Keep exercising as you grow older!

Statistics show that adults over 65 spend at least 10 hours a day sitting or lying down, making them the most inactive age group. This type of sedentary lifestyle is not advisable and increases the importance of daily exercise. Exercising, in general,  has innumerable benefits and is advised to everyone – across all age groups. It strengthens the bone structure, improves flexibility, and keeps the heart healthy. Studies have shown that working out for even 10 minutes a day can help improve balance, agility, and mental health.

As you get older, it becomes important for you to remain active and exercise to maintain your independence and remain healthy. Being inactive for long periods of time, especially if you are an elderly person can result in aches and pains that you’ve never had before. Many start struggling with normal errands and small pleasures of life such as playing with your grandchildren, walking to the market, meeting up with friends becomes a tedious activity. Being inactive for long duration results in lethargy and pains that make any outdoor activity strenuous.

As we age, our muscle mass starts decreasing. Muscles play an important role in promoting health and wellness, especially as we age. Muscle mass plays a crucial role in maintaining metabolic and bone strength, helps control body weight and without it, you compromise on your mobility and independence. Loss of agility, balance, endurance, and strength, are just a few concerns associated with old age. You also become susceptible to injuries, especially the ones associated with joints. We are not trying to scare you, just stating the facts.

Another important fact about exercise is that they are vital to maintain a robust cognitive function. Exercising helps increase brain neurons and boosts your memory as well. So it doesn’t just improve the physical structure of a human body but also gives you mental strength. Let’s look at some major benefits of exercising as you grow older:

- Prevention of diseases and chronic conditions

Exercise helps in delaying, preventing, and even curing some chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc just to name a few.

- Muscle mass

As stated earlier, muscle mass is important to maintain balance and agility of our body especially during the later stages of life. Muscle mass starts decreasing as we grow older thus decreasing the bone strength too. Exercising regularly can slow the process and help in maintaining muscle mass for years to come.

- Balance and stability

Senior citizens are more prone to falling and breaking body parts than any other age group. As we age, we face balance and stability issues and exercising can help prevent that. Maintaining bone strength, muscle mass and stability can help save a ton of money on broken hip surgeries, hip replacement, and knee replacement surgeries.

- Quality of life

Exercising regularly does not just improve physical fitness and mental strength it promotes a sense of well being and happiness. Being dependent on another human being in old age is one of the worst feelings ever. Exercising can help you maintain your independence and improve the quality of life in your later years.

So, go for a leisurely walk, take the stairs instead of a lift, do gardening, cycle to the grocery shops, do yoga, aerobics, swimming or any form of exercise that interests and motivates you to remain sharp. It’s never too late to start exercising. Enjoy the second innings of your life.

How to get rid of backache if your job involves sitting for hours?

Do you work for 9 hours a day? Do you sit slouching in your chair in front of a computer working on deadlines? Is your job desk a pain in the back? If yes, then you are not alone. 90% of people who have a desk job suffer from backache. It’s been said that sitting is the new smoking. Although it won’t kill you, it’ll leave behind a severe and uncomfortable backache. But chances are that you are not giving up your desk job anytime soon, so we are here to help manage the damage that has been done to your back.

Sitting for more than 8 hours can lead to postural problems such as disc damage, strained neck, swayed back, etc. Desk life can be really demanding and stressful, the main issue being that our bodies are not really made to sit and certainly not for nine hours straight. Excessive sitting hunched over a computer, typing furiously, and staring at screens all day and straining the eyes is just not acceptable. The stress impacts the entire body as we hunch forward and our neck protrudes. There are a ton of health hazards associated with sitting for eight to nine hours a day:

- Cardiovascular complications

- Muscle degeneration

- Leg disorders

- Increased stress levels

- Imbalance in the spinal structure

So, what can be done to help an everyday Joe from developing and avoiding back pains? Fret not! Here are a few ways you can incorporate to avoid health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle:

Sit in the right posture

Keep both feet on the floor with your knees slightly elevated higher than your hips. It’s okay to occasionally cross your legs. You can also keep your feet elevated with the help of a stool to avoid edema.

Yoga

Yoga has proven to be beneficial for people of all age groups. One yoga session in the morning before you leave for work and one session in the evening when you come back from work can do wonders for you. Yoga poses that specifically focuses on strengthening your back is advised.

Regular strolls

If you work sitting in your chair for long hours, taking a 5-minute stroll may improve your backache. A five minutes stroll for every hour you sit on your chair is advised. This will help in improving the blood circulation in the lower body and also increase your productivity.

Stretch yourself

Stretch your legs and arms for five minutes before you leave for work. Even when you are at your desk in the office, stretch your legs every ten minutes or so.

Neck stretch

Most importantly, stretch your neck sideways, back and forth, and from shoulder to shoulder. This will help in keeping your neck muscles relaxed and the blood circulation up too.

The best advice that you can get is to get fit. Workout, hit the gym, go swimming, get regular massages, and keep the blood flowing.

 

Does your neck feel tight or moves to one side by itself?

If your head abnormally tilts or veer downward, backward, or sideways by itself, there’s a high chance that you might be suffering Cervical Dystonia. Cervical Dystonia, also known as spasmodic torticollis, is a neurological disorder that causes the muscles in your neck and shoulders to contract abnormally. This involuntary muscle contraction can cause contortions in your head, neck, and shoulders. A rare condition that can occur at any age, Cervical Dystonia is severely painful and discomforting. Symptoms of this condition usually begin gradually, get worse, and then stabilizes.

Symptoms:

- Contractions in chin, head, neck and shoulder muscles

- Abnormal head postures

- Burning pain in neck and shoulders

- Severe headaches

- Spasms, jerks, tremors in the area surrounding the neck

The pain from Cervical Dystonia can sometimes be exhausting and disabling.

Causes:

The basic causes of spasmodic torticollis are unknown in most cases. Many researchers believe that Cervical Dystonia has a genetic component as a factor. Some people who have cervical Dystonia have a family history of the disorder. In other cases, it is also linked to head injury, trauma, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. Nerve damage from certain drugs is another cause linked to the problem. Although the disorder can occur at any age, in the most number of cases the patients are over the age of 30. Women are more likely to develop Cervical Dystonia than men.

If not treated properly or at the right time, cervical Dystonia has the tendency to spread to nearby areas such as jaw, arms, face, etc. In many cases, we have seen cervical Dystonia spreading to the spinal cord forming bone spurs and reducing the space in the spinal canal. This causes tingling, numbness, and weakness in arms and legs.

Treatment

Cervical Dystonia has various treatments depending on the severity of the condition from patient to patient. There are a ton of medicines around us which help reduce the spasms and tremors. These include muscle relaxers and some Parkinson’s medications too. The best thing to do is physical therapy. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles can help in improving the pain, postures, and movements.

During the 90s, cervical Dystonia was thriving everywhere. The introduction of Botox or Botulinum toxin was life-changing. Botulinum toxin was injected in the muscles where the spasms or tremors would occur. This would relax and reduce the strength of the muscle. Severe and rare cases may even require surgeries. Deep brain stimulation is a proven method for the treatment of cervical Dystonia. This stimulation helps in correcting the faulty nerves. Although quite expensive, deep brain stimulation can help the patient achieve long term relief.

 

Tips to protect from fungal infections this summer!

Summer is here and so is the humidity. Higher temperature means more people hitting the public pools. Unfortunately, this makes people susceptible to nasty fungal infections. Fungal infections are quite common as a fungi can live in the air, soil, water, and even plants. It can survive in almost any environment and can be difficult to get rid of once it invades your body. Fungi mostly thrive in warm and moist areas of our body such as the toes, under the breasts or in the groin area. This unsightly condition can survive in any environment and can re-infect a person trying to get better. Let’s take a look at some common fungal infections:

- Ringworm

Despite the name, worms have nothing to do with this nasty condition. The name is inspired by the small reddish rings or patches on the skin. These are most likely to occur from excessive sweating in moist and warm areas.

- Athlete’s foot

If you sweat badly from your feet, tight shoes and socks can make you prone to get an Athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the spaces between your toes because of improper ventilation often aggravated by walking in tight shoes and socks for hours.

- Jock Itch

Affecting the area around the genitals, jock itch is often uncomfortable and bothersome. Itchy, red, ring-shaped rashes in these warm and moist areas are more likely to occur in people who are overweight.

Most fungal infections can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription creams. Only about half the fungi are harmful. If you have a weakened immune system or if you take antibiotics, you are more predisposed to get a fungal infection. These common, troublesome, and uncomfortable maladies are often hard to get rid of, so, the following steps can be taken to guard yourself.

Public pools and showers

Summer makes you perspire more than usual so you are more likely to hit one of those public pools which are the perfect environment for fungal infections. When you take public showers after splashing in public pool or hitting the gym, you are more susceptible to fungal infection in your toes. So always wear flip-flops when you hit the common showers and then dry the space between your toes completely to avoid moisture that can lead to the growth of fungi.

Sweaty underwear

It’s gross but it’s true. Many people don’t change their sweaty underwear after hitting the gym, out of laziness. Don’t deny it, you know who you are. This can cause an extremely itchy rash in the groin area. To prevent this, you can wear loose-fitting cotton underwear as synthetic materials can cause more sweating. And more importantly, change your underwear between gym sessions.

Socks and shoes

Sweaty socks and smelly shoes are as dangerous as the sweaty underwear. Let your feet breathe and go barefoot when inside the house. Always change your sweaty socks to cleaner ones after your workout.

Summers are a prime time for fungal infections. These fungal infections bring itchiness and rashes that are uncomfortable, bothersome, troublesome and can ruin your long days and short nights.

Take help from a doctor instead of spending beautiful summer days worrying and dealing with infections.

 

Is there anything you can do to contain Gallbladder Attacks?

A gallbladder attack is a term commonly used to gallstone blockage. Gallbladder is a sac that is located above the right abdomen and just below the liver and is the storage unit for the bile juice produced by the liver. Bile is basically made up of water, cholesterol, bile salts, fats, bilirubin, and proteins. Bile juice generally help in preventing the formation of gallstones with the acids and proteins it contains. But when there is an imbalance in the bile components or if the bile contains too much cholesterol or bilirubin, it can result in the formation of small pebble-like deposits known as gallstones.

These gallstones can sometimes block the bile duct resulting in increased pressure in the gallbladder. This increased pressure gives rise to a sporadic pain in the center of the upper abdomen called biliary colic and this is called a gallbladder attack. This pain continuously radiates from the center of the belly to upper back. A gallbladder attack usually lasts about 15 minutes to an hour and the only way it can be managed is to let it naturally pass.

A gallbladder attack is also called a gallstone attack, acute cholecystitis, or biliary colic. It usually happens after a heavy meal. Our body produces more bile after we eat so we are more prone to gallbladder attacks after a meal. Some other symptoms of gallbladder attacks are:

- Nausea

- Vomiting

- Fever

- Chills

- Dark urine

A gallbladder attack can lead to other complications such as liver problems. The gallstones can get stuck in the bile duct and can back up the bile into the liver which results in jaundice. If the gallstone blocks the way to the pancreas which results in gallstone pancreatitis. Gallstones that are very small will pass through the ducts causing no harm or pain. But the larger stones are the ones that get stuck and cause pain and inflammation.

Treatment

The most common treatment for gallstones is a gallbladder surgery during which the entire gallbladder is removed. This procedure is called cholecystectomy and in the process, surgical incisions are made in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. The surgery is a minor one but the patient may have to stay in the hospital for a week with 4-6 weeks of recovery time.

There are some non-surgical treatments also available for patients who have pre-existing medical conditions. Medications are prescribed in case of non-surgical treatments. These medications are able to dissolve cholesterol-based gallstones but the dissolving process may take years and there is always a risk of the stones coming back.

Preventing further attacks

Gallstones may be genetic but a few lifestyle changes can help in lowering the risks of gallstones or having gallbladder attacks.

- Losing Weight

- Exercising

- Balanced diets

- Avoid skipping meals

- Avoid weight loss supplements

Consulting a doctor is recommended if you do have a family history of gallstones.

 

All you need to know about Pediatric Epilepsy

A normal brain functions with millions of nerve cells that use electrical signals to control the body’s functions, thoughts, and senses. Millions and billions of these nerve cells or neurons constitute together to form a circuit. This circuit conducts electric signals from the brain and if this circuit is interrupted or there is an imbalance in the neurons due to any reason, seizures occur. These seizures are called Focal epilepsy if they occur at a specific part of the brain. But if the seizures occur in the entire brain, it is called General Epilepsy.

The cause of epilepsy is generally hard to register. Basically, anything that injures the brain including, infections, poisoning, head injuries, etc. can cause epilepsy. The brain works with the neurons to form a system and when this system is disrupted due to faulty electrical activity, epilepsy occurs. The factors responsible for this disturbance may be head trauma, stroke, tumor, infectious diseases, prenatal injuries, autism, etc.

The symptoms of epilepsy include:

- Jerking of the body parts

- Strange tastes in the mouth

- A rising feeling in the stomach

- Strange smells

- Repetitive movements

Epilepsy can develop at any time of life regardless of age. A survey shows that 2-3 in every 1000 children in India suffer from epilepsy. Some children develop epilepsy before or post birth due to a brain injury during the childhood or infection while in the womb. Some researchers believe that developing epilepsy is genetic to some extent. This means that anyone who starts having epileptic seizures has always had some level of genetic tendency to do so.

If your child is diagnosed with epilepsy, you might want to take him to a pediatric neurologist who specializes in brain and nervous system. A pediatric neurologist may ask you to get an electroencephalogram (EEG) test done which records the electrical activity of the brain. After the test and the first inspection, the doctor decides what kind of treatment your child might need.

-Anti-epileptic drugs

Anti-epileptic drugs are taken by patients who suffer from epilepsy to reduce seizures. These drugs don’t really cure epilepsy or stop the seizures while they are happening but they prevent them from happening while the patient is on the medication. Although AEDs work well for many children, this doesn’t happen for everyone.

-Ketogenic diet

A Keto diet is medically approved nutrient filled fitness diet that is often started alongside AEDs supervised by trained medical specialists and dietitians. This diet helps in reducing the severity of seizures.

Tips to make your child’s life easier:

-Dealing with emotions

If your child is suffering from epilepsy, he/she is gonna need your whole support. It’s natural for your child to feel resentful and have emotional breakdowns while feeling different from other kids of their age. Help your kids deal with this feeling by talking to them.

-Depression

Your child might get depressed because of low self-esteem. This usually comes from anger, frustration, and embarrassment. Make sure your child understands the disease as much as possible by meeting other children suffering from the same.

-Being positive

Epilepsy might restrict your child from doing certain activities and this can wear down the morale of your child. Try to get him to be positive and participate in different activities but at the same time help him learn how he can minimize the risks.

Diet to help you fight Tuberculosis!

Tuberculosis or TB as it is widely known is a contagious bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs. It can spread to other parts of the body as well and is caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

TB is a highly contagious disease, however, treatment is possible and there are high chances of recovery after long term administration of antibiotics. Just like the flu virus, TB infection can spread from an infected person to another through the air. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs, or sings, tiny droplets that contain the germs are released.  The infection spreads upon breathing in of these germs.

Diet to fight TB infection:

Timely diagnosis and long-term, on-time treatment through the use of a variety of TB drugs has been successful in completely curing the disease. Since the recovery time frame is quite long, the body becomes weak and this further increases the recovery period. To help your body fight off the infection, it is essential to provide the right nutrients to it.

Malnourished persons find it more difficult to fight off the TB infection and are also more susceptible for a relapse or reinfection after recovery. A simple high protein diet that is easy to digest along with enough vitamins and minerals to regain strength and stamina is effective in aiding recovery.

Here is a list of food items that should ideally be included in the daily diet:

  1. Toned milk and curd

  2. Hard boiled or poached eggs

  3. Leafy dark colored greens like spinach and kale that are rich in Iron and B-complex

  4. Whole grains like wheat and rice as carbohydrates aid in better digestion of proteins

  5. Seasonal fruits and vegetables that are a rich source of natural vitamins and minerals

  6. Use unsaturated fat like olive oil or vegetable oil

  7. Drink plenty of water

A varied healthy diet and avoiding certain harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco as well as shunning refined food products and high-fat high cholesterol red meat products are beneficial in strengthening the body to fight off the tuberculosis infection.

The Role of support groups in helping patients cope with Parkinson’s

Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease brings a stressful impact on the lives of people. As the disease progresses, it affects the physical and mental well-being of the patients. A disturbed mental state also contributes to the worsening of the physical symptoms. Due to this, it becomes increasingly challenging for them to reach out for support.

 

Many times family members lack the necessary training to deal with emotional imbalances of these patients. In such a situation patients often need external advice and support to sail through the difficult times.

If you’re suffering from Parkinson’s's disease, here are some of the coping strategies:

Individual counselling:

If you’re hesitant to open up publicly and find it extremely hard to talk to your family members, you can get an appointment with a psychological counsellor. Then set up a face to face interactive session with the counsellor to discuss your depression or anxiety issues with him/her.

This approach is helpful if you’re dealing with an internal problem that you find inappropriate to tell your family.

Group therapy:

Take help from non- governmental organisations who are running Parkinson’s support groups to help them. They often provide support for individual sufferers as well as caregivers.

Group therapy is a wonderful approach to deal with anxiety issues if you are okay with discussing your issues in a group. These group sessions have a trained moderator who is a psychological counsellor. The aim is to share the problems openly and understand other’s struggles as well. This will enable you to confide in others and will give a larger perspective towards dealing with your own problems. It will make you feel that all are in it together and give your strength to fight the disease.

Long term support at a care centre:

This approach is best suited for people who have higher stress levels and require continuous counselling and care. These care centres keep the patient engage in other activities like problem-solving sessions or indulging in hobbies to distract their mind from their existing issues.

If you have severe anxiety attacks and require constant support, this is the best approach towards dealing with it.

Online support groups

With high social media engagement, it is easy to find people who are also suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Now you can connect with other patients on online platforms like Facebook or Twitter and share your struggles with them and listen to theirs. This is a powerful way to build an online supportive community and has a wider reach than the offline method. It is always good to talk to multiple like-minded people who share the problems of life just like yours.

Women-only support groups

These groups create a comfortable environment for women with Parkinson’s to discuss their symptoms, medicines or their role in their families. Women are generally more open to sharing their concerns with other women. Thus such women-only support groups can make a huge positive difference in their lives.

You can seek the help of these support groups depending upon your needs and medical condition. This will definitely improve the quality of your life.

 

Not all fevers are created equal. What does a fever mean?

Any increase in your body temperature is termed as “fever”. Fever is not an illness but our body’s natural defence against infection of any kind. Whenever a viral or bacterial infection sets in, our body’s thermostat-hypothalamus resets it at a higher level. This creates an unfavourable condition for these pathogens and helps in fighting these. A low-grade fever is often not treated as it resolves in itself once such pathogens are eradicated. There can be some non-infectious reasons for fever too such as heat stroke, sunburn, side effects of certain medication or in children after an immunization.

Fever usually is a part of an illness and should be considered in the light of other symptoms such as cold, cough, sore throat or rash. Fever in itself is indicative only of the presence of an infection, but when considered along with other symptoms can help reach a definite diagnosis and treatment. High fevers should not be ignored especially in infants and young children as it can result in delirium and febrile convulsions.

Different types and duration of a fever:

To classify fever, it is important to consider its severity and duration as well as a combination of both.

Based on severity, the fever can be classified as:

  • Low-grade fever where the temperature is between 100-102℉ or 38.1-39℃

  • Moderate fever where the temperature is between  102.2-104℉ or 39.1-40℃

  • High fever where the temperature is between 104.1-106℉ or 40.1- 41.1℃

  • Fever higher than 106 ℉ or 41.1 ℃ is called as hyperpyrexia.

Based on duration, fever can be classified as acute if it lasts less than 7 days, the fever is termed as sub-acute if it lasts more than 7 days but less than 14 days. If a fever lasts more than 14 days, it is called as chronic or persistent fever.

Some other classification of fever:

Continuous fever: When the temperature remains higher than normal throughout a 24 hour period, with very little variations, it is called continuous fever. This type of fever is noticed when a patient is suffering from diseases such as lobar pneumonia, typhoid, urinary tract infection, infective endocarditis etc.

Intermittent fever:  When the temperature keeps fluctuating during a 24 hour period, it is called intermittent fever.  The spike in temperature can occur at the same time each day, or every few hours and is in a repetitive pattern. Diseases that exhibit this kind of intermittent fever are malaria, pyemia and septicemia.

Septic fever:  When the body temperature is very high and does not improve with antipyretics, it can point to septic fever. The patient should seek immediate medical attention to prevent the worsening of health.

Periodic fevers: Recurrent episodes of high temperature that can last for a few days or weeks and are separated by symptom-free intervals. Recurrent infection, malignancy or non-infectious inflammatory diseases can cause this kind of fever.

How does the pig fly? Swine Flu, the history and treatment of H1N1

Swine Flu is called so, as historically the influenza virus and infection was common among pigs. Occasionally, this infection was passed on to humans, mostly to farmers or veterinarians who were in close proximity to pigs. In 2009, a particular strain of influenza called H1N1 caused widespread respiratory infection among humans. The infections were declared as a global pandemic because a large number of people world over got infected by the same. After this, scientist termed the infection as H1N1v, which means its a variant and has spread to humans.

How is the swine flu transmitted:

The virus enters your body when you come in contact with the virus. You can get infected by inhaling the virus or by touching a surface contaminated with the virus, then touching the mouth or nose. Infected droplets are expelled into the air through coughing or sneezing. The influence viruses infect the cells that line your nose, throat and lungs.

Symptoms of swine flu:

Once infected, a person starts showing symptoms within 3-5 days. The primary symptoms are similar to common flu infection.

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Muscle aches

  • Headache

  • Chills

  • Fatigue

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Detection of Swine flu:

If you have more than one or all of the above symptoms, visit your doctors for a complete examination. The doctor might recommend a rapid flu test or test to specifically look for H1N1. These tests results may take time, however, doctors might start treatment right away.

Preventive methods:

The best way to avoid swine flu is by getting yourself vaccinated. You can practice good care during the flu season to prevent the spread of the disease.

As it is easily transmitted, avoid going out if you have the symptoms.

  • Cover your nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing, preferably with a tissue.

  • If a tissue is not readily available, cough into your elbow rather than the hands.

  • Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Don’t share your personal items with others

  • Wear a mask while traveling or if you are in a big group.

Treatment of swine flu:

Antiviral medicines can be used to treat swine flu. The treatment for swine flu is mostly symptomatic. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to manage fever. Drugs like Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or Naproxen (Aleve) can help manage pains and aches. Plenty of fluids and rest is advised.

Antiviral drugs are advised to high-risk groups like pregnant women, small children, adults who are 65 years and older, persons who have a weak immune system or chronic health issues like Asthma, or cardiac issues.