Treatments for HIV and AIDS

Treatments for HIV and AIDS

Pamela Bandelaria |Jul 5, 2021

How to Treat HIV

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) are two illnesses that cannot be cured. However, they can be managed. In this article, we discuss what exactly HIV and AIDS are, along with their symptoms, and how to treat HIV with alternative and natural methods, as well as with medications.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2018, there are about 1.2 million people currently affected with HIV and/or AIDS in the U.S. HIV and AIDS are illnesses that have such a huge impact and there is advocacy to educate people about the diseases, which aims to help erase the stigma.

There were around 34,000 new cases of HIV infections in 2019, which is an 8% decline from the previous year. This article will discuss what HIV is and what its symptoms are. After that, this article will discuss a few treatment options, both medical and alternative.

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that belongs to the retroviridae or retroviruses. As retroviruses, a characteristic of HIV is that its genetic blueprint is RNA (ribonucleic acid) instead of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

Once they infect a cell, they use their host cell as machinery to make DNA copies of their genetic material to replicate and spread. HIV targets CD4 cells, specific cells that play a role in the immune system. If a person with HIV infection is not diagnosed and treated promptly, the infection can progress into an advanced stage called AIDS, which is characterized by a weak immune system due to low CD4 cells. Because of the damaged immune system, an infected person is easily susceptible to infections and simple illnesses that can easily resolve in a person without HIV can be life-threatening in a person with AIDS.

Who Can Get It?

The transmission of HIV occurs via infected blood or body fluids. These occur through sexual activity (including anal and vaginal sex), sharing of needles, such as in injecting drugs, or administering tattoos.

HIV can also be passed from an infected mother to their baby, whether in the womb or during delivery, and is also present in breast milk. HIV is not spread through pee, spit, or sweat. Coughing, sneezing, holding hands, or sharing utensils will not transmit HIV.

Anyone can have HIV and AIDS, however, some high-risk groups or activities increase the chances of getting the infection. In the U.S., the population most affected by HIV are people who are gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with other men. This comprises around 69% of new HIV cases. Another high-risk group is those who inject drugs or share needles. People who engage in multiple sexual partners and those who engage in sexual activity without protection are also at an increased risk for getting HIV. Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can also increases your risk of getting infected with HIV. It does not mean that if you do not belong to a high-risk group you will not get infected, and some patients do not even know that they already have it until it is too late.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of HIV and AIDS initially are systemic. These include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Ulcers in mouth, anus or groin, and genital area

Because these symptoms are non-specific and usually go away after time, some people do not know they have the illness and continue with their usual activities. They can unknowingly transmit the infection to other people especially if they engage in high-risk activities mentioned above.

However, as the infection continues and is left untreated, other symptoms will manifest after a few years. These include weight loss and increased susceptibility to infections. Full-blown AIDS usually involves severe weight loss with frequent cases of pneumonia and is associated with several cancers (Kaposi sarcoma and lymphomas). These patients are extremely thin and wasted, and may have multiple nodules or lumps all over the body. They may also cough frequently and have difficulty breathing because of pneumonia.

What Tests Are Used to Diagnose HIV and AIDS?

HIV is usually diagnosed by various tests, the most common of which are blood tests. AIDS is considered in HIV-infected people who have a CD4 count of less than 200 along with the symptoms associated with AIDS. If you suspect that you might have HIV, or are at a high risk for contracting HIV, consult a physician or your nearest facility. There are also numerous HIV/STD testing centers where it can be done for free. Some tests can be bought at the pharmacy and even be done at home.

What is the Treatment for HIV and AIDS?

HIV and AIDS are primarily treated medically. These medications are called antiretroviral drugs and are prescribed in various combinations, depending on each patient. The goals for treatment with antiretroviral drugs are to reduce the amount of HIV in the body (reduce viral load) and to make sure that the CD4 cells remain high. Patients taking medications for HIV are advised to have routine follow-ups to check the CD4 cell count and viral load to make sure that they are within acceptable limits. If a patient has an undetectable viral load, there is a small chance to pass the virus to another person.

Antiretroviral drugs only control the infection and reduce the viral load, but patients are not completely cured. If medication will be stopped, there is a chance that the virus will replicate and spread again. However, if the infection is controlled, patients with HIV can live normally, with good quality of life.

Home Remedies

There are adjunct treatments, complementary/home remedies that can be done alongside the intake of medications. Though they may not be effective on their own, they are found to help in the improvement of the overall wellbeing of patients and are found to contribute to the relief of symptoms and the improvement of quality of life. These include the intake of herbal medicines and engaging in relaxation techniques (ex. meditation) or physical therapies (yoga, massage, or acupuncture).

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques help in providing a positive outlook and a good mindset. This was also found to reduce anxiety and depression that can be associated with having the infection. Physical therapies can help in body aches, muscle pains, and overall relaxation of the body. Acupuncture, which involves the application of thin needles on certain pressure points in the body, was found to be helpful in relief from nausea and body pain. Not only are relaxation techniques and physical therapies helpful for physical health, but it is also helpful for mental health as well.


Herbal medicines were found to help people cope with the symptoms (headache, body aches) or the side effects of antiretroviral medications. An example of herbal medicine is milk thistle, which is helpful for an upset stomach, and was found to help in liver detoxification. However, intake of herbal medicines must be done with caution. Before starting anything, it is important to let your physician know first. Some herbal medicines can interact with antiretroviral drugs and can cause further problems than relief. An example of this is St. John’s wort, which is used by some to improve a person’s mood but is not advised if you are taking certain antiretroviral medications. Make sure you discuss with your physician and inform them before starting anything.

Support Groups

Finally, having a good social support system is also helpful when living with HIV or AIDS. It was found that most people infected with HIV have increased coping strategies, such as behavioral disengagement or self-distraction leading to poor social interaction and communication, as well as decreased productivity. Having an environment with people who support and empower HIV patients not only decreases the stigma but provides healthy social relationships and better quality of life.

Let’s End the Stigma

It is time to erase the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. This can be attainable as more and more people are becoming aware and educated. HIV and AIDS are not a death sentence. As long as it is diagnosed early and the appropriate treatment is given promptly, many people with this disease can live a normal, meaningful life. What separates people from living and dying from this disease is prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you think you might have this condition, it is best to seek consultation and have yourself checked by your physician.

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Experiencing Frequent Urination or Leaking? You Might Have OAB

Staff Writer | July 5, 2021

How You Can Stop the Leakage Overactive bladder (OAB) refers to symptoms rather than a disease. It is used to describe the phenomenon of people experiencing urinary issues. Some products that help include Comfort Medical and PureWick. Treatments for an Overactive Bladder Treatments will vary depending on what exactly is wrong. Most cases of OAB do not require invasive intervention. Some of the most common treatments recommended are: Lifestyle changes: Introducing some exercise routines in your life can help strengthen muscles. Plus, it can fight obesity, which can help reduce the chances of suffering from OAB. Some experts recommend that you try to put your bladder on a schedule. By training your bladder to know what you can and cannot do, you can shape your behavior. Some also recommend “bladder training,” where you try to delay urination when you feel the urge to grow in increasing durations to strengthen your ability to “hold it”. Using protective, absorbent padding can be a last resort if you cannot adjust your behavior. This will allow you to avoid embarrassing accidents. Medication: Some prescription medications can be sued to help strengthen areas of the body or “relax” your bladder. Some common medications include: tolterodine, darifenacin, fesoterodine and mirabegron. Botox: Botox does not just flatten our wrinkles. Small injections of Botox into bladder tissue can offer temporary relief from bladder problems. It sometimes has the side effects of increased UITs and urinary retention. Nerve stimulation: Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation has also been shown to help with OAB. It works by sending electrical signals from a nerve in your leg to nerves connected with bladder control. Surgery: For those suffering from severe symptoms, surgery is the last option. It can involve increasing the size of the bladder or replacing the bladder with a surgically constructed replacement. Comfort Medical vs. PureWick Comfort Medical provides catheters inserted into the urethra to manage urinary incontinence internally, whereas PureWick offers an external catheter solution using an absorbent wick for non-invasive urine collection. Getting a Diagnosis Anyone can suffer from OAB. Unfortunately, many adults are too embarrassed to ask for help or do not realize their conditions are treatable. Roughly 30% of men and 40% of women in the U.S. suffer from overactive bladder symptoms. While no one is immune to these problems, there are some conditions that increase your chances of suffering from OAB. These can include: Brain damage Hormonal changes Pelvic muscle weakness Urinary tract infections (UTI) Taking certain medications Stoke, multiple sclerosis (MS) or other conditions impacting the central nervous system (CNS) Signs and Symptoms of OAB Some people fail to realize that their bathroom habits are not normal. Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms can allow you to better recognize the signs of OAB which will get you one step closer to treatment. Those suffering from an overactive bladder may experience the following: Urgency: OAB’s main symptom is that sufferers experience strong, sudden urges of needing to go to the bathroom. Typically, the need to go to the bathroom will build up over time. While it is easy to ignore these feelings until you have to go, when all you feel is a sudden urge to go immediately or risk having an accident, there may be something wrong. Leaking: Suffering from something called “urge incontinence” is rather common when you suffer from an overactive bladder. It means that sometimes during these sudden urges, you will leak a little urine. You must distinguish it from people suffering from stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Rather than leak during an episode of sudden urges, those suffering from SUI leak during physical activities which would strain the region including sneezing, laughing or stretching. Frequent urination: Frequently needing to use the bathroom is not always a sign that you drank too much. If you constantly need to go to the bathroom a lot throughout the day (especially to the point where it begins to interfere with your daily life), you may be suffering from OAB. Waking up to pee: The same can be said for those who have to wake up to go to the bathroom. A fully functioning bladder is normally able to hold urine while someone is sleeping. If you frequently have to get up during the night because you need to use the bathroom, you should talk to your doctor about OAB. [youmaylike] Causes of an Overactive Bladder Because OAB is not one disease, but rather an umbrella term to characterize specific urinary symptoms, physicians will need to investigate the underlying cause of your problems. The origin of problems usually arises from areas in the urinary tract itself. Areas of the body likely responsible for an overactive bladder include the following: Kidneys. Bladder. Ureters. Urethra. Sphincter muscle. In Conclusion Talk to a trained physician if you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from an overactive bladder. They will be able to offer expert advice on how to handle your case. This is not the same as someone who suffers from an inability to control their bladder from emptying on its own.

What You Need to Know About Hyperkalemia

Staff Writer | July 5, 2021

What is Hyperkalemia? Hyperkalemia is the medical term for when you experience high potassium levels in your blood. In terms of numbers, a healthy individual will have between 3.6mmol/L and 5.2mmol/L in their body. Anything higher than that is officially classified as hyperkalemia. Between 5.3mmol/L and 6.0mmol/L is mild hyperkalemia. Between 6.1mmol/L and 7.0 mmol/L is moderate hyperkalemia. Above 7mmol/L is severe hyperkalemia. Why is Too Much Potassium Harmful? Potassium is healthy for you in the right doses. Your body needs it to function properly. It is an incredibly important substance that plays a vital role in your nerves and muscle cells. This means that you need it for your heart to work. Like with anything else, too much of a good thing is not good. The more common form of hyperkalemia only rears mild to moderate symptoms. The most extreme severities of this condition can result in death. Symptoms of Hyperkalemia Generally, until your hyperkalemia is severe, you may not even experience or recognize any of the symptoms. As your levels soar to dangerous heights, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms: Muscle weakness or pain. Your muscles may feel tender or even painful. It may feel as though you just finished an intense workout. Fatigue. Despite getting adequate sleep, you may feel sluggish and tired the entire day or you may be too weak to function. Nausea. An upset stomach may or may not be accompanied by some vomiting. This is a common sign of hyperkalemia. Breathing problems. You may find it difficult to take deep breaths or find yourself forced to gasp for air. Irregular heartbeat. Your heart may beat funnily or feel weird in your chest. This is always a symptom to bring up to your doctor immediately. Chest pains. Chest pains ranging from mild to severe are a common result of hyperkalemia. In the most extreme cases, hyperkalemia left untreated can cause cardiac arrest and death. What Causes Hyperkalemia? There are several known causes of hyperkalemia, which range from medical disorders to lifestyle habits. Hyperkalemia is known to have many causes. These include: Kidney Disease The main function of a kidney is that it filters everything in your body. When there is something wrong with your kidneys, it can mess up all sorts of vitamin levels in your body. Potassium is just one of them. Heart Disease Heart disease results in a variety of factors that make it more likely to have problems with your potassium levels. Hormone Imbalances Having abnormally low amounts of aldosterone can result in potassium problems. This can happen due to a variety of conditions, including hypoaldosteronism and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Diabetes A lack of insulin may be the culprit behind enhanced potassium levels. This is something that would be more likely to occur if diabetes is undermanaged (or undiagnosed). [youmaylike] Medications Side effects of certain medications could cause potassium levels to rise. You may be surprised to see that some common medications will do this. Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, will do it. Some of the other medications that can do this are heparin, mannitol, beta-blockers, angiotensin inhibitors, calcium blockers, and cyclosporine. Diet Medications are not the only way to introduce potassium to the body. There are lots of foods that can lead to heightened potassium levels. Many of these foods are healthy, but to a person at risk for hyperkalemia, they can be dangerous if not eaten in responsible quantities. There is also the chance that you are a victim of pseudo hyperkalemia. As the name suggests, you do not have any potassium problems. Sometimes due to faulty equipment, you will get a wrong reading. Hyperkalemia Treatment To determine how to treat hyperkalemia, it is important that you first identify the cause of it in yourself. Getting advice from a licensed medical physician is the best way to determine your treatments. Diet Change Changing your diet can do wonders for your health. If you battle hyperkalemia, consider limiting your intake of foods rich in potassium like cucumbers, pumpkins, potatoes, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, eggplants and peas. Intravenous Calcium or Insulin and Glucose Medical injections are an efficient and fast technique to lower calcium levels. When diet alone is not enough, these can drop your potassium levels to a safer place in a pinch. Albuterol Doctors may also administer albuterol alone or in addition to other treatments. Unfortunately, this does not work for everyone. Changing Medications If a certain medication is causing dangerous, unwanted side effects, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching.

10 Most Common Symptoms of Poor Circulation

John David Abundo | July 5, 2021

Symptoms of Poor Circulation In this article, we will focus on the symptoms of poor circulation and when you should seek medical help. Signs of Poor Circulation 1. Varicose Veins If the valves in the veins of the legs are damaged, your blood will find it difficult to get back to the heart. This results in engorged veins and will eventually cause varicosities in the legs. Varicose veins are more common to those who regularly stand for long periods. 2. Painful Muscle Cramping The most common symptom of poor circulation is claudication, described as muscle discomfort or painful cramping, particularly in the legs. This is felt when you exercise or walk and usually disappears after resting your legs. The muscles that are most involved are the hips, thighs or calves. Claudication happens if there is a hindrance to the normal blood flow. For example, in atherosclerosis, where there is a buildup of cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels, the muscles cannot get enough blood during physical activity. The cramping pain is the muscle’s way of warning you that it is not getting enough blood during exercise to meet its increased demand. 3. Numbness or Weakness Reduced blood flow to different body parts may cause slow and irreversible damage to the nerves, which may be felt as tingling, numbness or weakness in that area. This is particularly alarming because having numbness on the extremities decreases your skin’s sensitivity to pain. As a result, there may be instances where your skin has already been damaged or wounded, but you cannot feel it. 4. Temperature Differences in the Extremities Poor circulation can lead to fluctuations in your skin’s temperature regulation. For example, reduced blood flow to your hands or feet may make them colder than the other parts of your body. To assess the temperature of your skin, you can use the back of your hands for a more accurate assessment. 5. Wounds That Do Not Heal or Heal Slowly Wounds heal by the different components and cells delivered through the bloodstream to the affected area. When blood flow is compromised, the healing process takes much longer and may even lead to infections. Even the slightest break in the skin may lead to catastrophic changes that could lead to amputation, especially in people with diabetes. 6. Change of Skin Color When there is insufficient blood flow, the skin may appear pale or blue (cyanosis). The change of color in the skin indicates that the oxygen-rich blood is unable to reach those tissues. The commonly affected body parts that may have this symptom are the toes, fingers, palms, soles and lips. [youmaylike] 7. Poor Hair or Nail Growth Hair and nails need the nutrients in your body to keep them healthy. Nutrients are delivered to the hair and nails through the blood. Therefore, any blockage or hindrance of the normal circulation of blood may affect the growth of healthy hair and nails, which can lead to hair loss or poor nail growth. 8. Shiny Skin on Legs Shiny skin on the legs can indicate that the skin stretched due to excess fluids in the legs. Poor circulation can cause blood pooling in the legs, resulting in fluid leakage from the blood vessels to the surrounding tissues. In turn, the skin will stretch, giving it a shiny appearance. 9. Weak Pulses When blood flow is restricted, the usual, brisk pulses on the extremities become weaker. Doctors usually include this in their physical examination to rule out any peripheral arterial disease. 10. Erectile Dysfunction in Men The penis is made up mostly of blood vessels. Penile erection happens because the arteries of the penis are filled up with blood to elongate and stiffen the organ. When there is poor circulation, blood cannot fill up the blood vessels in the penis. Most cases of impotence are a complication primarily of the arterial system. What is Poor Circulation? Poor circulation is not a condition in itself, but having any of its symptoms may indicate more serious conditions, such as: Peripheral artery disease (PAD). Uncontrolled diabetes. Blood clots. Atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty deposits in the vessels). Heart conditions. Having poor circulation may not be apparent initially. Still, whether you experience symptoms or not, it is important to be aware of them early on to help detect the underlying cause. For example, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity are all factors that increase the likelihood of a person experiencing poor circulation symptoms. In Review The symptoms of poor circulation may vary for each person. In general, conditions that cause poor circulation are easier to treat when your doctor detects it early. If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect that it may be caused by a dysfunction in your normal blood circulation, it is essential that you see your doctor for assessment and treatment right away.