SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS

SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS

Commonly asked questions on STIs

  • Am I at risk after an unprotected sexual encounter with a new partner?
  • I have smelly discharge and my private part is itchy, what is the cause?
  • Why do I have some lesions on my private part?

What is STI?

Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are infections which spread from one person to another through sexual contact either through oral, vagina or anus contact. Organisms which cause STI include bacteria, parasites, yeast, and viruses. The most common organisms include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Herpes
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • HIV (AIDS virus)

Symptoms

Most STI may have no symptoms initially. Symptoms may appear after 2-3 weeks (known as the incubation period) and they include:

  • Painful passing water
  • Vagina or penile discharge (which may be smelly)
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Itch or discomfort in the penis or vagina
  • Swollen lymph nodes around the groin region
  • Warts (which can be small or in clusters)
  • Testicle discomfort (in men)
  • Bleeding in between periods (in women)

Photo of Genital Warts

Treatment of STI

It is important to make the diagnosis and treatment early to prevent the disease to spread because it can cause infertility to both men and women. If you have any suspicion that you may be affected by STI, see your doctor as soon as possible to get a:

  • thorough body check up
  • genital swab of the discharge
  • urine test
  • blood test

Prevention

The only way to reduce the risk of STI is to either wear a condom or get tested before getting into a sexual relationship with a new partner.

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MEASLES: WHAT IS IT?

MEASLES: WHAT IS IT?

Measles is a very contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus. It is so contagious that up to 90% non-vaccinated persons will get infected after being in contact with the virus. The symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after virus exposure and the disease can last between 7–14 days.

Symptoms of measles

  • High fever (often over 40 degrees Celcius) for around 4 days
  • Cough and runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • White spots inside the mouth by the cheeks by the molar teeth (known as Koplik’s spots)
  • Red flat rashes which starts on the face and behind the ears 3-5 days after the onset of fever before spreading to the rest of the body (trunk, arms, legs and feet).
References. www.nhs.uk , www.cdc.gov

Complications

  • Diarrhoea
  • Ear infection and deafness
  • Pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Brain inflammation (in around 0.1%) which can lead to fits or permanent brain damage
  • Even death (in around 0.2%)

Treatment

There is NO medication available once the person is infected. Treatment is supportive care to prevent complications and make the person feel more comfortable.

  • Maintain good fluid hydration. This also helps the sore throat
  • Adequate pain relief (such as Paracetamol. Avoid Aspirin)
  • Tepid sponging may help make the child feel more comfortable
  • A humidifier to moisten the air may help a child breathe easier
  • Treat any opportunistic infection during this period
  • Watch out for serious complications such as pneumonia, ear infection and epilepsy. The warning symptoms are shortness of breath, drowsiness, fits or confusion

Vaccination

Image Source: Freepik

The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease and is often delivered in combination with other vaccines (such as MMR in Malaysia – read article on “Vaccination for Children”) in 2 doses three months apart (at the ages of 9 and 12 months of age in Malaysia). The Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices (ACIP) recommends that all adult international travellers who do not have positive evidence of previous measles immunity to get 2 doses of MMR vaccine before traveling to high risk areas.

Prevention of spread

The virus spreads from saliva from coughing or sneezing by infected individuals and can stay alive for up to 2 hours in the airspace. An infected person can spread the virus from 4 days before through to 4 days after the rash appears namely a total of 8 days. As such, take the following precautions when looking after your infected child:

  • Avoid sharing drinks or food and utensils
  • Wear masks to limit virus spread from sneezing or coughing
  • Wash your hands after tending to your child
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces like door handles, table tops and toys
Click below to purchase CHOMEL Toy & Surface Cleaner

Image Source: Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia

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DENGUE FEVER: WHAT IS IT?

DENGUE FEVER: WHAT IS IT?

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne virus infection caused by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito with its characteristic white stripes on its black body.

The incubation period (known as the time from being infected by mosquito bite to onset of symptoms) may be between 3-14 days (average 4-7 days). Most people affected with dengue have symptoms such as high fever and mild aches which recover within 4-7 days. However, around 5% get more serious symptoms which may be life-threatening and require hospitalisation. The infection can result in a reduction in blood platelets thereby causing the body to bleed (hence the term dengue haemorrhage fever).

Mild symptoms

  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Skin rash (which blanches on pressure using your hand)
Warning signs

  • Diarrhoea or vomiting (more than 3 times a day)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fluid accumulation with breathing difficulty
  • Nose or gum bleeding
  • Gut bleeding
  • Drowsy (due to brain swelling)
  • Lethargic and feeling tired (due to bleeding or low blood pressure)
  • Abnormal liver function causing tender liver
  • Reduced urine output
  • Petechiae (small dot haemorrhages on the skin)

Treatment

There is NO specific anti-viral medication for dengue. Treatment is supportive and is aimed at:

  • Maintaining adequate fluid balance (ideally fruit juice, barley or isotonic drinks such as 100-plus)
  • Making sure the patient is able to pass urine (normally should be 4-6 times daily)
  • Having adequate bed rest to help the body recover
  • Tepid sponging helps to make the patient feel more comfortable
  • Taking Paracetamol for fever and muscle aches (AVOID aspirin or NSAIDs such as Nurofen as this may aggravate risk of bleeding)
  • Avoid massage or cupping on the body

If the patient has evidence of bleeding, low platelets count, feeling dehydrated or weak, he/she should be admitted to hospital for close observation and daily blood tests to monitor the situation because the clinical profile may change from day to day.  The patient may need:

  • Intravenous hydration
  • Platelet or blood transfusion if there is anaemia or very low platelets in the body

Prevention

  • Look for breeding places around the house and eliminate them
  • Have the patient rest under mosquito net to prevent spread to other members of the family
  • Report to the authorities so that fogging can be done around your housing area

Blood Test

Blood test looking for antibodies produced by the body against the dengue virus remains the most reliable way to diagnose dengue fever. Your doctor can perform the blood tests for dengue diagnosis and to check your blood and platelet level as well as kidney and liver function tests. These tests may need to be taken several times to monitor the disease progression. See your doctor asap if you suspect you may have dengue fever.

References: WHO, www.moh.gov.my, Philippine Central Info Negros

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