Early signs and treatment of rabies

A dog vaccinated against rabies.

The disease affects the central nervous system, causing apparent loss of sanity.

Attempts to drink, on the part of its victims, result in inability to swallow and usually cause painful spasms of choking or gagging.

That is why some have called it “hydrophobia,” meaning “fear of water.”

Perhaps you have guessed that we are speaking of a disease more commonly known as “rabies.”

The name comes from a Latin word meaning “madness, rage.”

It is caused by the bite of an animal with the rabies virus in its saliva.

All warm-blooded animals and humans are susceptible.

The illness has plagued humans since the beginning of recorded history and in many areas is a threat especially to animal lovers.

There is no proved instance of the recovery of human from rabies.

Early signs and symptoms of rabies in animals

A dog with rabies.

After infection unvaccinated animals may take four months or longer to develop the disease.

The risk of humans becoming infected during this incubation period is especially high, for at this time animals may not show notable symptoms.

In advanced stages of rabies, however, the following behavior changes will take place:

With DOGS there will be aggressiveness, a tendency to attack and bite without provocation and emission of slimy froth from the mouth.

A common symptom is “the rabid bark,” ending in a piercing note.

The animal may refuse to eat.

It may try to drink but will be unable to swallow.

It may run long distances, biting at anything in its path.

Sometimes paralysis and twitching of one or more limbs set in.

Death usually occurs within a week after the onset of these obvious signs.

CATS display similar symptoms; but cats seek rest and shade. Rabid cats also bite persistently.

With HORSES there is noticeable irritation at the site of infection.

The animals gnaw at it and press against walls.

They also become restless, butt, and bite foreign bodies so that some teeth may be broken.

The palate muscles may become paralyzed, resulting in regurgitation of food and liquid through the nostrils.

And rabid horses often experience increased sexual desire.

BOVINES display symptoms of rabies in various combinations, including frequent lowing, colic, continuous salivation and restlessness.

It is similar with sheep.

However, humans have little to fear from infected livestock, since it is their nature not to bite.

WILD ANIMALS, including coyotes, foxes, skunks and squirrels, may become unusually friendly and tame.

The major symptom is loss of instinct for self-preservation.

Early signs and symptoms of rabies in humans

Human affected by rabies.

Usually the incubation period for humans ranges from three to eight weeks.

In rare instances, it has been as short as 10 days and as long as eight months.

However, warning signs regularly appear during the first two to four days.

These include headaches, fever, physical discomfort and nervousness.

Of course, these symptoms could be due to a number of minor ailments.

But if rabies is prevalent in your area, it would be wise to visit a physician at the appearance of even such common evidences of illness.

If no immediate treatment is obtained, a positive reaction will occur after the incubation period.

The illness will cause mental derangement, including hallucinations.

There will be pain, fever, vomiting, profuse secretion of sticky saliva, convulsions, paralysis and difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

In nearly every case, death occurs in two to five days.

The virus will have established itself so firmly in the nervous tissue that vaccination is no longer of any help.

What can you do to avoid such dire consequences?

The next time a playful puppy or a kitten licks you or someone in your household, think:

Is rabies prevalent in our area?

If saliva from a rabid animal enters the body through a break in the skin, the consequences could be serious, if treatment is not sought immediately.

The threat of hydrophobia is especially great for children, since they are usually unaware of the danger and often fail to inform their parents.

This is not said to induce panic in every household with pets.

There are many areas where rabies is relatively rare.

Too, even where individuals do not seek treatment, only about one in six bitten by rabid animals develops the disease.

This is because not every animal with the virus in the brain has it in the salivary glands.

And infection may not occur if the skin is only superficially injured or if the bite is through clothing.

Nevertheless, rather than take chances, it is best to report all animal bites to your doctor promptly.

There are now available various types of vaccines and serums to counteract the rabies virus.

The more recently developed of these are quite effective and without dangerous side effects.

What to do if bitten by rabies animal?

Ladies demonstrate what to do when bitten by rabies animal.

If one has not been vaccinated and is attacked by an animal suspected of being rabid, here are some things to do:

(1) As far as possible, try to avoid being bitten on the face, neck or hands.

After entering the body the virus travels along the nerves to the brain.

The farther the bite is from the head, the longer it takes to reach the brain.

(2)Try to identify the animal’s characteristics so that it can be captured.

Have a veterinarian examine it as soon as possible.

A definite diagnosis of rabies may take several days.

(3) If it is a wild animal, try to kill it without damaging the head.

This will permit examination of the brain to establish whether rabies is present.

(4) Wash the bite as soon as possible with ordinary soap and water or a detergent solution.

Then apply an antiseptic or a disinfectant such as ether or alcohol.

Whenever practical, wounds from animal bites should be allowed to bleed freely.

(5) Consult a doctor immediately, or go to the nearest anti-rabies treatment center.

A special detailed “Guide for Specific Postexposure Treatment on Rabies” has been prepared for doctors by the Expert Committee of Rabies of the World Health Organization.

Affectionate interplay between animals and humans can be enjoyable.

However, animal lovers in areas where rabies is known to occur must beware.

Negligence could cost a person his health, if not his life.

Read more…

What physical fitness really means?

A woman athletic stretching her muscles.

One only has to look at the multitudes of joggers, bicycle riders and sports enthusiasts to agree that ours has become an age in which people are aware of physical fitness.

In recent years people of all ages have taken stock of themselves and come to the conclusion that more exercise could improve their health, appearance and quality of life.

Why is this?

Simply put, in this age of modern conveniences and machinery, many no longer have to exert themselves physically in their daily routine.

Many jobs are of a sedentary nature, and in many lands even those that are not, such as that of housewife, have diminished in some of their more strenuous aspects.

This leaves much of mankind with bodies that were designed for physical activity but with no way to get sufficient exercise in their normal daily routines.

is the definition of physical fitness?

A woman jogging.

Physical fitness, as defined by the Society of Sports Medicine, involves all the qualities of the body, including physique, function and mental ability.

A person who is physically fit should be able to do prolonged work or exercise without undue fatigue.

Fitness is not dependent on strength but, rather, on the body’s overall health, especially that of the cardiovascular system.

Physical exercise might simply be divided into two basic groups.

Aerobic exercises (jogging, tennis and field sports that require oxygen to be delivered throughout the body rapidly to produce energy), and muscle toners (including most calisthenics, isometrics and therapeutic exercise).

The theory is that overall physical fitness is dependent more on the aerobic type of exercise because it utilizes all the body’s resources, sending life-giving oxygen to all parts of the body.

However, muscle-toning exercises also have their place in maintaining physical health.

Benefits of physical fitness

Benefits of physical fitness.

Regular exercise is said to improve, not only the work capacity of the heart and lungs, but also the condition of other body organs.

Blood circulation and overall health are improved because more oxygen is delivered to body cells.

Additionally, in a test study made by the Education Ministry, it was found that men who regularly exercised had the physical stamina of men ten years younger; and women, that of women five years younger.

This led to the conclusion that those who don’t exercise age faster than those who do get regular exercise.

Summing up his own experience and the benefits of exercise, one psychologist said

the physical changes are obvious but, . . . the change in attitude is the big change. Even at work. I’ve got a frustrating job, now I love it. I’ve learned to relax. I can accomplish so much more, get so much more done without worry or fatigue, I can recommend it for anyone who is depressed.”

He not only slept better at night but worked better during the day.

Add to this the muscles that gain strength and firmness and the excess pounds that can be lost and you have an idea of some of the benefits of physical exercise.

What some are doing about it

Mother and daughter doing push ups.

Attention to physical fitness is nothing new.

When doctors in the were recommending bed rest for ‘that tired feeling,’ some were out doing push ups to combat fatigue.

Recognizing the need for exercise, many individuals now have embarked on some sort of fitness program.

Even big business has taken the plunge.

For years, many large companies have started each workday with group exercises in which the whole force of employees participate.

As one walks down a street in the business district of any city it is not unusual to see groups of people in company uniform doing calisthenics.

However, in recent years, due to an increased interest in physical fitness and its relation to overall health, some large corporations have introduced additional physical-fitness programs to aid their employees.

TRIM exercise program

A woman's exercise program.

The word “TRIM” is taken from Norwegian shipbuilding jargon and means to keep balance on the sea.

But, in relation to this exercise program and in keeping with the overall meaning of physical fitness, it means to build a healthy body and maintain physical and mental balance.

With this purpose in mind, a point system was devised to aid all who participate to gain and maintain physical fitness.

Along with the point system, there are specific hints to good health given for those of all ages and occupations.

It proceeds on the assumption that everyone needs exercise.

For example, the elderly are encouraged to get out and walk.

There is a saying in that “aging starts from the feet up,” so to combat this process older persons are told to use their legs as much as possible.

Taking up a new sport may be dangerous, but almost anyone can walk.

“Above all, just don’t sit home holding the cat,”
senior citizens are admonished, “that’s the sure way to old age.”

Those with desk jobs and drivers are encouraged to do at least five minutes of vigorous exercise, until they work up a sweat, both morning and evening, and to use their day off, not to sit in front of the TV, but to get out and walk.

Engaging in a sport like golf or tennis as often as possible is suggested as ideal.

Also, taking a few minutes daily to jog near home would fill the bill.

Individuals with irregular work schedules, whether their jobs are sedentary or not, are told to take a set amount of time each day to devote to strenuous exercise, preferably the same time every day.

The point system devised by the TRIM program suggests that everyone strive for three points a day gained doing what suits him the best.

Of course, those points can be increased as the individual sees fit.

A word of caution

A elderly man cautious about his health.

Along with the point system the TRIM program gives some helpful tips and warnings for the participants.

They encourage having a health checkup before embarking on any exercise program and then following the doctor’s advice.

If you are sick, in lack of sleep or hungry, they caution not forcing yourself to exercise.

Exercise should be balanced with proper rest.

Also, warm-up and cool-down exercises are recommended for those who do strenuous exercise.

Wear loose clothing so circulation will not be hindered, and choose a program that suits you as to pace and quantity.

Remember, exercise should be enjoyable, not an endurance test.

Exercise energetically and, lastly, don’t give up!

Therapeutic exercises

A man doing therapeutic excises.

Not to be overlooked are those muscle-toning and repairing exercises.

For those who want to strengthen a particular body part or just trim down their waistline, these have their place.

Groups of exercises have been devised to help to strengthen nearly every muscle and body part.

But persons with an injury or history of health problems should get advice from a doctor as to which exercises they should do.

Since lower-back pain seems to be one of the most common complaints today, we have included here some exercises suggested on the Today’s Health program mentioned earlier.

But before attempting them it would be wise to ascertain the cause of your problem.

Whatever benefits you may receive from exercise, it must be recognized that exercise is not a cure-all for disease.

Many other factors, such as diet and healthful, balanced living, are also important to maintain health.

But it seems that those who do get some sort of exercise just feel better in general than people who don’t.

So, does exercise really help?

Yes, answers the evidence.

It helps to maintain physical fitness and all-around good health.

Read more…

Understanding cause and treatment of phobias

A man who fears injection.

Research indicates that phobias may develop for a number of reasons.

A panic attack, for example, can follow a traumatic experience or loss of a loved one.

On the other hand, many scientists believe that phobias are learned from others.

By observing their parents, children can, as they grow up, learn to react to parental phobias in a similar way.

In some instances, however, as the child matures, the fear can be transferred from its original source and manifest itself in a different situation.

Helen, had nearly died in a vacation-trailer fire some months earlier.

Helen admits:

I have had a tendency toward mild phobias for as long as I can remember.”

Was the experience something learned, or perhaps transferred, in her case?

There is really no sure way of telling.

A phobia that originates in a specific experience is more easily identified.

If, for example, a child is badly frightened by a dog or bitten by one, such an event can develop into cynophobia, a fear of dogs, in later life.

Similarly, aquaphobia (or, hydrophobia), a fear of water, may stem from an experience of nearly drowning.

According to modern analysis, all phobias fall into three well-known basic types.

It is helpful to be able to identify them.

So first of all, let us look at

Social and simple phobias

A man suffering from social phobia.

Do you know people who are afraid to sign their name in public because they are terrified their hand will tremble?

Or some who are afraid to speak up in public or to attend a party?

Such problems are examples of social phobias.

They are induced by the presence of other people.

Simple phobias relate to specific objects or situations, such as the fear of dogs or of water.

An excessive fear of cats, mice, or spiders is also commonplace, as is a fear of heights.

In this same category doctors will include claustrophobia, fear of confined spaces, as it fits into the pattern of being triggered by a specific cause.

Irrational as it must appear to most of us for anybody to be completely terrified by such basic fears, it is not difficult to imagine how extremely frustrating life can be for those who cannot escape their grip.

Why ‘the fear of fear’?

A man with a fearful face.

The third type of phobia, agoraphobia, is the most complex of all phobias.

Literally, the word means “fear of the marketplace.”

Some authorities maintain that this fear is really of what the marketplace represents: crowds and a loss of safety or control that one can enjoy in a more confined area.

Sufferers therefore describe agoraphobia in different ways, perhaps as a fear of crowds or even as a fear of leaving home.

As it is so all-embracing, agoraphobia is also described as ‘the fear of fear itself.’

Many victims are immobilized to the extent that they will go to extremes to avoid any situation that they feel could bring on a panic attack.

As a result, their lives become more and more closely fenced in by this gripping phobia until they eventually become too cramped to make any movement at all.

Is it all in the mind?

Some research indicates that agoraphobia may be a physical illness, a disorder of the nervous system.

Psychiatrist Dr. David V. Sheehan, author of The Anxiety Disease, asserts:

What is becoming increasingly clear is that we are dealing with a medical illness.”

Some feel that there is validity to this medical-illness idea, indicated by the fact that injections of sodium lactate can bring on panic attacks in people suffering from this phobia, as Dr. Ferris Pitts, professor of psychiatry at the University of Southern California, discovered.

This, however, is only one theory.

Research into the cause of phobias is systematically being pursued in many directions.

Some seek a genetic connection.

Others believe that hormonal imbalances may be at the root of the trouble.

Has what we eat anything to do with it?

According to Dennis Charney and his team of researchers at Yale University School of Medicine, caffeine can produce “anxiety, nervousness, fear, nausea, palpitations, restlessness and tremors” in some agoraphobics.

Yet the fact remains that nobody can pinpoint a common cause of phobias.

They are still a mystery.

What aid for phobics?

Can phobias be cured by medication and the vast array of modern drugs?

In some cases, it would seem so.

But here again, the response of individuals can vary as much as their phobias.

Psychiatrist David Burns, comments:

In spite of promising successes in treating some anxiety disorders with medications, there is a complete lack of evidence that drugs alone will do the job.”

In fact, for many victims some drugs have no effect at all, or if they do, it lasts only for a short time—a few months or as little as a week or so.

Side effects from drugs also have to be taken into consideration, and they can be quite unpleasant.

For this reason it has been estimated that only 70 percent of phobics can take them.

Aside from insomnia, blurred vision, and other problems, some drugs in certain cases can produce symptoms of a panic attack, much to the distress of the sufferer.

It is therefore not uncommon for phobics to pursue more than one therapy in their quest for relief.

“The method which has worked wonders for one may do little for another,” observes Muriel Frampton in her book Agoraphobia—Coping With the Outside World.

In addition to the orthodox medical treatments, homeopathy, osteopathy, acupuncture, and various nature remedies are all on record as helping some individuals.

Personal preference plays its part in the selection of medications.

Even so, it is good to be alert to some problems in this regard.

ECT and hypnosis

A woman performing self hypnosis.

One therapy for anxiety is ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), or shock treatment as it is commonly called.

A weak electric current is passed through the brain to induce a mild fit.

It can bring relief, but as far as removing phobias is concerned, its effects may not be long lasting.

There are also possible side effects, such as a loss of memory.

This treatment has now been banned or restricted in parts of the United States and in some European countries.

Hypnosis, or hypnotherapy, has also been recommended by some doctors.

But as Frampton states:

Experience has suggested that therapy is more soundly based when it involves the conscious will of the patient.” Agoraphobia—Coping With the Outside World"

The value of self-help

A happy woman enjoying smell a flower.

In view of the limitations of medication, can phobics do anything to help themselves?

Yes, and many doctors and therapists teach that self-help is the best way to treat phobias.

Results can be rewarding and often long lasting.

First of all, the victim has to learn the art of relaxation.

Thorough physical relaxation is essential for the all-important easing of mental tension.

Along these lines, psychologist Alan Goldstein reports:

We teach agoraphobic patients to relax, to use breath control and to stop their panicking thoughts and focus on the ‘here and now’ to help them deal with panic attacks.”

Once this far (and it is not easy, as it can take weeks of patient effort to learn to relax adequately), the next step is to identify the source of the fear and face up to it.

A skilled therapist can help a patient to understand the stages that lead to a panic attack.

Then, step by step, he encourages the patient, in his imagination, to overcome them.

As Alan Goldstein puts it:

“We help them to identify their feelings and get in touch with them.”

Not all sufferers can master this desensitization technique, as it is called.

But it can eventually lead those who do master it to face the actual experience and overcome it.

Even if a complete cure is not effected, the cause, or causes, of the phobia may at least be tolerated thereafter.

Therapists using the technique claim that eight out of every ten phobics who try this approach gain substantial relief.

Fighting the fear

Overcoming fear of height.

An extension of this desensitization idea is to have the patient deliberately face the source of his fear for as long as possible.

This takes a lot of courage and can be exhausting and emotionally upsetting in some cases.

For these reasons it is often best pursued under some type of professional direction rather than on an individual basis.

Either way, it often brings good results.

Tony Elliott, himself a former agoraphobic, formed a phobic association in Nottingham, England.

To help sufferers beat the phobia of traveling by train, he arranges for those involved to visit a train station and sit in a railway carriage in a siding.

Later on, a short ride in the station is the first step, progressing eventually to a journey of a few miles to the next station.

Doctors monitor the trip and stand by with a supply of tranquilizers.

Results have been encouraging. “I can get some of them 90 percent cured,” is Elliott’s claim.

The same therapy is now being applied to bus and airplane travel and is being used by numerous associations.

How easy it is to laugh at other people’s phobias!

Such fears, however, are very real and call for deep understanding and compassion.

Those who suffer are rarely exaggerating or pretending.

The ironlike grip of fear can be intense and the handicaps experienced completely genuine.

Yet it is not unknown for well-intentioned friends to make light of the problem, encouraging the phobic to ‘snap out of it.’

‘You give in too easily!’ ‘Don’t be silly, it can’t hurt you!’ are commonly heard expressions.

But they are, in fact, counterproductive—and unkind.

The phobic person requires patient help and empathy.

Read more…