HEALTH & FITNESS

How fireworks damage health
Dr Amitabh Malik
Can one imagine how life can be without sound? It would be so hollow! And can one imagine life with deafening sounds? Life would be stressful, irritating without all this. Perhaps, that is why festivals like Dasehra and Diwali are associated with lights and sound. Right from Dasehra till we hear the cheers of New Year, crackers and fireworks are the most saleable commodities almost everywhere.

eYESIGHT
Diwali: do’s and don’ts
Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev
Diwali, the festival of lights, is here! It is time to rejoice and celebrate. Keeping the following precautions in mind will help you and your family have a safe celebration: Keep candles and firecrackers out of the reach of children. Adults should constantly supervise children when they are lighting crackers, or even while they are watching a fireworks display. 

Health Notes
Here’s why age itself is a risk factor for
heart failure

Washington : A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins has evidence which shows why the supposedly natural act of aging is by itself a very potent risk factor for life-threatening heart failure.

  • Genome study reveals new insights into lung cancer

  • Brain ‘shuts eyes’ to comprehend complex sounds

  • Anti-wrinkle jabs may cause ‘irreversible’ damage

  • Antioxidants may protect against UV radiation

  • Younger adults have more trouble paying attention

 

 

 

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How fireworks damage health
Dr Amitabh Malik

Can one imagine how life can be without sound? It would be so hollow! And can one imagine life with deafening sounds? Life would be stressful, irritating without all this. Perhaps, that is why festivals like Dasehra and Diwali are associated with lights and sound.

Right from Dasehra till we hear the cheers of New Year, crackers and fireworks are the most saleable commodities almost everywhere. And even people don't hesitate to spend money on these visual pleasures. But how many of us do ever think of our dear earth and its atmosphere? According to one study, 25 per cent of all preventable diseases are caused by detrimental environmental factors (UNEP- United Nations Children's Fund, WHO, 2002).The amount of pollution which is caused due to these kinds of celebrations continuously add to the reasons of diseases of eyes, nose (respiratory system), throat and ears. Some short-term effects include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Noise pollution is displeasing human or machine-created sound that disrupts the environment. But the sound produced by crackers can also come under the definition of “noise”. A sudden or prolonged noise created by crackers can cause harm to the ears. This unwanted sound can seriously damage and affect physiological and psychological health, too. For instance, noise can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, and other harmful effects.

The elevated sound levels can also cause trauma to the cochlear structure in the inner ear, which gives rise to irreversible hearing loss. Or a sudden sound created by crackers can even lead to hearing loss, especially in kids and infants. Considering the age factor, an infant below one year of age can be considered most vulnerable, keeping in mind the delicate structure of the ear. Besides, senior citizens and others with a heart problem, hypertension or hypotension and asthma can be in danger.

According to a recent survey carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board, the set value for crackers is 124 decibel at a distance of 4 metres from the point of detonation, while 95 per cent of the crackers breach this noise and pollution standard.

Researches have shown that at the time of Dasehra and Diwali the percentage of pollutants rises in the air. These pollutants, when inhaled, not only cause trouble to asthma patients but also lead to diseases like bronchitis. Crackers contain detrimental elements which are highly toxic, such as heavy metals like copper, cadmium, lead, manganese, zinc, sodium and potassium. Copper is not less than a poison for humans. Its inhalation can cause irritation in the respiratory track, and access of copper inhalation may cause “Wilson's disease”, in which copper gets deposited in brain, skin, liver, pancreas and myocardium.

Cadmium inhalation can cause kidney problems and anaemia. Magnesium can lead to metal fume fever. Particles of magnesium embedded in the skin can cause gaseous bleb and lead to gas gangrene. Lead, particularly in the case of children, harms the nervous and digestive systems. These may become part of SPM --- suspended particulate matter. A person subjected to 100 ppm of SPM may have headache and reduced mental perception, while nitrogen dioxide, which is less soluble, makes the way into the finer airways and penetrates into the lungs, causing asthma, allergic rhinitis, bronchitis and other respiratory problems. It is the main source of haze and can even reduce visibility. Another pollutant with ill effect is nitrogen dioxide; it is less soluble and so it penetrates to the smaller airways and into the lungs. They destroy the linings of the respiratory surface, thereby reducing the intake of oxygen for the body. These cause respiratory allergies like asthma, especially to the susceptible population.

The pollutants not only trouble the respiratory system but also harm the eyes. One can experience a sudden itching or irritation in the eyes when exposed to direct smoke. The ill effects may not be seen at the same time but may cause problems in the near future.

So, it is time for people to analyse what kind of celebrations do they want? The ones which are safe and healthy or the ones which are detrimental to health!

Every time we buy the crackers and fireworks we should remember that we are not buying happiness and fun but health problems, and not only for us but for the people around us too! Make a point to celebrate a pollution-free and healthy Diwali.

The writer is an ENT specialist associated with Paras Hospital, Gurgaon.


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eYESIGHT
Diwali: do’s and don’ts
Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev

Diwali, the festival of lights, is here! It is time to rejoice and celebrate. Keeping the following precautions in mind will help you and your family have a safe celebration:

  • Keep candles and firecrackers out of the reach of children.
  • Adults should constantly supervise children when they are lighting crackers, or even while they are watching a fireworks display.
  • Firecrackers should be lit in open areas, away from wooden objects, gas cylinders and electric wires.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while lighting firecrackers, it is more likely to catch fire.
  • Those who watch fireworks displays should maintain a safe distance. Eye injuries occur more commonly among onlookers.
  • Light crackers from a safe distance (arm’s length). Avoid bending over them.
  • Avoid burning crackers in tins or glass bottles.
  • Do not light crackers while holding them in your hand.

The eye is one of the vital organs of the body and the effects of such injuries are more severe than in any other part of the body, partly because of the delicacy of the ocular tissues and partly because the trauma, which elsewhere would cause little and temporary inconvenience, can readily result in permanent blindness.

Ocular trauma due to firecrackers can present in different forms:

  • Foreign body on the ocular surface
  • Blunt injury
  • Penetrating Injury
  • Penetrating injury with retained intraocular foreign body

These in any form may lead to corneal and conjunctival burn, traumatic cataract, retinal edema, intraocular bleeding, retinal detachment and, in cases with extensive injuries, a total disfigurement of the eyeball.

Most of the ocular injuries that occur during Diwali are preventable if proper safety precautions are followed.

In the unfortunate event of an eye injury :

  • Do not rub the eye.
  • Do not wash the eyes if cuts are present.
  • Do not apply eye ointment.
  • Apply only a sterile pad on the eye, if available.
  • Do not try to remove any foreign body that is partly lodged inside the eye.
  • In cases with burns, splash tap water (not ice water), on the burnt skin.
  • An ophthalmologist must be consulted immediately.
  • Do not assume that any ocular injury is harmless. Medical attention must be sought even if only redness or watering is present.

The age-old adage “prevention is better than cure” aptly describes the management of ocular injuries.

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



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Health Notes
Here’s why age itself is a risk factor for heart failure

Washington: A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins has evidence which shows why the supposedly natural act of aging is by itself a very potent risk factor for life-threatening heart failure.

The study was presented on November 4 at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando.

For the study, the research team examined more than a half-dozen measurements of heart structure and pumping function to assess minute changes in the hearts of 5,004 men and women, age 45 to 84, of different ethnic backgrounds and with no existing symptoms of heart disease.

It was found that each year as people age, the time it takes for their heart muscles to squeeze and relax grows longer, by 2 per cent to 5 per cent. — ANI

Genome study reveals new insights into lung cancer

Washington: An international team of scientists has mapped the genetic changes underlying lung cancer and discovered a gene that plays a critical role in spreading the disease.

The research, involving dozens of research centres worldwide, also revealed more than 50 genomic regions that are frequently gained or lost in lung adenocarcinoma, the most common type of lung cancer.

According to the authors, the massive DNA study sheds significant light on the biological basis of lung cancer and will help shape new strategies for treatment.

“This view of the lung cancer genome is unprecedented, both in its breadth and depth. It lays an essential foundation, and has already pinpointed an important gene that controls the growth of lung cells. This information offers crucial inroads to the biology of lung cancer and will help shape new strategies for cancer diagnosis and therapy,” Nature quoted senior author Matthew Meyerson of Harvard and MIT as saying. — ANI

Brain ‘shuts eyes’ to comprehend complex sounds

London: US researchers have discovered that the brain can reduce people’s ability to see for enabling them to hear complex sounds.

Collaborators from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the University of North Carolina conducted a study involving 20 professional musicians and 20 non-musicians, and found that both groups diverted brain activity away from visual areas while performing hearing tasks.

While making a presentation at a conference organised by the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California, the researchers revealed that they used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to measure real-time changes in the subjects’ brain activities based on the blood flow to different areas of their brains. — ANI

Anti-wrinkle jabs may cause ‘irreversible’ damage

London: They may seem a fast and perfect way to remove those wrinkles, but a cosmetic surgeon is warning that thousands of women could end up with irreversible damage to facial tissue.

French surgeon Dr Daniel Marchac said that he had based his conclusion after being consulted by 25 patients with irreversible damage to their subcutaneous tissue — the layer of fat underneath their skin — and their fibrous connective tissue.

He then asked 900 surgeons for more evidence on “filler” jabs like Botox, and now carbon dioxide.

Based on what he has learnt, Dr Marchac believes that one in 20 people will be left with permanent damage by taking such injections. — ANI

Antioxidants may protect against UV radiation

Washington: Researchers from the University of Maryland have found that two common dietary molecules found in legumes and bran could protect DNA from the harmful effects of radiation.

The molecules — Inositol and inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) — were tested in human skin cells and a skin cancer-prone mouse that were exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, the damaging radiation found in sunlight.

Researchers found that the two molecules decreased the severity of side-effects from radiation therapy, saving healthy cells while simultaneously increasing the potency of the treatment against cancer cells.

“Both of these potent antioxidants have been shown to have broad-spectrum anti-tumour capabilities, and now our studies confirm the degree to which these molecules protect against the DNA-damaging effects of ionizing radiation,” said lead researcher Abulkalam M. Shamsuddin, professor of pathology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. — ANI

Younger adults have more trouble paying attention

Washington: A recent study has found that younger adults are more distractible in comparison to older adults when asked to focus their attention on their sense of sight or sound, or when asked to switch their attention from one sense to the other.

Focusing on the effects of age on multisensory attention, or the way the senses work together, the new work has challenged earlier studies, which claim that older adults were more distractible.

The study performed at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center involved 48 participants and compared the results of the half who were between ages 18 and 38 with the other half who were between 65 and 90. — ANI


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