Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Is it the food or your genes?

Sometimes we get up in the morning, feeling that something is off, but not able to pinpoint exactly what! The stomach is growling, and anxiety levels seem to have risen just a bit. Chances are that you have fallen prey to the all-consuming, but not life-threatening Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal disorder that often surfaces in the form of bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and/or constipation. There are many factors that trigger IBS, but many studies that are being held on the topic are yet to come to a definitive conclusion. According to doctors, the common symptoms like tummy pain, excess gas, loose stools or constipation are typically managed by passing stool, regular exercise and by making slight changes in lifestyle and diet.

There are certain diet patterns that have been linked with IBS. So you can definitely provide yourself some relief by making certain changes to your diet.

Ensure to take the following steps to help relieve the symptoms of IBS -

- Medical practitioners advise including a lot of fiber in everyday diet to ensure correct bowel movement, which goes a long way in ensuring IBS does not surface.

- Eliminating foods that worsen the symptoms of IBS is also a great preventive step. So caffeine, alcohol, high-sugar foods, artificial sweeteners, processed and canned food products, bean, cabbage, broccoli and such items would have to be done away with completely.

- Another great way to keep the digestive tract in good health is to drink plenty of plain water.

- It would also be better to eat smaller and frequent meals rather than large portions.

- Lastly exercising for at least 30 minutes every day has also been shown to significantly help relieve IBS symptoms. It also helps with alleviating anxiety and depression which makes the symptoms worse.

Certain changes take place in the body that contribute towards IBS. These factors are something that people have no control over. It could be muscle contractions or inflammation in the intestines. There could also be certain changes in the nervous system that could misalign the function of the digestive system. IBS might also be associated with a surplus of bacteria in the intestines. Apart from that, genes also play a role. Those with a family history of IBS are more vulnerable to suffering from IBS sometime in their lives, than those who don’t. No matter what the cause is, with a little bit of care towards the body IBS can definitely be prevented. A daily record of what you eat and drink and some time in the gym would keep IBS away from you. Last but not the least, keeping stress levels to the bare minimum is also half the battle won.

ER & TRAUMA: Techniques to help you not faint at the sight of blood

The sight of blood often induces sickness and lightheadedness in many of us. Some may even pass out. The phobia is so common that it got a spot in the “Diagnostic and Applied Mathematics Manual of Mental Disorders”, one of psychiatrists’ reference books. A physical response to the sight of blood is completely natural, particularly for men. Below article explains the ways to trick the body into not feeling dainty, and why a cup of coffee can be better for you.

Fight or faint

Seeing blood sometimes means that you or another person is in pain. By reacting, an individual shows fellow feeling, which could be a good attribute. The trick is learning a way to condition or control your response.

Feeling sick could be a physiological response to worry, and therefore the connected mental and physical cues are doubtless a part of the organic process “fight-or-flight” survival mechanism. Within the body, the blood vessels dilate, vital signs start to drop and therefore the heart starts to slow. Then all the blood drains to your legs and you end up feeling lightheaded and nauseated.

By fainting or nearly fainting, your mind is making an attempt to free yourself-as in flee-from matters.

Women and youngsters

Women tend to be less sensitive than men concerning blood, particularly those who have given birth. Kids usually have strong physiological reactions to blood; however they can be talked out of an anxious episode through positive reinforcement. “For kids, we tend to tell them to be strong and then reward them for bravery”, many parents have quoted. Repeated exposure by adults to their kids will scale back their reaction to blood. This is because, through repetition, the brain becomes less stressed.

Many ways to overcome fainting:

Medical students come back up with several ways to beat their nausea at seeing bloody wounds and hemorrhaging patients. Some prefer to distract the mind with victimization techniques like rocking from side to side or running through numbers or time tables. Before seeing blood, they could speak themselves out of any potential anxiety by visualizing ahead what’s about to happen. Even regular folks will begin to dissociate themselves from the sight of blood in this manner. And eventually you’re conditioned to not react.

A sugary, caffeinated drink can help before an interaction with blood. The caffeine can slightly raise vital signs, serving to counteract the body’s own blood-pressure decline. And sugar can stop the light-headedness that may be brought on partly by a hypoglycemic condition. It’s advisable for people when they’re on the point of seeing oozing blood to eat food and drink water ahead, since dehydration and low glucose will heighten the symptoms and result in fainting.

Another technique that seems simplest is named applied tension, which works best along with self-exposure program. To learn applied tension you need a therapist. As you begin feeling light-headed, you tense the muscles in your arms, legs, and abdomen for ten to fifteen seconds to lift your vital signs and avoid fainting. Once you’ve got perfect applied tension, the therapist exposes you, step by step, to the things that trigger your phobic neurosis.

You can also learn to raise your blood pressure levels, usually by tensing and squeezing your large muscles, which makes it tougher to faint once you are on the point of having an injection, or to check some medical textbooks with illustrations. Interestingly, systematic tensing of muscles is just the opposite of relaxation. Relaxation may be useful for many phobias and anxiety issues but just isn’t a part of the treatment for blood phobia!

The mouth and nose connection

Does it ever happen that any ailment of the throat seems to magically affect the ear and nose too? Or the nose starts dripping, and somehow we realise that the throat has gone for a toss too. Don’t worry, it’s not just your imagination and there is nothing surreal about it. It’s just that our ear, nose and throat are intricately connected, and this is why, when something affects the ear, you find that it also affects your nose and throat, and vice versa.

The ear, nose, and throat are part of the upper respiratory system and they share the same mucous membranes. They have to work in sync in order to keep the other natural bodily processes going. Not just that, they are also in extremely close proximity to one another. So when an infection, inflammation or allergic response occurs in one of them, the other two can’t help but show discomfort.

The air pockets or passages in our sinus cavities are connected with the throat and ears. It is this network between ear, nose and throat that expresses its close connection once the sinus passage gets congested during infection or inflammation and that in turn leads to mucus accumulation. The exchange of fluids between the ENT network becomes more rampant as a result of excessive mucus discharge which why a common cold generally transforms into difficulty in swallowing, or even a painful ear infection.

Since these parts are so interrelated, and infection in one often leads to infection in the other, the symptoms and cure are also often the same. While mucus generation in the ENT network is good as it helps to fight bacteria and protect the sensitive tissue areas, more than usual amount leads to drainage and facial pain which can in most cases be avoided.

First and foremost, avoid going to a regular doctor everytime an ENT infection strikes. An ENT specialist would definitely be able to help you better. Make sure that you have a diet rich in zinc, vitamin A and C which will act as protective barriers to fight viruses and other infection causing foreign agents. Once you do get infected, avoid loading yourself with medication immediately. Inhale steam that will help to clear the sinus and provide relief. For faster results, add a couple of drops of peppermint oil or water and then inhale this concoction.

Most ENT problems can easily be cured with medication. We realise how important the ENT system is only when we fall ill. So if chronic conditions like congestion, breathing sleeping problems and chronic cough have been troubling you, it definitely is a cry for help!

COSMETIC DERMATOLOGY: Everything you need to know about chemical peeling!

Skin problems like sunburnt skin, acne scars, hyperpigmentation or any other scars at times can cause lack of confidence. If you have skin problems, then you must consult your dermatologist rather than trying to solve them at home which in turn could worsen the problem. In early 2000s new skin-resurfacing lasers pushed back the chemical peel treatment but it is back on the top of dermatologists’ list. A lot of folk are using them currently than ever before. Chemical peels can deliver sure shot skin benefits—like reversing marks of breakouts, erasing pigmentation and even wrinkle lines —better than hi-tech devices. By taking out the surface cells, they improve fine lines, acne, discoloration, and more and they work for all skin sorts and colours—usually for a fraction of the price of flashier choices. A medium-depth chemical peel could value a 3rd of laser treatment and offers better result with a single treatment. This technique also helps to reduce crow’s feet, aging skin, sagging skin.

This blog aims to explain the simple process of chemical peeling and what you can expect from the treatment. A chemical peel is a technique in which chemical is applied to the skin that causes it to exfoliate and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is smoother and fewer wrinkles than the previous skin. There are 3 types of chemical peels:

Superficial or Lunchtime peel: Alpha-hydroxy acid or another delicate acid is applied to the outer layer of skin to carefully exfoliate it. The treatment is used to enhance the look of delicate skin discoloration and rough skin and also to refresh the face, neck, chest or hands.

Medium peel: Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is applied to penetrate the outer and middle layers of skin to get rid of broken skin cells. The treatment is used to enhance age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It’s also used to smoothen rough skin and treat some malignant tumour skin growths, i.e. actinic keratosis.

Deep peel: Trichloroacetic acid or phenol is applied to the middle layer of skin to deeply penetrate in order to get rid of damaged skin cells. The treatment removes moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. The procedure is employed on the face and can be performed only once.

But before getting a chemical peel, a thorough analysis by dermatological surgeons is necessary before deciding on a chemical peel to see if you are a candidate who qualifies for a chemical peel. The criteria for recommending a chemical peel are quite simple. The procedure isn’t recommended for people with infections, active skin conditions, cut or broken skin, sunburns or active Herpes simplex open sores. Other conditions include:

  • Nursing or pregnant.
  • Have taken Accutane in last six months.
  • Have skin disorder, eczema, or acne rosacea.
  • Have used Retin-A, Renova, prescription skin care merchandise, merchandise that contain antioxidants, bleaching or skin-lightening agents or different acid-based merchandise within the last forty eight hours.

Are chemical peels painful?

Chemicals peels sting however are not painful. The gentlest peels use alpha-hydroxy, glycolic, beverage or fruit acids. They’ll cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting but as the skin begins to regulate all these issues will reduce.
Trichloroacetic acids are used for stronger peelings. They take away wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigmentation issues. Phenol is the strongest of all treatments and removes deep lines and wrinkles on the face. These form of treatments sting more over those with the gentler acids.

All peels need some follow-up care:

  • Superficial peels need one to seven days to heal. Treated skin is initially red and may scale. Lotion or cream is to be applied till the skin heals, followed by daily use of ointment. Makeup will typically be worn next day.
  • Medium peels need seven to fourteen days to heal. Treated skin is initially red and swollen. Skin should be soaked daily for a specific amount, followed by ointment application. Antiviral medication is taken for ten to fourteen days. Delicate lotion or cream could also be applied. Avoid all sun exposure till healing is complete. A follow-up appointment is necessary to observe progress.
  • Deep peels need fourteen to twenty one days to heal. The treated space is bandaged. Skin should be soaked 4 to 6 times daily, followed by ointment application for the primary fourteen days. Afterward a thick moisturizer is applied for next fourteen days. Antiviral medication is taken for ten to fourteen days. Delicate lotion or cream could also be applied. Avoid all sun exposure for 3 to 6 months. Subsequent follow-up appointments are necessary to observe progress.

Squint eyes and their remedies

Have you been in a situation where you are talking with a person but they seem to be looking elsewhere? This could have been due to squint eyes, one the most common eye problems worldwide, and usually treatable depending upon the kind of squint.

Squint is an eye condition in which the eyes do not look in the same direction. It usually occurs in children. The muscles which control eye movement lose balance causing the squint. Many people believe that squint is a lifelong condition, and can seldom be treated. However, that is not the case. To be particular, squint happens when the visual axes of the eyes fail to meet at the object. Squint in children is normally attributed to genetics and hereditary causes. Sometimes it is hard to figure what actually causes squint eyes. In adults squint eyes may be caused due to cerebral palsy or stroke. People can also be effected with squint eyes if they have lazy eyes or are farsighted.

Squint in the eye happens only part of the time, in one or alternates between two eyes. The squinting may turn in (converge), turn out (diverge) or sometimes turn up or down. Sometimes misalignment in the nerves that leads to a squint can also happen due to an injury.

The treatment for squint eyes depends on the severity and underlying cause of the squint. If a squint is caused due to lazy eyes, your ophthalmologist might prescribe wearing an eye-patch over your good eye to train your lazy eyes to work properly. Because the brain usually takes the image passed by the signal of the more stronger eye. The eye patch will make null the advantage and make the weaker eye work harder and correct itself.

Other treatments include:

- eye exercises

- eye glasses that help correct the problem with the visual axes of the eye

- use of prism glasses which can cure double vision as the images are realigned into one complete whole

- surgery, this step is taken to ensure a lifelong cure and gives good results if done early

- sometimes certain issues with eye muscles of neurons can be corrected with medication too

As with most medical issues, early diagnosis and treatment is by far the most effective way to change a squint back to normal. If you or a family member suffers from squint eyes, know that there are treatments and that nobody has to live with a squint with the right treatment.

Surgical options to counter infertility in women

The human’s body anatomy is complex and can be disrupted by various conditions. These conditions lead to malfunctioning of certain processes happening in the body, like inhibiting a woman’s successful pregnancy. Infertility in women is a common occurrence, and the course of treatment can be both surgical or non-surgical depending on the cause.

There are various surgical procedures that can cure infertility. The call on which procedure to choose is taken by the doctor when they get to know the cause and extent of infertility. The most common conditions in women that lead to infertility, and that require surgical intervention are uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, diseased fallopian tubes along with other minor ones that hinder normal egg development. The most commonly employed surgical methods include laparoscopy, hysteroscopy and microsurgery.

Laparoscopy is an outpatient surgical procedure in which a narrow fiber optic telescope is inserted through an incision near the navel. Cysts in the ovary are commonly removed laparoscopically. Removal of fibroids or any other kind of pelvic adhesions that restrict blood flow is also done by this procedure. A fallopian tube blockage which typically prevents successful conception is also treated through laparoscopy, otherwise through microsurgery. Fertility problems may also develop due to endometriosis, and this condition in which the tissue lines outside the uterus is also handled by the same means!

Sometimes, hysteroscopy may also be employed to take care of intrauterine adhesions or fibroids that cause infertility. During hysteroscopy, a telescope is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to cure any abnormalities. Both laparoscopy and hysteroscopy are outpatient procedures and hence less invasive.

However, most tubal procedures that are undertaken to cure infertility require microsurgery. Sometimes the situation so occurs that even cysts or fibroids may require surgery for removal. In cases of severely blocked fallopian tubes, the doctor may advise to skip surgery altogether and have in vitro fertilization as a means of conception(IVF). Salpingectomy entails removal of part of a fallopian tube as a result of a buildup of fluid. Salpingostomy is done to create a new opening in the tube closest to the ovary when its end is blocked by the buildup of fluid. Sometimes part of the tube closest to the ovary has adhesions or scar tissues so normal egg pick up is prevented. This is corrected through Fimbrioplasty. Reversal of a fallopian tube sterilization procedure called reanastomosis is also performed at times by re-connecting the two ends of the fallopian tubes.

The recovery time for the patient depends on the severity of the condition for infertility, as well as the presence or absence of other fertility problems. Treatment of the underlying disease is imperative as soon as possible and surgical options to cure infertility in women are now more common than ever thanks to advancements in medical technology.

Menstrual cups – The Holy Grail of feminine hygiene products?

That time of the month is one of the most excruciating for many women. On top of the pain, women have to ensure that their bleeding does not stain their clothes and the odour is hidden perfectly. This presents them with a conundrum, what type of feminine hygiene product to use that will ensure the above criteria are met.

At present, the most widely used feminine hygiene product is the sanitary pad. Though many women across India are still using cloth, the need for a more hygienic option is slowly taking root across the masses. Another product is the tampon, but in India, its consumer base is relatively small compared to sanitary pads. However there is one product that many women still don’t know much about, and one that seems to have more pros than cons. This product is menstrual cups. A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped product that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. It stores the menstrual fluid and thus preventing it from leaking onto clothes. The small, flexible cup is generally made from latex or silicone, and instead of absorbing the liquid like a pad or tampon does, it catches and collects it.

It takes women a cycle or two to correctly place it, but once done properly it can collect the fluid for up to 12 hours, unlike conventional methods that need to be changed every few hours. The reusable varieties can last up to a decade, and that is also one of the pros. Once it is filled, all that is needed to be done is empty it, wash with soap and water and replace. So the eco-friendly qualities notwithstanding, it is also light on the pocket, and easy to use. Since the cup forms an airtight seal, it holds more and is also good for overnight protection. There is also less odor. The biggest pro that is attracting more and more women towards menstrual cups is that it is reportedly safer to use than a pad or tampon. There would be no chafing or rash, and the occurrence of bacterial infections in the form of toxic shock syndrome would also be minimal.

Sure these cups can get a bit messy to handle, but they encourage the woman to engage with her body and that normalises menstruation to an extent. The idea is not to be ashamed of period blood, or feel that there’s a need to run away from it. The cups come in different sizes, according to the age and flow. However, according to a 2011 study, these cups can induce irritation to the point of discomfort for the woman, hence it is important to sterilise them between cycles, and empty them at least twice a day.

No matter whatever be your product of choice, to each their own. But the fact that women have been internalised to see their period as ‘unhygienic’, or ‘dirty’ poses a bigger threat than the ones posed by using pads or tampons. Keeping all these social stigmas aside, the recent trends in sanitary products shows that the use of menstrual cups is definitely increasing as more and more women are getting educated about its advantages!

Fever in kids – what you need to know

Fever in kids can be extremely troubling and scary for the parents. You think you have been taking all the precautions, but your child still develops a fever. Fever in kids is extremely common and most often treatable. Here’s everything you need to know about fever in kids so that you know when to relax and when to take medical help.

What causes fever?

Fever in itself is a symptom, not a disease. Fever is a normal way for a child to fight an infection. The first step would be to check your child’s temperature with a thermometer. In case of mild fever, make sure your kid has lots of rest and fluids and he/she would get better in no time.

Most fevers in children are caused due to viral infections. It could seldom be bacterial, but if it is bacterial fever, it could be a matter of concern. Fever happens as a result of rising temperatures inside the body to kill the infection, which is why viral infections take their own sweet time to come down, and antibiotics seldom help. Other causes of high body temperature include immunisations but this should only happen within 48 hours of the process.

What should be done in case of fever?

If your infant is under 3 months and develops fever, go see a doctor. If fever persists for more than 5 days, it requires medical attention. This is because a viral or bacterial fever should naturally subside within 5 days. However if fever is more than 102.5 – 103 degrees, then seek medical help immediately. Sometimes kids are more cranky and miserable than usual and that could also require medical attention just to ward off any possibility of a dangerous infection. Checking for other signs would also help to diagnose how sick the kid is which is crucial for their quick treatment. If they are unresponsive, drowsy, pale, feel too hot or cold to touch or refuse to take liquids, along with a fever then report the symptoms to your doctor immediately.

The most important thing would be to not panic. Though that’s easier said than done, you as a caretaker have to try to remain stoic to take quick and rightful measures to make your precious one healthy again.

Precautions to be taken

However, just because kids are susceptible to fever doesn’t mean you can’t resort to certain preventive measures and protect your kid from infections. Since most fevers in little humans are caused due to viral and bacterial infections, everyday routine that takes care of personal and household hygiene would definitely help. Keep hands clean and wash with soap and water few times a day. Food should be consumed with clean hands. A balanced and healthy diet full of nutrients would also help in keeping any type of illness at bay. Avoid the spread of germs by covering mouth while coughing or sneezing. Last but not the least, make sure your kid has ample amount of sleep and rest time every day!

Arthritis – not just an old-age problem anymore!

Tharini was giving her house a thorough cleaning. That night she woke up at around 2 and couldn’t move. Her joints had swelled so much that it was painful for her to move without experiencing acute pain. A few months later Tharini was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). She was only 29 years at the time of diagnosis.

There are certain conditions that develop in the human body which an individual has no control over. Old age is identified as a period when such conditions aggravate, and one of the most common ones is arthritis.

Arthritis, or in other words the damage that sets up in the body joints has always been associated with aging. Yet now cases like Tharini have become quite common.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis traditionally means inflammation in the lining of the joint which makes it swollen and stiff. Thus a person experiences difficulty in movement, and even simple everyday activities seem painful – whether it is just changing clothes, writing a note, typing and even walking. Arthritis and old age have always been known to go hand in hand and factors like depleting calcium, wear and tear of ligaments and weak joints have been known to be the leading causes. But when such an ailment starts to seep into the youth, it is definitely something to take notice and ponder over.

Take for instance Tharini, she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis which is a debilitating autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and swelling in the joints and surrounding tissue at an age when people would mostly be concerned over lifestyle diseases.

Are youngsters prone to arthritis?

Against popular misconception, arthritis is not just a condition that one develops. Obesity, lack of an active lifestyle, injury to bones or muscles, hereditary defects in the alignment of legs etc. lead to early degeneration of muscles and cartilage around the joints. Thus even children and teenagers fall prey to arthritis, causing their lives to fall apart. In India, and worldwide, cases in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (or JIA) have been mounting. The main problem with JIA is that it is identified very late in the day, as early symptoms from children are ignored as a sports injury or other strenuous activity.

How can JIA be treated?

Juvenile means that the patient is of or younger than 16 years. Idiopathic means that the cause of arthritis is unknown. Arthritis means that one or more of the joints are inflamed. Over the age of 16 years, other types of arthritis may be diagnosed such as ankylosing spondylitis and adult rheumatoid arthritis. The problem usually starts with one joint at first, and then spreads. So next time your kid suffers from a painful ankle, achy neck or swollen fingers, do not sideline it completely.

An early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are what is needed next. Though there is still no cure for this condition, medications are prescribed to maintain joint movement and strength and pain or swelling is reduced so that the child can return to normal everyday activities as soon as possible.

The rise in younger patients suffering from osteoarthritis calls for increasing awareness in them about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Apart from timely diagnosis and treatment, it is also important to educate our young ones why it is important to walk, cycle and perform regular exercise!

SUPERFOODS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEART

It’s no surprise that all heart-healthy diets contain superfoods. After all, superfoods are nutrient-dense foods packed with vitamins and minerals. This is the new age and anything-super is automatically considered to offer something extraordinary. While that can’t be said about anything and everything, investing in superfoods is definitely going to be worth every penny as they are not just good for the skin, but they clear the digestive tracts and best of all, keeps the heart healthy.

GO NUTS!!

Nuts like walnuts, cashews and peanuts are a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids that help in protecting the heart and brain. Almonds, on the other hand, possess high mono-unsaturated fatty acids(good fat) and Vitamin E content. Both of them form a lethal combination to keep cholesterol levels down. Even peanut butter is prescribed on weight loss diets, but in moderation. Consuming nuts in a prescribed amount meets daily requirement of protein and fibre too, so it’s a win-win!

DARK IS NOT JUST A FAD

It is common knowledge now that dark chocolates are nutritious as well as delicious. Many studies all over the world have concluded that the high antioxidant content in dark chocolate has the potential to protect against health disorders like stroke, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and much more.

THE BIRDS HAD IT RIGHT

Chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds etc contain healthy fats that reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. Not only do they keep the cholesterol levels in check by lowering the triglycerides (blood fat) count in the body, but they also reduce the chance of blood clots in the arteries. Thus, the seeds mentioned above promote heart health on the whole.

THE POWER BREAKFAST

Oatmeal and other high-fibre diet are good for overall health as the person feels full for longer and binge eating is avoided. Oatmeal is especially good for the heart as it also helps to lower cholesterol levels. Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal is recommended by dieticians all over the world.

GREEN MEANS GO!

One can never go wrong with green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, etc. Green veggies are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and everything else that is good for your heart. Some of these are also rich in Folate that helps in prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

All of these superfoods can be easily found in any Indian kitchen. There is no need to splurge on non-native ingredients or supplements, in short, no need to take any drastic measures to keep yourself healthy. Apart from eating healthy, one needs to exercise and stay active. Last but not the least, meditate to keep your heart, mind and body strong.