Autism

According to WHO Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively. A certain set of behaviours defines Autism. It is a “spectrum-condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees. There is no known cause of Autism. Early diagnosis helps the individual to receive help and support required to lead a quality life. It causes problems functioning in the society. Children often show symptoms in the first year. However sometimes children appear to develop normally in the first year and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months when they develop Autism symptoms.

It is estimated that 1 in every 160 children have autism worldwide. The prevalence of ASD appears to be increasing globally. Environment and genetics are believed to be the primary causes of Autism. Intervention is required in the early years to tackle autism. For the optimal development and well being of a child with autism, routine monitoring of child development, maternal and child health care is required. There is no cure for autism. However evidence-based psychological interventions such as behavioural treatment and skills training programmes for parents and caregivers reduces the difficulties in communication and social behaviour. The complex health-care needs of people with ASD require a wide range of integrated services like health promotion, care, rehabilitation services and collaboration with other sectors like education, employment and social care.

Some of the signs and symptoms to look for in early infancy are reduced eye contact, lack of response to their name and indifference to care givers. Some children may have normal development in the early years and then become withdrawn or aggressive. They may also lose language skills that they had already developed. Sings are usually seen by the age of 2 years. Each child with autism spectrum disorder is likely to have a unique pattern of behaviour and level of severity, from low to high functioning. Some children have difficulty learning and lower IQ. However, some may have high intelligence and learn quickly yet have trouble communicating and applying their knowledge in everyday life and adjusting to situations. It is often seen that children with ASD use a singsong or robotic voice to communicate, does not understand simple sentences, questions and directions, is expressionless with emotions and feelings, inappropriately approaches a social situation with passive-aggressiveness or disruptiveness, has difficulty understanding non-verbal cues such as understanding facial expressions, body postures or tone of voice. They often perform repetitive movements such as rocking, spinning or hand flapping, self-harming activities such as head-banging and biting.

As they get older some children to become more engaged and show fewer disturbances in behaviour. Others with severe conditions will continue to have difficulty in social skills and the teen years would bring in worse behavioural and emotional problems.

If you’re concerned about your child’s development or you suspect that your child may have autism spectrum disorder, discuss your concerns with your doctor. The symptoms associated with the disorder can also be linked with other developmental disorders.

How to care for your kidneys

Kidney problems are very common all over the world. It is a major health concern.  The major problem is that it often goes undetected until it has reached an advanced stage. Unfortunately, that’s when one needs dialysis or a transplant.  Regular testing is important for everyone to know and get updated on the condition of their kidneys. People at risk should be extra careful.

Kidneys perform some of the most important bodily functions. They are:

  1. Regulating the body’s fluid levels

  2. Filtering wastes and toxins from the blood

  3. Releasing hormones that regulates blood pressure

  4. Activating Vitamin D for maintaining healthy bones

  5. Directing that production of red blood cells

  6. Keeping blood minerals like sodium, phosphorus, potassium in balance

All of the above functions are very important for the body to function correctly. Therefore one should always be mindful of their kidneys and look after them. Some of the steps that can be followed are being fit and active that reduces blood pressure and body weight, eating a healthy diet that can help you maintain an ideal body weight, prevent diabetes and heart diseases, checking and controlling blood sugar level is also important to maintain healthy kidneys, keeping the blood pressure in control, taking appropriate fluid intake and quitting smoking as it slows down the blood flow to the kidneys. One should also regulate the intake of anti-inflammatory and pain killing pills as it harms the kidneys if taken regularly.

One should get a check-up if they have one or more of the risk factors that include diabetes, hypertension, obesity or a family history of kidney problems. There are different types of kidney diseases like kidney stones, polycystic kidney disease, urinary tract infections and glomerulonephritis.

Kidneys are a vital part of the body. These organs are responsible for life sustaining bodily activities like producing hormones and processing body wastes. That is why taking care of the kidneys is significant if one wants to maintain a healthy life. Therefore maintaining an active health-conscious lifestyle is very important. If one suspects any abnormality in the functions of the kidneys, patients should work closely with their doctors and monitor the changes and get treated accordingly.

Epilepsy: Is there a cure?

The diagnosis of epilepsy comes with numerous questions like whether it will be cured, or whether there is any specific drug available to treat it. Doctors claim that there are hundreds of different epilepsy syndromes, which involves many different types of seizures. Therefore pinpointing a particular kind of treatment for epilepsy is very difficult.

Epilepsy may be inherited or it may not. Some people also inherit an abnormally active version of a gene that is resistant to drugs. This is the reason why people sometimes have a hard time controlling their seizures with medication. Even if the seizures look different, they all start at the same place. However, they cannot be treated in the same way.  All of them start in the brain. They are caused by a sudden change in the way the brain cells send electrical signals back and forth. A doctor has to have an accurate diagnosis of the exact type of epilepsy a person has in order to treat it properly.

For most people seizures are controlled through medication. However, for some people, there is no proper response to the medication. If the seizures continue despite all the efforts, specialized surgery may be the answer. All surgeries entail some risk but fortunately for epilepsy surgeries, the risks are low. Surgery in epilepsy contributes to a far better way of life.

There are various other treatment options available for epilepsy, they are:

Dietary changes: It refers to a strict meal plan to help children whose seizures are not controlled by medicine. It involves close working with the doctor and a dietician. It starts out with a fast that lasts 24 to 48 hours. The patient is usually admitted to the hospital for this span of time so that they can be observed. After that, they are required to have foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): A VNS is surgically placed in the chest that delivers short bursts of energy to the brain. It works a lot like a pacemaker. Scientists have found that a VNS reduces seizures by 40% to 50%. However, it does not work this effectively for everyone.

Responsive Neurostimulation Device (RNS): This treatment method consists of a small neurostimulator implanted under the scalp and within the skull. The neurostimulator is connected to one or two wires called electrodes. These electrodes are placed where the seizures are expected to originate within the brain or the surface of the brain. The device detects abnormal electrical activity in the area and delivers electrical stimulation to normalize brain activity before seizure symptoms begin.

Epilepsy makes one feel like they do not have control over their own lives. It is important to work in partnership with the doctor, be updated about any kind of information, like about the seizures or the side effects of the medication and ask questions. There are many ways to get help and maintain a happy, healthy and productive life.

The simple prescription to beating #COVID-19 -Social Distancing

The simple prescription to beating #COVID-19 -Social Distancing

Pandemonium. From panic buying to end of the world conspiracies. The internet is full of conjectures about the Coronavirus. While some downplay it by saying ‘it is a regular flu’ to some predicting the ‘death of millions’ and calling it a ‘plague’. There is just too much misinformation floating around. It is rightly being called an ‘infodemic one is bound to feel easily overwhelmed.

At the very outset, let’s make one thing clear. While it would be irresponsible to say that the Coronavirus is a regular flu.  But it isn’t a death sentence either. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and multiple other health organizations have tried to persuade everyone to not panic, but it has done little to calm the mass.

What is a pandemic? Does Pandemic mean deathly?

NO. Pandemic means the sustained and continuous transmission of the disease, simultaneously in more than three different geographical regions. Pandemic does not refer to the lethality of a virus but to its transmissibility and geographical extension.

Why should one not panic?

The recovery rate is promising: So far, the world has seen 246,760 cases of COVID-19, out of which the death toll has been 10,062. While the total number of recoveries seen, add up to 88,488.  Other diseases like Smallpox, Influenza, Cholera, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Plague have had a much higher death count than that of COVID-19. The point is not to underplay the severity, but to explain that if controlled in time, we could very well stop the spread of the virus.

The solution is simple: While there is no vaccination right now, doctors and scientists are working tirelessly to ensure we find a cure. But in the meantime, there is a simple solution. To keep away from people who might be sick. The constant reminder by the medical professionals and health institutes is to self-quarantine and practice social distancing. The need of the hour is to understand that it can happen to anybody, and the only way to keep ourselves safe is by seclusion.

Prepare, not panic. That’s the mantra. We can all go about our daily lives once this is over. The good news is that we know what COVID-19 is and how it presents. The recovery rate is about 80% or even higher. In fact, most patients show mild or no symptoms. A 14-21 day quarantine is all that’s needed.

Stay by yourself: In an age of high-speed internet, it has never been simpler to keep in touch with family and friends than now. Do not panic. If you are getting anxious you can always call your family no matter where you are.

The virus spreads through contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth: A huge reason why the spread of the virus will be contained is that people have started practicing right-hand hygiene habits. From washing hands for 20 seconds to coughing and sneezing into their elbows and not touching their faces. These habits will go a long way in combating the virus.

The virus dies very easily: Just Soap. That’s all. Regular soap is sufficient to kill the Coronavirus. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently especially before eating food or touching your face is all that’s needed.

One thing that has become amply clear is that the onus of containing the virus is on each of us. So being truthful is an absolute must. If there is one thing that will help healthcare professionals working everywhere, round the clock, will be complete honesty from patients. Being honest about one’s health, travel history and symptoms is the need of the hour. Thinking about the community and society will minimize the risk of others getting infected. Especially those who have compromised immune systems like cancer patients, children or the elderly.

There are reasons to be optimistic, as there are ways to contain the virus and lessons to learn for the future. Prevention, preparedness, and people can help assuage fears. We are in this together and we can do the right things with calm and protect ourselves.

 Do not worry, if you have any symptoms, track them, if they do not subside contact a doctor. Based on your travel history, potential contact with someone who has tested positive COVID-19 and on the severity of your symptoms. The doctor should be able to guide you to the right channels.

Do not take any drastic measures and do not fall for rumors and false information. To stay informed and prepared is very important.

Coronavirus: Myths and Realities

Coronavirus: Myths and realities

With the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus, there are many myths circulating among people that need to be debunked. Myths only contribute to increasing panic and misinformation that leads to crises. It is rightly being called an ‘Infodemic’. From Whatsapp forwards to Facebook posts, from drinking Rasam to saying that Coronavirus is a death sentence, there is a lot of misinformation.

Some of the myths and facts of Coronavirus are:

  1. Vaccines for pneumonia are effective against coronavirus. However, the truth is Pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenza vaccines will not give protection against Coronavirus. The virus needs its own vaccine that’s being researched.

  2. Antibiotics can hold off Coronavirus. Antibiotics only work against bacteria. Taking antibiotics does not in any way help cure the disease.

  3. Specific medicines in Ayurveda or homeopathy can be used to treat Coronavirus. Since the virus is very new, doctors and scientists are still trying to find a cure. While eating a healthy diet is great advice, there is no truth to the claim that garlic is a cure for COVID19.

  4. Regularly rinsing your nose with saline water helps prevent Coronavirus infection. Rinsing the nose with saline helps people to recover from the common cold, there is no such evidence whether it helps against Coronavirus.

  5. Pets spread Coronavirus. Coronavirus is not spread by pets. Although it is always better to maintain hygiene. Washing hands with soap and water after playing with pets should always be practiced. It helps protect against various common bacteria that can pass between humans and animals.

  6. Hand dryers are effective in killing the virus. To have protection against the Coronavirus, one should frequently clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand wash. Warm air dryer or paper towels should be used to dry the hands after washing.

  7. New coronavirus only affects elderly people. People of all ages can be affected by the virus. However elderly people and people suffering from asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are more susceptible to Coronavirus infection.

  8. Thermal scanners can detect Coronavirus. It can detect a fever but not the virus itself.

  9. Spraying alcohol or chlorine over one’s body kills the new coronavirus. Spraying these substances can be harmful to clothes and mucous membranes. Alcohol and chlorine can be used to disinfect surfaces but does nothing once the virus has entered the system.

  10. Eating garlic prevents Coronavirus infection. Garlic is a healthy food that has many antimicrobial properties but there is no evidence that it is effective against Coronavirus.

With the WHO declaring the COVID19 outbreak a pandemic, it is now upon everyone to exercise precaution.

We request everyone to self-quarantine if they feel sick or see flu-like symptoms. Check with your employer about precautions that you can take to make the workplace safer including the use of sanitizers when you enter and exit the building.

Avoid hugging and kissing when you are feeling sick. While these are general precautions one must take even during a regular flu, in the face of a global pandemic, it becomes all the more important.

Hand Hygiene to Stave off Coronavirus

The right way to wash your hands: A step to protect yourself against Coronavirus

According to The World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are large family viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). With the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China and subsequently in other parts of the world, people should be aware of the basic protective measures against the Virus.

One of the most important measures is to wash one’s hands frequently. Washing hands can slow down an epidemic. Since hands come in contact with so many different surfaces, it is one of the main sources of cross-contamination. Good hand hygiene can fight viral infections. Public health officials’ top advice when it comes to controlling the infections is to regularly wash hands with soap and water and with alcohol-based sanitizers when the hands are not visibly dirty. One should always remember to wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the lavatory or taking care of someone who is sick and after getting off public transport.

Most of us are aware of hand hygiene but rarely pay attention to the correct steps that should be followed. Wetting the hands before applying soap is important because it helps in creating a good lather. It is preferable if the temperature of the water is 35 to 45 degrees Celsius. After creating the lather, thorough rubbing of the hands is instrumental in proper cleaning. Rubbing of the hands includes rubbing of the palms, the back of hands, interlinking the fingers, and cupping of the hands-on each other, cleaning of the thumbs and nails. Drying hands with disposable paper towels or automatic hand dryers are more hygienic than using a cloth and fabric towels.

People, during the face of an epidemic, should not be scared but informed and mindful. Knowing the prevention methods and educating others helps in staving off the spreading of infection. Knowledge of the symptoms and prevention methods will help individuals to cope with the spreading of infection and crisis.

Vaccinations: What vaccinations do adults need?

Do you think vaccinations are for kids? Well, whoever put that idea into your mind was wrong. Vaccinations make you immune to certain diseases. But most of the immunizations dwindle as the years pass by, leaving you and your body at high risk to many ailments.

Your body’s demand for immunizations doesn’t just stop as you become an adult. It is necessary to stay up-to-date with several immunizations at specific ages for the best protection. This article includes the list of vaccines which are required during your adult life

Shingles

Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This virus is also responsible for chickenpox. Shingles vaccine will protect you from the chances of rashes and even from chickenpox. It also reduces the risk/severity of developing ongoing nerve-pain. This vaccine is recommended for adults aged 50 or over.

Pneumococcal

Pneumococcal diseases are infections caused by a bacteria named Streptococcus Pneumoniae or pneumococcus. These infections can be as small as ear/sinus infections or can be as threatening as pneumonia/bloodstream diseases. The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine reduces your risk of getting infected from 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Adults over the age of 65, adults with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc. and active smokers are suggested to take this vaccine as a precaution.

Influenza shots

The seasonal Influenza vaccine protects you from seasonal flu. Every adult or everyone over the age of 6 months must just get a flu shot every year to reduce the risk of flu and fatal infections caused by them. Also, this vaccine is highly recommended to adults with chronic illnesses like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and those above the age of 65.

Tetanus

Tetanus infection is caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani. This bacteria produces a toxin that contracts the muscles throughout the body. The tetanus vaccine protects you from those bacteria. Once the regular tetanus shot is taken, every adult needs a tetanus booster every 10 years. One of the tetanus shot has to be Tdap vaccine to avoid tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. It is mandatory for women during pregnancy.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis vaccine prevents the liver from Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B viruses. These viruses can induce life-threatening effects on the liver. Every adult dealing with exposed body fluids of patients must take the Hepatitis B vaccine. Also, the adults who travel a lot are preferred to get a shot of the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Others

Apart from the above-mentioned vaccines, adults are also recommended to take vaccines against HPV-Human Papillomavirus to reduce the risk of certain cancers. There are other diseases like measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcal diseases that can also be prevented by periodic vaccinations.

Why suffer for something that can be avoided? Stay up-to-date with vaccination as it is one of the safest methods to protect yourself.

Putting mental health first: Dealing with anxiety

Some people find it hard to keep their stress, anxiety, nervousness, and tension under control. If anxiety or worry feels like too much to bear with, it can be a sign of anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be a real joy killer for your life. Putting mental health first by coping up with anxiety might sound unattainable to mind-disturbed people. However, below are a few hacks to deal with your anxiety and stress.

1. Understanding your self is the key. Write down your thoughts.

Most of the time, when anxiety strikes you, you don’t even realize what is happening to you. It will start becoming a normal routine, which you will start getting adjusted to. Eventually, you will start believing it is normal.

Self-realization is the key to face your anxiety. Know what you are going through. Acknowledge your concerns. The concerns might include persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worrying about anything and everything. Write down your daunting fears. This can help you get your anxiety out of your head. When you write down about what makes you anxious, you tend to feel more relaxed.

2. This is Okay! Take a long breath!

Yes. What you are going through is completely fine. There is nothing to be ashamed of about anxiety nor depression. When you feel anxious take a few cleansing breaths. Taking a couple of diaphragmatic breaths through the nose and letting it out through mouth at regular intervals can work in the long run. You can also set a breathing alarm to never miss out on your breathing breaks. Mediating for a few hours daily can be helpful for people dealing with anxiety. Apart from that, mini-meditations can also be a stress buster during your busy schedule. The best thing about mini-meditation is that it can be done on a train or while walking down the street or at an airport while waiting for your flight or even when you are in an elevator.

Besides meditations, doing yoga or walking every day can help you too. Anxiety can be controlled to a large extent when you divert your focus from mind to your body.

3. Face your fears.

Negative thoughts have the power to worsen the situation. You can face the situation by questioning your negative thoughts. Talkback to your fears. Ask them whether they are true. Once you continue to do this, you will realise there is a point where you can take back the control. So instead of strengthening your negative thoughts by overthinking, you can talk back to your fears and take control. This is going to be a long journey, but you will find the light at the end of the tunnel, for sure.

4. Smell it out.

Aromatherapy helps in activating certain receptors in the brain which is believed to have the potential to reduce anxiety. So lighting scented candles, incense sticks, or diffusing scents like lavender, sandalwood, and chamomile in any form can be soothing to your mind and help you relax a bit.

5. Never alone!

Millions of people out there live with an anxiety disorder. Although these statistics won’t solve your problem, you should know that you are not alone. You should know that your health is important and there are people out there willing to help you no matter what. And it is completely OKAY to put you first, at least at times. Be easy on yourself and start sharing your feelings with the right people. The set of right people might include parents, friends, spouses, and more importantly medical help. Don’t ever let anything consume you. Not even ANXIETY. Because YOU ARE IMPORTANT.

To cope with anxiety, you can also try focusing on a particular object, repeating a mantra, closing your eyes for a while and even going to a happy place will help you relieve your stress. You must follow a healthy daily routine with exercise and diet which includes supplements like green tea, ashwagandha, dark chocolate, lemon balm, omega-3 fatty acids, and valerian root. Above all, talk to a counselor or psychiatrist for practical remedies and help.

Indian superfoods you must include in your diet

Superfoods are food that is rich in nutrients and exceptionally beneficial for health and well-being. It’s important to include superfoods in your diet to keep your diet nutrient-dense. They are often associated with food such as broccoli and avocados. In reality, you can find many superfoods in your kitchen at home.

Choose these below Indian superfoods to help improve your health and get rid of toxins from your body:

1. Ghee

Most often dismissed due to its high-fat content, ghee is rich in antioxidants and aids in strengthening the immune system. If consumed on a regular basis, it also improves digestion, promotes brain function and strengthens bones. A single tablespoon a day is all it takes so, add it over your rice, rotis or just about any dish to enjoy all its nutritional benefits.

2. Amla

Commonly known as the Indian gooseberry, Amla is another superfood that helps strengthen the immune system. Along with having strong antioxidising capabilities, the fruit is rich in vitamins and promotes the growth of hair, skin and nails. It is also a natural remedy for those suffering from the common cold, many chronic skin conditions and it even helps regulate blood sugar levels. You can consume this superfruit once a day in the form of juice or chutney.

3. Turmeric

We have been hearing about the medicinal properties of Haldi milk for decades. Turmeric is a detoxifying agent that helps significantly improve cardiovascular health, enhance liver functions and fight inflammations as well. Coming from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, this spice is easy to incorporate into almost any dish and is favourable for the bright yellow colour it adds. Even the West is beginning to catch-up with the health benefits of the Indian spice.

4. Ragi

Highly recommended for diabetics, ragi is a super grain that greatly lends a hand in regulating blood sugar levels. Since it is also rich in iron and vitamin D, it reduces the chances of getting a stroke. Loaded with calcium and fiber, it is the ideal alternative for those who are allergic to gluten and lactose. Adding ragi into your diet will also help with weight loss.

5. Curd

We know curd as a great source of calcium which helps strengthen our bones and muscles. Those who regularly consume curd can also benefit from enhanced digestion and improved cardiovascular health and immunity. It is also a common food for diet plans for weight loss and de-stressing.

6. Jackfruit

For a more nutritious energy boost, go for a jackfruit. Since this superfood can be a fruit, nut and carbohydrate, it is considered a whole meal which can be consumed in place of rice or rotis. It is rich in vitamins, fibre, and phytonutrients that instantly energize your body when consumed. It can also help with weight loss, reduce cholesterol and even beat diabetes. Because of its meat-like tenderness, it is also known as the Indian vegan substitute for meat.

7. Makhanas

Sold in the market as lotus seeds, makhanas are a great healthy snack option to keep around the house. Not only are they low in fat, but they are also rich in protein, iron, zinc and magnesium. Makhanas can also help people de-stress and sleep better. These superfoods are proven to help slow down the ageing process as well.

The Indian superfoods list is a long one and includes many other food items such as drumsticks, daliya and jau. They are very simple to add to your diet and can make a world of difference to your mental, emotional and physical well-being. It’s time to switch to superfoods and get the whole family involved in the routine.

Geriatric care: Basics of caring for older individuals

Geriatric medicine is the stream of science that deals with the health care of older adults. Geriatric care demands attention and careful supervision rather than treatments. Aging can also increase the susceptibility to several diseases in older adults. Here we present before you a few tips to provide the best care for the senior citizens.

Educate yourself about the common ailments in seniors

The medical necessities of a human being change with age. The most common medical problems encountered by older adults include memory loss, dementia, heart conditions, and delirium. You have to be aware of the ways to deal with these issues while dealing with senior citizens. The memory-related ailments should be dealt with patience. Also, physical, as well as mental concerns, should be taken care of with proper medical assistance.

Support them in staying active and in socializing

With the help of their doctor or physiotherapist, you can build an exercise routine for your loved one which will help them stay active at least 150 minutes a week. You can also accompany them during their exercises to make sure they never get bored and skips their routine. Apart from regular exercise, you can always take your loved ones for nature walks, which would also help them in socializing. Socialising can make them feel secure emotionally, physically, and mentally. For the same reason, it is very important to encourage them to socialize with society.

Homes should be senior-friendly

You have to make sure the place your loved one stays in is safe and is accessible. From installing bars or railings in bathrooms to making non-slippery floors/ stairs, extra care must be put into the living space of an older adult. You can note down the requirements of your loved one and talk with an architect to adopt those ideas to implement senior-friendly amenities in their living space.

Helping them in daily chores

Older people might find certain chores difficult. But most of the time they might be also hesitant to ask for help. However, they might expect us to understand their needs and act accordingly. You can always talk to them and offer help on things they find difficult to do. Buying grocery for them or driving them to hospitals for regular check-ups etc. can give them a feeling of reassurance.

Age demands respect

It is our responsibility to give the respect they deserve. Keeping their dignity intact is the best act of care to provide them during their senior days. Many of them may have gone through things we can only imagine and respecting their experiences and age will be the foremost thing they expect from us.

Above are a few tips to make the lives of your loved ones happier and more peaceful. Along with all this, it is also important to seek immediate medical assistance in case of any emergencies, rather than going with home remedies.