HEALTH & FITNESS

Beware of hospital-acquired infections
Dr Jagdish Chander

The prevalence of hospital-acquired infections (HAI) has increased to a great extent, leading to very high morbidity as well as mortality among indoor patients. This holds true not only for the developing countries but for the developed world as well. Over and above, the increasing drug resistance in the bacteria and fungi to the most frequently used antimicrobials has aggravated the prevailing situation. Some of the infections are very difficult to tackle even with the newer antimicrobial agents. Therefore, the hospital-stay of a patient gets prolonged, sometimes leading to even fatal consequences.

Let obesity not spoil your health
Dr R. Vatsyayan

During the last 20 years obesity in adults has increased in almost all the developing countries, including India. The most commonly observed factors behind this include the genetic disposition, sedentary lifestyle, underlying illnesses such as hypothyroidism, dietary aberrations like regular and excessive intake of heavy and fried eatables and food that gives high postprandial blood sugar and chronic depression. Use of certain medications and many gynaecological conditions like menstrual irregularity, the menopausal phase and pelvic infections can also lead to an obesity-like situation.

EYESIGHT
Exercises help keep eyes healthy
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

Eyes form a vital organ of the body, constantly in use while we do our activities. They are in use all the time, Then why is the need for eye-exercises?

Health Notes
Coffee is good for health

Washington:
If your morning beverage of choice is coffee, recent research provides an extra perk. Like much-publicized green tea, which has garnered considerable attention due to its high antioxidant content, researchers have found that coffee is quite high in  antioxidants.

 


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Beware of hospital-acquired infections
Dr Jagdish Chander

The prevalence of hospital-acquired infections (HAI) has increased to a great extent, leading to very high morbidity as well as mortality among indoor patients. This holds true not only for the developing countries but for the developed world as well. Over and above, the increasing drug resistance in the bacteria and fungi to the most frequently used antimicrobials has aggravated the prevailing situation. Some of the infections are very difficult to tackle even with the newer antimicrobial agents. Therefore, the hospital-stay of a patient gets prolonged, sometimes leading to even fatal consequences.

A hospital-acquired infection is a problem that was neither present nor incubating at the time of a patient’s admission to hospital. It is a collective term covering a variety of problems such as urinary tract infection, lower respiratory tract infection, surgical wound infection, central line-associated blood stream infections (CLAB), skin infection and so on. Those at greater risk include the elderly, the very young and those who are vulnerable as a result of a severe disease or are undergoing complex treatment.

Most of the patients admitted to the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are more vulnerable to such infections. However, these are not the only groups affected. For example, urinary tract infections are common among women undergoing surgery, especially when they require a temporary catheter.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have policies and rules designed to minimise the occurrence of HAIs. Despite this, there is prevalence of 5-10 per cent hospital-acquired infections with about 1 per cent death rate all over the world. The Guidance on Public Reporting of Healthcare-Associated Infections, published by the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee in 2005, states that in hospitals alone, HAIs account for an estimated 2 million infections, 90,000 deaths and approximately 4.5 billion dollars in extra-healthcare costs each year.

The simple fact is that every patient who enters the hospital is at risk for hospital-acquired infections. The reasons for such infections are the result of three factors occurring in tandem: high prevalence of pathogens; high prevalence of compromised hosts; efficient mechanisms of transmission from patient to patient. These factors lead not just to a higher likelihood of transmission of pathogens within hospitals but also potentially to an evolution of enhanced disease-causing potential among micro-organisms present within hospital setting.

Hospital-acquired infections need priority not only for the microbiologists but also for surgeons, anaesthesiologists, epidemiologists, the nursing staff and hospital administrators. In this situation, prevention and control of hospital-acquired infections is of utmost importance. This relies on clean surgical environment, pre-operative patient preparation, sterilisation techniques, appropriate antimicrobial prophylaxis and catheter care of the hospitalised patients. Apart from this, implementing a hospital infection surveillance system and monitoring of antimicrobial drug resistance are the other measures influencing hospital-acquired infections. The subject is going to be discussed in great detail at the Hospital Infection Society of India’s IX National Conference at Government Medical College Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, from February 16-18. Medical care can, perhaps, never be error-free, but we must strive for a care that is harmless.

The writer is Professor & Head, Department of Microbiology, Govt Medical College Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh.

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Let obesity not spoil your health
Dr R. Vatsyayan

During the last 20 years obesity in adults has increased in almost all the developing countries, including India. The most commonly observed factors behind this include the genetic disposition, sedentary lifestyle, underlying illnesses such as hypothyroidism, dietary aberrations like regular and excessive intake of heavy and fried eatables and food that gives high postprandial blood sugar and chronic depression. Use of certain medications and many gynaecological conditions like menstrual irregularity, the menopausal phase and pelvic infections can also lead to an obesity-like situation.

Useful tips

*Avoid strong weight-reducing therapies.
*Crash-dieting brings with it many side-effects.
* Depend on mild and long-term therapies

Obesity has been considered detrimental to good health and the primary cause for a number of illnesses. These include cardiovascular disorders, menstrual irregularities and infertility in women and GI-tract diseases like reflux disorder, fatty liver and gall bladder stones in other patients. Certain other health problems such as diabetes, urinary incontinence, breathlessness, laziness, low vitality and impotency are also associated with obesity.

So, it is necessary to guard oneself against any amount of extra fat. In case obesity has resulted from an acquired reason, it is better to seriously ponder over and try to remove it first.

Obese persons are advised not to use strong weight-reducing therapies. Crash dieting also brings with it many side-effects. It is seen that mild and long-term therapies to counter obesity produce more sustainable and safer results. Generally, the ayurvedic reducing treatment consists of certain panchkarma procedures which facilitate better results of medications used at a later stage. In case these therapies are not available or are difficult to adopt, simple Triphala Churna in the dose of 3 to 5 gm with honey once a day serves the purpose. It can be taken as long as the obese person experiences lightness and agility in his body.

Various Guggul preparations and Phaltrikadi Qwath are the best medicines for obesity. Similarly, the well-known Arogyavardhini Vati along with Triushnadi Lauh, Shila Sindoor, Triphla Qwath and the Mahamanjishthadi Qwath are the foremost anti-obesity medicines. Obese persons are advised to follow the prescribed lifestyle religiously otherwise they have the tendency to regain weight once the active treatment is over. Women around the menopausal phase require more careful monitoring while undergoing the anti-obesity treatment.

As a rule, all obese persons should take light and easily digestible meals and keep their bowels clean. Use of green and leafy vegetables, wholegrain cereals and eatables of bitter, pungent and astringent taste is good for them. They should curtail the use of dairy and bakery products, excessive sweets, oily and fried food and eatables which are too cold or chilled. The use of digestive herbs with food and taking warm water at intervals often helps. Similarly, regular exercise and leading an active lifestyle are a must to consume built-up fat in the body. Ayurveda prohibits excessive sleep and day-time napping for persons suffering from obesity.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic physician


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EYESIGHT
Exercises help keep eyes healthy
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

Eyes form a vital organ of the body, constantly in use while we do our activities. They are in use all the time, Then why is the need for eye-exercises?

Points to remember

*Never ignore problems like headache, pain in are around the eyes, eyestrain and sleepiness.
*Learn how to do eye exercises.
*Consult your doctor before starting an exercise programme.

We need our eyes to work all the time for us and so is the need to take proper care of them. We are rather trained to keep our bodies fit. We do all sorts of exercises to keep the body fit, but forget about our eyes.

Eyes are rather overused nowadays as the whole world is accessible on the television and computers. This has changed our lifestyle. In this age of information technology, for the maximum hours of the day a person sits in front of the computer or television with the eyes focused on the screen.

We ignore common symtoms which the body gives us as a signal to take care of . Doctors commonly see patients turning to them only when the severity of the symptoms is more or is affecting their work schedules or targets. The common problems which patients present with are headache, pain in or around the eyes, eyestrain, sleepiness and feeling like stop working/ reading.There can be blurred vision, watering or running of letters after reading for some time.

Here are some eye exercises explained which will relieve the eyestrain and keep our eyes healthy. One should understand that they DO NOT IMPROVE EYE VISION:

Steps

Palming: One should sit comfortably and rub ones hands together to make them warm. Keep the eyes closed and cover them lightly with your cupped palms. Don’t apply any pressure on your eyeballs. Place your palms so that the eyes are covered properly. Make sure that there are no gaps between the fingers so that no light-rays enter the eyes. Do deep breathing slowly. Relax like that for three-five minutes and then uncover the eyes. Repeat the palming for three minutes or more.

Convergence exercise: Hold a pencil in front of you at arm's length. Move your arm slowly to your nose, and follow the pencil with your eyes until you can't keep it in focus. Repeat 10 times. This will strengthen the eye muscles responsible for convergence.

Change of focus: The focus on a distant object for a few seconds and slowly refocus your eyes on a nearby object at arms’ length. Focus for several seconds and go back to the distant object. Do this five times. Taking short breaks while working on the computer to stare out to the distant object also relieves some eyestrain.

Always consult your eye doctor before doing any of these exercises. Don’t do the exercises with your contact lenses on. Do not apply pressure on your eyes.
It is more important to do the exercises regularly than to do them for a long time.

Do this for at least a few days and you should notice that when you finish working your eyes aren't as tired as usual and start your day with shining and relaxed eyes!

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


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Health Notes
Coffee is good for health

Washington: If your morning beverage of choice is coffee, recent research provides an extra perk. Like much-publicized green tea, which has garnered considerable attention due to its high antioxidant content, researchers have found that coffee is quite high in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are generally helpful substances, found in foods, which scavenge unstable molecules (free radicals) in your body. Free radicals contribute to oxidative stress, which, over time, can cause inflammation and other unhealthy changes in your cells. — ANI

Babies reach out in the womb

Sydney: Babies may learn to reach for things twice, once in the womb, then again when they are three or four months old

Humans learn how to deliberately and carefully reach for things while still in the womb, says an Italian team of scientists, reports a study published in ABC Online.

While it is generally believed babies only show planned reaching behaviour at three or four months old, the researchers think they may start before they are born.

Psychologist Dr Stefania Zoia of the Institute of Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo in Trieste presented her team’s research at the 8th Motor Control and Human Skill Conference in Australia last week. — ANI

Simple blood test may reveal Down’s syndrome in foetus

London: US researchers have found that a simple blood test taken by pregnant women may help reveal genetic abnormalities like Down’s syndrome in their developing foetus, removing the need for more invasive tests.

They have developed a new way of extracting and analysing the foetal DNA that circulates in maternal blood, and may lead to accurate tests for genetic disorders just five weeks into the pregnancy.

The new approach relies on the fact that the placenta sheds foetal cells into a woman’s blood stream, which are then broken by the mother’s immune system, releasing the foetal DNA. — ANI

Common blood pressure drug improves muscle regeneration

London: A collaborative research conducted by US researchers has found that the commonly prescribed blood pressure medication losartan to be effective in improving the regeneration and repair of muscles in a mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

The study is based on similarities in the mechanism of DMD and another rare disease called Marfan syndrome, and the discovery that losartan is effective in blocking the key mechanism in animal models of both diseases. — ANI

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