HEALTH & FITNESS

Who is not suffering from eye strain?
by Dr R. Kumar
E
ye strain occurs when you over-use your eyes. It is due to the fatigue of eye muscles. Any eye muscle held in one position for too long will cause eye strain. When you concentrate on a task such as reading or writing at the computer or watching television for too long, your eye muscles tighten up, causing your eyes to get irritated, dry and uncomfortable.

How ‘modern’ yoga increases injury worries
by Dr Ravinder Chadha
A
wareness about yoga has increased considerably due to widespread publicity and also its being convenient to practice asanas either at home or in the nearest yoga centre.

Toxins in tobacco smoke can poison passive smokers
London:
A new research has revealed that smokers pump out clouds of poisonous toxins, which can be a serious health hazard for those around them. The researchers from Lund University in Sweden have shown that endotoxins, which are made by bacteria and occur naturally in the air, are produced by tobacco smoke in high concentrations.

Injected contraceptive raises STD risk
WASHINGTON:
Women who use the injected contraceptive Depo-Provera have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases, U.S. researchers reported. This holds true even when behaviour and other factors are taken into account, the research team at the National Institutes of Health, University of North Carolina and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found.

Towards hepatitis C vaccine
Sydney:
Researchers have revealed that a group of people who appear to be resistant to hepatitis C despite constant exposure to the virus, may help develop a vaccine to curb its onset.

Homoeopathy & you
Managing menopause safely
by Dr Vikas Sharma
A
s the controversy regarding the use of hormone for treating menopause deepens, the need for a completely harmless treatment becomes stronger than ever, and a notable shift is now seen with more and more people opting for safer systems of medicine like homoeopathy.
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Who is not suffering from eye strain?
by Dr R. Kumar

Eye strain occurs when you over-use your eyes. It is due to the fatigue of eye muscles. Any eye muscle held in one position for too long will cause eye strain.

When you concentrate on a task such as reading or writing at the computer or watching television for too long, your eye muscles tighten up, causing your eyes to get irritated, dry and uncomfortable. With the desk-working generation in place, the incidence of eye strain is so high that you have to ask: who is not suffering from eye strain?

To give your eyes a chance to refocus, once or twice an hour, take a five-minute break from whatever you are doing. If you are over 40, eye strain may also be a sign that you need reading glasses or have chronically dry eyes. Shutting your eyes for a few minutes, or even several seconds will refocus them and ease the strain. Also, blink a lot. Each blink soothes and moistens the eyes and eases tight eye muscles.

Third, use artificial tears. Eyes tend to get dry when they are strained, and dryness can cause eye strain. Next to blinking, artificial tears are the easiest way to remoisten your eyes and ease the strain.

If the computer screen is causing your strain, turn up the contrast on your monitor. The words and numbers on your screen are formed by fuzzy beams of light and these are much harder to read than the print on a page. To minimise the strain on your eyes, set the monitor contrast knob on high. Secondly, if you can, position your computer screen so that window light doesn’t bounce off the screen and create glare. So, avoid all kinds of light reflections from computer screen that may dazzle your eyes.

If you experience eye strain in the sun, wear sunglasses year-round. The sun’s rays can make you squint, straining the facial muscles around your eyes. Buy yourself a good pair of sunglasses, specifically labelled as blocking out as much ultraviolet light as possible. Caps on the head, along with sunglasses, shade your eyes, reducing glare and squinting. You must see an eye specialist if you consistently experience any of the following problems:

  • Your eyes feel strained all the time.

  • Your eyes are extremely sensitive to light.

  • You can’t see as properly as you used to.

Now the question is: how to protect your eyes from eye strain?

If your eyes water, your eyelids twitch, the part of your forehead around your eyebrows seems to ache, and you notice a burning sensation when you close your eyes, you are suffering from eye strain.

Hold the reading material about 30 to 40 centimetres away from your eyes. Ensure that you have adequate soft light coming from a source behind or beside your left shoulder—- use a lamp with a 60-to 100-watt bulb. Take a break every half an hour or one hour by looking at distant objects for three or four minutes. Follow the same guidelines for other close work such as sewing, knitting and drawing.

While watching television, the lighting in the room should be appreciably dimmer (about 50 per cent) than the illumination of the screen. Ensure that lighting doesn’t reflect on the screen or cause a glare. Don’t watch in darkness. Avoid viewing from an angle. Sit in front of the set at a reasonable distance e.g., for a 50-centimetre (20-inch) screen, sit about three metres away. Those with poorer sight may need to sit closer.

Despite what you may have been told as a child, television will not damage your eyes. In fact, children can focus up closely without eye strain more easily than adults.

The lights in the room should be soft and not as bright as the screen of your computer. Put the screen in a spot where there is no glare from the windows or lights. Sit at least 50 centimetres from the screen, and position it so that you look downward at it, at an angle of about 20 degrees. When you’re working for a steady period, take occasional breaks from the screen and relax your eyes by looking at a distance for a few minutes.

If your eyes feel dry after a prolonged period in front of the screen —- or after any other visual activity —- try using an over-the counter teardrop product containing the wetting agent methyl cellulose.

On bright or hazy days, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare and harmful ultraviolet rays while driving. If you are on a long trip, stop every few hours to rest your eyes and stretch.

The writer is a senior eye specialist, who was earlier associated with the PGI,
Chandigarh.

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How ‘modern’ yoga increases injury worries
by Dr Ravinder Chadha

Awareness about yoga has increased considerably due to widespread publicity and also its being convenient to practice asanas either at home or in the nearest yoga centre.

Yoga helps in improving the flexibility of the muscles and joints, and increases blood circulation, leading to better concentration and a sense of well-being. Yet only a few people understand that yoga in itself is a complete science, dealing with the body, breath, mind and spirit. Commercial exploitation by the West has made yoga a merely physical exercise programme.

Sometime back a revered expert in yoga visited Chandigarh with a mission to spread awareness about it. He wanted everybody to take it up on a regular basis. He might have been successful in his mission, although his programme resulted in a number of people suffering from neck stiffness, back pain, muscle sprain, etc.

The obvious reason being that without proper guidance one cannot practice yoga. Delivering lectures is quite easy, but practising what you say is a tedious job.

The assertion made by certain yoga experts that there is a marked weight loss with yogic exercises is not entirely true. Most of these exercises are not entirely yoga in nature. These can burn up to 40 calories in 20 minutes, which is far less than the calories burnt in aerobic activities. Even simple activities like walking at a moderate speed can burn up to 100 calories in less than 30 minutes. If yoga is combined with any aerobic activity like walking, jogging and cycling it can bring about weight loss and increased body flexibility.

We basically practice therapeutic yoga wherein body postures and techniques are used for improving flexibility, correcting one's posture and strengthening the spine. Therapeutic yoga is practised by busy people for managing stress in their life. Sportspersons improve their performance and pregnant women have an easy delivery with the help of yoga. Warming up is essential before performing the asanas, otherwise it can lead to injuries to muscle, ligament, etc. In the morning as one gets up, blood circulation to skeletal muscles is only 10 per cent, and after warming up for only five minutes it increases to 70-80 per cent. This improves the flexibility and suppleness of the muscles and thereby reducing the chances to injury.

In the initial stages simple asanas should be started like Baddha Kona Asana, Bala Asana, Naga Asana (the cobra posture), Pamda Asana (lotus posture), Pavan-Mukta-Asana, Trikone Asana, Surya Namaskar, Vajra Asana, etc.

There is no doubt that the correct practice of yoga leads to physical and mental well-being, but if done incorrectly it can result in injury. Chakra Asana (wheel posture) improves strength and suppleness of the spine, but hyper-extending the ligaments and muscles of the spine may cause injury.

Hala Asana stretches the muscles of the calf and thigh and gives relief from leg cramps. People who do not have a supple body can hyper-extend the ligaments to the lower back but this will result in pain and discomfort. Vrikschika Asana (bow posture) helps in stretching the neck, spine and chest but should not be attempted by the beginners as it can case injury to the back.

Dhaura Asana (bow posture) improves the flexibility of the spine, cures all types of digestive disorders and relieves back strain. However, this Asana, if not done properly, can cause injury to the muscles and ligaments of the back. Secondly, aged patients suffering from the back problem due to osteoporosis should not do it. Fitness means speed, stamina, suppleness and strength. A person can become totally fit if yogic exercises are combined with aerobic activities and strength training.

The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.
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Toxins in tobacco smoke can poison passive smokers

London: A new research has revealed that smokers pump out clouds of poisonous toxins, which can be a serious health hazard for those around them.

The researchers from Lund University in Sweden have shown that endotoxins, which are made by bacteria and occur naturally in the air, are produced by tobacco smoke in high concentrations.

According to the Daily Mail, the researchers used a unique method of chemical analysis, developed over many years, to measure levels of endotoxins caused by tobacco smoke.

The findings will consequently add to growing calls for a ban on smoking in enclosed public area such as pubs, restaurants and other workplaces.

Tobacco is known to contain more than 4,000 chemicals, including 50 substances known to cause cancer and endotoxins are a group of poisonous substances produced by bacteria and naturally occur in the air and elsewhere.

The research team, led by Associate Professor Lennart Larson, tried to simulate both passive and active smoking and found that the level of the toxic substances in the air of the smoky room was 120 times higher than in the smoke-free room.

"This can be one reason why smokers so often suffer from respiratory ailments," the report quoted Larson as saying. — ANI
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Injected contraceptive raises STD risk

WASHINGTON: Women who use the injected contraceptive Depo-Provera have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases, U.S. researchers reported.

This holds true even when behaviour and other factors are taken into account, the research team at the National Institutes of Health, University of North Carolina and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found.

More study is needed, but it is possible that Depo-Provera itself causes a susceptibility to STDs, said Charles Morrison of Family Health International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, who led the study.

"We did adjust for differences in condom use, differences in multiple partners, differences in the number of sexual coital acts," Morrison said in a telephone interview.

Inner-city and younger women also had a higher risk of STDs, but using Depo-Provera added to the risk, the study found.

Morrison said the researchers were especially concerned because Depo-Provera or its generic equivalent are being increasingly used in Africa, where STDs such as the AIDS virus are very common.

He said women who use Depo-Provera to prevent pregnancy should take extra care if they are in relationships in which either they or their partner have sex with other people.

Like birth control pills, Depo-Provera provides no protection from an infection such as syphilis, gonorrhea or the AIDS virus.

"For sexually active women not in a mutually monogamous relationship, limiting the number of partners may also help to reduce the risk," Morrison added. — Reuters

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Towards hepatitis C vaccine

Sydney: Researchers have revealed that a group of people who appear to be resistant to hepatitis C despite constant exposure to the virus, may help develop a vaccine to curb its onset.

The research, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, found that people at high risk of contracting hepatitis C, which is a virus transmitted via blood-to-blood contact, had developed protective immunity.

Male prisoners in NSW jails, who were not infected with hepatitis C, but were at high risk of being exposed via injecting drug, tattooing, piercing etc, were the first one to be tested.

"We identified four individuals who, became infected, then went on to clear the virus and remain free of persistent infection on follow up, and yet never developed hepatitis C antibodies," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Andrew Lloyd, an infectious diseases physician from the University of NSW, as saying.

Fifty percent of those tested had developed T cells i.e. white blood cells that indicate an immune response to an infection. "It is possible that they had been infected in the past, perhaps on several occasions, and that may be why they were able to clear the virus efficiently and without developing antibodies," said Professor Lloyd.

Around 30 to 40 percent of people who contract hepatitis C eradicate the virus within six months of infection, but remain susceptible to re-infection. But the prisoners didn’t get the infection for whole one year despite continuing exposure.
ANI
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Homoeopathy & you
Managing menopause safely
by Dr Vikas Sharma

Natural approach to menopause

Increase calcium intake : Increase your dietary intake of calcium. Calcium is found in dairy products—-milk, cheese, yoghurt, etc. At least two glasses of milk are recommended for women undergoing or heading for menopause.

Exercise: Adequate exercise is a must for menopausal and post-menopausal women, as it reduces the rate of loss of calcium. Women who exercise less generally develop more osteoporosis.

Latest research: Soya foods have been found to contain natural phyto-estrogens that are very helpful in menopausal and post-menopausal women. The potential health benefits are the reduction of hot flushes and vaginal dryness, protection against coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer.

As the controversy regarding the use of hormone for treating menopause deepens, the need for a completely harmless treatment becomes stronger than ever, and a notable shift is now seen with more and more people opting for safer systems of medicine like homoeopathy. Talking about safety, the need arises for the treatment free from short- term as well as long-term side-effects.

Menopause is a normal change in the body functioning and means the end of menstruation. After a year of no menstruation a women is said to have gone through menopause. It is the final result of a gradual decline in the functioning of the ovaries. The ovaries are a set of organs in females that produce eggs for fertilization, and a female sex hormone called oestrogen. As women reach menopause their periods become irregular and scanty, until they permanently cease. In some women the periods cease suddenly. Menopause usually occurs between the age of 45-52, although in some it may start as early as the late thirties and the early forties.

Symptoms of menopause in women passing through this phase may range from hardly any to severe ones. One of the symptoms that may cause great discomfort, embarrassment and also sleeplessness is hot flushes - it is a feeling of extreme heat, mostly in the upper parts of the body, accompanied by drenching sweats. These hot flushes gradually subside over a year or two but in some it may even continue up to five years. Homoeopathic medicines Sepia, Amyl Nitrite and Lachesis, if used under proper guidance, can give excellent results in treating these dreadful flushes.

Loss of vaginal lubrication and elasticity during menopause results in difficult intercourse and irritation in the urinary tract. Homoeopathic medicine Sepia is recommended for decreased libido and low sexual energy, and Lycopodium is recommended for treating vaginal dryness. Irritability and sudden mood fluctuations may result out of the hormonal change occurring in the body in addition to the stress of aging. Homoeopathic medicine Speia is one of the leading medicines in treating the symptoms of menopause with irritability and indifferent behaviour.

Pulsatilla may be useful in women who undergo sudden mood fluctuations and depict emotional instability. In some cases psychological symptoms may worsen and symptoms of clinical depression —- excessive weeping, sadness, feeling of loneliness, sleeplessness and reduced social interaction —- are also seen. Homoeopathic medicine Ignatia Amara can be a great boon for such patients.

One of the main effects of menopause is osteoporosis. It is a progressive loss and weakening of the bones. Bone mass losses on an average 1-2 per cent/year after menopause and results in easy fractures and other symptoms related with osteoporosis such as backache, pain in bones, etc. Homoeopathic medicine Calcarea Carb can be a "sight for sore eyes" for those women who are undergoing osteoporosis. It helps in decreasing the loss of calcium from bones and also increasing its absorption from the food that we eat.

The writer is a Chandigarh-based homoeopath.

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