HEALTH & FITNESS

EYESIGHT
Take care of your eyes to enjoy Holi
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

The season of colours is back again! And it is accompanied by blooming flowers as always. Children by now must be ready with their colours and “pichkaries”. The colours which look so good can be harmful to our eyes or skin. Home-made colours are always better than the synthetic ones.

How to save your knees
Dr Ravinder Chadha

It is usual to encounter innumerable people walking with a limp or like a duck almost everywhere. The cause is pain in the knees, incidentally the most vulnerable joints in the body. Early symptoms are commonly ignored due to various reasons resulting in long-term suffering, permanent disability and also inevitable surgery.

Targets blamed as hospital infection deaths rise
Jeremy Laurance
Deaths linked with the two most common hospital-acquired infections have risen by 59 per cent in a year.

Health Notes
Black soya more effective in controlling diabetes
Washington: Yellow soya has been considered low caloric so far, but a team of South Korean researchers has now revealed that a diet rich in black soya beans could help control weight, lower fat and cholesterol levels, and aid in the prevention of diabetes.

Does garlic really lower cholesterol?
Washington: Contrary to earlier belief that garlic cuts your cholesterol, a new study has now revealed that consuming the wonder bulb makes no difference to cholesterol levels. Almost 200 volunteers were put on a garlic-rich diet for six months, but the only notable change was an increase in bad breath and body odour.

 

 

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EYESIGHT
Take care of your eyes to enjoy Holi
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

The season of colours is back again! And it is accompanied by blooming flowers as always. Children by now must be ready with their colours and “pichkaries”.

The colours which look so good can be harmful to our eyes or skin. Home-made colours are always better than the synthetic ones. Everybody is aware of it and can make these at home. “Haldi” mixed with flour gives yellow colour, while petals of flowers of “tesu” give you saffron colour. The “beetroot” pieces soaked in water can give magenta colour. These home-made colours are safe for our skin and eyes.

The commonly used synthetic colours are actually chemicals. They are available in the form of powder or paste or water colours. They contain heavy metals like lead which is harmful to the eyes and skin. Other health hazards due to the exposure to heavy metals include skin allergies, dermatitis, drying and chapping of the skin, skin cancer, rhinitis, asthma and pneumonia.

Post-Holi there is rush of patients in hospitals because of skin, eye or general problems. The eyes are the most sensitive part of the body, and any chemical if goes in the eye will cause mild allergy or even severe chemical burn in the eye.

The common eye problems during the Holi include allergic conjunctivitis, chemical burn, corneal abrasion and blunt eye injury.

The colours used during Holi usually cause mild redness and irritation. If it does not go in a day or two the problem will need treatment from an ophthalmologist. One should always check if the clarity of vision is affected. If yes, then rush the patient to an eye specialist.

The particles in colour powders (shining mica particles in gulal) can cause damage to the cornea. The corneal abrasion is an emergency and one should consult the doctor. The patient will have pain and watering from the eye and if not treated in time it can cause ulcer or infection in the eye.

The balloons used by children during Holi are most dangerous and can cause blunt eye injury. There can be bleeding within the eye, lens subluxation, macular edema or retinal detachment. These can lead to the loss of vision or loss of the eye. These are all eye emergencies and should be taken care of as early as possible.

So, the important message is:

One should avoid synthet ic colours and use home-made colours.

Balloons should not be used at all.

If any colour goes in the eye, splash a lot of tap water in it.

Any eye injury should be taken care of with your ophthalmologist’s consultation.

You should enjoy Holi and have a lot of fun, but in a safe manner.

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

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How to save your knees
Dr Ravinder Chadha

It is usual to encounter innumerable people walking with a limp or like a duck almost everywhere. The cause is pain in the knees, incidentally the most vulnerable joints in the body. Early symptoms are commonly ignored due to various reasons resulting in long-term suffering, permanent disability and also inevitable surgery.

The knee is the largest and most unstable joint in the human body where two bones are placed over one another and held together by ligaments.

The knee joint is thus put under stress during jogging, jumping, climbing, etc.

Nearly one out of three accident injuries involves the knees. Women suffer more frequently as compared to men due to their weak muscles and wider hips, putting more pressure on to the knee joint.

The common symptoms are swelling, locking, sounds like click, snap or pop, feeling of giving away.

  • Swelling occurs due to the accumulation of synovial fluid or by blood inside/outside the joint. Acute swelling is due to the injury to a ligament/meniscus. Chronic swelling also called “Water on the knees” could be due to chronic arthritis, loose bodies inside the knee or infection.
  • True locking implies difficulty in straightening out the knee joint.
  • The knee might give away for a moment while walking, climbing down the stairs when one is forced to stop. The reasons could be loose body in the joint, injury to the ligament or weakness of the surrounding muscles.
  • Common concern among knee patients is hearing of a sound, e.g. click/snap on movement. These sounds, when not accompanied by pain, swelling or loss of function, are no cause for worry.

Various factors help in relieving stress and facilitate recovery.

  • Walking is a very good exercise for the knee joint. The walking distance should be increased by 10 per cent per week.
  • Always run on a soft surface like grass and avoid uneven surface.
  • While walking the load is transmitted from the foot to the shin and onto the knees. Good shoes absorb the shock, if they are worn out the shock travels to the knee joint.
  • While recovering from knee problems cycling and swimming are good alternatives to aerobics.
  • Increasing body weight is a major contribution to knee problems as it places more stress on the knee joint. Therefore, weight reduction is important.
  • Following any activity if there is pain, apply ice for 15-20 minutes.
  • As only the ligaments and muscles hold the knees together, muscle stretching and strengthening with a stretch band is of utmost importance to render stability to the knees, making movement easy and painless.

On suffering from knee pain midway through a busy day the following exercises should give immediate relief.

  • Straight leg raise from a sitting position
  • While sitting with legs straight, tighten leg muscles for a slow count of five and then flex the leg and repeat 10 times.

In order to save oneself from pain, long-term suffering, decreased mobility and feeling of helplessness, one should seek treatment in the initial stages of knee problems so that disability and surgeries can be avoided.

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Targets blamed as hospital infection deaths rise
Jeremy Laurance

Deaths linked with the two most common hospital-acquired infections have risen by 59 per cent in a year.

The superbugs MRSA and Clostridium difficile claimed more than 5,400 lives in 2005, up 2,000 on the previous year, according to latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday. The sharpest rise was in C. difficile, with a 69 per cent increase in cases where the infection was mentioned on death certificates. Deaths involving MRSA rose 39 per cent.

Officials from ONS said part of the increase was due to better recording through heightened public awareness, but they were unable to say how much of the increase this accounted for.

From 2001 to 2005, death rates linked with the MRSA bug doubled, while those for C. Difficile almost tripled.

The Health minister, Lord Hunt, said better recording had provided a "more accurate picture" but he accepted that cutting deaths from the bugs presented a "major challenge".

"We have set very tough targets for trusts to reduce infections and put a hygiene code and a tougher inspection regime into law, to drive up standards of hygiene and infection control. As a result, we are now starting to see significant reductions in rates of MRSA infections," Lord Hunt said.

The Health Protection Agency said there had been a small fall in bloodstream infections caused by MRSA in the first half of 2006 compared with the previous year, and a small rise in C. Difficile. David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS, made reducing hospital infections one of his four top priorities for 2007.

Last month, a leaked government memo revealed that ministers' pledge to halve MRSA infections by April 2008 was unlikely to be met. The memo, by Liz Woodeson, director of health protection at the Department of Health, said tackling hospital infections was more complex than ministers had anticipated.

An earlier report by the Health Department's chief economist, obtained by The Independent last July, blamed government targets on cutting waiting lists for increasing the risk of infection. The most crowded hospitals, with bed occupancy rates over 90 per cent, had MRSA rates 42 per cent higher than average, the report said.

Opposition spokesmen attacked the Government on the issue yesterday. The shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Labour ministers are failing to face up to the dangers of MRSA and C. Diff. Three years ago I called for a search and destroy strategy to be piloted. Still it hasn't happened.

"Labour's savage bed cuts over the past two years have allowed deaths from C. Diff and MRSA to grow to this appalling level."

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for health, said: "We are in the dark over what is actually happening, with contradictory figures pointing in totally different directions. The Government's drive to cut waiting times at all costs conflicts with what should be an absolute priority of cutting infection rates."

The Patients' Association said it feared deaths would continue to rise. "Only two weeks ago the Government promised to make infection control one of its top priorities. Yet its own announcement to further reduce waiting times by round-the-clock operations will inevitably harm these efforts. Healthcare infections are a patient's main fear."

The ONS figures reveal that men are at twice the risk of dying from MRSA as women. It said a possible reason was poorer hygiene among men. In a third of the death certificates mentioning MRSA and a half of those mentioning C. Difficile, the infection was given as the underlying cause of death. In the rest, it was included as a contributory cause.

There are wide regional variations, with higher rates in the south of the country suggesting differences in recording.

— The Independent

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Health Notes
Black soya more effective in controlling diabetes

Washington: Yellow soya has been considered low caloric so far, but a team of South Korean researchers has now revealed that a diet rich in black soya beans could help control weight, lower fat and cholesterol levels, and aid in the prevention of diabetes.

The researchers, led by Shin Joung Rho at Hanyang University, Seoul, allowed 32 rats to gorge on a fatty diet, supplemented with various levels of black soya.

The results showed that, after two weeks, those getting 10 per cent of their energy from black soya had gained half as much weight as those in the control group. Total blood cholesterol fell by 25 per cent and LDL (so-called ‘bad’) cholesterol fell by 60 per cent in the rats in the 10 per cent group.

“Soya fits in well to a healthy balanced diet which is important in preventing diabetes — low in fat, high in fibre and a good source of complex carbohydrates,” Lynne Garton, a registered dietician and nutritionist and consultant to the Soya Protein Association, said. — ANI

Growth hormone to boost sporting skills risky

Washington: Use of growth hormone to boost athletic performance can lead to diabetes, reports a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study reports the case of a 36-year-old professional body-builder who required emergency care for chest pain.

He had lost 40 kg in 12 months, during which he had also experienced excessive urination, thirst and appetite.

He admitted to using anabolic steroids for 15 years and artificial growth hormone for the past three. He had also taken insulin, a year after starting on the growth hormone.

This was done to counter the effects of high blood sugar, but he had stopped taking it after a couple of episodes of acute low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) while at the gym.

Tests revealed that his liver was inflamed, his kidneys were enlarged and that he had very high blood sugar. He was also dehydrated, and diagnosed with diabetes. — ANI

Thyroid disease very common in Pakistan

Karachi: Hormone and thyroid problems are becoming more common in Pakistan and should be screened for as early as possible, said experts who are attending a three-day annual symposium at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) here.

According to Professor Dr Zaman Shaikh, the Chairman of the Symposium Committee, hormone and throid problem symptoms included sexual dysfunction, physical dysfunction, psychological, cognitive and endocrine dysfunctions.

Elaborating the topic, Shaikh said that anaemia, sarcopenia, reduced bone mineral density, absence/regression of secondary sex characteristics, abdominal adiposity and oligospermia or azoospermia were signs of male hypogonadism. — ANI

Blame your ‘perfectionism’ for irritable bowel movement

London: Perfectionists are more prone to developing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after an infection, a study has suggested.

University of Southampton researchers asked 620 people with gastroenteritis about stress and their illness. Those who pushed themselves or were particularly anxious about symptoms were more likely to develop IBS.

Experts said the study, published in Gut, may explain why only some people develop IBS after a gut infection. These are people who have high expectations of always doing the right thing

Up to one in 10 people develop it after having a bacterial gut infection, having previously been healthy. Such infections cause inflammation and ulceration in the bowel and can lead to severe vomiting and rectal bleeding. — ANI
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Does garlic really lower cholesterol?

Washington: Contrary to earlier belief that garlic cuts your cholesterol, a new study has now revealed that consuming the wonder bulb makes no difference to cholesterol levels. Almost 200 volunteers were put on a garlic-rich diet for six months, but the only notable change was an increase in bad breath and body odour.

The study by researchers at Stanford University's school of medicine in California, assessed the effects of raw garlic and two commercial garlic supplements on LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and HDL, the "good' variety". Dr Christopher Gardner, who led the team, said: "There were no statistically significant effects of the three forms of garlic on LDL cholesterol concentrations." Levels of other types of cholesterol were also unaffected, he said. Garlic has long been thought to have benefits ranging from the prevention of colds to cutting the risk of developing cancer. Previous tests found the plant could "reverse" fatty build-up in the arteries.

Dr Gardner warned the lack of benefit found in this trial did not mean garlic did not have other healthy effects. Judy O'Sullivan, medical spokesman for the British Heart Foundation, said: "Eating garlic as part of a balanced diet will help to add variety and flavour and it is a healthier alternative to salt, for example." — ANI

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