HIV Testing FAQs

Why is the HIV ELISA test reported as non-reactive if it is ‘negative’?

A non-reactive result means that no HIV antibodies were found. This would find any exposures which happened 6 weeks prior to test or before that. A non-reactive test does not mean that a person is immune to HIV in the future only that they do not show the virus in their body at the time of the test.

A negative HIV test means that no signs of HIV infection were detected. However, the implications of a negative HIV test depend on the sensitivity of the test performed, as well as the time elapsed between testing and possible exposure to HIV.

What is the p24 antigen and HIV 1&2 ELISA test?

  • HIV antigen tests look for the presence of HIV virus.
  • HIV antibody tests look for the presence of HIV antibodies.

After infection with HIV,

  • It takes about two weeks for the virus to replicate and produce enough antigen to be detectable
  • It takes more than three weeks for the body to produce sufficient antibodies to be detectable through testing.

So if not enough time has passed since the potential exposure, it is possible to obtain false negative results, necessitating further testing.

For HIV testing: What is better – a spot test or an ELISA test?

A Spot Test for HIV detects HIV antibodies. The rapid test detects antibodies to HIV 1&2

An ELISA test for HIV also detects HIV antibodies.

Some ELISA tests for HIV detect antigen and antibodies (HIV DUO / 4th generation tests)

No HIV test can detect HIV immediately after infection.

Is HIV Spot Test a preventive test?

NO. It does not prevent HIV infection. It tests if you have HIV infection or not.

The window period for HIV p24 antigen is 28 days but can I test for it within 10 days?

A combination or fourth-generation test looks for both HIV antibodies and antigens.

Antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate. The antigen is part of the virus itself and is present during acute HIV infection (the phase of infection right after people are infected but before they develop antibodies to HIV).

Antigen can be detected between 14-21 days after infection.

So the answer to your question is NO. You cannot use the p24 antigen ELISA test to test for HIV within 10 days.

You are not testing virus at Disha Pathology, you are testing for antibody. How many days after infection will the antibody be detected?

At Disha Pathology we offer two types of HIV tests.

  1. HIV Spot test (Rapid Test)
  2. HIV p24 antigen and HIV 1&2 antibody test (ELISA Test)

So yes, we test for virus (antigen) and antibody in the same ELISA test

The time between when a person gets HIV and when a test can accurately detect it is called the window period. The window period varies from person to person and also depends upon the type of HIV test.

Most, but not all people, will make enough antigens and antibodies for fourth-generation or combination tests to accurately detect infection 2 to 6 weeks (14 to 42 days) after infection.

Antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate. The antigen is part of the virus itself and is present during acute HIV infection (the phase of infection right after people are infected but before they develop antibodies to HIV).

Antigen can be detected between 14-21 days after infection.

Antibodies are produced by your immune system when you’re exposed to viruses like HIV or bacteria. HIV antibody tests look for these antibodies to HIV in your blood.

The soonest an antibody test will detect infection is 3 weeks. Most (approximately 97%), but not all, people will develop detectable antibodies within 3 to 12 weeks (21 to 84 days) of infection.

What is the HIV PCR test?

PCR tests (polymerase chain reaction tests) – also test for the actual virus. This type of test is often used for testing the viral load of HIV-positive people, as well as testing babies born to HIV-positive mothers.

It looks for HIV in the blood. It looks for the virus and not the antibodies to the virus. This test is very expensive and not routinely used for screening individuals unless they recently had a high-risk exposure or a possible exposure with early symptoms of HIV infection.

Most, but not all people, will have enough HIV in their blood for a PCR / nucleic acid test to detect infection 1 to 4 weeks (7 to 28 days) after infection.

How often should you test yourself for HIV?

If you get an HIV test within 3 months after a potential HIV exposure and the result is negative, get tested again in 3 more months to be sure.

If you learned you were HIV-negative the last time you were tested, you can only be sure you’re still negative if you haven’t had a potential HIV exposure since your last test. If you’re sexually active, continue to take actions to prevent HIV, like using condoms the right way every time you have sex and taking medicines to prevent HIV if you’re at high risk.

Pregnancy Tests


If you have been planning to get pregnant, chances are this question will rise in your mind the day you miss your period. But for some of us who may not have regular monthly cycles, a home pregnancy test and physical symptoms can provide the answer.


The home pregnancy test works by detecting a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in urine. This hormone appears in a pregnant woman’s urine, approximately 20 days after her last menstrual period. The levels then rise rapidly, reaching a peak in the next 60 to 80 days. Today, these kits are available over the counter at most chemists and are quick and easy to use.

If you have a negative result when you first test, it may be that the levels of hCG have not yet reached a level where they can be detected by a test, even by the day your period is due, so you may want to wait a few days then test again.

Some laboratories also conduct the urine test in case you are not able to procure the home pregnancy test in your vicinity.


Blood tests are used less often than urine tests. These tests can detect pregnancy earlier than a home pregnancy test, or about six to eight days after ovulation. But with these tests, it takes longer to get the results than with a home pregnancy test.

Two types of blood pregnancy tests are available:

A qualitative hCG test simply checks to see if hCG is present. It gives a “yes” or “no” answer to the question, “Are you pregnant?”

A quantitative hCG test (beta hCG) measures the exact amount of hCG in your blood. It can find even very low levels of hCG. Because these pregnancy tests can measure the concentration of hCG, they may be helpful in tracking any problems during pregnancy. They may also (in combination with other tests) be used to rule out a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy or to monitor a woman after a miscarriage when hCG levels fall rapidly.


A woman’s body starts changing from the moment the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus, which indicates a successful start to pregnancy. Following are some symptoms that can indicate that you could be pregnant; however note that not all symptoms may occur and are not a reliable indication of pregnancy.

Breast changes: Because of hormonal changes, breasts may become swollen, sore, or tingly a week or two later. Or they may feel heavier or fuller or feel tender to the touch. The area around the nipples, called the areola, may also darken.

Spotting and cramping: When the fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus, it can cause spotting or implantation bleeding. It occurs anywhere from six to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. The cramps resemble menstrual cramps, so some women mistake them and the bleeding for the start of their period. The bleeding and cramps, however, are slight. Some women may also experience an increased vaginal discharge without any soreness or irritation.

Fatigue: A woman can start feeling unusually fatigued as soon as one week after conceiving. It is often related to a high level of a hormone called progesterone, although other things — such as lower levels of blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and a boost in blood production — can all contribute.

Morning sickness: Not all women experience nausea or morning sickness during their pregnancy. Contrary to its name, it can happen at any time during the day. At the same time, some women crave, or can’t stand, certain foods when they become pregnant. You may also experience a strange taste in your mouth; many women describe it as metallic. While the symptoms lessen for many women at about the 13th or 14th week of their pregnancy, it is possible that the nausea, cravings, and food aversions can last for the entire pregnancy.

Frequent urination, constipation, mood swings and headaches / back pain are also experienced by some women early on in their pregnancy.


Whether you have tested positive with the home pregnancy test or have one or more of the above symptoms, it is important to confirm your pregnancy with a blood test – called the Beta hCG test – at a reliable pathology laboratory, run by a certified pathologist.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you will then need to make an appointment with your gynecologist to advise you further on your pregnancy. All the best!

Are You at the Risk of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Imagine how it would feel if a mere action of sitting would feel like an effort? Or, if you had to push yourself to the extreme to achieve the smallest thing or the feeling of being physically drained out after a handsome sleep? That is exactly how you would feel when you are suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 can be hard to recognize because the body stores Vitamin B12 for many years before the early symptoms appear and develops quickly. This makes Vitamin B12 deficiency a serious health issue which requires immediate attention.

10 Reasons Why Vitamin B12 is Necessary

Boost Energy Levels – Vitamin B12 converts stored carbohydrates into glucose which produces energy thereby decreasing fatigue and lethargy in the body.

Boost Metabolism Activity – With the increase in energy levels, Vitamin B12 also promotes weight loss and burning more calories.

Stimulates Absorption of Folic Acid – Vitamin B12 also leads to better absorption of folic acid (Vitamin B9) which helps in releasing more energy.

Development of Red Blood Cells – Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a blood disorder known as anemia which can cause severe and permanent brain and nerve damage.

Healthy Nervous System – Vitamin B12 helps in smooth and proper functioning of brain and nerve cells in the body.

Treats Depression – Vitamin B12 can influence your emotional state and mood and keep you happy and treat depression.

Healthy Hair and Skin – Vitamin B12 is vital for RNA and DNA synthesis and cell reproduction and maintaining healthy hair and skin.

Facilitates Healthy Sleep Patterns – Vitamin B12 improves melatonin production to help you sleep better.

Regulates Homocysteine Levels – A balanced dose of Vitamin B12 and folic acid can regulate homocysteine levels in the blood plasma cells decreasing the risk of stroke, osteoporosis and heart conditions.

Regulates Brain Health – Vitamin B12 eliminates mental decline and promotes healthy functioning of the brain and neurological system.

How Do I Know If I am Suffering from Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

While it can be hard to recognize Vitamin B12 deficiency, but there are some early visible signs and symptoms, digestive problems, and immune system issues like:

  • Fatigue
  • Tingling sensation in fingers and toes
  • Poor Concentration/Memory Loss
  • Dizziness
  • Pale complexion
  • Loss of taste sensation & sore tongue
  • Feeling depressed & anxious, mood swings
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Upset Stomach/Constipation/Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss

Why is My Vitamin B12 Too Low?

There are many causes that can lead to Vitamin B12 like:

  • Heavy Consumption of Alcohol
  • Immune system disorders
  • Long-term consumption of acid-reducing drugs
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Atrophic gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach)
  • Pernicious Anemia (a decrease in red blood cells when the body can’t absorb enough Vitamin B12)
  • Old Age
  • Low consumption of Vitamin B12 foods (especially vegans)

Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Hereditary?

No. However, in some cases, Vitamin B12 deficiency is caused by an inherited genetic disorder. Hence, proper genetic testing is required to determine B12 deficiencies caused by inherited disorders.

Understanding Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

Vitamin B12 deficiency indicates that there is not enough B12 vitamin in your body to develop red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body. Since your body does not have adequate red blood cells you feel tired and weak and further lead to brain and nerve damage. In most cases, Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when your stomach and intestine do not absorb the vitamin. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also occur if you don’t eat enough foods that contain Vitamin B12, or when you are consuming more alcohol and taking excessive prescription and nonprescription medicines.

How Much Vitamin B12 You Need?

Now, that we know why we need Vitamin B12, the important question is what the normal range for Vitamin B12 levels are and how much do we need?

The amount of Vitamin B12 you need depends on your age. Below is the chart that can help you find your recommended daily amount of Vitamin B12.

Age (Years) Daily Amount of Recommended B12 (in micrograms)
1-3 0.9 mcg
4-8 1.2 mcg
9-13 1.8 mcg
14 and above 2.4 mcg
Pregnant Women 2.6 mcg
Breast-feeding Women 2.8 mcg

A Vitamin B12 test measures the amount of Vitamin B12 in the blood. This helps you to check for Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia and other types of it like megaloblastic anemia. The test can also help you find the cause of dementia and other nervous system symptoms.

To take your Vitamin B12 test you can contact:

Phone: +91 22 66949876 / 9833141024



Why do employers test their employees for drug abuse?

Why do employers test their employees for drug abuse?

Alcohol and drug abuse creates significant safety and health hazards and can result in decreased productivity and poor employee morale.

drug abuse

Common reasons employers implement drug testing are to:

  • Deter employees from abusing alcohol and drugs
  • Prevent hiring individuals who use illegal drugs
  • Be able to identify early and appropriately refer employees who have drug and/or alcohol problems
  • Provide a safe workplace for employees
  • Protect the general public and instill consumer confidence that employees are working safely

Drugs of Abuse Testing usually checks for five illicit drugs which are: 

  1. Amphetamines (meth, speed, crank, ecstasy)
  2. THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash)
  3. Cocaine (coke, crack)
  4. Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
  5. Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)

drugs of abuse

Testing is also available for

  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital, butalbital, secobarbital, downers)
  • Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers like Valium, Librium, Xanax)
  • Methaqualone (Quaaludes)
  • Methadone (often used to treat heroin addiction)
  • Propoxyphene (Darvon compounds)

Testing can also be done for:

  • Hallucinogens (LSD, mushrooms, mescaline, peyote)
  • Inhalants (paint, glue, hairspray)
  • Anabolic steroids (synthesized, muscle-building hormones)
  • Hydrocodone (prescription medication known as Lortab,Vicodin, Oxycodone)
  • MDMA ( commonly known as Ecstasy)

How is the testing done?

The most common method of drug testing is by testing a urine sample. An employee or applicant provides a sample to be tested.  Usually precautions are taken, such as putting blue dye in the toilet and turning off the water supply, to prevent adulteration or substitution of specimens so that collection can be completed in privacy without any direct visual observation by another person.

How long are drugs in one’s system?

Drugs have certain “detection windows”—the amount of time after ingestion during which evidence of their use can be detected by a drug test.

The following are estimates of the length of time that certain drugs are detectable:

1)      Alcohol – 1 oz. for 1.5 hours

2)     Amphetamines – 48 hours

3)     Barbiturates – 2-10 days

4)      Benzodiazepines – 2-3 weeks

5)      Cocaine – 2-10 days

6)      Heroin Metabolite – less than 1 day

7)      Morphine – 2-3 days

8)      LSD – 8 hours

9)      Marijuana – casual use, 3-4 days; chronic use, several weeks

10)      Methamphetamine – 2-3 days

11)      Methadone – 2-3 days

12)      Phencyclidine (PCP) – 1 week

How You Can Prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Get the Facts

Equip yourself with basic information about STDs: How are these diseases spread? How can you protect yourself? What are the treatment options?

Take Control

You have the facts; now protect yourself and your sexual partners.

Effective strategies for reducing STD risk include:


The most reliable way to avoid infection is to not have sex (i.e., anal, vaginal or oral).


Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent Hepatitis B and HPV.

It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active.

You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.

Mutual monogamy:

Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.

Reduced number of sex partners:

Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.


Correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex.

Put Yourself to the Test

Knowing your STD status is a critical step to stopping STD transmission. If you know you are infected you can take steps to protect yourself and your partners.

Many STDs can be easily diagnosed and treated. If either you or your partner is infected, both of you need to receive treatment at the same time to avoid getting re-infected.

Tips about Anaemia

1. Did you know you can test if you may have anemia at home. Pull your bottom eyelid to see what it looks like underneath. If it’s bright red, you’re not anemic. If it’s paler or white, you should consult your doctor.
2. Avoid nutritional anemia by eating foods that are high in iron daily.
3. Although anemia can occur at any age and for both genders, young children and pre-menopausal women have the greatest risk. Post-menopausal women and adult and adolescent men have the lowest risk.
4. Pregnancy increases a woman’s chances of becoming anemic because the demands placed on her body increase her need for folic acid and iron. Fluid retention may also dilute the red blood cell count. Pregnant women should always supplement their diet with diet prescribed vitamins and supplements.
5. Chronic or serious conditions that cause bleeding or swelling increase the risk for anemia.

Diagnosis of malaria — everything you should know


With a significant rise in the number of people suffering from malaria, it is one of the major health concerns in India. Most people tend to ignore the early signs of malaria, which can lead to severe health complications or even death if not treated in time. While getting tested and treated for malaria is the next step, here are a few things you should know about tests for malaria.

When should you get tested for malaria?

Dr Vineet Banga, MD pathology, specialist at government of NCT of Delhi says, ‘Most people, at the initial stage, experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, nausea, sweat, malaise (weakness and discomfort), muscle aches and vomiting. If you are not well and have any of the these symptoms, get tested for malaria without delay.’ Here are 11 complications of malaria you should know.

If you experience flu-like symptoms that have not subsided in 2-3 days, Dr Abha Shroff, chief pathologist and director at Disha Pathology Labs, Mumbai suggests visiting a doctor as you could be at risk of suffering from malaria. See a doctor if –

  • You reside in an area where several cases of malaria have been reported in the past few days.
  • You are exposed to mosquitoes.

Diagnosis of malaria – How is it done?

PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) and antibody tests are also known to detect malaria but are not commonly preferred as they are expensive. The parasite is readily detected by blood smears and antigen tests — the commonly used tests to detect malaria.

#1 Peripheral smear for malaria parasite

Also known as blood smear, a thick and thin smear is made from a drop of blood. The smear is stained and observed under a microscope for malaria parasite.

Significance of the test: The presence of Plasmodium in blood confirms the diagnosis of malaria and also differentiates between the four common types of parasite – Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae. It is important to distinguish between these types since the treatment for each could vary. Read: How is malaria treated?

When to do the test: According to Dr Banga, this test should be done when the patient is experiencing chills and fever.

Cost of the test: The approximate cost of this test is Rs. 150.

Availability of reports: The reports of this test can be availed on the same day of testing.

#2 Rapid malaria antigen testing

This test requires around 2 ml of blood sample, which is put on a testing strip to diagnose malaria. This test detects malaria antigens (proteins) in the blood sample. The occurrence of a band on the strip indicates a positive result.

Significance of the test: ‘Some rapid tests may detect all four common species (P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale and P. malariae) but may not distinguish between them. Hence, it is recommended that a positive result of this test be supplemented with blood smear test to confirm and determine the presence of the parasite,’ explains Dr Abha Shroff. Did you know these top 5 promising researches in malaria treatment, prevention and control?

When to do the test: The test does not require any prerequisite conditions like empty stomach or presence of high fever. It can be done at any time of the day or according to your doctor’s recommendation.

Cost of the test: Cost of the rapid malaria test ranges from Rs 350 – Rs 500.

Availability of reports: The reports of this test can be availed on the same day of testing.

What you should know about the tests?

Dr Abha sheds light on few important things you should keep in the mind when getting tested for malaria

  • The malaria parasite can be detected at any time of the day, there is no need to fast before getting tested for malaria.
  • It is preferable to draw a blood sample when the fever is rising to reduce the chances of false negative results.
  • If the first blood test for malaria does not show the presence of malaria parasites and the doctor suspects malaria, the test can be repeated every 8 to 12 hours or whenever the patient is experiencing high fever.

Note: If you’re already on medication for malaria, the test may give a negative result. Here are 10 natural ways to keep your home mosquito-free.

Are there any additional tests your doctor may recommend?

In some cases, the doctor might recommend G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate) test. This test is used to determine the deficiency of G6PD, an enzyme. As premaquin, a medication used to treat malaria, can lead to hemolysis (breaking of blood cells), people with G6PD deficiency should not take this medication. In such cases, doxycycline is recommended. Hence, getting tested for G6PD helps in the treatment of malaria. Read about 5 ways to save your baby from mosquito bites.

Diagnosis of Swine flu – what you should know about the deadly H1N1 virus

Swine flu has already claimed so many lives across the nation and the toll is rising. Although precautionary measures to tackle swine flu have been employed by the Government, it is up to the patients to follow them properly and get tested, if they experience symptoms of this disease caused by H1N1 influenza A virus. The diagnosis of swine flu is usually based on the symptoms and the clinical history of the person.

Dr Abha Shroff, chief pathologist and director at Disha Pathology Labs, Mumbai explains, ‘As swine flu is a viral infection of the respiratory system and characterized by flu-like symptoms, a throat swab is one of the most effective ways to detect the virus. Other tests that are done include mucus test and blood test.’ However here are few things you need to know about diagnosis of swine flu:

  • There is no need to prepare for the test such as fasting before getting test. However, do not use mouthwash before going for the test as it may cleanse the microbial load present in the throat region.
  • If symptoms such as fever, cough or body pain do not subside within 2 – 3 days, then you should visit your doctor. Based on your symptoms and the severity of the infection, he/she may recommend tests or start with treatment for flu. Here are swine flu symptoms and signs you MUST be aware of!
  • As it takes around one day’s time for the symptoms to be seen after infection with the virus, it should be noted that those who are infected are contagious from a day prior to the sickness and around 5-7 days after the infection subsides.
  • Children, pregnant women and those suffering from life-threatening diseases and having low immunity are at an increased risk of infection and hence, if they experience any flu-like symptoms they should get tested to prevent spread of the infection.

Your doctor might conduct physical examination such as checking your body temperature and infection of the mouth, prior to ordering lab tests to detect swine flu. The common laboratory tests that are done to diagnose swine flu include:

Throat swab – DrPrakash Jiandani, director of critical care unit, Wockhardt Hospital, South Mumbai
mentions that,

‘This is done to identify the cause of the throat infection or respiratory infection. Your doctor will take a sample by rubbing sterile cotton swab at the back of your throat (namely near the tonsils). In some case, scrapping the area with the swab several times is done as it increases the chances of detection of the microbes.’

Mucus test – It involves analysis or testing of the nasal secretions (nasopharyngeal fluid) to detect the virus. The viral culture or sample is taken from the patient’s nose or mucus secretion around 4 – 5 days after being infection. This is because, the virus spreads easily during this stage and hence, the chance of infection is high. Read about is swine flu curable?

Blood test – As viral infections normally do not cause any changes in the routine blood test, a complete blood test (CBC) is also recommended. With the help of blood test, bacterial infection leading to flu-like symptoms may be ruled out.

Chest X-ray – This test might be recommended to detect the severity of the lung infection caused due to viral infection. This is usually prescribed for patients severely affected by swine flu and not every person suffering from this disease needs to undergo this test.

Urine test – Although urine test is not a mandatory test to detect swine flu, it is done in some cases to rule out urinary tract infections and related health complications.
These are common tests that are done to diagnose swine flu, however your doctor might recommended other tests as well to rule out other diseases. Even if the tests are positive, there is no need to panic as medications are available to get treated. Here is everything you should know about swine flu treatment and medicines — Tamiflu, Relenza and more.

What is thyroid?

A. A thyroid is a gland at the base of the neck. This important part of your body produces hormones that regulate blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and weight.

Q. What are potential thyroid problems?

A. There are four main thyroid afflictions: hyperthyroidismhypothyroidismthyroid cancer and thyroid nodules.

  • Hyperthyroidism is the case of an overactive thyroid.
  • Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is underactive.
  • Thyroid cancer refers to a malignancy in the cells of the thyroid.
  • Thyroid nodules are growths on the thyroid.

While all of these conditions can be serious, each has its own symptoms and distinctions.

Q. What are the symptoms of thyroid problems? How are they treated?

A. As stated before, each thyroid problem has its own nuances. Here are common symptoms to look for with each condition:

  • Hyperthyroidism. Weight loss, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, fatigue, trouble sleeping, tremors and sweating.
  • Hypothyroidism. Thinning hair, weight gain, fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pain, depression and impaired memory.
  • Thyroid cancer. A lump on your neck, difficulty swallowing, swollen lymph nodes and changes in your voice.
  • Thyroid nodules. In many cases, nodules don’t produce symptoms. In other cases, nodules become large enough that you can see and/or feel them. Some nodules are cancerous, although most are benign.

Contact your health care team if you experience these symptoms or have other concerns about potential thyroid health.


Treatment options for these conditions include:

  • Hyperthyroidism. Multiple treatments are available for hyperthyroidism. Treatments include radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medications, beta blockers or surgery. It’s important to discuss options with your health care provider to determine what’s best for you.
  • Hypothyroidism. The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is an oral medication called synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine.  After taking this medication, people see improvements with fatigue and even weight management. Finding the right dosage is key, as all patients require different care plans.
  • Thyroid cancer. Treatment for thyroid cancer is dependent on the type, size and stage of the tumor. Options include surgery — which may consist of partial or complete removal of the thyroid — radioactive iodine, external radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted drug therapy.
  • Thyroid nodules. There are a few options for treating noncancerous nodules. Watch and wait, conduct surgery for large benign nodules or use thyroid suppression therapy.

The thyroid is so important to your well-being. It’s a gland that regulates vital functions of your body and influences not only your health, but the quality of your life. So if there’s an issue, the faster it’s addressed, the better you’ll feel.

Contact your doctor if you have concerns about your thyroid.



Questions on Health

1. Question

When a mosquito bites me, I get big, coin-sized welts. Is this normal?


A “normal” reaction to a mosquito bite can vary. Some people will have only a small area of redness, swelling and itching that typically goes away within 24 hours. Others may have a larger area of itching — sometimes the size of a grapefruit in highly sensitive individuals — that can last for several days.

Rarely, an individual may have a serious reaction to mosquito bites, which results in swelling in the throat, hives and wheezing. This life-threatening condition (anaphylaxis) requires immediate medical attention.

If you’re sensitive to mosquito bites, the best advice is to avoid getting bitten. Follow these common-sense precautions:

  •  Avoid areas, such as wet slushy areas, where mosquito activity is highest.
  •  Avoid going outside when mosquitoes are most active, such as at dusk and dawn and after rain.
  •  Wear protective clothing when outside.
  •  Use insect repellent.

To relieve the itching of a bite, apply a lotion containing calamine. If you have a large local reaction, consider taking an over-the-counter anti-allergic tablet/syrup to see if it helps. Consult your doctor if you’re concerned about the severity of your reaction.

2. Peanut allergy: Can a child outgrow it?


Can a child outgrow a peanut allergy?


Yes. About 20 percent to 25 percent of children with peanut allergy will outgrow it. But there is a small risk it will return. Peanut allergy affects 1 percent to 2 percent of young children and is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

It’s difficult to predict which children will outgrow peanut allergy. Some research suggests that children with lower levels of peanut allergy-specific antibodies (IgE) may be more likely to outgrow peanut allergy than children with higher levels of these antibodies. IgE is measured by a blood test.

Even when a child appears to outgrow peanut allergy, there is a small risk it will recur.

3. Blood sugar and mood: Any connection?


My 15-year-old son has diabetes. When his blood sugar is low, he seems depressed. When his blood sugar is high, he’s often agitated and short-tempered. Is there any connection between blood sugar level and mood?


Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can be associated with changes in mood. However, this typically occurs only with extremely high or low blood sugar levels.

It’s important to remember that many factors can contribute to mood changes in people who have diabetes. It can take time to adjust emotionally to a diabetes diagnosis, as well as the need to manage the disease. This adjustment can be especially challenging during adolescence.

Check and record his blood sugar level consistently — and specifically when you notice a mood change. If your son’s mood swings occur often or become a persistent problem, consult his doctor. The information in your son’s blood sugar record may help the doctor make adjustments to your son’s diabetes treatment plan, if needed.

4.  Body shape: Does it increase your risk of diabetes?


I know that obesity is a risk factor for diabetes. But I’ve been told that body shape also plays a role. Is this true?


Yes, it’s true. People who carry most of their excess weight around their waist (often called “apples”) are at greater risk of diabetes than are those who carry most of their excess weight below their waist (often called “pears”).

The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your body’s cells become to the effects of your own insulin. But this appears especially true if your weight is concentrated around your abdomen.

To determine whether you’re carrying too much weight around your abdomen, measure the circumference of your waist at its smallest point, usually at the level of your navel. Using a flexible, cloth-like tape measure is best. A measurement of more than 40 inches in men and more than 35 inches in women indicates increased health risks.

The good news is that you can lower your risk of diabetes by achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.