Category Archive - Illnesses

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HIV/AIDS

Monday, January 25th, 2010

HIV/AIDS
HIV
stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is different from most other viruses because it attacks the immune system. The immune system gives our bodies the ability to fight infections. HIV finds and destroys a type of white blood cell (T cells or CD4 cells) that the immune system must have to fight disease.

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. It can take years for a person infected with HIV, even without treatment, to reach this stage. Having AIDS means that the virus has weakened the immune system to the point at which the body has a difficult time fighting infection. When someone has one or more specific infections, certain cancers, or a very low number of T cells, he or she is considered to have AIDS.

Living with HIV/AIDS
The most difficult part of living with HIV/AIDS depends on whether you have, at a minimum, a good individual health insurance plan. If you have one before symptoms start, you are most likely going to have more positive attempt at stabilizing your symptoms. The earliest disease symptoms occur while  your body begins to form antibodies to the virus (known as seroconversion) between six weeks and three months after infection with the HIV virus. Those who do show early HIV symptoms will develop flu-like symptoms. This can include: fever, rash, muscles aches and swollen lymph nodes and glands. However, for most people, the first symptoms of HIV will not be apparent.

As the infection progresses, people with HIV grow increasingly susceptible to illnesses and infection that don’t normally affect the healthy population. Even though many of these illnesses can easily be treated, those with HIV often have such weakened immune systems that typical cures fail.

Without treatment, people infected with the illness can expect to develop AIDS eight to ten years after HIV infection. Taking HIV medications, however, can slow down this progression. With treatment, it can take ten to 15 years or more before you develop AIDS. In the later stages of HIV, before it progresses to full blown AIDS, signs of HIV infection can involve more severe symptoms. These include:

The only way to know whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV. You cannot rely on symptoms alone because many people who are infected with HIV do not have symptoms for many years. Someone can look and feel healthy but can still be infected. In fact, one quarter of the HIV-infected persons in the United States do not know that they are infected.

Treatment for HIV/AIDS
It is important to remember that HIV is not a death sentence. However you will need good healthcare which can become costly. You will need to consider various affordable health insurance companies and speak with a health insurance agent to find what works best for you.

HIV treatment has made significant progress from what it was even a few years back. Important new medications and older, proven medications can now be taken less frequently with reduced side effects.

HIV medications and determining when to begin treatment are important decisions. Fortunately, newly infected people not on treatment typically can go several years without a single symptom. This means that when you test positive for HIV, depending on when you were infected and what your CD4 count and viral load are, it’s usually OK to wait to make an informed decision about using HIV medications.

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ADHD

Monday, January 18th, 2010

ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes people to have difficulty paying attention and controlling impulsive behavior.  It is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Most family health insurance plans end up covering ADHD for their clients children.  According to the National Institutes of Health ADHD has three subtypes:

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
    – Most symptoms (six or more) are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories.
    – Fewer than six symptoms of inattention are present, although inattention may still be present to some degree.
  • Predominantly inattentive
    – The majority of symptoms (six or more) are in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present, although hyperactivity-impulsivity may still be present to some degree.
    – Children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they are doing. Therefore, the child may be overlooked, and parents and teachers may not notice that he or she has ADHD.
  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive
    -Six or more symptomTre of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.
    -Most children have the combined type of ADHD.

Living with ADHD
To be diagnosed with ADHD, children should have at least 6 attention symptoms or 6 activity and impulsivity symptoms — to a degree beyond what would be expected for children their age.

The symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, observable in 2 or more settings, and not caused by another problem. The symptoms must be severe enough to cause significant difficulties. Some symptoms must be present before age 7.

Older children have ADHD in partial remission when they still have symptoms but no longer meet the full definition of the disorder.

Some children with ADHD primarily have the Inattentive Type, some the Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and some the Combined Type. Those with the Inattentive type are less disruptive and are easier to miss being diagnosed with ADHD.

The symptoms are as follows:

  • Get distracted easily and forget things often
  • Switch too quickly from one activity to the next
  • Have trouble with directions
  • Daydream too much
  • Have trouble finishing tasks like homework or chores
  • Lose toys, books, and school supplies often
  • Fidget and squirm a lot
  • Talk nonstop and interrupt people
  • Run around a lot
  • Touch and play with everything they see
  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments
  • Have trouble controlling their emotions.

Treatment
Those with ADHD can get treatment to help reduce symptoms, but there is no cure. Currently available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Most health insurance plans will cover treatment for ADHD even though it can be difficult to find an individual health insurance plan if a person was not previously covered.  Treatments include:

  1. Medication. The most common types are called stimulants. Medications help children focus, learn, and stay calm.  Sometimes medications cause side effects, such as sleep problems or stomachaches. Your child may need to try a few medications to see which one works best. It’s important that you and your doctor watch your child closely while he or she is taking medicine.
  2. Therapy. There are different kinds of therapy. Behavioral therapy can help teach children to control their behavior so they can do better at school and at home.
  3. Medication and therapy combined. Many children do well with both medication and therapy.
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