How to Determine if Your Liver is Safe & Understanding the Process

If you’re concerned about your health, you may have surely come across the word “liver”, perhaps on radio, TV, and even in domestic discussions. Liver stands out as a popular part of the body. Just as the term ‘liver’ is well-known, it is also known popular to hear people lose their precious lives because of complications or infections that affect the liver. These disorders include viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, bile duct obstruction, hepatoma (cancer of the liver) etc. The liver has numerous functions, including production of proteins, enzymes and certain chemicals, detoxification of alcohol and other chemicals, vitamins and minerals, and maintenance of balance of hormones, among other essential functions.

Due to this, it is highly essential for you to protect your liver.

The first step of ensuring your liver is safe is to conduct a liver function test. Your blood sample shall be taken and used to conduct the test by a medical laboratory scientist. Questions popping up in your mind are probably “how can blood be used to check the state of your liver?” Breathe out. As already said, the liver produces some enzymes and other chemicals. These chemicals produced by the liver end up in your blood. So if the quantity being produced is low or high, then it shows there’s something wrong with your liver. The machine/analyzer the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) uses can measure the quantity of them, and if compared to a standard reference range (normal range of values), we can tell if it’s high or low, hence determination of an ill state of your liver.

These enzymes have unfriendly names. They include

  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
  • Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)
  • Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)

The Total Protein (TP) in your blood is also measured. Bilirubin is measured as well.

The results for these are critically analyzed by an MLS and a physician to determine whether the ill condition is with the liver itself, or regions close to the liver. Medical attention can be sought right after, and it may involve conduction of other tests for confirmation of diagnosis.

To check your liver function state, kindly contact +233 540 666 781.

PS: This article was written by Joseph Ofori, a graduate of University of Ghana, and a practising Medical Laboratory Scientist. It was proofread by MLS Alexander Kwakye, a Modern Medical Associate and MLS at University Hospital, KNUST.

Understanding the Concept of Kidney Function Test

I’m sure by now you know there’s an essential part of your body called kidney. You may have probably heard someone die from kidney failure or other related conditions. Sometimes we panic, because these complications put to death our loved ones, and we feel same can happen to us. But are you aware that there’s a way to check if your kidney is in good state or not?

Let me introduce you to kidney/renal function test. Just as how you filter unclean water containing visible particles to get rid of the dirt or waste, the kidney filters blood and removes unwanted and harmful waste in it. After filtration, it accumulates those wastes together with excess water from the blood to form urine.

This simply means if your kidney is at fault, a lot of waste shall be kept in your system, and that could be harmful for your health.

A Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) conducts the test. The health professional takes your blood sample for the test (or urine sample, for specific kidney function related tests). He/she comes out with values that represent the state of your kidney.

The parameters measured are mostly Urea, Creatinine, Uric Acid and Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Bicarbonates). If you skipped the scientific names, welcome back. Don’t let it scare you. I’ll do my best to break it down for you in simple terms the best possible way.

The underlining principle is that the analyzer quantifies the chemicals in your serum (the liquid portion of your blood that the professional draws from you) that are filtered by the kidney to form urine. Your kidney is constantly doing its job, but definitely some of these chemicals will still be in the blood stream. So after quantification, if the above mentioned chemicals are above or below what is expected to be there (according to a reference range), then it indicates your kidney may not be in a good state.

For instance, 98% of all Creatinine produced in the body is excreted or removed by the kidney. So if you have a lot of it in your blood stream… yes, you said it, the kidney isn’t doing its job properly. It’s a similar thing with urea. All the parameters mentioned above put together gives a broad picture of how your kidney is functioning.

The results are evaluated by the MLS and physician to identify what exactly is wrong with your kidney, i.e. if your results are abnormal. Further tests may be conducted to confirm the diagnosis. And appropriate remedy is administered right after. Kidney related conditions are easier to be treated when realized early enough. To conduct your kidney function test, kindly call/SMS/WhatsApp +233 540 666 781.

PS: This article was written by Joseph Ofori, a graduate of University of Ghana, and a practising Medical Laboratory Scientist. It was proofread by MLS Alexander Kwakye, a Modern Medical Associate and MLS at University Hospital, KNUST.

Proffer Aid to Offer Free Health Screening at Kibi

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” as the saying goes. Life is precious. Knowing this, one should take note that it is a good habit to conduct various medical tests to know if they’re healthy. However due to some reasons, people fail to do so. That’s why dedicated non-profit organization, Proffer Aid International Foundation (PAIF) has taken upon itself to organize free medical screening and other life-saving activities such as blood donation exercises. PAIF is a not-for-profit organization with the primary aim of improving the quality of health in communities, basically.

Holding groundbreaking successful programmes, namely Penyi Care, Gomoa Care, Blood for Yaro, etc., PAIF is set to storm Kibi. Kibi is a town and the capital of the East Akim Municipal district, a district in the Eastern region of Ghana. Kibi houses the Oforipanin Paramount stool which is the seat of the Okyehene, the paramount chief of the Akim people. Kibi is also the traditional capital of the Akyem Abuakwa.

The theme for this health outreach is “Behind a Smile.” In an interview with the Project Manager for PAIF, Emmanuel Arkorful disclosed “The striking factor that moves PAIF is the passion. Each member has the will to offer service to ensure good health of inhabitants.” He continues “this time we’re going to Kibi to offer free health screening which will encompass malaria, hepatitis B, blood glucose and blood grouping.”

The estimated turnout is 300 people and it shall be held in front of the Chief’s palace on Saturday, 9th June, 2018 from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. Proffer Aid wants to be the reason to make the people of Kibi wear smiles. Furthermore, they want the reason behind that smile to be knowledge of a healthy status. Meet PAIF this Saturday. Inform relatives and friends about this initiative. In perspective of this, intrigued people and associations who wish to support this altruistic and essential course may kindly contact PAIF executives on +233 (0) 277 168 404 (Abeiku) or +233 (0) 243 089 295 (Madinatu).

Breakdown of Your Full Blood Count Test Result

You may not be a medical practitioner, but you’ve realized most of the time doctors request Full Blood Count (FBC) to be done on patients’ blood samples (By A Medical Laboratory Scientist -MLS). You keep wondering what it is. Out of curiosity, you may have peeped at your FBC report, and all you could make out of it were lots of three letter words, figures and graphs that make no sense to you. Have a seat and enjoy this eye opener.

To understand full blood count, you have to know what is in your own blood. Blood comprises of

  • Cells, known as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
  • Plasma, which is the liquid part of your blood. Plasma enables blood flow.

Red blood cells contain haemoglobin. Haemoglobin makes your blood have the characteristic red colour. Ever heard the saying “when the last tree falls, the last man dies?”. Or heard that man needs oxygen to survive?. The oxygen binds to haemoglobin in the red blood cells and since blood circulates around the body, oxygen is delivered to all your body parts for various life processes.

White blood cells are the fighting agents in your body. Just like the security service that have different groups of people for various tasks, like soldiers, police, etc., there are different white cells which fight against different disease-causing organisms. Neutrophils fight against bacteria, Eosinophils-parasites, Lymphocytes-viruses, etc.

Platelets allow blood to cease flow to the outside of the body when you get a cut so that you don’t lose a lot of blood.

Plasma contains food nutrients, dissolved gases, hormones, proteins, waste products, etc. and distributes them as they circulate in the body.

Now that we’ve had a picture of our blood components, it will be quite easy to understand the full blood count report. The parameters are abbreviated as:

RBC = Red blood cell

HGB/HB = Haemoglobin

WBC = White blood cells

NEU = Neutrophils

BAS = Basophils

MON = Monocytes

EOS = Eosinophils

LYM = Lymphocytes

PLT = Platelets

There are reference ranges to which the figures/results are compared to, to know whether they’re high or low. The parameter which is high or low will determine what’s wrong with the patient.

HB:     High: Polycythemia (abnormal increase in haemoglobin concentration, which may be caused by dehydration, living at high altitudes where there’s low oxygen, smoking, etc.)

Low: Anaemia (abnormal decrease in haemoglobin concentration, which may be caused by lack of folic acid, vitamin B12, iron, or loss of blood through bleeding, etc.)

 

NEU:   High: Bacterial infection, stress, burns, inflammation (response to an injury/damage to living tissue)       

Low: Exposure to radiation, effect of the intake of toxic drugs. lack of vitamin B12.

 

LYM:  High: Viral infection, leukaemia (cancerous disease affecting the WBCs)

Low: Prolonged illness, weakened immune system.

 

MON:  High: Viral or fungal infection, tuberculosis, leukaemia.

Low: Bone marrow (it produces blood cells) dysfunction, treatment with cortisol (hormonal drug)

 

EOS:   High: Allergic reactions, parasitic infection, autoimmune diseases (a disease in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues)

Low: Stress, drug toxicity.

 

BAS:   High: Allergic reactions, leukaemia, cancers.

Low: Pregnancy, ovulation, stress.

 

PLT:    Clotting disorders.

 

There are other parameters such as red cell indices, which are technical.

Next time when you receive your FBC result, at least you’ll have a fair idea about what it entails. We shall bring you a second part of this article which details other aspects.

PS: This article was written by Joseph Ofori, a graduate of University of Ghana, and a practising Medical Laboratory Scientist. It was proofread by MLS Arnold Agyapong and MLS Alexander Kwakye, who are both professional MLS’s also.

Welcome to the World of the Medical Laboratory Scientist

You wake up one day and just can’t fathom why you couldn’t have a sound sleep. You can’t really focus or think straight. Why? Because all you have on your mind is getting rid of the headache, your nose won’t stop running, you wish you could cease coughing. Although you’re weak, you decide to utilize the drop of strength you have in you to go to the hospital. Then another thought comes to mind, ‘You can simply let someone get you some antimalarials from the pharmacy’. But then, you boycott the second idea because you’ve heard several times that self-medication is deadly. “How am I even sure it’s malaria? It could be typhoid or any other pathogenic infection.”

Photo credit: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

Being a resolute person, you make it to the hospital, struggle your way through all queues to finally see the doctor for consultation. He writes a couple of laboratory (lab) tests for you to go do which will enable him have evidence of your ill state. Your blood sample is taken, and you’re asked to collect your urine into a container. After about half an hour, you’re presented with a report to send back to the doctor.

Now, let’s zoom in into the lab portion. What did the Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) really do with the blood and urine samples? The truth is, the doctor wasn’t certain of what actually was the cause of your ill-health. After briefing him on your symptoms, he was left with about three or more possible causes. Therefore, to make an evidence-based diagnosis in order to treat you right, he requested those tests. The MLS run a full blood count, using your blood sample. He also prepared a spherical blood film on a glass slide, and went through processes to see if there were malaria parasites present in your blood. He again did an in-depth analysis on your urine sample. All these were carried out to give a general picture of your health condition.

Photo credit: Blood Tests London

The report he gave you is the actual reason you walked to the hospital and pushed your buttocks up the hospital benches. It is the pink sheet of your health condition.

In our subsquent articles, we will break down the work of the Medical Laboratory Scientist. It’ll be a nice ride. Stay with us.

5 Crucial Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Skip Breakfast

By: Joseph ‘Aqweci’ Ofori

“Breakfast is bae” says a school of thought. The other school of thought doesn’t see any problem with skipping breakfast. The latter usually ask the rhetoric, “What is breakfast?” Well, in a sarcastic reply, breakfast is the first meal taken in a day, thus in the morning.

People skip breakfast usually because of busy morning schedules. Some jobs don’t create space for you enjoy your breakfast in peace. Queuing in traffic each morning to make work is no joke. It gives one no time to enjoy a breakfast, hence people make it a habit.

Culture influences everything, and breakfast is no exception. In some parts of the world, making a breakfast is shorter than a quickie. It’s light, and doesn’t guarantee filling up your belly. In our beloved country Ghana, every meal is expected to make us full. In the journey of life as a typical Ghanaian, at least, for once someone will pose the question “is tea too considered food?” to you. This conception makes people see having breakfast to be a time consuming process, because after eating flakes, he/she shall crave for another meal.

Skipping breakfast can have its own demerits. Either of the two schools of thought can win a debate any day once this topic is raised. Let’s walk through 5 critical key points why one shouldn’t miss breakfast.

  1. To Acquire Energy: We’re advised of eating early to enhance complete digestion and metabolism. After enjoying a delicious supper, thus around 6 or 7 pm, one deprives the body of food for about 13-14 hours. Skipping a breakfast means expanding the body deprivation to adaptive levels. Our body constantly needs glucose. Hence it stores excess glucose in the form of glycogen. After all the barns of glycogen are also used up, fats are converted to glucose, a process called ketosis, which may result in unfavourable conditions.
  2. To Prevent Fainting: Speaking to Dietitian Stanley Ofosu Quansah, he made it clear that the average Ghanaian seeks curative care rather than preventive. Hence if one is diabetic, he/she may not know. “If a diabetic skips breakfast, his/her blood glucose level can be decreased to as little as 1 mmol/l. This can result in feeling unconscious and fainting.” explains Stanley.
  3. To Gain Enough Fuel for Daily Acitvities: The brain uses up 70% of all the glucose we take. We can all agree that in the morning we engage our minds a lot in various activities. So how can denying your body of it help you in this way? Stanley emphasizes a favourite catch statement of a dietitian which goes like “in the morning, eat like a queen. In the afternoon, eat like a king. And in the evening, eat like a slave.” They say this because according to the circadian rhythm (regular 24-hour cycle), human beings are naturally active in the day. Therefore you’d need to eat well during breakfast and lunch, and enjoy a light-weight meal as supper because in the night when you’re asleep, metabolism is quite dormant.
  4. To Prevent Unwanted Gain of Weight: Science reveals that if you continue depriving your body of breakfast, you store a lot of cholesterol or fat, making one gain unnecessary weight. Most of the time people apply the untrue logic that if you starve yourself you lose more weight. The actual fact is the other way round. If you want to continue being the slay mama or the fly guy with 6 packs you’re identified with, then you might not want to play games with your breakfast.
  5. To Prevent Mouth Odour: On a lighter note, one experiences mouth odour in the morning. One way of saving your breath is taking breakfast with a good scent appeal. People usually think once you brush your teeth you’re safe and clean of all sorts of mouth odour. But as you starve you produce a lot of saliva which you may be tempted to wipe your dry mouth with it, to keep it moist, promoting bad odour. Have you realized keeping your mouth shut for a long time promotes bad breath? Take your breakfast and stay active and fresh throughout the day.

After gaining this insight I trust I can easily guess the school of thought you’re with now. Breakfast is quite essential. If it takes skipping mountains and maneuvering valleys to get it, I advise you do it. You don’t need fufuo or waakye to call it breakfast. Porridge, oats, corn flakes, tom brown, semolina, and such light meals are good breakfast meals that are easy to prepare. Now in your subsequent mornings when you’re about to have your palatable breakfast, crack a smile and remember this article.