Category Archives: Health

What You Need to Know About Zika Virus

Although zika virus has been documented for some time, it has caught the attention of the media recently because of a rise of cases in several countries. Most people now associate the then-harmless disease with congenital defects on newborn babies whose mothers are infected by the virus.

Here are some of the things we know about zika so far.

Zika Outbreaks in Previous Years
Zika was first described in 1947 among monkeys and in 1952 among humans. There were also recorded outbreaks in subtropical and tropical countries from the 1960s to the 1980s, although the symptoms were, and still are, often considered milder than other mosquito-borne diseases. It was only in 2015 that the virus was associated with the Guillain-Barre syndrome and microcephaly among infants that it has taken the spotlight.

How Zika is Transmitted
Studies are still ongoing about the virus to find a treatment, but its known primary mode of transmission is through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, the same genus that is responsible for deadly diseases such as dengue. Researchers are still studying the possibility of virus transmission through blood and other bodily fluids, because there are studies that show the virus can also be found in other body fluids such as the urine, eye fluids, saliva, and semen.

Diagnosis of Zika Virus Infection
People who suspect that they are infected with the virus will need to have their travel history checked before tests on blood and body fluid samples can be done. The incubation period of the virus is still unknown, and the symptoms are milder than those shown among individuals infected with dengue, for example. The symptoms go away after a few days and sometimes do not even need any treatment. What makes zika infection dangerous, however, is if the infected individual is pregnant. Studies in recent years show that the virus causes brain abnormalities in the baby. It is still unclear if it also causes other neurological disorders in newborns.

Zika Virus and Sexual Transmission
Although studies are still scarce about the connection of zika infection to sexual transmission, some researchers suspect that it might be linked to pregnancy. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that couples should use contraceptives for a six-month period in areas where zika outbreaks have occurred to prevent adverse pregnancies. Expectant mothers are also advised not to travel to countries affected by the virus to prevent such complications.

A Breakthrough in Pharmacy Technology

Going to the hospital is not only frightening but it is also troubling. For example, when you buy medicines, you will usually wait long because the queuing is extensive. The long line is enough to discourage you of not purchasing the medicines. That is not advisable. Thankfully, there is now a breakthrough in pharmacy technology here in Singapore.


If you happen to go to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), you will notice an improvement in their medication dispensing. Traditionally, staffs in TTSH would endure the manual picking, packing and assembling of medicines. The process is tedious and time consuming because staffs need to carefully count and check the medicines before giving to the patients.

The traditional method is prone to error because things might be confusing sometimes especially with the dosages. However, there is a breakthrough in pharmacy technology that will make things easier for everybody. The breakthrough is called Outpatient Pharmacy Automation System or commonly called OPAS. TTSH is the first hospital here in Singapore with such technology. Other hospitals will surely follow their lead.

If you are curious about this technology, here are some things that you should know about it:


  • Collaborators: OPAS is not a one-man job. TTSH needed the help of other agencies to complete the technology. TTSH is in collaboration with National Healthcare Group’s Pharmacy & Integrated Health Information Systems, National University Hospital.
  • Objectives: Before the completion of the technology, scientists first set their objectives. Objectives are important so scientists will know what they want to address and how they can address it. Initially, OPAS is created to cut down the waiting time of patients and it can help reduce the incidences of human errors.
  • Cost: As mentioned earlier, TTSH is the first to install such technology. It was built at S$5.4 million. How does it look like? Imagine the traditional armatures used in car manufacturing. You will see the same thing in TTSH.
  • How it works: OPAS will pack or assemble medicines based on the e-prescriptions. One of the objectives says that OPAS is created to cut down the waiting time of patients by simultaneously picking and packing. Despite that, the accuracy is not a problem. The accuracy rate of OPAS is 99.9%. This is made possible with the help of robotic arms. Patients can now wait in line for only 10 minutes (compared to 20 minutes if done manually).

This will surely benefit the staffs and the patients. If you are that curious, why not take a look? You can go to TTSH anytime and be amazed with OPAS.


How to Take Care of Your Back

We always use our back when we carry light as well as heavy things. The back’s function is to support the hands to keep us in balance while carrying heavy loads. Sometimes, we believe that if it is a huge thing, it’s heavy and if it is small, it’s light. It’s not always like that. As a matter of fact, there are small but heavy things and big yet light in weight.


For example, one sack of cotton – is it heavy or light? One way to determine its weight is to carry the thing and for sure, you will be using your back. Now, to avoid some injuries to take place while carrying heavy loads, here are some instructions:


  • Make sure that when you carry a heavy thing, you need to maintain your balance and hold it tightly so that it won’t move. However, if it’s moving, be conscious about your movement because it may affect you back.
  • Another thing that will make your back work is when you reach the thing that you need to get. Sometimes, when the load is above the ground we just get is straight without using any equipment like ladder to get the object. This is usually a mistake as it would later affect your back.

The best way to get the heavy thing is to do it in slow and smooth action. In this way, you can avoid your back getting injured because unsmooth and rap movements while carrying a big load can increase the risk of having back injury.


How to Clean Your Ears Properly

March 3 marks the International Ear Care Day. World Health Organization (WHO) observes International Ear Care Day to bring awareness to people. It has been identified that about 360 million people have hearing loss in the world. This number accounts to 5.3% of the world’s population. Half of hearing loss cases is preventable or avoidable through prevention.


Here in Singapore, International Care Day is also observed. Singapore integrated ear care in its primary health care. This is to promote a healthy hearing to avoid hearing loss at the end of the day. Hearing loss is preventable if you know how to clean your ears properly. You do not stick anything in it because it can harm your ears. If you want to know how to clean your ears properly, you should consider the following tips:

1. Make sure you do not have an ear infection. It is important that you make sure you do not have an ear infection before you proceed. If you suspect you have ear infection, it is important that you do not consider the process below. The best thing to do is schedule doctor’s appointment right away.

2. Create your own solution. You can make your home made ear solution. This is completely safe, do not worry. You should add one teaspoon (or two) of 3-4% of hydrogen peroxide solution, one teaspoon (or two) of mineral oil and one teaspoon (or two) of glycerine.  If you want to be sure, you can go to your local pharmacy and ask for a carbamide peroxide solution.

3. Prepare the materials. An applicator is needed but it is not a requirement. If you do not have an applicator, you can simply pour the solution you made into your ears. If you have applicator, that would be better because it is easier and tidier. You need a plastic syringe or eyedropper.

4. Tilt your head when applying the solution. When you pour the solution, make sure that your head is tilt. The solution will work better if you tilt your head. If you want a more comfortable solution, you can simply lie down on the side. Make sure that you drop the solution slowly.

5. Wait for ten minutes. It is important that you allow the solution to sit for a few minutes. Give at least ten minutes before draining your ears. This is enough to break the ear waxes. If you use hydrogen peroxide, you should wait until you do not hear the popping sound.

6. Drain and flush. Tilt your head slowly and let the liquid drain. That is not the end. You have to flush the wax. Expect that the wax has softened. You can use a syringe to flush it out. Make sure that it is lukewarm water. Gently squirt it.

Remember that it is not advisable to always stick cotton swabs to your ears because they can only push the cerumen or earwax inside. It is natural for cerumen or earwax to accumulate because it is the ear’s natural defence against bacteria and dirt. However you need to clean it properly.