HEALTH & FITNESS

First-aid in gastroenteritis
Dr Harmeet Singh Saluja
With the onset of summer, one has to be more careful about stomach-related problems like gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of your stomach and intestines. Common causes include: Viruses. Food or water contaminated by bacteria or parasites. Reaction to a new food. Young children may develop signs and symptoms for this reason. Infants who are breast-fed may even react to a change in their mother’s diets. Side-effect from medications.

Uric acid: the lifestyle connections
Dr R. Vatsyayan
Thousands of years ago, ayurvedic masters described “adhya vata” as a metabolic arthritis occurring due to the excessive consumption of a diet which in modern parlance is called protein-rich food. Uric acid is the waste product of the breakdown of purine proteins which, when not properly excreted by the kidneys, gets deposited in the joints. This condition is known as gouty arthritis. In the present socio-economic scenario when improper lifestyle and dietary indiscipline are in vogue, Punjab tops the list of states in India where raised uric acid and other related problems are found in abundance.

EYESIGHT
Gene therapy may become reality 
Dr Mahipal Sachdev
Genes are the building blocks of all living beings. Any defect in these genes causes some or other illness/deformity in the body of an individual. Advances in molecular biology have already enabled human genes to be sequenced and cloned.

Health Notes
Expired make-up is a hotbed of bacteria

London: Doctors are warning women that they are in for some serious health risks by hanging on to their favourite make-up even after the expiry date has passed.

 

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First-aid in gastroenteritis
Dr Harmeet Singh Saluja

With the onset of summer, one has to be more careful about stomach-related problems like gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of your stomach and intestines. Common causes include:

  • Viruses.
  • Food or water contaminated by bacteria or parasites.
  • Reaction to a new food. Young children may develop signs and symptoms for this reason. Infants who are breast-fed may even react to a change in their mother’s diets.
  • Side-effect from medications.

Characteristic symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Bloating

A low-grade fever may accompany these signs and symptoms. Depending on the cause of the inflammation, symptoms may last from one day to longer than a week.

If you suspect gastroenteritis you must do the following:

  • Drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration.
  • Ease back into eating. Gradually begin to eat bland, easy-to-digest foods such as toast, bananas, rice, curd, pulses and chicken. Stop eating if your nausea returns. Avoid milk and dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and fatty or highly seasoned foods for a few days.
  • Consider acetaminophen for the relief of discomfort unless you have liver disease.

Get medical help in the following situations:

  • Vomiting persists for more than two days.
  • Diarrhoea persists for longer than several days.
  • Diarrhoea turns bloody.
  • Fever is 101 F or higher.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting occurs with standing.
  • Confusion develops.
  • Worrisome abdominal pain develops.

Get medical help if your child shows the following problems:

  • Becomes unusually drowsy.
  • Vomits blood.
  • Has bloody diarrhoea.
  • Shows signs of dehydration such as dry mouth and skin, marked thirst, sunken eyes, or crying without tears. In an infant, be alert to the soft spot on the top of the head becoming sunken, and to diapers that remain dry for more than eight hours.

The writer is a consultant gastroenterologist, SPS Apollo Hospitals, Ludhiana.


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Uric acid: the lifestyle connections
Dr R. Vatsyayan

Thousands of years ago, ayurvedic masters described “adhya vata” as a metabolic arthritis occurring due to the excessive consumption of a diet which in modern parlance is called protein-rich food. Uric acid is the waste product of the breakdown of purine proteins which, when not properly excreted by the kidneys, gets deposited in the joints. This condition is known as gouty arthritis. In the present socio-economic scenario when improper lifestyle and dietary indiscipline are in vogue, Punjab tops the list of states in India where raised uric acid and other related problems are found in abundance.

Our modern diet typically does not consist of good acid/alkaline balance. Ayurveda believes that a healthy diet to prevent the digestive impurities and metabolic disturbances should be around 30 per cent acidic and 70 per cent alkaline, but that is found to be in the exactly opposite proportion in the meals eaten today. Not much attention is given to healthy dietary combinations and a post digestive effect of food items. A wrong choice of food coupled with faulty digestion can precipitate any underlying disease. Usually, an acute attack of gout is preceded by an episode of dietary extravaganza which substantiates the whole point.

In the northern parts of India even the normally eaten diet is viewed as conducive to raising uric acid. Excessive intake of red and organ meats, fish, egg, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, beans, tomato, black grams, whole meal lentils, rice to an extent and dairy products like curd and cheese are some of the food items which can trouble a person who has high levels of uric acid. Similarly, alcohol, which is not only highly acidic and puts stress on liver and kidneys, is usually taken with certain types of snacks already rich in purines. Its increasing consumption is seen as a potential reason to boost the prevalence of uric acid in Punjab. According to ayurveda, a high protein and fat-rich diet coupled with sedentary lifestyle is a deadly combination.

Most of the lifestyle diseases are interrelated. The relationship among digestive disorders, stress, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, a raised cholesterol level and hyperuricemia is no secret. To remain healthy, we should not only try to learn the basic contributing factors of the disease, but also adopt necessary lifestyle modifications, which is perhaps the best form of preventive treatment.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic physician.


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EYESIGHT
Gene therapy may become reality 
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

Genes are the building blocks of all living beings. Any defect in these genes causes some or other illness/deformity in the body of an individual. Advances in molecular biology have already enabled human genes to be sequenced and cloned.

Gene therapy has been under trial for various conditions for a long time. It was first tried on animal models to see its safety and efficacy. Recently there was a breakthrough in the gene therapy for a retinal problem, which was done at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London.

The first operation was carried out on a 23-year-old British male, Robert Johnson, in early 2007, but it is currently too early for results. Mr Johnson has Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA), a type of inherited degeneration of the retina. It is caused by mutations in the RPE65 gene that controls the production of an enzyme responsible for the recycling of retinol, a chemical necessary for capturing light. This recycling takes place in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a supportive tissue underlying the layer of photoreceptor cells in the retina. If used, retinol cannot be recycled, the photoreceptor cells run out of supplies and can no longer function.

The team conducting the trial, from UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, is led by Prof Robin Ali. The new technique that will be used in the trial involves inserting healthy copies of the gene into the cells of the retina to help them function normally. Restoring the activity in these cells should restore vision. The operation delivers the normal genes to the retina, using a harmless virus or “vector” to carry the gene into the cells. Previous work using animal models has demonstrated that this gene therapy can improve and preserve vision.

Some indications of the result may be available within several months. However, it will need to be followed up to assess the long-term effect of the treatment. It is anticipated that the best results will be achieved in younger patients, as they will be treated when the disease is in its earlier stages of development.

However, as this is the first time when an eye disease will be treated using gene therapy, the first thing the researchers will need to do is to establish that it is safe.

For each form of retinal degeneration, the use of gene therapy will need to be developed independently and the treatment will have to be tested in a separate clinical trial for that disease. Nevertheless, the results from this first trial are likely to provide an important basis for many more gene therapy protocols in the future.

Professor Ali has said, “Testing it for the first time in patients is very important and exciting and represents a significant step towards establishing gene therapy for the treatment of many different eye conditions”.

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

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Health Notes
Expired make-up is a hotbed of bacteria

London: Doctors are warning women that they are in for some serious health risks by hanging on to their favourite make-up even after the expiry date has passed.

A new survey shows that 9 out of 10 women are using make-up past its use-by-date.

However, while women may be exceptionally fond of their favourite lipstick or mascara, experts from the College of Optometrists are warning that these can be a “hothouse” for bacteria.

The researchers found that despite recommending that mascara be discarded after three to six months, 92 per cent of women keep it for longer. — ANI

Breast cancer less responsive to treatment in younger women

Washington: A new study has found that tumour cell activity in women differs according to age, leading to a poorer prognosis of breast cancer in younger women.

Breast cancer tends to be more aggressive and less responsive to treatment in women under 50 as compared to older women, and the study may lead to targeted therapies that can help treat patients more effectively.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Carey Anders at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center. — ANI

Gene therapy reverses erectile dysfunction in mice

Washington: Resear-chers at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have demonstrated that rats with erectile dysfunction (ED) had regained normal function four weeks after being injected with a gene therapy vector containing either of two nerve growth factors.

The study, presented at the 10th annual meeting of the American Society of Gene Therapy, was led by Dr. Joseph C. Glorioso, III, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and Dr. Joel Nelson, Chair of the Department of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. — ANI

Flaxseed helps check prostate tumour spread

Washington: A new study led by researchers at the Duke University Medical Center has found that flaxseed, an edible seed that is rich in omega 3-fatty acids and fiber-related compounds known as lignans, is effective in halting prostate tumour growth.

The researches also think that the seed, which is similar to a sesame seed, may be able to interrupt the chain of events that leads cells to divide irregularly and become cancerous. — ANI

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