In Pictures: Colourful Summer Sweets

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Macau-style Simmered Clam with Roasted Pork Belly

Ingredients

10 oz Chinese-style roasted pork belly, home-made of sore-bought
1 Portuguese sausage
1 medium onion
2 tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs clams in shell
1 cup white wine
2 tsp paprika
1 bay leave
2 whole cloves
4 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
4 tsp chopped parsley
1/4 lemon
1 boiled potato
black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Soak the clams in water with 1 tbsp salt for an hour to remove the sand.
  2. Rinse the clams and drain well.
  3. Dice the sausage and cut roasted pork, onion, tomatoes and potato into bit-size pieces.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, saute the onion, tomatoes, sausage and garlic until fragrant. Cook over low heat until the onion caramelize.
  5. Add pork, clams and black pepper. Toss to combine.
  6. Mix in white wine, bay leave, paprika and cloves. Toss briefly.
  7. Cover and cook over medium heat until the clams are cooked and the shells are opened. Discard clams with closed shells.
  8. Add potato, cilantro and parsley. Toss to combine. Remove to serving platter and garnish with lemon before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Hong Kong magazine

Home Remedies: Best Treatment for Burns

Dana Sparks wrote . . . . . . .

Burns can be minor medical problems or life-threatening emergencies. Many people die each year from fire-related burn injuries. Electricity and chemicals also cause severe burns. Scalding liquids are the most common cause of burns in children.

Treatment of burns depends on the location and severity of the injury. Sunburns and small scalds can usually be treated at home. Deep or widespread burns need immediate medical attention.

People with severe burns often require treatment at specialized burn centers. They may need skin grafts to cover large wounds or to minimize scarring with deep wounds. And they may need emotional support and months of follow-up care, such as physical therapy.

To treat minor burns, follow these steps:

  • Cool the burn. Run cool (not cold) tap water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pain eases. Or apply a clean towel dampened with cool tap water. Don’t use ice. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause further damage to the tissue.
  • Remove rings or other tight items from the burned area.Try to do this quickly and gently, before the area swells.
  • Don’t break small blisters (no bigger than your little fingernail). If blisters break, gently clean the area with mild soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover it with a nonstick gauze bandage.
  • Apply moisturizer or aloe vera lotion or gel. This may soothe the area and prevent dryness as the wound heals.
  • If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.Nonprescription products include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen (Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).
  • Consider a tetanus shot. Make sure that your tetanus booster is up to date. Doctors recommend people get a tetanus shot at least every 10 years.
  • Whether your burn was minor or serious, use sunscreen and moisturizer regularly once the wound is healed.

Source: Mayo Clinic

MCH Levels in Blood Tests: What Do They Mean?

Jon Johnson wrote . . . . . .

To determine MCH levels in the blood, a doctor may order a CBC test.

MCH stands for mean corpuscular hemoglobin.

MCH levels refer to the average amount of hemoglobin found in the red blood cells in the body. Hemoglobin is a protein in the blood that allows red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the cells and tissues in the body.

Though they are very similar, MCH levels should not be confused with MCHC levels.

MCH levels are the average amount of hemoglobin that is in each red blood cell. MCHC levels are the average weight of that hemoglobin based on the volume of red blood cells. Both are a reflection of the health of the hemoglobin in the blood.

What is a CBC test?

A complete blood count test, or simply CBC test, is designed to give doctors a general overview of a person’s health. The test can help screen people for a variety of issues at once and may help diagnose conditions, such as bleeding disorders, infections, and anemia.

Regular health screenings will often include a CBC test. If the results come back normal, the person may not need another test until their next health screening. Doctors may order CBC tests if a person shows signs of any disorder that can affect the blood.

A CBC test can also be used to help monitor individuals who have blood disorders. Doctors will use them to track the progress of a treatment and determine how effective it is.

CBC tests examine all three types of cells in the blood. The test will give a total white, red, and platelet cell count.

CBC tests examine all three types of cells in the blood and will show the total number of white cells, red cells, and platelets in the blood.

MCH levels

Doctors will often order a CBC test to find out a person’s MCH levels. Normal MCH levels are around 27 to 33 picograms (pg) per cell in adults. These numbers may vary based on the machine used to carry out the test.

The numbers are different in young children. A person with a low MCH has concentrations at or below 26 pg per cell. A person with high MCH levels will have concentrations at 34 pg per cell or more.

Causes of low MCH levels

Different types of anemia can cause low MCH levels. For example, microcytic anemia occurs when the blood cells are too small and cannot take in as much hemoglobin as they should. This can be due to malnutrition or nutritional deficiencies.

Some medical conditions can also cause anemia, even if the person eats a balanced and healthful diet.

Low amounts of iron in the blood can also cause low MCH levels. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin. If the body runs out of iron, iron deficiency anemia can cause low MCH levels. This type of anemia may be more common in vegetarians or people with poor nutritional intake.

People with other conditions may also experience low MCH levels. Celiac disease can prevent the body from properly absorbing iron, which makes it very difficult to keep the iron levels where they need to be.

Likewise, people who have had types of gastric surgery may also not be able to absorb iron as well as they need to. Women with excessive menstruation may also become anemic, as they lose more iron in the menstrual blood than they can recover.

Low MCH levels can also appear in a body that is lacking key vitamins. People who do not get enough B vitamins such as folate and B12 may show low MCH concentrations on their tests. Because a lack of vitamins can also show high MCH levels, doctors may request further lab testing and interpretation to make a definitive diagnosis.

Symptoms of low MCH levels

At first, many people with low MCH levels do not experience symptoms at all. When low MCH numbers persist or fall too low, symptoms start to appear. Symptoms of low MCH include:

  • shortness of breath
  • loss of regular stamina
  • consistent tiredness
  • dizziness
  • weakness in the body

Low MCH numbers can also affect the skin. The skin may become pale or bruise very easily in someone with low MCH levels.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their doctor immediately.

Causes of high MCH levels

High MCH scores are commonly a sign of macrocytic anemia. This condition occurs when the blood cells are too big, which can be a result of not having enough vitamin B12 or folic acid in the body.

High MCH scores may also be the result of the following:

  • liver diseases
  • an overactive thyroid gland
  • drinking alcohol regularly
  • complications from certain cancers
  • complications from an infection
  • taking too many medications containing estrogen

Symptoms of high MCH levels

People experiencing a high MCH caused by macrocytic anemia may experience symptoms that follow a particular pattern. People may not notice symptoms at first, but they can gradually get worse over time. Symptoms of high MCH include:

  • tiredness
  • very pale skin
  • fast heartbeat
  • nails that are brittle and easily broken
  • brain fog or poor concentration
  • confusion and memory loss

People with macrocytic anemia may also experience digestive issues. They may not have an appetite, lose weight, and have regular diarrhea. A person experiencing any of these symptoms should talk to their doctor as soon as possible.

Treatment for MCH level imbalance

How doctors treat unbalanced MCH levels can vary with every case. Treatment largely depends on treating the cause of the imbalance.

Adding more vitamin B12 and folic acid to the diet can be a good way to address high MCH levels. It is best to get these from a varied and balanced diet, but supplements may also help keep these levels where they need to be.

Low MCH levels usually occur as a result of iron deficiency that has led to anemia. Doctors may recommend that individuals add more iron and vitamin B6 to their diet. Eating vitamin C and fiber, along with foods that contain iron, may also help increase the MCH levels.

People with an imbalance in their MCH levels should always discuss a treatment plan with their doctors before taking any supplement or making drastic changes to their diet.

Source: Medical News Today

Study: Prolonged Use of Certain Heartburn Meds May Increased Risk of Early Death

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . .

Popular heartburn medications like Nexium, Prilosec or Prevacid may increase your risk of early death when taken for extended periods, a new study suggests.

Further, the longer you take these drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), the greater your risk of early death, said senior researcher Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly. He is a kidney specialist and assistant professor of medicine with the Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis.

“There was a relationship between duration of use and risk of death,” Al-Aly said. “More prolonged use was associated with even higher risk.”

That said, Al-Aly pointed out that some patients really do need to take PPIs to deal with medical issues, even long-term.

“Proton pump inhibitors actually save lives,” Al-Aly said. “We don’t want to leave people with a scary message. If you need this drug and you’re under guidance of a doctor, you should continue to take your medication until otherwise advised.”

The study found that people taking PPIs for a year or more had a 51 percent increased risk of premature death, compared with 31 percent for people on the drugs for six months to a year, and 17 percent for three- to six-month users.

Short-term use of PPIs — up to 90 days — did not appear to affect death risk, the findings showed.

Proton pump inhibitors work by blocking the enzyme system that produces stomach acid. PPIs have become one of the most commonly used classes of drugs in the United States, with 15 million monthly prescriptions in 2015 for Nexium alone, the researchers said.

However, concerns about the drugs’ safety have been growing in recent years, as studies have linked PPIs to kidney disease, heart disease, pneumonia, bone fractures and dementia.

To take a broad look at PPIs and whether they increase a person’s chances of premature death, Al-Aly and his colleagues compared the medical records of nearly 276,000 users of PPIs against those of about 73,000 people who took another class of heartburn drug called H2 blockers.

Overall, PPI users have a 25 percent increased risk of premature death compared with people taking H2 blockers (such as Pepcid or Zantac), the investigators found.

The researchers calculated that for every 500 people taking PPIs for a year, there is one extra death that would not have occurred otherwise, Al-Aly said.

One doctor said the results should be heeded.

“This finding is certainly cause for concern and something that should be considered as doctors continue to prescribe PPIs at a high rate and often fail to discontinue these drugs in a timely fashion,” said Dr. Louis Cohen. He is an assistant professor of gastroenterology with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

At the same time, Cohen noted that people taking PPIs also tend to have many other health problems, and these might influence their risk of death as well.

No one is sure why PPIs might cause all these health problems or increase risk of early death, Al-Aly said. It is possible the drugs might cause cellular or genetic damage.

Even though this study could not prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, Al-Aly noted that the increased risk with longer duration adds weight to concerns over the drugs’ safety.

“Why would prolonged use be associated with higher risk if there were no real relationship between exposure and untoward outcomes?” he said.

Recommended treatment regimens for most PPIs are relatively short, the researchers said. For example, people with ulcers are advised to take the drugs for only two to eight weeks.

But since the drugs are available over-the-counter, many people take PPIs for months or years to manage heartburn or acid reflux, Al-Aly said.

“If people find themselves taking proton pump inhibitors for an extended period of time with no valid need for doing so, or for symptoms that can be managed in other ways, that’s when there’s far more risk than any potential benefit,” Al-Aly said.

Cohen said that “there is little question that the short-term use of PPIs for many conditions can be beneficial to patients.”

And because “studies to demonstrate causal relationships between PPIs and death are not likely,” Cohen added, “the challenge to physicians should remain to use medications judiciously and continue to assess the benefit of a medication to a patient over time.”

The research was published online in the journal BMJ Open.

Source: HealthDay


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