Your child’s sure-fire obesity starter – getting antibiotics before age 2

Chubby girl
Predictable obesity: give them antibiotics before they’re two and they’ll be obese by the time they’re five. Photo by Jakub Kriz on Unsplash

Good, healthy children – the last thing any parent thinks about is a problem with obesity.

Sure, our kids are everything in the world. Which is why we watch them like a hawk, especially in their formative years.

Bringing up little angels

Lots of fresh air and outdoors. Out and about, playing in the dirt, developing the immunities their bodies will need later. Scrubbing the dirt off in regular bath-times. Good, wholesome food and proper mealtimes. Sound, peaceful sleep and lots of it.

Everything we can think of to grow up strong and healthy. And at the first sign of anything wrong, off to the Doc in the very next second – nothing is too urgent or important for our little sweethearts.

Except that’s exactly where things can go pear-shaped.

We’re not doctors ourselves, so at the first sign of anything we panic. We need reassurance, demand action, and refuse to march out without medicine.

So the Doc writes a scrip, very often for antibiotics – because that’s what we know about and will get us out of her hair. Us parents can get quite bolshy sometimes, and no doctor needs the extra PT. Then it’s down to the chemist for amoxicillin or something. Anything, as long as it works – and never a thought about obesity.

Good bacteria, bad bacteria

Things is, a lot of the time antibiotics just aren’t necessary. We might stampede the Doc into giving us some, but unless the treatment is for something bacterial, antibiotics won’t do a dickie-bird.

Not a dickie-bird about whatever the infection is, of course. Because they’re sure doing something to those little insides, you can count on it.

You see, antibiotics do one thing – and that is, kill bacteria.

Bacteria bad, right? That’s why we pressure the Doc into prescribing something to fight them.

There’s only one problem.

We NEED bacteria to stay alive. And not all bacteria are bad. In fact, most of them are very definitely good. Because billions and billions of years ago, our bodies made a partnership with good bacteria to handle most of the grunt work of living, leaving us to get on and have a good time.

As a result, we’re not all human at all – we’re half alien. Of all the cells in our bodies, about 50% are actually bacteria. And down in our gut there are about 100 trillion of them of different types. And all with a purpose – among their many roles, digesting food, creating proteins and managing our immune systems.

Hydrogen bomb

Which makes taking antibiotics a bit like dropping a hydrogen bomb when they get to our gut. Millions and millions of them die – not just the bad ones causing us grief, but a lot of the good ones as well. A broad spectrum antibiotic like amoxycillin is not choosy about WHICH bacteria it kills – it just kills as many as possible.

All of which is catastrophic to developing young bodies.

Bacteria learn from each other, so a lot of the immunities we have are inherited from our mothers – her bacteria teaching ours what to do and how to protect themselves. And how to cope with new hazards like mud and dog poo when we go crawling round, exploring.

Bang, a lot of these bacteria are lost when the antibiotic hits. Some are very populous and reproduce very quickly. Others are rarer, and suffer major setbacks – perhaps the cause of diarrhoea or other side effects. Others are gone completely, never to return – whatever immunities they gave us don’t exist any more.

So how does this impact obesity?

Obesity control jammed ON

Well, among the many things that bacteria control are our hormones.  And most important of these from an obesity viewpoint are ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin is the one that tells our brain that we are hungry, it’s time to eat, let’s have some food – the ON switch for our appetite. Leptin is the opposite, telling us we’ve had enough, time to stop eating – the OFF switch.

Take a hit of antibiotics and the two are thrown out of balance. The ghrelin appetite switch remains jammed full ON, and the leptin switch stops working altogether. Result, there’s nothing to stop us eating till we pop. Obesity, here we come.

Bad news for our kids.

There we are rushing in to the Doc, because they have a fever, earache, or any one of a whole slew of childhood infections. Down the hatch with the antibiotics, and they’re off on the slippery slope.  Because as medical experts are starting to find out, children given antibiotics by the age of two are more likely to be obese by the time they’re five.

Follow that up with further treatments – from toddlers to teenagers to young adults – so that by the time they reach twenty, most of our kids have been exposed to antibiotics SEVENTEEN times.

Anti-obesity plans don’t work

That’s 17 times their ghrelin switch has been jammed ON again – and 17 times their leptin safety switch has been made unserviceably OFF. So they eat and eat, with no restriction, only stopping when over-stretched stomachs make them uncomfortable enough to stop. Which is why the recent schools test in the Midlands with healthier lunches and more exercise got absolutely nowhere.

Overeating CAUSED by antibiotics, the sure road to obesity.

Don’t believe it?

A key side effect of antibiotics is that they make things grow – the leptin switch broken in the OFF position, remember?

Which is why in food production, antibiotics are key to hitting the jackpot. Small doses given to cattle, pigs and poultry accelerate their growth – from egg to roasting chicken in six weeks, from new-born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in just 12 months.

Super-big business for farmers around the world. And you’d better believe it. Today, antibiotics use in food production now tops 240,000 TONNES annually. To feed the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs that currently feed US.

Antibiotics with every meal

So it’s not just from medicines that our kids get antibiotics. They’re gobbling up residues in every meal they eat, small traces in their meat and even in their vegetables – exactly like farm animals being fattened up for market.

As you can see by looking at them!

Of course antibiotics as growth boosters in meat are not allowed. Except that modern factory farms are so crowded and unhygienic, antibiotics HAVE to be given or animals will die. Farmers MUST withdraw doses several weeks before market so that residues fall to zero. Because we might catch superbugs, killer bacteria that have learned how to resist antibiotics, for which there is no cure.

Good thinking, but doomed to failure. Because animals still have to eat – and the feedstuffs they get are all fertilised by their own manure, laced through with earlier doses of antibiotics, because they poo out 80% of the nutrients they eat.

Which means it’s not just our kids getting fat. It’s us too. Look around and you’ll realise that two-thirds of us adults are already overweight or into obesity.

Doom and gloom?

So what’s to be done? Are we doomed to get fatter and fatter, until we explode?

Pretty much, as there is no escaping from antibiotics. If farmers were to stop using them, there wouldn’t be enough food for the world and billions of us would starve.

Ironic, no? World famine, for a condition that makes us to overeat.

Which is what the REAL problem is – overeating. Not junk food or sugary drinks – just gutsing ourselves on too much of them. On all that yummy high -energy food – if it were bad for us it would make us ill, wouldn’t it?

And there we are, wondering why we’re starting to bulge.

Two ways out of that. Fit a gastric band, or voluntarily make a conscious effort to eat less.

Two choices, neither of them pleasant.

But it’s either that or obesity, BIG TIME.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 21 February 2018 @ 5:31 pm

How British businesses walk away from saving £319 billion a year

£319 billion a year – just waiting for British businesses to claim it back. Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is how the saying goes. An attitude that’s costing British businesses £319 billion a year.

That’s the current price tag for UK absenteeism (£29 billion a year) and presenteeism (£290 billion) combined. Money paid out to cover absentees – people taking off sick from work. And presentees, who cost 10 times more – sick people going to work anyway, and trying to wing it.

British businesses losing out

Not that British businesses are ignoring the problem. Sick leave and low productivity are familiar gripes around every board room table. We’re familiar with the issue, but don’t do anything about it.

Meanwhile £319 billion is not exactly chicken feed. More than twice the cost of the NHS budget – the cost of caring for A WHOLE COUNTRY of sick people – it makes even Brexit look like a sideshow.

Yes, but.

Businesses KNOW the problem. And freeze up tharn, like a rabbit in the headlights.

Sure, illness happens. It’s a downside everybody faces. What can you do?

None of your corporate fitness or wellness programmes, that’s for sure. Already set to be worth £20 billion by 2020, they’re focused more on keeping well people well than physically avoiding illness.

Wellness vs illness prevention

Where is the health protection package that actually prevents illness?

Apart from the flu jab option offered up as an afterthought, you’d be hard pressed to find one.

Which makes even less sense when you think about it.

That British businesses are haemorrhaging cash to the tune of £319 billion a year in illness costs, and just accept it. Yet at the same time are gleefully prepared to spend £22 billion a year on health and wellness.

It’s not as if the cause of illnesses not known either. According to the ONS, more than half of sickness absences are directly related to infections caused by germs – minor illnesses 33.1%; gastrointestinal problems 6.6%; eye, ear, nose and mouth issues 4.5%; respiratory conditions 3.5%; headaches 3.4% and genito-urinary problems 3.0%.

Workplace health hazards

Against that, any attempt to stop germs are pretty well zero, with most workplaces positively teeming with health hazards.

These risks are compounded by low levels of personal hygiene.

Mop and bucket defence?

That leaves the only defence against germs, if any, to the nightly char service. The quick once-over at £20 or £30 an hour to make the place neat and tidy, never really intended for anything to do with health.

A missed opportunity – because for only another £30, the whole place could be sterilised throughout, eliminating all germs entirely. No viruses, no bacteria, no fungi – no illnesses to catch, no need for time off, no underpowered staff unwell at their desks.

Can it really be that easy?

Well at £30 a day, it’s not expensive to fund out, is it?

Not when there’s £319 billion waiting to be clawed back.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 13 February 2018 @ 6:17 pm

What’s your crisis plan for Coronavirus, or other business health threat?

Send him home
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Send anyone infected home.

Your plan had better be good. Once these things get started, they go round like wildfire.

Half your office, out in one go. A whole team, down for weeks.

And just maybe a law suit, because you didn’t protect your team enough.

Plan, or else

Sure, flu jabs. Except it’s common knowledge this year’s vaccine is only 20% effective against the killer H3N2 strain. Lots of refusals from people who don’t want stuff injected into their bodies if it isn’t going to work.

What if it’s not Coronavirus but Aussie flu, the Japanese B / Yamagata strain – and the vaccine’s not available yet?

Or not flu at all, but some other illness that snuck in while everyone was looking elsewhere?

Can’t plan for everything? Quite true, you can’t – there’s no controlling anything your team might have picked up outside.

But again it’s common knowledge most offices are germ factories. Everybody all close together in the same space. Exposed to each other for hours, touching the same things, breathing the same air.

Just one person comes down with something and the ripple effect can last for months. Round and round, infecting and re-infecting each other. Enough to bring the whole business down, how do you plan for that?

You HAVE got a plan, right?

Not just flu

Like if it’s legionnaire’s disease, protecting your team is legally part of your duty of care. Not a virus, but a bacteria – legionella pneumophila. As its name suggests, an illness very much like pneumonia, which is where H3N2 can lead to if it gets out of control. And pneumonia is deadly – killing 50 million people back in 1918, the world’s worst ever epidemic.

But yes, legionnaire’s disease. One of a list of about 30 diseases you are legally required to shield your team from. It breeds in water systems and air conditioning units, but is breathed in from the air.

Gloss over taking precautions and the Health & Safety people will be all over you – a £1 million fine for Stoke-on-Trent based JTF Wholesale last year. Enough to put you out of business.

Getting sued of course is only part of it. Which is why having a plan is so crucial. What does it do to your business to have a load of people out of action all at once? And how do you contain infection from the handful you have left, holding the fort?

A big thanks to all our readers

This post today is our 500th  since we started, appropriately enough with How I Survived When Germs Killed My Business. Thank you for your support and interest, it’s people like you who keep us alive.

If nothing else, make your plan insist on one thing.

First sign of anyone being the slightest bit unwell, SEND THEM HOME.

They’re useless to you at work anyway – unable to concentrate, fighting an uphill battle with their bodies, spreading contagion to everyone else.

SEND THEM HOME and don’t let them log on either. They need to get better – and worrying about work stuff is only going to delay that. Paracetamol, rest – and at worst, mindless daytime television are about all they’re capable of handling. Let them be.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’ve got some rear-guarding to do.

Time for Plan B

Because the smitten ones might be gone, but not the germs they leave behind. And germs can survive in warm centrally-heated offices for weeks at a time.

Some of them might be airborne, swirled around in the continuously circulating air. Others lurk on surfaces, waiting to infect – on high-touch objects like keypads, touchscreens, light switches and control buttons. On all the other things people use too – documents, pens, keys, money, phones, handbags, wallets, clothing.

Better get your cleaning service on it, Priority One. Not just a wipe-down, but a deep clean. Give it the works, to take out everything that might hit you, not just Aussie flu.

Norovirus for instance gets everywhere and keeps bouncing back if not clobbered hard enough. The violent vomiting it causes is not just gruesome, it deliberately spreads tiny particles of itself everywhere, every little crack and crevice. Miss any out and it’ll be back, surer than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Better still, not just a deep clean but actually sterilise the place. Make it so that all germs are gone completely. No Aussie flu, no legionnaire’s disease, no norovirus, no nothing – the only way to make 100% sure your team don’t catch anything.

Other than that, sit tight and wait for everybody to get better.

Kick in that other plan you have too. The one for dire emergencies. Like what to do when your building has a fire, a power-out loses your data, or floods stop you getting near for few months. If you need to know how to set one up, Newcastle City Council have a blueprint right here.

Good luck with everything. See you in summer when this is all over.

About this blog

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 17 January 2018 @ 3:09 pm

Where’s the phone app to STOP you getting sick?

Girl on smartphone
Germs all around? But now you know they’re there

Seems like it was forever ago, but it was only 2009.

Back when we discovered that pretty well anything we wanted to do could be done on the phone – because “there’s an app for that.”

Even in the days of the horse-drawn smartphone, you could organise and enhance your life more than anyone had ever done before.

More apps, more apps

Today of course, the opportunities have exploded – and personal health is the new magic playground.

Because right now, you can choose from over 50,000 health apps.

These things are amazing – extended even further by personal monitors and wearables.

Every second of the day you can monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, breathing performance – whatever. Fitness and nutrition are the new Holy Grails – and in case you didn’t know you’re not getting any sleep, you can even monitor your insomnia.

Quite what you do with this information is up to you.

Fitness nuts will anguish over it and demand ever better achievement from themselves. Social media junkies will have a ball linking themselves to all kinds of condition from movie heart-throb to lying at death’s door.

Which turns every one of us into cyberchondriacs de luxe.

Yup, mobile health monitoring is the new craze – like in-line skates, or those karaoke-on-TV talent shows.

Warning system

Except, where’s the app that warns you of bacteria? That bings at you if you walk into an infected area?

EXTREME CAUTION,
CORONAVIRUS DETECTED,
DO NOT PROCEED FURTHER.

Or the one that tells you a bit more about you raised temperature and thumping heart rate. Together with your sore throat, you’re on the way to this year’s flu. Take two paracetamol and check back with your app in two hours.

It’s not as if the technology doesn’t exist – the boffins have had systems up and running since 2011.

So why can’t we have the mobile equivalent of those terrific old maps that warned “Here be beasties?”

“Here be malaria.” “Here be Covid-19.” We need never run into medical trouble again.

Believe us, it’s on the way.

Electronic detection

And surprise, surprise – it works by latching onto the electrons surrounding live bacteria.

Uh huh.

The same electrons that ionised hydrogen peroxide latches onto to kill those same bacteria when misted up by a Hypersteriliser.

So it’s possible.

But not yet available on your iPhone.

Wait for your next upgrade.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi. Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 3 September 2018 @ 11:21 pm

Originally posted on 3 September 2018 @ 11:21 pm

Smitten by aliens from outer space

Spacewoman
Space, the final frontier: to boldly go where no germs can ever get you

It’s an affliction we’ve suffered from for nearly fifty years.

And enjoyed every second. Charmed and intrigued by an alien space being – that inscrutable and totally logical Vulcan known as Doctor Spock.

Boldly gone

Sadly, the charismatic Leonard Nimoy who played Spock in the 1960s TV series Star Trek, has passed on.

It is the end of a legend.

But our fascination and often dread for things alien is a lasting legacy – and the spirit of Spock will live on for aeons to come.

“Is there life out there?” is a question we already seem to have answered ourselves.

Out of which comes our continuing paranoia – “What if it comes here?”

It’s not just in sci-fi that it receives such focus.

Real eggheads in research centres all over the world worry about it in sci-fact too.

When the original Star Trek took to the airwaves  in 1966, space travel was still just throwing rockets up and watching them go round and round.

Three years later came Apollo 11 and two men walked on the moon.

Infection from space

Alien exposure!

What dangers did they risk? What contamination did they face?

And most paranoid of all, what extra-terrestrial hazards did they bring back?

They walked the moon’s surface, moon dust was on their clothing. The moon’s electro-magnetic influence infused their being.

More to the point, out of the six Apollo moon landings between 1969 and 1972, 2,415 samples of rock from the moon – almost a third of a ton – came back too.

And what defence do we have from possible alien life forms? (Tweet this) Embryo creatures trapped in lunar basalt, or deadly viruses set to take over our planet?

It is a recurring headache for scientists everywhere – how to avoid contamination of space with Earth-originated organisms.

And the other way around. How to prevent our own contamination.

Kinda difficult now that some 300,000 pieces of space junk larger than 1 cm are estimated to be in orbit up to 1,200 miles out – detritus from rocket stages, old satellites and other broken bits of nothing.

Science hoo-hah?

Not a bit of it.

Earth contamination

After the Apollo 12 mission, the camera from a previous Surveyor 3 probe was brought back to Earth and found to have Streptococcus mitis alive on its casing –  attributed by NASA to its not being sterilised on Earth prior to launch, two and a half years previously.

A technician sneezed on it.

NASA’s watchdog against any repeat is its Office of Planetary Protection, which applies muscle to measure, control and reduce spacecraft microbial contamination by law.

Sterilising spacecraft is difficult, given their construction from sensitive materials and the many fragile electronics systems involved. Repeated exposure to ultra violet light covers many stages of preparation, so does bombarding with gamma rays.

But Earth’s microbes have already proved themselves able to withstand extremes of temperature, radiation exposure, and even survive being in a vacuum.

Outer space? Been there, done that.

Currently, two methods are accepted for sterilising spacecraft – cooking with dry heat up to 233 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 hours – or exposure to hydrogen peroxide.

The hydrogen peroxide route is under close scrutiny – favoured for its effectiveness in eliminating all viruses and bacteria – but questioned for the moisture it introduces when deployed as a vapour, a major advantage over manual wipe methods.

Sterilising that works

That could be about to change – and remember, you read about it right here, first.

Already deployed throughout hospitals and public buildings is an automatic Hypersteriliser that ionises hydrogen peroxide into a dry mist that substantially outperforms the vapour method.

Ionising in the spray nozzle causes the hydrogen peroxide molecules  to become charged, dispersing widely and quickly as their like charges repel each other, forcing them apart.

The same charge attracts them to any surfaces or airborne particles, actively grabbing at viruses and bacteria which they destroy by thrusting oxygen atoms at them. In as little as an hour, any enclosed space and its contents becomes clinically sterile.

Good to know we have that kind of protection. Especially as we are still smitten.

As we learned from the movie Alien – in space, no one can hear you scream.

Originally posted on 28 August 2018 @ 7:41 pm

Galloping lurgy – from germs that ride in the rain

Running from rain
You can run, but bacteria are everywhere

Rain is wet and wonderful, right?

Droppeth-ing upon the place beneath – reviving the plants, bringing us water to drink.

Good, pure, wonderful rain – the freshest water on the planet.

Or not.

Because of global warming, see. Full of acids and pollutants, like everything else we touch.

Another step towards certain doom.

A bit otherwise, that.

A drop of the real stuff

In Oz, rainwater runs off the roof into tanks.

For drinking when you run out of beer – to shower with, or top up the goldfish bowl. You wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t dinkum.

Yeah, sure – most of the time it’s clean and uncontaminated – a real life-giver.

Except something happens when it’s chucking it down.

That tangy smell you get from fresh rain?

Champagne aroma

You’re not imagining it, that’s the smell of earth riding up on microscopic bubbles of air, released from the impact of raindrops on the ground.

A bunch of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have actually filmed it – used a high-speed camera to show a fizz like champagne bubbles popping into the air.

Which means minute traces of whatever’s in the earth are thrown up too – minerals, dust, bacteria. Tiny specks of stuff that are so small they rise and swirl in the tiniest eddy.

No bigger than a micron (a millionth of a metre), they ride along with all the other things that breed by dispersal – dandelion seeds, for instance.

Which is how you could get unlucky and come down with e. coli, staphylococcus aureus or some other bug. Enough to give you a nasty tummy ache.

Or that scary Ebola virus we keep hearing about – only 200 nanometres across – barely a 100,000th of a micron. Small enough to blow anywhere.

All from a single drop on the hard sun-baked earth.

Splash, splatter, splat

It gets messier with plants.

Each hit is like a mortar, smashing and fragmenting. Flinging out anything that might sit on a leaf – sap, pesticides, fluid from fungal parasites – and of course, more bacteria.

Some of it hits and sprays, reaching up and around the plant to 18 inches or more.

But leaves are free-floating, resilient, twisting in the wind.

Incoming raindrops weigh them down, spring-loaded, to catapult up and away into the blue – spinning and shattering into tinier fragments.

Particles so small they could ride the wind for thousands of miles and still never settle – viruses, small bacteria, fumes, soot, oil vapour, tobacco smoke, the works.

OK, so you like splashing round in the rain.

Coughs and sneezes spread diseases – and now you know how they got there. (Tweet this)

Better be careful, like grandmother says.

It’s a lot more than a cold you could catch.

Originally posted on 22 August 2018 @ 4:10 pm

There’s cancer in all of us – but don’t let it kill you

Happy woman
Happily ever after starts with you
(Tweet this)

The clock is ticking.

Are you taking care – or taking chances?

Every second could change your life, depending on what you do with it.

And it’s much more of a life and death decision than most of us think.

In your own hands

Latest figures from Cancer Research UK reveal that half of us will get cancer at some stage of our lives. More and more of us are in the older age groups and more susceptible to wear and tear.

How much wear – and how much tear, depends on us of course.

We all know we should lead a healthy life – some of us better than others.

Razzling around and chasing the high spots has a price tag that none of us can avoid.

But while age is the biggest – and most unavoidable – risk, it’s not the cause of cancer.

Being out of balance is.

Losing it

Cancer happens when body cells begin to behave abnormally. A defect, a weakness, and we are in trouble.

Most of the time, damaged cells are flushed out – the body does it daily, part of the rough and tumble of living.

Because cells don’t go rogue by themselves.

An outside shove does it for them, usually triggered by our behaviour or lifestyle.

And the biggest shove of all is one we’re not aware of – always there, day by day, always pushing us.

Stress.

Yeah, right. As if that’s new.

Everybody has work stress, you just have to live with it.

And home stress? It goes with the territory.

Unavoidable stress levels that depend entirely at how good you are at coping with them.

Enter, digital stress

Except that these days, the stress levels we face are higher than ever before.

Fast-paced, results-driven modern living, what do you expect?

And it’s all us, just us.

Another recent study concludes that there is no link between cancer and using mobile phones. No link to electromagnetic fields – computers, powerlines, television.

Uh huh.

Maybe not physically.

But the pressures they unleash are unprecedented.

Full of angst and emotional strain, teenagers constantly stress about relationships. Every text, picture, Facebook post or Twitter tweet is potentially a full-scale breakdown.

Other media aren’t much better. Television, newspapers. Who among us is not appalled, shocked, sickened, or just plain scared of recent terrorist actions in our own cities – let alone the Middle East?

Stress, worry, uncertainty. They all throw the body out of kilter.

Sleepless nights, stomach upsets, headaches. Just the kind of shove that cancer needs.

So it’s not so much that we’re getting old at all.

Heartbreak, heart attack

A bust-up with a boyfriend is the end of the world. Handling it is impossible. Overwhelming grief, loss of appetite, listlessness, reduced will to live – is it surprising that a weakness occurs, the body reacts and damage is done?

Just the kind of damage that gives cancer a foothold – maybe not straight away, but inevitable in the future.

It’s not just cancer either.

Every moment of every day we’re surrounded by billions of viruses and bacteria – many of them inside our bodies.

First sign of weakness and they’re in too – and stressed people are careless, not paying full attention to the world around them.

Preoccupied or distracted, a cut or scrape can so easily happen. Even forgetting to wash hands properly is enough to do it. First sign of sloppy hygiene and infection is in, not wanting to let go.

Which is when the Doc reminds you that antibiotics don’t work as well as the used to – those rotten germs have developed an immunity.

Cancer, bugs, medicines that don’t work. What on earth can you do to survive?

Watch yourself all the time. Keep clean and healthy. Make sure your mind is right.

Sure, some folks have survived smoking and drinking to reach 104.

Long odds though, with plenty of losers along the way.

If you really want to get there yourself, stay balanced.

Don’t let the nasties grind you down.

Originally posted on 21 August 2018 @ 3:55 pm

Antibiotics don’t work – our immune systems are shot too

Doctor's hand

You can’t get ill if you don’t catch germs in the first place

Blame it on our super-slick 21st Century lifestyle.

The one that cocoons us from the world, shielding us from harm and often reality.

It’s not like that in Asia. Or Africa. Or South America.

Or anywhere without our idyllic standard of living.

Mollycoddled weaklings

We’re so protected we have no resistance to anything that comes along – a baby could knock us over with a feather.

We’re too big deal, see. Too shielded for our own good.

That’s the key reason antibiotics don’t work anymore.

We’re so used to popping them for the slightest hiccup, we use them like sugar in our tea.

And with that volume of use, no wonder all the microbes and harmful pathogens have developed resistance. It’s kinda like putting shoes on before they go out for them. They all do it.

More fool us.

Because now when we take an antibiotic for something, it just sits there and looks at us.

“You mean you want me to protect you, drive out the evil nasties? Sorry, too much PT.”

It’s our own fault too. Our own stupidity.

You won’t find a youngster from Islamabad or Bogota behaving like us when we were kids.

We’re microbes too, you see. Sort of.

Millions of cells all bunched together, marching around – with all kinds of jumped up ideas about ourselves.

We’re cells, they’re cells, every living thing is cells.

Just act naturally

Which means we’d better co-operate and get on. It’s total oblivion otherwise.

And we do.

Everything we are and do is a trade-off with other living cells wanting to survive, just like us.

We’re surrounded by viruses and bacteria – billions and billions of them.

They even live IN us, they’re PART of us.

Like, there are more bacteria in our mouths than there are people on Earth.

They need to be there too. To aid digestion. To feed off all the gunge that could otherwise make us ill. To fight off harmful intruders. Basically for our own good.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t clean your teeth.

But as you already know, it won’t kill you if you don’t.

In fact, weirdly, it could even kill you if you do.

You give it the business with your toothbrush, right? Then you rinse off and put it away till next time.

Clean is dirty

Mistake right there – which could be the death of you.

Because moist surfaces open to the air are exactly what viruses and bacteria need to breed and thrive.

They do the same on your washing-up scourer. And the dish-cloth you dry your plates with. Your bathroom sponge. Your facecloth. Your towel.

The very things you use to clean are the most hazardous threats yet. Premier League germ spreader systems. (Tweet this) More dangerous than you could possibly imagine.

Of course, your five-year-old Bangladeshi kid knows nothing of this.

He’s too busy out with his pals, playing in the open air. Throwing stones, climbing trees, eating dirt. The things that kids do when they’re on their own. All perfectly natural.

Good clean dirt

Building up their immune systems, if you must know.

With good, clean dirt that will one day save their lives. Developing natural resistance and bigging it up. Always with some kind of sniffle or tummy twinge – ever wondered why kids are so snotty-nosed?

That’s normal  everyday tit-for-tat in the microbiology world. The daily trade-off between living organisms. Like cowpox knocks you back with a runny nose, but protects you big time from smallpox.

None of which happens, sitting indoors playing on an X-box. Or socking into chicken nuggets behind centrally-heated double glazing.

So when an ordinary common-or-garden pathogen rocks up – norovirus, say, or campylobacter – you’ve got no defence. Both give you gastroenteritis – queasy tummy, the runs, heaving your guts out.

No cast-iron stomach for you, you didn’t chomp mud when you were five.

OK, so we’re at hazard. Our antibiotics are tits up, and our immune systems have gone for a ball of chalk.

Yeah, we could take our chances and maybe die.

Or we could strike back.

Once we’ve got an infection, it’s more or less up to our own bodies to fight it off.
If we’re dirty enough, we can beat even Ebola – the upside of why some people survive.

Risky though. Better to sidestep altogether and not take chances in the first place. You can’t get infected if there’s no germs to infect.

We have a defence

Which is why sterilising everything is so effective. Especially our living space when we’re indoors. There might be sick people around, but their germs don’t have to linger for the rest of us to catch.

Blitz the place with hydrogen peroxide mist and that’s exactly what happens.

Germs don’t escape, they’re annihilated where they are, their cell structure ripped to shreds by oxidisation.

Twenty minutes, and we’re safe – whether antibiotics or our immune systems work, or not.

That easy, huh?

See! We’re not as badly off as the doom-mongers say we are.

Originally posted on 16 August 2018 @ 12:21 pm

Je suis Charlie, every day of your life

French flag eye
The French inspiration – eyes open, always watchful

Je suis Charlie, three little words.

Overnight it’s become the world’s rally against terrorism of any kind, anywhere. An uplifting tribute to ordinary French people – and a defiant rejection of brutality, intolerance and violence.

If those big deals Blair and Bush had dared to show half such courage after 9/11, we would not face the senseless conflict that we do today.

Inspired vigilance

Thank you France, if only we can be as strong as you.

Because threats by fanatics are not the only terrorism we face.

Just as evil as the atrocities in Paris is the daily slaughter of innocent people overpowered by Ebola – and the invisible conflicts that each of us face at every moment against viruses and bacteria.

In Paris, ordinary people just like us were cut down in a hail of bullets.

But spare a thought for those in hospital, often in pain and anguish, slowly succumbing to disease or infection that nobody wanted or provoked.

It might not look like it, but the world is a dangerous place.

Thanks to the stupidities of former leaders – who wilfully exploded the world into the dissension it faces today – a terrorist’s bullet could hit any one of us, at any minute.

But through our own lack of watchfulness, a germ could strike us down dead just as effectively.

Invisible terrorists

All it takes is a lapse in hygiene habits, not washing hands or carelessness with food – and we are in trouble.

And germs are not like fanatics. They are everywhere, all the time – billions and billions of them surrounding every one of us.

The slightest little mistake or accident – even a paper cut – is all they need to invade our bodies and take us down.

And no, doctors and medicine can’t always fix it.

Because, horror of horrors, antibiotics don’t always work any more. Fifty years of relying on them for everything have given germs the chance to develop resistance.

You might go into hospital for a hernia operation, only to die from MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – one of the most deadly hospital acquired infections.

Of course, yes, it should never happen, you should always be safe in medical care.

Ever-present danger

But operations make people vulnerable – so many defenceless bodies, all in one place – all with cuts and wounds for germs to get in and do their dirty work. So you could be more at risk in hospital than anywhere else.

It shouldn’t happen, but it does – and what can the poor medics do when the antibiotic applied to control infection comes up against a germ that ignores it?
It’s terrorism, plain and simple. And much more deadly.

Because when a terrorist pulls the trigger, there’s the possibility he can miss.

But germs don’t miss. Once they’re in, they’re in – and it’s up to your own body to fight them. And germs are very efficient at making you die. Plus there’s no secret intelligence service to warn you of their presence, no police or military to protect you.

It’s not all doom and gloom though.

There are more than six billion of us, and we WANT to survive.

Time to up our game

Which makes prevention way better than cure. If we don’t get sick, germs can’t touch us. (Tweet this)

Better to assume they’re always there. That we always need to take precautions.
Washing hands. Being careful of everything we come in contact with. Everything we eat. Everything we breathe.

And sterilising our surroundings, to make doubly sure. Every room we’re in, totally free of harmful pathogens. Nothing in the air. Nothing on any surface. Nothing lurking in cracks or crevices.

Je suis Charlie. We have a lot to thank those wonderful French people for.

Their solidarity and courage is a vivid reminder that we must always be watchful.

A terrorist can strike at any moment. So can a virus or bacteria.

En garde!

Originally posted on 13 August 2018 @ 11:28 am

Squeaky clean hospital, narrow squeak in surgery

Ballet in a box
Escaping germs is always a close squeak

A simple operation.

Routine, routine, routine.

Except there’s nothing routine in cutting your body open and sewing up a few repairs.

Invasive surgery they call it. Like being carved up on the battlefield, but under anaesthetic.

Always a risk

Yes, it saves lives – in this case, yours.

But all the time your body is at hazard, and it’s only the skills of the experts that keep you alive.

Not just experts with a scalpel either.

The mop and bucket brigade are also keeping you from death.

Because of the germs.

Billions and billions of viruses and bacteria floating around all of us every day – in the air around our bodies, in our homes – and in the hospital where they’re going to do the op.

Hospital battlefield

It IS a battlefield too – right across the consulting room, the operating theatre, the recovery room and the observation ward. A constant war to prevent infection getting into your cut. The cut that saved your life, but could still kill you if the germs get in.

HAIs they call them – Hospital Acquired Infections. And you might wonder how such disasters are possible if medical professionals are doing their job properly.

The truth is that they are – to higher standards than any other occupation. If the world ran to the demanding requirements of the medical profession, we’d all be living in perfection.

Thing is though, that HAIs are not just a medical issue. They’re a hygiene one.
There are more people in hospital with cuts and tubes and wires into their bodies than anywhere else. And every breach in the body defences is a chance for germs to slip in.

Stopping them is next to impossible. Like the air we all breathe, they’re a fact of life.

Anti-antibiotics

Which is why post-op, you drift out of the anaesthetic pumped full of antibiotics.

No significant surgery of any kind is possible without them. The germs are so pervasive and fast, every patient would die on the operating table.

Which makes every hospital a war-zone. A constant onslaught against viruses and bacteria – hostile organisms so small they’re invisible – you can never tell whether they’re there or not.

But count on it, they always are.

So hospitals don’t just need to be clean and KEPT clean. They need a special kind of clean. Because the enemy is everywhere – on surfaces, furniture, drapes, skin and clothing. Swirling through the air too. If you’ve ever watched minute motes of dust floating in sunlight, you’ll understand.

A hospital is a huge place too – requiring a monumental effort to keep clean.

Doing it all to the same standard is impossible, but this is where miracles happen every day.

They need them too.

Antibiotics are vital to saving your life – but fifty years of depending on them more and more has led to overuse. Result – mutating bacteria have found a way to become resistant to them too.

So HAIs are increasingly in the news. Today the No 1 villain is MRSA – Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus – the surgeon’s nightmare. The No 2 is Clostridium Difficile.

You will be tested for both repeatedly – before, during and after your procedure. Between them they kill around 2,000 people a year in the UK, just these two.

Against the enemy

Fortunately you’re not totally dependant on Mrs Mop to keep you safe. Hospital cleaning is science and there’s more to it than disinfectant and detergent.

Operating theatres have HEPA filters – High-Efficiency Particulate Air scrubbers so fine they can remove 99.97% of particles down to 0.03 of a micron – a single MRSA cell is 0.06.

Increasingly, ultra violet light is used too. In high intensity pulses generated in the short-wave UV-C band, the light attacks viruses and bacteria by destroying their DNA. All germs within range are dead in around ten minutes.

Hydrogen peroxide is even more effective. No shadows, no “dead” areas. Misted up into a super-fine ionised spray it reaches everywhere, drawn by static charge. Germs are destroyed by oxidising them – ripped apart by oxygen atoms and destroyed down to just 1 microorganism in a million.

Yes, your surgery is a serious thing, but your body will pull through – the doctors and nurses will make sure of it. Your narrow escape is in avoiding the germs – always a risk, even with defences in place.

A squeak you’ll be glad to be out of.

Originally posted on 3 August 2018 @ 7:31 am