HEALTH & FITNESS

Vaccination a must for youth health care
Dr R. Kumar

Immunisation in adolescents is as important as it is in infants. Even those belonging to elite families are not aware about the preventive aspects of health care in adolescent age groups. When one thinks about health care in this age group one considers only about behavioural, psychological and sexual problems of teenagers. Their immunisation needs have remained ignored. A rubella infection can strike a pregnant young woman and severely affect her unborn child and an attack of mumps can lead to orchitis, causing infertility in males.

EYESIGHT
Blade-free Lasik comes to India
Dr Mahipal Sachdev
For some people who are seeking an alternative to the traditional LASIK incision (with blades) or who may be afraid to have a blade cut their cornea, there is good news. In the first of its kind in South Asia, state of the art LASIK machine, Intralase, is now available for the laser vision correction of eyes.

Depression treatment can reduce suicide attempts
Washington: Researchers at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle have found that treatment for depression may help reduce the incidence of suicide attempts.

Health Notes
Pumpkin helps  prevent cancer
Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) which discovered that the humble cempedak can cure diabetes has done it again, this time with the pumpkin which can control activation of cancer cells.

 

 

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Vaccination a must for youth health care
Dr R. Kumar

Immunisation in adolescents is as important as it is in infants. Even those belonging to elite families are not aware about the preventive aspects of health care in adolescent age groups. When one thinks about health care in this age group one considers only about behavioural, psychological and sexual problems of teenagers. Their immunisation needs have remained ignored.

A rubella infection can strike a pregnant young woman and severely affect her unborn child and an attack of mumps can lead to orchitis, causing infertility in males. Immunisations against hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria and chickenpox are available for all adolescents. In addition, vaccinations against hepatitis A, influenza (flu), pneumococcal and meningococcal disease are needed by some adolescents.

However, vaccination among youth has not caught the fancy of all those concerned. Even in the US the adherence rate to recommended immunisations is 24 per cent for adolescents, compared with 60 per cent for children. In endemic zones like India, typhoid vaccines should also be given.

Should all adolescents be immunised?

Yes. All adolescents require measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and diphtheria immunisations. All adolescents with diabetes or chronic heart, lung, liver or kidney disorders need protection against influenza and pneumococcal disease, and should consult their doctors regarding their need for these injections. Chickenpox vaccine is recommended for those not previously vaccinated and who have no history of the disease. The Hepatitis B vaccine is indicated for all adolescents aged 8-18 years who have not been vaccinated. The Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for adolescents travelling to or working in countries where the disease is common, and for those living in communities with outbreaks of the disease, and those living in areas that have hepatitis A.

It is also recommended for adolescents who have chronic liver disease or clotting-factor disorders.

The Hepatitis B vaccine is generally administered in three doses. Adolescents not previously vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine require these. Immunisation against tetanus and diphtheria (Td vaccine) should be supplemented with a booster shot at 11-12 years of age and every 10 years thereafter. One dose of the chickenpox vaccine is recommended for adolescents 11-12 years of age, or two doses for those 13 or older, if there is no proof of prior chickenpox disease or immunisation.

The flu shot should be administered yearly to the adolescents who have any medical condition that places them at high risk for complications associated with influenza, such as diabetes, asthma, or chronic heart, lung, or other diseases. Immunisation against pneumococcal disease is recommended for adolescents with certain chronic diseases who are at an increased risk for this disease or its complications, and a booster dose is recommended five years after the initial dose for this group. The Hepatitis A vaccine is administered in two doses. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is also advised in youngsters.

Should adults also consider immunisation?

Some adults think immunisation is just for kids and adolescents, or are unaware that adult vaccines also exist. Each year lakhs of people are hospitalised because of influenza. Influenza vaccination is readily available and must be repeated each year. Anyone 50 or older, or having a chronic illness or immuno-suppression, has a greater risk for severe complications. Vaccination against pneumococcal infection is also necessary every five years in the same age group.

Booster doses of tetanus and diphtheria are needed at 10-year intervals throughout a person’s life. Hepatitis B is a sexually transmitted disease that we must immunise against. Anyone 50 and all women of childbearing age need to be safeguarded against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Adults have a far greater risk of complications from chickenpox; they must be vaccinated against.

Remember, vaccination is the most cost-effective mode of health care.

The writer is a Chandigarh-based eye-specialist.

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EYESIGHT
Blade-free Lasik comes to India
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

For some people who are seeking an alternative to the traditional LASIK incision (with blades) or who may be afraid to have a blade cut their cornea, there is good news. In the first of its kind in South Asia, state of the art LASIK machine, Intralase, is now available for the laser vision correction of eyes.

This new blade-free LASIK cuts the corneal flap (instead of a blade) using a computerised laser light before reshaping the corneal surface for easy surgery and recovery. IntraLase uses femtosecond laser for the creation of a corneal flap which is uniform and smoother than the flap created by a microkeratome.

The IntraLase Lasik Eye surgery method involves correcting and reshaping the surface of the cornea by the use of pulsated rays of laser delivered at a quadrillionth of a second each to a pre-programmed depth and position within the cornea. This helps in the creation of distinctive beveled-edge watery bubble flap that allows for smooth surgery and precise repositioning, alignment and seating of the corneal flap after lasik is completed as depicted in the diagram below:

Touted as one of the world’s most advanced lasik technologies, these days many people in the West are turning to such Intralase Lasik in order to enjoy clear and sharp vision.

The IntraLase method takes about 20 seconds per eye to cut the corneal flap, with the entire Lasik procedure often completed in both eyes in approximately 30 minutes. Patients see better immediately.

Traditional Lasik surgery, where flaps are cut, has depended on the strength of the cornea. This blade-free technique is made for patients who have steep, flat or thin corneas and not suited for traditional lasik surgery

The first batch of our patients underwent surgery uneventfully and all had excellent post-operative vision. With IntraLase, the procedure is much safer as it avoids the hand-held mechanical instrument (micro-keratome) to create corneal flaps .

And what’s more, the procedure costs a fraction of what a similar surgery will in the US. We have a steadily increasing number of patients from overseas. This is because we are able to provide excellent patient-care facilities and surgical results at one-fifth of the cost when compared to the US. In fact, of the first batch of patients who underwent IntraLase blade-free LASIK, two patients were from overseas.

Various clinical studies in the West have shown that the IntraLase method results in foremost visual outcomes and gives the highest degree of surgical control in treating corneal disorders.

So, blade-less LASIK is a reality now and is available in India!

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

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Depression treatment can reduce suicide attempts

Washington: Researchers at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle have found that treatment for depression may help reduce the incidence of suicide attempts.

In a study of more than 100,000 patients treated for depression, the researchers saw that suicide attempts had declined during the first month of treatment, whether it consisted of medication, psychotherapy, or both. The findings were similar for adolescents, young adults up to the age of 24, and older adults.

Dr. Greg Simon, Group Health Psychiatrist, says the study shed new light on the “black box” advisory that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed in 2004, and has revised since then.

Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Simon’s study is the first to compare the risk of suicide attempts before and after the start of treatment with not only antidepressants, but also psychotherapy. — ANI

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Health Notes

Pumpkin helps prevent cancer

Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) which discovered that the humble cempedak can cure diabetes has done it again, this time with the pumpkin which can control activation of cancer cells.

Technology Industry Department lecturer Noor Aziah Abdul Aziz said the pumpkin flour contained resistance starch to produce propionic acid.

“The acid causes the starch to remain indigestible thus fermenting the bacteria and weakening the cancer cells. It changes the oxidation process,” she said.

Noor Aziah had conducted numerous research studies on the nutritional properties of local fruits, including that of the cempedak, as a cure for diabetes because of its insulin content. Other than containing resistance starch which can weaken cancer cells, the pumpkin has a high fibre content, a natural colour suitable for bread or noodle, vitamin A, anti-oxidants and minerals. — N.N.N.-BERNAMA

Molecule that might treat food allergy identified

Washington: Boffins have identified a key molecule, Interleukin-12 (IL-12), that may provide resistance against food allergy.

During a food allergy the immune system responds to a food protein as if it was harmful. The immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which normally help the body fight parasites. In the most severe cases individuals can suffer life-threatening reactions, including anaphylactic shock.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr Claudio Nicoletti at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, in collaboration with the University of Siena. — ANI

Pathway behind stress-triggered obesity found

London: Scientists conducting a collaborative study have identified the chain of molecular events that links chronic stress with obesity.

Professor Herbert Herzog, Director of the Neuroscience Research Program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, says that neuropeptide Y (NPY), a molecule that the body releases when stressed can ‘unlock’ Y2 receptors in the body’s fat cells, stimulating the cells to grow in size and number.

He suggests that by inactivating these receptors the growth of fat cells may be prevented. — ANI

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