HEALTH & FITNESS

Heartburn can easily be prevented
Dr Harmeet Singh Saluja
I
F you have frequent or occasional heartburn, you can help decrease the tendency of lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle to relax, and decrease the likelihood that the stomach contents (and stomach acid) will splash up by keeping in mind a few tips:

Ayurveda & you
Itchy swellings on the skin
Dr. R. Vatsyayan
C
alled “sheeta pitta” in ayurvedic parlance, urticaria is a common allergic problem experienced by millions of people around the world. It is characterised by itchy swellings appearing singularly or in multiples on any part of the skin which may last from a few minutes to many hours. Pandit Madhav Mishra, an ayurvedic scholar of medieval India, in his compendium as the “Madhav Nidanam”, had for the first time mentioned this disease.

Medical tourism & ophthalmology
Dr Mahipal Sachdev
M
y young optometrist was excited to see singers Thomas Sardorf and Navtej Rehal (Naf) of Bombay Rockers at our centre. They had come from Copenhagen to check if laser correction to get rid of their glasses’ power was possible and if so they would plan for the surgery during their next visit to India.

Hot baths cut chance of fatherhood
LONDON: Men seeking to become a father should avoid soaking in hot baths, according to a study on male fertility.

Health Notes
Severe stress can damage a child’s brain

WASHINGTON:
A new study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital has found that severe stress can damage a child’s brain.

  • Soon, a drug to fend off fatal radiation

  • How common viruses can turn cells cancerous

  • Living in mould-infested houses raises asthma risk

 

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Heartburn can easily be prevented
Dr Harmeet Singh Saluja

IF you have frequent or occasional heartburn, you can help decrease the tendency of lower esophageal sphincter (LES) muscle to relax, and decrease the likelihood that the stomach contents (and stomach acid) will splash up by keeping in mind a few tips:

lAvoid lying down for two or three hours after eating. When you lie down, it’s physically easier for stomach contents to splash up toward the LES. By sitting up or standing, gravity helps stomach contents stay where they belong — at the bottom of the stomach.

lAvoid items that weaken the LES muscle (like chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods) and foods and beverages that may irritate a damaged esophagus lining (citrus and citrus juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, and chili peppers and black pepper).

lAvoid eating large meals because the more volume in the stomach, the more likely the stomach contents will splash toward the LES. Try eating four or five small meals instead of two or three large ones.

lAvoid high-fat meals because they tend to stay in the stomach longer, greasy or fried foods can also weaken the LES muscle.

lAvoid smoking and avoid alcohol before, during, or after meals that seem to result in heartburn (like dinner). Both smoking and alcohol weaken the LES muscle.

lTry waiting at least two hours after a meal before exercising if you find your heartburn seems to get worse after exercise.

lChew gum (a nonpeppermint flavour) after meals to stimulate saliva production (the bicarbonate in saliva neutralises acid) and increase peristalsis (which helps move the stomach contents into the small intestine more quickly).

lPlan your meals to encourage slow but sure weight loss if you are overweight. Extra weight around the midsection especially can press against the stomach and increase the pressure going up toward the LES.

lDrink a small glass of water at the end of meals to help dilute and wash down any stomach acid that might be splashing up into the esophagus.

lPlan on heartburn-friendly beverages like water, mineral water, decaffeinated tea, noncitrus juices, or non-fat or low-fat milk. The beverages to avoid include sodas, juices and alcoholic bewerages .

Sodas can bloat the abdomen, increasing the pressure in the stomach and encouraging stomach acid to splash up into the esophagus.

Tomato and citrus juices can irritate a damaged esophagus. Alcoholic beverages, coffee (even decaf) and caffeinated tea and cola can increase the acid content in the stomach as well as relax the LES.

lEat a high fibre diet! a recent study found that people who followed a high-fibre meal plan were 20 per cent less likely to have acid reflux symptoms regardless of their body weight. You’ll find fibre in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds (basically unprocessed plant goods).

The writer is Consultant (Gastroenterology), SPS Apollo Hospitals, Ludhiana.

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Ayurveda & you
Itchy swellings on the skin
Dr. R. Vatsyayan

Called “sheeta pitta” in ayurvedic parlance, urticaria is a common allergic problem experienced by millions of people around the world. It is characterised by itchy swellings appearing singularly or in multiples on any part of the skin which may last from a few minutes to many hours. Pandit Madhav Mishra, an ayurvedic scholar of medieval India, in his compendium as the “Madhav Nidanam”, had for the first time mentioned this disease.

In acute urticaria, usually the underlying cause of the disease is easily identified. According to the modern view, an urticarial reaction can be explained as the release of histamine and possibly other vasoactive mediators which suddenly increase the vascular capillary permeability, thus allowing the escape of fluid from circulation into the tissues. This may happen in response to a number of stimuli which can be of physical, chemical, pharmacological and immunological origin. Most of the times patients of chronic urticaria are at a loss to find any particular reason for their problem.

If we look more closely at the etiology of acute urticaria, anything on earth which acts against a particular physiological idiosyncrasy of a person can precipitate an attack. Of the dietary reasons, an unsuitable food item or its incompatible combination, including chemical preservatives or additives, are the most identifiable causes of acute urticaria. Many drugs such as antibiotics and painkillers, inhalants like grass pollens, house dust, scents and deodorants, parasitic infestations like roundworm infection and insect stings, environmental aberrations and sudden exposure to hot and cold weather and transfusion reactions can instantly produce an attack of urticaria.

Clinically, an episode of acute urticaria is marked by itchy small or big swellings called hives on any part of the body. New hives may develop as old ones fade and the patient along with severe itching and many other variable symptoms may also complain of restlessness, malaise, fever, nausea, sneezing and respiratory distress. In some cases, the episodes of urticaria repeatedly occur, and despite detailed testing, sometimes the reason for the disease remains unidentified. Such a condition is termed as chronic idiopathic urticaria.

Ayurveda believes that if the causative factor of a disease is identified the best form of treatment is to eliminate it. For example, where the attack of urticaria is strongly suspected due to the ingestion of a particular food item, it is better to avoid it in future. Usually, a mild episode of urticaria subsides if the patient is allowed to sweat under a warm blanket. A massage of mustard oil mixed with “geru” is also helpful in such condition. The patient should be given warm water to drink.

To manage recurrent attacks and to make body physiology free from any unknown allergens, Triphala Churna should be given daily in a dose of three gm for a week. Haridrakhand and Sheetpitta Bhanjan Rasa are the foremost classic ayurvedic medicines which not only give relief in acute and chronic urticaria but in addition purify the body system also. Gandhak Rasayan, Kamdudha Rasa, Sootshekhar Rasa and the famous Arogyavardhini Vati are other efficacious medicines to treat urticaria. Many times urticarias also caused by chronic or severe acidity and such patients are advised to keep their digestion in order and the bowels clean.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic physician.

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Medical tourism & ophthalmology
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

My young optometrist was excited to see singers Thomas Sardorf and Navtej Rehal (Naf) of Bombay Rockers at our centre. They had come from Copenhagen to check if laser correction to get rid of their glasses’ power was possible and if so they would plan for the surgery during their next visit to India.

While golfer Tiger Woods underwent vision correction through Lasik surgery in the US — Bombay Rockers, Thomas Sardorf and Navtej Rehal decided to get rid of their glasses in Delhi! They had combined their Zyoptix Aspheric surgery with their visit to India for their show.

Medical tourism is availing medical care in collaboration with the tourism industry for patients needing surgical and other forms of specialized treatment. Medical tourism is actually several years old.

The reasons patients travel for treatment vary. Many medical tourists from the United States are seeking treatment at a quarter or sometimes even a 10th of the cost at home. From Canada, it is often people who are frustrated by the long waiting list. From Great Britain, the patient can’t wait for treatment by the National Health Service. For others, becoming a medical tourist is a chance to combine a tropical vacation with elective or plastic surgery.

And more patients are coming from neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, and West Asia where treatment may not be available or latest technology and skilled professionals are not available.

In eyecare, India has the highest international quality available at various centres. Latest treatment options for problems related to cornea, cataract, squint and glaucoma are available at these centres. India has best of ophthalmic surgeons with clinico-academic expertise in their fields.

The common ophthalmic procedures opted by tourists are usually cataract surgery and refractive surgery. Availability of latest instruments and expertise in the surgical skills attracts the tourists.

The cataract surgery has evolved into a no-stitch, no-injection and no-pad surgery. The visual recovery is very fast and mobility is allowed after cataract surgery. Similarly, refractive surgery as well can be planned at a short notice after checking the suitability of the patient. Recovery after refractive surgery is also very fast and the patient can move around the very next day of surgery.

More and more NRIs are combining their visit to the country with such surgery plans.

Laser vision correction — Zyoptix Aspheric — was carried out on both Bombay Rocker’s Singers: Thomas and Naf. They had difficulty in reading and were suffering from short-sightedness.

According to Thomas, they were given options of wearing glasses or contact lenses, but Thomas did not opt for either of them but decided to go for laser vision correction surgery. Naf also underwent corrective surgery and said, “I am feeling high as if I had a bottle of Bacardi! The operation was not painful”.

Bombay Rocker’s Singers opted for surgery in India because of the high cost difference in Denmark and India.

With more foreign patients coming to India for treatment, we can foresee great potential in the field of medical tourism as it can contribute largely in the total earnings of the hospitals in India. Ophthalmology, a super speciality field in medicine, is now contributing to a great percentage of total influx of foreign patients, offering them best possible eye treatments with high-end technology and highly skilled surgeons at a very reasonable cost.

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

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Hot baths cut chance of fatherhood

LONDON: Men seeking to become a father should avoid soaking in hot baths, according to a study on male fertility.

A three-year pilot project involving 11 men found that there was some truth in the old wives' tale about hot baths being bad for a man's prospects of conceiving. The men were exposed to "wet heat" in the form of a hot tub, Jacuzzi or bath, at least once a week for 30 minutes or more for three months.

Scientists studied sperm quantity and quality after the bathing stopped and found that five of the 11 men experienced a significant increase in fertility. After three to six months of staying out of the bath, the men's average active sperm count increased almost fivefold. Motility, a measure of sperm's ability to swim, rose by a third by the end of the study. Researchers suspect smoking may have been a factor in the six men who did not experience an increase in sperm count or motility.

"It has been believed for decades that wet heat exposure is bad for fertility, but this has rarely been documented," said Dr Paul Turek, from the University of California at San Francisco, who led the study published in the journal of the Brazilian Society of Urology.

— The Independent

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Health Notes
Severe stress can damage a child’s brain

WASHINGTON: A new study by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital has found that severe stress can damage a child’s brain.

The researchers found that children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTDS) and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol were likely to experience a decrease in the size of the hippocampus — a brain structure important in memory processing and emotion.

As a part of the study, the researchers focused on kids in extreme situations to better understand how stress affects brain development said Packard Children’s child psychiatrist Victor Carrion. — ANI

Soon, a drug to fend off fatal radiation

LONDON: Drugs to protect emergency workers providing their services at the sites of dirty bomb or nuclear blasts may soon be available, as US scientists have successfully tested an adrenal gland hormone that stimulates marrow-cell growth to significantly cut the death rate among monkeys.

People exposed to radioactive material often die weeks later of acute radiation syndrome, as blood cells vital to clotting and fighting infection die off, and bone marrow cells killed by radiation cannot replace them. There is currently no preventive treatment. — ANI

How common viruses can turn cells cancerous

LONDON: US researchers have unearthed evidence that may help demystify how certain viruses trigger specific cancers.

The chromosomes of affected cells often become widely rearranged during tumour development, but why this happens had been an unanswered question so far.

Dominik Duelli and Yuri Lazebnik at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York and their colleagues suspected that cell fusion, when two or more cells unite by merging membranes, might be behind the whole phenomenon. They say that several common viruses can initiate this process.

In a bid to test their hypothesis, they took human fibroblast cells with genes that made them more likely to turn into a tumour, and infected them with a retrovirus that can cause fusion. — ANI

Living in mould-infested houses raises asthma risk

LONDON: A new study by Finnish researchers has found that living in damp and mould-infested houses can cause permanent asthma in kids.

The researchers reached their conclusion after surveying the homes of more than 300 children, and found that dampness in the house not only exacerbates existing asthma, but can also contribute to the onset of asthma permanently.

Researchers led by Dr Juha Pekkanen, National Public Health Institute in Kuopio, compared the homes of 121 asthmatic children with those of 241 non-asthmatic children.

They found that the severity of asthma increased alongside the severity of the damp in living areas.

“Damp in the home does more than merely exacerbate existing asthma — it can contribute to the onset of persistent asthma,” the BBC quoted Dr Pekkanen as saying. — ANI

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