HEALTH & FITNESS

Varicose veins: hospitalisation not needed
Dr Jaisom Chopra
I
F you are suffering from varicose veins, do not lose heart. Endovenous laser (EVLT) treatment is a quick, neat and efficient treatment for varicose veins, spider veins and troublesome ulcers. No hospitalisation, operating theatres and general anaesthetic are required. There are no painful side-effects, scars or uncontrollably recurring varicose veins!

Vitamin-A supplements to save lives of children
Bobby Ramakant
T
HE vitamin A supplementation of infants and children can potentially reduce child mortality by over 20 per cent, said Howard B. Schiffer, founder and President of Vitamin Angels, in an interactive community health literacy programme organised near Lucknow. I wonder if the policy makers in the state legislature were aware of a cost-effective intervention like vitamin A supplementation.

The good and bad of caffeine consumption
Dr  R. Vatsyayan
I
N today’s consumerist society most people have started  feeling the burden of a living that has more of style but less of substance. Film stars and sportspersons have become our icons, and we are ready to accept anything which they endorse through the electronic or print media, no matter how irrelevant it may be to a healthy lifestyle.

Holi: how synthetic colours can harm your eyes
Dr Mahipal Sachdev
H
OLI is round the corner and there is a splash of colours everywhere. Everybody is gearing up to enjoy the riot of colours and water, and have simple pure fun. But one must remember that these colours, which are so bright and attractive, have a high chemical content and can do a lot of damage, especially to the eyes and skin.

Protein key to body’s defence mechanism identified
London: American scientists have identified a protein that plays a significant role in the division and replication of the immune cells called B lymphocytes, rapid generation of which is critical to the body’s antibody defence mechanism.

Health Notes

  • More sleep helps teens ‘improve grades’ at school

  • Cancer cure may be available within five years

  • ‘No clear evidence that fish oil can ward off dementia in old age’

  • Sleeping during day may increase diabetes risk





Top








Varicose veins: hospitalisation not needed
Dr Jaisom Chopra

IF you are suffering from varicose veins, do not lose heart. Endovenous laser (EVLT) treatment is a quick, neat and efficient treatment for varicose veins, spider veins and troublesome ulcers.

No hospitalisation, operating theatres and general anaesthetic are required. There are no painful side-effects, scars or uncontrollably recurring varicose veins!

Several thousand patients have had this treatment with excellent results. The scars are in millimeters and become invisible with time.

The procedure is preformed under local anaesthesia or spinal anaesthesia.

No special preparation is needed and no fasting is required if done under local anaesthesia. No need to stop taking the current medication, not even anticoagulation, if done under local anaesthesia.

Recovery period is short and little or no time-off work is needed.

Post-operatively, common pain-killers like paracitamol (crocin) or combiflam are given for three days. Subcutaneous heparin is given once daily for three days.

How does it work?

A laser is a highly focused beam of light. Laser heat damages the defective vein, which scars and closes. After a year or two, the scarred non-functional vein is absorbed by the body and disappears.

The procedure

Clinical assessment and colour doppler examination is performed to see what method of treatment is needed. When you are found fit for EVLT, then the vein is marked.

Now the laser fibre is introduced into the target, the diseased vein, and positioned at the desired site using colour doppler. Laser energy is delivered and the vein seals shut. Post-procedure compression stockings are worn for one week.

What are the recommendations during pregnancy?

During pregnancy varicose veins are common but normally improve within three months of pregnancy. However, once the valves have been damaged veins will always progress and worsen. It is not advisable to have surgery during pregnancy, but it is recommended to have them between pregnancies so that the next pregnancy is more comfortable.

Who should not be treated?

Patients should wait for at least three months after pregnancy or major surgery. Those with leg clots (DVT) or those who are bed-ridden and not ambulatory are not good candidates for treatment.

What are the complications of laser treatment?

Fortunately, endovenous laser therapy has rarely been associated with serious complications when properly performed. These, if unfortunately present, last about two weeks.

When to seek treatment?

  • Cosmetic surgery — When you are worried about the appearance of your legs even if you have no problems.
  • Pain in the leg or veins
  • Leg swelling due to veins
  • Bleeding from veins
  • Darkening of the skin (stasis discoloration)
  • Ulceration of the skin.

What should you do right now?

  • If your job involves standing for a longer period, find time to take a walk every hour
  • Avoid crossing your legs while sitting
  • Avoid wearing high-heel shoes and wear flat soles
  • Keep legs elevated on pillows at night to reduce swelling
  • Normal walking during the day but with compression stockings till mid-thigh. It reduces pain, swelling and disease progression
  • Consult a vascular surgeon as soon as possible.

How will EVLT help you?

Relief from leg heaviness

An improvement in general health

A sense of well-being

Confidence to bear your legs in summer

Confidence and desire to wear shorts again

Desire to renew sporting activity

Renewed energy and vigour

The writer, a senior surgeon, is associated with Batra Hospital, New Delhi.

Top

Vitamin-A supplements to save lives of children
Bobby Ramakant

THE vitamin A supplementation of infants and children can potentially reduce child mortality by over 20 per cent, said Howard B. Schiffer, founder and President of Vitamin Angels, in an interactive community health literacy programme organised near Lucknow. I wonder if the policy makers in the state legislature were aware of a cost-effective intervention like vitamin A supplementation.

UP qualifies for this vitamin A supplementation programme because of chronic malnutrition, high vitamin A deficiency prevalence, and high rates of infant and child mortality, informed Mr Howard.

Vitamin A deficiency does its worst damage during childhood and is a major contributor to child mortality and illness. The most commonly known effect of vitamin A deficiency is blindness. Less well known is that vitamin A is also essential for the functioning of the immune system. “Even before blindness occurs, vitamin A-deficient children are at the risk of dying from infectious diseases such as measles, diarrhoea and malaria” said Arulmony Thangaswamy, the President of Believers Church.

However, when Vitamin Angels began this initiative to save lives more than a decade ago, particularly of young children, they weren’t aware of the impact of this intervention — they knew the significance of providing vitamin A supplementation but the global mandate came only last year at the Copenhagen Consensus.

At the Copenhagen Consensus 2008, more than 50 economits worked to find the best solutions to 10 of the world’s biggest challenges. During the last week of May 2008, an expert panel of eight top economists, including five Nobel Laureates, sat down to assess the research. Combating malnutrition among the 140 million children who are undernourished was ranked number one. Providing micronutrients for 80 per cent of the 140 million children who lack essential vitamins would cost just $ 60 million per year, according to the analysis. More importantly, this action promises yearly benefits — in the form of better health, fewer deaths, increased future earnings, etc, of more than $ 1 billion. Each dollar has a return of $ 17, making this an incredible investment for donor nations and organisations.

Top

The good and bad of caffeine consumption
Dr  R. Vatsyayan

IN today’s consumerist society most people have started  feeling the burden of a living that has more of style but less of substance. Film stars and sportspersons have become our icons, and we are ready to accept anything which they endorse through the electronic or print media, no matter how irrelevant it may be to a healthy lifestyle. For example, the use of caffeine-containing items has become a way of our life and we intend to consume them just to conform or to socialise and enjoy temporary but false and easy relief from fatigue, boredom or stress.

Caffeine is a pharmacologically active ingredient of tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate. In humans, it works as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant having the effect of warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. During the last two decades, there has been plenty of research on caffeine. As most of these ‘studies’ were directly or indirectly sponsored by the tea or coffee industry, the controversy over the good or bad effects of caffeine continues unabated even today.

While adopting an unbiased approach and carefully studying the effects of caffeine on the human mind and body, we ourselves can decide whether to use it or not. And if we use it what are its safe limits.

In healthy persons, long-term effects of caffeine depend a lot on the quantity consumed regularly whereas its moderate amount definitely improves physical and mental performance. Caffeine-containing drinks bring welcome alertness and elevation of mood within a few minutes. It helps gain a faster and clearer flow of thought, and increases the focus and better general body coordination. But within an hour or two the effect of caffeine wears out. Its regular use leads to a persons craving for it more and more.

The downside of its stimulant effect is that caffeine might make a person anxious, agitated, jittery or irritable, depending upon the degree of tolerance. Caffeine always increases the heart rate and in many persons it can induce palpitation also.

Psychiatrists have identified certain anxiety and sleep-related disorders which result due to excessive and long-term consumption of caffeine. Gastritis, acidity, excessive urination and muscle twitching are some other conditions which are invariably associated with its excessive consumption. High doses of caffeine are also harmful for both the pregnant women and the fetus. 

In general, a cup of coffee has the maximum amount of caffeine, followed by tea and cola drinks, whereas chocolates contain it in a very less amount. It is surprising that children are denied tea but not cola drinks although both have nearly the same amount of caffeine in it. The tea and coffee industry has always shown these to be protective against many diseases, including cancer. 

These beneficial effects have been attributed not to caffeine but to certain antioxidants present in tea and coffee, which are essentially herbal in origin.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic physician.  E mail – yourhealth@rediffmail.com

Top

Holi: how synthetic colours can harm your eyes
Dr Mahipal Sachdev

HOLI is round the corner and there is a splash of colours everywhere. Everybody is gearing up to enjoy the riot of colours and water, and have simple pure fun. But one must remember that these colours, which are so bright and attractive, have a high chemical content and can do a lot of damage, especially to the eyes and skin.

Artificial colours available in different forms are made of chemicals which can be extremely harmful. Apart from causing irritation, they can also cause toxicity in higher doses. The commonly used chemicals include copper sulphite for green colour, lead oxide in black colour, mica granules in gulal and various other heavy metals. These can cause skin allergies, dermatitis, rhinitis, asthma and allergic pneumonitis.

It is indeed unfortunate that a festival of goodwill and celebration can turn into one of grievous injuries and pain if we are not careful. After Holi many people have to rush to hospital with damage to the eyes and skin other problems. The eye injuries during Holi include:

  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Chemical burns
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Blunt trauma to the eye

If these colours enter the eye while playing, they cause mild redness and irritation which usually subsides after washing copiously with water. However, if there is intense pain and burning sensation, one must get an opinion from an ophthalmologist. Also, if the clarity of vision is affected, an eye doctor must be consulted.

The granular particles which make the colours shine brightly are actually quite toxic and can cause damage to the cornea in the form of a corneal abrasion. A person who gets a corneal abrasion will have severe pain and watering, and if not treated by an expert may develop an ulcer or infection.

Water balloons can be most dangerous and cause blunt trauma to the affected eye which may lead to bleeding in the eye, lens subluxation or dislocation, macular edema or retinal detachment. This may lead to the loss of vision or even the loss of the eye. These are all eye emergencies and need to be looked into immediately.

Natural colours made from home-based stuff are a much better and healthier option. These can be easily made, and offer a safer option. Haldi mixed with besan or flour can give a yellow colour and work as a face-mask at the same time! White petals of tesu/palash can be used to obtain a saffron colour. Beetroot soaked in water provides a bright magenta colour. Henna powder, gulmohar, hibiscus flowers, etc, can also be used to make different colours.

Points to remember:

  • Avoid synthetic colours and use home-made colours
  • Do not use balloons at all
  • If any colour goes into the eye, wash the eye instantly with clean tap water
  • Do not use any eye medication on your own
  • In case of severe pain/ reduction of vision/persistent redness or watering, consult an ophthalmologist immediately

Wish you a bright and colourful Holi. Celebrate it gently and carefully and keep your eyes safe and healthy.

The writer is Chairman and Medical Director, Centre for Sight, New Delhi. Email: mahipal@gmail.com

Top

Protein key to body’s defence mechanism identified

London: American scientists have identified a protein that plays a significant role in the division and replication of the immune cells called B lymphocytes, rapid generation of which is critical to the body’s antibody defence mechanism.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, highlight the fact that when B cells grow unchecked, it can lead to immune cell cancers such as multiple myeloma or, when they grow to attack the wrong targets, to autoimmune disease.

They say that the discovery of the role played by the CD98hc protein, it may now be possible to develop new therapy targets for such diseases.

Dr. Mark H. Ginsberg, a professor of medicine in whose laboratory the study was conducted, said that his team’s work describes why CD98hc is essential in order for B lymphocytes to transition into antibody-secreting cells.

He further says that the study also describes how this relates to the protein’s role in the signaling ability of integrins — a large family of adhesion molecules that transfer information between the inside and outside of a cell. — ANI

Top

Health Notes

More sleep helps teens ‘improve grades’ at school

London: Giving teenagers more time to sleep helps boost their concentration levels, and consequently grades in school, according to a leading head teacher.

Dr Paul Kelley, head of the successful Monkseaton Community High in North Tyneside, has urged other schools to increase their timing to 11 am.

Studies have shown that young peoples’ brains are “wired differently to adults”.

A research led by Professor Russell Foster, chairman of Circadian Neuroscience at Brasenose College, Oxford, showed that students’ brains work better in the afternoon. — ANI

Cancer cure may be available within five years

London: Researchers in London have discovered a way to stop cancer cells from spreading, which may prevent about 90 per cent patients.

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, a constituent college of the University of London, say that rather than concentrating on stopping the formation on tumours, they focussed on singling out the enzyme that allows cancer to spread throughout the body.

The researchers say that their groundbreaking study led to the discovery that an enzyme called LOX is crucial in promoting the spread of the disease throughout a patient’s body. — ANI

‘No clear evidence that fish oil can ward off dementia in old age’

London: A new study, conducted by British researchers has cast doubt on claims that fish oil can ward off dementia in old age.

Initially, data from a trial of more than 800 older people showed that those who eat plenty of oily fish seem to have better cognitive function.

However, factors such as education and mood explained most of the link and researchers need to explain what, if any, benefits fish oil has on the ageing brain.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in diet as a way of protecting against dementia. More sleep helps teens ‘improve grades’ at school

London: Giving teenagers more time to sleep helps boost their concentration levels, and consequently grades in school, according to a leading head teacher. — ANI

Sleeping during day may increase diabetes risk

London: People who take day-time naps daily may be at an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers from University of Birmingham have revealed that during their study, people who slept during the day were 26 per cent more likely to become diabetics.

While the condition is often attributed to unhealthy lifestyles and being overweight, lack of good night sleep is also known to be a contributing factor

And regular nappers are less likely to sleep well at night. — ANI

HOME PAGE

Top