Hepatitis Q&A

World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to raise awareness, and actively promote screenings and vaccinations. In light of World Hepatitis Day, here’s some frequently asked questions answered.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. There are five types of Hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E and only a healthcare provider is able to diagnose it.

What is the difference between hepatitis A, B, and C?

Hepatitis A, B, and C are caused by three distinct viruses. They have different ways of transmission. The effect on the body and the liver varies depending on the virus. Those who contract Hepatitis A usually improve without specific medications and it doesn’t develop into a persistent liver infection. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can progress into persistent or chronic infections resulting in liver damage.

How do I get hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is spread through the ingestion of an infected stool, from close person-to-person contact with an infected individual, sexual contact, or contaminated objects.

How do I get hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact, sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment, or from mother to child during birth.

Hepatitis B is considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and while the virus can be treated, you stand a chance of not being cured completely.

How do I get hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is transmitted when the blood of a person who has the virus enters another person’s bloodstream. This may happen through the sharing of contaminated needles or other injection equipment.

How do I get hepatitis D?

Hepatitis D occurs only among people infected with the Hepatitis B virus. Transmission requires contact with infectious blood. At-risk populations include drug abusers and people who have received multiple blood transfusions.

How do I get hepatitis E?

The hepatitis E virus is mainly transmitted through drinking water contaminated with stool. Hepatitis E usually resolves on its own within four to six weeks.

How Is Hepatitis Diagnosed?

Only a healthcare provider is able to diagnose hepatitis and this is done through blood tests.

How do I prevent hepatitis?

Safe, effective vaccines are available to prevent hepatitis A and B. It’s important to practice safe sex to avoid transmission of hepatitis B. Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis C, D, and E. The best way to prevent hepatitis D and C infection is to abstain from injecting drugs. Hepatitis E is prevented by maintaining hygienic practices and avoiding the consumption of water and ice of unknown purity.

If you have any questions about hepatitis, it’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

 

4 wellness accounts to follow on Instagram

Health and wellness influencers can help inspire and guide us to boost our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Here are 4 wellness accounts I love!

Sugarfree Sundays

Image via Facebook

Sugarfree Sundays is a page ran by Max, a graduate BSc and entrepreneur. She’s the founder and CEO of Macro Mixes, a company providing high protein, sugar free and calorie-controlled baking premixes, and porridges. Sugarfree Sundays is a great page to follow if you want to quit sugar, but still want to enjoy baked goodies and treats.

Queen Finxa 

Image via Food24

Zandile, also known as Queen Finxa, is a consumer and food sciences graduate who shares easy and unique recipes using indigenous fresh ingredients. She’s on a mission to change the belief that Sorghum is only good for making beer and porridge. She shares her recipes on her page and encourages her followers to share their attempts at her recipes, so be sure to join her community if you’re looking for a fun and interactive way to cook healthier.

Obakeng Makapane

Image via Glamour

Obakeng is a plant-based fitness entrepreneur who started a ‘working out from home’ series during lockdown. All you need to exercise with her is yourself and common household items! She shares her workouts on her page, so you can do them at any time that you want. Trust me, her posts will get you moving!

Ophela Mhlauli

Image via Opera News

Ophela is the perfect example of how perseverance, consistency and hard work is the winning recipe to getting your dream body. By sharing her body transformation pictures, Ophela keeps you motivated to begin your own transformation journey and shows you how it’s possible. Follow her for lots of fun workouts and meal ideas.

2022 can be the year you re-discover your relationship with wellness, physical and emotional wellbeing. With uncertainty still in the air, it’s good to take some time out and get to know yourself again. These influencers are passionate about wellness, and they use social media to share helpful resources and guided practices to kick start your wellness journey. Enjoy!

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Is it too late to achieve your health goals for the year?

Our new year’s resolutions often include improving our health and fitness goals, but at the same time it becomes challenging to maintain these resolutions. I’m here to tell you, that you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start achieving your health goals.

It’s important to remember that exercising regularly and eating healthy are important in achieving your ultimate fitness goal. Every healthy meal you eat, and every workout you finish brings you one small step closer to your goal. Here are some tips to help you stick to your goal.

Choose things you enjoy

We’re very good at avoiding the things we don’t want to do. This is true for healthy eating and exercise. If we don’t enjoy the meals in our new diet or dislike our workout plan, we often make excuses not to do it. You can avoid this problem by choosing things you enjoy. Create a diet that works for you without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. As the saying goes, everything in moderation.

The same for exercise, if you don’t enjoy certain types of training (high intensity, weight training) a simple 20 minute walk, a dance routine or jog every day, could be a much better choice for you.

Make small changes

It’s not easy adjusting to a new lifestyle change, so it’s okay to take it slow. While an all-or-nothing approach to healthy eating and exercise is ideal, it’s usually not easy to maintain. You can start by simply cutting out processed (junk) food from your diet.

Apply the same rule for exercise. If you push yourself or do too much too soon, you’ll just end up sore, tired, and missing workouts.

There’ll always be slip-ups

Unplanned dietary slip-ups and missed workouts happen to everyone. The trick is not to let small slip-ups turn into a habit. One unhealthy meal doesn’t have to trigger a week-long junk food binge. A missed workout or two, doesn’t mean you should give up exercising entirely. If you do slip-up, do your best to get back to your routine as soon as possible.

Don’t wait until next year January; it’s never too late to achieve your health goals and there’s no better day to start than today. Remember to start slow and that slip-ups are okay. Remain positive and believe in yourself, Choma.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

How to be more mindful of your health

Health awareness month should be a reminder to all of us on the importance of taking care of our health. Taking care of our health helps us to better cope with anxiety and stress and to become more productive at work or school. Its easy to neglect our health at times due to our busy lifestyles. So here are some helpful tips to help you improve your lifestyle.

Exercise and eat well

Physical activity and eating a balanced diet has immediate and long-term benefits on our health and improves our overall quality of life. It’s also a good way to destress after a long day of school or work. Try getting about 30 minutes of exercise every day such as brisk walking, dancing, or simply helping with chores around the house.

Spend time with loved ones

Surrounding yourself with friends and family can have a positive impact on our general well-being. It can uplift your mood, and stimulate your brain through meaningful interactions.

Prioritize self-care

It’s imperative to take a few minutes to relax and breathe after a long day. Dedicate some time during the day to do something you like, it could be resting, reading a book, listening to music, watching your favourite TV show, or meditating.

Set achievable goals

The biggest advantage of breaking down our goals into tasks is that it creates small, realistic and achievable steps for you to take. This will help give you the confidence to move swiftly toward achieving your big goal. For example, if your goal is to pass the year with better marks than the you did last year, start the first term by aiming for a 10% improvement.

Get enough rest

Resting and sleep quality is vital for our brain to function well. It enables the body to repair and be fit and ready to take on a new day. Try getting between 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.

Being healthy should be part of your overall lifestyle by doing what is right for your body. At times, due to our busy lifestyles we forget to be mindful of the little things that contribute to our overall health and well-being. If you feel that you are neglecting your health, I hope these tips will help you make better lifestyle choices.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657.

 

3 daily habits to improve your sexual health

Taking care of your sexual health contributes to your overall health in a big way. Not only will this help you avoid sexually transmitted infections and other conditions, it will also help you get more out of your sex life. Here are 3 habits that you can adopt to maintain sexual health.

What is the importance of sexual health?

Maintaining a healthy sexual life helps you avoid STIs, and unwanted pregnancies, among other things. It also helps you have a positive view of yourself and sex, which means that you are better able to enjoy your sexual experiences, and set healthy boundaries with your partner.

Look after your vagina

Pay attention to your vagina and look out for any abnormalities with your discharge and period. Remember that your vagina never lies, if something is not right, it will react. One way to take care of your vagina is by practicing good hygiene. Avoid wearing tampons and pads for too long (longer than 4-6 hours at a time), or repeating underwear. Using soaps and douching is also not very good for your vaginal health, so don’t do it, Choma. All you need to do to keep it clean is rinse with plain water and a cloth. You also want to make sure that your hands are always washed whenever you are going to touch your vagina. 

Eat better

Does the food you eat affect your sexual health? Absolutely! Healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and other proteins help us maintain good overall health, which affects our sexual health, too. When you feel energized and light, you are better able to apply your body and mind to certain activities, including sex.

Carry your own condoms

There are lots of strange rumours and myths about women who carry their own condoms and I can tell you that none of them are true. Carrying your own condoms, instead of relying on your partner to bring them, puts you in control of your sex life. It means that if you decide to have sex with someone in the heat of the moment, you will do it safely, and you won’t have to fall victim to the “I’m out of condoms” excuse. You get to decide what happens with your body and that’s empowering.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t refuse sex if you don’t want to have it, Choma. It’s okay to say no, and your partner should not try to change your mind or force you into anything.

Your sexual health is important, and it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s taken care of. Listen to your body, use condoms during sex, eat well and make sure that you get regular sexual health screenings. These are all ways you can take care of your health and develop a healthy relationship with sex.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Questionnaire: Is my lifestyle healthy?

With exam results coming up for some of you, deciding on and planning to get along with more family members visiting these December holidays, it’s sometimes hard to stop and think about yourself and your health. Which sometimes makes it simple for some bad habits to pop up again, and disturb your flow especially when you’re trying to stay healthy.

Choma, it’s important to pay close attention when your bad habits start taking over your life, even during the festive season, and start causing you to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Whether it’s sleep, sexual health, alcohol, exercise or emotional or mental health issues, there is always an issue that you are going to have to deal with these holidays, in order to develop your own healthy lifestyle choma.

Take this questionnaire choma, just answer “yes’ or “no” for each question then add up your answers to find out how healthy (or unhealthy) your lifestyle is.

Questionnaire

  • Do you practise safe sex in intimate relationships?
  • Do you go for regular Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs, like the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), screenings?
  • Do you sleep between 6-8 hours per night?
  • Do you sleep easily through the night?
  • Do you eat at least 2 fruits and vegetables a day?
  • Do you limit the amount of sugar and salt you take in a day?
  • Do you limit the amount of alcohol you take?
  • Do you stay away from cigarettes or other tobacco products like hookah?
  • Do you stay active for at least 4 days a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes?
  • Do you brush your teeth daily?
  • Do you visit the clinic or your doctor if you feel that something’s wrong?
  • Do you have enough emotional support from family and/or friends?

How did you score?

Zero to four

If you answer was “yes” to between zero and four questions then you have a lot of work to do in changing your lifestyle into a healthy one. Look at the pattern of your answers where you answered “yes” to find out where you need to work on your good health. Ask Choma, if you are struggling to do it on your own.

Five to eight

If you answered “yes” to between five and eight questions then your lifestyle is fairly healthy. But, if there are areas where you can improve on then think about those few easy changes that you can make in your day-to-day living. Maybe, instead of 3 teaspoons of sugar in your cup, add just two or why not try and go to bed half an hour earlier? Make sure whatever changes you make, you write them down on a notepad or piece of paper and keep track of them. More importantly, celebrate the changes you have made.

Nine to twelve

If you answered “yes” to nine to twelve of these questions then choma, you have a healthy lifestyle. Keep it up, you are taking care of yourself! Even if you scored well, I’m sure there are still areas of your physical or emotional health that you feel that you may need to work on.  If you find that you are not able to recognise areas of change yourself, consider asking a trusted friend, adult or a health professional for help.

Keeping your heart healthy

Chomas, we know that having a healthy heart is important, after all, it’s one of the most important organs of your body. We also know that exercise and eating well contribute to having a strong and healthy heart. But what about other things like keeping healthy relationships and taking time to nurture your emotions? Here are a few things you can do that play a part in keeping your heart healthy.

Laugh more

Laughter gives you an opportunity to relax and experience happiness. It also releases tension and helps your blood flow easier. This decreases your blood sugar level, which in turn decreases your chances of getting a heart attack and heart disease. So watch that sitcom or chat to your funny choma, it’s good for your heart.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is an important part of keeping your heart healthy chomas. Lack of sleep may increase your chance of getting heart disease, no matter your age. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep for most nights and your heart will thank you for it. So choma, if you are not getting enough sleep speak to a health practitioner.

Check your mental health

Some people who suffer from mental illnesses may often adopt behaviours that may increase their chances of having heart problems. For example, if you suffer from depression you mightstop taking care of yourself altogether. So you may start smoking, drinking more, or eat fatty foods. Alcohol, smoking and fats raise your blood pressure which may increase your chances of getting a stroke (when there’s a blockage of blood flow or rupture of an artery to the brain) or a heart attack. If you feel down or a bit off choma, then speak to a healthcare provider at your nearest clinicand avoid smoking, drinking excessively and eating unhealthy food.  

Have healthy relationships

Being in healthy relationships can actually help protect your heart. Healthy relationships  provide emotional support and cause you to stress less. Stress causes your arteries to become harder and restrict the normal flow of blood to your heart which may result in a heart attack. So choma, pay attention and find out if your relationships cause you to feel better or worse. If you feel stressed out then it may be time to re-evaluate those relationships. Healthy relationships should make you feel supported and understood.

Start being active

Regular exercise keeps your heart healthy and strong because it helps soften your arteries which help carry enough oxygen to your heart. Exercise also helps you improve your mood and may help to make you feel happier and helps you sleep better. Make exercise as much a habit as brushing your teeth.

Chomas, nurturing your emotions and relationships does contribute in keeping your heart healthy and if you follow these tips, you will develop a healthy relationship with your heart and also feel better. Do you have questions? Let me know in the comments below or send me a question via Ask Choma.

Health and Exercise Tips for beginners

January is the month where we all rethink our unhealthy December decisions and decide to get back on track. And that’s perfectly fine. What better time to start achieving your goals than the beginning of a new year?

So if you’ve decided to start working towards a healthier life but not sure where to start, simply read on for helpful tips chomas.

Start slowly

If you haven’t exercised in a long time or if you’ve never exercised before, it’s a good idea to start off slowly and then increase the pace of your exercises as you go along. The reason for this is, being a bit unfit at the moment, you might actually get tired more easily and the strain of exercising might make you feel like quitting.

Start with a ten minute walk every day and then slowly increase the time every week.

Even when it comes to going on a diet, try not to force yourself to go on an extreme diet. Start by cutting unhealthy things out of your diet, perhaps one week at a time. If you’re worried about giving in to cravings, replace your unhealthy snacks with something healthy but tasty. So instead of chips and biscuits, eat fruit and yoghurt, for example.

Find a fitness buddy

Don’t you find it easier to accomplish things when you’re doing it with someone else? When it comes to going on a journey toward a healthier lifestyle, having someone to go through it with you will definitely help. So get one of your friends and start exercising (even just walking or jogging) together. Share diet tips with each other, have weekly challenges and encourage each other to keep going.

Get fit through sports or hobbies

When you think about exercise you might immediately think about doing push-ups, running or lifting weight. For some of us, this doesn’t always sound like fun. But fitness doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Why not try taking up a sport you might enjoy? Join your school’s sport team or start your own after school sports team with your friends.

You could also enjoy doing things you love that will keep you active, like dancing, bike riding or swimming.

Keep track

It helps to keep track of what you’re doing to your body so that you can monitor your health changes. Take note of the times you’re making unhealthy choices and the possible reasons for them. Are you more likely to make unhealthy choices when you’re stressed or when you’re with your friends? Do you eat more when you’re bored? Taking note of this will help keep you aware of your habits and lead to you changing them.

Also keep track of your healthy habits. If you can keep a journal of your diet and weight so that you can see the effect of your health choices. You can even ask your doctor or another medical professional for health tips that are specific for your body type.

Stay Positive

Lastly chomas, remember to maintain a positive attitude towards your health goals. Making the decision to be healthier and take care of yourself better is always a good one so never stop trying. If you feel like you’ve backslid into old habits, simply start over. Believe in your ability to achieve your health goals no matter what.

Do you have any health goals you want to achieve this year? Let me know in the comments.