Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties.
It affects people of all ages and often starts in childhood, although it can also develop for the first time in adults.
There's currently no cure, but there are simple treatments that can help keep the symptoms under control so it does not have a big impact on your life.
This causes wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and shortness of breath. A cough often occurs early morning or at night time. Asthma cannot be cured but some treatments can reduce the symptoms and can be controlled. It affects people with all age groups and often occurs in children’s.
Lower respiratory tract infections are any infections in the lungs or below the voice box. These include pneumonia, bronchitis, and tuberculosis.
A lower respiratory tract infection can affect the airways, such as with bronchitis, or the air sacs at the end of the airways, as in the case of pneumonia.
A study in Europe determined that acute lower respiratory tract infections — attributable to indoor air pollution from solid fuel use alone — account for 4.6% of all deaths and 3.1% of all DALYs in children aged 0-4 (WHO,2020)...
Adding the effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution and other indoor conditions, at least 42% (95% Confidence Interval: 32—47%) of all lower respiratory infections were estimated to be attributable to the environment in developing countries. In developed countries, this rate was about halved to 20% (15—25%).
It was more difficult to quantify the influence of other environmental factors (e.g. chilling, crowding), and the co-morbidities with other diseases that are partly attributable to the environment (e.g. malaria and diarrhoea), but they may add to the environmental health burden of lower respiratory infections.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and disease.
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the name used to describe a number of potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus.
While AIDS cannot be transmitted from 1 person to another, the HIV virus can.
Malaria is a serious tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. If it isn't diagnosed and treated promptly, it can be fatal.
A single mosquito bite is all it takes for someone to become infected.
It's important to be aware of the symptoms of malaria if you're travelling to areas where there's a high risk of the disease. Symptoms include:
Symptoms usually appear between 7 and 18 days after becoming infected, but in some cases the symptoms may not appear for up to a year, or occasionally even longer.
A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential.
The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
Do not delay if you feel very unwell or think there's something seriously wrong. Call 999
Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings. These can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression).
Episodes of mania and depression often last for several weeks or months.
During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:
Diarrhoea and vomiting are common in adults, children and babies. They're often caused by a stomach bug and should stop in a few days.
The advice is the same if you have diarrhoea and vomiting together or separately.
You can usually treat yourself or your child at home. The most important thing is to have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.
In adults and children:
To help avoid spreading an infection:
They may recommend:
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person.
It mainly affects the lungs, but it can affect any part of the body, including the tummy (abdomen), glands, bones and nervous system.
TB is a potentially serious condition, but it can be cured if it's treated with the right antibiotics.
Typical symptoms of TB include:
You should see a GP if you have a cough that lasts more than 3 weeks or you cough up blood.
TB is a bacterial infection. TB that affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) is the most contagious type, but it usually only spreads after prolonged exposure to someone with the illness.
In most healthy people, the body's natural defence against infection and illness (the immune system) kills the bacteria and there are no symptoms.
Sometimes the immune system cannot kill the bacteria, but manages to prevent it spreading in the body.
You will not have any symptoms, but the bacteria will remain in your body. This is known as latent TB. People with latent TB are not infectious to others.
If the immune system fails to kill or contain the infection, it can spread within the lungs or other parts of the body and symptoms will develop within a few weeks or months. This is known as active TB.
Latent TB could develop into an active TB disease at a later date, particularly if your immune system becomes weakened.
With treatment, TB can almost always be cured. A course of antibiotics will usually need to be taken for 6 months.
Several different antibiotics are used because some forms of TB are resistant to certain antibiotics.
If you're infected with a drug-resistant form of TB, treatment with 6 or more different medications may be needed.
If you're diagnosed with pulmonary TB, you'll be contagious for about 2 to 3 weeks into your course of treatment.
You will not usually need to be isolated during this time, but it's important to take some basic precautions to stop the infection spreading to your family and friends.
The BCG vaccine offers protection against TB, and is recommended on the NHS for babies, children and adults under the age of 35 who are considered to be at risk of catching TB.
The BCG vaccine is not routinely given to anyone over the age of 35 as there's no evidence that it works for people in this age group.
At-risk groups include:
If you're a healthcare worker or NHS employee and you come into contact with patients or clinical specimens, you should also have a TB vaccination, irrespective of age, if:
Parts of the world with high rates of TB include:
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver caused by long-term liver damage. The scar tissue prevents the liver working properly.
Cirrhosis can eventually lead to liver failure, where your liver stops working, which can be fatal.
But it usually takes years for the condition to reach this stage and treatment can help slow its progression.
You may not have any symptoms during the early stages of cirrhosis. As your liver becomes more damaged, you may:
As the condition gets worse, further symptoms can include:
See your GP if you think you may have cirrhosis.
If your GP suspects cirrhosis, they'll check your medical history and carry out a physical examination to look for signs of long-term liver disease.
You may have tests to confirm the diagnosis. Tests include:
There's currently no cure for cirrhosis. But it's possible to manage the symptoms and any complications, and slow its progression.
Treating the underlying cause, such as using anti-viral medication to treat a hepatitis C infection, can also stop cirrhosis getting worse.
You may be advised to cut down on or stop drinking alcohol, or lose weight if you're overweight. A wide range of alcohol support services are available.
If your liver is severely scarred, it can stop functioning. In this case, a liver transplant is the only treatment option.
In the UK, the most common causes of cirrhosis are:
Drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver's cells.
Alcohol-related cirrhosis usually develops after 10 or more years of heavy drinking.
Women who drink heavily are more likely to get liver damage than men, partly because of their different size and build.
The best way of preventing alcohol-related cirrhosis is to drink within the recommended limits:
You should stop drinking alcohol immediately if you have alcohol-related cirrhosis. Alcohol speeds up the rate at which cirrhosis progresses, regardless of the cause.
Your GP can give you help and advice if you're finding it difficult to cut down the amount you drink.
Hepatitis B and C are infections you can get by having unprotected sex or sharing needles to inject drugs.
The liver is an important organ that carries out hundreds of jobs vital for sustaining life.
For example, it:
Your liver is very tough. It'll keep working even if badly damaged, and can continue to repair itself until it's severely damaged.
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly.
It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
A number of vaccinations are available that offer some protection against meningitis.
Symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:
These symptoms can appear in any order. You do not always get all the symptoms.
You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you're concerned that you or your child could have meningitis.
Trust your instincts and do not wait until a rash develops.
Call your GP surgery for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious or you think you may have been exposed to someone with meningitis.
Meningitis is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection.
Bacterial meningitis is rarer but more serious than viral meningitis.
Infections that cause meningitis can be spread through:
Meningitis is usually caught from people who carry these viruses or bacteria in their nose or throat but are not ill themselves.
It can also be caught from someone with meningitis, but this is less common.
Vaccinations offer some protection against certain causes of meningitis.
These include the:
People with suspected meningitis will usually have tests in hospital to confirm the diagnosis and check whether the condition is the result of a viral or bacterial infection.
Bacterial meningitis usually needs to be treated in hospital for at least a week.
Viral meningitis tends to get better on its own within 7 to 10 days and can often be treated at home.
Getting plenty of rest and taking painkillers and anti-sickness medication can help relieve the symptoms in the meantime.
Viral meningitis will usually get better on its own and rarely causes any long-term problems.
Most people with bacterial meningitis who are treated quickly will also make a full recovery, although some are left with serious long-term problems.
These can include:
Overall, it's estimated up to 1 in every 10 cases of bacterial meningitis is fatal.
Problems in newborns may develop
About 10% of newborns need special care after birth due to prematurity, problems with the transition from fetal to newborn life, low blood sugar, difficulty breathing, infections, or other abnormalities. Specialized care is often given in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Gestational age refers to how far along the fetus is. Many issues that affect newborns are related to the gestational age because it reflects the newborn's degree of physical maturity at birth. The gestational age is the number of weeks between the first day of the mother's last menstrual period and the day of delivery. This time frame is often adjusted according to other information doctors receive, including the results of early ultrasound scans, which give additional information regarding the gestational age.
Babies are estimated to be due (the due date) at a gestational age of 40 weeks.
Newborns are classified by gestational age as