HEALTH & FITNESS

Want health and happiness? Cry
Take a look at the self-help section at your local bookshop. You'll find an array of brightly coloured books with the word "happiness" on the spine: Twelve Steps to Happiness, Happiness is a Choice, The Happiness Makeover. Everyone wants to be happy. In America, it's a constitutional right - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Tips to get rid of low back pain
People suffering from low back pain wrongly believe that the cause of their pain is either disc prolapse or a decrease in the space between the vertebrae. Low back pain is a common affliction, and most people experience it at one time or another in their lifetime.

Blood from respiratory tract?
Hemoptysis is defined as the expectoration of blood from the respiratory tract. Expectoration of even small amounts of blood is a frightening symptom and can be a marker for a potentially serious disease such as bronchogenic carcinoma. Massive hemoptysis, on the other hand, can represent an acutely life-threatening problem.

Health Notes

  • Depression ends with psychotherapy
  • Link between high blood pressure and the brain
  • Snake venom may hold cure for cancer

 

 

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Want health and happiness? Cry
Clint Witchalls

Take a look at the self-help section at your local bookshop. You'll find an array of brightly coloured books with the word "happiness" on the spine: Twelve Steps to Happiness, Happiness is a Choice, The Happiness Makeover. Everyone wants to be happy. In America, it's a constitutional right - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We're constantly told of the therapeutic value of laughter, but what about crying? There's a Jewish saying: "What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul."

Today, we're more interested in chasing the happiness rainbow. We feel that if we're not relentlessly, deliriously joyful, our lives have somehow failed. In the West, laughter clubs are now all the rage. These originated in India in 1995, when a physician who had read about the positive effects of laughter gathered people to stand around and force the chuckles. Soon, London and the rest of the world caught on.

In Japan, however, crying is all the rage. The Japanese call it the "crying boom" - everyone wants a bit of sadness in their lives.

Unfortunately, little research has been done on the benefits of crying. There's something dubious about stimulating tears in people. What do you do; tell them their mother has died, and "can you weep into this test tube, please?" Tough to get that one past the ethical review board.

On the other hand, a lot has been written about the therapeutic value of laughter. It lowers stress-hormone levels, increases levels of some immunoglobulins (antibodies) and lowers blood pressure. Laughter gives the facial, abdominal and back muscles and diaphragm a good workout — which explains why you may ache all over after leaving a comedy club.

But laughter has a dark side. You might think that most asthma attacks are triggered by pollen, dust mites and mould, but you'd be wrong. Laughter is actually the most common trigger, according to a study conducted by Dr Stuart Garay at the New York University medical centre.

If laughter and crying are just two ends of the spectrum of human emotions, why do we elevate one and denigrate the other?

— The Independent

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Tips to get rid of low back pain
Dr Ravinder Chadha

People suffering from low back pain wrongly believe that the cause of their pain is either disc prolapse or a decrease in the space between the vertebrae. Low back pain is a common affliction, and most people experience it at one time or another in their lifetime. Low back pain (pertaining to the lumbar region), called lumbago, occurs due to spasm or injury to the low back muscles although this factor is commonly overlooked.

The symptoms

  • Low back pain which can strike suddenly as one is getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Pain is aggravated in an unsupported upright position vis-à-vis forward bending, climbing stairs, etc.
  • Getting up from the lying position or getting out of the chair could be difficult.
  • Pain radiating to the buttocks or the outer side of the upper thigh.
  • Increased muscle contraction while coughing or sneezing increase pain.

Treatment

In acute cases intermittent cold and stretch is extremely effective. Lumbar support alleviates pain in acute cases. However, prolonged usage should be avoided as it might bring muscle weakness.

Massage helps relaxing muscles and reducing pain. Placing a pillow between the knees while lying on the side decreases tension on the muscles.

Corrective activities/ preventive measures:

1. A combined bending forward with sideway movements to lift or pull must be avoided. A corrective measure would be to turn the entire body to face the object to be picked up.

2. Using an upright vacuum cleaner rather than the low floor type should be encouraged. While cleaning, the back should be kept erect with both hands on the handle and moving it straight rather than holding it on the side.

3. While lifting objects from the floor, bend the knees but keep the back erect.

4. While brushing teeth, one should ideally stand straight and avoid leaning over the sink except while cleaning the mouth when supporting the body weight with the free hand.

5. While putting on trousers, socks, etc. one should sit down or lean against a wall so that one can balance and avoid fall (which could strain the back muscles).

6. To reduce pain one should climb up or down the stairs with the body turned at 45 degrees to one side with a straight back.

7. In order to enjoy gardening activities one should sit on a low box or other seat around 8 to 10 inches in height to avoid bending over.

The following exercises if done correctly could prove useful:

Self stretch — place both hands under the head lying supine with hips and knees bent. The left thigh of the affected side is crossed over the right knee. The right thigh is gently pulled downwards. Repeat this four or five times and then return to the original position.

Chair twist — the patient leans forward at the hips and rotates the spine in a controlled movement, stretching the lower back muscles. The stretch is held for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.

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

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Blood from respiratory tract?
Dr Rakesh K. Chawla

Hemoptysis is defined as the expectoration of blood from the respiratory tract. Expectoration of even small amounts of blood is a frightening symptom and can be a marker for a potentially serious disease such as bronchogenic carcinoma. Massive hemoptysis, on the other hand, can represent an acutely life-threatening problem. Large amounts of blood can fill the airways and the alveolar spaces, not only seriously disturbing gas exchange but also potentially causing the patient to suffocate.

One has to differentiate the blood coming from the G.I. Tract, where it will be dark red in appearance and with acidic pH, in contrast to typical bright red appearance and alkaline pH in true hemoptysis.

Bronchial arteries, which are part of high-pressure systemic circulation, originate either from the aorta or from the intercostal arteries, and are the source of bleeding in bronchitis or with endo-bronchitis.

Various cases of hemoptysis vary from inflammatory diseases of tracheo-bronchial tree, parenchymal diseases like lung abscess, tuberculosis, pneumonia, fungal infections, G.P. syndrome or vascular disorders. The most common causes of hemoptysis are bronchitis, bronchogenic carcinoma, tuberculosis and pneumonias.

History is very important when a patient of hemoptysis approaches the doctor. When blood is accompanied by purulent sputum, may be because of tuberculosis or bronchitis, fever and chills along with sputum and blood may be because of pneumonia. Hemoptysis and chest pain may be because of pulmonary embolism. The patient should be asked for any previous coagulation disorder or bleeding tendencies.

A physical examination is very important in such patients to find a clue to the diagnosis. Diagnostic evaluation is done with a basic blood examination, sputum examination for gram stain, culture sensitivity, AFB smear and X-ray examination.

Fibre-optic bronchoscopy is very useful in localising the site of bleeding and for visualising endo-bronchial lesion. The patient needs to be treated symptomatically to have his bleeding stopped and to prevent asphyxiation. This should be the top priority. There are so many ways to treat hemoptysis — with cough suppressants, hemostatics, turning the patient to one side. Other available techniques are ballooning, lasers, electro-cautery and surgical resection of the involved area of the lung.

Now, for the first time in North India, facilities are available for treating cases of hemoptysis with glue therapy, under local anaesthesia.

Glue is N-butyl-cyano-acrylate, which is injected with video-bronchoscope into the affected bleeding segments of the lung, and the blooding in the sputum stops immediately.

The writer is a Delhi-based senior consultant in respiratory medicine and sleep disorder. 

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Health Notes

Depression ends with psychotherapy

New York: Combining psychotherapy, delivered over the telephone, with medication seems to improve the outcome of depression treatment, research shows.

In the United States, people who suffer depression are typically treated with an antidepressant, often prescribed by a primary care doctor, without formal psychotherapy.

Yet a type of psychotherapy called “cognitive-behavior” therapy (CBT) has been shown to help curb depression. CBT involves learning to recognise and address distorted thoughts and feelings that lead to emotional distress, CBT is usually performed in an office setting. — Reuters

Link between high blood pressure and the brain

Washington: Scientists at the University of Bristol, UK, have suggested the controversial possibility that one cause of high blood pressure may lie within the brain, and not the heart or blood vessels.

Dr Hidefumi Waki, working in a research group led by Professor Julian Paton, has found a novel role for the protein, JAM-1 (junctional adhesion molecule-1), which is located in the walls of blood vessels in the brain.

JAM-1 traps white blood cells called leukocytes, which once trapped, can cause inflammation and may obstruct blood flow, resulting in poor oxygen supply to the brain. This has led to the idea that high blood pressure — hypertension — is an inflammatory vascular disease of the brain. — ANI

Snake venom may hold cure for cancer

Washington: Snake venom toxin (SVT) Vipera lebetina turanica may be effective in inhibiting the growth of androgen independent prostate cancer (AICAP), according to a report published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

The molecular focus of the report, prepared by Dr. Dong Ju Son and his colleagues, was on nuclear factor NF- ?B, an anti- apoptotic transcriptional factor that is constitutively activated in AICAP cell lines. — ANI

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