Allied Health: The Chemistry Department

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Posted on 10th January 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

Laboratory tests for allied health fields are most commonly performed in the chemistry department.  Within this department are subsections such as toxicology and radioimmunoassay.  Computerized instruments used in this department are able to perform individualized tests or multiple tests from a single sample.

Serum is the most common chemistry specimen.  Other specimens such as plasma, whole blood, urine and other body fluids are also tested.

Common Chemistry Tests:

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT): Associated with the liver.  Marked elevations point to liver disease; used for monitoring liver treatment.

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP):  Associated with the liver.  Increased levels are seen in hepatic carcinoma; elevation of AFP in prenatal screening indicates neural tube disorder.

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP: Associated with the liver or bone.  Elevated levels may indicate biliary obstruction and bone disease.

Ammonia:  Associated with the liver.  Increased levels in blood indicate cirrhosis and hepatitis.

Amylase:  Associated with the pancreas and liver.  Increased levels of this enzyme diagnostic for acute pancreatitis; decreased levels are associated with liver disease, cholecystitis, and advanced fibrosis.

Aspartate amino transferase (AST):  Associated with the liver or heart.  Increase in enzyme indicates liver dysfunction; a significant increase may follow myocardial infraction.

Bilirubin:  Associated with the liver.  Increased levels in the blood stream may indicate red cell destruction and liver dysfunction.

Blood gases (ABG):  Associated with the kidneys and lungs.  This test measures pH, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, partial pressure of oxygen to evaluate the acid-base balance.

Serology and Immunology

Serology is the study of serum.   Serology tests the body’s response to the presence of bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic diseases that can stimulate antigen-antibody reactions in a laboratory environment.  Serologic tests are able to detect autoimmune reactions, in which autoantibodies produced by B lymphocytes attack normal cells.  Testing is in several ways.  Enzyme immunoassay (EIA), agglutination, complement fixation, or precipitation is used to determine the antibodies or antigens present as well as to assess its concentration.

How to Prevent Bladder Infections

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Posted on 7th January 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

Cystitis is the medical term for bladder infection and can be caused by a tumor, an allergy or unusual ulcers on the bladder walls.  Most commonly, cystitis occurs in women, whose urethras are shorter than men’s.  With a shorter urethra, bacteria are able to move up into the bladder more easily.  Here are several things you can do to reduce your risk of getting a bladder infection.

-Drink lots of fluids.  Cranberry and blueberry juice are especially beneficial at preventing bladder infections because these juices contain a chemical that may prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls.

-Urinate frequently.  Holding your urine can increase your chances of getting a urine infection.  It is best to urinate at least every three to four hours.

-Urinate before and after having sex.  Women sometimes get bladder infections after having sexual intercourse for the first time.  This is called “honeymoon cystitis.”  Some women are especially sensitive and get cystitis regularly after having sexual intercourse.

Urinating before and after having sex helps to expel any bacteria out of the urethra.

-Women should wipe from the front to back after a bowel movement.  Wiping from the rear to the front can cause bacteria to enter the urethra.

-Women should be sure to use enough lubrication during sex.  A water-soluble lubricant is best because petroleum products can make condoms or diaphragms ineffective as birth control.

-If you have frequent bladder infections, you may want to discuss with your physician and your partner about possibly having your partner treated with antibiotics.

Skin and The Different Layers

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Posted on 6th January 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

The integumentary system is the term used to describe the skin and its derivatives, like the sweat and oil glands, hairs and nails.  Usually we do not think of these as organs but they are organs and they serve several important and mostly protective functions of the body.

Our skin covers our entire body and accounts for about 7% of the total weight of an average adult. Its main function is to protect the body from external elements.  Without our skin, we would very easily become prey to bacteria and likely die from water and heat loss.

Skin varies in thickness from 1.5 to 4.0 millimeters (mm) or more in different parts of the body. The epidermis and the dermis are two distinct regions of skin.  The epidermis is the outermost protective layer of the body.  The dermis is the underlying layer of the body that makes up the majority of the skin.  The dermis is a very tough, leathery layer that is mostly made of fibrous connective tissue.  Only this layer contains blood vessels.  The nutrients reach the epidermis by diffusing through the tissue fluid from blood vessels in the dermis.

Skin gets its color from melanin, carotene and hemoglobin.  Melanin is a polymer that is made in the skin from tyrosine amino acids.  There are tow forms of melanin that range in color from yellow to tan to reddish-brown to black.  Melanin pigment is only found in the deepest layers of the epidermis.  Carotene is a yellow to orange pigment that is found in certain plant products.  Carotene accumulates in the stratum corneum and in fatty tissue of the hypodermis.  The palms of the hands and soles of the feet usually show the carotene pigmentation.  Hemoglobin gives skin a pinkish hue and is most commonly seen in fair skin.  Caucasian skin contains small amounts of melanin, which allows hemoglobin’s color to show through more easily.

Perhaps you have been interested in allied health professions for awhile.  Learning how to become a paramedic may be something you might be interested in.  Being a paramedic is a challenging career that helps people and requires less time in school then other Allied Health careers.

The Facts on Skin Cancer

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Posted on 4th January 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

allied healthOne in five American develops skin cancer at some time in their life.  Most skin tumors are benign and do not spread to other parts of the body.  Skin tumors that are malignant, or cancerous will spread to other areas and can be deadly.  As an allied health blog, skin cancer seemed like an important topic to cover.

The overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is a large contributing factor for skin cancer.  Sun bathing and tanning machines can overexpose the skin to UV radiation which damages DNA bases.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the least cancerous and most common type of skin cancer.  Nearly 80% of skin cancer is from basal cell carcinoma.  This type of skin cancer occurs when stratrum basale cells proliferate and invade the dermis and hypodermis.  The sun exposed areas of the skin, like the face, may develop shiny, dome-shaped nodules that later develop a central ulcer with a pearly, beaded edge.  This type of carcinoma grows slowly.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer.  The lesions of this cancer are small, rounded, elevated, scaly and reddened.  The lesions most often appear on the head.  The scalp, ears, and lower lip are the most common areas of the head to have lesions.  Lesions also appear on the hands.  This type of carcinoma can grow quickly and spread to other areas if it is not removes.  If it is caught early and removed surgically or by radiation therapy, the chance for a complete recovery is good.

Melanoma is the most dangers and deadly form of skin cancer because of its ability to grow and spread quickly and be resistant to chemotherapy.  Only about 2-3% of skin cancers are from melanoma.  It can occur wherever there is pigment and about one-third of preexisting moles develop into melanoma.  In the beginning stages, melanoma appears as a brown to black patch that can spread and quickly metastasize to lymph and blood vessels.