HEALTH & FITNESS


Heat stress in the monsoon
By Rajbir Bhatti and  Manpreet Singh Bhatti
The climate is showing unusual temperature variations. Instead of conventional parameters such as the maximum temperature, minimum temperature and relative humidity, we need to determine the head index. It is defined as the temperature producing the same amount of discomfort as that experienced under the current ambient temperature with changing humidity levels.

EYESIGHT
Preserve your tears
Dr Mahipal Sachdev
Have you ever been feeling an irritation, burning sensation in the eyes? Or do they keep filling up with the strings of mucus? Don’t dismiss these symptoms; you could be suffering from the dry eye syndrome.

Tips for tackling wet weather-related ailments
Dr Vikas Sharma
Wet weather is a much-awaited season but it brings with it its share of miseries too. Skin disorders, viral fever, respiratory problems and gastroenteritis are always on the rise during this weather. Most viral fever cases are reported during this weather. Fungal infections on the skin like ring worm and athletes foot are very common.

‘Friendly bacteria’ and weight control
By Jerome Burne
A recent trial of probiotics as a treatment to help autistic children had to be stopped because it was so effective. Parents who had noticed significant improvements in the behaviour of their children refused to continue because they didn't want to be given the placebo when the treatments were swapped.

Health Notes
Girls who constantly talk about their problems face higher depression risk
WASHINGTON:
Girls really should stop complaining about their problems with their pals, for a new study has found that those who do so, are at a greater risk of developing anxiety and depression.

  • Gene for Type 1 diabetes in kids identified

  • Mechanism behind creation of fear-related memory

  • Eating grapefruit can increase breast cancer risk

  • Scorpion venom-derived tumour paint

 

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Heat stress in the monsoon
By Rajbir Bhatti and Manpreet Singh Bhatti

The climate is showing unusual temperature variations. Instead of conventional parameters such as the maximum temperature, minimum temperature and relative humidity, we need to determine the head index. It is defined as the temperature producing the same amount of discomfort as that experienced under the current ambient temperature with changing humidity levels.

There are several factors (sunlight, wind, perspiration, temperature, humidity and clothing) that influence how a person feels when outdoor. A combination of these determines the level of comfort or discomfort. Perhaps, the most important factors in determining the comfort level are temperature and humidity.

Humidity is important because it determines the overall loss of water from the body. If the air is dry, the effect of evaporation on the body is maximised. When humidity is high, the effect of evaporation is reduced, leading to the build-up of heat in the body. At the same temperature, a humid day will feel warmer and more uncomfortable than a dry day.

After rainfall, the level of discomfort is highest due to the saturation of air with water. There are, perhaps, more casualties in northern India due to heat stress/ exhaustation in the form of fatigue, headache, nausea and even fainting during the monsoon.

If the body temperature rises above 41°C, heatstroke can occur, resulting in the complete breakdown of the human system. If the body temperature continues to rise, death may result. Most of the deaths due to heat stress are in the lower income strata as a result of the misunderstood concept of temperature.

Symptoms of heat stress: (i) passing of a highly concentrated and small volume of urine, (ii) decrease in the fitness level (iii) and the loss of appetite.

How to prevent heat stroke: (i) The elderly are at the greatest risk during heat waves, which can lead to heat stress, exacerbated illness, and death. They should avoid going outdoors from 12 noon to 4 p.m. (ii) Outdoor workers should not see temperature as the sole indicator. (iii) People who work outside should be made to cover the body with thin light coloured cotton cloth and drink plenty of water/cool beverages during work. Working under artificially constructed shades is recommended. (iv) Sport persons should also check with the weather conditions before heavy workout.

How to beat the heat:

(i) Drink plenty of cold water (not ice-cold).

(ii) Frequent showers cool the body.

(iii) Lemon drinks are good for heat stress.

(iv) Wear light cotton clothes.

(vi) A wide sun cap is recommended during outdoor visits.

Human comfort temperature is 26°C in Northern India whereas in North America it is 18°C to 20°C and in African countries 28°C. It varies from place to place with the skin structure, human adaptation and acclimatisation. During rainfall, relative humidity is increased to 100 per cent and conditions worsen if there are strong sunrays after rainfall. The wind chill factor is an acceptable terminology internationally. There is an urgent need to start imparting awareness about heat index for public information in India. Increased awareness can save many human lives.

The writers are senior lecturers at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

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EYESIGHT
Preserve your tears
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

Have you ever been feeling an irritation, burning sensation in the eyes? Or do they keep filling up with the strings of mucus? Don’t dismiss these symptoms; you could be suffering from the dry eye syndrome.

Dry eyes is a common presentation in patients with connective tissue disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, females in the post-menopausal phase, patients with vitamin deficiency or patients of Steven Johnson’s syndrome (an allergic reaction to some drugs like the sulfa group).

But now with increasing pollution and more working hours on the computer, the scene of dry eyes has changed. Working on computers causes incomplete and less blinking of eyes which leads to dry eyes. With computers now present in every field, many people suffer from dry eyes in the long run.

Similarly, allergy problems and dry eye symptoms are common with people travelling daily for their job through polluted areas. The high levels of pollutants like nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide make the tear film more acidic. Tears which keep eyes lubricated are actually a mixture of water, fatty oils, proteins, electrolytes and bacteria fighting substances. Pollutants in the air cause damage to this fragile tear film and result in a highly unstable tear film.

The dry eye syndrome is actually a widespread problem. Till now only the lubricating drops formed the mainline of treatment, but a few new and promising options are available.

Cyclosporin eye-drops are now available. They actually work at the immune-system in patients with connective tissue disorders like those having thyroid pathology. It is helpful in almost 40-50 per cent cases and it reduces the need for lubricating eye-drops.

Another option is Punctal plugs. This is a tiny plug which closes the tear duct. It is made of soft silicon and can be implanted easily. It is an OPD procedure. Closure of tear ducts helps in preserving the tears which are naturally produced and the dependency on the tear substitutes is reduced.

Even then a patient of dry eyes should take care in his day-to-day life as follows:

  • Avoid direct air currents. Don’t direct hair dryers, car heaters, AC blowers or fans toward your eyes.
  • Wear protective glasses while going out.
  • Use home humidifiers. In winter, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air. Some people use specially designed glasses that form a moisture chamber around the eye, creating additional humidity.
  • Remember to blink. While working on computers, consciously blink. It helps spread your own tears more evenly.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Cold compresses. This gives soothing feeling.

Simple care at home will surely make patients feel better. With the availability of newer drugs, the patients who need lubricating eye-drops every now and then feel quiet relieved.

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

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Tips for tackling wet weather-related ailments
Dr Vikas Sharma

Wet weather is a much-awaited season but it brings with it its share of miseries too. Skin disorders, viral fever, respiratory problems and gastroenteritis are always on the rise during this weather. Most viral fever cases are reported during this weather. Fungal infections on the skin like ring worm and athletes foot are very common.

Some of the asthmatics experience an increase in their breathing problems. Cases of gastroenteritis (diarrhoea, vomiting, etc) are usually very high in wet weather as compared to other seasons. All this is so due to the fact that the hot and moist environment during this period is favourable for micro-organisms to thrive. So, the best way is to have a small homoeopathic kit to prevent and treat wet weather-related ailments.

Fungal infections on the skin are the most common of all and can be effectively treated with homoeopathy. Too of the most common fungal infections during this time are athletes foot and ring worm. Athletes foot is a fungal infection that can affect usually the front part of the foot. Mostly it is between the toes and the underside of the front part of the foot. It is usually marked by red itchy patches and white flaky skin. It has nothing to do with the foot of an athlete; in reality, it can affect anybody.

This disease is more common in hot and moist weather and is more frequently seen in people who keep their feet enclosed in shoes or socks most of the time. It is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. It is slightly contagious and can spread through direct contact, towels, shoes, socks, etc. Not changing your sweaty socks frequently also contributes to this disorder. Homoeopathic medicine Graphite can work wonders in treating athletes foot. Another medicine, Sanicula, is helpful if Graphite fails.

Ringworm is characterised by a raised brownish red patch which can occur anywhere around the body. They are usually marked with a ring around it. It does not have a ring-shaped worm inside it (as it is popularly believed). Ring worm is caused by the same fungi group. Tellurium and Sepia are very effective in treating this condition.

For some of the asthmatics, rains are not a welcome sign as their breathing problems tend to increase during this period. This is mainly due to an increase in moulds and fungi. This also leads to an increase in upper respiratory allergies. Natrum Sulph works very effectively in handling this problem. an added advantage with Natrum Sulph is that it can eradicate the problem forever by striking at its roots.

Influenzas, or viral fever as it is popularly called is much more on the rise during this weather. As a preventive, homoeopathic medicine Influenzinum can give a great deal of protective cover from viral fevers. Rhus Tox is greatly indicated when fever starts after getting drenched in rain. Veratrum Album is preferred for gastroenteritis. Also, Arsenic Album is very helpful when the source of infection in gastroenteritis is water-borne.

The writer is a Chandigarh- based homoeopath.

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Friendly bacteria’ and weight control
By Jerome Burne

A recent trial of probiotics as a treatment to help autistic children had to be stopped because it was so effective. Parents who had noticed significant improvements in the behaviour of their children refused to continue because they didn't want to be given the placebo when the treatments were swapped.

It was a professional disappointment for the microbiologist researcher, Professor Glen Gibson of Reading University, but yet another triumph for what are rapidly becoming known as the "friendly" gut bacteria.

They might soon be notching up even more impressive achievements: controlling weight gain, for example, or reducing stress.

The latest term for the dense ecology of the 500-plus species living in your gut is the "microbiome". It is a place that plays a key role in how we develop, from the moment we leave the womb.

Don't absorb nutrients from your food too well? Perhaps something went wrong at the time that bacteria were controlling the way the lining of your gastrointestinal tract develops. Suffer from hayfever? The microbio-me affects your risk of developing allergies by influencing the sensitivity of the immune system. Problems with stress? Right from the beginning, these bacteria were in there shaping the connections between the brain and the adrenal glands.

— The Independent

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Health Notes

Girls who constantly talk about their problems face higher depression risk

WASHINGTON: Girls really should stop complaining about their problems with their pals, for a new study has found that those who do so, are at a greater risk of developing anxiety and depression.

Amanda Rose, associate professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Science conducted the study, which was carried out over a period of six months.

The study, which included 813 third, fifth, seventh and ninth grade students - boys and girls - examined the effects of co-rumination, excessively talking with friends about problems and concerns.

Rose found that girls co-ruminate more than boys, especially in their teens, and that they are also the ones who are most likely to be more depressed and anxious. — ANI

Gene for Type 1 diabetes in kids identified

LONDON: Canadian researchers have identified a gene variant that raises a child’s chances of developing type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes.

The research conducted by paediatricians at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and McGill University in Montreal has added a new gene information to the already known four genes.

“The genotyping technology we now have has revolutionized the way we can ask and answer research questions,” Nature quoted study’s lead author, Hakon Hakonarson, the director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as saying. — ANI

Mechanism behind creation of fear-related memory

WASHINGTON: Drugs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may soon be available, as researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory say have uncovered the mechanism behind the formation of fear-related memory stemming from traumatic events.

Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, has found in a study of mice that the extinction of fear-related memory may be achieved by inactivating a kinase (kinases are enzymes that change proteins) called Cdk5 in the hippocampus, the brain’s centre for storing memories. — ANI

Eating grapefruit can increase breast cancer risk

LONDON: Grapefruit may help keep heart and gum diseases at bay, but a new study has found that it can be dangerous for women, as it increases the risk of breast cancer by almost a third.

Researchers believe that this happens because eating the fruit can give the levels of oestrogen - the hormone associated with the risk of breast cancer - a boost.

The findings were based on a study carried out by researchers at the universities of Southern California and Hawaii, that included more than 50,000 post-menopausal women from five ethnic groups.

The group included 1,657 women who were suffering from breast cancer.

The researchers found that eating as little as a quarter of the fruit can increase the danger by 30 per cent in women. — ANI

Scorpion venom-derived tumour paint

Washington: A peptide derived from scorpion is all set to revolutionise the fight against cancer, as a paint made from it has the capability of illuminating cancer cells in a way that enables surgeons to precisely see where a tumour begins and ends.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center say that the tumour paint can help doctors distinguish between cancer cells and normal brain tissue by enabling them to see cancer cells 500 times better than an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The researchers claim that the tumour paint can enable surgeons to see tumours “live” during surgery, for which medical science has been lacking methodology until so far. — ANI

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