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.

 

What are the challenges patients face after going through Joint replacements?

There are millions of people in India today who require joint replacement surgery and millions more who have already undergone the surgery. The most common joint replacement surgeries performed are total knee replacement, total hip replacement and shoulder joint replacement surgeries. These surgeries are advised by an orthopaedic surgeon when medicinal treatment or other non-surgical methods fail to provide relief to patients suffering from Osteoarthritis, infection of joints or trauma to the joints.

If you are planning to get a joint replacement surgery, it is important for you to understand some of the commonest challenges multiple patients face after a joint replacement surgery :

Post-surgery complications:

  1. Infection

  2. Blood clots

  3. Deep Vein Thrombosis(DVT)

Recurrent pain complaints

Pain and swelling in the joint area usually indicate infection. But recurrent pain without swelling in the replaced joint is often caused due to undue pressure on the new joint. This gets worsened if a patient is obese and has limited to zero physical activity.

Medium to High anxiety levels:

Implant placement inside the body is usually not well accepted by many patients. Sometimes they feel low in confidence and believe that they won’t be able to go about their normal routine or perform daily tasks. They fear to cause any harm to the new joint implant.

Solutions to deal with the challenges after joint replacement surgery:

Majority of the patients have long term success with implants if they continue with the advised physiotherapy plan after their surgery. Physiotherapy increases the flexibility and range of motion in their joints.

One in 100 patients can develop an infection in the wound or around the joint implant. A patient will display symptoms such as swelling around the joint, pain, fever and chills. Normally such patients require a repeat surgery to cure the infection.

Physical exercise is the best remedy to prevent the formation of blood clots after surgery. It is essential to follow the advice of your doctor on the frequency and duration of anti-clotting medicines after surgery. DVT is a serious complication which needs to be avoided at any cost. Patients are usually at risk of developing DVT within 2- 10 days after surgery. This happens when a blood clot formed in the joint spreads to veins in arms or legs causing obstruction. In severe cases, it can spread to the major veins in lungs causing breathing difficulty. Doctors put patients on anti-clotting medicines such as Heparin, Warfarin etc after joint replacement surgery to prevent such an incidence.

Every bit of exercise counts after the surgery. It will prevent weight gain and improve flexibility in muscles around the joint. Recurrent pain due to heavy pressure on joint will subside if you continue physical therapy.

Getting plenty of rest to ward off anxiety and depression after the joint replacement phase is essential. Taking medicines on time, performing exercises, eating a healthy diet to gain strength and improve stamina is also extremely important. With an improvement in physical health, you will automatically observe changes in your mental health too. Stay strong and take support from your family members during the healing period.

All you need to know about Brain Aneurysm- a Blood vessel disorder!

When there is a bulge or ballooning in the weakened area of the artery, it is called an aneurysm. It can develop anywhere in the body, however, the most common occurrences are in the abdominal aorta and the brain. Brain Aneurysm is also called an intracranial or cerebral aneurysm.

Brain Aneurysm usually occurs between the underside of the brain and base of the skull. They remain asymptomatic unless there is a rupture and can remain undetected for years. There is always a risk of an aneurysm leaking or rupturing causing life-threatening bleeding inside the brain that can lead to a hemorrhagic stroke.

A hemorrhagic stroke is quite serious and requires immediate medical intervention. It can cause:

  • Reduced blood flow to the brain (cerebral vasospasm)

  • An increased presence of spinal fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus)

  • Coma

  • Permanent brain damage

Symptoms of a ruptured Brain Aneurysm include:

The prominent symptom is an intensely painful headache along with the loss of consciousness. Other symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Drowsiness

  • Balancing issues

  • Stiff neck

  • Drooping eyelids

  • Confusion

A leaking aneurysm can present with a sudden and extremely severe headache.

An unruptured aneurysm will not present any symptom especially if it is small, but, a large one that exerts pressure on brain tissues and nerves can cause a dilated pupil, pain behind one eye, changes in vision, double vision or numbness on one side of the face.

What are the causes for a brain aneurysm?

The reasons that cause weakening of the blood vessels and leads to aneurysm is unknown. There are some external factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or drug abuse that can weaken the artery and increase the risk of developing an aneurysm.

It is to be noted that it occurs in adults than children and is more common in females when compared to males. A family history of brain aneurysms is also a contributing factor.

Treatment for a brain aneurysm

If the diagnosis is an unruptured brain aneurysm that is small in size, then active observation and lifestyle changes are recommended.

In the case of a ruptured aneurysm, surgical intervention is required. Doctors recommend treatment based on the location, size and type. The two mainly recommended course of action are:

  1. Surgical clipping: In this, a section of the skull is removed to locate the aneurysm. A metal clip is used to cut off blood flow to the aneurysm. The skull is then sealed shut.

  2. Endovascular coiling: In this, tiny platinum coils are sent through a catheter. These coils stop blood flow to the aneurysm. Although this process has less risk than clipping, there are chances of rebleeding.

In the case of a big aneurysm, where the above procedures are not possible, flow diverter surgery is recommended. In this, a stent is placed in the artery to divert blood flow away from the aneurysm.

 

What to expect during a Bronchoscopy procedure?

The word ‘scopy’ basically means an examination, observation, or having an insight into something usually with an instrument having a name ending with ‘scope’. A Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows the doctors to examine and observe the inside of our windpipe, lungs, and other main pathways into our lungs such as Bronchi. A tube containing a light and camera in front is inserted into our lungs through our mouth or nose to look for infections or diseases. Most Bronchoscopes are made with flexible fiber-optic material and the integrated cameras are compatible with colour videos.

Sometimes the x-rays and the CT scans can come out abnormal and show some signs of infection but not clearly. So to clear out the diagnosis, doctors refer the patients to get a Bronchoscopy in the following cases:

- Lung Disease

- Tumor

- Chronic Cough

- Infection

People with lung cancer are referred to an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS). An EBUS is a Bronchoscope with an ultrasound probe built in it which can help the doctors to determine the type of cancer patient is suffering from. In some cases, Bronchoscopes are also used to remove tumors and other obstructions in the air passages or lungs.

Although bronchoscopy is a simple, painless procedure, it’s important to follow the instructions given by the doctor before the procedure takes place.

- Doctors usually insist that the patient stops taking any blood thinning medications such as aspirin weeks before bronchoscopy is conducted.

- You’ll need to avoid eating or drinking for at least 6-8 hours before the procedure.

- Arrange for someone to take you home after the procedure as it is not safe to drive after a procedure which involves sedatives.

- It is important to follow specific instructions, especially concerning medication use.

The quick and painless procedure usually takes 30mins to an hour to complete. After the doctors keep the patient under observation for blood pressure and breathing for a few hours until the medication takes off.

Bronchoscopy is usually safe but in some difficulties can be developed by the patients in rare cases. He/she may develop breathing problems, infection, fever, pneumonia, etc. SO it is always recommended to look for breathing difficulties, chest pains, coughing up blood, etc after the procedure.

Role Of Exercise In Parkinson’s Treatment

Parkinson’s Disease

Do you know someone who gets sudden tremors, has developed an impaired body balance, stiffness in their muscles, or has started slurring recently? If yes, then you might wanna head to a physician as they might be developing Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects primarily dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. In Simple words, Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects the movements of our body parts causing sudden stiffness and tremors. Parkinson’s usually develops slowly over the years. The symptoms of the disease are not even noticeable during the first few years. The progression of the symptoms is different depending on each individual due to the diversity of the disease.

Our brain produces a chemical called dopamine which acts as basically a messenger. Sometimes the brain cells or neurons break down and die causing abnormal brain activity due to lack of neurons and lack of dopamine levels in the brain, leading to symptoms of Parkinson’s. In some rare cases, certain genetic mutations can cause Parkinson’s. Environmental toxins or the presence of Lewy bodies within the brain cells are some other causes of the disease.

There are many medications that can treat the symptoms and complications of Parkinson’s but none that can reverse or slow the neurodegenerative process that leads to disability in Parkinson’s.

Role of exercise in Parkinson’s

Exercise is important in Parkinson’s disease to help maintain balance, mobility, and the ability to run daily errands. Studies have shown that vigorous exercise helps in providing neuroprotective effects thus improving motor function, cognition, and quality of life in patients. Parkinson’s is a chronic disease which causes tremors, rigidity in muscles, slowed movement, and balance impairment. The risk of Parkinson’s increases with age and aging depends on muscle mass and function. So exercising can improve muscle mass, strength, and function.

Exercising can help in improving the mobility and balance of the body. Though tremors may not improve by exercising, it can help to improve the cognitive functions and endurance of a Parkinson’s patient. Different exercise programs can help improve different aspects such as strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and coordination.

People with PD who have participated in the regular exercise for longer than six months have seen significant progress and benefits. People with PD who exercise with intensity, experience greater benefits. Recent research indicates that high-intensity interval training may be more effective than longer periods of moderate intensity. There are various types of exercise programs to help patients with Parkinson’s in different aspects.

- Balance Exercises

These exercises aim to improve the lower body strength hence preventing the risk of falling by improving the balance.

- Endurance Exercises

Raising the heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time by running, swimming, and dancing can help in improving endurance by enhancing cardiovascular strength.

- Flexibility Exercises

Maintaining flexibility is important for patients with Parkinson’s. This can help in stretching and maintaining muscle movements.

Exercises don’t really increase the number of neurons or the amount of dopamine released by the brain but it does prompt the brain to use the dopamine more efficiently.

Early Signs of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

What happens when a person is unable to chew, speak or have muscle weakness in their hands or legs? That’s the depiction of a patient with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis(ALS). Patients with ALS have progressive degeneration of neuron cells of the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle of the body. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

What are the causes of ALS?

  • Studies suggest that genetic mutations are responsible for this disorder leading to progressive death of neurons.
  • Environmental factors such as infections, poor diet, occupational disorders etc, may be responsible for impacting the normal body mechanisms thus leading to ALS.
  • A chemical imbalance of messenger hormones in the nerve cells is also believed to cause this disruption of signals to muscles.
  • Many scientists strongly believe that the body’s own immunity attacks the nerve cells thereby killing them leading to ALS.

What are the early signs of ALS?

As the neuron cells are damaged, brain can no longer send signals to muscles to contract. This muscles tissue gets atrophied gradually. People in the age group of 55-75 years are usually affected by this disease. Men have a greater predilection towards this disease than women.

Early signs :

  • Muscle twitches
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slurring of speech
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of control in arms or legs
  • Constant fatigue
  • Uncontrollable bursts of laughter or crying

These symptoms can commonly be seen in other diseases as well. So, it is important to visit a physician when you see these signs instead of ignoring and taking these as normal body response to stress. A person with ALS becomes unable to perform the simplest of tasks like buttoning of shirt, toothbrushing or combing hair. So, it is important to diagnose it an early stage so that patients stand prepared to establish a little control over the symptoms before the disease starts to worsen.

Does it have any cure?

There is no cure to reverse the death of neuron cells. The medication therapy focusses on symptomatic relief. Medicines help to reduce spasticity and reduce pain.

Patients need regular physical therapy or aids to keep their muscles moving. Those with difficulty in speech can approach speech therapists to improve communication. As patients often have complaints of choking, a feeding tube may be required as the disease progresses.

Average life expectancy of ALS patient is two to 10 years after the diagnosis of the disease. In order to maintain a good quality of life, it is essential that patients practice meditation and yoga to strengthen their inner self.

No more scar or pain with Knee arthroscopy for recurrent knee pain!

After the age of 50, elderly often suffer from recurrent knee pain. This is due to the infections, trauma, regular wear and tear or natural ageing of knee joint tissues. These issues are commonly observed in overweight people as knees have to bear heavy weight of their upper body. This pain interferes with carrying out routine activities and thus reduces the quality of life.

On consulting an orthopaedic, your doctor may advise you to undergo Knee Arthroscopy, an advanced surgical procedure for getting rid of this recurrent knee joint pain complaints.

Knee arthroscopy is performed on patients suffering from:

  • Small meniscus cartilage tears
  • Damaged meniscus repair
  • Repair of damaged knee ligaments
  • Microfracture treatment for filling gap areas in knee cartilage etc.

Patients often continue to be in pain despite consuming medications, physical therapy or rest. All these modalities prove ineffective in treating chronic knee pain. Knee arthroscopy stands out because of its conservative approach to precisely diagnose and treat the underlying knee disorders.

Benefits of Knee arthroscopy over open surgery:

  • Damage to the tissues around knee joint is lesser
  • Faster healing is observed
  • Fewer stitches and a smaller scar
  • Lesser pain after surgery
  • Lesser chances of infection due to a small incision

How to prepare yourself for a Knee Arthroscopy procedure?

Before the operation

Visit your Surgeon to know what you need to do before undergoing the surgery. Your doctor may advise you to put a hold on taking certain medications like anti-inflammatory medicines or lose weight before surgery. These steps will ensure that you get the best outcome from your surgery.

On the day of operation

Avoid eating anything about 6-8 hours prior to surgery. Follow the reminders sent by your doctor or nurse. A nurse or a patient coordinator at OT will inform you when to arrive at hospital, which medications to take and when to stop consuming food or drink before surgery. In the hospital, a nurse prepares you for the surgery in a holding area near operation theatre. Your doctor will examine your vital parameters and perform a physical examination.

What to expect after undergoing a Knee Arthroscopy procedure?

The surgery usually doesn’t take longer than one hour. You need to inform someone from your family prior to the surgery to get you back home and be by your side for at least 24hrs. Your doctor will advise you not to put pressure on your legs immediately after the surgery. Keep your operated leg elevated for first 24 hrs.

Follow up with your surgeon to know when to get the physical therapy post-surgery. Exercises are essential for restoring the normal range of motion and flexibility.  If you feel anxious or have any complications such as infection, bleeding etc, immediately report to your doctor.

Causes for Shoulder joint replacement?

If you think shoulder pain is only limited to the elderly or athletes, think again! In fact, it’s one of the most common areas that people are affected. The joint where your upper arm connects to your body is a ball-and-socket joint. The bone in your upper arm is called the humerus bone that has a round end which fits into the curvature on the outside of your shoulder blade. Ligaments and tendons hold it together. The ball and socket allow movement in the arm and legs.

Contrary to popular belief, damage to this region is highly possible and causes immense pain and distress. Although shoulder replacement is not as rampant as hip or ankle replacement procedures; joint replacement surgery is considered to be one of the safer and more effective procedures to relieve shoulder pain. It also helps you regain mobility to resume regular activities.

What is shoulder replacement surgery?

In shoulder replacement surgery, the broken part(s) of the shoulder is carefully removed. They are then replaced with artificial components which are known as a prosthesis. Originally they were made of polypropylene, however, they are now made using lightweight carbon fibre.

Amongst the most effective treatments,  replacement of the humerus bone (ball), or the replacement of both the ball and the socket is preferred.

Various people of different age groups may develop severe conditions and witness situations where the shoulder joint needs to be replaced. Here are some of the causes or reasons that call for a shoulder joint replacement:

  • Damaged rotator cuff arthropathy
    Someone with a chronic rotator cuff tear can develop cuff tear arthropathy. Sudden shifts or changes in the shoulder joint may result in arthritis and disintegration of the joint cartilage.
  • Post-traumatic Arthritis
    This is a condition caused mostly post-injury. Fractured bones in the shoulders or ligament tears cause moderate to extreme pain, restricting the shoulder’s movement.
  • Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease)
    It’s a type of arthritis that’s typical with elderly people- results of wear and tear. People of the age range of 50 and above are generally who develop this condition. However, it may not be specific to age. It’s caused due to the wear and tear of the cartilage that provides padding to the shoulder bones. Pain and stiffening of the joint causes osteoarthritis. It’s also a common reason why people opt for shoulder replacement procedures.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    This condition affects the synovial membrane which surrounds the joint where it swells and thickens. Such chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage that results in disruptive movement and pain.
  • Osteonecrosis
    Avascular necrosis is a painful condition that develops when the blood supply to the bone is obstructed. Due to the lack of blood supply, bone cells die and can ultimately result in severe pain of the shoulder joint. This further leads to arthritis.

There is no defined way to guard yourself against shoulder joint injury, however, consuming calcium and potassium-rich foods can help strengthen your bones. Apart from that, avoiding extreme strenuous exercises must be avoided as it can increase the risk of damaged or injured bones. However, the only proven solution to treat such conditions is shoulder replacement surgery.

How to stay away from the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease which causes damage to various parts of the body and is responsible for causing joint pain. It is known to cause joint pain on both sides of the body which implies that if you have joint pain on one side of your limb, it is highly likely to affect the other side of your limb as well. This attributes makes the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis easier and helps to distinguish it from other types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis.

To relieve yourself from the pain caused by Rheumatoid arthritis, you must first be able to identify and notice the different kinds of symptoms associated with RA. To further enable you to identify the early symptoms of RA, we’ve listed them down below:

  • Mild to severe pain in the joint for prolonged periods of time

  • Swelling in the joints

  • Stiffness in the joints

  • Failure in the functioning of the joint

Symptoms might appear in an irregular pattern, however, it is highly recommended that you take immediate action when you identify them early.

Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis does not have a known cure or treatment, however, various treatments for RA are directed towards the control and management of the joint pain, inflammation and discomfort. The suggested treatment often involve:

  • Medications that are nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory like corticosteroids, acetaminophen

  • Homoeopathic treatments

  • Physiotherapy

  • Changes in the diet

There are several other ways to treat Rheumatoid by yourself especially to help control and feel relieved from the prolonged pain in the body. Here are some ways:

Get plenty of rest

It is highly recommended that you take a lot of rest, especially during flare-ups. This will allow the joints to stay rested and provide you with short-term relief.

Eat right

You must switch your dietary habits to a much simpler, calcium-rich diet to help strengthen your bones and keep you fit.

Avoid Vices

This is extremely necessary for you to follow- quit smoking and drinking alcohol as it will help restore your body’s equilibrium and not add to your pain caused by arthritis.

Hot & Cold Compression

Keep a hot water bag or ice pack handy at all times. Apply them from time to time to the affected area to aid the process of inflammation reduction and release muscles from spasms.

Exercise

As much as it is necessary to rest, it is also essential that you exercise your body from time to time. You must make sure to do some warm-up exercises to reduce the stiffness in your joints and also relieve yourself from muscle pain and spasms.

These are all the things you need to know about Rheumatoid Arthritis and the preventive or relieving measures that can help you combat the pain in your joints and body. RA might not have a definite cure but it can be combated with the right approach, dedication and motivation from you!

The link between depression and air pollution

The highly stressful times that we live in, it is natural to be overwhelmed and feel lonely or depressed. While a short span of these negative vibes can be taken in one’s stride, a prolonged experience of these symptoms can be a sign of depression. Symptoms of depression are varied and can include fatigue, indecisiveness, insomnia, feeling of guilt, weight gain/loss, changes in appetite, headaches, prolonged cramps, anxiety and in worse cases suicidal thoughts. Prolonged experience of more than five of the above symptoms over a period of time which may be interfering with your daily activities is a sure shot sign of depression.

Apart from the above symptoms, recent studies have linked air pollution to an increased instance of depression in the urban population.  Air pollution can be defined as the presence of different substances (pollutants) in the atmosphere. These can be gaseous pollutants like nitrogen oxides and dioxides, carbon monoxide or sulfur dioxide or particulate matter or even heavy metal pollutants like lead or mercury.

Air pollution and depression:

In recent times, there have been surveys and studies conducted in countries like the US and Korea that have shown a definite relation between depression and air pollution. The studies have shown that pollutants that can trigger neuroinflammatory responses in the central nervous system can lead to increased instances of depression. Another study conducted by Ohio State University showed that air pollution interfered with the development of the hippocampus area of the brain. This area is responsible for learning, memory and depression. These are clear evidence that links air pollution and depression.

 It is imperative to lessen the exposure to these airborne particles, to avoid its harmful impact. Here are a few steps that one can take :

  1. Disallowing smoking at home: Tobacco is the main source of indoor air pollution and restriction on the same is vital in maintaining good air quality.
  2. Keeping doors and windows closed: Restricting the air flow especially during peak traffic hours can help. This is recommended especially if you live beside busy and dusty roads
  3. Consider having greenery around you: Indoor plants and the presence of a garden in your apartment/home or the building complex can have a positive influence on the air quality.
  4. Use of air cleaning device: The demand for air purifiers have increased and this is an effective tool in managing indoor air pollution.

These are some ways in which the air quality can be maintained in a controlled environment like inside your home or workplace. With increase in pollution the air quality is decreasing and is a concern that has to be addressed on a global arena.