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10 Signs You Should Consult a Mental Health Professional (Psychologist)

  Stress can easily creep up on you like a thief in the night. There are numerous factors that contribute to stress compounding. For some, working long hours can trigger stress, not sleeping at least 8 hours a day for a couple of days, emotional stress and situations as simple as public speaking and fear of the dark. One way you can respond healthily to stressors and make lemonades out of the lemons life throw your way is by working with mental health specialists – Psychologists to work through these emotions and feelings. Who is a psychologist, and can they assist with mental health conditions? A psychologist is a mental health professional who uses psychological evaluations and talk therapy to help people learn to better cope with life, relationship issues and mental health conditions.  Is a Psychologist a Counsellor or Therapist? A clinical psychologist specializes in mental health conditions while a counselling psychologist addresses emotional, social and physical stressors. Both psychologists use therapy as a tool for mental health wellness.   Talk to a psychologist today for as low as 3000 a month with Healthconnect24/7 When do you need to speak to a psychologist?  Often, we experience stressors in our daily activities that may require a visit to a psychologist. We address some of them below, including:   - When Grieving  - When unregulated emotions become the norm  - When your head is in the cloud  - When you’ve repressed emotions  - Difficulty with Social Interactions  - When under any form of stress  - When battling with negative emotions, anxiety and depression - Dealing with Traumatic Experiences  - Low Productivity  - Your physical well-being has gone south   When Grieving Sometimes, life happens, and it leaves you trying to grapple with the pieces. Because we all deal with grief differently, it’s important to find a coping mechanism that works for you when you’re in this boat. Some deal with grief privately, while others like to let out those emotions. In whichever boat you find yourself, you can benefit from visiting a psychologist, because what a psychologist does is help you see the loss from an objective lens. Provide you with a safe space to blow off steam without fear of being judged or blamed, and walk you through those emotions in your head, whether negative or positive.  When unbridled emotions becomes the norm If you find yourself in a space where you’re constantly nagging or having outbursts, and you can’t seem to slow down to identify the triggers, it may be high time you take a pause from the hustle and bustle and go visit a psychologist. Because beneath those unregulated emotions, lies a lot of unresolved issues that need to be dealt with, issues a psychologist can help you declutter.  When your head is in the cloud  Most times, we need someone with an objective view to help us see things clearly. So, when your head is in the cloud and you can’t seem to put a name to the nuances going on in your head, then it’s high time to visit a psychologist. A psychologist would help you declutter those emotions and help you come to reasonable conclusions, and you can be sure you’d be leaving with a clear head.   When you’ve repressed emotions   We’re social beings, and our emotions are not to be repressed, suppressed, or bottled up; they’re to be let out healthily. However, we may find ourselves in spaces where we’re not able to let out those emotions healthily because perhaps that’s the way we’re wired, or we’re in a hostile or stifled environment, or because our experiences in life have made those emotions repressed. If you find yourself in these spaces, then you might need to speak to a psychologist. Sometimes, all we need is someone to walk us through the emotions in our heads, and that’s where a psychologist comes in; they walk you through those repressed emotions down to the root course and coping mechanisms you’d need to arm yourself with so you could go home a much better person.   You’re battling with negative emotions, anxiety and depression Negative emotions can range from feeling of loneliness, rejection, self-criticism, jealousy, anger, fear, sadness to suicidal thoughts. Having a bout of these feelings from time to time may not be unusual, however, dwelling on these thoughts often is always where the problem lies, because they can interfere with our ability to function optimally.  So, it’s important to find coping mechanisms for it such as therapy. Therapy can walk you through not only the coping mechanisms but also, help in identifying the triggers and patterns of negative thinking and emotions.   Are you struggling with anxious and depressive thoughts persistently? Then therapy might just be what you need. A visit to the psychologist would help you identify and manage the factors that contribute to your anxiety and depression through different psychotherapy approaches.  Talk to a psychologist today for as low as 3000 a month with Healthconnect24/7  Difficulty with Social Interactions   We’re social beings, as reiterated earlier. Everyone, whether you draw energy from being alone or with people, needs a dose of social interaction regularly, so when social interactions have become a bore to you; When you find yourself withdrawing from social interactions you often enjoy or you find yourself turning down the ones initiated by friends just to be by yourself persistently, it’s high time to visit a psychologist.    When under any form of stress  When under mental or emotional stress, " we turn to things that are rewarding, numbing, distracting, or destructive in order to cope, which explains why substance use and sex are often used as coping mechanisms," says Dr. Durvasula. So, if you find yourself engaging in activities, you’d normally not enjoy but can’t help but indulge in, then therapy might just be what you need.     Dealing with Traumatic Experiences  Traumatic experiences can leave scars ranging from panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorders to anxiety, depression, etc., and one of the ways its victims can heal from these experiences is by going to therapy. Therapy can walk you through the process of healing rather than doing it alone, which makes the process much easier and better.    Low Productivity   When you notice low productivity on the job, school, or anywhere you generally exert strength it may be high time to pay a visit to the psychologist, when people are under mental or emotional stress, they tend to have low morale which in turn affects their productivity. A trip to the psychologist's office might just be the magic touch you need to get your mojo back as being there will expose you to tips on managing stress, and self-regulation strategies you need to arm yourself with.    Your physical well-being has gone south  It’s not unusual to see someone under mental or emotional stress not pay attention to their physical well-being and this is because when you’re stressed, the farthest thing on your mind is your physical health care so oftentimes, when people are under any emotional or mental stress, their physical wellbeing tends to take the backseat, and this is no surprise as "mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression have both direct and indirect effects on our physical health—direct because psychological issues affect the central nervous system, which in turn has an impact on all other health systems (endocrine, immune, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, etc.)," says Dr. Durvasula, so it’s important to spot this sign early and prioritize going for therapy.   Conclusion  In whatever spot you’re on your journey to healing, you can be sure help is not far from you, and with HealthConnect247, we take the help further by bringing it closer to you. In the comfort of your home, you can get help right away just by calling our psychologists anytime of the day using our toll-free line 0-8000-432584 or by downloading the Health Connect app on iOS and Android.                      

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Disability or Different Ability: Understanding Autism, Misconceptions and How Autistic Persons Can Live a Happy and Fulfilling Life

A lot of people have heard about the word Autism, but very few really understand what it is. There are loads of misconceptions and misinformation about Autism, which fuels the stigma faced by people living with it.  Autism is like a puzzle with many pieces, each unique and special. It affects how people see and experience the world. It's a neurodevelopmental condition that influences how people perceive and interact with the world around them. You see, for someone with autism, everyday experiences can be a bit like navigating through a maze. Imagine navigating life with the rules constantly changing, the paths always shifting. That's the reality for someone with autism. Simple things we take for granted, like making eye contact, understanding sarcasm, or picking up on social cues, can be significant hurdles for people with this disorder. It's like speaking a different language or trying to decipher a code that everyone else seems to understand effortlessly. READ MORE: UNDERSTANDING MENSTRUAL BLOOD COLORS AND THEIR HEALTH IMPLICATIONS [caption id="attachment_14727" align="alignleft" width="322"] Myths and truths of Autism[/caption] Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions of Autism Awareness of autism is growing, but there is still a lot of confusion, myths, and misconceptions surrounding what autism is, what causes it, and how it affects people in very different ways. Below are some of them:   Myth 1: The appearance of autism is relatively new Truth: Autism was first described by scientist Leo Kranner in 1943, but the earliest description of a child now known to have had autism was written in 1799. Ongoing research and improvements in diagnosis have identified that the characteristics of autism exist on a continuum with varying degrees of severity, intensity, and frequency.  Myth 2: Autism is a mental health disorder  Truth: Autism is a neurological disorder. Studies of people with autism have revealed abnormalities in brain structure and neurotransmitter levels. What is commonly overlooked is that individuals with developmental disabilities are twice as likely to have a co-occurring mental health disorder that also needs treatment or, at times, may render them in need of acute mental health stabilization while also taking into consideration developmental disability. Myth 3: All individuals with autism have mental disabilities Truth: Individuals on the autism spectrum are unique, with a wide range of intellectual abilities. Individuals with autism can be harder to test, so IQ and abilities can be under or over-estimated unless an expert does testing on IDD and autism. Tests designed to include language and interpersonal analyses may misrepresent the intelligence of people with autism who struggle with social skills. Many individuals on the autism spectrum have earned college and graduate degrees and work in various professions. Conversely, it is sometimes mistakenly assumed that an individual with autism has a higher level of understanding than they do, based on their behaviour, language skills, or high level of ability in a specific area. Myth 4: Autism is caused by vaccines Truth: There is no evidence that childhood vaccination causes autism. A 1998 study linking autism with vaccines has since been retracted, and numerous studies continue to confirm that there is no direct evidence that links vaccines to the development of autism. Myth 5: Autism is caused by poor parenting or "refrigerator mothers." Truth: In the 1950s, there was an assumption that emotionally distant or cold parents caused autism. Though the exact cause of autism has not been determined, it is now firmly established that the development of autism has nothing to do with parenting style. Myth 6: Autism is caused solely by environmental factors Truth: Genes have been identified as one of the causes of autism. Parents whose first child has autism are more likely than the general population to have a second child with autism. Identical twin studies have shown that if one twin has autism, the other has a 90 percent chance of having autism as well. However, environmental factors can contribute to symptom severity for some individuals. Myth 7: Individuals with autism are violent Truth: Though there have been recent news stories relating autism to violence, aggressive acts from autistic individuals usually arise from sensory overload or emotional distress, and it is unusual for individuals with autism to act violently out of malice or pose any danger to society. Many individuals prefer to limit their exposure and interactions with other people because social situations can feel confusing and anxiety-provoking. Myth 8: All individuals with autism have savant abilities. Truth: While there is a higher prevalence of savant abilities among those with autism, only about 10 percent of individuals with autism exhibit savant abilities. Some individuals with autism have “splinter skills,” meaning skills above their overall performance abilities in one or two areas. Myth 9: Individuals with autism do not feel love. Individuals with autism are unable or unwilling to form meaningful social relationships. Truth: Though many individuals with autism have difficulty with social interaction, they can have close social relationships, fall in love, and even raise children. Some people may express their loving feelings in less obvious ways, but it does not mean they are incapable of experiencing or expressing love. Myth 10: People with autism are cold and lack empathetic feelings Truth: Individuals with autism feel as much, if not more, empathy as others, but they may express it in ways that are harder to recognize. Some individuals with autism may seem “cold or uncaring” if they are very anxious or if they are expected to show care or empathy in a more “typical” way. Myth 11: People with autism can’t stand to be touched. Truth: This can be true for some people who have high sensory sensitivities, but many individuals with autism enjoy hugs, light massage, and other forms of touch. Myth 12: People with autism have no sense of humour. Truth: This may be true for some people with autism, but the individual is likelier to express or share humour in unique or less obvious ways. Many parents report that their family members may tease, tell jokes, or mimic comedy actions or lines appropriately, anticipating others to be entertained. Myth 13: Autism can be cured. Truth: There is currently no cure for autism spectrum disorders. However, early and intensive behavioural treatment can, in many cases, reduce the severity of symptoms and help individuals develop adaptive skills for daily living, emotional and behavioural regulation and social engagement. ALSO READ: AM I REALLY SPENDING LESS WITH SELF-MEDICATION? [caption id="attachment_14728" align="aligncenter" width="806"] Challenges faced by people living with Autism[/caption] Challenges People Living With Autism Face Living with autism presents a unique set of challenges that can vary from person to person. They could range from social to cognitive, mental, etc. 1. Sensory Overload  Imagine being bombarded by sights, sounds, and sensations. For many individuals with autism, sensory stimuli can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of anxiety or distress. Simple activities like grocery shopping or attending a crowded event can become a daunting experience. 2. Communication Difficulties Expressing thoughts, feelings, and needs can be challenging for those with autism. Verbal communication may be limited or non-existent, and understanding nonverbal cues such as facial expressions or body language can be perplexing. This communication barrier often leads to frustration and misunderstandings. 3. Social Interaction Navigating social situations can feel like navigating a maze for individuals with autism. Difficulty understanding social cues, initiating conversations, or maintaining eye contact can make forming connections daunting. As a result, many individuals with autism may feel isolated or excluded from social activities. Routine and Sensitivity: Many individuals with autism thrive on routine and predictability. Any deviation from their established routine can cause significant distress and anxiety. Also, heightened sensitivity to certain stimuli, such as bright lights or loud noises, can overwhelm everyday environments. 4. Executive Functioning  Organizing tasks, planning, and managing time can pose challenges for individuals with ASD. Executive functioning difficulties can impact daily activities such as completing chores, following instructions, or meeting deadlines. 5. Stigma and Misunderstanding Despite increased awareness, stigma and misconceptions surrounding autism persist. Individuals with autism may face discrimination, bullying, or social exclusion due to misunderstandings about their condition. This stigma can negatively impact self-esteem and mental health. 6. Transitions and Change  Transitioning between activities or adapting to changes in routine can be particularly challenging for individuals with autism. Adjusting to new environments, people, or situations may trigger anxiety or meltdowns as they struggle to cope with the unfamiliar. 7. Co-occurring Conditions  Many individuals with ASD may also experience co-occurring conditions such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, or sensory processing disorder. Managing these additional challenges alongside autism can further complicate daily life and require specialized support. Challenges Faced by Families of Autistic Individuals Living with a family member who has autism presents its own set of challenges, impacting not just the individual with autism but the entire family unit.  1. Accessing Services and Support Finding appropriate services and support for a family member with ASD can be a complex and daunting process. Families may encounter barriers such as long waitlists, limited availability of specialized services, or navigating complex healthcare and educational systems. 2. Financial Strain The costs associated with raising a child with autism can be significant. Families may face financial strain in accessing the resources their loved one needs, from therapy sessions and medical expenses to specialized education and adaptive equipment. 3. Impact on Siblings Siblings of individuals with ASD may experience unique challenges as they navigate their family dynamic. They may feel overlooked or neglected due to the additional attention and resources required by their sibling with autism. Additionally, they may struggle to understand and cope with their sibling's behaviours and needs. 4. Daily Routine Disruptions Individuals with autism often thrive on routine and predictability. Any disruption to their daily routine, such as changes in schedule or unexpected events, can lead to stress and anxiety for the entire family. Families may need to adjust to accommodate their loved one's needs, which can be challenging. 5. Social Isolation Families of individuals with ASD may experience social isolation due to the unique demands of caring for their loved ones. Attending social events or outings may be challenging, and families may feel misunderstood or judged by others unaware of their situation. 6. Emotional Impact  Caring for a family member with ASD can take a toll on the emotional well-being of caregivers. Families may experience feelings of exhaustion, guilt, or frustration as they navigate the challenges of caregiving. Families need to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed. 7. Planning for the Future Planning for the future of a family member with autism can be daunting. Families may worry about long-term care arrangements, financial stability, and ensuring their loved one's quality of life as they transition into adulthood. Treatment Approaches and Support for People Living with Autism Behavioural Approaches Behavioural approaches focus on changing behaviours by understanding what happens before and after the behaviour. Behavioural approaches have the most evidence for treating symptoms of ASD. They have become widely accepted among educators and healthcare professionals and are used in many schools and treatment clinics. A notable behavioural treatment for people with ASD is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA encourages desired behaviours and discourages undesired behaviours from improving various skills. Progress is tracked and measured. Two ABA teaching styles are Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Pivotal Response Training (PRT). DTT uses step-by-step instructions to teach a desired behaviour or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and desired answers and behaviours are rewarded. Undesired answers and behaviours are ignored. PRT takes place in a natural setting rather than a clinical setting. PRT aims to improve a few “pivotal skills” to help the person learn many other skills. One example of a pivotal skill is to initiate communication with others. Developmental Approaches Developmental approaches focus on improving specific developmental skills, such as language or physical skills, or a broader range of interconnected developmental abilities. Developmental approaches are often combined with behavioural approaches. The most common developmental therapy for people with ASD is Speech and Language Therapy. Speech and Language Therapy helps to improve the person’s understanding and use of speech and language. Some people with ASD communicate verbally. Others may communicate through signs, gestures, pictures, or an electronic communication device. Occupational Therapy teaches skills that help the person live as independently as possible. Skills may include dressing, eating, bathing, and relating to people. Occupational therapy can also include: Sensory Integration Therapy to help improve responses to sensory input that may be restrictive or overwhelming. Physical Therapy can help improve physical skills, such as fine movements of the fingers or larger movements of the trunk and body. The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a broad developmental approach based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. It is used with children 12-48 months of age. Parents and therapists use play, social exchanges, and shared attention in natural settings to improve language, social, and learning skills. Educational Approaches Educational treatments are given in a classroom setting. One educational approach is the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) approach. TEACCH is based on the idea that people with autism thrive on consistency and visual learning. It allows teachers to adjust the classroom structure and improve academic and other outcomes. For example, daily routines can be written, drawn, and placed in clear sight. Boundaries can be set around learning stations. Verbal instructions can be complemented with visual instructions or physical demonstrations. Social-Relational Approaches Social-relational treatments focus on improving social skills and building emotional bonds. Some social-relational approaches involve parents or peer mentors. The Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based model (also called “Floor time”) encourages parents and therapists to follow the interests of the individual to expand opportunities for communication. The Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) model involves activities that increase motivation, interest, and ability to participate in shared social interactions. Social Stories provide simple descriptions of what to expect in a social situation. Social Skills Groups allow people with ASD to practice social skills in a structured environment. Pharmacological Approaches There are no medications that treat the core symptoms of ASD. Some medications treat co-occurring symptoms that can help people with ASD function better. For example, medication might help manage high energy levels, inability to focus, or self-harming behaviour, such as head banging or hand biting. Medication can also help manage co-occurring psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression, in addition to medical conditions, such as seizures, sleep problems, or stomach or other gastrointestinal problems. It is essential to work with a doctor who has experience in treating people with ASD when considering the use of medication. This applies to both prescription medication and over-the-counter medication. Individuals, families, and doctors must work together to monitor progress and reactions to be sure that the adverse side effects of the medication do not outweigh the benefits. Psychological Approaches Psychological approaches can help people with ASD cope with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) is one psychological approach that focuses on learning the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. During CBT, a therapist and the individual work together to identify goals and then change how the person thinks about a situation to change how they react. Complementary and Alternative Treatments Some individuals and parents use treatments that do not fit the other categories. These treatments are known as Complementary and Alternative treatments. Complementary and alternative treatments are often used to supplement more traditional approaches. They might include special diets, herbal supplements, chiropractic care, animal therapy, art therapy, mindfulness, or relaxation therapies. Individuals and families should always talk to their doctor before starting a complementary and alternative treatment. READ MORE: DEALING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PRESSURES IN THE WORKPLACE Living Colorfully: Seeing Autism Through New Lenses Autism isn't just one thing; it's a beautiful mix of experiences and perspectives. Instead of just focusing on the tough parts, looking at autistic persons as people simply viewing and interacting with the world differently helps us see all the fantastic things that come with it. When we understand and appreciate the unique talents and strengths of people with autism, we make our world a brighter, more inclusive place. Together, we can ensure everyone gets the support and respect they deserve, no matter what colour they add to the picture of life.

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Am I Really Spending Less With Self-Medication?

Self-medication is a common occurrence across loads of households in the country. As for why people self-medicate, we don't need to look too far to understand the cause. The cost of transportation is on the rise, and the cost of feeding is abnormally high, but healthcare, which already used to be pretty high before, is now over the roof. In addition to the current economic challenges, major pharmaceutical giants like GSK and Sanofi have exited the Nigerian market due to harsh economic conditions, which have doubled and, in some cases, even tripled or quadrupled the cost of medications. AI Healthcare Innovations That May Have the Biggest Impact on Healthcare Cost in 2024   [caption id="attachment_14455" align="alignleft" width="300"] Cost of Inhaler[/caption] A Twitter user @TNath77 posted: I bought my inhaler last year at 2,500; I just purchased the same inhaler at 12,500…what sort of madness is going on in this country?) However, it's not just about affordability; there's also the convenience factor which also plays a key role. I mean, what's the use of waking up early to battle traffic, only to join another 20 people waiting amidst the heat and cranky nurses to spend 10 minutes with a doctor to simply treat malaria when you could pick up medications from the nearest pharmacy?    As we strive for convenience-led care amidst the burden of inflated medical expenses, made possible by the current economic climate, the stark reality is that every naira counts! With everybody cutting back on spending and streamlining their budget to meet essential needs, there’s no better time to ask, “Am I really spending less with self-medication?” Self-medication and its Long-term Impact Self-medication has become a common practice for Nigerians seeking relief from minor ailments. Many of us turn to over-the-counter remedies, from headaches to stomachaches, to save time and money.  While self-medication may offer immediate relief, its long-term consequences can be costly. Without proper medical assessment, we run the risk of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment. This can result in prolonged suffering and additional healthcare expenses. Moreover, the proliferation of counterfeit and substandard medications further complicates the issue, putting our health and finances at risk. Here are ten ways self-medication can negatively impact our health and increase our healthcare expense: [caption id="attachment_14560" align="alignleft" width="232"] 10 Disadvantages of self-mediation[/caption] 1. Self-medication can result in misdiagnosis Self-diagnosis without proper medical training or diagnostic tools can lead to inaccurate assessments of one's health condition. This can result in treating symptoms incorrectly or overlooking underlying issues, potentially exacerbating the problem and delaying necessary medical intervention. Without the expertise of healthcare professionals, individuals may misinterpret symptoms. This leads to inappropriate treatment plans that fail to address the root cause of their health concerns. 2. Delayed treatment Relying on self-medication may cause individuals to postpone seeking professional medical assistance for severe or chronic conditions. Delayed treatment can allow health problems to progress unchecked, leading to complications and poorer outcomes. Instead of addressing health issues promptly, individuals may attempt to self-manage their symptoms. In so doing, they miss out on the opportunity for early intervention and effective management of their condition. 3. Negative drug interactions Mixing multiple medications without medical supervision can increase the risk of harmful drug interactions. Different medications may interact unpredictably, altering their effectiveness or causing adverse reactions. Without proper oversight, individuals may inadvertently combine medications that interact negatively, potentially leading to serious health consequences. This risk is particularly concerning for individuals with multiple health conditions or those taking a variety of medications simultaneously. 4. Self-medication masks symptoms without treating the ailment Over-the-counter medications may temporarily relieve symptoms without addressing the underlying cause of the health issue. While this may offer short-term comfort, it can mask the severity of the condition, leading individuals to underestimate the seriousness of their health problems. By focusing solely on symptom relief, self-medication may delay proper diagnosis and treatment, allowing the underlying condition to progress unchecked and potentially leading to complications. 5. Self-medication may lead to an overdose Without accurate dosage guidance from a healthcare professional, individuals may inadvertently overdose on medications. Overdosing can result in toxic effects on the body, ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening complications. The absence of proper dosage instructions or medical supervision increases the risk of unintentional overdosing, especially when individuals attempt to self-manage their symptoms without understanding the potential consequences of excessive medication use. Long-Term Use of Ear Pods: Effects and Potential Health Challenge 6. Allergic reactions may occur from self-medication Self-medication with unfamiliar medications or herbal remedies can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Allergic reactions may manifest as skin rashes, itching, swelling, or more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. Without prior knowledge of allergic sensitivities or medical supervision, individuals may inadvertently expose themselves to allergens, increasing the risk of adverse reactions. This highlights the importance of professional guidance and allergy testing to identify potential sensitivities before initiating new medications. 7. Antibiotic resistance may result from self-medication Inappropriate use of antibiotics, such as taking incomplete courses or using them for viral infections, contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance poses a significant public health threat, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of complications. Self-medication with antibiotics without proper diagnosis or prescription encourages the emergence of resistant strains, compromising the effectiveness of these medications for future use. Responsible antibiotic stewardship and adherence to prescribed treatment regimens are essential to mitigate this risk. 8. It may result in organ damage Some medications, when misused or in excessive doses, can cause harm to vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, or heart. Prolonged use of certain drugs or dosage exceeding recommended limits can lead to organ toxicity, impairing their function and potentially causing irreversible damage. Without medical supervision to monitor medication use and assess potential risks, individuals may unknowingly subject themselves to the danger of organ damage, highlighting the importance of professional oversight and adherence to prescribed treatment guidelines. [caption id="attachment_14561" align="alignright" width="458"] Drug dependency[/caption] 9. Drug dependency Regular use of certain medications, particularly those with addictive properties such as opioids or benzodiazepines, can lead to dependency or addiction. Dependence occurs when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of a drug and requires increasing doses to achieve the desired effect. Addiction further exacerbates this issue, involving psychological dependence and compulsive drug-seeking behaviour. Without proper medical management and support, individuals may struggle to discontinue medication use, leading to withdrawal symptoms and challenges in achieving recovery. 10. Legal Consequences  In some cases, self-medication with prescription medications obtained without a valid prescription may constitute illegal drug possession or distribution under local laws. Purchasing prescription drugs from unauthorized sources or sharing medications with others may expose individuals to legal repercussions, including fines, criminal charges, or imprisonment. Ignorance of the law or misconceptions about medication legality does not exempt individuals from legal liability, emphasizing the importance of obtaining medications through legitimate channels and following legal guidelines to avoid legal consequences. How HealthConnect is Mitigating Self-Medication by Improving Access to Affordable and Quality Healthcare While getting access to quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare might feel impossible, especially in these tough times, this is not the case.  HealthConnect is changing the game by offering telemedicine as a convenient and cost-effective alternative to traditional healthcare delivery. Now, you can talk to a doctor anytime, anywhere, without worrying about costs.  Whether you prefer a video call or a toll-free number, HealthConnect makes it easy to get the care you need 24/7. The Impact of Telemedicine on primary healthcare and patient outcomes in 2023 HealthConnect offers many ways to save you time and money, with a suite of features designed to provide real value for healthcare with minimal spending. The toll-free call option ensures that individuals can access unlimited toll-free consultations with medical professionals, including mental health experts and clinical psychologists, without worrying about phone charges, while video conferencing allows for face-to-face consultations with healthcare professionals from anywhere with an internet connection. HealthConnect's virtual booth feature provides a streamlined platform for accessing medical assistance, making the process quick and hassle-free. One of the standout features of HealthConnect's Telemedicine Service is its remote patient monitoring capabilities, which allow our care providers to track patients' health status remotely and intervene proactively when necessary. Furthermore, prescription delivery services ensure that individuals receive the medications they need without the hassle of visiting a pharmacy, saving time and money. Compared to self-medication, where you're guessing what's wrong, HealthConnect gives accurate medical advice from trained professionals. That means no wasted money on treatments that don't work or worsen things. HealthConnect is redefining affordable healthcare in Nigeria. With their help, you can care for yourself without breaking the bank.  So why risk it with self-medication when you can get expert care from HealthConnect?

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Dealing with Mental Health Pressures in the Workplace

Mental health pressures in the workplace are common occurrences in today's competitive work environment. Individuals often face mental health pressures that can significantly impact their well-being. From demanding deadlines to challenging work dynamics, navigating the complexities of the workplace can take a toll on one's mental health.  Understanding Mental Health Pressures in the Workplace Mental health pressures in the workplace can manifest in various forms, including stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout. These pressures often stem from high workloads, tight deadlines, unrealistic expectations, toxic work environments, and interpersonal conflicts. Left unaddressed, they can profoundly affect an individual's performance, productivity, and overall quality of life. ALSO READ: TIPS FOR MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WORK/LIFE BALANCE IN 2023 Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Pressures in the Workplace It's essential to recognize the signs of mental health pressures early on to prevent them from escalating. Common symptoms may include feeling overwhelmed or irritable, experiencing difficulty concentrating or making decisions, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and withdrawing from social interactions. Additionally, physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and muscle tension may also indicate underlying mental health issues. Effective Coping Strategies Managing mental health stress is vital, especially in the workplace. Hillary Onose, a 29-year-old back-end developer at a popular Nigerian fintech startup, explained how she could cope with effective coping mechanisms when battling workplace challenges. Despite facing a steep learning curve and a demanding manager, Hillary prioritized her well-being by seeking counseling and initiating open conversations with her boss. A key takeout from Hillary's story is the importance of self-advocacy, setting boundaries, and seeking support. Prioritizing mental health in the workplace fosters healthier environments where individuals feel valued and supported. When confronted with mental health pressures in the workplace, Hillary implemented effective coping strategies like self-advocacy, boundary-setting, and seeking support to help her manage stress and maintain practical well-being. Below are some other methods you can explore. READ MORE: 5 KEY INDICATORS YOU MIGHT BE FACING BURNOUT Some effective coping strategies you can employ include: Prioritize Self-Care: Prioritise self-care by engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies. Taking breaks throughout the workday and setting boundaries between work and personal life can also help prevent burnout. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to seek support from trusted friends, family members, or colleagues. Talking to someone about your feelings and experiences can provide validation and perspective, helping you feel less isolated. Practice Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine to manage stress and anxiety effectively. Mindfulness practices such as deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation can help calm the mind and promote emotional well-being. Set Realistic Goals: Break down large tasks into smaller, manageable goals to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Set realistic expectations for yourself and communicate openly with your supervisor about workload and deadlines. Establish Boundaries: Avoid additional responsibilities or commitments that may exacerbate stress. Setting boundaries around work hours, communication channels, and personal time is essential for maintaining work-life balance. Seek Professional Help: If mental health pressures persist or become overwhelming, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor. Professional support can provide valuable tools and strategies for managing stress and improving mental health. ALSO READ: 15 PRACTICAL ACTIONS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR 2024 HEALTH PLAN OR ROUTINE Conclusion Navigating mental health pressures in the workplace is a challenge many individuals face in today's fast-paced and competitive environments. Individuals can effectively manage stress and maintain well-being by prioritizing self-care, seeking support, and advocating for healthy work practices. Organizations must foster a culture of openness and support where employees feel comfortable addressing their mental health needs without fear of stigma or judgment. Prioritizing mental health in the workplace helps us thrive professionally and personally, contributing to healthier and happier living.

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Company News

International Women’s Day 2024: Healthconnect24/7’s Commitment to Diversity and Equality 

Since its inception, Healthconnect24/7 has remained steadfast in its commitment to fostering a culture of equality and inclusion.   As the world commemorates this year’s International Women’s Day, themed, “Inspire Inclusion,” Christiana Ademola, the People Operations Coordinator, and Bukola Dawodu, the Head of Operations, share deeper insights into Healthconnect24/7's approach to inclusion.   Christiana, let’s talk about how long you have worked at healthconnect24/7 and what you think about its commitment to gender inclusivity?   Christiana: I have worked with health connect for 5 months now and the gender inclusivity here is very encouraging. The company has put in the work across various fronts like hiring and promotions to ensure that everyone gets a fair shot. And I’m excited to make these processes even better.   That sounds fantastic! Does this mean that Healthconnect24/7 has gender parity in its workforce?  Christiana: Currently, our team reflects gender parity, with women constituting 51% of our workforce. This includes roles in management and STEM fields, which are crucial for bringing diverse perspectives and skills to the table.  That's great to hear! Bukola, with your five-year journey at Healthconnect24/7, do you think the company is diverse enough?  Bukola: Absolutely! Healthconnect24/7 is all about inclusion, not just in recruitment but also in our day-to-day operations. We're big on having women at the table, driving innovation, and shaping decisions. Everyone's voice matters here, regardless of gender. Over the years, I've seen a concerted effort to not only hire a diverse workforce but also to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.  Great! Christiana, could you share some of the initiatives the company has in place to promote inclusion, especially during the hiring process?  Christiana: For sure! Healthconnect24/7 has rolled out several initiatives to ensure fairness right from the get-go. We closely monitor diversity metrics at every stage of recruitment, prioritize equitable representation in candidate shortlisting, and ensure gender-diverse hiring panels to mitigate biases. Additionally, regular assessments are conducted to address any disparities and uphold our commitment to diversity.  Those initiatives are truly commendable! Bukola, beyond hiring, how does Healthconnect24/7 foster an inclusive environment for its employees?  Bukola: At Healthconnect24/7, we have an open-door policy for employees to raise concerns, effective policies to address harassment and discrimination, and opportunities for professional growth regardless of gender. Moreover, having women in leadership positions plays a crucial role in setting a tone of inclusivity and empowerment.  Thank you both for sharing these insights! We also have Dapo Tejuoso, the director of healthconnect24/7, here to share his perspective on inclusion. Dapo, can you share the reasons why Healthconnect247 is big on inclusion and diversity?    Dapo: I recognize the pivotal role of diversity and inclusion in our success. Embracing a spectrum of perspectives and experiences enhances innovation, improves patient care, and fosters a more resilient, dynamic organization. We are committed to ensuring that our workforce reflects the diversity of our society, creating a more inclusive and effective telemedicine platform for all Nigerians."  Amazing!     Now we know that Healthconnect24/7 not only creates a vibrant and supportive work environment, but it also paves the way for a brighter and more inclusive future.  As we celebrate Women's Day and reflect on the progress made towards gender equality, we are also striving to build a world where every individual is valued and empowered, regardless of their gender or background.   Happy Women's Day!  

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Health Tips

Malaria- Treatment and Prevention of the Disease with Telemedicine

Malaria might seem like just another fever to many, especially in parts of the world where it's frequently encountered. But did you know it's one of the reasons at least 460,000 children don't make it past childhood globally? Malaria is not just a common ailment; it's a deadly disease that claims the lives of over half a million people worldwide every year.  This staggering number highlights the severity of the disease, which is spread by the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. These mosquitoes transmit malaria parasites into the bloodstream, causing symptoms that, if left untreated, can lead to severe complications or even death. The Reach of Malaria Malaria thrives in hot, humid climates, predominantly in tropical regions. The year 2020 alone saw nearly 250 million cases of malaria, leading to about 700,000 deaths, with a significant number occurring in South Asia and Africa. The disease hits hardest in underdeveloped and developing countries, where access to healthcare, doctors, and hospitals is limited, and environmental conditions favor the breeding of mosquitoes. Who is at Risk from Malaria? While anybody stands the risk of being infected with Malaria, it poses a higher risk to specific groups.  People in Africa face the highest risk due to the continent's climate—high heat and humidity, which mosquitoes love. These conditions are perfect for mosquitoes to have a field day, making more mosquitoes that can spread malaria. So, people in Africa end up facing a higher chance of getting bitten by one of these mosquitoes and catching malaria. It’s a major problem and worse there than in many other places worldwide. But there's more to it than just the weather. Things like insufficient doctors or clinics, poverty rate, and lack of education on preventing mosquitoes from thriving in one’s vicinity can make the situation even tougher.  In lots of places in Africa, it's hard for people to get the medical help they need when they need it, and when it comes to malaria, getting help fast is super important to avoid getting really sick or even dying. Also, children under five years old and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. For young children, their developing immune systems are not yet strong enough to fight off the severe forms of the disease. Shockingly, in 2020, over 80% of malaria deaths in Africa were children under five years old. Pregnant women, on the other hand, have altered immune responses during pregnancy, making them more susceptible to the adverse effects of malaria, which can lead to complications such as premature birth, low birth weight, and even infant mortality. Diagnosis and Treatment of Malaria: The Earlier, The Better The good news is that if malaria is caught and treated early, most people get better fast without too many issues. Detecting malaria early is crucial for effective treatment. Healthcare providers can diagnose malaria through blood tests to identify the presence and type of malaria parasites. Treatment typically involves a combination of drugs to kill the parasites, with the choice of medication depending on the type of parasite and factors such as the patient's age and pregnancy status. Prompt treatment not only aids in a quicker recovery but also mitigates the risk of severe complications. Doctors might use a mix of medicines to kill the parasites, especially in cases where the disease has become resistant and unresponsive to the usual drugs.  How HealthConnect247 is Making a Difference Telemedicine is really changing the game when it comes to fighting malaria. Now, people can get advice from doctors without leaving their houses. This is huge in places where malaria is a big problem, but it's hard to find a doctor or clinic nearby. Whether it's because they live too far away, there's no easy way to get there, or there just aren't enough medical places to go to, telemedicine helps bridge that gap. People can simply pick up the phone or go online to talk to healthcare experts, making it way easier and faster to get the medical attention they need without the hassle of traveling. This is where HealthConnect247 really stands out. We’re all about ensuring everyone can access healthcare, no matter where they are. With HealthConnect247, connecting with doctors for internet or phone advice is straightforward via our TOLL-FREE call consultations, making healthcare more reachable and a potential lifesaver. For those living in areas where malaria is common, this can mean getting diagnosed and starting treatment much quicker, all from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Telemedicine goes beyond just being handy; it's playing a crucial role in the fight against malaria, helping people get the care they need when needed. REACH A DOCTOR IN LESS THAN 3 MINUTES ON HALTHCONNECT WITH ANY OF OUR TOLL-FREE LINES (0-8000-432-584, or 0-8001-235-111) HealthConnect247 is leading the way in this new era of healthcare, providing telemedicine services that bring healthcare within reach for everyone. With our telemedicine services, people in areas where malaria is common can get medical advice, prescriptions, and ongoing care without ever having to step outside. This easy access to healthcare is really important, especially when it comes to dealing with malaria. It means that people can get the help they need fast, which can make a big difference in saving lives by offering prompt and effective treatment options. Telemedicine’s impact on Malaria doesn't stop at treatment alone. It can play a significant role in malaria prevention. Through telemedicine, individuals can learn about effective prevention strategies, such as the use of mosquito nets and insect repellents and the importance of eliminating standing water around their homes. Education on recognizing the early symptoms of Malaria and the importance of prompt treatment can empower communities to take proactive steps in preventing the disease. Challenges and Opportunities of Telemedicine in Malaria Treatment Navigating telemedicine in treating Malaria comes with its share of hurdles and opportunities. One big challenge is ensuring everyone has reliable access to internet connectivity. Internet penetration is key to providing cost-effective telemedicine services, especially in rural areas where malaria hits hard. Without good internet, people might struggle to connect with doctors online, delaying their treatment. Another hurdle is making sure people know how to use telemedicine tools. Not everyone is tech-savvy, so some might find using apps or websites for medical consultations tricky. Plus, fitting telemedicine into existing healthcare systems isn't always straightforward, with issues like privacy and rules to figure out. However, where challenges exist, there are opportunities to do things better. By teaming up with tech companies, doctors, and governments, we can find ways to improve internet access in remote areas and teach folks how to use telemedicine tools.  At HealthConnect247, we’ve taken steps to combat the challenge of internet connectivity by providing access to UNLIMITED TOLL-FREE consultations 24/7, making it easier for people to get the help they need, no matter where they are. CALL A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY WHENEVER YOU NEED ONE VIA OUR TOLL-FREE LINES – (0-8000-432-584, or 0-8001-235-111) The battle against malaria isn't over, but telemedicine offers hope. Telemedicine services like HealthConnect247 are transforming the treatment and prevention of malaria and reshaping the healthcare landscape in general. By providing access to medical advice and treatment regardless of location, telemedicine is breaking down longstanding barriers to healthcare access. This is especially significant in rural or remote areas, where traditional healthcare services may be hours away or non-existent. The success of telemedicine in combating malaria points to a broader potential for remote healthcare services to address various medical conditions. As technology advances, the scope of telemedicine will likely expand, offering new and innovative ways to provide care. This could include using AI to diagnose diseases, mobile apps for health monitoring, virtual reality for medical training, and many more.

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Telemedicine Insights

AI Healthcare Innovations That May Have the Biggest Impact on Healthcare Cost in 2024

AI healthcare innovations are growing rapidly on a global scale. Artificial intelligence (AI) is not just a buzzword; it's changing the way we live and work. From banking to healthcare, AI is everywhere, making our lives easier. Think spam-free emails, smartwatches, and personalized recommendations on shopping and streaming platforms, humans reap the benefits of artificially intelligent systems every day.  However, the rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence are being applied to solve many problems around the world, and healthcare is no exception. AI healthcare innovations are revolutionizing how we diagnose diseases and manage illnesses. This promises better service delivery for all. It cuts across all touchpoints of the healthcare value chain, from pharmaceuticals to end-line patients. Take Michael Deater's case, for example. While awaiting a lung transplant at the University of Florida Health Centre, AI played a crucial role. Sensors and cameras monitored his vital signs and facial expressions in an intelligent intensive care unit. This AI-based set up provided real-time insights to his healthcare team. Read Also: 15 Practical Actions to Include in Your 2024 Health Plan or Routine This is just one instance of how AI is transforming healthcare delivery. AI is transforming healthcare and has the potential to improve service delivery across the board. Make no mistake about it: AI healthcare innovations are here to stay, and their impact on healthcare is already being felt. However, there are critical AI applications that will have the most significant impact on consumer out-of-pocket health expenses this year. Read on to discover the AI innovations that could impact healthcare cost and why they should matter to you. [caption id="attachment_13845" align="alignleft" width="232"] 5 AI Healthcare Innovations[/caption]  Top 5 AI Healthcare Innovations Affecting Healthcare in 2024 1. AI Healthcare Innovation #1: Machine Learning and Generative AI Machine learning and generative AI are at the forefront of AI healthcare innovations. This AI innovation leverages vast datasets to revolutionize patient care. This technology analyzes intricate medical data to forecast patient outcomes, and tailor treatment plans to individual needs. Moreover, it can even help generate synthetic data for AI model training. By accurately predicting patient responses to treatments, healthcare providers can avoid unnecessary diagnostic tests and treatments, reducing overall healthcare costs. Furthermore, the ability to personalize treatment plans based on individual patient characteristics enhances the efficacy of medical interventions. This results in improved healthcare outcomes and reduced healthcare expenses in the long run. 2. AI Healthcare Innovation #2: Natural Language Processing (NLP) Natural Language Processing (NLP) is transforming the way healthcare providers interact with patient data and streamline administrative processes. By enabling computers to understand and interpret human language, NLP facilitates efficient communication between healthcare professionals and patients. This technology automates tasks such as transcribing medical records, extracting relevant information from clinical notes, and even generating clinical documentation. By enhancing operational efficiency and patient satisfaction, NLP contributes to reducing healthcare costs associated with administrative overhead and improving the overall quality of care. 3. AI Healthcare Innovation #3: Computer Vision In healthcare, computer vision plays a pivotal role in medical imaging interpretation and disease detection. By analyzing radiological images such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, computer vision algorithms can expedite the diagnosis process, leading to timely interventions and improved patient outcomes. Additionally, computer vision technology can help reduce the need for additional diagnostic tests by accurately identifying abnormalities in medical images, thereby optimizing resource utilization and lowering healthcare costs. Early detection of diseases through AI healthcare innovations like computer vision also enables proactive management strategies, further contributing to cost savings in the healthcare system. 4. AI Healthcare Innovation #4 Neural Networks Neural networks, inspired by the human brain's intricate neural architecture, are powering advanced AI systems in healthcare. These sophisticated algorithms excel at recognizing complex patterns and analyzing medical data to enhance diagnostics accuracy and treatment optimization. By leveraging neural networks, healthcare providers can predict patient outcomes more accurately, tailor treatment plans to individual needs, and identify high-risk patients for proactive interventions. This personalized approach to healthcare delivery not only improves patient outcomes but also reduces unnecessary medical expenses associated with trial-and-error treatments and avoidable complications. 5. AI Healthcare Innovation #5: Deep Learning Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, is revolutionizing healthcare by unravelling complex medical data and uncovering hidden insights. From analyzing medical images for disease diagnosis to discovering novel drug compounds, deep learning algorithms offer unparalleled capabilities in healthcare analytics. By identifying subtle patterns and trends in vast datasets, deep learning models guide clinicians in making informed decisions, leading to more efficient resource allocation and better patient outcomes. Moreover, deep learning-driven predictive analytics can help mitigate unnecessary medical expenses by identifying cost-effective interventions and optimizing healthcare delivery pathways. Also Read: The Financial Burden of Self-Medication: Balancing Health and Expenses Some A.I Healthcare Innovations and Solutions Available in Nigeria LifeBank: Utilizes AI algorithms to optimize blood supply chain management, ensuring timely delivery of blood and other critical medical supplies to hospitals and healthcare facilities across Nigeria. CareAi: This groundbreaking AI-powered computing system swiftly diagnoses infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid fever, and tuberculosis with just a finger-prick blood test. Ensuring data security and privacy through a blockchain-based platform, CareAi is particularly invaluable in remote areas with limited healthcare access. [caption id="attachment_13847" align="alignleft" width="318"] AI in healthcare[/caption] Kangpe: An AI-powered telemedicine platform that connects patients with licensed doctors via mobile phones, allowing for remote consultations and diagnosis of various health conditions, thus increasing access to healthcare services, especially in underserved areas. MobiCure: Develops AI-based mobile applications for maternal and child health, offering personalized health advice and monitoring for pregnant women and new mothers, thereby improving maternal and child healthcare outcomes in Nigeria. ZMP Inc: Revolutionizing drug authenticity checks, ZMP Inc. developed an app using MIT open-source software. This innovative tool employs smartphone cameras to scan drug barcodes, instantly verifying their legitimacy with AI algorithms. Created by Nigerian secondary school girls, this app champions the fight against counterfeit drugs, enhancing healthcare quality and safety. 54gene: Utilizes AI and genomic data to research genetic variations among Africans, with the goal of advancing precision medicine and developing tailored healthcare solutions for the Nigerian population. Conclusion The growing influence of AI healthcare innovations holds immense promise for changing how medical services are provided and managed. These AI tools have the potential to offer solutions for tackling rising healthcare costs. By using advanced technologies, healthcare providers can make processes smoother, enhance patient results, and ultimately lessen the financial strain on patients. As AI becomes more deeply integrated into healthcare, it brings with it the hope of boosting efficiency and effectiveness throughout the industry, all while easing the financial burden on both individuals and healthcare systems. About Us Healthconnect 247 is at the forefront of Nigeria's telemedicine scene, offering a variety of services such as teleconsultations, telemonitoring, and home health tech. With our platform, you can reach skilled medical professionals, psychologists, and wellness experts around the clock through our user-friendly mobile apps, teleconsultation desks, and virtual clinics. Whether you're an individual, employer, NGO, telecom company, or government agency, we've got you covered. Check out our website today to find out more about our affordable, convenient, and top-quality healthcare services, available whenever and wherever you need them.      

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Health Tips

Heat Waves and Heat Stroke: Signs, Symptoms, Treatment and How to Stay Safe

Did you know that Monday, the 4th of July, 2023, was reportedly the hottest day ever recorded globally? Sounds strange, right, but it's true. Interestingly, the 'second hottest day ever' was in August 2016, just a few years back. It's amazing and probably a little bit scary that in the history of the earth, we've had temperatures reaching record degrees within a decade of each other. High-temperature levels are becoming a norm, and it's best to know how to keep yourself cool and safe in the midst of the heat. Heat waves are anything but fun in the sun. Severe heat and humidity can be very uncomfortable and dangerous for one's well-being. Severe heat can cause heat stroke and, in the worst-case scenario, even death if the appropriate safety measures are not taken. Heat waves have become longer, more frequent, and more severe due to climate change.  [caption id="attachment_13525" align="alignleft" width="422"] Extreme heat[/caption] What Exactly are Heat Waves?  Heat waves occur when temperatures soar above normal for an extended period, often accompanied by high humidity, making it feel even hotter. These events are a natural part of weather patterns but are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change, which traps heat in the atmosphere. What is Heat Stroke? Heat stroke is a serious condition that occurs when the body overheats to a dangerous level. When exposed to high temperatures for too long, especially during heat waves, the body's ability to regulate its temperature can become overwhelmed. This can lead to a rapid increase in body temperature, causing symptoms such as confusion, dizziness, nausea, and even loss of consciousness.  Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention. If left untreated, it can result in organ damage, brain injury, or even death. FEELING SYMPTOS OF HEAT STROKE? SUBSCRIBE TO GET 24/7 ACCESS TO A DOCTOR, TOLL-FREE!!! Who's most at risk from heat waves? While excessive heat poses risks to everyone, certain groups are particularly vulnerable. Infants and pregnant women face higher risks of heat-related illnesses due to their bodies' reduced ability to regulate temperature.  Infants For infants and children, heat waves can be a death sentence if not properly handled. Their bodies have more trouble regulating temperature than adults, and so they rely on adults to help protect them from heat. Pregnant Women The impact of heat waves on pregnant women can also be quite severe. Too much heat and dehydration can put the baby at higher risk of low birth weight, early birth, or even stillbirth. Pregnant women themselves can be negatively affected and go into early labour. They also stand the risk of developing gestational diabetes and hypertension.  How to stay safe during a heat wave Be prepared! Stay informed about upcoming weather conditions. Always be sure to find out how hot and humid it would get daily, weekly, and even for the month so you can appropriately plan outside activities. Keep an emergency kit stocked with essentials like oral rehydration salts, water bottles, a thermometer, towels or cloths to wet for cooling, a handheld fan or mister with batteries, and a checklist to identify and treat symptoms of heat stress. Know how to access medical assistance if needed. Note the contact information for the nearest health care provider or ambulance/transport services. How to create a cool atmosphere in your home and stay safe from heat waves Close the curtains during the hottest parts of the day and open windows at night to cool down the house. Use fans and coolers if available. Stay out of the heat. Do not go outside during the hottest times of the day if you can avoid it. Try to arrange your activities earlier or later in the day when it is cooler. When outside, wear sunscreen and try to stay in the shade or use hats and umbrellas for protection. Stay hydrated. Drink water at regular intervals before you are thirsty. Don't overdress. Overdressing in the heat can make you dehydrated and get hotter faster. Wear light and loose clothes. Cotton is ideal during hot days to help reduce heat rashes and absorb sweating. Similarly, cotton bed sheets are recommended over non-breathable materials. Carry a water bottle and a small towel to hydrate and cool your body temperature down by placing a wet towel on your neck. Check to see if your community has a heat relief or cooling centre near you. You could also use the waiting areas of health facilities as a temporary cooling shelter.   Tips for infants, children, and pregnant women DOs for Infants and children DO check regularly if your child is thirsty, sweating, feeling hot, vomiting, has a dry and sticky mouth, or experiencing headaches. If your child is not responding properly, has a high fever, is dizzy, or is breathing fast, take them to the health facility immediately.  DO make sure that your child is clothed loosely – this can help prevent heat rashes and becoming too hot.  DO check that your child is well hydrated. They may not know what dehydration and heat stress feel like. Breastfeed infants under six months exclusively. Breastfeeding mothers should drink plenty of water as dehydration can affect breast milk production.​ Children aged six months and over should drink water regularly throughout the day. Don't DO NOT give infants medication if they are showing signs of being overheated without consulting a health provider.  Donts for Infants and children DO NOT leave infants and children in closed spaces without ventilation, such as cars or rooms with closed windows.  DO NOT let your children play outside for long hours when it is hot and without keeping an eye on them. Have them rest every 30 minutes when exercising or playing outside. Exercising or playing in high temperatures can lead to dehydration and serious consequences quickly.    DOs for pregnant women Schedule medical visits and any tasks for when it is less hot in the day to prevent exposure to yourself and your unborn baby.  Sleep in cooler areas, such as on the lower floors of the building, when possible.    Donts for pregnant women Please DO NOT engage in excessive activities when it is hot outside.  DO NOT go outside when it's really hot. Try to avoid going out if it is over 40 °C/104 °F.  DO NOT overwork yourself. Rest when possible and share workloads with others.  DO NOT exercise when you're low on rest or water. Pregnant women can exercise with low or moderate intensity as long as they feel comfortable and are hydrating and resting properly.​    ALSO READ: LIGHTHEADEDNESS AND RECURRING FATIUE: CAUSES, SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT Signs and symptoms of heat stroke Severe symptoms of heat stroke require urgent care. Suppose a family member is presenting any of the severe symptoms below. In that case, you should call for an ambulance or arrange for another form of transport to a health facility immediately. Trust your instincts, and don't hesitate to call for medical assistance.    Mild Symptoms of heat-related illness (treatable with telemedicine) Dry lips/sticky mouth Excessive thirst Excessive sweating Weakness /dizziness Nausea/vomiting Small blisters/rashes Heat rashes Mild fever Nosebleeds Cramps, usually in the arms and legs                                                                                                                            Severe symptoms of heat-related illnesses– take to the hospital immediately Confusion/not responding clearly /seizures/coma/not waking up (MOST SEVERE) Very high body temperature for longer than 2 hours (40 °C/104 °F) Fainting No urine in more than 8 hours or dark urine Rapid heartbeat and breathing No sweating (but the skin may be wet). It's possible Treating heat stroke in emergencies 1. Cool and rush to a health facility if severe Suppose a family member is experiencing severe symptoms of heat-related illnesses. In that case, it is important to cool first and transport second.   Help the person sit or lie down in a cool, shaded area with good ventilation. Close curtains to create more shade. Turn on a fan or air conditioner if available. Apply wet towels to the skin at the head, neck, armpits, and groin.  For infants and children, remove the outer layers of clothing, and for pregnant women, have them remove excess layers of clothing in a private area if possible. Have them sleep on their left side or leaning to the left. If the person is unconscious or vomiting, lay them on their side until transport to the health facility arrives.  If there are no severe symptoms, then treat at home and continue to Step 2: temperature reduction. 2. Reduce temperature Move the person into a cool area if you still need to do so. Close curtains to create more shade. Turn on a fan or air conditioner if available. Apply wet towels or cool water to the body, particularly at the head, neck, armpits, and groin. Keep changing the towels or dipping them in cool water every few minutes to provide cool water for the body. If available, use a fan and a misting spray to spray lukewarm water onto the body and dry it off with the fan running at the same time. Place ice or a wet towel on the neck, armpits, or groin with the fan running as well. Help air the body manually if no fan is available.    Hands and feet can be put into containers of cool water to help cool off the body faster. Older children and adults can be immersed in cool (but NOT ice cold) water or a cold shower if available.  DO NOT immerse infants and young children in very cold water.   DO NOT point the fan at the face, especially infants.  DO NOT give paracetamol/acetaminophen without advice from your health provider. Continue to Step 3: Rehydrate. 3. Rehydrate For infants under six months, breastfeed to rehydrate the infant. Encourage the mother also to drink more water, especially if breastfeeding. However, for older infants and children, give them water in small amounts to help them become used to it.  If the child has released a lot of sweat or is sweating a lot, add some Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) to the water for the child. Carefully follow the directions on the packet. If there are no directions, use the following guidance:  A child under the age of two years needs at least 1/4 to 1/2 of a large (250 ml) cup of the ORS drink. A child aged two years or older needs at least 1/2 to 1 whole large (250 ml) cup of the ORS drink. If no premade ORS is available, dissolve six level teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon of salt in 1 litre of clean water.   For older children and pregnant women, add ORS to water if excessively sweating. They should drink 100 ml of ORS every 5 minutes until they feel better. Conclusion As temperatures soar globally, understanding the risks of heat waves and prioritizing safety and awareness is important, especially for vulnerable groups like infants, children, and pregnant women. By understanding the risks associated with extreme heat and taking proactive measures, we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. Whether it's staying hydrated, seeking shade, or knowing when to seek medical assistance, simple actions can make a big difference in staying safe during hot weather.   

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Health Tips

Health Diary: Surviving Breast Cancer in Nigeria; A Survivor’s Story

Health Diary is a monthly Healthconnect24/7 series that explores the different health challenges and stories of people in Nigeria. To share your Health Diary story with us, please fill this form. To kick off this monthly series, in honor of World Cancer Day themed #ClosetheCancerGap, we spoke to Elizabeth Princewill-Sanni, a Nigerian who got diagnosed at 38 despite no family history of cancer. She shared how her diagnosis and treatment process went in Nigeria, how important her faith and circle were to her this period, shedding light on the great and not so great things she experienced.   How did you find out that you had cancer? In 2018, I had my daughter and she breastfed for just 7 months, 2 years after this, I found a lump in my breasts. I saw a doctor and a biopsy* test called FNAC (fine needle aspiration and cytology) was done. The test came back clear, and I went on with my life. Another 2 years later (2022), I noticed that the lump got bigger, and I was experiencing bloody discharge from that nipple, as a medical person, I knew the signs, but I constantly brushed it off. While trying to get the right family planning method for me, I had to discuss my medical history with my gynecologist and she suggested that I do another breast ultrasound, see a surgeon with the scan result and then revisit the family planning. I knew something was off when the sonographer** was looking puzzled while doing the scan. At that point, I made up my mind to take out the lump regardless of the outcome of the scan. After consulting with the surgeon, I opted for the lump removal instead of another biopsy. Since it is standard practice to send off excised tissue for what we call histopathology*** to know if there are any abnormalities, mine was sent and the result showed that it was a cancerous growth. This marked the beginning of my journey, from consulting with my gynecologist to receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. *Biopsy - An examination of tissue removed from a living body to discover the presence, cause, or extent of a disease. **Sonographer - A sonographer is an allied healthcare professional who specializes in the use of ultrasonic imaging devices to produce diagnostic images, scans, videos or three-dimensional volumes of anatomy and diagnostic data. ***Histopathology - The study of changes in tissues caused by disease Wow! How old were you when you got this diagnosis? I was 38 at the time I got the diagnosis. So, what were the options available to you when you found out, considering the Nigeria health care system?   To answer this, I think it is important to state that the cancer was caught quite early (stage 1), so it was still localized which means treatment was easier and more targeted as opposed to malignancy*. After the diagnosis, I had to see an oncologist** and my first treatment was to get a mastectomy*** and this was largely because of my age and estrogen level. After this, I started chemotherapy and radiation. I had an entire village behind me, around me and with me throughout this journey. There was support from the company I worked with at the time, a health insurance company. I also had support from my family and colleagues who held me up in prayers. *Malignancy - A disease resulting from uncontrolled growth and division of abnormal cells. **Oncologist - A medical practitioner qualified to diagnose and treat tumors. ***mastectomy - A mastectomy is an operation to remove a breast. It's used to treat breast cancer in women and breast cancer in men. What role did your faith or spirituality play while navigating this journey? My faith played a huge role in navigating this journey. At first, I was mad at God for a while because I was quite committed to him, I was nice to people around me and I helped people in need. Anyway, when I realized that I still needed God’s strength to navigate the journey, I went back on my knees and asked for his grace. I actually did not tell my mum about my surgery (the mastectomy) until 2 weeks after the surgery because being a mother myself, I knew her fear of losing me was going to shake her faith in God. I had just my husband, my pastor’s wife and another member of the church in my circle at the start of the journey. Looking back, I am in constant awe of how God made me go to the hospital for a family planning after 10 years of marriage, because I always used the calendar method to track my ovulation and it worked well. I choose to see God’s hand in ordering my steps because I could have continued to push off the signs and it would have gotten worse. If it had gotten worse, due to the policies of the health insurer, I would have had to cover all my medical bills myself. Also read: The Vital Link Between Digital Detox and Mental Health You mentioned that you worked at a health insurance company, following this diagnosis, did you have to renegotiate working at your company, and did you experience any stigmatization? So, this is funny because when I got the diagnosis, it weighed me down and at some point, I was depressed. I said earlier that I was mad at God, it was the people around me that made me realize that the mind is capable of anything, and your body only needed convincing. This made me encourage myself and not accept defeat. I took 2 weeks off work to recuperate after the surgery, but I talked to my boss to allow me to do whatever I could, no matter how little, just to stay relevant. When my chemotherapy started, I took a week off work and returned the next week when I was strong enough. Only my team lead and top executives knew, for days I was not physically in the office, it was easy to say I was working from home. Even with other people who knew my health condition, I did not experience any form of stigmatization rather they were amazed at how I was managing it all. In all honesty, it was their support and encouragement that did the trick. I can imagine that there were a lot of milestones and memories during and after your treatment, what was a major memory or milestone during this process? This journey had me crying and smiling at the same time. It is a scary place to be, you know, when everything suddenly comes to a halt, all your plans crushed and you must start thinking of how to survive the next treatment, the next day, being there for your kids. It is impossible to exhaustively say how much I learnt during this journey. I learnt to forgive more, hold less grudges, and be more kind because no one knew what was going on with me on the outside. I was always cheerful, and you wouldn’t know I was going through this until I say it. It fits right into the saying that you should “be nice to people, everyone you meet is fighting a battle”. True! Following your treatment, are there still aftereffects of the surgery or chemotherapy that you still deal with? Oh! Definitely, first there’s something called chemo brain “you are unable to accurately remember things”. This happens during and after treatment. It was quite bad during my treatment but I’m making progress every day, the numbing pain is also getting better by the day. Of course, your body isn’t the same anymore but more importantly, I’m here to see my kids grow, be there for my husband and family and achieve other goals I have set for myself. What resources do you think are needed to improve cancer care and support in Nigeria? I believe there are more and more initiatives like the cancer awareness month and all that is now being more embraced, people are encouraged to be more aware about changes in their body and there are more cancer treatment centers. I believe we are in the right direction with cancer care, and I hope we will get there. What message would you like to share with readers about cancer awareness and people currently battling cancer? As a Nigerian, our cultures or beliefs can make us choose fear of what others will say over our own wellbeing. We need to understand that there’s a place for spirituality and there’s also a space for medical treatments. God created the people who help with detecting and treating ailments. I am a born-again Christian, I love God, but I am also a nurse and I understand that our bodies fail us sometimes. I was 38 with no family history of cancer when I was diagnosed but I understood that I needed God’s strength to go through my treatment rather than “pray the diagnoses away”. Let’s not get too holy and forget to be logical. Above all, know your risks, learn about your family’s cancer history, pay attention to your body so you can tell when there’s something off, watch what you eat and ultimately do everything within your means to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I would also like to say no two journeys will ever be the same. Two people can have the same diagnoses and process things differently. Realities can be different in terms of jobs, family, support, finances etc. How is lifelike now for you? I lived in Lagos Nigeria when I was diagnosed, I had my mastectomy in Nigeria and started my Chemotherapy here too. There are a lot of negative stories about our healthcare system in Nigeria, but I benefitted from it positively. I recently relocated to Canada now with my family and I work in the oncology unit of the hospital. Working here reminds me about how fickle life is and I am very satisfied knowing I can now help patients who I was nice like and can relate to everything they are going through. I hope that one day, I can come back to Nigeria and help more cancer patients and also spread awareness. To everyone reading this, life happens to us all, but you don’t know how string you can be until being strong is the only option you have, I am rooting for you always. Get Access to a Doctor 24/7 via Health Connect Today

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