Mitali Adlakha

Is a contributor to The Almost Doctor’s Channel.

Causing Seasonal Misery: The “Flu” and the “Flu-like” Virus

It’s almost the middle of winter and you start feeling sick. Runny nose, cough, sore throat, breathing problems, fever, headache, and diarrhea- all these dreaded symptoms sound familiar to you? And most certainly you attribute this seasonal misery to “common cold” or the flu. Most people use the terms common cold and flu interchangeably, however, the flu is very different from common cold. While a “common cold” can be caused by more than 200 different viruses, the “flu” is an abbreviation for influenza. This respiratory virus is dreaded for its ability to spread rapidly through communities. When someone with the influenza coughs or sneezes, the influenza virus is expelled into the air, and anyone who inhales it can become infected. The virus can also be spread if someone touches a contaminated hard surface such as a door handle and then places their hand on their mouth or nose. Each year millions of people suffer from flu symptoms to varying degrees of illness. For instance, children, old people, and people with weakened immune systems are more prone to the illness. Other secondary bacterial infections may follow after the flu. This season has been a particularly tough flu season. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (C.D.C) reports1 (as of February 17, 2018) for flu activity during the year 2017-2018, 161,129 positive tests were performed by clinical laboratories and 35,544...

Your Microbial Self: What Does Your Gut Tell You?

When most people think of bacteria within your body, what comes to their mind are these nasty unfriendly creatures that cause certain diseases and make them sick. However, that is true only to a certain extent and does not apply to all species of bacteria. Research has actually determined that there are trillions of beneficial bacteria inside our body that help us in performing life-sustaining functions at all times. These good bacteria indeed make up our internal ecosystem that we call the ‘microbiome’. The microbiome inhabits everything from our skin and genitals, to our mouths and eyes, and a vast majority of them reside in our intestines and are known as our ‘gut microbiota’. The total number of genes represented by our microbiome likely exceeds the number of our human genes by at least two orders of magnitude! Appropriately so, we are but an amalgamation of our human selves and our ‘microbial selves’. These diverse organisms in our microbiome govern nearly every function in the human body. Traditionally, it was thought that the gut microbiota effects are limited to the host’s digestive tract but more recent research has proven that the effects of the microbiome on our health are far-reaching, hence making it vital for our survival. You can think of the microbiome as an intricate web that connects to virtually all processes in our body. The current scientific...