The Top Health Issues in 2020
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We all know that COVID-19 is the biggest issue in 2020. I think it gets a lot of coverage and I will not be covering it in my article. I am going to pay more attention to other health crisis issues that are sometimes getting sidelined due to COVID-19.
Top 10 Health Concerns according to The CDC:
- Alcohol-related harms
- Food safety
- Healthcare-associated infections
- Heart disease and stroke
- Motor vehicle injury
- Nutrition, physical activity, and obesity
- Prescription drug overdose
- Teen pregnancy
- Tobacco use
I will be eliminating some of these issues mainly due to the fact they all can not be covered in one article.
Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks.
If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder. It can range from mild to severe. However, even a mild disorder can escalate and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is important.
Alcohol use disorder can include periods of alcohol intoxication and symptoms of withdrawal.
- Alcohol intoxication results as the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream increases. The higher the blood alcohol concentration is, the more impaired you become. Alcohol intoxication causes behavior problems and mental changes. These may include inappropriate behavior, unstable moods, impaired judgment, slurred speech, impaired attention or memory, and poor coordination. You can also have periods called “blackouts,” where you don’t remember events. Very high blood alcohol levels can lead to coma or even death.
- Alcohol withdrawal can occur when alcohol use has been heavy and prolonged and is then stopped or greatly reduced. It can occur within several hours to four or five days later. Signs and symptoms include sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, problems sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and occasionally seizures. Symptoms can be severe enough to impair your ability to function at work or in social situations.
In most cases, the decision to stop drinking alcohol can lead to severe medical conditions as listed above. In a lot of cases, it is advisable to seek medical help. I am a recovering alcoholic and I could not quit on my own, I did spend a month in the hospital and continue with aftercare services to maintain my sobriety.
Types of Healthcare-associated Infections:
I think this is very relevant now. We have a lot of healthcare workers putting their lives at risk and I think it is important we take a look at this.
Modern healthcare employs many types of invasive devices and procedures to treat patients and to help them recover. Infections can be associated with the devices used in medical procedures, such as catheters or ventilators.
These healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) include central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and ventilator-associated pneumonia. Infections may also occur at surgery sites, known as surgical site infections. CDC works to monitor and prevent these infections because they are an important threat to patient safety.
Each year, about 8,000 Canadians die from hospital-acquired infections; 220,000 others get infected. Treatment is more costly than prevention; estimated costs for 2004 were $82 million. Costs are estimated at $129 million for 2010. That’s $12,216 per infected MRSA patient per year due to:
- Prolonged hospitalization
- Special control measures
- Expensive treatments
- Extensive surveillance
You can successfully reduce healthcare-associated infections with these five evidence-based infection control strategies:
- Establish an aggressive hand hygiene program
- Clean and decontaminate the environment and equipment
- Implement contact precautions for any patient infected or colonized with a superbug
- Perform MRSA and VRE screening surveillance on admission and at other times
- Regularly report superbug infection rates to the front line and hospital leaders
The growing threat of antibiotic-resistant along with growing hospital admissions is expected to drive the growth of the hospital-acquired infection market. According to WHO, about 8.7% of patients admitted to the hospital had nosocomial infections affecting about 1.4 million people globally. The increasing number of patients with hospital-acquired infections is anticipated to spur market growth substantially during the forecast period. However, higher generic penetration owing to patent loss of drugs, vast fragmentation of the market and companies operating in the market, and growing utilization of quality building materials namely ceramics and glass in construction, are some factors hindering the market growth.
Please keep in mind these statistics do not include the rise in healthcare-associated diseases since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Heart Health and Stroke is one of the leading causes of death. I just can not cover this health issue in this current post due to the sizable content it involves. I will be covering it in other posts on my website.
HIV ( Human Immunodeficiency Virus) In Healthcare Settings:
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV destroys blood cells called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight disease. This results in a weakened immune system, putting persons with HIV or AIDS at risk for many types of infections.
Medical experts emphasize that the careful practice of infection control procedures, including universal precautions (i.e., using protective practices and personal protective equipment to prevent transmission of HIV and other bloodborne infections), protects patients as well as healthcare providers from possible HIV transmission in medical and dental settings. Healthcare personnel are at risk for occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens including HIV.
Important factors that influence the overall risk for occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens include the number of infected individuals in the patient population and the type and number of blood contacts. Transmission of HIV to patients while in healthcare settings is rare; however, proper sterilization and disinfection procedures are required.
Although HIV communication is considered rare within the healthcare system due to the way it is transmitted, it still reaches the top 10 on the CDC’s list.
You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities. Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use.
Prescription and Drug Overdose:
If not careful many fall victim to overdosing on drugs that were once prescribed to them to treat pain or other health ailments.
During the 1990s, doctors became much more serious about treating pain, and the drug industry stepped up to supply new opioids such as Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin, which released its dose slowly so that it could kill the pain for a longer time but also was vulnerable to abuse, particularly by those who crushed and snorted it. These opioids were prescribed in ever-increasing quantities thanks to aggressive marketing efforts and the broad deference given to doctors in the U.S. Many pills made their way to illicit users, and some legitimate users got hooked.
Once the epidemic got out of control, efforts to confront it only backfired. Though Purdue made OxyContin crush-resistant and states started cracking down on over-prescribing, many addicts responded by switching to heroin, which is chemically similar but far more dangerous. In recent years, the number of opioid prescriptions has fallen. Deaths from heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, meth, and other drugs have gone up to keep the overall death toll rising.
The progress made in 2018 was erased in 2019, and the number of overdose deaths increased by the same number, 4.6%, from 2018 to 2019. Approximately 37 states and the District of Columbia reported an increase in drug-related overdose deaths in 2019. The state of South Dakota reported the biggest increase at 54%. In 2018, more than half of the overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The CDC also indicated that the number of overdose deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine increased from 34.7% in 2017 to 45.4% in 2019. Fentanyl was responsible for most of these overdose deaths, which included fentanyl mixed with cocaine.
Overall, the data suggest that 2020 could be worse because of the pandemic, government restrictions, self-isolation, stay-at-home orders, job loss, and financial struggle. Even data that was released by the White House suggested that America already saw an increase in the number of drug-related overdose deaths in 2020. If the trend continues and it seems that it is, 2020 will be the sharpest increase in annual overdose deaths since 2016.
Countless residential programs shut their doors and left addicts with nowhere to go. The year has been unbelievable, and it seems almost impossible to predict what will happen next. Behind everything, opioids continue to destroy families and rip communities apart. For example, the Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee reported 391 suspected overdoses from April 7, 2020, to May 7, 2020—58 of which were fatal.
Once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is almost like other health concerns have been put on the back burner. Many residential treatment programs were shut down due to the social distancing protocol.
Other Health Issues
We need to be aware of everything around us. Due to the disastrous economic impact, COVID-19 has become the focus, while other deadly health-related outbreaks keep rising.
Be aware, be safe, and stay healthy.
Thank you for reading
Comments are welcome.