Stress and illness

Stress produces a steroid hormone (Glucocorticoid) known as Cortisol. Cortisol secretion is a natural response evolved to better deal with the live or death situations in our primitive jungle life. These stressors were expected to last for 30-60 seconds but the modern age with its variety of stresses has increased this duration to hours or even days. This causes considerable damage to the body and to the brain.

Cortisol counteracts the action of Insulin, the obvious evolutionary reason is to provide more glucose to the body in the time of stress. It lowers bone formation by accelerating excretion of potassium. It also enhances short term memory in cooperation with epinephrine but affects long term memory thus impairing learning. It shuts down reproductive system thus causing temporary infertility due to prolonged stress.
Caffeine increases Cortisol levels (Note to self: Avoid that extra cup!), Sleep deprivation increases Cortisol level (Note to self: Avoid that extra Criminal Minds episode!), Long travel increases Cortisol Level (Note to self: Take a house closer to the office!), Cortisol causes burnout (Note to Self: Avoid Cortisol!)

Glucocorticoids reduces the proliferation of T-Cells and also suppresses humoral immunity, thus reducing your natural immune system and making you susceptible to illness.

Disclaimer: As I have always maintained, do not take medical or for that matter any advice from a jobless “MBA” student like me. To put simply, I do not guarantee the accuracy of any information that I provide. And I am not a doctor or a microbiologist or a chemist or a PhD.

Antibiotics

Antibiotic is a term coined by Selman Waksman in 1942 which means a product of a microorganism that is harmful to another microorganism. Selman, a Russian Immigrant to United States, won the 1952 Nobel prize for physiology or medicine for his discovery of Strepomycin, used for treatment of Tuberculosis.

Alexander Fleming in 1928 observed that a culture of Penicillium Notatum produces a substance that exhibits antibacterial properties. Florey, Chain and Fleming won the 1945 Nobel for the synthesis of Penicillin. Penicillin ushered in a new era in treatment of diseases and synthesis of new antibiotics.

Antibiotics are commonly classified based on their action, spectrum of bacteria that they work against and their chemical structure.

Mechanism of antibacterial action. Courtesy Wikipedia

The major classes of Antibiotics are as follows

  • Aminoglycocides – Action against gram negative bacteria. Mechanism of action is protein synthesis inhibition. Effective against bacteria like Escherichia Coli. e.g. Neomycin, synthesized by our very own Selman Waksman
  • Carbapenem – Broad spectrum beta-lactam antibiotic. Beta lactam indicates that they have beta lactam molecule at their core. Their mechanism of action is by attacking the bacterial cell wall. Other beta lactam antibiotics include Penicillins and cephalosporins. Carbapenems are the antibiotics of last resort. Bacteria containing NDM-1 (New Delhi Metallo – 1, Beta lactamase) enzymes are resistant to carbapenems. There are no other antibiotics capable to combat bacteria resistant to Cabapenem. Thus the appearance of NDM-1 poses a grave threat of pandemic. NDM-1 acts by breaking the Beta Lactam molecule at the core of these antibiotics thus making them ineffective. Coverage is broad spectrum. E.g. Imipenum
  • Cephalosporins like Carbapenems are broad spectrum, beta lactam antibiotics. E.g. Suprax.
  • Macrolide – They contain Macrolide ring in their molecule. Effective against infections like streptococcus and syphilis. E.g. Azithromycin (Throat infection, middle ear infection, tuberculosis, bronchitis, tonsilitis etc) Erythromycin.

Gram Staining is a method used to identify the type of the bacteria. The method was created by Hans Christian Gram, a Danish scientist. The method consists of using Crystal Violet chemical which ionises into CV+ and Cl- ions. CV+ enters into cell walls of bacteria and stains the cell purple. When Gram’s Iodine is added to the mixture, it forms large complexes with CV+ inside the cell. A decolorizing agent like Alcohol or Acetone is then added which dissolves the cell wall along with the CV-I complex in a gram negative bacteria while a gram positive bacteria keeps the CV-I complex because of the multilayered structure of its outer cell wall layer of Peptidoglycan. Thus the gram positive bacteria will retain the purple color while a gram negative bacteria will lose it. Another coloring agent like Safranin is added which gives a pink color to the gram negative bacteria.

Gram Negative Bacteria – Cyanobacteria, E. Coli, Salmonella.

Gram Positive Bacteria – Streptococcus (S. pneumoniae – Pneumonia), Staphylococcus, Clostridium (C. botulinum – Botulinum, C. tetani – Tetanus).

Antibiotic - Bacteria Cell structure

Courtesy – Wikipedia

XDR-TB

XDR-TB stands for eXtremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. One third of the world’s population is infected by TB bacteria but that does not mean that those individuals show symptoms. In most of them, the TB bacteria will lie dormant until the body’s immune system is compromised due to old age, HIV or other such causes. Normal TB is treated by a combination of four, first line drugs. Due to improper usage of these drugs, a resistant strain of TB called the MDR-TB (Most Drug Resistant – TB) is in the wild now.

The MDR-TB can still be treated by using second line drugs which are costlier and have more serious side effects. The patients needs to be isolated for longer duration and side effects include hallucinations and depression. The strain of bacteria that are resistant to even these last line of defense form the XDR-TB. These strains are currently seen in parts of Russia and South Africa.

Like the usual TB, XDR-TB also spreads through air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Treatment of XDR-TB is the same as for MDR-TB but the survival rate is lower and a much extensive regimen of antibiotics needs to be administered.

More research into finding an effective cure for these resistant variants is required. But since TB is more prevalent in the emerging world, the pharma giants do not have the same incentive to carry research on it like they have for more “rich” ailments like heart disease and cancer.

Don’t Ask!

Last week I tried upgrading WordPress to its new version and surprise surprise it failed. Then my wordpress crashed and the site stopped working. Tried reinstalling it but no use. Stupid fastastico in cpanel does not work. Had to call up support and ask them to install.

Then I tried restoring the site using the DB backup and that caused the site to crash again. Had to manually update each table and restore the posts, comments and other links. No need to say that I was stupid enough to not backup and images. So I have all the posts without the images.  And the WordPress still does not updates to the latest version. Could not even install new themes from the admin console. Had to manually copy the files to the themes folder.

Now the site looks stable. Had to add the google analytics and the adsense codes again. They are not visible yet but hopefully in the next few hours the ads will start getting displayed. Will put the images as and when I can.
Update: I had adblocker enabled on my chrome so could not see the ads.

Wasted 3.5 hours on this shit.

Life

Have you faced times in your life when you were sad and at the same time you were happy? It is a weird feeling and it generally happens when you do the right thing. The feeling of being nice gives you that happy feeling and the feeling of loosing something because of being nice makes you feel unhappy.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius has lately been a huge influence on the way I think and the way I am trying to lead my life. He talks about not letting external things affect and just do the right thing. It does not matter what others think as everything in the world is temporary. You, your loved ones, your enemies, everyone would be part of dust sooner or later. The past and the future exists only in our mind. It is only the present that has an existence and it is the one that matters.

Live your life in the present. What matters is what you believe in. Do not bother about things outside your self. You do not have any control over them and hence cannot change them. Be grateful for the things you have. Have a purpose in your mind and work for that.