Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary. A diagnosis of PCOS is made when you experience at least two of these signs:

Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormones may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have concerns about your menstrual periods, if you’re experiencing infertility or if you have signs of excess androgen such as worsening hirsutism, acne and male-pattern baldness.

Causes

The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known. Factors that might play a role include:

Excess insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar, your body’s primary energy supply. If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise and your body might produce more insulin. Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.Low-grade inflammation. This term is used to describe white blood cells’ production of substances to fight infection. Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.Heredity. Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS.Excess androgen. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in hirsutism and acne.

Treatment

PCOS treatment focuses on managing your individual concerns, such as infertility, hirsutism, acne or obesity. Specific treatment might involve lifestyle changes or medication.

Lifestyle changes

Your doctor may recommend weight loss through a low-calorie diet combined with moderate exercise activities. Even a modest reduction in your weight — for example, losing 5 percent of your body weight — might improve your condition. Losing weight may also increase the effectiveness of medications your doctor recommends for PCOS, and can help with infertility.

Medications

To regulate your menstrual cycle, your doctor might recommend:

Combination birth control pills. Pills that contain estrogen and progestin decrease androgen production and regulate estrogen. Regulating your hormones can lower your risk of endometrial cancer and correct abnormal bleeding, excess hair growth and acne. Instead of pills, you might use a skin patch or vaginal ring that contains a combination of estrogen and progestin.

Progestin therapy. Taking progestin for 10 to 14 days every one to two months can regulate your periods and protect against endometrial cancer. Progestin therapy doesn’t improve androgen levels and won’t prevent pregnancy. The progestin-only minipill or progestin-containing intrauterine device is a better choice if you also wish to avoid pregnancy.

To help you ovulate, your doctor might recommend:

  • Clomiphene. This oral anti-estrogen medication is taken during the first part of your menstrual cycle.
  • Letrozole (Femara). This breast cancer treatment can work to stimulate the ovaries.
  • Metformin. This oral medication for type 2 diabetes improves insulin resistance and lowers insulin levels. If you don’t become pregnant using clomiphene, your doctor might recommend adding metformin. If you have prediabetes, metformin can also slow the progression to type 2 diabetes and help with weight loss.
  • Gonadotropins. These hormone medications are given by injection.

To reduce excessive hair growth, your doctor might recommend:

  • Birth control pills. These pills decrease androgen production that can cause excessive hair growth.Spironolactone (Aldactone). This medication blocks the effects of androgen on the skin.
  • Spironolactone can cause birth defects, so effective contraception is required while taking this medication. It isn’t recommended if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.Eflornithine (Vaniqa). This cream can slow facial hair growth in women.
  • Electrolysis. A tiny needle is inserted into each hair follicle. The needle emits a pulse of electric current to damage and eventually destroy the follicle. You might need multiple treatments.

Internal and External Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures & Causes

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids (Piles) are blood vessels located in the smooth muscles of the walls of the rectum and anus. They are a normal part of the anatomy and are located at the junction where small arteries merge into veins. They are cushioned by smooth muscles and connective tissue and are classified by where they are located in relationship to the pectinate line, the dividing point between the upper 2/3 and lower 1/3 of the anus. This is an important anatomic distinction because of the type of cells that line hemorrhoid, and the nerves that provide sensation.

What are the internal and external hemorrhoids?

Internal hemorrhoids are located above the pectinate line and are covered with cells that are the same as those that line the rest of the intestines. External hemorrhoids arise below the line and are covered with cells that resemble skin.

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids become an issue only when they begin to swell, causing itching, pain, and/or bleeding.

External hemorrhoids are located underneath the skin that surrounds the anus and is lower than internal hemorrhoids.

Normal hemorrhoidal tissue cannot be seen since they must first swell and become inflamed or develop a clot to cause symptoms. One can see swollen external hemorrhoids or internal prolapsed hemorrhoids exposed outside the anus but internal hemorrhoids cannot be seen because they remain inside the anus. A thrombosed hemorrhoid will appear as a lump at the anal verge, protruding from the anus, and will be dark bluish in color because of the blood clot contained inside the swollen blood vessel. Non-thrombosed hemorrhoids will appear as a rubbery lump. Often more than one swollen hemorrhoid appears at the same time.

Hemorrhoids are caused by swelling in the anal or rectal veins. This makes them susceptible to irritation.

While the presence of hemorrhoids is a reflection of the normal anatomy, most people and care professionals refer to hemorrhoids as an abnormal finding because they only present when they swell and cause problems.

Hemorrhoid swelling occurs when there is an increase in the pressure in the small vessels that make up hemorrhoids causing them to swell and engorge with blood. This causes them to increase in size leading to symptoms. Increased pressure may be caused by a variety of factors:

A low-fiber diet and smaller caliber stool cause a person to strain when having a bowel movement, increasing the pressure within the blood vessels.Pregnancy is associated with hemorrhoid swelling and is likely due to increased pressure of the enlarged uterus on the rectum and anus. In addition, hormonal changes with pregnancy may weaken the muscles that support the rectum and anus. Prolonged sitting on the toilet may increase pressure within the hemorrhoid blood vessels. Obesity, Diarrhea, both acute and chronic Colon cancer, Previous rectal surgery, Spinal cord injury and lack of erect posture. Read More

Stress And Your Health

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous.

Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health

Considerations

Stress is a normal feeling. There are two main types of stress:

Acute stress. This is short-term stress that goes away quickly. You feel it when you slam on the brakes, have a fight with your partner, or ski down a steep slope. It helps you manage dangerous situations. It also occurs when you do something new or exciting. All people have acute stress at one time or another.

Chronic stress. 

This is stress that lasts for a longer period of time. You may have chronic stress if you have money problems, an unhappy marriage, or trouble at work. Any type of stress that goes on for weeks or months is chronic stress. You can become so used to chronic stress that you don’t realize it is a problem. If you don’t find ways to manage stress, it may lead to health problems.

STRESS AND YOUR BODY

Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make your brain more alert, cause your muscles to tense, and increase your pulse. In the short term, these reactions are good because they can help you handle the situation causing stress. This is your body’s way of protecting itself.

When you have chronic stress, your body stays alert, even though there is no danger. Over time, this puts you at risk for health problems, including:

High blood pressure,Heart disease,Diabetes, Obesity, Depression or anxiety, Skin problems, such as acne or eczema and Menstrual problems

If you already have a health condition, chronic stress can make it worse.

SIGNS OF TOO MUCH STRESS

Stress can cause many types of physical and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, you may not realize these symptoms are caused by stress. Here are some signs that stress may be affecting you:

Diarrhea or constipation, Forgetfulness, Frequent aches and pains, Headaches, Lack of energy or focus, Sexual problems, Stiff jaw or neck, Tiredness, Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, Upset stomach,Use of alcohol or drugs to relax, Weight loss or gain. Read More

Facts About Kidney Stones

Kidney stones, or renal calculi, are solid masses made of crystals. Kidney stones usually originate in your kidneys. However, they can develop anywhere along your urinary tract, which consists of these parts:

kidneys,ureters, bladder,urethra

Kidney stones are one of the most painful medical conditions. The causes of kidney stones vary according to the type of stone.

This type of kidney stone is more common in men than in women. They can occur in people with gout or those going through chemotherapy.

This type of stone develops when urine is too acidic. A diet rich in purines can increase urine’s acidic level. Purine is a colorless substance in animal proteins, such as fish, shellfish, and meats.

Struvite

This type of stone is found mostly in women with urinary tract infections (UTIs). These stones can be large and cause urinary obstruction. They result from a kidney infection. Treating an underlying infection can prevent the development of struvite stones.

Cystine

Cystine stones are rare. They occur in both men and women who have the genetic disorder cystinuria. With this type of stone, cystine — an acid that occurs naturally in the body — leaks from the kidneys into the urine.

Types of kidney stones

Not all kidney stones are made up of the same crystals. The different types of kidney stones include:

Calcium

Calcium stones are the most common. They’re often made of calcium oxalate (though they can consist of calcium phosphate or maleate). Eating fewer oxalate-rich foods can reduce your risk of developing this type of stone. High-oxalate foods include:

potato chips, peanuts, chocolate, beets, spinach

However, even though some kidney stones are made of calcium, getting enough calcium in your diet can prevent stones from forming.



Risk factors for kidney stones

The greatest risk factor for kidney stones is making less than 1 liter of urine per day. This is why kidney stones are common in premature infants who have kidney problems. However, kidney stones are most likely to occur in people between the ages of 20 and 50.

Different factors can increase your risk of developing a stone. In the United States, white people are more likely to have kidney stones than black people.

Sex also plays a role. More men than women develop kidney stones, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

A history of kidney stones can increase your risk. So does a family history of kidney stones.



Other risk factors include:

Dehydration, obesity, a diet with high levels of protein, salt, or glucose, hyperparathyroid condition, gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel diseases that increase calcium absorption taking medications such as triamterene diuretics, antiseizure drugs, and calcium-based antacids

Recognizing the symptoms and signs of a kidney stone

Kidney stones are known to cause severe pain. Symptoms of kidney stones may not occur until the stone begins to move down the ureters. This severe pain is called renal colic. You may have pain on one side of your back or abdomen.

In men, pain may radiate to the groin area. The pain of renal colic comes and goes, but can be intense. People with renal colic tend to be restless.



Other symptoms of kidney stones can include:



blood in the urine (red, pink, or brown urine) vomiting, nausea, discolored or foul-smelling, urine, chills, fever,etc. Read More

Are You Trying To Stop A Cough? Try This!

First Let’s Know What A Cough Is?

A cough is a reflex that helps clear ones airways of irritants. Nerves in the airways become stimulated by allergens, medical conditions, medications, and other irritants, resulting in a forceful expulsion of air from the lungs.

Causes Of Cough

There are several causes of cough but the common ones include:

  • Allergens
  • pollen, dust, animal dander, andmold.
  • Irritants
  • smoking, inhaling secondhand smoke, pollution, chemical fumes, perfumes, and air fresheners.

Medical Conditions That Makes Us Cough Are:

Common cold, Upper respiratory tract infection, Flu, Pneumonia, Whooping cough, Asthma, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Sinus infections, Postnasal drip, Acute bronchitis, Chronic bronchitis, Bronchiectasis, Emphysema, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Lung cancer, and Heart failure.

Medications: ACE inhibitors and Beta blockers.

A dry cough is usually the result of

cold and flu viruses, allergies, acid reflux, ACE inhibitor medications, and irritants such as cigarette smoke.

A wet cough is mostly caused by Cold or Flu viruses, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

A persistent, or chronic cough is one that lasts for more than 3 weeks and may be caused by heart disease, asthma, lung disease, bronchitis, and whooping cough.

12 Natrual and Home Remedies To Cure Or Soothe A Cough

Stay hydrated: Drinking lots of water helps to thin mucus.

Inhaling steam: By taking a hot shower, or by boiling water and pouring it into a bowl, stay at leasta foot away , place a towel over your head to form an enclosure over the bowl and inhale. Stop if you feel uncomfortable and Note: do not do this if cough is due to asthma, as steam may make symptoms worse.

Use a humidifier to loosen mucus.

Cough drops or lozenges soothe an irritated throat (do not use in young children).

Gargling Saltwater helps clear mucus from the throat.

Using an extra pillow to elevate your head at night.

Use honey. It can be used alone in adults and children over 1 year of age, and acts as a cough suppressant.

Ginger tea soothes throat inflammation.

Eucalyptus oil: Use it in a vaporizer or rub on your chest to help break up mucus.

Mint: Often taken as a tea, helps loosen mucus in the lungs.

Menthol is commonly found in lozenges, and it can soothe a cough.

Apple cider vinegar, when diluted or mixed with honey helps thin mucus.

How Much Do We Know About Delta Variant?

The Delta variant, which is also called B.1.617.2, is a mutant strain of COVID-19. COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by The World Health Organization (WHO). After that the virus mutated as it spread throughout the world. Each mutation is assigned a letter (Alpha, Beta, Delta, etc.).

The first instance of Delta variant infection in the United States was reported in March 2021. Now, the Delta variant accounts for 83.2% of all new infections in the U.S. according to the most recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Research have reported that the Delta variant:

  • Is 50% more contagious than the original alpha COVID-19 virus strain
  • Is associated with a higher risk of complications and hospitalization
  • Spreads and infects quickly
  • Affects the younger population more often
  • Creates hospitalization risk for unvaccinated individuals

Are vaccines effective against the Delta variant?

All vaccines offer some level of protection against the Delta variant. Vaccination and mask use are therefore crucial in protecting yourself against infection.

  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: 
    • Found to be 36% and 88% effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant after first and second doses, respectively. 
    • Found to be 94% and 96% effective in preventing hospitalization after first and second doses, respectively.
  • Moderna vaccine: 
    • Uses the same technology as that of Pfizer; therefore, researchers believe it should provide similar protection as that provided by the Pfizer vaccine. 
    • Studies are underway to determine exactly the extent of protection the vaccine offers.
  • AstraZeneca vaccine:
    • Found to be 60% effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant and 93% effective against complications and hospitalization after both doses.
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine: 
    • Single-shot vaccine that has been shown to be effective against the Delta variant, although not as protective as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. 
    • Some researchers believe this vaccine has similar results to those of the AstraZeneca vaccine, although more studies are ongoing.

COVID-19 Modes Of Spreads:

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, viral particles are released into the air, and when another person breathes in those particles, they can become infected with the virus. It spreads between people in close contact, within 6 feet. Sometimes, it can spread to a person exposed to small droplets or aerosols containing the virus that stay in the air for several minutes or hours. Moreover, it can spread if a person touches a surface or object with viral particles on it and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.

How To Treat The Delta Variant Infection?

Currently, there are no specific treatments for COVID-19, including an infection caused by the Delta variant. Scientists are working on developing treatment methods, and many clinical trials are ongoing. Doctors therefore advise taking precautions such as getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and maintaining social distance and good hygiene.

People with mild COVID-19 can ease their symptoms with sufficient rest and medications as prescribed by their doctor. Antibiotics do not help because they help treat bacterial infection, not viral infection. Doctors do not advise self-medicating or using herbs to attempt preventing or curing COVID-19.

What Is A Headache?

Describing headache or head pain can be difficult sometimes but people describe the feeling as throbbing, squeezing, constant, or intermittent painful sensation in the head. Headache can be felt in one part of the face or skull or the whole head. In the human body, the head is one of the part we often experience pain. Headache could occur by ; spontaneous means or acute onset or even be chronic in nature.

Usually headache comes with nausea and vomiting. Common with migraine headaches.

TYPES OF HEADACHE

A headache can be classified under one of the following:

  • Primary headache
  • Secondary headache
  • Cranial neuralgias
  • Other headaches

Primary headaches are: tension, migraine, and cluster headaches.

How To Relieve A Headache?

Home remedies for a common primary headache like tension headache is either rest or using over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve the pain.

But know this, when you overuse pain relief medications it could result in “rebound headache”.

Secondary Headaches may result from an underlying conditions or a symptom of injury.

A sinus headache is considered a secondary headache because there may be an increase of pressure in the sinus or an infection at the sinuses. One should go to the hospital since secondary headaches might be the beginning of a serious infection.

All The Types Of Headaches

  1. Primary tension headaches that are episodic
  2. Primary tension headaches that are chronic
  3. Primary muscle contraction headaches
  4. Primary migraine headaches with aura
  5. Primary migraine headaches without aura
  6. Primary cluster headache
  7. Primary paroxysmal hemicrania (a type of cluster headache)
  8. Primary cough headache
  9. Primary stabbing headache
  10. Primary headache associated with sexual intercourse
  11. Primary thunderclap headache
  12. Hypnic headache (headaches that awaken a person from sleep)
  13. Hemicrania continua (headaches that are persistently on one side only, right or left [unilateral])
  14. New daily-persistent headache (NDPH) (a type of chronic headache)
  15. Headache from exertion
  16. Trigeminal neuralgia and other cranial nerve inflammation
  17. Secondary headaches due to: Trauma,Infection and Disorder.

Have You Heard Of Havana Syndrome?

Havana syndrome is a series of debilitating symptoms that first affected U.S. intelligence officers and embassy staffers stationed in Havana, Cuba, in late 2016. In the following year, American diplomats in different parts of the world reported similar symptoms. 

Researchers investigating the condition have stated that Havana syndrome, which was initially dismissed as mass hysteria or a reaction caused by psychosomatic causes such as stress, may be a result of microwave weaponry. Symptoms are similar to those of a concussion or mild head injury and have mostly been reported by diplomats, intelligence officers, military personnel, and their family members deployed on foreign soil. 

To date, Havana syndrome has affected more than 130 people, with a few officials having reported symptoms while they were on U.S soil. Symptoms are not only distressing but aftereffects also seem to linger for a long time.

What are the symptoms of Havana syndrome?

In late 2016, deployed diplomats heard a loud piercing sound at night and felt intense pressure in the face. Pain, nausea, and dizziness followed. While the sound stopped eventually, some people complained of continued pain and dizziness along with trouble concentrating. The symptoms were debilitating enough to interfere with their work during the period of deployment.

In the years that followed, many intelligence officers and military personnel reported symptoms such as confusion, nausea, and disorientation that typically started with a sudden onset of pain and pressure in the head and ears. They reported other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, brain fog, memory problems, light sensitivity, and sleep-related complaints (drowsiness and insomnia).

The long-term sequelae of Havana syndrome include:

Migraine

Problems with distant vision

Squinting

Recurrent vertigo

Nosebleeds

Experts state that overall symptoms are akin to those reported by individuals with head injuries, although none of the personnel reported a blow to the head or related preexisting health conditions.

What could be the cause of Havana syndrome?

Initially, experts suspected that Havana syndrome may be caused by either accidental or deliberate exposure to a toxic chemical, pesticide, or drug. No traces of such agents, however, were found in affected people or their homes. 

The most likely cause of Havana syndrome is assumed to be some type of a mechanical device that emits ultrasonic or microwave energy:

Such radiofrequency energy exposure through highly specialized bioweaponry could potentially create microbubbles in the fluid inside a person’s ear. When those bubbles travel through the blood into the brain, they can cause minute air emboli that result in cell damage, similar to decompression sickness (disorder that deep-sea divers develop if they surface too quickly), Another explanation is that symptoms may be due to direct penetration of radiofrequency waves into the skull, which disrupts electrical and chemical activity in the brain and rewires certain neural pathways. This rewiring may be the reason that the symptoms seem profound and have long-lasting sequelae.

Although debilitating, Havana syndrome is not fatal, and all afflicted individuals are still alive.

How is Havana syndrome treated?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of affected individuals compared with those of healthy individuals show differences in the white matter (the paler tissue of the brain and spinal cord that mainly contains bundles of myelinated nerve fibers) structure. This supports the hypothesis that Havana syndrome is a disorder involving non-specific and unfathomable changes in brain activity and structure.

The management of the disease consists of alternative medicine modalities such as art therapy, meditation, breathing exercises, and acupuncture. 

A rehabilitation program consisting of specific neurological exercises administered in 1-hour sessions has been partially successful but needs further research. Each session consists of cognitive exercises comprising repetitive complex movements of the upper and lower limbs, balance exercises, and orthoptic exercises.

What is the HAVANA Act?

On July 6, 2021, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to support American public servants who have incurred brain injuries from possible directed energy attacks or Havana syndrome, called the HAVANA (Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks) Act.

The Act, which was authorized by Senator Susan Collins along with the Intelligence Committee, plans to lend financial support to individuals who have suffered from Havana syndrome. Both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and State Department will create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for paying the victims.

The HAVANA Act is an endeavor by the U.S. government to acknowledge the hardships of afflicted U.S. public officers, providing financial aid and legislative changes to help cope with the condition. Read More

Does Covid-19 Damage Your Lungs After Recovery?

If you suffered a bout of COVID-19 and your lungs took a beating, new research has reassuring news: You will likely be spared long-term respiratory damage.

Scientists looked at COVID-19 survivors who had asymptomatic, moderate or severe COVID-19 infections and also underwent unrelated elective lung operations (for example, to treat lung nodules or lung cancer) at some point after they recovered from COVID-19.

In all of the patients, benign lung tissue from around the nodules or tumors showed no detectable lasting lung damage that was directly linked to COVID-19.

“Since the start of the pandemic, a big question has been whether COVID-19 will have long-term or permanent damage on our lungs,” said senior study author Dr. Zaid Abdelsattar, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon at Loyola Medicine, in Maywood, Ill.

“This research provided us with the rare opportunity to study the asymptomatic survivors of COVID-19 and make observations to help us answer this question,” he said in a Loyola news release.

Autopsies of deceased COVID-19 patients and studies of patients with end-stage lung disease from COVID-19 have found a range of serious lung problems, the researchers noted.

“Further research is still needed on why some patients recover completely, and others don’t. Our study shows that if you contract COVID-19 and then completely recover clinically and on imaging, your lung tissues are also likely to have completely healed as well, without permanent damage,” Abdelsattar said.

About 209.5 million people worldwide have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and there have been more than 4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Read More

Is the Delta Variant Hitting Kids Harder?

The Delta variant is proving just as infectious for children as for everyone else, with pediatric cases surging in some parts of the United States, pediatricians and children’s hospitals say.

However, it’s not clear yet whether the variant is any harsher on kids compared to earlier COVID-19 strains, leading to more hospitalizations and brushes with death rather than just the sniffles.

Child cases of COVID-19 steadily increased throughout July, as Delta became the dominant strain in the United States, according to tracking data kept by the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

More than 71,700 COVID-19 cases in people under the age of 18 were reported between July 22 and July 29, with kids and teens representing about one in five new cases that week, the data shows.

Doctors and nurses at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.— a state hammered by the Delta surge — “have been extremely busy caring for pediatric patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past few weeks as we’ve seen one of the highest increases in COVID-19 cases at our hospital since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Angela Green, the hospital’s vice president and chief patient safety and quality officer.

But there are mixed reports regarding the severity of illness linked to the Delta variant in kids.

The tracking numbers show that the rate of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations is about the same as it has been for earlier variants, varying between 0.1% and 1.9% depending on the state.

“While we are seeing an increase in overall cases, our hospitalization rate for COVID has remained the same,” Green said.

uncommon among children.”

Some doctors seeing more severe COVID in children as cases rise

But one front-line doctor disagrees, suspecting that Delta is indeed harder on kids although there’s currently no hard numbers to prove it.

In the past, doctors in the emergency room at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., usually learned that a kid had COVID while treating some other problem, like a broken leg or arm, said Dr. Nick Hysmith, the hospital’s medical director of infection prevention. Routine testing would reveal an asymptomatic infection while doctors treated the immediate medical issue.

The Delta surge has changed that equation for Le Bonheur, which receives patients from Arkansas, Mississippi and west Tennessee, Hysmith said.

“In the past week and a half to two weeks, we’ve seen kids presenting and being admitted for COVID. They’re having respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath that has required hospital admission,” Hysmith said, noting that these patients are mainly between the ages of 10 and 13.

“We’ve had kids intubated over the past week with COVID pneumonia. We’ve had kids that have required very aggressive pulmonary interventions just shy of being intubated in our critical care area,” he continued.

Hysmith thinks “there’s something about Delta that’s a little different, in that we are seeing more severe disease.”

Other experts aren’t so sure, instead wondering if the sheer number of new cases caused by the Delta variant has simply led to a misperception of that strain’s severity.

“I think the jury’s still out. There’s not enough data at this point to say for sure if it’s going to be more severe,” said Dr. Kristin Oliver, an assistant professor of pediatrics with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

Rise in infections could trigger more cases of inflammatory condition in coming weeks

The infectiousness of the Delta variant has meant that more kids are catching the virus, said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, co-director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

That’s compounded by the fact that kids younger than 12 still don’t have a vaccine approved for them, while a majority of older folks now are vaccine-protected against severe COVID, Emanuel and Oliver said.

“If you’re looking just at the straight numbers, even if it’s not more severe, as you get more infections you’re going to get more kids hospitalized and unfortunately more kids die,” Oliver said. “We’ll be seeing that increase whether or not it’s more severe.”

There is one concern for current child COVID-19 patients that should be kept in mind, even if their Delta infections are no worse than with previous strains, said Dr. Alice Sato, hospital epidemiologist at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Neb.

A small number of kids with an initially mild COVID-19 infection can later develop MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome-children), a syndrome in which hyperactive inflammation damages the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and other organs.

“We expect to start seeing more of those cases as well, and a third to a half of those children require ICU care,” Sato said. “It very heavily impacts their heart in most of those children. Those are the ones who need ICU care, when we really need to support their heart function.”

Because of the delayed onset of MIS-C, we’ll start seeing those cases in one or two months, Sato and Hysmith predicted.

“If we’re seeing this surge in our pediatric population, I’m very concerned that we’re going to see a surge in MIS-C as well, four to six weeks from now,” Hysmith said. Read More

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