Smallpox is one of history’s most brutal diseases, with a mortality rate near 20 percent and lifelong disfigurement for those who survived. Luckily, it’s one you don’t have to worry about catching.
Thanks to the world’s first aggressive vaccination campaign (the bovine variant that triggered smallpox immunity is what lent the term its name), this disease that ravaged so many bodies and took so many lives have been eradicated. This means that it is not only under control, but because there is a vaccine, it is gone from the face of the earth! Polio, which paralyzed millions well into the 20th century, has been eradicated in the wild from most of the world, and health officials hope to extend that progress into Africa and South Asia. Other diseases, from measles to influenza, have also been limited and controlled through vaccination.
However, without effective mass production and distribution, none of this progress would be possible. As we confront new public health challenges, understanding why vaccine production is important will clarify the process that takes a vaccine from the laboratory to the immune system.
When dealing with infectious diseases, producers must take great care to ensure the safety of a vaccine. This requires a long and comprehensive series of trials across multiple demographic cohorts. This can entail producing batches from multiple strains of a viral specimen to find the one that is safest and most effective. Only after doctors have confirmed a vaccine’s safety among the population can they declare it ready for market.
Vaccines are made of weakened or dead samples of a virus, which activate the body’s immune system as if it were encountering that virus in its live form. This way, the immune system is prepared for more dangerous encounters in the future. But these specimens are delicate and precious and must be kept in ideal conditions. Failure to keep vaccine inventory at the proper temperature can cause the specimen to degrade past the point where the immune system can recognize the virus.
A vaccine must be readily available to the general public to be useful. Pharmacies, schools, and community health centers can all provide simple and affordable points of access. Without these common distribution locations, we cannot reach the immunity levels required for the general public to fend off diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and influenza.
Exploring why vaccine production is important may help you explain the process to patients who are restless for new developments in vaccines. Without exhaustive testing and proper preservation, however, these treatments can be ineffective and may even do more harm than good.
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As new technology for 3D printing is exploding, many industries are already taking advantage of it: aerospace, auto, education, architecture, manufacturing, and military, to name a few. The medical world has also benefitted from 3D printing innovations tremendously in recent years. For instance, now that printers can construct with powdered metals layer-by-layer, they can produce smaller, more complicated instruments custom-made for surgical patients.
Learning how 3D printing is advancing healthcare is especially exciting for nurses, who can look forward to better tools to make their jobs more efficient and more effective, as well as provide better patient care. Above all, it will facilitate better treatments and comforts for their patients.
One of the more miraculous advances has been using 3D printers to produce replicas of biological organs. Real tissue, when applied to a flexible gelatin structure, can make it a viable organ that can be attached to blood vessels and integrated into the body. If this becomes approved for human use, it will revolutionize transplants. More patients will receive viable organs, and nurses can expect new responsibilities.
Prostheses are already vastly improved, now that 3D printers can produce them with better and more comfortable fits according to individual needs. Nurses can expect more advances in smaller implants, such as windpipe splints for children, and jawbones accurately created for each patient. Nurses often work with implanted ports to drain fluids and administer medication. Now, 3D printing can make those parts more personalized. As a patient’s comfort increases, the nurse’s job gets easier.
Communication with families
Models of organs and body parts—specifically printed to reproduce the patient’s—are valuable tools for concerned loved ones who don’t speak English or want to better understand procedures they will have. Nurses can explain a patient’s status with 3D visuals or demonstrate upcoming surgeries. Worry-stricken family members may even feel more in control of their situations.
Applications for elder care
One of the more unexpected materials in 3D printing? Food. This can have a tremendous impact on older patients who have difficulty chewing or swallowing, also known as dysphagia. Sufferers don’t have a lot of motivation to eat pureed foods similar to baby food, but nurses might have an easier time with 3D-printed meals that are more appetizing. Pureed foods can be mixed with solidifying agents and recreated in their original form. Elderly patients can eat food that looks like what they’re used to, which may help them achieve better nutrition.
As we learn how 3D printing is advancing health care, one major result is clear: nurses will be able to give better care to more patients. In the worst-case scenario, this will ease nurse shortages and increased workloads. In a best-case scenario, nurses will have more time to give quality care.
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Being a mom and nurse is no joke! If the late nights and back-breaking work are starting to take their toll, these tips for reducing anxiety and stress at home can help you sit down, relax, and reorient yourself.
Take a long, deep breath, and relax. The concept is simple, but finding the time—and the means—to do so is trickier. Your personal preferences play a critical role in determining which relaxation methods are effective and which aren’t. For some, relaxing means curling up in a thick, warm blanket and perusing through an intriguing novel. For others, it could mean listening to music, meditating, or napping.
Find what works for you, and set aside some time for it. Your break doesn’t need to be extensive. A short, five-minute respite can do wonders. Light some candles, lay down and take a nap, do a puzzle—whatever makes you happy!
If you’re looking for a fancier, indulgent form of relief, consider investing in massaging tools, like a massage gun or massage chair. The startup costs might appear daunting, but they’re worth it. Massages significantly reduce stress and anxiety. They alter your EEG activity, promote increased parasympathetic activity, and decrease the levels of cortisol in your body.
The best part? You can use them just about anywhere. Need to feed your baby? Rock them to sleep? Sit around in their nursery and keep a close, careful eye on them? Do it in a massage chair—it’s every parent’s dream.
Get Up and Exercise
It might seem counterintuitive, but exercise is a tried-and-true way of relieving anxiety and stress. It lowers your body’s stress hormones, improves your sleep quality, and enhances your confidence.
Try to find an enjoyable exercise routine. A light jog before bed is a great option, as are walking, yoga, and even dancing! Sports are an obvious choice, as are outdoor activities like rock climbing and hiking. If you don’t feel like exercising alone, involve your family! Play soccer in the backyard, go biking together, or take a walk through your local park.
Alter Your Diet
Another tip for reducing anxiety and stress at home is to change what you’re cooking, drinking, and snacking on. Making small, subtle alterations to your diet can improve your mental health tenfold.
Try to remove or reduce your consumption of anxiety-inducing stimulants and depressants like caffeine and alcohol. High dosages of these substances can increase irritability, aggravate anxiety, and make you feel jittery, tired, or generally out of sorts.
Improving your diet by adding healthier, stress-relieving foods is another smart move. For example, salmon, chamomile, turmeric, dark chocolate, and yogurt all have anxiety-reducing effects. The simple act of chewing gum is a known stress-reliever, too!
It might seem hard, but stay positive. Put in a real, genuine effort to block out negative self-thought, and replace any unhappy thoughts with cheerful, optimistic ones. Find solace in your friends, family, and hobbies, and never underestimate the power of a good, hearty laugh.
If you can, identify the source of your anxiety. Journal about your feelings, or find a willing family member or friend to vent to. If your stress is affecting your daily life, consider seeing a professional. Remember, you’re not alone! Other people care about you and are more than happy to help.
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Up until around their 5th birthday, kids spend every waking moment with a caregiver nearby, often at home. Their world is small and secure, just as they like it. Then comes school— which is exciting for many kids but may also seem scary. Spending that much time away from their parents and house seems inconceivable.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your child’s first day of kindergarten:
Walk Through the School, Meet Their Teacher
One of the scariest parts about school is that it happens in a place other than home. While kids with older siblings may have some exposure to school, only children and first-born kids may each benefit from visiting their school before they begin the year, perhaps during an orientation. Walking the hallways and having their parent nearby to reassure them will help them feel more comfortable with the whole process.
An even better tip is to meet their teacher. These introductions stave off any of your child’s worries that their teacher is some larger-than-life, scary person. Though tours and teacher meetings may not be possible due to the current pandemic, make sure to take full advantage if they are available. If they aren’t available, try to arrange a video meeting instead.
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Talk About What It’ll Be Like
You should also engage in conversations before and after this in-person walkthrough. Kids need to process their emotions, and they need a trusted guardian to help them do so. Be sensitive about questions and prepare to listen to their concerns, even if they seem insignificant. If your child feels in control of the conversation, they’ll likely start to grow more comfortable with the thought of heading off to school.
Given the unique circumstances this year, make sure to leave extra space for conversation about Coronavirus. These conversations allow you to calm your child’s fears a bit while reinforcing the need for them to take preventative measures such as wearing their mask and staying six feet away from other students.
Buy and Organize Their School Supplies Together
Our last piece of advice on preparing for your child’s first day of kindergarten is to buy and assemble their school supplies together. This step also affords your child control over the process. If they get a few school items they enjoy, such as a Star Wars-themed lunch box, they’ll be more likely to look forward to starting school.
As you shop, create a plan for color-coding the folders, art supplies, and other items they’ll use every day. This is wise because color has huge benefits on learning, memory, and organization. The school will seem more fun when they have a colorful system to keep their things in order so they can focus more on learning.
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While summer has come to an end, the long-term damage of bright, sunny days may still linger. If you spent most of your summer days out in the sun without proper protection, you may have sun-damaged skin.
The sun’s heat dries out areas of unprotected skin and depletes the skin’s supply of natural lubricating oils. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can also cause burning and long-term changes in the skin’s structure. Here’s how to tell if your skin is sun damaged.
Symptoms of Skin Damage
While signs and severity may differ for everyone, these symptoms are the most common ways to tell if your skin is sun damaged.
Dry skin is one of the most common symptoms of mild sun damage. The skin appears dry, flaky, and slightly more wrinkled than skin that has not been exposed to the sun. Dry skin usually means the skin has lost its natural moisture and essential oils.
Mild sunburn causes pain and redness on sun-exposed skin and can usually be identified by dividing lines of pigmentation between exposed and unexposed skin. However, more severe cases of sunburn produce painful blisters and sometimes even nausea and dizziness.
Actinic keratosis appears as a small bump that feels like sandpaper or a persistent patch of scaly and peeling skin that may have a jagged or even sharp surface and that has a pink, yellow, red, or brownish tint.
Symptoms of long-term changes in the skin’s collagen include fine lines, deeper wrinkles, thickened skin texture, and easy bruising on sun-exposed areas.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A doctor or dermatologist can determine if you have sun-damaged skin. In most cases, they will simply examine the skin. In more severe cases, a biopsy is done to rule out any bigger issues such as skin cancer.
Sun-damaged skin can be treated in several ways, from additional moisturizing to laser treatment and prescribed medications.
As an expectant mother, heading to your first ultrasound can be exciting—but also nerve-wracking. You might have a lot of questions. What is the procedure like? Is it painful? What exactly are the doctors looking for? If you’re wondering what to expect at your first ultrasound appointment, continue reading below for a simple outline of the process.
When Should You Get Your First Ultrasound?
The first ultrasound is generally a component of your first prenatal visit, which occurs between six and twelve weeks of pregnancy. Some healthcare providers will reserve this type of ultrasound—an early pregnancy ultrasound—for women presenting symptoms of a high-risk pregnancy.
If you don’t get an ultrasound within the first two months of pregnancy, then the next type of ultrasound occurs between weeks 10 and 13. The farther along you are in pregnancy the better the visual you will have with the ultrasound.
What’s the Procedure Like?
Once you make your appointment, your doctor will give you a general list of pre-ultrasound instructions. To make the process simpler, you’ll likely need to arrive with a full bladder. The sound waves used in ultrasound penetrate better through liquid. Since fetuses are hard to detect in the early stages of pregnancy, a higher-quality scan is necessary.
Wearing a two-piece outfit, preferably with a skirt, is the best option, as it will allow the ultrasound probe or transducer better access to the places it needs to reach. It also means you’re less likely to need to change or strip.
There are two traditional types of ultrasounds designed for pregnancy.
For your first appointment, you’re probably going to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound. Examining the uterus through the cervix is far easier than attempting to find the pea-sized fetus through bone, skin, and muscle. The procedure isn’t painful, but like with any pelvic exam, you might find it uncomfortable.
If you’re further along, you’ll have a transabdominal ultrasound instead. This procedure is when your care provider smears cool, clear jelly across your stomach and uses a transducer to form images of your child. Like the transvaginal ultrasound, the procedure is painless—but for some, it’s ticklish.
What Will You Learn About Your Baby?
Ultrasounds can reveal a great deal of information about your unborn baby. If your first ultrasound is an early pregnancy ultrasound, your care provider will be able to determine a due date and whether you’re carrying multiples.
At a dating ultrasound, doctors reveal the same. They’ll also check the fetal heartbeat, determine your baby’s crown-rump length (which helps to identify possible developmental issues), and evaluate the likelihood of birth abnormalities like Down syndrome.
If you’re wondering what else your appointment has the potential to reveal, read up on the accuracy of ultrasound at predicting things like your child’s gender, size, and health.
Knowing what to expect at your first ultrasound appointment can make the experience easier, so head in prepared. If you have questions about your pregnancy, ask your doctor before, during, or upon the conclusion of your exam.
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