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More Than 50% Of Us Are Infected With This, Which Affects Our Brains

More Than 50% Of Us Are Infected With This, Which Affects Our Brains

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that not many people have heard of, but the CDC estimates that every year, around 60 million Americans get infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the most common in the world. And according to a study published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, this disease can have an affect on the brain and slow down a person’s reaction times, putting them at a much higher risk of automobile accidents. And since, according to the researchers, this infection can occur in 20-60% of the population, this problem is good to be aware of, especially for those who spend time behind the wheel.

What is Toxoplasmosis?

According to the Mayo Clinic, toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection which happens when a human comes into contact with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. When this parasite gets into the body, it forms cysts in various parts of the body, including the muscles, heart and brain. In healthy people, the immune system can keep these parasites in check and many times, they do not get any symptoms or even realize that they have a problem. However, if a person’s immune system weakens, they can experience a variety of symptoms from the mild (flu-like symptoms like body aches, headaches, fevers and swollen lymph nodes) to the severe (seizures, lack of coordination and confusion).

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toxoplasma_lifecycle_bam1

    Most often people contract this infection through contact with cat feces (such as when cleaning out a litter box), eating undercooked or contaminated meat (especially pork, venison or lamb) or using utensils that have come into contact with it or consuming raw milk or products made from it. In short, it is not a difficult infection to acquire.

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    What The Study Found

    This study, published in the BMC Infectious Disease journal, noted that toxoplasmosis is a fairly frequent infection and that, because many people do not have symptoms from it, they are not aware that there is a problem. Since one of the symptoms of this infection is a delayed reaction time, people who have this condition are more at risk for automobile accidents. In order to look at this relationship – and factors that can mitigate it– the scientists looked at male patients in the Central Military Hospital in Prague for three years in a row, testing them for toxoplasmosis as well as for the presence of a particular protein called RhD. This material was then compared with records of automobile accidents to look for a relationship.

    Toxoplasma_gondii_tissue_cyst_in_mouse_brain
      Toxoplasma gondii tissue cyst in mouse brain

      What they found at the end of the study was that patients with toxoplasmosis (who did not have the RhD protein) had a rate of traffic accidents of 16.7%. That is six times the rate of patients without toxoplasmosis or who had the protein, which appears to have a protective effect against the neurological problems that come from this infection.

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      With such high rates of infection, this seems like bad news for drivers across the country. However, the good news is that, once diagnosed, patients with toxoplasmosis can be treated with a combination of sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine. There are also a variety of ways that patients can prevent this infection from happening to the begin with.

      How To Prevent Toxoplasmosis

      According to the Mayo Clinic, there are plenty of ways to prevent contracting this infection to begin with. These include:

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      • Keeping cats healthy and wearing gloves when cleaning out the litter box or getting someone else to clean it if you have a weak immune system
      • Not eating meat that is undercooked, especially lamb, pork or venison
      • Washing utensils/surfaces in the kitchen thoroughly, especially when they have been in contact with raw meat
      • Not drinking raw milk or consuming products made from raw milk (this can also be a source of toxoplasmosis)
      • Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them

      So, overall there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that toxoplasmosis infection can infect 20-60% of the population at any given time — and since this infection can slow down a person’s reaction time, this puts toxoplasmosis patients (and other drivers on the road) at a greater risk for accidents. The good news, however, is that this infection is easily treatable with drugs and can also be prevented with simple precautions and lifestyle changes.

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      Brian Wu

      Health Writer, Author

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      Last Updated on September 16, 2019

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      More About Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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