Cancer Patients Made To Wait Longer Than Ever For Urgent Tests .. Patients needing urgent…
Ear Implants For Deaf Babies ..
About 8,000 people in the UK have Cochlear implants, including most profoundly deaf children. About 350 children per year are born deaf enough to be considered for an implant. In November 2009, a nine month old baby girl became the youngest baby in the world to have cochlear implants. The small, electronic devices do not restore normal hearing, but do give the sensation of hearing by stimulating the auditory nerve, greatly improving a person’s ability to communicate.
Critics have raised ethical concerns about performing such an invasive procedure on babies, yet Mr John Graham, consultant at The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London, says it is essential to operate as soon as possible. “The brains capacity to learn starts to decay almost from birth. The ideal age is before the child is two years old. If the parts of the brain that deal with hearing are not stimulated before a child is four, then speech and hearing will never develop completely”.
Last year (2009), The National Institute for Clinical Excellence recommended that all children born profoundly death be offered bilateral cochlear implants on the NHS.
Mumps Epidemic ..
The Health Protection Agency has reported a surge in mumps, with 820 cases confirmed last year in London alone, double the national figure for 2008.
Universities and colleges are on alert as health chiefs warn that infection among the 18 to 25 age group could reach epidemic proportions.
Vaccination was introduced in 1988 as part of the MMR shot.
At first, children were given one jab, but in 1996 it was realised two were needed (at 13 months and again between the ages of two and five) to give proper immunity.
It is those who received just one shot who are now at risk.
The drop in intake of MMR in younger children has meant the virus has re-emerged.
Babies who have not yet been immunised are at risk when there is an epidemic.
Crohn’s Disease On The Rise ..
Crohn’s disease, the debilitating condition that affects 90,000 people in the UK, is on the rise, with 4,000 new cases each year.
The illness causes inflammation of the lining of the gut.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and fatigue, coupled with weight loss due to poor absorption of food.
Eventually, inflammation leads to scarring and permanent damage of the digestive tract, as well as abscesses and infections.
There is no cure and the condition can mean a lifetime of medication.
There is also an increased risk of bowel and colon cancer.
An Organism That Causes Johne’s Disease May Trigger Crohn’s ..
An organism that causes Johne’s disease, an infectious wasting condition in cattle, may trigger Crohn’s. About 35% of UK herds are infected.
It is transferred through contaminated milk, and can survive pasteurisation.
These mycobacteria are said to be present in about half of Crohn’s disease patients.
Some scientists believe other environmental factors such as smoking, diet and stress are responsible for the increase.
An Unwelcome Return Of Tuberculosis ..
Tuberculosis is a disease often thought to have been consigned to history, especially in the UK where immunisation and effective antibiotics combined with better living conditions and improved diets have been able to fight off the potentially deadly bacteria for decades. Worldwide, however, new infections occur at the rate of one per second, and now the signs are that the old ‘consumption’ of the Victorian era is making an unwelcome return.
There are currently just under 9,000 new cases in the UK.
Immigration from areas where TB is common (Africa, India and the Philippines are among the countries with the highest incidence rates) are thought to be behind the upward trend. And because the germ is spread through the air, anyone is susceptible. TB is caused by the bacterium mycobacterium tuberculosis and usually affects the lungs. The bacteria are coughed and sneezed into the air by people with the disease. Symptoms of active TB include a persistent cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss and chest pain. Diagnosis is made through chest x-rays, skin, blood and sputum tests. Treatment involves a prolonged course of antibiotics.
Autoimmune Hepatitis ..
Autoimmune Hepatitis is a disease that could strike at any moment and affects one in 10,000 people.
Autoimmune disorders are the result of the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues, identifying them as foreign substances, and autoimmune hepatitis occurs when the immune system attacks the liver, resulting in severe inflammation.
The medical profession is still not decided on why the immune system acts like this, but doctors believe it may be a genetic susceptibility that can be triggered either by a virus, stress, a reaction to medicine or hormonal imbalance. If the inflamed liver is left with permanent scars, or cirrhoses, its function can be impaired.
The liver clears toxins from the bloodstream, processes fats and helps digest food, and if it fails a hepatitis sufferer will need a transplant.
The condition is usually treated with steroids to reduce the liver inflammation and immunosuppressant drugs to prevent further damage.
With treatment, the condition can be controlled, but sometimes patients remain on medication for life.
Motor Neurone Disease ..
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a progressive, incurable condition that attacks the nervous system and leaves muscles damaged and weak.
The exact cause is a mystery.
Many neurologists have a feeling it is very active people who get MND and there are current research programmes investigating the link between high levels of physical activity and the development of MND.
Studies in Italy show there is a seven times higher incidence of MND in professional footballers than would be expected in young men. Some evidence has also shown that an excess of glutamate, a naturally produced, potentially toxic amino acid that destroys nerve cells by over exciting them, may also be a cause.
There are likely to be many factors involved in why individuals have MND, but the strongest evidence at the moment is for a genetic basis.
About two people in 100,000 are diagnosed each year and, although there is currently no cure, in the past couple of years there have been two exciting new genetic discoveries that may lead to greater understanding and more effective treatment of this cruel illness.
Spinal Cord Injuries ..
There are about 900 spinal cord injuries every year in the UK.
Half result in tetraplegia, paralysis affecting all four limbs.
The other half result in paraplegia, affecting two limbs.
Broken necks are usually the result of sports injuries or road accidents but are also commonly caused by falls, such as from a horse or bike, or severe blows to the head or neck area. A neck fracture can lead to paralysis, or even death.
A neck fracture is a break in a cervical bone (neck vertebrae).
The vertebrae make up the spine. The higher up the break, the more serious the injury can be, as spinal cord damage is more likely.