Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spill the beans Survey after survey has proven that Mumbaikars have weak kidneys. Here’s a quiz to test how well you know the filtration units of your body

Last month, a news report had the BMC admit that Mumbai is suffering an 80 per cent shortage of dialysis beds. Several patients, unable to access dialysis, have succumbed to kidney failure. 

    With lifestyle disorders on the rise among urban Indians, it's especially important to take care of your kidneys (so what if you have a pair?). For that, you'll have to know the bean-shaped filters of your body inside out? Take our quiz to find out if you do: Where are your kidneys located? 
a) Front and upper section of your body b) Front and lower section of your body c) Lower section of your body, in the back d) Lower section of your body, in front 
Answer: C. Kidneys are located behind the abdominal cavity, above the waist. While their rear portion is covered by the ribs, the lower section is unprotected. If you place your hands on your hips, the position of your thumb indicates the position of the kidney. 
Smoking affects the kidneys 
    a) True b) False 
Answer: A. The kidneys perform the essential function of keeping the blood in the body free of toxins. In fact, several heavy smokers suffer from renal cell carcinoma, says Dr Madan Bahadur, consultant nephrologist and transplant surgeon at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre. Smoking also increases the deposition of cholesterol in large blood 
vessels, reducing blood supply to kidneys. This means oxygen levels in the kidneys drop, causing hypoxia, diminishing their ability to function optimally. How much blood does a kidney filter every day? 
a) 10 litres b) 100 million litres c) 180 litres d) 100 litres 
Answer: C. A healthy adult's kidneys filter about 180 litres of blood every day to remove toxic wastes. 
What's a kidney-friendly combination? 
    a) Carrots and green beans 
    b) Pineapple, green peas and coffee 
Answer: B. Pineapple, green beans and coffee are all low potassium foods. Potassium is a mineral present in most foods, and your kidneys are responsible for maintaining potassium levels in the body (healthy levels — 3.5 - 5.0 mEq/L). High levels can lead to a irregular heartbeat, and even a heart attack. 
The primary cause of kidney failure in India is 
    a) Kidney stones 
    b) Diabetes 
    c) Hypertension 
    d) Kidney infection 
Answer: B. Fifty per cent of kidney related diseases are caused by diabetes. In diabetics, the albumin protein necessary for muscular functions, leaks into the filtering unit of the kidney blocking the tubules from which urine is sent out of the body. Hence, urine is absorbed back into the body altering the balance of the cytokine level — cell-signalling molecules that aid cell-to-cell communication in immune responses resulting in permanent damage. 
Which common habit is a kidney-killer? 
a) Taking strong painkillers off and on. b) Eating stale food. c) Drinking hot soup. 
Answer: A. Heavy doses of strong painkillers that fall in the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) category interfere with the filtration of the kidneys, directly increasing toxicity levels in the body. This could either cause acute injury to the kidneys (this is reversible) or chronic injury (which signifies permanent damage). "While it's okay to pop the occasional painkiller, ensure that you drink a lot of water after.


Painful cosmetic procedures can wait. Jet-spray, a relatively new technique that is touted to take away years from your face, is increasingly getting popular. City skin specialists tell us more about it... 

What's jet-spraying? 
Dermatologist Dr Apratim Goel says, "Jet spray technology or the jet peel is a relatively new, non-invasive, relaxing and painless skin-care procedure." 
How it works 
The technique is based on a simple principle. "Pressurised air accelerates a jet of micro droplets, which is used to gently cleanse and exfoliate your skin," says Dr Goel. The technique removes dead skin cells and also helps regulate blood circulation. 
How it helps 
The technique delivers key micronutrients in facial skin. "Vitamin C (which acts as an antioxidant) and Hyaluronic acid (Restylane and Vital) are mainly used in this treatment. Hyaluronic acid moisturises the skin naturally," says dermatologist Dr Bindu Sthalekar. The jet transports moisture and vitamins into your skin without even touching it, adds Dr Goel. 

Is it new? 
Jet Spray is a relatively new technology. "It has been in the market for two-three years," says Dr Sthalekar. 
The benefits 
"Penetration is better in jet-spray technology," says Dr Sthalekar. It unclogs pores and removes debris that naturally builds up in your skin. The jet also massages and improves blood circulation, making your skin look vibrant, smooth and younger," adds Dr Goel. 
Is it painful? 
Not at all. The jet is cool and soothing and one feels instantly relaxed. 
Experts say many people are not able to handle the pressure created by the jet-spray. Also, senior dermatologist Dr Sushil Tahiliani points out that the procedure doesn't have any scientific validity. He says, "It claims to cleanse debris and improve blood circulation, but there are no scientific studies to prove it. The human body is designed to age. Even if you stop ageing of the face using various methods, you cannot stop the layers under the skin, the muscles and the bones from ageing. You should not run after procedures that claim to make you fairer and younger."

It’s official! Exercise does reduce risk of dementia

A new study has found that the five measures to stave off dementia are taking regular exercise, not smoking, keeping low body weight, eating healthy and having a low alcohol intake. People who consistently followed four or five of these behaviours experienced a 60% decline in dementia and cognitive decline — with exercise being the strongest mitigating factor — as well as 70% fewer instances of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, compared with people who followed none. 
    "What the research shows is that following a healthy lifestyle confers surprisingly large benefits to health — healthy behaviours have a far more beneficial effect than any medical treatment or preventative procedure," 
said researcher Peter Elwood. 
    "Taking up and following a healthy lifestyle is, however, the responsibility of the individual. Sadly, the evidence from this study shows that very few people follow a fully healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, our findings reveal that while the number of people who smoke has gone down since the study started, the number of people leading a fully healthy lifestyle has not changed," he added. ANI

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

‘Tummy clock’ tells us how much to eat

Melbourne: Scientists have found the first evidence that the nerves in the stomach act as a circadian clock, limiting food intake to specific times of the day. The discovery, by University of Adelaide researchers, could lead to new information about how the gut signals to our brains about when we're full, and when to keep eating. 
    In the University's Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory, Dr Stephen Kentish investigated how the nerves in the stomach respond to stretch, which occurs as a consequence of food intake, at three-hourly intervals across one day. "These nerves are responsible for letting the brain know how much food we have eaten and when to stop eating," said Kentish, who is the lead author of the paper. 
    "What we've found is that the nerves in the gut are at their least sensitive at time periods associated with being awake. This means more food can be consumed before we feel full at times of high activity, when more energy is required," Kentish added. 
    "However, with a change 
in the day-night cycle to a period associated with sleeping, the nerves in the stomach become more sensitive to stretch, signalling fullness to the brain quicker and thus limiting food intake. 
    "This variation repeats every 24 hours in a circadian manner, with the nerves acting as a clock to coordinate food intake with energy requirements," he said. So far this discovery has been made in lab studies, not in humans. "Our theory is that the same variations in nerve responses exist in human stomachs, with the gut nerves being less sensitive to fullness during the day and more sensitive at night," he said. PTI


Saturday, November 30, 2013

WORLD AIDS DAY HIV-positive patients getting free life-saving drugs double since ’08

More People Want To Get Treated: Docs

Mumbai: The happy news on the HIV epidemic front continues. Just when United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) has praised India for reducing 
new HIV infection rate by 57% in a decade, news from Mumbai shows that the number of patients put on life-saving drugs has almost doubled in the last five years. Figures released by the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) on the eve of World AIDS Day show that 36,920 HIV patients in the city have 
been put on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) over the years. 
    The therapy has been instrumental in changing the perception of AIDS from being a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease. "This is a 96.2% increase in the number of patients tak
ing ART since 2008," said Dr B Adsul, additional project director at MDACS. The numbers show that the AIDS-control programme is spreading wider into the community. The city's government-aided AIDS control programme has registrations of 67,326 patients across the city. 
    "In the last five years, we have managed to increase the number of patients coming to us for treatment by 60%,'' added Dr Adsul. That HIVpositive individuals are living healthier lives can be gauged from the fact almost 40% of the registered patients don't need ART yet, said an MDACS official. 
    The MDACS, which works under the civic body, operates 69 centres for testing and counselling patients as well as 10 centres to distribute ART medicines. 
    In the last five years, the number of people getting themselves checked for the disease has gone up by 39%. The number of pregnant women getting themselves checked for HIV has increased by 5%. 
India among 12 nations with most HIV+ adolescents: UN Global AIDS Deaths In 10-19 Age Group Up 50% 
New Delhi: A new report puts India among 12 highburden countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania that are home to the 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV in 2012. 
    A UNICEF report says that AIDS-related deaths amongst adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 increased by 50% between 2005 and 2012, rising from 71,000 to 110,000 and that many adolescents were unaware that they were infected. 
    The 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS—released on the oc
casion of World AIDS Day on Sunday— says that an estimated 74% of the 2.1 million adolescents live in 12 high burden countries. It says that investments to the tune of $5.5 billion by next year will be required to avoid an added two million adolescents, particularly girls, getting infected by 2020. Investments in 2010 were US$3.8 billion. 
    "If high-impact interventions are scaled up using an integrated approach, we can halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020," said UNICEF executive eirector Anthony Lake. "It's a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programmes – urgently." 
    The report also found that girls are more vulnerable among adolescents. Of the total of 2.1 million individuals, 1.2 million are females. The total infected adolescent population in South Asia is 130,000 with 51% men and 49% women.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

55% of 21,000 diabetics in Mumbai are women

Mumbai: Even as the BMC will attempt to detect more cases of hidden diabetes by randomly checking the blood sugar of more than two lakh Mumbaikars on Wednesday, existing statistics reveal a worrying trend. More women than men—55% of the 21,000 patients are women—seek free treatment at BMC's 55 diabetic clinics. 
    "We were surprised to find more women than men as patients," said additional municipal commissioner Manisha 
Mhaiskar on Tuesday. However, city's executive health officer Dr Arun Bamne said that the gender bias could be a reflection of the fact that women were free to attend the civic clinics that function during afternoons. 
    But the BMC's more-woman-patients theory ties in with a similar finding three years when Metropolis Laboratory found more woman patients among the two lakh people tested for the disease. "Diabetes usually doesn't discriminate on 
gender lines, but Indian women could be more prone because of their poor vitamin D levels," said endocrinologist Shashank Joshi from Lilavati Hospital. 
    The BMC's diabetes programme began with 21 special clinics offering free tests and medicines in 2011. It now covers 52 clinics. "We offer free medicines to 35,647 patients registered at our suburban hospitals. Another 34,782 are listed at our teaching hospitals and get free insulin too," said Mhaiskar. TNN

Saturday, November 9, 2013


 While chocolates as Diwali gifts have been around for the last couple of years, they've never really surpassed good ol'mithai. However, this Diwali along with the corporate firms, many people also opted for ribbon-wrapped crowns of soft-centers over gooey Indian mithai. 
    Chocolates, beautifully wrapped, intricately moulded and often with the corporate logo embossed on each piece make a smarter and more costeffective bulk gift. So, while a beautiful box of chocolate could cost you merely Rs 150, a
box of dry fruits is anything from Rs 350 to Rs 2,000. 
    "Chocolates speak of class. Mithai is boring — besides you can't give pedhas and any dry fruit mithai is expensive. Chocolates have a standing that has style, individuality and a character. And of course, they are cheaper without being perceived to be," says 38 year-old Anita Sabharwal. 
    According to Mehernosh Khajotia, a shopkeeper, "It's all about the money. When you have to distribute sweets to half the city, you are looking for a cheaper, yet impressive option. And a box of assorted, 
hand-made, beautifullywrapped chocolates makes better sense than a handful of dry fruits." 
    Another deciding factor that tilts the scale in favour of chocolates ishealth consciousness. While you would not normally think of a chocolate as healthy, weigh it on the same scales as mithai and it's definitely lighter on your waist. And of course, the clincher —kids always prefer chocolates. Since the shelf-life of chocolate is far longer than traditional mithai, parents can also ration it for longer.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Helpouts: Get advice from experts via video chat

San Francisco: Google Inc is launching a service that lets consumers pay for live video chats with experts who can provide everything from step-by-step turkey cooking instructions to marriage counselling. The Google Helpouts service, introduced on Monday, features roughly 1,000 partners in fashion, fitness, computers and other topics, available for live, oneon-one video consultations. The video sessions can be as short as a few minutes or can last several hours, depending on the topic, with pricing set by each individual provider. 

    The video consultations represent an expansion of Google's traditional web search service, which for years has answered consumers' questions by pointing people to the most appropriate web page. 
    While Google remains the world's No.1 internet search engine, consumers are in
creasingly turning to social networks like Facebook Inc to get advice and recommendations from their friends about movies, restaurants and other topics. "Most of the world's useful information still resides in people's heads," Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google said at a small briefing with reporters in San Francisco on Monday. Helpouts "opens the door to that information as well." 
    Manber said that Google will initially provide tight oversight of the Helpouts website, deciding which types of services can be offered on Helpouts. For providers of medical consultations, Google will con
duct background checks to ensure that the provider has valid credentials. In addition to individual experts, brands such as Sephora, Weight Watchers and Rosetta Stone will also be offering video sessions on the Helpouts service. 
    Google will take 20% of the fee that the providers collect from consumers for the video chats, though Google is initially waving the transaction fee for providers in the Health category. Consumers can leave reviews of the different video chat experts and Google will refund consumers who are not satisfied with their video consultation, the company said. REUTERS

HELP AT HAND: Google will allow consumers to pay for live video chats with experts who can provide help for everything, from step-by-step turkey cooking instructions to marriage counselling

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Weak eyesight has nothing to do with age anymore. An increasing number of children are complaining of it

    Have you noticed a substantial rise in the number of children wearing glasses? Well, there's a reason for it. Experts say kids these days have more eye-related problems since the load placed on the eye has significantly increased. 
Not only has the quantum of school work increased, new technology has also led to massive eye strain. Says Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Keiki Mehta, 
"Ideally, for a growing child, nearpoint application, which includes reading on computers and tablets, should be restricted to two to four hours per day. However, the increasing emphasis on competition, at an even earlier age, has led to excess pressure on their developing system." 
    Consultant cataract and refractive surgeon Dr Nikhil Nasta says many problems leading to visual loss are related to lifestyle. "Vision depends on a clear lens and rich microcirculation 
to the retina and the visual nerve cells of the retina called rods and cones. These are adversely affected when exposed to toxins and oxygen-free radicals. Poor dietary habits can also be harmful," he says. 
Near and far sightedness: 
Dr Nasta says refractive errors (spectacle number) account for 80% of visual impairment in kids. "This includes Myopia or nearsightedness, where distance vision is blurred, but a child can usually see well enough to read or do other such tasks. This occurs most often in school-going children. The prescription for glasses will indicate a minus sign before the power (for example, -2.00). Another problem is Hyperopia (far-sightedness), because of which crossing of the eyes, blurred vision or discomfort may develop. Most children are far-sighted early in life and it becomes a concern only in extreme cases where the focusing muscles are not able to keep the vision clear. A prescription for hyperopia will be preceded by a plus sign (+3.00)," he says. 
This is commonly caused by a difference in the surface curve of the eye. Instead of being shaped like a perfect sphere (like a basketball), the eye is shaped with a greater curve in one axis (like a rugby ball). This causes fine details to look blurred or distorted. Prescribed glasses have greater strength in one direction of the lens than in the opposite 

This problem causes children to have a different 
prescription in each eye. This can create a condition called lazy eye, where the vision in one eye does not develop normally. Glasses (and sometimes patching) are needed to ensure that both eyes can see clearly. Lazy eye or Amblyopia: 
    Seen only in one per cent children, it is a failure of the eye to connect to the brain due to lack of use of one eye during infancy and childhood. Therefore, the vision in the amblyopic eye remains poorer than in the normal one. 
    To solve this, the weaker eye is forced to be used by patching the other one. Treatment also includes using glasses if necessary. Amblyopia must be corrected by nine years of age, by when it becomes permanent. To detect and treat amblyopia, it is necessary to examine preschool age children. 
Squint or Strabismus 
"Also called crossed-eyes, this means that the eyes are not aligned but are pointing in different directions. They may either point inwards towards the nose (esotropia), outwards to the ear (exotropia) or up or down (vertical strabismus). The problem can be constant or intermittent. However, intermittent strabismus occur in the first few months of infancy, especially when the baby is tired, since they are still learning to focus their eyes and to move them in a coordinated fashion. Most babies outgrow this by the age of three months. For others, various treatment options are available, including exercises for the eyes called orthoptics. Other common 
eye problems in kids include cataract, glaucoma and retinal problems," adds Dr Nasta. 

• All children need the same nutrients, no matter what their age. A healthy diet with an emphasis on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts is a must. For non-vegetarians, add eggs and a small amount of fish. Avoid addictive sweets as well as junk food. Natural, unprocessed foods help preserve circulation to the retina, rods, cones and lens. 

• Regular exercise helps maintain low blood pressure and preserves blood vessels, which the retina is rich in. It also helps support the health of endothelium, the cells that line the arteries. These cells relax blood vessel muscles and maintain blood flow. 

• Lens and retina are damaged when exposed to ultraviolet light. However, moderate sun exposure is healthy. Widebrimmed hats and UV filtering sunglasses (in older children) protect the eyes. 

• In India, over 25% of childhood blindness is due to Vitamin A deficiency. Many dietary supplements improve vision and protect the macula (the area of the retina with the sharpest vision) and the lens. These are vitamins E and C, and the trace minerals Selenium and Zinc. Others are amino acid Taurine, carotenoids such as betacarotene, lycopene (found in tomatoes), lutein (from spinach) and anthocyanosides (found in grapes). 
    — Dr Keiki Mehta 

• Increase rest periods and emphasise on ocular hygiene. Reading in good light and keeping the book at a minimum distance of 12 to 14 inches are basic requirements.

• Playing sports is one of the best ways to increase blood circulation to the eye and end point mobility. 

• A child should study in an area where he/she does not face the wall. It is preferable if they sit near an open window or in one corner of a big room — this way, when they look up, they can look into the distance and relax. 

• While taking breaks in between studies, the eyes need to be relaxed. Reading a comic book or playing on a computer or cell phone defeats this purpose. 

• Yearly eye check-ups are recommended for children. 

Eye examination in children 

A pediatrician should examine a newborn's eyes. An ophthalmologist should examine all premature infants. Vision screening should be done between three and threeand-a-half years of age. Detailed eye examination is a must if there are
symptoms of visual impairment.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Eye, throat infections spike in muggy weather

Increased humidity, fairly high temperatures and sporadic rainfall are forcing Mumbaikars to pay frequent visits to the doctor. Experts say humidity increases the virus load in the air, which in turn makes people vulnerable to conjunctivitis, upper respiratory tract infections and skin infections. If the weather continues to be the way it is for long, viral infections are likely to increase, doctors warn. 
    Ophthalmologists say conjunctivitis is common in the post-monsoon months. It has been only about 10 days since the monsoon has withdrawn and already quite a few cases have been reported. "When people suffer from cold, they may touch their eyes and thus transfer infection. We see that most patients with conjunctivitis also suffer 
from cough and cold," said Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults at Jaslok and Breach Candy hospitals. 
    "We have several patients with cough and cold. Though fever subsides in a few days, body ache and a low platelet count persists, thus causing weakness," Dr Thacker said. 
    Dr Khusrav Bajan, intensivist at Hinduja Hospital, said patients have re
ported four types of viral infections. "Dengue has been present since the start of the monsoon. But of late, the number of patients suffering from lower respiratory tract infections has increased. They come with high-grade fever and cough that refuses to go for 10 days. Besides, viral gastroenteritis and conjunctivitis, along with skin reactions, are also common," Dr Bajan said. 
    What happens is that the body is unable to adapt to weather changes, explain doctors. "The cilia, or the protective hair within the respiratory tract, are not 
able to adapt to changes in the weather outside. Even the immunity system becomes weak, which results in cough and cold. This may go on till weather conditions settle," said Dr Bajan.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Watch your food habits, not all coughs come from the lungs

Do you have a cough that is not responding to routine measures? Do you getunexplained hoarseness of voice? Do you have trouble with your throat early in the morning which clears up during the day? 

    Then this may be for you. GERD— gastro esophageal reflux disorder—is a condition wherein food remnants and gastric acid contents creep up the food pipe into the oropharynx (common receptacle for the food pipe and wind pipe) and spill into the windpipe passively. 
    In these patients, the gastro-esophageal sphinctervalve between the food pipe and the stomach, is defective and allows regurgitation (backward flow) of stomach contents. 
    At night during sleep, when the horizontal posture aids the backward flow, the stomach remnants find their way up and soil the respiratory tree. The chemical nature of the contents cause inflammation of the vocal 
chords and as they trickle down the trachea, they irritate the respiratory lining. When this occurs with periodic regularity almost every night, the tracheal inflammation becomes chronic which the normal body response is unable to ward off. Chronic dry cough and a stubborn hoarseness of voice is the result. The cough is often likened to the short sharp barking of a dog. 
    Standard therapy directed towards the respiratory track proves ineffective and symptoms continue unabated. The patient goes from family physician to chest
consultant to ENT specialist, with no avail. Clinical examination is near normal and blood tests and X-rays of the chest draw a blank. 
    Some even get CT scans of their lungs. By then they have consumed antibiotics, cough syrups, antihistamines and sometimes even inhalers and nebulizers. Grandma and home remedies have failed. 
    GERD is more common in obese patients, those individuals who lie down soon after meals and those who eat heavy, large meals late at night. The content of the spicy, often alcohol-contain
ing meal, the late timing and the lax tone of the abdominal muscles, tend to open up the sphincter and permit leakage up the food pipe. In addition to these bizarre respiratory symptoms, such patients tend to have water brash and heartburn owing to the gastric hyperacidity. 
    While treatment lies in changing the lifestyle and eating habits, drugs are available to increase the tone of the sphincter, neutralize the hyperacidity and blunt the hypersecretion. 
    In fact, the treatment of GERD focuses on the GI tract and the respiratory symp
toms are seen to vanish— all coughs do not emanate from the lungs! While a lax sphincter may be due to a primary disorder, more often than not it is bad lifestyle that is the culprit. 
    With Diwali round the corner and parties dime a dozen, those vulnerable should take heed about late night dinners for "lungs se ooper" stomach is the "Boss" when it comes to a teasing cough. 
    (Dr Hemant Thacker is a consultant physician and cardio metabolic specialist in south Mumbai Hospitals. Email:

735 dengue patients in city this month: BMC

Mumbai:The extent to which dengue has spread in the city became clear on Tuesday when BMC officials gave out, for the first time, figures of patients treated in both private and public hospitals. As against 578 dengue patients treated in public hospitals from January to September, BMC officers on Tuesday revealed that this month had seen 735 patients. 

    The dengue outbreak in the city has cost 11 lives so far, prompting the BMC to call in experts from Delhi's National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme and the National Institute of Malarial Research from Goa. 
    Till Tuesday this month, 615 dengue patients were treated in private hospitals and 120 in public hospitals. 
    "An analysis of our data shows that 50% cases are re
ported from non-slum areas and over 90% of the (mosquito) breeding was found in patients' homes or surroundings," municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said. 
    Two of the newest patients are assistant municipal commissioner (estates and markets department) Chandrashekhar Chore and his eight-year-old daughter. Both are in Jaslok Hospital. 
    Chore is the same officer against whom a departmental 
inquiry was initiated after the Mazgaon building collapse that killed 61 people. 
    Additional commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said the BMC was clearing up outdoor breeding sites, but people should ensure that their homes were free of denguecausing mosquitoes. 
    The BMC also plans to make the dengue test—the NS1 antigen test—available at 50 dispensaries within the next three days. It is so far available only in the major public hospitals. 
    The BMC has also served notices to 570 housing societies found responsible for failing to prevent mosquitobreeding sites. It has already begun collecting blood samples of dengue patients admitted to Sion and Kasturba hospitals. These will be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune to ascertain if there is any mutation in the virus.

Complaints of throat infection and pain radiating to ears flood doctors

Mumbai: The increasing pollution levels accompanying the gradual change in weather is pulling Mumbaikars down. The spike in allergic as well as viral infections can be partly blamed on the haze and rising pollution levels. 

    Suspended particulate matter causes grief to the respiratory tracts of Mumbaikars, especially those who suffer from chronic problems. The situation is aggravated by the particulate matter trapped in the haze. 
    "The viruses thriving due to increase in humidity may be an additional reason for throat infections," said Dr Shahid Barmare, who consults at Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla. A primary viral infection, if untreated, may be followed by a bacterial infection. "Most patients are coming with throat pain and often it is radiating to the ears as well," he said. 
    Doctors say children and those already suffering from chronic respira
tory problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive respiratory disorder (COPD) are more at risk. 
    "Most patients are coming with throat infection. There is hardly any fever, but the patients get dog-like barks and weakness in the limbs," said Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults with Jaslok and Breach Candy Hospitals. 
    Different sizes of particles may affect different parts of the respiratory system. "Small particles (5-15 microns in size) affect the upper parts of the respiratory tract like nose, sinuses, throat, bronchii (small airways). Since these particles are big, they are stopped by the hair lining the inside of the nasal tract. However, particles 1-5 microns in size manage to reach the deeper parts of the lungs," said Dr Ashok Mahasur, chest physician at Hinduja Hospital. 
    While the body has its own mechanism to combat even the smallest particles, in areas where construction is a continuous process, these particles 
are abundant and a beyond-the-limit quantity in the body may cause serious health hazards. 
    "The white blood cells present in the alveoli can eat up these particles. But there is a limit to it. When a person stays near a construction site, the particles get accumulated in the lungs over time and stay there. Prolonged accumulation of these particles may cause chronic cold, allergies, pharynxitis, bronchitis, an increase in asthma or trigger pneumonia along with the dreaded COPD," said Dr Neelam Rane, professor of physiology at D Y Patil Medical College. 
    Doctors advise Mumbaikars to start preparing for a worse onslaught of upper respiratory track infections. "Winter is round the corner and so is Diwali. There will be smog in the mornings and the crackers are not going to help matters. Those suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma should take precautions and increase their doses," said Thacker.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

3 Indians suffer a stroke every min, don’t know it

Mumbai: Three adults suffer from a stroke every minute in India and around 5 million people are disabled globally due to the brain attack each year. Yet, half the residents of metros in India are unaware of strokes and their link to the brain. 

    A survey carried out across six metros in the country has revealed that awareness of astroke is abysmally low. More shocking is the fact that increasingly younger people are becoming vulnerable to strokes, reasons for which vary from lifestyle to ignorance about the problem itself. "Most people think that stroke is related to the heart," Dr Shirish M Hastak, neurologist and former president of the Indian Stroke Association, said. 
    A stroke occurs when a blood vessel taking blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or ruptured. When this happens, brain cells don't get the required blood. 

MEGA BLOCK WORLDWIDE 20m suffer strokes each year 
5m die, 5m left disabled/yr 
1 in 6 suffers stroke in lifetime IN INDIA 1.5m suffer strokes each year 
3,000-4,000 hit every day 
Strokes kill more than TB, HIV and malaria put together 
42% Mumbaikars ignorant of strokes 
Brain Disease Affects 1.5mn Indians: Study 

Mumbai: Younger people are increasingly suffering strokes, but knowledge about the problem is shockingly low in most Indian cities, a survey shows. 
    Astroke occurs when brain cells do not get the blood they require. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells stop working and die within minutes, so the part of the body they control can't function either. "It is extremely difficult for a person to seek immediate medical help if one does not even know about a problem," Dr Dr Shirish M Has
tak, a neurologist, said. 
    The survey covered 1,507 people aged between 25 and 50 years in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Chennai. It 
mainly captured the respondents' awareness and understanding of the term stroke, its symptoms, perceived causes, the prevailing knowledge about treatment options, and their experiences with stroke sufferers. 
    Worldwide, 20 million people suffer from stroke each year, five million die and another five 
million are disabled. In India, 1.5 million suffer from stroke every year and 3,000 to 4,000 are affected each day. According to the survey, 48% of people did not know what stroke meant. 
    "Bangalore scored fairly well with 68% aware of what a brain stroke is. Mumbai's performance was average with 58% aware that stroke is associated with the brain, followed by Kolkata. Delhi and Hyderabad had the lowest levels of awareness, with 36% and 27% respectively," said Dr Hastak. 
    The survey showed younger people were getting vulnerable to strokes. Doctors said it had to do with their lifestyle and eating habits. "I've observed an about 15-20% increase in the 25-40 age group reporting a stroke or unmistakable symptoms of it," said Dr P P Ashok, head of neurology, Hinduja Hospital. 

STROKE | A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, causing brain cells to die as oxygen and glucose cannot be delivered to the brain 

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body) 
Loss of voluntary movement and/or sensation may be complete or partial. 

Sudden trouble speaking or understanding speech, seeing and walking. 

Emergency medical care should be sought 
The affected person should be made to lie flat to promote optimal blood flow to the brain 
If drowsiness, unresponsiveness, or nausea are present, the person should be placed in the rescue position on their side to prevent choking if vomiting occurs 
While aspirin plays a major role in stroke prevention, once symptoms of a stroke begin, doctors say additional aspirin should not be taken till the patient receives medical attention

Wednesday, October 16, 2013



The before and after are as important as the middle. Know the art of warming up and cooling down correctly to avoid injury

    Warming up before a run, whether it a half hour session or a half marathon, is crucial to avoid injury and sore muscles. Warming up ensures that your muscles get blood flowing through them, your heart rate ups, and you are placed in the right mental and physical state to train. Warming up is far more effective than cooling down in preventing muscle soreness the next day. 
    Do not start running right away — you will risk pulling your muscles. Allocate time as follows: Warm up for 5 minutes, perform dynamic stretches for 10 minutes, begin your training session running leisurely for the first 5 minutes, then cool down, and follow it up with a few minutes of stationary stretches. 
First, slow walk for a few minutes before you ease into a brisk walk, and follow it up with light jogging. Do this for about five minutes. Once your muscles are warmed up, start with stretches. 

The most important benefit of cooling down is to allow your circulatory system to return to normal. In other words, it prevents blood from pooling in your legs and causing dizziness or light-headedness from decreased blood flow to your brain. Cooling down is best accomplished by jogging at a slow pace, and moving into a brisk walk till you are breathing normally. Once your 
breathing pattern is normal, end your session with stretches for your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors. Finish it off with side stretches. The key to correct stretching is to hold a stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat it several times. As far as easing muscle soreness goes, research has proved that performing easy low-impact aerobic exercises is more effective than stretches. 
Recovering after a run is important in preventing injury. When you first set out to run, do not run on consecutive days. You must rest for at least two days in a week. This not only prevents overtraining, but injuries too. It lets the muscle tears heal. You can cross-train on days when you don't run. This can include going to the gym to strengthen your core muscles, using 
a cross-trainer, rower, cycling, swimming and spinning. On your rest days, perform stretches, or build strength with yoga and pilates. 
    As you get fitter, resist the temptation to rapidly speed up and increase your mileage. Instead, aim to increase the time or distance by about 10 per cent on your longest run each week. 

These can be stationary or dynamic. Dynamic stretches involve actively moving at high speed into a particular pose. They have a greater value than stationary stretches which involve holding a muscle in an elongated and fixed position for 30 seconds or so. I'd suggest stationary stretches for cool
ing down. The idea behind stretching is to get your joints and muscles primed for the functional range of motion that will be demanded of them during running. Stretches help quickly loosen stiff and cold muscles, and up body temperature and blood flow. Here are three effective dynamic stretches: 
Performed by standing on one leg and swinging the other leg sideways — away from your body as much as you can — and then swinging it the other way across your body. Hold onto a support if you need to. 

This involves walking with a long stride, keeping the front knee over your toes while lowering your body by bending your rear knee till it almost touches the ground. 

Done while walking. When 
    you swing 
    your leg back, continue the motion so your heels come close to your buttocks. Repeat with the other leg. 

Done while walking forward with your back and knees straight, and lifting your legs straight out in front of you as much as you can; try to touch your toes with the opposite hand.

Way to suppress appetite found Brain Cells Can Help In Diet Control

Washington: Scientists have used genetic engineering to identify a population of neurons that tell the brain to shut off appetite. Researchers have also identified neurons in other brain regions that can stimulate the appetite of mice that are not hungry, paving way for therapies that promote or decrease appetite. 
    To identify these neurons, or cells that process and transmit information in the brain, researchers at the University of Washington first considered what makes an animal lose its appetite. There are a number of natural reasons, including infection, nausea, pain or simply having eaten too much already. 
    Nerves within the gut that are distressed or insulted send information to the brain through the vagus nerve. 

    Appetite is suppressed when these messages activate specific neurons - ones that contain CGRP, (calcitonin gene-related peptide) in a region of the brain called the parabrachial nucleus. In mouse trials, researchers used genetic techniques and viruses to introduce light-activatable proteins into CGRP neurons. 
    Activation of these proteins excites the cells to transmit chemical signals to other regions of the brain. 
    When they activated the CGRP neurons with a laser, the hungry mice immediately lost their appetite and walked away from their liquid diet 
(Ensure); when the laser was turned off, the mice resumed drinking the liquid diet. "These results demonstrate that activation of the CGRP-expressing neurons regulates appetite. This is a nice example of how the brain responds to unfavourable conditions in the body, such as nausea caused by food poisoning," said Richard Palmiter, UW professor of biochemistry and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 
    Using a similar approach, neurons in other brain regions have been identified that can stimulate the appetite of mice that are not hungry. 
    Researchers hope to identify the complete neural circuit in the brain that regulates feeding behaviour. PTI


Monday, October 7, 2013

Cutting-edge tech brings cheer to patients

 When 71-year-old Krishna Natrajan of Chembur was told that his heart, already operated upon a decade ago, needed surgery again, he decided to wait for a hi-tech alternative: biodegradable stents. 

    He waited four months for the launch till December 2012, pooled his medical insurance and his savings and bought four stents. The stents alone cost Rs 12 lakh, but his cardiologist V T Shah believes the cost was worth on two counts: redo heart surgeries are very complex and his patient's recovery took lesser time than a surgery would. 
    Advanced technological solutions carry a premium tag, but they offer an edge to patients. They translate into quicker exits from dreary hospitals, fewer tears and, mostly, a quicker recovery. 
    Technology has changed health-care delivery in many ways. Knee-replacement patients literally start walking wi
thin 24 hours of surgery. Patients who have half of their stomachs carved out, walk out of hospital within 24 to 36 hours. Most private eye hospitals don't bother with overnight facilities as most of the procedures are done as out-patient procedures. 'Hi-tech has helped better treatments' 
Higher Costs Spark Debate, But Most Docs See Advantage 

    A day after TOI highlighted how insurance companies are receiving higher bills due to toptech surgeries, experts said hi-tech medical solutions offered greater comfort to patients. "Technology has helped us gain perfection. We are close to eliminating human error in orthopaedic surgery," said orthopaedic surgeon Dr Vijay Shetty. 
    Eye surgeons feel the same. "In the last decade or so, we have managed to reduce the size of the incision for eye surgery to 0.7mm. This is one-seventh of what we did before," said retina surgeon Dr S Natrajan to highlight the contribution of hi-tech to the world of surgery. 

    Thanks to minimally invasive heart surgery with newly-devised probes and clips, heart surgeon Mahesh Singh said "we can now offer patients supra-heart surgery with the promise to discharge them after two days in hospitals". 
    Old-timers like Dr Lalit Kapoor, a surgeon and founding member of the Association of Medical Consultants, believe that technology is being overused. "Hi-tech has become an excuse to hike the bill," said the doctor who has been part of many dialogues with insurance companies. "Relatives of patients want to offer the best or they carry guilt. The costs are so high, I wonder how people raise the money," he added. 
    But senior heart surgeon Dr Ramakanta Panda felt the contribution of technology cannot be underestimated. "Advancements in 
technology are improving the quality of treatments available. So what looks like an increase in the insurance claim amount could actually be a whole new treatment made available to the patient, or an opportunity to save his life that was not available earlier," he said. 
    The main issue, he felt, was the initial cost of research on any new 
technology. "Only if there's wide acceptance of the procedure and usage will the cost get lower," he said. 
    Insurance companies could use "information therapy" to help patients, felt Aniruddha Malpani, who heads the HELP Library for patients. "It has been researched extensively and accepted that patients don't care if someone else is 
paying the bill. When they are paying, they will say that they don't want an expensive drug-coated stent and would be happier with bare metal," he said. 
    A solution for insurance companies against unnecessary splurging on top tech would be to educate buyers about health options. "If a patient runs a check on Google 
about robotic surgery, which is still comparatively new, he is not likely to find the adverse advice until they reach the fourth or fifth page of the search. If an insurance company offers information to patients on their website or mail such booklets to patients, it would help both the patients and the insurance companies," Malpani added.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

TOOTH BE TOLD If your teeth are showing the first sign of decay, here’s how you can remineralise them naturally

You can brush, you can floss, but you can't escape tooth decay — or that's what you have been told. The truth though is that your teeth aren't designed to rot. Before you helplessly let bacteria drill cavities into your pearly whites, you can restore their strength, density and sparkle by remineralising them. 

Remineralisation refers to your teeth's natural healing mechanism; a process in which minerals are restored to the tooth's molecular structure. It is essentially the reversing of demineralisation — the first stage of tooth decay where your teeth lose minerals and become 'sensitive'. So if your teeth have chalky white discolouration or brownish black pits, you may just be in time to remineralise them. 
    Studies have shown that people who didn't eat modern foods had flawless tooth structure and virtually no tooth decay. Noted anthropologist Earnest Hooton once said, "It is store food that has given us store teeth." While modern foods are to be blamed — refined flour, refined sugar, fast foods and colas — the problem is compounded when the enamel isn't strong to begin with. 
    In 1883, Dr W D Miller, a pioneer in modern dentistry, said that a strong, dense tooth would "indefinitely resist" an attack from acid; be it from bacteria or food. The difference between Dr Miller's 130-yearold theory and today's dentistry is summed up aptly in Ramiel Nagel's book Cure Tooth Decay. "Dr Miller knew that the tooth's density and structure are what protected it against tooth decay, whereas today, dentists are taught that it is the bacteria by themselves that cause tooth decay," Nagel points out. 
While conventional dentistry harps on what foods bacteria might be feeding off on, the solution lies in realising what food you might be feeding the bacteria. Dentist Dr Pooja Gunjikar says foods high in 
sugar and acidic content encourage plaque, setting off demineralisation. "For instance, eating chocolates makes your pH level drop, which causes formation of acids that erode the enamel of your teeth," she says. 
    Calcium and phosphorous are the most vital minerals for healthy teeth, followed by magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. "Calcium and phosphorous help form hydroxyapatite in the enamel, which replenishes the teeth's molecular structure," she says. 
Calcium-rich foods like dairy products, leafy greens, tofu, broccoli, almonds and sardines help boost teeth health. For your phosphorous fix, eat pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and cheese. But it's the fat-soluble vita
mins A, D, E and K that are critical in helping our bodies utilise minerals. 
    Phosphorous, calcium and hormones need vitamins A and D for our cells to produce osteocalcin — the protein responsible for deposition of calcium and phosphorous into our bones and teeth. For vitamin A, you can pick from sweet potato, carrot, watermelon, eggs, spinach, oatmeal and chicken liver, while sunlight, sea
food, raw butter and eggs are excellent sources of vitamin D. The best twoin-one option for teeth health is cod liver oil. 
    Both endocrine and pituitary glands, which play a big role in teeth health, can be regulated by eating a lowsugar diet. Moreover, a fluctuating blood sugar level is bad news for teeth, as it upsets the pH balance of your mouth and accelerates decay. Since cholesterol boosts hormone functions, include healthy fats in your diet. 
    Gunjikar recommends brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride-rich toothpaste. Ultimately, your tooth's self-healing ability depends on saliva — a supersaturated solution of calcium and phosphate which neutralises acids. "Sugar-free gum helps generate more saliva," she says.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In a first, Chennai doctor uses Google Glass to air ops live

Chennai: When the surgeon's scalpel drew a red line on the patient's abdomen, two blocks away a group of medical students leaned toward their screens. The procedure was a simple hernia operation, but the surgical team members were unusually upbeat as they turned to look at the latest gadget in the operation theatre—the Google Glass worn by their chief. 

    As the medical fraternity in the West debates the usefulness of the newest device produced by Google, doctors in India have joined the chorus with bouquets and brickbats, even as a surgeon in Chennai became the first in India to live-stream a surgery using the Google Glass. On Tuesday, Lifeline Hospitals live-streamed an upper gastro-intestinal laparoscopy on a 45-year-old man and a hernia repair on a 42-year-old woman to medical students two blocks away using Google Glass. 
    "It felt like I was glancing at my rearview mirror while driving. I was focusing on the surgeries and talking to my students at the same time. At one point, I stopped feeling it was an external device," said Dr J S Rajkumar, chief surgeon at Lifeline.
Google Glass invites mixed reactions 
Chennai: In a first in the country, Chennai surgeon J S Rajkumar on Tuesday used Google Glass to live-stream two operations he conducted to his students sitting two blocks away. Google Glass is a wearable computer that has a frame similar to traditional eyeglasses. It follows voice commands to take photos and videos that show the viewpoint of the user. 
    The surgeries were livestreamed on Google Hangout as well. Doctors say the gadget is yet another step forward in opening the doors of the operation theatre. 
    "People need to know what is happening behind those doors. This is one more gadget towards that end. Students can see the surgical procedures through their seniors' eyes, quite literally. This is a phenomenal surgical tool," said Dr Rajkumar. He, however,added, "We did face some practical glitches like problems with wi-fi and the battery dying early." 
    Although the gadget is still to hit the market, Google distributed 2,000 of the gizmos earlier this year for testing before its release to the general public. Doctors say the technology could be used to view X-rays, MRI images and other medical information as they conduct surgeries and connect with doctors in far flung places. 
    While some doctors say the device could soon become a fixture in operation theatres, some see it as a distraction. "It's too early to celebrate this as a breakthrough in healthcare tools. Unless it is carefully vetted, it could be a disaster for patients," said Dr R Ravi Kumar, director, institute of cardiovascular disease, robotic surgery centre at Chettinad Health City.

Health benefits of cheese

 Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. In fact, the calcium content in cheese is so high that it can help in keeping both your teeth and bones healthy and strong, thereby greatly reducing any risk of osteoporosis or weak bones. It can, however, disrupt your overall efforts to lose weight since it is high in calories as well as saturated fat. It helps in tissue growth and repair as well. Cheese is also high on sodium content, so if you're worried about your blood pressure, it is advisable to stay away.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Anxiety, depression bog down Mumbaikars, kill happiness Mental Illness Is A Cause For Misery, Says UN Report

Mumbai: If you walk on the road, you could be hit by a speeding car. If you are wearing a gold chain, you could be assaulted. If the rupee doesn't improve, your EMIs could touch the roof. Such constant, daily anxieties could be making Mumbai a sicker and unhappy place to live in. 

    It's not only the recent spate of rapes, murders and assaults; it's the underlying mental health problems—be it anxieties or depression — that are making Mumbaikars uneasy. The newly released United Nations Happiness Report underlines this overall picture of misery. India has been ranked 111th among 156 nations in the happiness survey. 
    The UN report has, for the first time, spelt out the rising burden of mental health as the major contributor to unhappiness. "Mental illness is a highly influential—and in the countries we have assessed, the single biggest—determinant of misery," said the UN Happiness Report, adding that 10% of the world's population at any one time is either depressed or suffering from anxiety disorders. 
    "Mumbai is the scene of chronic disaster syndrome," says psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. "Women no longer feel safe on roads. There are not only accidents but reports about suicides, riots, thefts, murder and rapes that have to be digested." 
    Experts said the numbers in Mumbai could be higher at 12% given the daily stressors—the wait at railway stations, the queue for rickshaws, the lack of pavements, the overcrowding—that trigger anxiety 
disorders. "Your smile is broadest when on the bicycle, but it keeps decreasing as speed increases and the bicycle is replaced with a bike or car," adds Shetty. In other words, stress and anxiety increase as the reading on speedometers increases. "When peace is destroyed, happiness is reduced and stress increases. Worse, this triggers anxiety," he said. 
    Dr Kersi Chavda, psychiatrist with Hinduja Hospital in Mahim, said the World Health Organisation's 10 
from mental illness are in receipt of treatment and care; in lower-resource settings, the situation is considerably worse. This is serious discrimination; it is also unsound economics.'' 
    Dr Chavda says the city's "creaking infrastructure, the high corruption factor'' make it a difficult place to live in. "There is overall frustration about good people getting shunted and, frankly, happiness goes well with wealth that is not possible for the majority.'' 

commonest causes for loss of manpower hours include four psychiatric reasons such as depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. "In India, it is worsened by the fact that there are an enormous number of people who need mental health interventions but there are only 4,000-odd psychiatrists to attend to them,'' says Dr Chavda. 
    The World Mental Health Report notes, "Even in rich countries, less than a third of people who suffer

Effects of High Blood Pressure