Know About the Marijuana Drug

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in United States and some other countries. It is an illicit drug and smoked mostly for its psychoactive properties like euphoria and a sense of relaxation. Though Marijuana abuse leads to many physical and behavioral adverse effects, it is widely abused as it can be easily accessed and available at very low price. The Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. Marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals and smoking marijuana deposits 4 times more tar than normal cigarette.

How Long It Will Stay In The Body

Marijuana can stay in the body for a few days, weeks, or for an entire month after its last consumption. The depletion rate of Marijuana in the body depends on the metabolism of person and the half life of THC. Although half life of THC is said to be 1-10 days, it can vary depending on who used it, when it was used and many other factors. Hence it is difficult to estimate a specific period after which the THC will completely eliminated from the body. The metabolism of person and amount of marijuana smoked will also have an effect on length of time for which the person has to wait to clear the drug test without testing positive. Half life of THC is the length of time taken to loose half of THC in body. Thus, if more amount of marijuana is smoked then the person will have to wait for longer time before the THC drops below the detectable levels. But normally marijuana can remain in body for 3-30 days depending upon the metabolism rate and amount of marijuana smoked.

Short Term Effects on Health

Marijuana when consumed is associated with many physical and neurological effects. Some of the short term effects of marijuana abuse include increased heart rate, low blood pressure, anxiety, decreased perception, and improper functioning of short-term episodic memory, psychomotor coordination, working memory, and concentration. The withdrawal symptoms of marijuana are not as strong as other drugs and no drug therapy is required. The withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, sweating, weight loss, tremors, and insomnia etc.

Long Term Effects on Health

The long term effects of marijuana on health are still not precisely known. But studies so far have shown that consistent and regular use of marijuana or THC can play a role in causing cancer, and problems in respiratory and immune system. The studies have shown that people who smoke 5 joints of marijuana carries cancer causing chemicals equivalent to person smoking full pack of cigarettes a day. Smoking marijuana and cigarettes may change the tissue lining of respiratory track resulting in cancer. Marijuana smoking is also linked with testicular cancer.

Studies have also shown that smoking marijuana decreases ability of T cells of immune defense system of lungs to fight off infection. Long term marijuana smoking may lead to breathing problems and increased risk of lung infections. There is also risk of respiratory track and lung cancer as marijuana smoke has carcinogens.

The primary psychoactive component of marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC also affects the brain by targeting the cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and affects the activity of those cells. Studies have shown that babies born to mothers who used marijuana during pregnancy may have problems related to neurological development. Exposure to marijuana during prenatal period can affect the baby and cause altered response to visual stimuli, poor memory and attention etc.

Acute Respiratory Infections In Children

Acute infections of the respiratory tract-nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi and alveoli are a common cause of morbidity in children. Though deaths due to acute respiratory infections have become rare due to availability of powerful antimicrobials and good supportive care many children do suffer from severe diseases requiring hospitalization. Air enters the body through the nose where filtration and humidification take place, into the lungs via the wind pipe (trachea). The trachea divides into two branches each entering a lung in the cavity of chest. The bronchi go on dividing and subdividing till they end up in small sac like structures called alveoli where gas exchange-absorption of oxygen and carbon dioxide elimination-takes place.

Infections of airways result in swelling of the wall of the airways. As the airways are narrow in children even slight swelling can cause significant narrowing of airways and difficulty in breathing. Infections of respiratory tract are classified as upper and lower respiratory infections. Upper respiratory infections are more common but less serious and include infections of nose, throat and ear. The usual manifestations one cough, cold and fever. Sometimes nasal block can be quite troublesome.

Viral infections are more common than bacterial. Antibiotics are unnecessary if there is no evidence of bacterial infection. Fever may be controlled with paracetamol which can be given every six hours if necessary. Antitussives (drugs for suppressing cough) may be given if the cough is dry in older children. Nasal decongestants may be given for watery nasal discharge. Medicated steam inhalation is very useful if there is nasal block. Capsules containing liquid medication are available. A capsule can be punctured and the medicine squeezed on the pillow or dress of young children. The vapor from the medicine will have a soothing effect. Infection of the middle ear is very painful and babies go on crying continuously while older children complain of ear ache. If it is not treated promptly the tympanic membrane can rupture due to increased pressure resulting in discharge of pus from the ear.

Lower respiratory infections involve epiglottis (a lid like structures which prevents food from entering the wind pipe), trachea (wind pipe) its divisions and alveoli. They are more dangerous and even life threatening. Epiglottitis (infection of epiglottis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease because the swelling can result in obstruction to flow of air into lungs. The condition manifests as fever, drooling of saliva and a noise when the child breathes in (stridor). The condition requires hospitalization and intravenous medication. Sometimes it may be necessary to put a tube inside the trachea (endotracheal intubation) so that the child can breathe.

The term pneumonia refers to infection within the lung affecting a considerable portion of the lung. On x-ray the affected part is seen as a white patch whereas the normal lung appears dark. This is also a serious condition but fortunately deaths have become rare due to the availability of powerful antibiotics. Children with pneumonia usually need hospitalization and intravenous administration of antibiotics. They may also require oxygen, intravenous fluids if they are not able to take orally and drugs to liquefy the thick secretion inside the lungs so that it can be coughed up easily. Medicines to suppress cough should not be given to children with pneumonia as the infected secretion stays in the lungs instead of getting eliminated and can even cause an abscess (collection of pus).

Indications for immediate consultation

Young infants below three months in whom infection of the respiratory tract can progress rapidly causing serious disease

High fever of 39 degree centigrade or more

Rapid breathing and difficulty in feeding-the rate of breathing is more in infants and young children and if the child appears to breathe faster than usual it indicates significant disease. If the breathing becomes faster the baby will find it difficult to take feeds.

Chest retraction in infants and young children-If the lungs are not expanding normally due to disease the chest is drawn in when the child takes a breath because the negative pressure inside the chest causes the soft and pliant chest wall of young children to cave in.

Frequent vomiting-Any illness causes vomiting in children. If vomiting is frequent the child will not be able to take anything orally and becomes dehydrated which causes drying up of secretions inside the lungs and worsening of the disease.

Dangers of Prescription Drug Mixing

While mixing an alcoholic cocktail can be fun, prescription drug mixing can be dangerous, if not fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional drug overdose mortality rates have been on the rise since the early 1970s.

Drug Interactions

When we feel ill or get sick, we discuss symptoms with a doctor while he measures our blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. After discussion and possibly a few tests, we are most likely given a prescription for a drug.

Let’s say you’ve had trouble sleeping recently. You visited a sleep doctor who prescribed a medicine to treat your insomnia. A few weeks after your visit with the sleep doctor, you contract a lower respiratory infection. You make an appointment with your general practitioner.

Your doctor goes over your symptoms and runs a few minor tests. He tells you that you have a lower respiratory infection and it has progressed to the point that you need an antibiotic. He asks you if you are on any other prescribed drugs and you tell him about the sleep medication.

After a day or so, your arm starts to throb from that accident you had six months ago. It has not hurt this bad for a while. It hurts so bad that you go to your medicine cabinet and grab your old prescription oxycodone. Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever.

You take an oxycodone pill and, after a short time, you feel the pain dull. Now it is bedtime and time for your next antibiotic pill (for your infection). It is also time for your sleep pill (for your insomnia). You take both prescribed drugs and look forward to a sound sleep.

This prescription drug mixing is not good. While taken separately, each prescribed drug is fine and will do its job. Yet taken together or near in time, they can make for a deadly combination.

As for our prescription drug mixing situation, the sleep medicine is supposed to cause drowsiness and allow you to fall asleep. One of the possible side effects of oxycodone is drowsiness. In addition, you have taken your antibiotic pill, which can cause dizziness. This combination of drugs is ripe for drug overdose. Added to the mix is your lower respiratory infection, which causes shallow breathing.

Luckily for you, it is just harder for you to wake up in the morning and you feel tired all the next day. Yet for some people this combination can cause respiratory distress or even death.

Accidental Overdose

How many people die from drug overdoses? In 2005, 22,400 deaths were recorded from unintentional and intentional drug overdoses, according to the CDC. This number of fatalities is caused mainly by opioid painkillers, but other prescription drug mixes have played their part in these deaths.

People who take more than six different drugs have a higher incidence (an 80% chance) of at least one drug interaction, New York’s School of Pharmacy found. While not every drug mix causes death, some can cause side effects that can confuse you about your condition and make it harder for your physician to make an accurate diagnosis.

Older people are taking more prescription drugs and have difficulty keeping track of what they take and when, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. Since their physcial makeup has changed from their youth, drugs may react differently, another recipe for disaster.

Tips to Avoid Prescription Drug Mixing

While there will always be some risk of prescription drug interactions when you take more than one drug, you can keep your chances of serious side effects down by following some simple guidelines.

  • Make a medication list. Include any herbal remedies, vitamins, dietary supplements and over-the-counter drugs. Make note of older prescription drugs on this list that you used to take for a condition that you may no longer have. Do not take any medication without your doctor’s knowledge.
  • Update the list.