Category Archives: Health

Excessive alcohol, HIV risk

Catherine Murombedzi
ALCOHOL is a depressant that temporarily slows down a person’s central nervous system to control functions. The central nervous system is the brain and the spinal cord.  Alcohol intake in small proportion makes one feel relaxed and less nervous.  The issue comes when it is taken in excess and one is no longer in control.  We have heard court cases where some claimed to have committed the offences under the influence of alcohol. Now when we look at what alcohol does to our bodies, surely there is no defence to damaging our internal organs. The liver is at risk, while kidneys are damaged and in most cases with fatal consequences.

Excessive alcohol leads to intoxication.  We find pubs noisy after 8pm as compared to the early hours around 5pm. Why is it so, it goes to show that the drinkers will no longer in control and will be more friendly. Dr Michael Phiri said all objects change in view and what was not appealing before one got drunk suddenly changes in appearance becoming appealing to the same eye.“After a couple of drinks one gets intoxicated and what was not appealing suddenly gets a new look.

If it was a man turning down advances from potential hookers, the perspective changes look and becomes appealing,” said Dr Phiri. Dr Phiri said people become loud and friendly after a couple of beers. “Sometimes people become friendly and happy with a carefree attitude.  Some may become aggressive and angry. Some may have the courage they usually lack. Sensible judgement is lost.  Alcohol makes one do what they normally would not do,” he added. I have heard many times when one says wait I will do that when drunk.

The person then goes to fight or ask and harass a person. In their normal state they would not do so. People who drink in excess are not in control of their behaviour. Responsible alcohol intake means knowing the limit and when to stop drinking more.“Some people have ended up in bed with a total stranger after getting intoxicated.  Some people who are friends not meant to go to bed have blamed it on beer. The perceptions on sex change and a drunkard ends up having unprotected sex,” said Dr Phiri. We have to take a look at female and male perceptions on casual sex. There are a few people who engage in casual sex. They usually do it after a couple of drinks.

Speaking to youths from Mt Hampden recently, they said lack of formal employment leads them to alcohol abuse.

“We are out of college and have nothing to do to kill time. We end up sitting by the roadsides and bridges. On weekends we pool up resources and have a mini-party. Any drink goes even musombodiya is taken. What happens after the drinking spree is anyone’s guess. “Some people have been infected with the HIV virus after getting intoxicated and indulging in casual unprotected sex,” said Dr Phiri.

“There are no known statistics to prove this, but it is a living reality. This usually affects young people, but adults in their 40s are also caught up. This shows that beer in excess leads to risky behaviour,” said Dr Phiri. Youths now engage in what they call sex parties.

At these gatherings, partners are changed with ease. Before intoxication they use protection which is later discarded as beer takes its toll on imbibers.

Let not that casual party lead you to a life of dependence on medication after getting infected.

Among all things you seek to get, get understanding.


Winter diarrhoea in children

Dr Tendai Zuze
You should get worried when a child with diarrhoea is vomiting everything, has blood in the diarrhoea, is lethargic or unconscious, unable to drink, has sunken eyes, has a sunken fontanel (nhova) or is restless and irritable.

WITH the onset of winter, those who have young children will notice an increase in episodes of fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.

There are a few possible causes for this, but the commonest would be rotavirus.

Globally, virus called rotavirus is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis (fever, diarrhoea and vomiting) in early childhood. Almost all children have been infected by the time they reach five years of age.

However, with each infection, immunity develops, and subsequent infections are less severe; adults are rarely affected. In developing countries rotavirus is responsible for approximately half a million deaths per year.

Once a child is infected by the virus, there is an incubation period of about two days before symptoms appear.

Symptoms often start with vomiting and a mild fever followed by four to eight days of profuse watery diarrhoea.

The most severe symptoms tend to occur in children six months to two years of age, the elderly and those with compromised or absent immune system function.

In some cases, severe dehydration and death can occur. Some infants (especially under three months) with rotavirus infection may not show any symptoms at all.

Rotavirus infections are highly infectious and are spread by the vomit or faeces of an infected person (so-called faeco-oral route).

The faeces of an infected person can contain more than 10 trillion infectious particles per gram!

Fewer than 100 of these are required to transmit infection by, for example, touching someone who has been sick and has the virus on their hands, contaminated objects and contaminated food or drink. The virus may also be spread by coughing and sneezing.

Small children who are not immune to rotavirus (from either past infection or vaccination) are at greater risk of the disease, although older people can sometimes be infected too.

Most children have developed immunity to rotavirus by three years of age. Immunity to the rotaviral infection is partial. Subsequent infections are generally milder than the first infection.

Rotavirus can be prevented by thorough hand washing using soap and water and drying with a clean towel after going to the toilet, before preparing or handling food, before eating food and after caring for someone with diarrhoea (especially after changing nappies or soiled linen).

Never change nappies on surfaces where food is prepared or eaten. Surfaces, objects (including toys) and clothing that have been exposed to vomit or faeces must be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and detergent.

Allow objects to dry after they have been cleaned. Children who have experienced diarrhoea should not return to crèche or school until 24 hours after symptoms have resolved.

Anyone with diarrhoea should not swim, wade or paddle in pools for at least two weeks after complete recovery.

A rotavirus vaccine is now part of Zimbabwe’s immunisation schedule and this is given from six weeks of age.

This is expected to reduce the number of cases of winter diarrhoea significantly.

Diagnosis of rotavirus infection is usually suspected based on the symptoms and can be confirmed by testing the child’s stools in a laboratory.

The aim of treatment is to prevent dehydration and death.

The World Health Organisation recommends oral rehydration therapy (i.e. giving extra home fluids, continuing breastfeeding, giving sugar salt solution and continuing with feeds) and zinc supplementation as the mainstay of treatment of diarrhoea in children.

Avoid undiluted fruit juices and soft drinks as they may increase dehydration and diarrhoea.

Medicines to prevent vomiting and diarrhoea should not be given, especially to children, except when prescribed by a doctor. Medicine to relieve fever (eg.Paracetamol) can be used if needed.

Antibiotics are usually not necessary and can even prolong the course of the illness. They are only useful in some situations which your doctor will know.

When a child is not keeping any fluids down, it is usually necessary to admit them for intravenous fluids.

Sugar salt solution, by the way, is now made up of six level teaspoons of sugar and ½ level teaspoon of salt dissolved in one litre of clean water.

Commercial preparations can also be acquired from pharmacies and clinics.

You should get worried when a child with diarrhoea is vomiting everything, has blood in the diarrhoea, is lethargic or unconscious, unable to drink, has sunken eyes, has a sunken fontanel (nhova) or is restless and irritable.

If you see any of these, you need to rush to your doctor or the nearest health centre for urgent attention.

Physical, emotional, mental health are connected

Dr Mazvita Machinga
HAVE you ever heard people who are stressed complaining of physical problems such as increased blood pressure levels, headaches or fatigue?  

Your answer may be yes if you are like me. Is there a connection between physical and mental health? Yes indeed, your physical body responds to the way you think and feel. This is the mind/body connection which everyone has.

The number of people that have poor physical health and have developed mental health problems is noticeable. On another note, poor mental health has negatively impacted the physical health of many leading to increased risk of some conditions such as heart problems, stroke and high blood pressure.

This article is reminding us of the importance of taking time to care of mind, body and soul. It is sad that sometimes when we fail to attend to physical health we experience mental health challenges and vice versa. Everything on us is connected.

My experience of working with people in my psychotherapy rooms has made me learn a lot about the connection between physical health and mental health. Remember, just as everyone has physical health everyone also has mental and emotional health. What are you doing to take care of your mental and emotional health?

When did you last process your feelings and emotions with someone who cares?  Generally, people are good at taking care of their physical health but many times we are found wanting on mental and emotional health.

A survey that was done found that 65 percent of undiagnosed, asymptomatic adults likely turn to their primary care doctor with illnesses that are a result of unattended mental health issues.

These primary care visits are driven by psychosocial factors, with 25 percent of the patients having an unattended mental health challenge, and comorbidity occurring in up to 80 percent (Van Beek, K., ,2008). Of these only four percent would seek mental health professional intervention. This shows how people tend to ignore their mental health issues.

I have seen people focusing more on physical health at the expense of mental health and then they take time to recover. It is important to know that there is a link between your emotional, mental health and your physical well-being and people should learn to take time to nurture all.

When we look at how human beings function, there is a link between what the mind is thinking, how you are feeling and the parts of the brain that control bodily parts (physical). For example, when one is stressed too much, one can have physiological reactions in the form of headache, fatigue or stomach ache to mention just a few.

I have noticed that everything on us is connected. When one is in constant physical pain, there is need for interdisciplinary care because one may be suffering emotionally and may gradually develop mental disorders. Research is very clear that poor mental health can weaken your body’s immune system, making you more likely to get infections or colds during emotionally difficulty times.

An example is how grief, stress, unemployment, divorce etc. can be so overwhelming that they may affect your physical health. Too much worry has major influences upon people’s mood, and their sense of physical well-being.

Exposure to intense and chronic stressors or challenges has long-lasting neurobiological effects and puts one at increased risk of anxiety or depressive disorders which may ultimately lead to hypo-immune dysfunction, physical illnesses, structural changes in the brain, and even premature death. Just as we check our physical health, it’s a good idea to have a routine check of our mental and emotional well-being too.

So, what shall I do in order to nurture all?

A balanced work, rest and relaxing times. Stay active and involved in the community

Build and maintain fulfilling relationships with people. Phone calls and social media are great and have their place, but nothing can help you overcome stress, boost your mood than healthy quality face-to-face time with people you love.

Have quality sleep and healthy diet

Make time for appreciation and counting your blessings. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Forgive and move on with life.

Stop smoking and taking alcohol as these can affect both your mental and physical health.

Hang around positive people and socialise with other people.

Meditate, to stay connected with a spiritual practice that energises and inspires you.

Visit your medical doctor, clergy or mental health professional for care when necessary.

Remember taking care of your mental and physical health may lead to healthier individuals, families and society at larger. Including mental health service care in your primary medical care may lead to quality life and reduce medical doctor burnout.

Dr Mazvita Machinga is a qualified psychotherapist based in Mutare. Contact information 0771 754 519/ 0778 83 84 10 or

Is your heart failing?

Dr Tendai Zuze
HEART failure occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Not all conditions that lead to heart failure can be reversed, but treatments can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure and help you live longer.

One way to prevent heart failure is to control conditions that cause heart failure, such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

You should suspect heart failure if you develop the following symptoms:

Shortness of breath when you exert yourself or when you lie down

Fatigue and weakness

Swelling (oedema) in your legs, ankles and feet

Rapid or irregular heartbeat

Reduced ability to exercise

Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm

Increased need to urinate at night

Swelling of your abdomen (ascites)

Sudden weight gain from fluid retention

Lack of appetite and nausea

Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness

Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus

Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack

In heart failure, the main pumping chambers of your heart (the ventricles) may become stiff and not fill properly between beats. In some cases of heart failure, your heart muscle may become damaged and weakened, and the ventricles stretch (dilate) to the point that the heart can’t pump blood efficiently throughout your body. Over time, the heart can no longer keep up with the normal demands placed on it to pump blood to the rest of your body.

Any of the following conditions can damage or weaken your heart and can cause heart failure. Some of these can be present without your knowing it:

Coronary artery disease and heart attack. Over time, arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle narrow from a build-up of fatty deposits. The build-up of plaques can cause reduced blood flow to your heart. A heart attack occurs if plaques formed by the fatty deposits in your arteries rupture. This causes a blood clot to form, which may block blood flow to an area of the heart muscle, weakening the heart’s pumping ability and often leaving permanent damage

High blood pressure (hypertension). If your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder than it should to circulate blood throughout your body.Over time, the heart muscle may become thicker to compensate for the extra work it must perform. Eventually, your heart muscle may become either too stiff or too weak to effectively pump blood.

Faulty heart valves. The valves of your heart keep blood flowing in the proper direction through the heart. A damaged valve — due to a heart defect, coronary artery disease or heart infection — forces your heart to work harder to keep blood flowing as it should.Over time, this extra work can weaken your heart. Faulty heart valves, however, can be fixed or replaced if found in time.

Damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). Heart muscle damage can have many causes, including several diseases, infections, alcohol abuse and the toxic effect of drugs, such as cocaine or some drugs used for chemotherapy.

Myocarditis. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. It is most commonly caused by a virus and can lead to left-sided heart failure.

Heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects). If your heart and its chambers or valves haven’t formed correctly, the healthy parts of your heart have to work harder to pump blood through your heart, which, in turn, may lead to heart failure.

Abnormal heart rhythms. Abnormal heart rhythms may cause your heart to beat too fast, which creates extra work for your heart. Over time, your heart may weaken, leading to heart failure.

Other diseases. Chronic diseases – such as diabetes, HIV, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or a build-up of iron (hemochromatosis) or protein (amyloidosis) —also may contribute to heart failure.

Making lifestyle changes can often help relieve signs and symptoms of heart failure and prevent the disease from worsening. The following will be useful:

Stop smoking. Smoking damages your blood vessels, raises blood pressure, reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and makes your heart beat faster.

Check your legs, ankles and feet for swelling. Check for any changes in swelling in your legs, ankles or feet. Consult your doctor if swelling worsens.

Eat a healthy diet. Aim to eat a diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins.

Restrict salt in your diet. Too much sodium contributes to water retention, which makes your heart work harder and causes shortness of breath and swollen legs, ankles and feet.

Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, your dietitian will help you work toward your ideal weight. Even losing a small amount of weight can help.

Limit fats and cholesterol. In addition to avoiding high-sodium foods, limit the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. A diet high in fat and cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, which often underlies or contributes to heart failure.

Limit alcohol and fluids. Your doctor likely will recommend that you don’t drink alcohol if you have heart failure, since it can interact with your medication, weaken your heart muscle and increase your risk of abnormal heart rhythms.

Be active. Moderate aerobic activity helps keep the rest of your body healthy and conditioned, reducing the demands on your heart muscle. Before you start exercising though, talk to your doctor about an exercise program that’s right for you.

Reduce stress. When you’re anxious or upset your heart beats faster, you breathe more heavily and your blood pressure often goes up. This can make heart failure worse, since your heart is already having trouble meeting the body’s demands.

If you are worried about heart failure, please visit your doctor.

Be a vegetarian, save the environment

Abraham Mudefi Focus on Environmental Issues
A vegetarian way of life is not only an advocacy against the cruelty to animals or an empowerment of people to live a healthy and more fulfilling life.

It is a positive healthy life that can reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, heart diseases, obesity and high blood pressure among others.

While a vegetarian diet will help you in all these and other ways, important of all, a vegetarian diet helps you conserve the environment so that it has the capacity to sustain all the life forms evident in it.

A vegan diet is living beyond tomorrow. It’s a true promise of the future where men live harmoniously with nature.

Meat industry is generally a wasteful economic endeavour that uses more natural resource than the growing of grain and vegetables. The beef industry requires land, water and plants to produce meat while land and water only are the major resources required in the production of vegetables and grain.

A simple mathematical calculation shows that the meat industry uses a lot of natural resources. Researchers say to produce a kilogram of meat ten kilograms of plant material is required. This simple means more food is required to make beef than to make vegetables. A simple analysis shows that if all people were vegetarians the world would save a lot of resources that are being used along the chain of producing beef.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) reports that in America 70 percent of the grain that is grown there is used to produce feeds for animals that are reared for meat.

This shows that if people were vegetarians probably half the arable land would just be used to grow vegetables and grain. The rest would be left to grow trees, recreational gardens and forests. That would help absorb the excess carbon dioxide.

The American Dietetic Association also says half the water in the US is used in the meat industry. Due to this demand 25 percent of the ground water is drawn much faster than it is replenished.

Consequently the underground aquifers from South Dakota to Mexico will be depleted within the next 60 years. A huge threat exists for the future generations who may not have adequate freshwater.

High animal populations cause land degradation through erosion which is a result of overgrazing.

When there is no vegetative cover nutrients are washed away downstream. Fresh water is also lost subsequently raising the sea levels. Water will continue to encroach low lying human habitats like islands and sea shores.

Meat eating has an exorbitant demand for fossil fuel energy in the manufacture of fertilisers and pesticides, these are used for farm fodder. Fuel is also used on farm machinery and for the transportation of grain for animals or meat to the market.

The meat industry uses between two to four times as much farm land in producing meat to feed one person that would have been required if the person had to switch to a vegetarian diet or to at least reduce the consumption of meat.

That means to cope up with this demand for space and the ever increasing global population the meat industry has to open more farm land at this rate.

You can agree with me that more forests will be destroyed and more wildlife habitats will be destroyed leaving the wild animals to die. Mankind is also sacrificing wildlife to put meat on their table. This will seriously compromise our biodiversity. To conserve the universe we must maintain as many natural ecosystems as possible.

The excess manure produced in the meat industry promotes the growth of algae in water bodies. When algae die, the processes of its decomposition uses and deplete oxygen in the water bodies.

This causes the massive deaths of fish through suffocation. Manure also releases ammonia into the air that contaminates rain destroying vast forests of the world.

Nitrate leaks from the manure into the community drinking water causes serious health problems for the community.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is produced in the rumens of sheep, cows and the manure of many farm animals. Again with the increased deforestation of trees excess greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide will continue to increase.

This further increases global temperatures making the earth an inhabitable place for people and life in general.

A vegetarian diet offers a variety of nutritious and healthy foods

If only people would turn to vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grain people would live much healthier lives.

People would have lower blood cholesterol levels, lower rates of hypertension, lower rates of obesity, lower psychological disorders and lower rates of deaths due to lower incidents of heart diseases.

If we maintain a huge vegetative cover we could be healed of the many psychological disorders that boggle us today. Trees help by reducing neighbourhood temperatures, erosion and noise.

If people continue eating large quantities of meat, this can be equated with someone burning a candle from the two ends. The candle lasts a much shorter time and before it smoulders it burns the hands of the person holding it. This is a simple illustration of the fate that awaits mankind.

Forests and fresh water is quickly depleting. Cereal production uses less energy, less fuel, less water and less pollution along the chain.

Many people eat meat because it is a status symbol, it’s a tradition and way of life inherited from our forefathers. If only people cut their meat consumption we would ease the pressures of our earth’s limited resources.

Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all cars combined in the country. If people do not heed to such advocacy attempts, a harsh punishment awaits us. This comes through flooding from excessive rain, drought, and heat waves just to mention a few. Many of these punishments have already begun.

By continuing to increase our meat intake we starve the poor who could be benefiting from the excess volumes of grain we feed our animals with.

Let us stop eating meat or reduce our meat intake and save the world. After reading this article, if you think cutting your meat intake or being a vegetarian is the right way to go. Text or email the words Be Vegan, your name and town to the contact details below. Be vegan and save the world!

Feedback through the following contacts or 0772 968 040.

Doctors recruitment begins

Dr David Parirenyatwa

Dr David Parirenyatwa

Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Government has set in motion the process of employing 250 junior doctors who have completed internship, in a move that is expected to appease health professions who last week went on strike.

Medical practitioners went on strike last week demanding that Government employs trained junior doctors, failure of which it should grant them their open practice certificates to seek employment elsewhere.

The Government recently announced that it was no longer guaranteeing General Medical Officers posts because the current establishment was now full.

In an interview on Friday, Health Service Board (HSB) public relations executive Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said the Ministry of Health and Child Care had already sent a distribution list of junior doctors to all provinces.

On the 2 000 nurses that Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said would also be recruited, Mr Maravanyika said the board was still waiting for “Treasury concurrence” to start recruitment. He said the recruitment of nurses was definite.

“The Permanent Secretary (Dr Gerald Gwinji) has already sent distribution lists to all provinces. What is left is for the junior doctors to go to their preferred areas after internship. The HSB had requested these posts to solve this issue that has arisen,” he said.

Mr Maravanyika added, “As for the 2 000 nurses that the minister announced, the matter is still work in progress. We are waiting for documentation from Treasury”.

He was not in a position to state when the board expects to get concurrence from Treasury to start recruiting the health workers. The HSB spokesperson said the board will sit down to discuss how the recruitment of nurses would go about, but priority was likely to be given to unemployed nurses who graduated first.

“That is something we will have to sit down and look at. However, the normal process is that we will start with those who graduated first. I cannot say when exactly we expect to start filling those posts, but as soon as we get the necessary documentation we will start the process,” he said.

Mr Maravanyika said the recruitment of an additional 250 doctors and 2 000 nurses would add value to the country’s healthcare system which has been dogged by staff shortages.

“As you know our establishment has not been revised since the early 1980s. The coming in of additional staff will certainly go a long way in improving health delivery in the country,” he said.

Announcing the opening of 2 250 vacancies for health workers, Dr Parirenyatwa said his ministry was now looking at the provision of posts for other professionals such as pharmacists and laboratory scientists.

The strike by junior doctors, has crippled operations at most central hospitals around the country as patients are being turned away. Hospitals have since roped in professionals from the uniformed forces to ease the situation. The doctors are demanding issuance of their practicing certificates upon completion of a two-year internship and a review of on-call allowance up to $720 for the lowest paid doctor.

After completion of their studies, doctors are required to undergo internship before they are given a temporary certificate to practice in a Government institution for another year. The doctors only get an open practicing certificate after completing the additional one year as a Government medical officer (GMO).

There are close to 4 000 trained nurses who are not employed following the freezing of posts for health workers by Government in 2012. The HSB has been on record calling on Government to lift the freeze on nursing vacancies. Zimbabwe’s nurses establishment was last reviewed in 1983.


Health Promotion: Root Canal Treatment

Tooth 2

Kimberly Nyathi
GREETINGS to all frequent health care column readers, I am sure many of you may have heard of or even had a root canal treatment done at some stage.In today’s article I will briefly describe the structure of a tooth which is essential in order for one to fully understand and appreciate why and how a root canal treatment is done, I will also describe the indications (why a root canal is done), contraindications (when not to do a root canal treatment), how it is done and what to expect after it has been done.

Tooth structure

Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and the hard underlying layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and helps to grow the root of your tooth during development. In a fully developed tooth, the tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Definition of Root Canal Treatment

A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form as seen in the image above left.

Indications for root canal (when it should be done)
n Irreversibly damaged pulp tissue. A long standing dental infection in the bone that erodes through the side of the bone and causes sudden, serious and painful swelling.
n Injury (trauma): Complicated fracture of the tooth crown, root apex is already developed, darkening of the tooth after an accident.
n Prosthetic reasons: In case of severely worn out teeth, where crowning is being advised by the dentist. Before placing a crown (dental prosthesis) in such a case, that tooth may need the Root Canal Treatment.
n A patient complaining of severe toothache while chewing food or severe pain while taking hot or cold liquid where examination shows presence of severe tooth decay. This can lead to accumulation of blackish material (bacteria) on the tooth.

Contraindications for root canal (when it should not be done)

Lack of time (patient and doctor)
Economic constraints
Restless patient (Down’s syndrome, Parkinsonism)
Lack of interest from the patient
Poor hygiene
Patient prefers other solution (denture, fixed bridge, dental prosthesis)

Extreme root canal anatomy

Vertical fracture of tooth root
Deep root decay
Huge resorption of the root (happens in children primary teeth)
Tooth with no importance (majority of those teeth are the wisdom teeth)

The procedure is done to preserve the infected tooth. This procedure involves removing the damaged or infected pulp, treating any infection and filling the empty canals.It is always done under local anaesthesia (involves numbing a specific part of the body to prevent any feeling of pain).

Root Canal Treatment procedure is started by drilling the enamel part of the tooth, that is topmost portion of the tooth. First the dentist enters the pulp chamber, where the infected pulp is present. The next step is exploration of root canal, removal of the remaining pulp tissue and infected tissue.

After successful removal of the pulp, the root canal is disinfected with the help of medicaments.The disinfection procedure is done by using a plastic pipette or a syringe.

Finally filling (obturation) of root canal is done with an inert filling material called gutta percha.

Post treatment care

It is normal to feel some tenderness in the area for a few days after your root canal treatment as your body undergoes the natural healing process. You may also feel some tenderness in your jaw from keeping it open for an extended period of time. These symptoms are temporary and usually respond very well to over-the-counter pain medications. It is important for you to follow the instructions on how to take these medications.

Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your root canal treatment has been completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure that lasts more than a few days, contact your dentist.

– Do not eat anything until the numbness in your mouth wears off. This will prevent you from biting your cheek or tongue.
– Do not chew or bite on the treated tooth until you have had it restored by your dentist.
– Be sure to brush and floss your teeth as you normally would.
– If the opening in your tooth was restored with a temporary filling material, it is not unusual for a thin layer to wear off in-between appointments. However, if you think the entire filling has come out, contact your dentist.
– Contact your dentist right away if you develop any of the following:
– a visible swelling inside or outside of your mouth;
– an allergic reaction to medication, including rash, itching (nausea is not an allergic reaction)
– a return of original symptoms or
– your bite feels uneven.

The tooth that has had root canal treatment followed by a proper restoration can last as long as your other natural teeth. After the tooth has been restored, you need only practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, regular checkups and cleanings.

Your dentist may periodically x-ray the tooth to ensure that healing has occurred. Occasionally, a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment does not heal or pain continues. At times, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after successful treatment. Often when this occurs, repeating the root canal treatment can save the tooth.

But like all other diseases, prevention is better than cure.Ensure that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss everyday, visit a dentist twice a year (every 6 months) and keep sweet consumption at an all time low level to ensure optimal oral health.

Dentistry is not expensive, neglect is.

Kimberley Eve Nyathi
Final Year BDS
Lviv National Medical University

Medical Marijuana To Tackle Opioid Abuse In Zimbabwe?

This is an article by Helen Fraser

Using drugs to fight drugs? It may sound strange, but reports from the USA seem to show that marijuana – technically an illegal substance in Zimbabwe – can lead to a marked decrease in opioid abuse. Given that Zimbabwe is currently suffering something of a crisis when it comes to drug abuse, with opioids like heroin being particularly problematic, could marijuana be used in a medicinal capacity to reduce opioid addiction within our country?

Opioid Addiction In Zimbabwe

Opioid addiction is something of a scourge the world over. Opioids like heroin are highly addictive, wreak havoc on bodies and minds, and destroy lives as people plunge to ever lower depths in their quest to obtain these illegal substances. Youth unemployment is exacerbating the problem within Zimbabwe, with some reports claiming that up to 65% of Zimbabwean youths may have drug-induced mental health problems. While opioids do no make up the entirety of Zimbabwe’s drug problem, they are certainly very much in evidence, and cause an awful lot of damage. Worryingly, because they adhere so closely to the brain’s own mechanisms, opioids are very hard to get ‘clean’ from. Rehabilitating an opioid addict is very hard work, which requires an awful lot of willpower and determination both on the part of the addict and those surrounding them. So it is little wonder that governments and health authorities around the world are looking with great interest at the apparent potential of marijuana to limit opioid abuse in the USA. But is it really worth using one drug to treat another? And will the American situation really be replicated in the very different circumstances of Zimbabwe?

Medical Marijuana

Marijuana, long considered a bete noir of drug squads everywhere, is currently experiencing something of a renaissance. A great many American states have fully legalised the substance, with many more legalising it for medicinal usage. Calls for the decriminalization of marijuana are currently sweeping the Western world. This follows the publication of substantial evidence suggesting that marijuana is not nearly as harmful as even alcohol, and can have a great many positive effects on human health. According to the recent science, marijuana is neither addictive nor directly damaging to human health. What is more, it can help to alleviate chronic pain, and be effective in the treatment of certain mental health disorders. Little wonder, therefore, that many governments are relaxing their anti-marijuana legislation. However, some maintain that there are definite problems with making marijuana illegal, and hold that doing so simply promotes irresponsible, intoxicated behavior. The debate rages on. However, where the drug has been licenced for medical usage in the USA, there has been a marked drop in opioid abuse.

Marijuana For Zimbabwe’s Addictions?

So, if America is seeing opioid addiction fall in areas where marijuana has been legalised, could the same work in Zimbabwe? Well, it’s a bit complicated. One of the main reasons for the opioid addiction drop in the USA is America’s phenomenal love of pharmaceuticals. A huge 80% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs are consumed by Americans – and opioid painkillers are prominent in that number. The majority of opioid addicts within America are not addicted to illegal substances like heroin. They are instead addicted to prescription opioid analgesics like vicodin. Where medical marijuana has been legalised, the theory runs that people are choosing to take marijuana to manage their pain rather than opioid painkillers, thus resulting in a general drop in opioid addiction. Within Zimbabwe, of course, the prescription painkiller problem is not nearly so emphatic as it is in the USA, meaning that offering medical marijuana as an alternative option would not have quite the same effect. However, this is not to say that marijuana could not help at all. Marijuana, if used in a managed, supervised manner, has been proven to help with a variety of mental health conditions. Given that much drug abuse is related to mental health problems, and that mental health treatments are almost always a crucial aspect of drug treatment, it is not inconceivable that medical marijuana could be brought in to help Zimbabwean addicts to deal with their issues and kick their habits. However, the Zimbabwean attitude towards marijuana would first have to change significantly.

When you have chest pain

Dr Tendai Zuze —
AT some point in our lives, most of us will get chest pain. This can be a minor on and off sort of pain that is not really worrying or it can be severe life threatening pain that requires hospitalisation.

Whatever the scale, chest pain is a problem that frequently requires attention. When you go to see your doctor about chest pain, you have to be prepared to answer a few questions. Your doctor will want to know, among other things, how and when the pain started, where exactly it is located, the nature of pain and also if there are any other symptoms associated with it. It’s also important to know what aggravates the pain and what makes it better.

After considering the above symptoms, the doctor will have some idea of where the pain might be coming from.

He might then ask for a few tests to confirm his suspicions. Some people think an X-ray of the chest is essential every time they get chest pain, this is not so.

There are many possible causes of chest pain, some of which deserve medical attention. Heart related causes are some of the most significant and should be accorded the urgency they deserve. Heart related causes of chest pain include:

Heart attack. A heart attack is a result of a blood clot that’s blocking blood flow to your heart muscle.

Angina. Thick plaques can gradually build up on the inner walls of the arteries that carry blood to your heart. These plaques narrow the arteries and restrict the heart’s blood supply, particularly during exertion.

Aortic dissection. This life-threatening condition involves the main artery leading from your heart — your aorta. If the inner layers of this blood vessel separate, blood will be forced between the layers and can cause the aorta to rupture.

Pericarditis. This condition, an inflammation of the sac surrounding your heart, is short-lived and often related to a viral infection.

Although chest pain is commonly attributed to heart disease, many heart patients experience a vague discomfort and they often specifically mention that pain does not seem to be an adequate description. In general, chest discomfort related to a heart attack or another heart problem may be associated with one or more of the following:

Pressure, fullness or tightness in your chest Crushing or searing pain that radiates to your back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms — particularly your left arm

Pain that lasts more than a few minutes, goes away and comes back or varies in intensity

Shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or nausea Chest pain can also be caused by disorders of the digestive system, these include:

Heartburn. This painful, burning sensation behind your breastbone occurs when stomach acid washes up from your stomach into the oesophagus — the tube that connects your throat to your stomach.

Swallowing disorders. Disorders of the oesophagus can make swallowing difficult and even painful.

Gallbladder or pancreas problems. Gallstones or inflammation of your gallbladder or pancreas can cause abdominal pain that radiates to your chest.

Some types of chest pain are associated with injuries and other problems affecting the structures that make up the chest wall. Examples include:

Costochondritis. In this condition, the cartilage of your rib cage, particularly the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone, becomes inflamed and painful.

Sore muscles. Chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, can produce persistent muscle-related chest pain.

Injured ribs. A bruised or broken rib can cause chest pain.

Many lung disorders can cause chest pain, including:

Pulmonary embolism. This cause of chest pain occurs when a blood clot becomes lodged in a lung (pulmonary) artery, blocking blood flow to lung tissue.

Pleurisy. If the membrane that covers your lungs becomes inflamed, it can cause chest pain that’s made worse when you inhale or cough.

Collapsed lung. The chest pain associated with a collapsed lung typically begins suddenly and can last for hours. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the ribs.

Pulmonary hypertension. High blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) also can produce chest pain.

Pneumonia, which is infection in the lungs If you are worried about chest pain, please visit your doctor.

Malaria drugs fail for first time on patients in UK

A KEY malaria treatment has failed for the first time in patients being treated in the UK, doctors say.

The drug combination was unable to cure four patients, who had all visited Africa, in early signs the parasite is evolving resistance.

A team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said it was too early to panic.

But it warned things could suddenly get worse and demanded an urgent appraisal of drug-resistance levels in Africa.

Malaria parasites are spread by bites from infected mosquitoes.

It is a major killer of the under-fives with one child dying from the disease every two minutes.

Between 1 500 and 2 000 people are treated for malaria in the UK each year – always after foreign travel.

Most are treated with the combination drug: artemether-lumefantrine.

But clinical reports, now detailed in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, showed the therapy failed in four patients between October 2015 and February 2016.

All initially responded to therapy and were sent home, but were readmitted around a month later when the infection rebounded.

Samples of the parasite that causes malaria were analysed at the Malaria Reference Laboratory at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Dr Colin Sutherland told the BBC News website: “It’s remarkable there’s been four apparent failures of treatment, there’s not been any other published account [in the UK].”

All of the patients were eventually treated using other therapies.

But the detailed analysis of the parasites suggested they were developing ways of resisting the effects of the front-line drugs.

‘Clinically challenging’
Dr Sutherland added: “It does feel like something is changing, but we’re not yet in a crisis.

“It is an early sign and we need to take it quite seriously as it may be snowballing into something with greater impact.”

Two of the cases were associated with travel to Uganda, one with Angola and one with Liberia – suggesting drug-resistant malaria could be emerging over wide regions of the continent.

Dr Sutherland added: “There has been anecdotal evidence in Africa of treatment failure on a scale that is clinically challenging.

“We need to go in and look carefully at drug efficacy.”

The malaria parasites all seemed to be evolving different mechanisms rather than there being one new type of resistant malaria parasite spreading through the continent.

The type of resistance is also clearly distinct from the form developing in South East Asia that has been causing huge international concern.

Dr Sutherland says doctors in the UK need to be aware the drugs might not work and argued current treatment guidelines may need to be reviewed.

Professor David Lalloo, Dean of Clinical Sciences and International Public Health at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said more studies are needed.

“This is an interesting and well conducted study and again emphasises the incredible ability of the malaria parasite to rapidly evolve to become resistant to antimalarial treatment,” he said.

“It is too early to fully evaluate the significance of these findings but the paper highlights the need to be constantly vigilant when treating patients with malaria and larger studies are certainly needed to explore this issue further.” –

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