definite and precise answer to this issue.

However, in the website that I have visited, they have found out some vital information that leads to the prevention of birth defects. Allow me to share it here:

  • Folic acid is a B vitamin. Taking folic acid supplements before getting pregnant and in early pregnancy lowers the risk of having a baby with serious birth defects of the brain and spine (neural tube defects). For this reason, all women who can become pregnant should take supplements containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
  • Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause the baby to be born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Pregnant women should not drink alcohol any time during pregnancy.
  • Smoking in the month before getting pregnant and throughout pregnancy increases the chance of premature birth, certain birth defects (such as cleft lip, cleft palate, or both), and infant death. Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best. However, for women who are already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems.
  • Women who are obese when they get pregnant have a higher risk of having a baby with serious birth defects of the brain and spine (neural tube defects) and some heart defects. Helping women to reach a healthy weight before they get pregnant could prevent birth defects.
  • Poor control of diabetes in pregnant women increases the chance for birth defects, and might cause serious complications for the mother, too. If a woman with diabetes keeps her blood sugar well-controlled before and during pregnancy, she can reduce the chance of having a baby with birth defects.
  • Taking certain medications just before or during pregnancy might cause serious birth defects, but the safety of many medications taken by pregnant women has been difficult to determine. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should not stop taking medications you need or begin taking new medications without first talking with your doctor. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary or herbal products (

I feel that this information is important for everyone to know so I am giving this valuable space here on my blog. Together, with proper knowledge, we can all contribute to the process of preventing birth defects by avoiding dangerous factors that may adversely affect pregnancy.
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