How handwashing can help one stay healthy

We are constantly surrounded by living micro-organisms that inhabit the objects of our daily use. But did you know that these hidden microbes invisible to the naked eye are capable of rendering you sick? These are bacteria, viruses, parasites or other germs which bear the ability to stick to the outer protective layer of skin and multiply. Then, they enter inside the human body through the natural openings and cause diseases. The human body is conducive for the growth of micro-organisms.

Hand washing is a preliminary step toward the prevention of illnesses. The benefits of handwashing include:

  • Restriction of the entry of microorganisms into the body.
  • Prevention of the contagious spread of microbes.
  • Decrease in the cross-contamination in food via dirty hands
  • Prevention of eye and respiratory infections.
  • Reduction of exorbitant expenses on medical treatment of ailments.

Handwashing materials:

Antibacterial soap:

It has an advantage over the regular soap as it possesses active anti-bacterial activity. It is especially utilized in high-risk areas such as in hospitals. Although, its regular domestic use should be avoided for the risk of developing anti-bacterial resistance.

Hand Sanitizer 

An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative to anti-bacterial soaps due to its portability and non-requirement of water for cleansing. Just rub your hands together to cover all the areas. Perform it for at least 20 seconds.

Do note that the anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers are inefficient against superbugs.

Medical antiseptics 

Hospitals, nursing clinics and other healthcare facilities deploy more effective antiseptics. These include chlorhexidine, alcohol, iodophors etc.

Proper hand washing technique:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly under the running water.
  • Use a soap bar or generous amounts of liquid solution to generate good lather.
  • Rub both the hands against each other.
  • Rub palm of one hand on the dorsum of the other
  • Clean the tip and the back of the fingers and the wrist.
  • Rinse hands thoroughly with water.

Operating room utilizes a special scrub area where surgeons perform ‘Surgical Hand Scrub.’ This cleansing initiates from the hands and extends two-three inches above the elbows. The purpose is to eliminate the superficial impurities, minimise the microbial count on the surface of hands and prevent the regrowth.

Hence, cultivating the habit of handwashing decreases the probability of future illnesses and helps you stay healthy.

Keto Diet and Its Benefits

The ketogenic diet or the keto diet, as it is famously known, is a major trend for those looking for a dramatic weight loss. But is it really effective, and more importantly, is it safe?

According to many studies conducted all over the world, the keto diet does not just aid in weight loss but has other numerous health benefits as well. This diet entails consuming high amounts of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and very limited amount of carbs. After the diet is followed for a few days, it enters ketosis, that means it is now burning fat for energy, instead of carbs – hence the fat and weight loss.

Whether the body has entered into ketosis or not, can be tracked with a urine ketone strip or a blood prick meter, but many dieticians vouch for the fact that poeple following this diet are eventually able to detect when their bodies have entered into ketosis. Here are some benefits one can reap from following the keto diet:

Aids in weight loss

The goal of the keto diet is to get more calories from proteins and fat than from carbs. It takes more work to turn fat into energy than to turn carbs into energy, hence the weight loss process is expedited. High protein content also doesn’t make one feel famished.

Reduces risk of cancer

A number of reasons have been cited in relation to keto diet and its benefits for those suffering from cancer. Since keto diet would cause more oxidative stress in cancer cells, it can be a good follow up to chemotherapy and radiation to combat cancer succesfully.

Improves heart health

This is one of the major health benefits of following the keto diet. Since some studies have found out that good cholestrol levels increased and bad cholestrol decreased, with the keto diet one can improve their heart health as cholestrol levels decreased gradually.

Improves brain functioning

The benefits of following a keto diet could include treatment and prevention of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimers and insomnia to name a few, but more research is needed on the subject. There have also been reports of reduction in seizures in people with epilepsy, owing to elevated levels of ketone bodies in the blood.

Reduces acne

By decreasing carb intake, there are less dramatic blood sugar fluctuations as well as bacteria in the gut, hence reducing cases of acne to a considerable level!

May help women suffering from PCOS

A low carbohydrate diet can definitely impact women suffering from PCOS in a way that their weight and insulin levels are kept in check and even the hormonal balance is restored!

There are side effects to following any diet on a long term basis, but with the keto diet they can effectively be minimised. Sometimes dearth of carbs can have an hazardous effect as all bodies are not created alike, so make sure you speak to your dietitician at length before taking to keto diet!

Everything you need to know about stress

Stress, the word evokes images of employees sitting in front of piles of work, the black sheep at a family dinner or even frustrated road ragers in packed traffic. But when you take away the connotations or even examples away from the concept, what is it exactly?

Medically speaking, stress is a response to external stimuli that triggers a fight or flight response in a person. When a person perceives a stress event like an impending deadline or public speaking, the hypothalamus in the brain sets off alarm signals that prompt the adrenal glands to secrete hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones create a number of bodily changes including increasing blood glucose and fatty acids in the body and more energy production within the body’s cells so that the body can fight or flee. This also leads to higher heart rate, rapid breathing and even tensing of muscles.

Most often, the stress should leave the body once the situation is resolved. But constant stress situations as is prevalent at these times, causes a lot of harm to the body. While constant high workload is not a very big stressor, constant small stressful situations also bring in the same bodily reactions. That is when stress is highly disadvantageous, it impacts emotions, cognition, and physical health in a negative way. This leads to critical illnesses like heart disease, compromised immunity and even changes to the brain. It has also been seen that extreme stress situations also lead to high blood pressure, even gastrointestinal problems like inflammatory bowel disease.

Stress can also lead to -

  • weight gain

  • sleep problems

  • lack of energy

  • type 2 diabetes

  • osteoporosis

  • mental cloudiness (brain fog) and memory problems

How to manage stress?

While it is impossible to reduce stress situations, it is always under our control on how we face stress situations. Here is how you can manage it-

  • Understand when you are getting stressed

Recognize when you are under stress and that you are experiencing bodily changes due to the same. This can include feelings of sleeplessness, anger issues that erupt easily and suddenly, feelings of depression and reduced energy in doing day to day activities

  • Talk to a specialist

Getting counselling for stress might seem overkill for some, but it is better to nip the problem in the bud before it gets out of hand and leads to new health problems.

  • Exercise regularly

Getting enough exercise everyday will put your body at a better position to counter stress situations and it will also provide the body with good hormones. It also helps better your mood.

  • Have relaxing hobbies

There are many stress reducing programs that one can look into, which helps you get into a better headspace and reduce the harm caused by stressors. Laughter therapy, yoga, tai-chi and other activities including breath control can help relieve symptoms of stress and relax your body.

  • Set Goals and Priorities

Learn to manage tasks and figure out what is priority and what tasks can be set aside for later. Always understand that no work is more important than your own health.

  • Stay Connected

Having a social life and being around friends has shown to reduce stress considerably and help people cope with difficult situations. Have a strong circle of friends and family who you can rely on and vent to.

Epilepsy – symptoms, causes and treatment methods

Epilepsy – symptoms, causes and treatment methods

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that triggers unpredictable and recurrent seizures. It can also lead to abnormal behaviour, sensations, and loss of awareness. People of different ages are afflicted with the condition. It occurs due to a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. This causes the neurons that pass messages to and from the brain to malfunction temporarily. It is one of the most common neurological diseases. According to statistics, approximately 50 million people in the world have epilepsy.

Traumatic brain injuries or brain diseases like stroke, viral encephalitis, meningitis or brain tumours are the causative factors for epilepsy. Many epilepsy types are also due to genetic influence where you see many members of a family having the same condition. Epilepsy could also be caused due to pre-natal brain damage caused due to oxygen deficiency, poor nutrition or infection in mother. Epilepsy can sometimes be associated with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis. High-grade fever, extremely low blood pressure, alcohol withdrawal or drug abuse can also result in seizures.

What are the symptoms you should look for?

It is important to understand that the grade of the seizures varies from minor seizures to uncontrolled grave seizures. It is commonly observed in young children and older adults.

Common symptoms observed are :

  • Falling to the ground for no apparent reason

  • Periodic chewing movement for no reason

  • Unresponsiveness for a short period of time

  • Sudden jerking movements of hands or legs

The generalized form of seizures occurs due to the involvement of a larger part of the brain by the disease leading to uncontrolled muscle spasms, stiffening of the body, tongue bite, loss of consciousness etc. With the experience of the first symptoms, you need to immediately visit a neurologist and get yourself tested for epilepsy. Doctors will advise certain diagnostic tests after physical examination such as EEG, MRI Brain Scan, CT scan or PET scan.

What is the treatment for Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic disease and its treatment varies with the severity of the symptoms. With advancing research in neurology, doctors are trying to find better options for curing epilepsy.

Primary treatment consists of anti-epileptic medications. The dosage & frequency of the intake of these drugs is as per the prescribed amount by your neurologist. If the severity of seizures is high, surgery is the next best option where the part of the brain with the seizure activity is resected. Managing the anti-epileptic drugs post surgery is critical and they need to be weaned instead of sudden withdrawal. This is a continuous area of research in medical science and is still evolving. Additionally, a diet which is low in fat and high in carbohydrates is generally recommended for the patients with epilepsy.

Psychological counselling is a great help to motivate epileptic patients to fight the social stigma associated with the occurrence of uncontrollable seizures. If diagnosed with epilepsy, being treated by the best neuro specialists can bring about results that help patients live an almost normal life.

AIDS and the stigma revolving around it

AIDS and the stigma revolving around it

Did you know that nearly 2 million people in India are the victims of AIDS disease? AIDS is an immunodeficiency disease acquired from bodily secretions of a person carrying HIV virus through infected needles, unsafe sex or from infected mother to baby. The virus attacks the body’s immune system and diminishes its ability to resist infections.

The symptoms of AIDS include :

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Serious infections such as Pneumonia

Precautions to prevent HIV infection

  • Avoid coming in close contact with the blood or other body fluids of HIV carriers.
  • Avoid having sexual intercourse with people suffering from HIV and take precautions before sex.
  • Needle sharing is a strict prohibition as there is a direct entry of the virus through the infected needle.
  • Avoid close contact with infected cotton swabs, gauze pieces or any instrument used on an infected patient.
  • Pregnant ladies should get themselves tested for HIV virus as it has the ability to pass to the baby through the amniotic fluid or breast milk.
  • Medical professionals with a high risk of exposure to HIV should get themselves tested at least once as a part of the routine health check-up or more frequently in cases with higher risk factors.

The Stigma associated with HIV!

There always has been a societal pressure and stigma associated with the AIDS disease. HIV patients are often isolated from their local communities. This mostly stems from the concern of contracting the condition from the carrier. HIV patients are often discriminated at their workplace and many times there is an infringement of their confidentiality leaving them embarrassed.

How to deal with stigma & lead a normal life with AIDS

Yes, it is possible to lead a normal life with AIDS. Get in touch with your physician on a constant basis and take Anti-retroviral therapy as advised by the doctor without fail. Exercise and laughter therapy is the best remedy to cultivate a positive approach towards tackling the disease. Remember never take to alcohol consumption or smoking to deal with the social pressure. It only deteriorates the immune system further.

Government, corporates and local bodies need to come together and make joined efforts to spread a strong message across the society that AIDS doesn’t spread by shaking hands, hugging, or sitting next to the HIV patients. Workplace safety guidelines will encourage employers to hire HIV patients and non-discrimination policy will make the work environment free of harassment.

Building a strong spiritual foundation can help the patients surmount the physical pain. Support from the family members will act as an armour to shield against the HIV related stigma.