Ultrasounds and Nicotine – Explorer Health Log

You could consider this the very first post in a new series or a regular column in my blog; the Explorer Health Log. It is roundup of the latest health news and stories that I’ve found in my explorations of the world wide web coupled with my insights, comments, musings and possible relation or implication to us Pilipinos.

Now I confess that I’ve been not so good at maintaining blogging series or regular columns in the past, but my renewed interest and enthusiasm with health and biology could turn things around and take this new blogging effort to new heights. Of course, the biggest boost to this little campaign of my would be your support. I also know that I could be downright boring and geeky at times but this time around I’ll infuse into this post and future posts to come in this column, some of my weirdness or “kakulitan” that my offline friends, classmates and professors often find quite amusing and informative at the same time. I hope and will do the utmost to bring that shade of my personality to this blog for all of you.

Now enough of this shenanigans and lets get right down to business. In this first installment of the Explorer Health Log column I’ll be sharing with you two interesting developments in health.

3D Ultrasound image of 29-week old fetusFirst off, it’s about the ever so handy and reliable ultrasound and how it affects the brain development of fetuses. Scared or concerned already? Relax, I assure you there’s no cause for that at present and I’ll show why later on.

First off again, what is an ultrasound anyway? I know almost all of us has an idea of what ultrasound is, from all the movies, tv shows and documentaries we’ve seen. For the sake of those unfamiliar or who would like to get the real lowdown on what the heck an ultrasound really is, here are some basic infos from MedicineNet.com.

An ultrasound test is a radiology technique, which uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the organs and structures of the body. The sound waves are sent through body tissues with a device called a transducer. The transducer is placed directly on top of the skin, which has a gel applied to the surface. The sound waves that are sent by the transducer through the body are then reflected by internal structures as “echoes.” These echoes return to the transducer and are transmitted electrically onto a viewing monitor. The echo images are then recorded on a plane film and can also be recorded on videotape. After the ultrasound, the gel is easily wiped off.

The technical term for ultrasound testing and recording is “sonography.” Ultrasound testing is painless and harmless. Ultrasound tests involve no radiation and studies have not revealed any adverse effects.

So there, ultrasound, from its name already is a technique wherein high frequency sound is used to have a look of what’s going inside our bodies. No surgery, no blood, no nasty scars and best of all no radiation. For more info about ultrasound go here and Answers.com will take care of everything.

Now back to ultrasound and how it affects brain development, notice that I’ve emphasized the last sentence from the quoted info from MedicineNet.com? It is because the health news I’ve come across aims to change all of that. That health news tells of a study that has shown that “Ultrasound Affects Growing Brain.” Again relax a little because the study only used laboratory mice and exposed them to high levels of the seemingly safe ultrasound.

They used pregnant lab mice and exposed the embryos, or baby mice inside, to high doses of ultrasound at long periods of time. The results were quite disturbing as it turned out that the ultrasound had disrupted the embryo’s brain development and caused some abnormalities. More studies are needed to confirm or know if the same thing could happen to human embryos. So far, there has been no documented case of using ultrasound as having bad effects on human embryos. Still, the study is just a reminder that every medical tool or technique should be used responsibly and with great care.

Not so bad nicotine

Nicotine is a colorless, poisonous alkaloid derived from the tobacco plant and used as an insecticide. It is the substance in tobacco to which smokers can become addicted. (more info here)

Quit SmokingLike the ultrasound, the use of nicotine determines if it is bad or good for the body. It is both a stimulant and depressant in small doses, depending mainly on the mood of the user. It fact, it can reach the brain in just 7 seconds after being introduced into the body. Once inside the brain, it stimulates the release of adrenaline which in turn increases blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. It also known to lessen the appetite of a person that’s why some people smoke cigarettes when they’re hungry, I say just go for some soda crackers instead. In massive doses however, it can be dangerous with a 40-60 mg dosage being lethal to adult humans.

At present, nicotine is used in therapy to treat nicotine dependence. Recent studies have also indicated that it could also help in the treatment of autosomal frontal lobe epilepsy. The most recent research news I’ve come across about the good medical use of the substance is a study that Found Nicotine To Protect Against Parkinson’s-like Brain Damage.

Don’t rejoice yet and start puffing tobaccos, cigars and cigarettes because smoking is still dangerous to your health as illustrated by Jam in Filipino Health Issues and Problems. She also has tips on how to cope after one has quit smoking but just to be sure, doctors are now testing anti-smoking vaccine.

That’s it for this installment of the Pinoy Explorer Health Log, thank you for your time, stay healthy, eat right, exercise, for the love of God stop smoking and do come back for the next column.

Cheers!

2 Comments

  1. It just goes to show that science cannot be a guaranteed answer. New discoveries are found everyday and what we once knew changes instantly.

    About that nicotine thing, I personally dont smoke but I’m sure smokers will use this an excuse for smoking! 🙂

    Reply

  2. Hello All,

    I was reading around some of the posts here and I found interesting things that you guys talk about, I just made a blog about quitting smoking resources and ideas that you might want to check out.

    If someone is interested in this topic just go to; http://endthehabitnow.blogspot.com and let me know what you think.

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply

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