Category Archives: Health

​Tips to Lower Risk of a Heart Attack or Stroke

Tips to Lower Risk of a Heart Attack or Stroke

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC 

Sometimes, small changes to your lifestyle can really cut your odds of having a heart attack or stroke. Try this step-by-step approach.

1. Exercise a Little Each Day

Moderate physical activity lowers your chances of a heart attack. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise that gets your heart pumping at least 5 days a week. Brisk walking or swimming are some good choices. On the other 2 days, do strength training, like lifting weights.

If you’ve got a tight schedule, break your exercise routine into small chunks. Try a 15-minute walk in the morning and another before lunch.

2. Set a Reasonable Goal for Weight Loss

If you’re overweight or obese, you don’t have to get thin to reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke. If you lose 5% to 10% of your weight, you’ll improve your cholesterol numbers and lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

3. Take Your Heart Medicine

It sounds like a no-brainer, but don’t skip your meds. Many people don’t take their medications the way their doctor told them to. Figure out what keeps you from taking your medicine — it could be side effects, cost, or forgetfulness — and ask your doctor for help.

4. Eat Well

If you stick to a healthy diet, you could lower your odds of getting heart disease.

Fill your plate with different kinds of:

Fruits

Veggies

Whole grains

Fish

Lean meats

Stay away from processed or prepared foods that often are high in salt and added sugar. They’re also filled with preservatives.

5. Drink Some Alcohol, but Not Too Much

If you drink, any type of alcohol helps your heart, but use caution. Too much raises your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

To get the benefit without the risk, stop at one drink a day if you’re a woman and two if you’re a man.

6. Eat a Little Chocolate

Go for dark chocolate, and make sure the ingredients are at least 70% cacao. It’s filled with nutrients that help protect your ticker.

Keep your portions small so you don’t gain weight and work your heart harder.

7. Don’t Smoke

Smoking dramatically raises your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Talk to your doctor about how to quit. You’ll also be doing your friends and family a favor, since secondhand smoke can also lead to heart disease.

8. Pay Attention to Your Symptoms

Don’t just hope they’ll go away. See your doctor if you feel anything unusual, like shortness of breath, changes in your heart rhythm, or extreme tiredness. Also, watch for pain in your jaw or back, nausea or vomiting, sweating, or flu-like symptoms.

Source: WebMD

Why you have bad breath

What your bad breath is trying to tell you

You ’re not drinking enough water

Dehydration is the leading cause of bad breath other than poor dental hygiene , according to the Mayo Clinic . Not drinking enough water means food ( and the bacteria that feed on it) hangs out in your mouth longer , breeding and heightening the stench. Fortunately the fix is as simple as the problem : Drink up ! Water is best , but doctors add that sugar – free gum or candies can also help stimulate saliva flow .

You have a serious illness

Bad breath may smell equally stinky to our untrained noses but according to researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder, not all bad breath is created equally —and the presence of certain gasses in your mouth can indicate disease . For instance , excess methylamine may signal liver and kidney disease , ammonia may be a sign of renal failure , elevated acetone levels can indicate diabetes , and nitric oxide levels can be used to diagnose asthma , according to the scientists. A separate study found that a certain mix of bad breath gasses can even indicate malignant throat cancer . You can ’ t tell just from a sniff test but if you have chronic bad breath it might be worth getting a more sensitive test done in your doctor ’ s office .

You ’re at risk for heart disease

Gum and heart diseases are closely linked, with gingivitis being an early warning sign of cardiovascular problems , according to a study done by the International & American Association for Dental Research . And one of the major signs of gum disease is bad breath . Treat your gum disease and not only do you ditch the noxious mouth fumes but you also improve your heart health . Don ’ t miss these other silent signs of clogged arteries .

You have tonsillitis

One of the hallmarks of sore – throat disease is persistent bad breath . The same bacteria that give you bad breath are the ones that also infect your tonsils , giving you recurrent sore throats . Tonsillectomy , a surgery that removes the two glands in the back of your throat , can help treat the sickness and bad breath , according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology , Head and Neck Surgery.

You ’re at risk for pre – term delivery

Pregnant women need to pay particular attention to bad breath , according to the American Academy of Periodontology . Women with gum disease — often signified by halitosis —are more likely to have premature or low birth weight babies . This is why it’ s so important to stay on top of your dental hygiene and checkups when you ’ re expecting, the group says . Here are other secrets dentists wish patients knew.

You have a stomach ulcer

When you think ulcers you probably think of terrible stomach pain , problems eating and heartburn . But you may be overlooking another common symptom of the malady : bad breath . Helicobacter pylori , the bacteria known to cause stomach ulcers and also responsible for a large proportion of gastric cancers, can also make your mouth mega malodorous , according to research published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology . Here are other reasons your stomach pain is acting up .

You ’re overweight

You can now add bad breath to the list of health problems caused by being overweight , according to a study from Tel Aviv University . The researchers found that the more overweight a person is, the more likely their breath will smell unpleasant to others. They ’ re still investigating why this is the case . It may have to do with biological dysfunction or it may be another example of the social stigma endured by the obese .

You need to eat more yogurt

Bad breath , or halitosis , is caused by an overgrowth of “ bad ” bacteria in your mouth. But do you know what else is packed with bacteria ? Yogurt ! The humble dairy snack is a microbial superhero that can help fight off the stinky germs in your mouth and replace them with breath – friendly bugs .

Common solutions for pimples

Common solutions for pimples


Sade Oguntola

About 85 per cent of people get acne or pimples at some point in their lives, and scientists have long blamed it on the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes. Left untreated, acne can lead to diminished self-esteem and scarring.
From mild to severe, cases of acne cause painful and unsightly outbreaks on the face, back, chest and even arms.
Genetics, changing hormone levels and stress are all contributing factors. However, friction from sports equipment and backpacks can further irritate skin, leading to acne breakouts on the chin, forehead, jaw line and back.
Unfortunately, many people choose potentially dangerous prescription drugs and topical medications over natural home remedies for acne.
Now, new research puts forth many natural home remedies for acne. A review of medicinal plants used in the treatment of acne listed Aloe vera, neem, turmeric, Hemidesmus indicus, Terminalia chebula (Almond tree or tropical almond), Withania somnifera(Winter cherry), Butyrospermum paradoxum(shea butter tree), Camellia sinensis (green tea), Ocimum basilicum(basil or Efirin in Yoruba) and Vitex negundo (chasteberry or Ata Iyere in Yoruba).
In the 2015 review, the researchers said the plants potential kill off the bacteria and fungi which cause or worsen acne symptoms as well as prevent the irritation that comes with acne.
Despite few clinical evidences about the effectiveness and safety of these plants in the treatment of acne, they stated “they might possibly be used alone or as adjuvant with other therapeutic measures or mild to moderate situations.”
There are two key ways by which Aloe vera can benefit acne sufferers. First, it is a great moisturiser and cleanser. It can penetrate the layers of the skin to nourish the follicles and soothe skin irritation. It can also speed up the healing of acne scars.
Moreover, holy basil and sweet basil essential oils have been found to fight acne caused by bacteria, according to a report published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences.
In this study, sweet basil oil slightly outperformed holy basil oil in topical applications. Holy basil oil tea, or Tulsi tea, supports healthy blood sugar and hormone levels.
Since these two conditions are linked with acne, consuming herbal tea daily will balance hormones naturally, fighting acne from the inside out, making this one of the best cross-over home remedies for acne.
Additionally, garlic could also be used for this purpose. It is an anti-viral and anti-fungal agent and contains sulphur which helps in the fast treatment of acne.
Cut fresh garlic into half and rub against the pimple like it is done with the lemon. Leave for 10 minutes and wash with lukewarm water. This should be repeated several times a day.
Cucumbers also aid in the clearing of acne. Cucumbers are said to be rich in potassium and vitamins A, C and E. Slice cucumber and soak in water for an hour, the nutrients such as potassium and vitamins transfer to the water. Drink water or use water to wash face.
A face mask made from ground cucumber with little or no water also aids to clear acne. Apply all over the face and leave it for 20 minutes, then wash with warm water. This act helps remove oil and dirt from the face which aid in clearing acne.
Papaya (pawpaw) is also an effective treatment of acne. Papaya is said to be rich in vitamin A and also reduces inflammation. Make a paste by blending and apply all over the face. Wash face with lukewarm water. The exfoliating effect in papaya also helps remove dead cells from skin but this is advised to use after the pimple is gone.
Potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids and a variety of phytochemicals such as carotenoids and polyphenols. With all its Vitamin-C, B-complex, as well as minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and zinc, potatoes are able to stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis. This gives you an evenly toned complexion.
In fact, potato juice is one of the best remedies for dark spots due to its skin lightening properties. Many natural enzymes, sugars and starches of potatoes along with its vitamin C, exfoliate the skin to slough off the dead cells and thus diminishing the black spots.
Watermelon is known as one of the best dark spot remedies due to its rich sources of moisture, fibre, vitamins A, B and C. The cool and soothing pulp of watermelon helps reduce sun damaged skin spots.
Aloe vera has anti-septic, analgesic and skin soothing properties along with excellent moisturising capabilities. It is a herb that can reduce skin pigmentation, sun tan, skin rash, premature ageing, acne and pimples, dry flaky skin, dark black spots, pimple marks, acne scars and any other blemishes on the skin. 

Courtesy Nigerian Tribune 

Causes,  treatment of Fungal Infection of the Nails

Fungal Infection of the Nails



We are programmed to always use our hands and feet, because they are the agents of mobility for us. This is also So because we constantly put our hands and feet in water, immersed in moist conditions.
Also, in the course of moving and using our limbs, we contact some infections, and if good hygiene is not employed, infects can occur. Therefore fungal infections can and do occur.
Many people develop a fungal nail infection at some point in their life. It’s not usually serious, but can be unpleasant and difficult to treat.
The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.
Toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails. The medical name for a fungal nail infection is onychomycosis.
Fungal infections can affect any part of the body. Fungi are normally present in and on the body alongside various bacteria. When a fungus begins to overgrow, you can get an infection. Onychomycosis, also called tinea unguium, is a fungal infection that affects either the fingernails or toenails. Fungal nail infections are common. They’re not serious but they can take a long time to treat.
Fungal nail infections usually affect your toenails but you can get them on your finger nails too.
Fungal nail infections usually start at the edge of the nail. They often then spread to the middle. The nail becomes discoloured and lifts off. The nail becomes brittle and pieces can break off. It can cause pain and swelling in the skin around the nail.
What are the symptoms
Symptoms of a fungal nail infection
A fungal nail infection may not cause any obvious symptoms at first.
As it progresses, the infection can cause:
• discolouration of the nail – it may turn white, black, yellow or green
• thickening and distortion of the nail – it may become an unusual shape or texture and be difficult to trim
• pain or discomfort – particularly when using or placing pressure on the affected toe or finger
• brittle or crumbly nails – pieces may break off and come away completely
• Sometimes the skin nearby may also become infected and be itchy and cracked or red and swollen.
Causes
Most fungal nail infections occur as a result of the fungi that cause athlete’s foot infecting the nails.
These fungi often live harmlessly on your skin, but they can sometimes multiply and lead to infections. The fungi prefer warm, dark and moist places like the feet.
Those at risk
• have diabetes
• have a disease that causes poor circulation
• are over age 65
• wear artificial nails
• swim in a public swimming pool
• have a nail injury
• have a skin injury around the nail
• have moist fingers or toes for an extended time
• have a weakened immune system
• wear closed-toe shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots
• don’t keep your feet clean and dry
• wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty
• walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms
• have damaged your nails
• have certain other health conditions, such as diabetes, psoriasis or peripheral arterial disease
Fungal nail infections can be spread to other people, so you should take steps to avoid this (see below) if you have an infection.
Treatment
Treatments for fungal nail infections
Treatment isn’t always needed for a mild fungal nail infection because it’s unlikely to cause any further problems and you may feel it’s not worth treating.
Whether you decide to have treatment or not, you should still practise good foot hygiene to stop the infection getting worse or spreading to others.
Speak to your doctor if you’re bothered by the appearance of the affected nail, or it’s causing problems such as pain and discomfort. They’ll probably recommend:
• antifungal tablets – tablets taken once or twice a day for several months
• antifungal nail paints – special paints applied directly to the nail over several months
• nail softening kits – where a paste is used to soften infected parts of the nail, before they’re removed with a scraping device
A procedure to remove the nail completely may be recommended in severe cases. Laser treatment, where a high-energy laser is used to destroy the fungus, is also an option. But this is only available privately and can be expensive.
Treatment
Treatment may not be necessary in mild cases of fungal nail infection. For more severe or troublesome cases, antifungal medication may be recommended.
A fungal nail infection is unlikely to get better without treatment, but if you’re not bothered by it you might decide it’s not worth treating because treatment can take a long time, may cause side effects, and isn’t always effective.
Whether or not you decide to have treatment, you should still follow the self-help advice below to help stop the condition getting worse or spreading to others.
Do these
The advice below may be helpful if you have a fungal nail infection:
• keep your hands and feet clean and dry
• wear well-fitting shoes made of natural materials and clean cotton socks – these will allow your feet to “breathe”
• clip your nails to keep them short – use a separate pair of clippers or scissors for the infected nail
• don’t share towels and socks with other people, and ensure your towels are washed regularly
• don’t walk around barefoot in public pools, showers, and locker rooms – special shower shoes are available to protect your feet
• consider replacing old footwear as it could be the source of the infection
• treat athlete’s foot as soon as possible to avoid the infection spreading to your nails
Antifungal medication
Speak to your doctor if you’re embarrassed by the appearance of the affected nail, or it’s causing problems such as pain and discomfort.
They’ll usually recommend treatment with antifungal medication, either in the form of tablets or a special paint you apply directly to the nail.
A small sample of the infected nail may need to be taken and sent off for testing before treatment starts, to confirm that you do have a fungal infection.
Antifungal tablets
Terbinafine and itraconazole are the two medicines most commonly prescribed for fungal nail infections. These usually need to be taken once or twice a day for several months to ensure the infection has completely cleared up. If you stop taking the medication too early, the infection may return.
Possible side effects of antifungal tablets can include headache, itching, diarrhoea, loss of sense of taste, and a rash.
Antifungal nail paint
If you prefer not to take antifungal tablets, your doctor may suggest you try antifungal nail paint instead.
Nail paint isn’t generally considered to be as effective as tablets because it can be difficult for it to reach the deeper layers of the nail. However, it doesn’t usually cause any side effects.
Like antifungal tablets, antifungal nail paint also normally needs to be used for several months to ensure that the infection has cleared up.
Results of treatment
Antifungal treatments are thought to be effective in treating about 60-80% of fungal nail infections. It can take between six and 18 months for the appearance of the affected nail to return to normal, and in some cases the nail may not look the same as before the infection.
If the treatment is working, you should see a new healthy nail start to grow from the base of nail over the course of a few months. The old infected nail should begin to grow out and can be gradually clipped away.
Speak to your doctor if new, healthy nail doesn’t start to grow after a few weeks of treatment. Keep using the treatment until your doctor says you can stop, as stopping too early could result in the infection returning.
Softening and scraping away the nail
As it can take a long time for antifungal medication to work, some people may prefer to use a treatment that involves softening and removing infected parts of nail over a few weeks.
Treatment kits are available from pharmacies that contain a 40% urea paste, plasters and a scraping device. The paste softens the infected parts of the nail, allowing them to be scraped away so they can be gradually replaced with healthy nail.
To use the treatment:
• wash the affected area and dry it thoroughly
• carefully apply the paste to the infected nails
• cover the nails with plasters and leave them for 24 hours
• wash the paste off the next day and scrape away the softened parts of the nail
• repeat this process each day for two to three weeks
• Once no more infected parts of the nail can be removed, ask your pharmacist for antifungal nail paint to prevent re-infection as the nail regrows over the next few months.
• Removing the nail
• A procedure to remove affected nails completely isn’t usually necessary, but may be recommended if the infection is severe or painful and other treatments haven’t helped.
If your nail is surgically removed, a new nail should eventually grow back in its place. However, it could take a year or more for the nail to grow back completely.
Preventing fungal nail infections:
1. You can reduce your risk of developing a fungal nail infection by:
2. keeping your hands and feet clean and dry
3. wearing well-fitting shoes made of natural materials and clean cotton socks – these will allow your feet to “breathe”
4. clipping your nails to keep them short – don’t share clippers or scissors with other people
5. not sharing towels and socks with other people, and ensure your towels are washed regularly
6. not walking around barefoot in public pools, showers, and locker rooms – special shower shoes are available to protect your feet
7. replacing old footwear that could be contaminated with fungi
8. treating athlete’s foot as soon as possible to avoid the infection spreading to your nails
Nail salon equipment can sometimes be the source of fungal nail infections. If you regularly visit a salon, make sure any equipment used is properly sterilised between uses.

​Mosquitoes are our friends, stop killing them – Don

Mosquitoes are our friends, stop killing them – Don

By NAN | 

A Professor of Entomology at the University of Ilorin, Adeolu Ande, has decried killing mosquitoes, saying the insects are friends to humans that deserved to be properly managed.

Ande made the statement on Monday in Ilorin in a paper he presented at a public seminar organised by the university.

In his paper with the title “Consider the ways of Ants and be Wise,” the entomologist described insects as the “most successful and influential group’’ of organisms in the biosphere.

He said that humans had a lot to learn from insects in order to be wise.

“Human life is beset with inevitable associations with insects that have over the years influenced human destiny positively and negatively.

“Negative influences, such as disease transmission, crop losses, food spoilage, economic losses and nuisance value caused by less than 5 per cent of insect species have been exaggerated by man.

He said that positive influences of insects are not unappreciated and downplayed.

He listed some of them to include: pollination of flowers, waste recycling and sustenance of the ecosystem.

Others, he said, include source of silk, shellac, cochineal, therapeutic agents, aesthetics, biological control agents and food source.

The don said that man deliberately misunderstood the role of mosquitoes and frequently described them as causing the diseases they transmit.

He said: “in the actual sense, mosquitoes are equally sick but inadvertently and unwillingly convey pathogens that are the real causal agents of these diseases.

“The female mosquito could be described as an example of a true mother who is forced to undertake suicide mission in its bid to provide for its unborn children.

“The adult female mosquitoes have exceptional value for child raising hence the level of commitment and risk they take on the mission that entails decision between life and death.

“The after effect of this commitment is a well thought out plan that forestalls most of the factors that may stand in the way of raising good children.

“I am sure most human females will not take comparable decision in the face of similar attendant risks.

“It is however certain that children born after well thought out and risky conditions are better posited for quality living than those produced carelessly.

Ande said that mosquitoes had proved over the years that they are our friends and allies, adding that if we like them or not, they would exist and continue to source blood from humans.

The professor called for improvement in Zoology curriculum to ensure better focus on organisms that feature prominently around man.

He said that zoologists were expected to be the foster parents of animals in the Zoo, adding that they should be familiar with their needs and their health status.

Eight reasons to eat onions daily

8 reasons to eat onions daily

Sade Oguntola
Ever wondered why onion is an ingredient for soups to enhance taste and flavour? What about onion for garnishing suya or boiled rice? While onions may bring a tear to the eye and delight to the taste buds, surprisingly, it plays an important role in maintaining good health because of its therapeutic purposes.
Rich in Vitamin C, sulphuric compounds, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals, an onion a day may help keep the doctor away. Its sulphur-containing compounds are responsible for its pungent odour.
Onions are healthy whether they’re raw or cooked, though raw onions have higher levels of organic sulphur compounds that provide many benefits.
In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) supports
the use of onions for the treatment of poor appetite and to prevent atherosclerosis. It also recognises onion extract providing relief in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and bronchitis.
Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems.
Some health benefits of onions are as given below:
Heart health
Onions encourage a healthy heart in many ways, including lowering blood pressure and lowering heart attack risk. A study in 2007 indicated that Quercetin, the compound most commonly associated with onions, may reduce blood pressure by an average of five millimetres of mercury.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition found a daily 730 milligram supplement of Quercetin led to significant reductions in the blood pressure of 22 people with high blood pressure (hypertension).
Moreover, researchers suggested in a 2002 study in the journal, Thrombosis Research, that it is a natural blood thinner that can prevent blood platelets from aggregating. When platelets cluster, the risk for heart attack or stroke increases.
Cancer
High intake of garlic and onions was associated with significantly reduced risks of a wide-range of cancers. A large epidemiological study that involved almost 10,000 people with different types of cancers from Italy showed an inverse association between the frequency of use of allium vegetables like onion and the risk of several common cancers. This 2006 study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Also, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), which followed 521,457 subjects in 10 European countries, reported that an increase in the intake of onions by 10 grams per day was associated with a 30 per cent reduction in the risk of intestinal gastric cancer.
In another study, increased intakes of onions, researchers report in the British Journal of Nutrition, may reduce the risk of developing cancer of the colon by 50 per cent.
Lowering cholesterol
Consumption of garlic and onions may reduce the incidence of cholesterol gallstone formation by as much as 40 per cent. Consumption of a cholesterol-rich diet led to the formation of cholesterol gallstones (CGS), but supplementation of this diet with onion reduced the incidence of the gallstones, according to findings published online in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Protect against osteoarthritis
Human studies have shown that onion can help increase our bone density and may be of special benefit to women of menopausal age who are experiencing loss of bone density due to osteoarthritis.
A research from King’s College London, published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, suggested a potential for using specific beneficial compounds found in onion to develop treatments for the condition.
Osteoarthritis is the most common disabling joint condition affecting elderly adults, and has a significant impact on adults of working age. The cause, however, remains unclear.
Digestion
The fibre in onions promotes good digestion and promotes good bacteria growth in the intestines. A 2005 study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that oligofructose a special type of soluble fibre, which promotes good bacteria growth in your intestines, may help prevent and treat types of diarrhoea.
Boost sexual performance
Fresh onion juice has aphrodisiac activity and may enhance male sexual libido and performance. Researchers at Jordan University of Science and Technology were searching for a natural way to help men with impotence problems to have sex. When they discovered that fresh onion juice increases testosterone concentrations in the blood, suggesting that onion may even help against impotence. Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for enhancing sexual libido and potency.
According to the researchers in the 2014 edition of the journal, Experimental Biology and Medicine, “The present study supports the hypothesis that Allium cepa has aphrodisiac activity and may enhance male sexual libido and performance”
Boost immunity against flu
Onions may boost the immune system and protect against flu. Researchers from the University of South Carolina and Clemson University report that stressful exercise increased the mice’s susceptibility to flu, but quercetin present in onion was found to negate these effects.
The findings published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, indicated that onion could help reduce illnesses in people undergoing strenuous extensive exercise, soldiers and others undergoing difficult training regimens, as well as people under psychological stress.
Diabetes control
Onion bulb extract could reduce high blood glucose and cholesterol levels. In a study presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego, when the rats were given onion bulb extract – in combination with metformin, their blood glucose and cholesterol levels were significantly reduced.
Anthony Ojieh, lead investigator, said: “Onion is cheap and available and has been used as a nutritional supplement. It has the potential for use in treating patients with diabetes.
Also, Dr Jevas C. Ozougwu at the Physiology and Biomedical Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, in his assessment of onion’s benefit for diabetes said dietary supplementation of onions compounds in diabetics may help to reduce over dependence on drug.

Source : Tribune 

Causes, symptoms, treatment of Human Papillomavirus Infection

Human Papillomavirus Infection

Medically Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT 
Written by Amber Erickson Gabbey and Jacquelyn Cafasso

What is human papillomavirus infection?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that is passed between people through skin-to-skin contact. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV, 40 of which are passed through sexual contact and can affect your genitals, mouth, or throat.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection that affects both men and women. It’s so common that most sexually active people will get some variety of it at some point, even if they have few sexual partners.

CAUSES
What causes human papillomavirus infection?
Most people get HPV through direct sexual contact, such as oral sex. Because HPV is a skin-to-skin infection, intercourse isn’t required to contract the infection. In rare cases, a mother who has HPV can infect her baby during delivery.

SYMPTOMS
What are the symptoms of human papillomavirus infection?
According to the CDC, the warts associated with most HPV infections go away on their own without any signs or symptoms. But the virus is still in an infected person’s body. As a result, that person may unknowingly pass HPV to sexual partners.
When the virus doesn’t go away on its own, it can cause serious health problems. These include genital warts and warts in the throat (known as recurrent respiratory papillomatosis). HPV can also cause cervical cancer and other cancers of the genitals, head, neck, and throat .
The types of HPV that cause warts are different from the types that cause cancer. As such, having genital warts caused by HPV doesn’t mean that you’ll develop cancer.
Cancers caused by HPV often don’t show symptoms until the cancer is in later stages of growth. Regular screenings can help diagnose HPV-related health problems earlier. This can improve outlook and increase chances of survival.

What tests can detect human papillomavirus infection?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first DNA test for HPV in 2014. Updated guidelines recommend that women have their first Pap test, or Pap smear , at age 21 and be tested for HPV at the same time, regardless of onset of sexual activity.
After that, women 21 to 29 should have just a Pap test every three years. Regular Pap tests help to identify abnormal cells in women. These can signal cervical cancer or other HPV-related problems.
Women ages 30 to 65 should then be screened every five years with Pap and HPV tests at the same time. If you’re younger than the age of 30, your doctor or gynecologist may also request an HPV test if your Pap smear results are abnormal.
If you have one of the 15 strains of HPV that can lead to cancer, your doctor may want to monitor you for cervical changes. You may need to get a Pap test more frequently.
Cervical changes that lead to cancer often take 10 or more years to develop, and HPV infections often go away on their own in one or two years without causing cancer. You may want to follow a course of watchful waiting instead of undergoing treatment for the abnormal or precancerous cells resulting from an infection.
Your doctor may also want to do follow-up testing with colposcopy. This procedure uses an instrument (a colposcope) to examine your vagina and cervix more closely to look for abnormal areas.
It’s important to note that the HPV test is only available for diagnosing HPV in women. There is currently no FDA-approved test available for diagnosing HPV in men.
If you have new warts or notice other changes after sexual activity, contact your doctor for an assessment.

TREATMENTS
How is human papillomavirus infection treated?
Most cases of HPV go away on their own, so there is no treatment for the infection itself. Instead, your doctor will likely want to have you come in for repeat testing in six months or a year to see if the HPV infection persists and if any cell changes have developed that need further follow-up. For HPV-related health issues like warts or cancer, treatment will be targeted to the specific issue.
To treat genital warts, contact your doctor. Note that getting rid of the physical warts doesn’t treat the virus itself, and the warts are likely to return.

What are the risk factors for human papillomavirus infection?
Anyone who’s had sexual skin-to-skin contact is at risk for HPV infection. It’s impossible to know who will develop health problems from HPV, but people with weakened immune systems may be more at risk.

PREVENTION
How is human papillomavirus infection prevented?
The easiest ways to prevent HPV are to use condoms and to limit the number of sexual partners you have.
In addition, the CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for boys and girls ages 11 or 12. Women and men can get vaccinated until age 26. The vaccine is said to protect against the types of HPV known to be associated with cancer and also to prevent some types that cause warts.

Courtesy: Healthline