HEALTH & FITNESS

Asthma becoming common among children
Dr Deepak Modi
I
T’S natural for growing children to get coughs and chest congestion once in a while. But if your child has a cough which comes again and again, and treatment with cough syrups and antibiotics does not make any real difference, then the problem is not caused by pollution or low immunity or an infection.

Points to ponder before going to a gym
Dr Ravinder Chadha
With
increasing awareness regarding fitness, there is a mushrooming of gyms and fitness centres at every nook and corner of metropolitan cities. These centres face a lot of problems in finding qualified trainers. India is still in the nascent stage as far as training institutes are concerned whereas in Western countries there are specified courses for such fitness trainers. In India we have mostly self-qualified trainers. There are very few qualified trainers.

Ayurveda & you
How food helps in keeping good health
Dr R. Vatsyayan
Our
food, which contains many types of nutrients, is derived from both vegetable and animal sources. Despite many similarities among various types of foods, every eatable has its own unique characteristics.

Cancer
What about psychological concerns?

Dr J.D. Wig
T
he
diagnosis of cancer is an extreme stressor. Patients have a fear of becoming disabled and dependent, of disfigurement or alteration of appearance, changed body function and losing the company of those close to them. The psycho-biological — psychological, social, behavioral — effects have largely gone unstudied until recently. We are now beginning to understand the extent of these deficits in cancer survivors.

Health Notes
Reducing calorie intake later in life can still bring longevity

WASHINGTON: Researchers at the University of California have discovered that reducing calorie intake later in life can still induce many of the health and longevity benefits of life-long calorie reduction.

 

 

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Asthma becoming common among children
Dr Deepak Modi

IT’S natural for growing children to get coughs and chest congestion once in a while. But if your child has a cough which comes again and again, and treatment with cough syrups and antibiotics does not make any real difference, then the problem is not caused by pollution or low immunity or an infection.

It may be asthma. It is one of the most common childhood diseases. Out of every 10 children in India, one may have it.

Many people think that someone who has asthma is breathless all the time. That is not so. In children, the most common symptom of asthma is not breathlessness but a recurrent cough.

Asthma of any severity is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. To simplify it, asthma is a condition that effects the airways (the small tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). People with asthma have airways that are almost always red and sensitive (inflamed).

Their airways can react badly when they have a cold or other viral infections, or when they come into contact with asthma triggers (something that sets off their symptoms). When this happens the muscles around the walls of the airways tighten and they become narrower. The lining of the airways swell and often produce sticky mucus.

As the airways narrow, the air has to squeeze in and out, and this is what causes the person with asthma to find it difficult to breathe. Asthma symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or a tight feeling in the chest. With correct treatment, support and advice, most people with asthma can lead full and active live.

It is not easy to tell you if you have asthma or not. This is partly because the symptoms can vary and may be similar to other respiratory conditions like COPD. Asthma symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing (a whistling noise in the chest), cough and chest tightness. Not everybody will have all these symptoms. A history of asthma, eczema or hay fever in the family may mean that your chances of developing asthma are slightly higher then those without.

If you have breathlessness and you think that you may be suffering from asthma, see your doctor. He will discuss your medical history and your current symptoms. He may measure your peak flow using a peak flow meter or do spirometery. The doctor may decide to give you your own peak flow meter on prescription and ask you to keep a diary of readings before seeing him or her again.

You can help prevent asthma attacks by staying away from things that make your asthma worse. You need to find out what makes your asthma worse. Things that make asthma worse for some people are not a problem for others. Ask your doctor to help you find out what makes your asthma worse. Then, decide with your doctor what steps you will take. Start looking at your bed-room for triggers and start controlling them.

During an allergy season (when pollen or mold spore counts are high) try to keep your windows closed. Stay indoors with windows closed during the midday and afternoon if you can. Pollen and some mold spore counts are highest at that time. Ask your doctor whether you need to take or increase anti-inflammatory medicine before your allergy season starts.

The writer, a consultant pulmonologist, Gulab Devi Hospital, Jalandhar, is a former Senior Resident, Govt Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh.

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Points to ponder before going to a gym
Dr Ravinder Chadha

With increasing awareness regarding fitness, there is a mushrooming of gyms and fitness centres at every nook and corner of metropolitan cities. These centres face a lot of problems in finding qualified trainers. India is still in the nascent stage as far as training institutes are concerned whereas in Western countries there are specified courses for such fitness trainers. In India we have mostly self-qualified trainers. There are very few qualified trainers.

Gym injuries are extremely common primarily due to unqualified trainers and also individuals yearning to become fit in a very short span of time/or lose weight instantly. Youngsters eye the muscular heroes such as Salman Khan/Sanjay Dutt and try building up muscles quickly and are lured to lift heavy weights straightway. They do so of their own or on advice from untrained instructors and go in for wrong exercises, improper use of the equipment and work out without a proper warming up 
session.

Low back pain can occur due to lifting heavy weights in squatting positions or/performing abdominal exercises without proper technique.

Neck/shoulder/elbow injuries occur due to a wrong technique while lifting heavy weights.

Knee/shin pain is common among individuals suddenly increasing the time/or intensity on the treadmill.

Prior to joining a fitness centre, the following points should be kept in mind:

lThe location of the gym should be such that one can squeeze out time from the daily schedule for the workout. The gym should ideally be located near home, place of work or between the two.

lSuitable timings should be figured out. Some gyms cater to housewives in the afternoon charging lower rates as the usual rush time is early morning or late evening.

lIdeally, one should talk to people who are already members to learn about the quality of equipment, i.e. treadmill, stationary cycles and strengthening machines. Check if the health club is clean, well maintained, have proper air-conditioning, ventilation etc. Good ventilation prevents from taking in a lot of recycled air.

lIt is not advisable to do exercises without supervision as it can cause serious injuries. A good trainer can guide regarding the proper use of the equipment, the appropriate exercises for strengthening the muscles, etc.

Therefore, the most important thing before joining a gym is to find out regarding the personal trainers. Find out whether the trainer is qualified or not and the number of persons he is looking after. Normally, a trainer can supervise 10 to 15 people as individual attention is very important to achieve a fitness target.

lJoining a gym after an offer of complimentary workout for two to three days would be an ideal bargain. In the absence of such offers, paying for a day or two to get the feel would be a good option. Thus, an overall picture of the facilities could be reviewed. One should also find out whether these are inclusive in the package or extra charges are to be incurred.

lA fitness centre offering various types of fitness workouts like yoga, aerobics, etc, is an ideal choice. It is not wise to join a gym only for weight training as undertaking proper warm up and cooling down is crucial and can only be done with aerobic equipment.

The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.

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Ayurveda & you
How food helps in keeping good health
Dr R. Vatsyayan

Our food, which contains many types of nutrients, is derived from both vegetable and animal sources.

Despite many similarities among various types of foods, every eatable has its own unique characteristics. Irrespective of its numerous health benefits, no single type of food can supply all the essential nutrients to the body. The basic point is that we should keep changing our food, and take as far as possible everything that suits our distinct body type. Similarly, of the six tastes -- sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent -- no food of a single taste should be excessively used and neither should any taste be abandoned unless medically advised.

Plants are as good living beings as we are and most of our food is derived from these natural sources. They grow under different environmental conditions of temperature and humidity, and their organic compounds are passed on to us as such when we eat them afresh. It is an established fact that fresh food is more healthy and nutritious than the processed and preserved food. Chemical additives of colours, flavours and preservatives not only make to lose the nutritional value of food but also carry the risk of changing the basic good effects of it. Similar is the case with deep frying and reheating of food.

There has been an unending debate over vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods. It is now scientifically acknowledged that vegetarian food has more health benefits than the non-vegetarian diet. Vegetarians live longer and suffer less health problems in old age than meat eaters. Though it is not possible to make the entire world adopt vegetarianism, it should also be realistically borne in mind that there is nothing wrong in eating meat as long as it is not eaten to the exclusion of vegetables and fruits.

A healthy diet will contain chapatis from wheat flour without removing the bran or brown bread and unpolished rice, pulses, plenty of fresh vegetables, including the leaves and roots, and raw but well-washed salads and fresh fruits. There should be minimum use of oils as a cooking medium. Fish and chicken have certain advantages over red meat and excessive use of salt and sugar in diet should be curtailed.

No doubt, spices help in digesting the food but their more than required use often results in hyperacidity and other problems of the stomach. Adequate intake of water is equally essential as it not only helps maintain the suppleness of the body but also carries various nutrients to the tissue level and plays an important role in eliminating waste products.

Ayurveda believes that one should eat food only the when previous meal has been digested. It should be wholesome and fresh and at the same time compatible with different ingredients. If right food is taken at the right time it leads to proper digestion, absorption and assimilation.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic consultant.

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Cancer
What about psychological concerns?

Dr J.D. Wig

The diagnosis of cancer is an extreme stressor. Patients have a fear of becoming disabled and dependent, of disfigurement or alteration of appearance, changed body function and losing the company of those close to them. The psycho-biological — psychological, social, behavioral — effects have largely gone unstudied until recently. We are now beginning to understand the extent of these deficits in cancer survivors.

It is not difficult to imagine that dissemination of information concerning identification and treatment of psychological burdens is limited. It is only recently that psycho-oncology is gaining importance and psycho-oncology units are being established. It is being stressed that psychological health should be an integral part of cancer care.

Rates of psychiatric disorders among cancer patients is higher than among the general population. Nearly 50% have a psychiatric disorder. The most common in nearly 85% is adjustment disorder with symptoms of anxiety, depression, or both. Nearly 20-35% have significant distress; 10-25% have major depression and is nearly four times higher than reported in general population.

Delirium can be due to the effects of cancer on the nervous system or indirect effects of disease or treatments.

Factors associated with an increased risk of distress have been identified at the time of diagnosis, at treatment completion, and at the time of follow-up visits. For those with progressive disease, time of recurrence and time of treatment failure have been identified as times of increased risk for distress.

Younger age at the time of diagnosis has been associated with increased distress. Inadequate instrumental support-help with activities of daily living, or emotional supportability to share feelings and concerns with someone increase the likelihood of distress.

A tendency towards negativity, cancer-related intrusive thoughts and financial burdens predispose patients to experience depressive symptoms. It needs to be emphasised that emotional distress is a normal response to having cancer. Informing patients of an expected increase in distress at transition points during treatment and ensuring continuity of care, the clinician can better manage the stress.

The importance of providing information regarding what to expect during treatment improves the patient’s psychological well-being and recovery following treatment.

The management of distress at the time of diagnosis and treatment decision-making is critical as it may impair the patient’s decision-making capabilities. Some patients rush to treatment decisions because of their anxiety and concern that the cancer must be treated immediately.

A range of psychosocial interventions have been developed and include mind-based stress reduction (stress management techniques), psycho-educational interventions (providing information), supportive expressive psychotherapy (encouraging the expression of emotions), and encouragement to explore essential fears. Increased focus on psycho-social interventions and its effectiveness has been emphasised in recent years.

Psychological problems can have a serious impact on the outcome of a cancer patient. Patients fear isolation and may have a general sense of feeling as an outcast. Appropriate information offered at the right time has been recognised as a key factor in enabling patients to cope with cancer. It is important to remove the barriers to facilitate the use of psychosocial services by these patients to reduce the burden associated with the disease. They should be encouraged to engage in activities they enjoy even though the range of activities available to them may be diminished.

Fighting spirit is associated with better emotional well-being Emotional support is required from clinicians as well as family and friends. All the strategies outlined above are more powerful and enduring when used in a combination.

The writer is Professor and Head, Department of General Surgery, PGI, Chandigarh.

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Health Notes
Reducing calorie intake later in life can still bring longevity

WASHINGTON: Researchers at the University of California have discovered that reducing calorie intake later in life can still induce many of the health and longevity benefits of life-long calorie reduction.

They are using this knowledge to establish a novel screening technique to find drugs which mimic this longevity effect.

“Right now, there are no authentic ‘anti-ageing drugs’ capable of extending the lifespan of healthy people. The technique we have developed allows us to screen a relatively large number of drugs in months rather than years,” said lead researcher Professor Stephen Spindler. — ANI

Genetic markers for heart disease

WASHINGTON: Researchers at the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation have uncovered new genetic markers that may help predict whether a person could suffer from coronary heart disease (CAD) in the future.

Carried out by Dr M. Balasubramanyam and Dr V. Mohan, the study shows that people who are pre-diabetic or who have Type 2 diabetes have much shorter telomeres, which prevent against genomic instability by obstructing chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other. — ANI

A garden plant that’s more potent than Viagra

LONDON: Now, men need not look to Viagra to enhance their virility, for a plant widely available in garden centres has the same effect on men as the potency enhancing drug.

The plant is winter-flowering heather, and botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, many of them heather experts who have recognised the source of its active ingredient, now expect it to be the next must-have plant in British gardens.

Demand is already high. Nurseries and garden centres in some areas are having trouble finding sufficient supplies as word spreads of the plant’s unexpected properties. — ANI

Genetic risk factors predicting prostate cancer risk

LONDON: Scientists have identified seven genetic factors that predict the risk for prostate cancer.

Led by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) and Harvard Medical School, the study recognised the DNA sequences that are clustered in a single region of the human genome on chromosome 8, and which powerfully predict a person’s probability of developing prostate cancer.

“The study has identified combinations of genetic variants that predict more than a fivefold range of risk for prostate cancer,” Nature Genetics quoted senior author David Reich, assistant professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and associate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, as saying. — ANI

Fats in stomach reduce protective effects of vitamin C

WASHINGTON: Fats in the stomach may significantly reduce the protective effects of antioxidants such as vitamin C, according to a study conducted by scientists at the University of Glasgow.

The study demonstrated that the presence of lipids decreases the ability of antioxidants like ascorbic acid, an active component of vitamin C, to protect against the generation of potential cancer-forming compounds in the stomach. — ANI

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