Category : General

Home»Archive by Category "General"

A Very Happy Diwali From cloudchowk

Hey there,

This is cloudchowk and we would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Diwali. May this Diwali bring the light of knowledge and illuminate the darkness that is brought forward by ignorance and lack of knowledge thereof. We want to tell you something about Diwali this year.

What we feel Diwali really means, what the rituals are really all about.

Because we feel that Diwali is a spiritual journey vis-à-vis just a celebratory one. Here’s what the following acts symbolize on this day where light triumphs over darkness.

1. When you clean your house

Cleaning your house symbolizes cleaning of your soul of all the clutter you have been holding on to. This Diwali let your grudges, hang ups and all negative thought out. Just let them go away. You will feel cleaner, sharper and more efficient. You will also be far better at managing your emotions and be responsive instead of reactive. Not to even mention the way you will feel after letting go of these emotions.

Also, cleaning your home ensures that you have a healthy, clean surrounding that in turn leads to a healthy lifestyle.
A clean home has a lower level of chemical irritants, dust particles and asthma triggers. Having a clean house absolves you of all these risks.

2. The Lights

The lights on Diwali symbolize learning. Let this Diwali motivate you to learn something new. It could be a new book that you wanted to read for a while, it could be a new instrument that you wanted to play for a while or it could be a club that you wanted to joint but couldn’t find the time to. This Diwali make sure that you vow to make time for your own development and make time for new skill acquisition.

Acquiring new skills have been closely linked to personal satisfaction, leading a satisfied life without the regrets of not having tried something new is what you need to keep healthy and stay fit, this helps maintain your psychological balance and helps you develop cognitive abilities like anything else rarely does.

3. The fireworks

The fireworks on Diwali symbolize the sound that keeps evil away. This Diwali, commit to yourself to keep all evil thoughts away, remember, you mind is a garden, your thoughts, seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds. Just remember to banish all negativity from your life, and watch it take a turn for the better. One very good way to go about it is to see the problem that you have right now and ask yourself if the solution is in your control. If yes, do something about it, if no, realize that there is no point feeling negative about something that is anyways, not in your control.

“Gallo, Linda C.; Matthews, Karen A.Psychological Bulletin, Vol 129(1), Jan 2003, 10-51.” Published an article which linked negative emotions to low socioeconomic status and high levels of stress, which is definitely not good news as far as your health or pockets are concerned. We strongly suggest that you try to develop a strong, keen mind-set that is immune to negativity while understanding that this is a process that has an associated learning curve.

4. The Guests

And when you have guests over this Diwali, appreciate the company that you have today. Just let everything else go and enjoy this festival of light to your heart’s content with your friends, family and loved ones. Why you ask?

Because, socializing has been shown to be beneficial for your health in more ways than one. People who socialize and have more positive interactions with those around them have a healthier lifestyle vis-à-vis those that don’t.  So, go out there and meet people, have stimulating conversations with those around you. And start living healthy.

Once again, Wishing all our readers a very prosperous and Happy Diwali.

Dengue, The Monsoon Fever of India

When things were looking bleak for agriculturists, the Indian government was quick to announce the arrival of monsoon. As puddles fill our roads again, we will be welcomed by serious health problems as well, the most common being Dengue. A serious threat to locals and tourists alike, Dengue fever claims several lives each year and scars many others. This week, we explore the ins and outs of the Dengue fever.

Most common in tropical countries such as India, Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. It is a kind of “break-bone” fever, because symptoms mainly include joint and muscle pains, apart from fever and headache. A characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles is also observed. In a small proportion of cases the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue haemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs. Unfortunately, commercially available vaccines for dengue are not available, due to which prevention is the only viable option. Dengue became a global problem after the Second World War and is endemic in more than 110 countries. This means that the dengue virus does not need external inputs for its sustenance; populations of tropical countries such as India, Pakistan, Taiwan and Mexico are suitable hosts for the virus.

SYMPTOMS

Dengue

It is very important to identify the various symptoms of dengue fever. We often confuse the symptoms with that of influenza and end up paying heavily with our health. Many people, especially children and teens, do not experience any signs or symptoms during a mild case of dengue fever. However, when symptoms do occur, they usually begin four to 10 days after the person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Signs and symptoms of dengue fever most commonly include:

  • Fever, up to 1060 F
  • Headaches
  • Muscle, bone and joint pain
  • Widespread rash
  • Minor bleeding from gums or nose

Most people recover within a week or so. In some cases, however, symptoms worsen and can become life-threatening. Blood vessels often become damaged and leaky, and the number of clot-forming cells in your bloodstream falls. This can cause dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, wherein patients often complain of :

  • Bleeding from the nose and mouth
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Bleeding under the skin, which may look like bruising
  • Problems with lungs, liver and heart

It is imperative to consult a doctor at the earliest if any of these symptoms are consistent with one’s recent medical record. Also, a visit to the doctor is recommended to people returning from tropical countries.

Causes

Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. These mosquitoes thrive in and near human lodgings and can carry four different types of dengue viruses. When a mosquito bites a person infected with a dengue virus, the virus enters the mosquito. When the infected mosquito then bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream. Once infected, the mosquito remains infected for its life span. There is, however, no human-to-human dengue fever transmission. An important point which is often overlooked is that once you recover from dengue fever, you have immunity to the virus that infected you — but not to the other three dengue fever viruses. The risk of developing dengue haemorrhagic fever actually increases if you’re infected a second, third or fourth time.

Several cases of dengue fever are reported around monsoon, some of which are even fatal. The health department in the religious town of Varanasi has already put precautionary measures in place, with July designated as the anti-dengue month. The divisional hospital has created an eight-bed dengue ward to meet any eventuality. Cases of dengue are generally reported between mid-August and October. The Pune Municipal Corporation, too, has issued notices to five construction houses for not following sanitation norms and thereby providing breeding ground for mosquitoes responsible for spreading Dengue. Similar measures have been taken by the Delhi Government to keep the menace of Dengue at bay.

Treatment

Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue, the treatment is concerned with relief of the symptoms. Rest is of utmost importance, and so is fluid intake for hydration. Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision because of the possibility of worsening bleeding complications. Drugs like Brufen and ibuprofen are a strict no!

In case of severe dengue fever, one might need Supportive care in a hospital and electrolyte replacement. The patient’s blood pressure needs to be monitored constantly and blood transfusion might be required to replace blood loss.

Preventive measures

The main perpetrators of dengue are mosquitoes.  Since there are no approved vaccines for the dengue virus, prevention depends on control of and protection from the bites of the mosquito that transmits it, since they are the vectors the dengue viruses require for transfer to humans. One can take the following precautionary measures against Dengue:

1. Water:

The primary method of controlling responsible mosquito is by eliminating its habitats. This is done by getting rid of open sources of water, or by adding insecticides or biological control agents to these areas. Since mosquitoes often breed in stagnant water, reducing open collections of water is the most common control method.

2. Clothing:

People can prevent mosquito bites by wearing clothing that fully covers the skin, using mosquito netting while resting, and/or the application of insect repellents.

It is very important to be aware of the causes and symptoms of dengue fever, else the patient’s condition worsens and the disease is bound to spread from other mosquitoes. In fact, dengue clusters have often been reported in rural India. Prevention is the only possible way to fight dengue and proper awareness is the key to good prevention and management of the endemic.

Monsoon Diseases, stay away!

For a nation that suffers summer for most of the year, rain comes as a welcome surprise. Sometimes it’s good enough to sit inside with some spare thoughts and tea, feeling chuffed about the weather outside, but other times we find ourselves wanting to dance in the rain and really feel the heat leave our bodies.

Though that sounds like the perfect activity, there are certain dangers of the monsoon which, if you aren’t careful, may very well ruin your time in the rain:

Food and Drink

The Fear: Contaminated food and drinks can cause pain in the abdomen and head, and when accompanied by a fever lasting for more than five days, followed by a rash, may in fact be Typhoid, a bacterial disease usually caused by the Salmonellae typhi bacteria. Also, a viral disease spread through contaminated food and water, Hepatitis A (a.k.a. Jaundice) is characterized by symptoms similar to the flu – an increase in body temperature with body ache, joint pains followed by loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. This may be followed by a yellowish tinge in the eyes, skin and nails.

Save Yourself: To avoid both these traumatic and extremely painful ailments, you should make it a point to consume only homemade food in clean dishes, and avoid street food-even if they have been fried or stored in a make-shift fridge- at all cost. You should even consider carrying around a small bottle of hand sanitizer to apply on your hands and fingers before you eat a meal.

Mosquitoes and Rats

The Fear: Every puddle of water in the lane behind your house and every incident of water logging in nearby gutters or on open roofs are potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes, who find these conditions highly conducive.  It’s the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito that causes Malaria, the deadliest monsoon illness. Wading through these puddles to clear a drain or traipsing through knee high floods on the roads, especially if you have any open wounds or injuries, leads to Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease spread by rats.

Save Yourself: Firstly, try to avoid leaving any containers holding water open and uncovered during the day. Secondly, make sure that there is no stagnant water in your neighbourhood. Use mosquito screens, nets, fibre glass meshes or magnetic insect repellent screens for your windows and regularly spray the inside of your house with mosquito repellents and insecticides. Thirdly, use ointments and creams that act as mosquito repellents every time you go out of the house, especially after dusk. Fourthly, try and avoid the temptation to jump around in stagnant rain water. If it’s brown and black and thick with muck, you don’t belong in it.

shutterstock_152527238

 

The Common Cold

The Fear: In the monsoons, the probability that your colleague is lying about feeling under the weather reduces drastically, because the cold really does become more common. This is due to the fact that viruses thrive better in humid conditions. Also, it’s better they stay home and heal because their germs can very easily be transferred to you.

Save Yourself: Keep your clothes dry, your face clean, your hands sanitized and your sneezes limited to handkerchiefs (ask those around you to extend this common courtesy as well). Fill up on fruits and vegetables, keep yourself hydrated with lukewarm water, green tea, fresh soups and juices, and avoid the AC if your clothes are wet. If you feel a fever coming on, bathe, take proper rest, and stay warm.

Stay Healthy!

Countering Antibiotic Resistance- Learning from the world

In our previous post, we discussed the numerous problems posed by the antibiotic resistance to the entire world. As we mentioned, the situation is severe in BRIC countries-Brazil, Russia, India and China- but other developing countries are not better off. In fact, in some places, the ‘post-antibiotic’ era which we talked about has already arrived. In Nigeria, for instance, some studies suggest that as many as 88% of Staphylococcus aureus infections, which cause diseases in the respiratory tract, cannot be treated with methicillin — once a potent weapon against the microbe. It is imperative to find the underlying cause for this problem in developing economies. A recent appeal by British Prime Minister David Cameron on July 2 highlights the need to stay away from the ‘dark ages of medicine.’

Resistance on the rise

Research carried out by medicine experts of Cardiff University, UK suggests that in the Indian subcontinent itself, up to 95% of adults in India and Pakistan carry bacteria that are resistant to ‘last resort’ antibiotics such as carbapenems. By comparison, only 10% of adults in the Queens area of New York carry such bacteria. This spread in the Indian subcontinent has been unprecedented. However, the harsh reality is that researchers have been unable to pin point a particular cause for this epidemic-like situation.

One likely culprit is lack of sanitation. In many areas, waste water from hospitals is poorly filtered, allowing the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that flourish there to escape into waterways. If people drink this contaminated water or practice poor hygiene, the bacteria can spread. Bacteria develop in these wastes and soon develop resistance to potent drugs due to genetic alteration in hospital waste. When these bacteria end up in the human body, they can create havoc. This bio magnification- the process due to which a simple bug becomes deadly after being passed through several stages of the food chain- has been well documented. Since filtering out the antibiotic residue from medical waste is largely dependent on infrastructure, it is clear why the problem is so common in developing countries. Healthcare is often the most neglected domain in developing economies and this has been one of the greatest perpetrators.

Over prescribing or unregulated use of antibiotics is one of the greatest culprits. In China, for instance, hospitals and clinics receive financial incentives for prescribing which leads to an overuse of antibiotics. Some countries even allow pharmacies to sell antibiotics without prescription and people buy them even for diseases that antibiotics cannot treat, such as malaria. Clearly, lack of awareness and education, along with indiscriminate prescriptions has added to the untimely arrival of the post antibiotic era. In many places, patients don’t trust their doctors and force them to prescribe antibiotics. This is prevalent In India and if such reports are to be believed, then the buck doesn’t stop with doctors.

Limited access to basic medical care is one reason for the overuse of carbapenems and other second-line antibiotics. About 70% of India’s 1.2 billion citizens live in rural areas, where, despite government efforts, hospitals are often under-staffed and lack basic equipment and medication. Rather than relying on physicians, many rural patients turn to local pharmacists and whatever drugs they have in stock.

An explanation for trans-oceanic spread of superbugs lies in human migration. Patients from developing countries migrate to developed countries such as USA and the UK, which has led to an even wider base of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance exists in these developed countries too, but the spread of superbugs such as the aforementioned NDM-1 can be attributed largely to the migration of people. In most cases, the migrants don’t even know they are infected. In fact, some cases reported in the UK showed that a few patients who contracted infections due to superbugs had just shook hands with people returning from the Indian subcontinent. This is a disturbing revelation.

It is for these reasons why researchers do not know what factors have caused resistance to grow so rapidly in developing nations. Another possible cause might be the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock, although it remains controversial. Solving these problems clearly requires better monitoring of drug resistance. The WHO report proposes a new global surveillance network, although it is not clear who would pay for it.

 

Untitled

What has the world done to counter the Resistance?

In September 2012, Indian physicians moved a step closer to their goal of countering the threat of antibiotic resistance when India’s drug regulators announced a plan that would put tight restrictions on the sale of antibiotics. Carbapenems and many other antibiotics are already on a list of 536 drugs in India that require a prescription. Studies had shown that such drugs were easy to purchase at retail pharmacies without a physician’s signature. However, under the new regulations, carbapenems and other antibiotics with declining efficacy would be treated as a special category of prescription drugs. They would carry prominent red labels, and surprise inspections by the regulator would check whether pharmacies were selling them over the counter.

In 2010, India’s government created a task force to develop a national antibiotic policy. But the task force’s recommendations to ban over-the-counter sales of anti­biotics and prohibit the use of carbapenems and other second-line antibiotics except in major hospitals were rejected by the Indian health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad in 2011. Azad argued that the bans could have a devastating effect on health in rural areas.

Taking cue from the above mentioned directive by the WHO, some other countries are trying to take those lessons on board. Hospitals in Israel now practise ‘active surveillance’, meaning that if a new patient has been to any other health-care institution in the past six months they are checked for potential superbugs. Anyone who tests positive for such bacteria is flagged as a carrier in national-health records, which are accessible to hospitals, nursing homes and community physicians. France and the United Kingdom follow similar rules, but unfortunately many countries do not. It is high time developing countries adopted these rules to monitor the spread of these superbugs.

Meanwhile, lab-detection methods have also improved. Labs are now required to use whole-genome sequencing instead of genome sequencing to avoid missing out on superbugs. This means that the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome at a single time is analysed and additional information on genetic relationships, origin or susceptibility to specific diseases is pointed out.

Bottomline

The harsh truth is that new drugs will not be available in the market any time soon. Perversely, the rapid advance of resistance and the consequent need to use these drugs sparingly has convinced pharmaceutical companies that antibiotics are not worth the investment. In fact, even if the world sees new types of antibiotics, they might not offer the help that is expected of them. They are likely to be expensive and unaffordable in the developing world. More importantly it is all but inevitable that new drugs will eventually lose their potency, too.

Consequently, awareness needs to be created, especially in rural areas of developing countries. Antibiotics need to be consumed for the entire course and reckless use needs to be stopped. Antibiotic soaps available in USA and the UK have helped and need to be introduced in developing countries as well. However, it is of utmost importance that governments of developing countries show more interest in their countries’ healthcare. Recent protests by Brazilians during the FIFA World Cup have highlighted the apathetic state of their healthcare. The situation is the same in India and China. Better infrastructure is needed with which we can filter out harmful waste before getting rid of it. With a growing rural population, infrastructure, mass intimation and development of cheap antibiotics are important, but the most important thing is sensible and cautious use of antibiotics.

A New Era – Antibiotic Resistance and why all of us need to take it seriously.

Although advances in modern medicine, and healthcare delivery have enabled drugs combating previously life-threatening diseases to become readily available, increasing abuse and overuse of such drugs has resulted in an unprecedented rise of drug-resistant microorganisms. Recent studies have revealed alarming data about antibiotic resistance, with the result that the WHO found it imperative to caution the world of a post antibiotic era – an era in which previously innocuous minor infections such as common cold can once again be lethal.
Until a few years ago, antibiotic resistance was, at best, considered a futuristic prediction – which although made aware to the general public by doctors and health related media, more often than not went unheeded. However, over the past few years, antibiotic resistance has not only become an inevitable reality, but has become a “global health security threat”, as declared by the WHO. Scientists and doctors have already identified about 7 different types of microbes against which no known antibiotic can act.

 

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is the inability of antibiotics to fight against bacteria and other microbes. This is attributed to various causes including poor hand hygiene by hospital staff to incorrect usage or abuse of antibiotics. Once infected, there is little that doctors can do. It turns into an unfortunate game of wait and watch, where doctors and patients can only hope that the bacteria do not cause life threatening diseases. In most cases, the bacteria remain dormant or do not cause much harm, but cases reporting otherwise have been noted as well. In fact, a recent study carried out by doctors in the UK suggests that simple operations like hip replacements could lead to death in one out of six patients, all because of recently surfaced ‘super-bugs’.

shutterstock_134591180

Recent trends

While constantly evolving pathogenic microorganisms grow more powerful and antibiotics lose their potency, there has been a discovery void in the search of more potent antibiotic drugs, with no major breakthroughs in the last 3-4 decades (the last major breakthrough antibiotics, Carbapenems, considered to be the most potent antibiotics today, were discovered in 1976). Moreover, Alexander Fleming, the man credited for the discovery of penicillin, had warned about such an apocalyptic resistance to antibiotics. Out of the seven known ‘superbugs’, the one that is reported to be closest home is the New Delhi Metallo- beta- lactamase- 1 or NDM-1, an enzyme (controversially named after the national capital) that makes bacteria resistant to a broad range of antibiotics, including carbapenems. These microbes are responsible for common and serious diseases such as bloodstream infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea. Even the strongest antibiotics, which are usually used when all others fail, as last resorts, have no effect on these ‘superbugs,’ as described by the WHO. As such, these findings by the WHO are cause for great concern, documenting resistance to antibiotics, especially “last resort” antibiotics, in all regions of the world.

Super-bugs on the rise

When a young Swedish businessman of Indian origin fell ill after visiting India in 2009, doctors assumed it was a regular bacterial infection. But alarm bells had to be sounded when no known antibiotic could help the patient. Doctors administered the strongest, ‘last-resort’ antibiotics but the infection was unscathed. The underlying cause for this immunity of the responsible bacteria to antibiotics has since, been attributed to a new kind of enzyme. One of many of its kind, the New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1, or NDM-1, as it came to be known, is just one of the 7 known superbugs identified by the WHO. Several cases of antibiotic resistance due to NDM-1 alone have been registered, with at least 3 confirmed deaths. Unfortunately, doctors remain helpless.
One of the reasons why the resistant bacteria spread so rapidly was that they were difficult to detect.Most clinical labs used automated systems to give out microbial results within hours. However, it is only by culturing bacteria over days that a proper determination can be done, of the drugs they are resistant to. Moreover, the automated tests often give misleading results, due to which doctors end up prescribing wrong dosages of antibiotics. Doctors have established that the aforementioned superbugs have the highest tendency to move from person to person, and the problem is severest in the BRIC countries- Brazil, Russia, India and China. The problem is so dire, that a Mumbai based study by the Tata Memorial Hospital concluded that almost half of all bacterial samples from patients are resistant to carbapenems- the most potent antibiotics reserved for emergency use. Carbapenems and many other antibiotics of high potency are already on a list of 536 drugs in India that require a prescription, but the Tata study has shown that such drugs are easy to purchase at retail pharmacies without a physician’s signature. Limited access to basic medical care is one reason for the overuse of carbapenems and other second-line antibiotics. About 70% of India’s 1.2 billion citizens live in rural areas, where, despite government efforts, hospitals are often under-staffed and lacking basic equipment and medication. Rather than relying on physicians, many rural patients turn to local pharmacists and whatever drugs they have in stock. Since surprise checks are rare, pharmacies do not think twice before handing out strong antibiotics either. Moreover, penalties for the crime are not very strict, which makes the menace all the more rampant.

shutterstock_160032080 (1)

The very first global report on antibiotic resistance by the WHO in April 2014 reveals a serious threat to public health on a global level. WHO analysed data from 114 countries and concluded that common infections that were easily curable until some time back have become incurable. “Antibiotic resistance is happening in every part of the world and is a serious threat,” is what the report mentions. The report explains that immediate action needs to be taken and ineffectiveness against certain diseases should be a wake-up call for medical practitioners and patients alike. In fact, WHO has even compared the threat of antibiotic resistance with that of global warming, while a few doctors have related it akin to the threat posed by terrorism. Indeed, antibiotic resistance is humankind’s own Frankenstein, created due to reckless consumption, unnecessary prescription, and over-dependence on them.
However, this does not bring us to the end of this issue. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most potent threats the world faces right now and the best way to overcome it is mass awareness on the issue. Stay tuned for our next post in which we go into the depth of the causes of this problem, actions taken by the government and steps which we, citizens of the world can take.

These Wounds Run Deep: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its effect

We have gone into the depths of stress and ways to fight it, but no matter how hard we try, stress finds a way to creep back into our lives. This week, we look into a condition which is often ignored or not acknowledged by the victims- Post-traumatic stress disorder.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition which is generally caused when a person experiences traumatic events such as serious injury, the threat of death and victimisation. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyper arousal continue for more than a month after the traumatic event.However, most people having experienced a traumatizing event generally do not develop PTSD. Also, it has been found that women are more likely to experience higher impact events, and are also more likely to develop PTSD than men. Children are less likely to experience PTSD after trauma than adults, especially if they are less than ten years of age. War veterans are the most commonly affected by PTSD.

Until a few years ago, a war veteran attempted suicide every eighty minutes. That amounted to approximately eighteen suicide attempts each day. While the numbers have been decreased over the years, the situation is worrisome nonetheless. This is how badly PTSD affects war veterans- people who were trained to survive any kind of ordeal find themselves craving death, rather than relive the horrors which they lived through years ago. Witnessing close friends being killed in the battlefield is one of the most common triggers of PTSD. People suffering from PTSD feel like their lives or the lives of others were in danger. They often feel they had no control over what was happening. Sometimes these symptoms don’t surface for months or years after the event or returning from deployment. They may also come and go. Veterans often experience nightmares and feel guilty for not having done enough to ensure safety for all, which leads to anger and irritability. Sleepless nights are common and patients generally lose interest in everything.

So what are its effects?

PTSD has many give-away signs which include feeling upset by things that remind you of what happened. Patients have nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event, making them relive the traumatic events. Veterans often become depressed. Sadly, alcohol and drugs become their last resort. One of the biggest problems faced by PTSD patients is acknowledgement. Having been trained for combat and sacrifice their entire lives, many soldiers feel ashamed to admit that combat itself has left them unstable. Veterans often resign from active duty abruptly and resort to alcohol. We often hear incidents where soldiers or ex-soldiers kill fellow servicemen without provocation. Suicide rate are also high, especially in soldiers who have served in conflict zones, especially Kashmir and Naxal areas.

Seeking help

The first step in fighting PTSD is to admit it as a condition. There should be no shame in admitting it. In fact, the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can get help and resume being your normal self. With changing times, counselling and medication have proven to be good tools to fight PTSD. Professional counselling can help you understand your thoughts and discover ways to cope with your feelings. Friends and family, too, can be great a great help. Talk to them as much as possible, expressing your troubles. Sharing actually helps reduce your pain. Medications, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are used to help you feel less worried or sad. In just a few months, these treatments can produce positive and meaningful changes in symptoms and quality of life. They can help you understand and change how you think about your trauma—and change how you react to stressful memories.

While Hollywood movies like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket showcase a common soldier’s ordeal with PTSD in the west, there aren’t many movies which work the same way for the Indian soldier. As such, PTSD in the Indian soldier remains largely unknown. The problem is much worse than we think. The Indian society, sadly, does not give much importance to psychological effects of traumatic events. Indian war veterans suffer the same fate. The Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) and the Department of Defence are the only ones looking into PTSD currently. With a lack of forthcoming volunteers suffering from PTSD, their studies are limited. However, the Indian Army does realise the importance of psychological well-being of its soldiers and is gradually coming up with guidelines to keep their soldiers sound. Soldiers are entitled to avail full casual leave in one go. An increased provision of free warrants to home town from field areas to twice a year has led to better mental stability. Besides, a soldier has confidence that he can visit his hometown anytime he wants. The Indian Armed Forces have also developed numerous Rest and Recoup Centres in operational areas. There has also been a significant increase in hardship related allowances. Indian soldiers are also entitled to any kind of psychiatric help they might require at Military hospitals.

Put in simpler terms, PTSD is an extremely aggravated condition wherein the patient suffers from a plethora of symptoms triggered by traumatic pasts. We experience post-traumatic stress daily, even without our knowing, but it’s time to seek help when it becomes extreme. PTSD is all about acceptance- acceptance by society, acceptance of the condition and most importantly, acceptance of a traumatic past. Only then can the mind rest peacefully.

Staying Healthy is now a Fashion Trend : Wearable Technology

What started off as a simple watch with a calculator in it during the 1980s has now become the most talked about technology trend of 2014. For many years scientists and researchers alike have been trying to incorporate computing into our daily life. The applications of such ideas are so fast that an entire field has been dedicated to it named Ubiquitous Computing.

Ubiquitous Computing is an advanced concept which basically states the possibility of computers being embedded into day-to-day things like a fridge, a pair of glasses or even your door.

Sometimes called pervasive computing, ambient intelligence or everyWare, 2014 has seen the field blossom. With applications already being used in the field of sports, general productivity etc. today we look at what it is doing for healthcare.

Wearable health technology is drawing serious attention in the press and for good reason. Such devices will likely transform medical care in unimagined ways, turning science fiction into science fact.

ABI Research has projected that by 2016, wearable wireless medical device sales will reach more than 100 million devices annually. The market for wearable sports and fitness-related monitoring devices is projected to grow as well, reaching 80 million device sales by 2016.

The latest wearable health gadgets sport new capabilities and sleekness. From headsets that measure brainwaves to clothes that incorporate sensing devices, personal health monitoring is the wave of the future.

Our top 3 Wearable Health Technology Devices to look forward to are :

1. OMsignal has come out with a more formal approach to wearable technology by introducing  four different styles of male shirts including an undershirt, a sleeveless shirt, a casual t-shirt and a long sleeved shirt. The shirts are designed to be worn at the gym, under everyday clothes or on their own. With health sensors embedded into the fabric, the sensors can track heart rate, breathing rate, breathing volume, movement intensity and calories burned.

sdsa

2. Emotiv Insight offers an inexpensive, uncomplicated way to regularly measure brain performance and is completely safe for children, adults of all ages, and those with medical conditions. Emotiv Insight measures your brainwaves and translates it into meaningful data to help you make the most of your cognitive performance. The Brainwear can measure, track and help you improve your Attention, Focus, Engagement, Interest, Excitement, Affinity, Relaxation and reduce Stress levels. In addition, the brainwear can understand and decipher basic mental commands. It can detect commands such as push, pull, levitate, rotate and even commands that are harder to visualize such as disappear. It also detects facial expressions such as blinks, winks, frown, surprise, clench and smile.

 

2

3.  Moticon is the world’s first fully integrated and wireless sensor insole, according to the company. The insole can be used in any shoe to measure the distribution and motion parameters for patients and athletes. It’s currently used for everyday patient monitoring, rehabilitation measures, and for training analysis in sports. The sensor insole, which is fitted with firmware that communicates with PC software via a USB radio stick, is easy to use and doesn’t require special training. In 2010, Moticon was awarded the International Innovation Award for product of the year at the ISPO Sporting Goods Trade Fair.

 

3

Special Mention : Dr Chrono’s Google Glass HealthCare

Google Glass has some of the amazing hardware features that EHR developers look for. It is an amazing piece of hardware that changes the way a medical professional can see, literally.

Having not only an iPad in hand, imagine if a physician can see more data without picking up a device. Google Glass is just that, Glass is a head set frame a doctor can wear, basically like glasses and can see data points from the side of the glasses.

Dr Chrono and many other EHR/EMR developers are now using the Google glass as an alternate to iPads and other tablets.Visual tools are part of our future, building on the right hardware only makes sense.

4

While all these products are yet to be launched in the Indian Market, we are very excited to know that the health care industry is finally beginning to implement years of research into practical applications for improving quality of life throughout the world.

When Being in Deep Waters is Good !

With the advent of the new month, we can officially welcome the summers! And like each summer, we’re pretty sure this summer is going to be filled with countless golas, nimbu-paanis and cold drinks, accompanied by an equally disturbing frequency of load shedding. So in our latest post, we present to you the best and the most natural way of beating the heat- swimming.

1. Unique workout for overweight and people with joint pains

Have you ever realized how light you feel when you hit the pool? Swimming offers something no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work your body without harsh impact to your skeletal system. When the human body is submerged in water, it automatically becomes lighter due to the buoyant force exerted by the water. This means that the pool provides an ideal place to work stiff muscles and sore joints, especially if you’re overweight or suffer from arthritis.

2. Increased Muscle Tone and Strength

We’re pretty sure that you’ll never see a flabby competitive swimmer. That’s because swimming provides a great workout and helps increase muscular strength and muscle tone. A person jogging moves his/her body through air, but swimming involves the same movements in water, which is a hundred times denser than air. No wonder it has all the benefits of resistance training. That’s not all. Swimming has also been shown to improve bone strength in people of all ages.

3. Improved Flexibility

Swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible, unlike exercise machines in gyms that tend to isolate one body part at a time. The arms move in wide arcs, the hips are engaged as the legs scissor through the water, and the head and spine twist from side to side. Plus, with every stroke, as you reach forward, you’re lengthening the body, which acts as a good stretching exercise.

4. A healthier Heart

The best way to avoid fatal illnesses pertaining to the heart is to involve the body in cardiovascular exercise. This is best developed by swimming. Since swimming engages nearly every muscle in the body, it improves blood circulation which helps to scrape away the small layers of cholesterol or other toxins within the blood vessels. Further, swimming tends to engage a large number of calories, per stroke. This includes calories sourced from cholesterol which is the leading cause of heart-related illnesses and elevated blood pressure.

5. An efficient way to fight stress

Swimming is a great away to burn-away the blues. The act of plunging into a pool and splashing through water tends to engage our body and mind. This takes away our preoccupation with troubling thoughts. Being a full-body exercise, swimming has the effects of a high-impact workout at the gym. This induces the release of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good hormones that help to neutralize that depressive feeling. Further, the buoyant action of the water has a massage-like effect on the body, helping us to relax.

6. Make it a family affair

Swimming and other water activities are something the entire family can share. With rising levels of obesity in children as well as adults, family physical activities and good role-modelling may be one way to stem the epidemic of inactivity and obesity facing our nation. Think about it. You get to relax, rejuvenate your body, burn calories and get to spend more time with your family. What more can one want?

7. Beat the heat

Swimming is the most natural way to beat heat- it just involves you and water. the body absorbs water, which is extremely important in summers since surviving summers is all about staying hydrated. We’re lucky to have swimming pools these days; our ancestors probably had to manage with ponds and watering holes.

It doesn’t matter how you swim, breast stroke, back stroke, diving- they all are acceptable as long as you have fun. What matters is your enthusiasm. With so many health benefits swimming is by far the easiest and most enjoyable form of fitness activity. So go out, buy some swimming gear and head for the pool. Think about it. You get to relax, rejuvenate your body, burn calories, get a cool, beach body and get to spend more time with your family. What more can one want?

Eat Light, Eat Right !

Summers are around the corner. As the mercury scales new heights, fruits like watermelons and melons are welcome changes, and how can mangoes be far behind? Fruits form an important part of our diet as do other food items, and it is important to develop healthy eating habits. Since summers are often associated with upset stomachs and exhaustion, we must know what to eat, and more importantly, when to eat it, so this week, we highlight the most important eating habits needed for a healthy lifestyle.

1. Have breakfast like a king

We all have heard that. But surprisingly, not a lot of us follow this age-old saying. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast wakes up the entire body, increases he rate of metabolic processes in the body and leaves us with a general sense of well-being throughout the day. Researchers have found that people consuming healthy breakfasts are less likely to gain weight than those who do not.

2. Replace the mayo

Mayonnaise is full of empty calories as well as cholesterol. Yes, it makes food tastier, but eating a salad loaded with mayonnaise is no good- you end up consuming more calories than you tried to avoid. The cholesterol in mayonnaise is especially bad for the heart. Plus, mayonnaise tends to go bad in summers, especially in India. Replace mayonnaise with healthier options like olive oil and vinegar. Not only are they natural ingredients, olive oil is also a very good source of vitamin D.

3.Load up on fruits

Gorging on fruits is one of the best things one can do in summers-and it’s healthy too! Have a good stock of all your favourite fruits and munch on them whenever you feel hungry. Cut mangoes into small cubes and keep them in the refrigerator. Grab a folk and munch away while watching your favourite movie, catching up with friends, or reading a novel. Same goes for water melons and melons. Add some salt and masalas and you have your very own chaat! The sugar which you get from fruits is natural and the calories are good. Fruits such as water melons also provide you with loads of liquids-something which you need in summers.

4.Drink, drink, drink!

Consume as many liquids as you can in summers. Your body needs them and they help you keep cool. Sit back and watch your favourite TV show with a glass of your favourite fruit shake, or read a book with a glass of your favourite fruit juice. Lunch is never complete without a glass of chilled lassi! Not does lassi provide you with instant refreshment, it also has all the benefits of curd. It is also a known cure for upset stomachs. Fruit juices provide you the required vitamins and fibre in a single glass-without having to eat the entire fruit. One should stay away from sodas, diet colas and artificial juices, though. They provide you empty calories. All they contain is sugar.

One of the most important things which need to be kept in mind is that healthy eating habits are all about keeping things simple and natural. Fruits, vegetables, olive oil, vinegar, juices are all natural recipes for a healthier diet. It is sad that despite knowing many of these things we tend to ignore them. But come this summer season, take a vow to develop healthier eating habits. Take a vow to eat light, eat right and live right.

Beat the Summer Sickness!

It’s the month of April! Summer is almost here. It’s finally time to take out your t-shirts and shorts. But along with ice creams, colas and golas, summers are also harbingers of some deadly diseases, which might take away most of the fun. The rising mercury isn’t the only thing which might harm you; viruses are just waiting to enter your body and ruin your summer.

Some of the most common diseases during summers occur due to contaminated food and water. Cholera, typhoid and jaundice are just some of the most common ones. Summer is also the season when skin diseases like chicken pox and mumps are at their potent best. One needs to be careful of the weather too. Staying in the sun for too long can cause burns, headaches and might even cause heatstroke. This week we have a look at the 4 ailments which have the highest probability of taking us down this summer- and tips to neutralize them.

1. Jaundice

Causes

Also called Hepatitis A, jaundice is a water-borne disease caused mainly by contaminated water supplies and food cooked in unclean places. Jaundice is spread by the Hepatitis A virus, which affects the liver causing over-production of bile.

Symptoms

The white part of the eyes, called the conjunctivae is the first to acquire a yellow colour, followed by yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes. Stools are light-coloured and urine is dark. There is a lot of itching on the skin.

Fighting it

A vaccine is available, but for better protection, one must try to drink clean water as much as possible. Avoid eating from unhygienic places such as road side stalls, as they tend to use dirty water for their cooking.

2. Typhoid

Causes

Commonly known as typhoid fever, it is also a water-borne disease passed on through the oro-feacal route, when the responsible bacteria, called Salmonella typhi passes through. This bacterium is commonly found in unsanitary food or water sources. Its common symptoms include high fever, fatigue and weakness, pain in the abdomen, followed by a loss of appetite.

Symptoms

The patient will suffer from headaches and these symptoms are often accompanied by a rash. Once treated a person can still carry the bacteria but not suffer from the disease. These people are called ‘carriers’ and often are the cause for further spread of the virus.

Fighting it

There are two types of vaccines available to protect you against typhoid. One is a vaccine that uses the killed bacteria, and is injected into a person. The second is the attenuated or weakened bacterium that is administered in the form of medicine or a pill. As a general precaution, one should consume filtered or mineral water ad avoid eating at unhygienic places.

3. Chicken pox

Causes

This condition gets its name because it causes boils to appear all over the body, which resemble the peck marks of a chicken. Caused by the Varicella zoster virus, chicken pox is generally seen right at the onset of summers. It manifests as itchy red rash like spots or boils all over the body, usually in children. Spread by air-borne particles, the disease spreads when an already infected person sneezes or coughs. Another mode of transmission is if a caregiver touches the blisters or the fluid oozing out of it.

Symptoms

Some of the first symptoms are fever, headache and sore throat. After about a day or two a rash like blister appears in a localized part of the body which will later spread to the entire body. The boils or blisters burst after about 2 days and once they crust over, the patient can resume their daily activities. Until then, it is important that the he/ she is kept in complete isolation and given a good amount of rest. It takes about 10 days for the body to recover from the illness. On the bright side, once you suffer from chicken pox you will not contract the disease again due to the natural immunity the first attack confers on you.

Fighting it

There is a vaccine available to protect yourself against this virus. Even so, some simple precautions like washing your hands thoroughly after visiting a common or crowded place and to isolate a person suffering from the disease to prevent its spread can be exercised.

4. Heatstroke

Causes

In a heatstroke, the body’s temperature reaches abnormally high levels, in the proximity of 40°C. It happens because of extreme environmental conditions that lead to increase in body temperature or because of exhausting activities that cause the body temperature to rise.

Symptoms

The first complication of heatstroke is shock. Symptoms include high body temperature, absence of sweat and hyperventilation. A patient might even lose consciousness or start hallucinating. This is accompanied by muscle cramps and physical weakness. Since old and young people are often unable to cope with extreme heat and have trouble remaining hydrated, they have the highest risk of suffering from heatstroke.

Fighting it

Medication which blocks blood pressure by regulating adrenaline is available. One should wear lose fitting, light-coloured clothes. Wear hats as far as possible. Consumption of adequate amounts of fluids is a must since hydration is of utmost importance in summers.

There are several other diseases/ailments which might affect us during summers, but these are the predominant ones. Water and food borne diseases like cholera, typhoid and jaundice are the most common summer diseases and simple precautions against them can go a long way. It helps if one has already contracted chicken pox in one’s childhood, though precautions against it might keep it at bay. Often ignored, heatstroke is a serious concern and needs immediate first aid. As a general rule for summers, try to stay indoors, in cool environments as much as possible. Keep your body hydrated. Eat healthy and avoid frequenting roadside stalls. Simple precautionary measures such as these will help us all scream for ice cream!