HEALTH & FITNESS

The bird flu scare
Dr S.K. Jindal
Do’s

It is important to be aware of the problem and its infectious nature. But rely only on scientific information provided by creditable agencies.

EYESIGHT
How to use eye-drops
Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev
A
s an ophthalmologist I prescribe eye-drops to my patients. The patient responds by saying how he or she should put the drops. “How many drops do I put?” These questions are very relevant to ensure that the disease is effectively treated. Eyes have a very small surface and the administration of drops properly ensures maximum results. Here is an overview to the proper technique of eye-drops instillation.

Ayurveda & you
Managing bronchitis
Dr R. Vatsyayan
B
ronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, the airways that connect the wind-pipe to the lungs. This delicate mucous-producing lining covers and protects the respiratory zone, the organs and the tissues involved in the system.

Insomnia in teens dangerous
Washington:
A new study has found that insomnia in teenagers appears to increase the risks of ADHD-like symptoms, psychiatric disorders and other health problems. As a part of the study, researchers at RTI International studied more than 1,000 13-to-16-year-olds, and found that almost 11 per cent of them suffered from insomnia, with the onset typically starting around 11 years of age.

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The bird flu scare
Dr S.K. Jindal

Do’s

  • It is important to be aware of the problem and its infectious nature. But rely only on scientific information provided by creditable agencies.
  • Those working in, or near the poultry farms and/or with birds of any kind need to be extra vigilant and careful. Use of gloves, masks, shoes and good protective socks is essential.
  • Handle eggs with gloved hands. Washing off any faecal matter from the egg shell is important.
  • Consume only thoroughly boiled eggs and cooked chicken meat.
  • Even if you get flu-like symptoms these days, it is likely to be common cold or routine influenza in all probabilities. Treat it with standard medication.
  • Adopt general healthy life practices. Cleanliness and health education are important at the individual level.
  • Have confidence in the scientific information provided to you. As of today, the chances of an epidemic in humans is extremely unlikely. Human-to-human transmission of the H5 N1 virus responsible for this episode is not known.

Unlike the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which constituted an epidemic threat recently, bird flu does not cause sever respiratory failure and death immediately. Even in the past influenza pandemics, the mortality in India had never been as serious a threat as in the Western world.

Don’ts

  • Do not fall a victim to the hype and gossips on bird flu. The news of epidemic must not take a toll of your peace and life-style.
  • Do not panic even if you get flu-like symptoms. Human cases of bird flu infection with the H5 N1 strain are very rare — not reported in India so far.
  • Avoid handling of poultry and wild birds. If you must, maintain caution.
  • Do not walk bare-footed and unmasked in poultry farms and other enclosures of birds.
  • Contact with bird droppings must be avoided at all costs.
  • Do not consume raw, uncooked or semi-cooked eggs, chicken or meat of any kind.
  • There is absolutely no need or justification to use or store anti-bird flu drugs at the individual level. Misuse is risky and dangerous.

The writer is Professor & Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, PGI, Chandigarh.

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EYESIGHT
How to use eye-drops
Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev

As an ophthalmologist I prescribe eye-drops to my patients. The patient responds by saying how he or she should put the drops. “How many drops do I put?” These questions are very relevant to ensure that the disease is effectively treated. Eyes have a very small surface and the administration of drops properly ensures maximum results. Here is an overview to the proper technique of eye-drops instillation.

There are many kinds of eye-drops. Follow your doctor’s advice on how much and how often to use your eye-drops. Read instructions carefully before using your drops. Store your eye-drops at room temperature and away from heat, moisture (wetness) and direct sunlight.

Always ensure that the correct medication is being used for the assigned eye. Do not use the drops after the expiry date. It appears that putting a greater number of drops helps in better results, but in reality the eye does not have the capacity to hold more than one drop. So, just use one drop at a time to avoid wastage of drug. Putting the drops on white part of the eye may seem the most logical option, but actually that is a very small part of the eye surface. The maximum area for absorption lies under the eyelids. The drug should percolate under the lids, especially the upper eyelid. It may be a little difficult if one has to put it by himself. Ideally, an attendant should instil it in the patient’s eye. It may be easier to put in the eye-drops if you use a mirror or have someone else put it for you. Follow these steps to put in eye-drops correctly:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Rinse and dry your hands.
  • lIf the eye-drops are cloudy (suspension form), always gently shake the bottle well (with the dropper on) before using them.
  • Make sure that there are no chips or cracks at the end of the eye-dropper.
  • lHold the dropper tip down all the time. This stops the drops from flowing back into the bulb where there may be germs that can get into the medicine.
  • The eye-drops must be kept clean. Avoid touching the dropper against the eye or anything else.
  • Lie down or tilt your head back. If you are giving the drops to someone else, have them lie down or tilt back their head.
  • With your index (pointer) finger, pull the upper lid of your eye to form a pocket.
  • Hold the dispenser close to your eye with the opposite hand.
  • Do not squeeze the bulb too hard. Placing drops on the corneal surface of the eyeball may cause stinging.
  • If you are giving the drops to someone else, follow the same steps.
  • Replace the cap or dropper in the medicine bottle right away. Do not rinse or wipe it off.
  • Gently close your eyes. Press your index finger against the inside corner of your eye next to your nose for one minute. This allows the medicine to start working in the eye. Help the person you have given the drops to do this.
  • Gently wipe away any extra liquid with a tissue. Do not rub your eyes. Wash your hands to remove any medicine.

If you are using more than one type of eye-drop medicine, wait before using the next type. You should wait 5 to 10 minutes before using the next type of eye-drops. Adjust the timings of your drops according to schedule.

Discard the drops if the colour changes from what they were or if it turns cloudy or if they have small bits floating in them.

If you develop any of the following problems after putting the drops, contact your eye doctor:

  • Excessive eye pain.
  • Changes in vision.
  • Signs of infection such as redness, swelling, drainage or pus.
  • Very bad eye irritation, redness and watering.
  • Rash or hives (raised red areas on your skin).
  • No change or worsening of symptoms after three days of treatment.

It is important to use the right drop in the correct eye in the prescribed schedule following a correct technique for best results.

The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. E-mail: msachdev@bol.net.in

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Ayurveda & you
Managing bronchitis
Dr R. Vatsyayan

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, the airways that connect the wind-pipe to the lungs. This delicate mucous-producing lining covers and protects the respiratory zone, the organs and the tissues involved in the system.

Many factors are responsible for bronchitis. In acute conditions, these can be viral and bacterial infections, allergies or certain seasonal and environmental discrepancies which predispose to such conditions like a cold, damp, foggy and dusty atmosphere, industrial pollution, smoking and chronic mouth-breathing. Chronic bronchitis is a clinical syndrome which many individuals develop in response to the long and continued action of various types of irritants on the bronchial mucosa.

The acute bronchitis generally follows an infection and, starting with nose, sinuses and throat, it spreads to the large bronchial passages. Chronic bronchitis, also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a more difficult and long lasting situation and can be mild or severe in intensity. The symptoms of either type of bronchitis include cough that produces mucous, fever, shortness of breath worsened by exertion, wheezing, fatigue and chest discomfort.

The treatment approach of bronchitis aims at general management of the patient and offering him medicines which relieve the discomforting symptoms. In case of acute bronchitis, the symptoms resolve within seven or 10 days provided there is no underlying lung disorder. The patient should be advised to take rest and consume warm water. A light and easily digestible diet additionally helps in keeping the digestion in order. Steam inhalation and giving up smoking facilitate expectoration and soothen the irritated mucosa.

Starting with single herbs to multiple-ingredient preparations, ayurveda offers a number of medicines which are quite helpful in mild-to-moderate cases of bronchitis. Powders of mulethi, peel of baherha and turmeric can be mixed together in a ratio of 3:2:1 respectively and two to three gm of it, if taken mixed with honey, acts as a good mucolytic and anti-allergic agent. A brew of tulsi, mulethi, ginger powder, cardamom and dalchini additionally helps to keep fatigue and feverish conditions at bay. One or two gm powder of trikatu or three bitter herbs (ginger, black pepper and piper longum) in equal parts can also be taken with honey to assuage the early symptoms of fever and cough.

For a more classic approach, a combination of Tribhuvan Keerti Rasa, Laxami Vilas Rasa (Nardiya) and Godanti Bhasma, if given at the time of emergence of first symptoms of flu and cough, is quite helpful. The famous Swarn Vasant Malti Rasa is an all-time effective medicine and can be used to enhance the efficacy of any other treatment. Sitopladi Churna and Talishadi Churna also form the base for many other ayurvedic medicines which are given to fight fever and chest congestion.

Dry and hacking cough can continue for some time after an attack of bronchitis. The chance of recovery is poor for advanced chronic bronchitis, but early recognition of symptoms combined with smoking cessation and avoidance of other precipitating factors improves the chance of a good outcome.

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Insomnia in teens dangerous

Washington: A new study has found that insomnia in teenagers appears to increase the risks of ADHD-like symptoms, psychiatric disorders and other health problems. As a part of the study, researchers at RTI International studied more than 1,000 13-to-16-year-olds, and found that almost 11 per cent of them suffered from insomnia, with the onset typically starting around 11 years of age.

Dr Eric Johnson, principal researcher for the study, said that insomnia, which is a chronic problem in teens, reduces their cognitive function and performance and indicates an increased risk for depression and substance abuse. — ANI

Breast cancer: avoid Western diet

SEOUL: Breast cancer among South Korean women is increasing at a rapid rate due in part to a more Western lifestyle and consumption of more fatty foods, according to a paper made available.

In the paper published in the February issue of the Archives of Surgery, a Journal of the American Medical Association publication, South Korean scientists found that South Korean women have increased risk factors for breast cancer in recent years.

“We believe that the younger generations of Korean women have been directly affected by the progressive Westernisation of the Korean lifestyle,’’ the authors wrote.— Reuters

Skip breakfast during exams!

London: Next time you sit for your exams and want to fare better than the previous time, remember to skip your breakfast, as a new research suggests that hunger pangs may trigger memory.

American scientists at the Yale University found that the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin’ can increase the number of nerve connections in the area of the brain where new memories are formed, which may result in the better creation and retrieval of memories.

“The study provides evidence that ghrelin may control higher brain functions and may represent a molecular link between learning capabilities and energy metabolism,” BBC quoted the researchers as saying.

“The paper is pretty interesting and it is entirely plausible that we are more alert and keyed up to both remember and recall more readily when stressed by hunger. If we weren’t our individual forbearers might have died out in the competition for food,” they added. — ANI

Gum chewing helps bowels

CHICAGO: Chewing gum after intestinal surgery can help reactivate paralyzed bowels and get patients out of the hospital sooner, a study said.

Patients who have abdominal surgery often suffer a slowdown or shutdown of the bowels called ileus that causes pain, vomiting and abdominal swelling, and they may not be able to tolerate food or even water, the report published in the Archives of Surgery said yesterday.

Study participants had no problem chewing sugarless gum three times a day. Chewing stimulates nerves that promote the release of hormones responsible for activating the gastrointestinal system, wrote study author Rob Schuster of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California. — Reuters

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