Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Sexually Transmitted Infections

A sexually transmitted infection (STI), sexually transmitted disease (STD) or venereal disease (VD) is a category of diseases and infections either passed on through sexual intercourse, or caused by infections past on through intercourse, ranging from penetrative intercourse involving the vagina or anus, or oral intercourse. STIs are amongst the most widely known disease and infections.

As a matter of public awareness, STIs are some of the most widely known and generally understood diseases and disorders, in as much as large amount of information have been disseminated amongst the global population about a wide variety of these diseases and infections. STIs are perhaps the most publicised diseases and infections in the media, and have been the focus of several high profile films, books and television shows.

In recent years large efforts have been made to reduce the spread of most STIs, with campaigns on a national and global level focusing on such infections as HIV, syphilis and gonorrhoea. The World Health Organisation has undertaken a number of high profile campaigns that have seen varying but mostly positive success to tackle the spread of HIV, syphilis and other STIs.

Diagnosis and treatment of STIs varies greatly depending on the type of infection or disease a person has. STIs range in form and can be present as basterial, fungal, or viral infections, as well as parasitical and protozoal infestations. In some cases it may be as simple as observation, where in others the patient may be required to undergo noninvasive or invasive testing, blood tests, smear tests or other such tests. Culturing may also be used. Treatment can include simple courses of antiviral and antibacterial medication, topical creams or injections, or may require lifelong medication (as is the case with HIV/AIDS).

Most STIs are generally not life threatening in people with healthy immune systems, however all STIs can result in complications - even if rarely - that can lead to permanent health problems and in some cases death. HIV/AIDS is perhaps the mostly widely known and dangerous of all STIs, although other STIs should not be underestimated as matters of grave concern.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Syphilis is a well-known sexually transmitted infection. It is primarily transmitted through sexual contact, although it may also be transmitted from an infected mother to the foetus during pregnancy (congenital syphilis). 

Syphilis is believed to have infected around 15 million people globally, with more than 90% of cases being in the developing world. Despite a decline in infection in the 1940s due to improved availability of penicillin, rates of infection have increased since 2000 which has been attributed to unsafe sexual practices, increased promiscuity, prostitution, and decreasing use of condoms.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus of the papillomavirus type. HPVs infect only the keratinocytes of the skin or mucous membranes. Most HPV infections cause no symptoms in most people.

There are more than 30 to 40 types of HPV that are typically transmitted through sexual contact. Some may cause genital warts, although most cause no symptoms at all. There are other types of HPV virus - classed as "high risk" - that are different from the ones that cause genital warts, and can progress to precancerous lesions as well as invasive cancers. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus – a type of retrovirus – and is the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a condition in humans that leads to progressive failure of the immune system, which allows infections and cancers to thrive.

HIV is one of the most widely known sexually transmitted infections in the world, and is classed as a pandemic infection by the World Health Organisation. Approximately 35 million people have HIV globally, of which 17 million are women and 3.5 million are under the age of 15. Sub-Saharan Africa is considered the area most effected by HIV/AIDS; around 6 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS, and an estimated 66% of all deaths linked to HIV/AIDS globally occurred in this region in 2009, compared with under 200,000 deaths in the US, under 600 in the UK, and 53 in Canada. Despite being a pandemic infection, the spread and morality rates associated with HIV/AIDS have declined in recent years, partly due to improvement in medication and also due to raising global awareness amongst the population. In 2010 there were 1.8 million deaths linked to AIDS, down from 3.1 million in 2001. It is estimated that around 20% of those infected with HIV/AIDS are unaware of the condition. In total HIV/AIDS has led to over 32 million deaths since it was recognised in 1981.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is a viral disease caused by Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Herpes infections are categorised into one of several disorders based on the site on infection, ranging from oral herpes (an infection of the mouth), genital herpes (an infection of the genitals), herpes infections of the hand (herpes whitlow), ocular herpes (an infection of the eye), and possibly Bell’s Palsy.

Genital infections caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) are classed as a sexually transmitted infection. Preventing the spread of HSV-2 is encouraged, and barrier protection is the most reliable method. Despite the wide availability of condoms, many people who suffer HSV-2 infections will not present with symptoms and as such will only find out about their own infection when a partner shows signs of the infection.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Crab louse

Crab louse, or pubic louse - commonly referred to as "crabs" - are a parasitic insect exclusive to humans, that feed exclusively on blood. They are typically found in pubic hair around the genitals, but can also effect other areas of the body with hair, such as eyelashes.

Crab louse can be distinguished from other species of louse by their almost-round body. Adult crab louse are typically 1-2mm long, and are smaller than the body louse and head louse. The term "crab louse" comes from their much thicker two front legs that are equipped with two large claws.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Thrush (Candidiasis)

Thrush (candidiasis) - commonly referred to as a yeast infection - is a fungal infection of any of a number of species of yeasts (candida). These yeast infections can range in severity, from simple and superficial infections of the mouth and genitals, to more severe and potentially life-threatening systemic infections.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Gonorrhea - colloquially known as "the clap" - is a common sexually transmitted infection, and is thought to be the second most prevalent STI in the US and UK.

Gonorrhea is caused by a bacterium called neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex. The chance for men to get the infection through vaginal intercourse with an infected woman is roughly 20%, and is higher for homosexual intercourse. In women the chance of getting the infection is much higher, roughly 60-80% when having sex with an infected man. Gonorrhea, like other STIs such a chlamydia, may be passed on to babies by infected women, and can infect the infant's eyes (ophthamia neonatorum).

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Arthritis is a joint disorder involving inflammation of one or more joints.

There are over 100 different forms of arthritis, the most common form being osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease caused by trauma, age or infection of the joints). Other forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout and septic arthritis.

The main signs and symptoms of arthritis are swelling and pain associated with one or more joints. Most patients complain of pain in the joints before swelling is visible, with both the pain and swelling becoming progressively worse if left untreated. Different forms of arthritis require different treatments, and many forms of arthritis are irreversible with treatment focusing on pain management.

Friday, 17 August 2012


Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia is the most common STI in the United Kingdom and the United States, and is one of the most common in the world. It is estimated that around 1 million people in the United States are infected with chlamydia.

Chlamydia can be transmitted during vaginal, anal or oral sex, and can also be passed onto babies during vaginal birth. Between 50% and 75% of all women infected with cervical chlamydia - cervicitis - do not suffer any symptoms and are not aware they are infected. In men chlamydia is usually represented by a white discharge from the penis, with or without pain during urination. If left untreated chlamydia can lead to a number of other more severe health problems.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Asthma is a common disease effecting the respiratory system, and its prevalence has increased significantly over the last 30 years. It is estimated that as many as 300 million people globally are affected by asthma, and it is responsible for around 250,000 deaths a year.

Asthma is characterized by recurring symptoms including wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breathe. These symptoms are variable, and they may differ from person to person. There are different classifications of asthma, which are intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent and severe persistent. Diagnosis and classification is based on the symptoms present and their frequency, as well as the patients response to therapy.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a major eating disorder. It mainly affects women and teenage girls, but also can also affect men and women of all ages.

Anorexia nervosa is often confused with bulimia nervosa, although the two disorders are different in their characterisations. In anorexia, patients will intentionally restrict their diet, whereas in bulimia patients will binge eat and then purge the food from their body through vomiting. Neither disorder is mutually exclusive from the other, and some sufferers may have both anorexia and bulimia.

It is estimated that around 1% of school girls meet the criteria for anorexia, although this is likely an underestimation due to a lack of reported cases where sufferers believe their behavior is normal based on social and peer observations.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease - also known as Alzheimer disease - is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive and degenerative disease that eventually leads to death, and there is currently no known cure. It is best known for its effect of causing a marked decline in the cognitive and memory functions of individuals.

Alzheimer's disease is most often diagnosed in people aged over 65 years of age, although early-onset Alzheimer's can occur much earlier. It is predicted that by 2050, 1 in 85 people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. There are concerns in many countries that current infrastructure will not be adequate enough to deal with increasing numbers of Alzheimer's sufferers.

Very little is known about the cause and progression of Alzheimer's disease, although it is believed that plagues and tangles in the brain may be partially responsible for the condition. Research is ongoing, and there are more than 1000 clinical trials that have been or are being conducted to find a way to treat the disease, but it is currently not known if any of the developer treatments will work.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Altitude Sickness

Altitude Sickness - also known as "acute mountain sickness" (AMS) or hypobaropathy - is a patholgical illness caused by high altitudes, commonly at heights greater than 8,000 feet. Presenting as a combination of nonspecific symptoms, it is often likened to flu or a hangover.

It is very difficult to determine who will be effected by altitude sickness as there are no specific factors that correlate with a susceptibility to the illness. It is, however, uncommon and most people will find they are capable of ascending to heights exceeding 8,000 feet without suffering any signs or symptoms.

Monday, 7 May 2012


Acne - or Acne Vulgaris - is a common skin condition, identifiable by areas of scaly red skin (seborrhea), blackheads and whiteheads (comedones), pinheads (papules), pimples and nodules (pustules), and possible scarring caused by one or all of the previously mentioned characteristics.

Acne occurs more often during adolescence, and can often continue into adulthood. Acne in adolescence is commonly caused by an increase in testosterone, something that happens in both genders.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Acid Reflux Disease (GERD)

Acid Reflux Disease - or Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - is a symptom of mucosal trauma caused by stomach acid moving up from the stomach into the esophagus.

GERD can be caused by alterations in the barrier between the stomach and esophagus, including abnormal relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter. It can also be caused by blocked expulsion of gastric reflux from the esophagus, or a hiatal hernia. GERD caused by these problems can be permanent or transient.

An alternative type of acid reflux, that causes respiratory and laryngeal signs and symptoms, is called Extraesophageal Reflux Disease (EERD), or Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR). EERD. It is not likely to cause heartburn, and is infrequently referred to as "Silent Reflux."