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 Some children may have normal development in the early years and then become withdrawn or aggressive.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.