Air Pollution as a cause of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Do you know someone who has been suffering from a long time cough and has breathing problems? If yes, then advice them to consult a doctor as there is a high probability that they might be suffering from COPD.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that leads to obstruction of airflow from lungs to the other parts of the body. It is caused by irritating gases and particulate matter in the air and can lead to other severe conditions such as lung cancer, severe emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

How air pollution contributes to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Air pollution has been a major environmental issue and a serious concern for public health in the entire country particularly in Bangalore where motor vehicle traffic and industrialization has increased rapidly. Globally, COPD is the third leading cause of mortality. The number of COPD patients reached a record of 7.3 Billion in 2015 which is huge.

Our lungs fail to survive the harshness of increasing pollution. Lungs contain tiny sacs called alveoli which help the body to pass on the oxygen from the air inhaled, into the bloodstream and also helps in pushing out the stale air out of the lungs. But the lungs of a person suffering from COPD are not able to perform that function. The stale air hence remains inside the body leading to damage to the alveoli and the airways get swollen and clogged with mucus.

Symptoms

-Sputum filled cough
-Chest tightness
-Excessive mucus in the morning
-Wheezing
-General body fatigue

These symptoms are not noticeable until the damage is done. It may be years before you start to notice the signs. So, when you get the slightest hint of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

What are the causes of COPD?

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoking. Passive smoking is equally dangerous. If you are not a smoker, you can get COPD from living with one. In developing countries like India where the amount of particulate matter/pollutants in the air is significantly high, the root cause of COPD is the pollution. Asthma and cigarette smoking is a deadly combination. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory airway disease. A cigarette smoker with Asthma has a higher risk of developing this disease.

Prevention & Cure

Although there is no permanent treatment for COPD, there are a few methods to ease the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

  • There are various nebulizers which are used to administer Bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are medications that help to relax your airway muscles, widen the airway and make it easy for you to breathe. Seek physicians’ advice before starting the medicines.
  • Cover your face with a mask when going out. Though a mask doesn’t provide adequate protection from minute particles, it still helps remove bigger size particulate matter in the air.

 

A few lifestyle changes can help you alleviate the symptoms or get relief. Quit smoking and avoid passive smoking to protect your family members from its consequences. Get healthy diet plan from your dietitian to get the nutrition that your body needs to fight the disease. Practice meditation to fortify your mind and develop a positive attitude towards life.

Peripheral Artery Disease – Symptoms and Causes

Peripheral artery disease (PAD), also known as the Peripheral Arterial Disease in simple words, is a blood circulatory problem where plaque starts to build up in the blood vessels as a result of which, blood flow to the limbs is reduced. Peripheral artery disease is quite common with people over the age of 65 but can also affect individuals under the age of 50 if the person has a history of diabetes or smoking.

When a person develops peripheral artery disease, the extremities of the body don’t receive enough blood flow. This causes a stingy pain in the leg muscles when walking. This is also called Claudication. This disease can also occur due to a widespread accumulation of fatty deposits in the blood vessels hence reducing the blood flow to your brain, heart, and other body parts.

PAD often goes undiagnosed and untreated PAD can be very dangerous as it can lead to immense muscle pain and in some cases, loss of the leg. Patients suffering from PAD are more prone to coronary diseases, stroke, and heart attack as the narrow blood vessels can stop the blood flow to the heart.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of PAD is the painful muscle cramping in your lower extremities such as thighs, hips, and calves while walking, climbing, or exercising as the working muscles need more blood flow than the resting muscles.

Other symptoms also include-

-Leg wounds that heal extremely slow

-Dead tissue

-Slow hair and nail growth on your leg and toes respectively

-Change in colour of the leg

-The weakening of pulse in the leg

-In some rare cases, erectile dysfunction in men

PAD needs to be taken seriously especially in people over 50 years of age as the leg pain is often dismissed as a sign of ageing. Sometimes diabetes patients also confuse the pain with neuropathy, a common symptom for diabetes patients. So it’s really important to understand the causes of peripheral artery disease in order to identify the symptoms.

Causes

There are a lot of factors that can increase the risk of peripheral artery disease in a person. It includes-

  • High cholesterol
  • Ageing
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of PAD
  • Obesity

But the most common cause of peripheral artery disease is atherosclerosis or in simple words, building up of fatty deposits or plaque in the blood vessels reducing the blood flow. People believe that atherosclerosis only focuses on heart but it can also affect the arteries in the entire body especially the lower extremities.

It’s better to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Quitting smoking if you are a smoker can help in reducing the risk of PAD. Eating foods that are low in saturated fats and exercising for about an hour every other day can also help reduce the cholesterol and blood sugar hence reducing the risk of plaque in the arteries. So eating healthily and living healthy should be the policy with the PAD patients.

What is Parkinsonism?

Ever wondered why does your granny have trembling hands and legs or the old uncle round the corner strolls around with a snail’s speed? That’s because they might be suffering from a chronic brain illness known as Parkinsonism, commonly observed in the people above 50 years.

So, what causes Parkinsonism?

Chiefly the causes of Parkinsonism can be listed as:

  • Inheritance of a few faulty genes from one’s parents
  • Medical drugs used for treatment such as Antipsychotics.
  • Brain infections caused by viruses, bacteria etc
  • Reduced blood supply to the brain such as due to Cerebral stroke or Brain tumours
  • External environmental factors like chronic intake of pesticides and airborne pollutants.

Neurologists are also of the opinion that this disease is not really a disease but just the effect of ageing on the brain.

Symptoms of Parkinsonism

Our brain is comprised of tiny structures called neurons. Whenever there is a reduction in the number of neurons or malfunctioning of these in the brain, patients exhibit decrease electrical activity in their brain. This inevitably results in slowing down of muscle activity. The uninterrupted irregular signals lead to abnormal physical movements. Neither a lab test or a radiological test is available to confirm the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s diagnosis usually takes longer time often done by an experienced neurologist on the basis of the signs and symptoms. Any blood tests advised are to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms. Below are a few symptoms of Parkinsonism:

  • Tremors in hands & legs
  • Slowing of gait
  • Stiffness in muscles
  • Slurring of speech
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty in urination
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Drooling of saliva
  • Feeling hallucinations

How can the Parkinson’s patients manage their disease?

Medications

Parkinsonism is an incurable illness but it can be managed on a daily basis by consuming medications such as Levodopa. This drug is used for more than 60 years for controlling the frequency of the tremors. Levodopa, when administered, finds its way to the brain through blood and gets converted into dopamine. Dopamine helps lessen the unwanted electric impulses and thus helps the patients with better control over their involuntary body movements.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

DBS is a surgical intervention for alleviating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This has been performed successfully in elderly patients with visibly reduced dependence on the medications for controlling tremors. A device is planted in the brain that can be controlled remotely. The aim of this device is to override the triggers produced within the brain and thus improve clinical symptoms. If the patients are willing to go under the knife, this surgery has already proven to yield better clinical efficacy.

A few lifestyle changes to enhance the quality of life of Parkinson’s patients:

Having a healthy diet provides necessary nutrition to the brain to fight the disease. Exercise boosts the immune system and keeps toxins at bay from further damaging the brain tissue. Reminders and memory aids can help the patients to go about their daily routine tasks with lesser dependence on others.

The miraculous advancement in the field of medical neurosciences has given a ray of hope for Parkinson’s patients. With increasing awareness, the patients today should take their neurologist’s advice to their advantage and bring improved vigour in their life.

How to Stay Healthy In The Holiday Season

People often say that there are only two constants – Change and Death. But they often forget about one other constant that is gaining a couple of pounds during the holiday season. Holiday season is for family, festivity, and food. Christmas is all about the delicious food and spending quality time with our loved ones. But sometimes this endless variety of food can tempt one to overeat. Temptations are everywhere, and parties and travel may disrupt the daily routines. So this post is all about how to stay healthy and stick to a diet plan while everyone around you is splurging on carbs. So here are 5 healthy eating tips during the holiday season:

1)Stay High On Protein:

Making protein your platter’s primary feature is probably the best thing that you can do to cope-up with the holiday season. High protein diets like fish, green vegetables, egg-based dishes, or slices of meat and cheese are more likely to satiate your stomach, even when taken in smaller amounts and you are less likely to overeat.

2)Don’t Deprive Yourself Of Sleep

If you have an adequate sleep of at least seven to nine hours per night during the holidays, it’s good for stress management, and it also creates an equilibrium of the craving for food and satiety hormones.

3)A Before And After Workout

Being active can be your secret holiday weapon as it can make up for eating more than usual and also reduces stress levels. You’ve got a lot on your plate so work out or just go for walks with friends or family after heavy holiday meals.

4)Meatless Meals

It’s undeniably tough not to have meat in your meals during holidays but ample researches show that plant-based diets promote health. So you can help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by going meatless for at least one meal of the day by adding some variety to your platter.

5)Eat When You Feel Hungry

A lot of people believe that skipping meals during the day might help them make up for the high-calorie dinner that they are going to have. That’s just another myth like “The Flat Earth” theory. It will typically lead to overeating.

So keep eating whenever you are hungry and have a balanced breakfast and lunch with half of your plate filled with green vegetables.

6)Stay Hydrated

Holiday meals are often combined with a lot of alcoholic drinks and it’s important for you to stay hydrated through the dizzy times. So mixing up your hard liquors with mixers like sparkling water can help you hack the booze calories.

7)No Regrets

This is the time of celebration and spending quality time with the loved ones so don’t get worked up this holiday season and go guilt-free while munching your favourites. Keeping a healthy diet during the holidays can make people anxious, so take a chill pill, relax and enjoy the time.

10 tips to stick to your health resolutions for the New Year

The New Year is ahead and we are all brimming with joy. Most of us plan our holidays and get ready with a list of resolutions to leave behind unhealthy habits. But, isn’t it an arduous task to alter your health habits for good and stay determined?

Here are a few tips you can use to prevent yourself from reverting back to the old unhealthy habits:

1. Start with smaller goals

Don’t strain yourself into keeping unrealistic and difficult goals. Follow the ‘SMART’ way. It refers to putting up smart, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals. For instance, it is infeasible to lose 15 kgs in a week or a month. So, start simple and work your way up.

2. The lesser the better

Start with about two to three resolutions and work towards those instead of trying to alter 10 health habits altogether. Don’t be harsh on yourself when you just begin.

3.Draw clarity

Your objectives should be clear and aligned with the values you appreciate. Don’t make impulsive or influenced decisions. You need to have a level of certitude, courage and clarity to accomplish whatever you wish to change in your unhealthy habits.

4. Keep track

You need to succinctly, pen down your health goals on a notepad. This way you won’t lose track of them. Add reminders such as alarms or mark your goals on the calendar.

5. Avoid triggers

Set aside the items that drive you away from your health goals. A strict discipline precedes all your efforts towards keeping up with the New Year health goals. If you have a hankering for junk food or sugary drinks, try to avoid exposure to these items and make no bones about saying ‘no’ when someone offers you an unhealthy treat.

6.Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness helps you to stay laser focused and live in the moment. It gives you the strength to be more resolute and scare away any future worries.

7. Reward yourself

We all need a motivation of some sort to keep us stuck to our goals. Every goal achieved needs to be rewarded. Treat yourself with your favourite food once in a while for your efforts to lose weight. It is perfectly fine!

8. Take help from a dietician

Healthy transformation requires perseverance and is a continuous process. So, don’t starve yourself day in and day out just for the sake of hitting the target of daily calories. Poor nutrition can have the opposite effect and actually backfire on your efforts, making you weak and pulling your morale down. Seek help from your dietician to support your health resolutions.

9. Avoiding addiction

Getting rid of alcohol or smoking addiction requires a lot more extra efforts. Avoid the company of people who insist that you engage in addiction of any form. If you already have a serious addiction issue and you resolve to abstain from alcohol or smoking, take assistance from a physician to deal with withdrawal symptoms. The journey isn’t easy but nothing is impossible.

10. Ask for help

It is easier to break a resolution than to make it. Don’t shy away from seeking help from your family members and getting their emotional support during this habit change period. Explain to them that you give the utmost value to these goals.

Slowly and steadily you will surely triumph over your unhealthy habits.

Stay fit while you enjoy your holidays

Vacation is the time when you prefer to be a couch potato all day and night and binge watch your favourite TV serials with a bowl of popcorn. Indeed, it is the time to relax and rejoice with your kith and kin. But often people spend holidays overindulging in unhealthy eating habits and being in a state of inactivity. This can dip your health graph negatively.

Here are a few tips to enjoy your holidays and stay fit at the same time:

You are what you eat!

Healthy eating needs to continue through your lounging period. The perks of healthy eating are numerous. For instance, if you want to hit the road with your family members, it becomes doubly important to be wary of what to consume. This will prevent the occurrence of food poisoning or diarrhoea. So, you are saved from the hurt of packing up your bags midway along the journey back to your home due to sickness.

No excuse for not hitting the gym

You must have noticed the flaccid changes in your body & the loss of tone, once you stop hitting the gym. Well! You can’t aim for a muscular Greek God’s body and not workout regularly even in the holidays. While travelling, you can still perform basic body exercises such as squats, lunges or push-ups after a proper warm up in order to stay fit.

Breath out the stress

Healing your mind goes hand in hand with your body care. Not to mention, yoga & meditation is the perfect route to keep yourself calm and collected to fully cherish the moments with your family. It helps to break the monotony for workaholics and lets them replenish the energy to start afresh with positive vibes after holidays.

Avoid alcohol intake

Needless to stay that the partygoers should consume alcohol with  caution when they hit the pubs in the holiday season to preempt alcohol poisoning. If you experience symptoms like confusion, delirium, blue-tinged face, falling body temperature etc, immediately visit the emergency room of the hospital to avoid any complications. Avoiding alcohol is the best choice as alcohol is deleterious to health.

Sleep well

Vacation is a great time for the sleep-deprived people to have a good sleep. A minimum of 8 hours of sleep is usually considered optimal for the body, particularly for active adults. Shake off the sleepless nights and avoid using mobile or other electronic gadgets at least 1 hour before you sleep. Also, avoid consuming heavy meals in the late evenings to prevent indigestion.

Keep yourself hydrated

Often in an inactive state, there is a tendency to drink less amount of water than the usual. Remember that it is essential to flush out the toxins from the body while it’s in a sluggish mode. Drink a minimum of about 2-2.5 litres of water every day. It also helps prevent bad breath.

These tips will surely help rejuvenate your body while you are on your holidays and keep it in good health.

Stem cell therapy is NOT a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

Could you imagine scientists working in the laboratories to regenerate the cells from the human body to treat incurable diseases like cancers, and now Parkinson’s disease?  Well, stem cell therapy is a huge medical research area which is often considered to carry the potential to treat multiple incurable ailments.

But, what is the success rate of stem cell therapy and is it really effective against Parkinson’s Disease!

Stem cell therapy

Stem cells are nothing but the parent cells. When transplanted into the recipient’s body these grow into the mature cells thus restoring the deficient cells which are critical for your body to run normally.

The Parkinson’s disease is associated with a dopamine deficiency in the brain. Though stem cell therapy has found success in blood cancer treatment or regeneration of corneal tissue in the eye, there is little evidence that dopamine-producing neurons could possibly be cloned inside science labs. Also, these cells are being tested on the human volunteers but with little clinical benefits.

Challenges in stem cell therapy

In the future, even if scientists observe distinct signs of clinical improvement in Parkinson’s patients, using the stem cell therapy, there are multiple other reasons that point to the decreased utility of this technology in a clinical setup.

  • Stem cell therapy is highly expensive and so unaffordability will be a major concern for the majority of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
  • There are chances of relapse of the treatment due to the mismatch issues between the donor’s transplant & the recipient.
  • Complications associated with the therapy such as rejection of the grafted cells by the recipient’s immune system leading to an immune attack and ultimate failure of the therapy.

So, why not use the proven methods?

 Medications are found to enormously decrease the tremors and other involuntary movements associated with the disease. Additionally, memory aids, problem-solving games and various other modalities help achieve a higher quality of life for these patients.

Many quarters of the medical field are selling the stem cell method to countless patients as a non-surgical effective way of curing Parkinson’s. The public should be careful of such promises, as they are counter-productive when it comes to treating Parkinson’s. As there is an increasing ambiguity surrounding stem cell therapy, doctors are considering safer techniques to provide symptomatic relief to the patients.

Tendonitis

Having a sore ankle or an aching shoulder just after the gym session? It can be more than just a regular muscle pain post workout. Often heavy exercises in the gym, sports activities or physically strenuous work can put a strain on the tendon, which is a dense tissue that connects the muscle to its adjacent bone. The inflammation of tendon is known as Tendonitis.

Symptoms of tendonitis

Tendonitis is characterized by inflammation of the tendon in the affected region. Symptoms include -

  • Pain in the affected joint
  • Difficulty in moving the joint
  • Swelling or lump in the area adjacent to the joint
  • Stiffness around the area due to swelling
  • A crackling sensation in the joint when an attempt is made to rotate the joint

Common activities which can lead to tendonitis:

Being sporty is one thing, but performing unguided workouts or indulging in sports without appraising yourself of the proper techniques & safety measures can invariably cause pressure build-up inside the tendon. This undue tension gets accrued inside the tendon resulting in inflammation or minor tears. In severe situations, extreme stretch can cause rupture of the tendon. Mostly, people who work jobs that demand arduous labour or sportspersons have to deal with tendonitis on multiple occasions. These people require special care during their work or during sports along with the information pertaining to workplace safety to prevent extreme damage to tendons. Generally, activities/sports such as Gardening, Carpentry, Strength training, Swimming, Tennis, Golf, Skiing etc can lead to tendonitis.

Treatment for Tendonitis

Visit a physician immediately to get a treatment plan for abating the inflammation. Consume painkillers as per the advice of the doctor. Apply cold ice packs in the affected area to soothe the pain. Take an ample amount of rest. Avoid ingestion of alcohol during the course of the treatment. Once the inflammation subsides, rehabilitation therapy can help you resume your normal daily routine. But be cautious and take baby steps so that you can recuperate completely. Avoid indulging in heavy workouts and other impactful activities to prevent relapse or further damage.

 Precautionary measures

  • Perform warm-up exercises before lifting heavy weights.
  • Take help of the gym trainer or your sports trainer to guide you through the proper techniques to prevent injury.
  • Avoid doing repetitive exercises to give your strained muscles a breather.
  • Wear sports shoes that are comfortable & cushion your feet effectively.
  • Maintain good body posture to prevent damage if your work requires lifting heavy objects.

Tendon gets less elastic and more prone to damage with aging, so a little more caution for the elderly would definitely help.

Deep Brain Stimulation – how it helps with Parkinson’s Disease

DBS is an advanced surgical procedure used for the treatment of patients with medically uncontrolled Parkinson’s disease. Over the years, it has been successfully used to decelerate the intensity of the tremors, muscle stiffness, impaired gait or other involuntary muscles movements

The principle behind the Deep brain stimulation(DBS)

DBS isn’t aimed to cure Parkinson’s disease because it is an incurable disease. But the DBS treatment is aimed to decrease the associated symptoms. It reduces a patient’s complete dependence on medications and helps achieve reduced levels of symptoms. DBS sends electrical impulses to the brain which overrides the tremor-generating signals in the brain.

The essential parts of DBS setup :

  1. A Pulse Generator
  2. Electrode inside the brain
  3. Extension wires from the electrodes linking to the pulse generator

Surgical introduction of the DBS :

Placement of a pulse generator:

The pulse generator is surgically introduced inside the chest usually under the right collarbone. The suprascapular region is especially used for the positioning of the Internal Pulse generator in obese patients as it is observed that their slack skin in that area rotates the device resulting in fracture of extension wires.

Brain surgery:

High-frequency electrode is planted inside the brain guided by the diagnostic tests like MRI and CT scan. This electrode bears extension wires that run behind the ear and pass down the neck to get connected with the pulse generator thus completing the entire setup. The electrode placement is usually preceded by the placement of the pulse generator. Then the pulse generator is introduced in the chest a few weeks later. Sometimes both the surgeries are initiated the same day.

Activities to avoid post surgery

It takes a few weeks to months to adjust your body to the newly installed DBS system. During the course of this period, avoid any rigorous activities or sports which can initiate complications. It is advisable to consult your neurologist on what activities to introduce post-surgery. Also, get abundant sleep to let your body heal.

Benefits :

  • Studies indicate that DBS helps successfully lessen the dyskinetic movements by around sixty per cent.
  • The stimulus can be controlled using the remote control device, on the basis of the progression of the disease.
  • DBS significantly reduces the number of medications for Parkinson’s patients.

Side effects of DBS:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Feeling of confusion
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Infection post surgery
  • Hardware dislocation

Deep Brain stimulation has a variable success rate. This entails a discussion with an experienced neurosurgeon who can effectively guide you through the procedure and describe its pros and the cons.

How to keep infections at bay during winter

What is the most discussed topic in the winter season? Your first guess would probably be Christmas and shopping, but well, in fact, the cold and flu is one such topic that floats around during this season the most!

With plenty of festivities in the pipeline, it is most often an unsaid rule that you’re ought to be offered with delectable sweetmeats, drinks and beverages in accordance to the celebrations held. It might be extremely difficult to turn down some of these festive foods and beverages, ergo making yourself more susceptible to catching a cold or developing a fever! What you must know that, as much as these celebrations are a part of your social life, they are potential threats to your health. It is thus important for you to undertake some measures to ensure that you do not fall prey to the viruses and infections causing cold and flu.

As it is most commonly advised, “prevention is better than cure”, which is what this article guides you in the implementation of some of these preventive methods to help keep infections at bay during winter! Some of the below mentioned points though pose to be redundant in nature but are in fact, one of the easiest and most effective measures to take. Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind, this season:

Stay covered, stay warm
Unless you are craving for some unadulterated consumption of Vitamin C and D, there’s no need for you to bare your skin to the environment! Keep yourself shielded against the chilly winds and teeth-shattering shivers in the evenings by wearing comfortable, knitted or woollen clothes. Shivers are known to disrupt your natural immune system making you more vulnerable to catching a cold.

Reduce physical contact
This might come as a surprise to you but reducing your proximity to people, in general, helps reduce the chances of catching a cold infection or virus drastically! It essentially helps to guard you against catching any form of illness that could be passed on by others you come in physical contact with.

Minimal heating only
Going by the fact that you are likely to feel cold and using some sort of measure to provide yourself with some external heat looks like the best option to opt for but it isn’t! In reality, exposing yourself to direct and prolonged heat can disrupt and dry out your natural mucous lining in the nasal passages making it difficult for you to breathe normally; further aggravating your chest congestion, wheezing and breathing.

 

Sleep it off
You need to sleep it out! The weather might make you feel drowsy or groggy but the easiest way to get over this sensation is simple. You can fix that by sipping a warm glass of water stirred in with a little bit of honey before you sleep.

Vitamin C, Garlic & honey
It is important to take a few precautions in the form of the food you take. Apart from refraining from having excessive ice-based drinks or desserts that are too cold, you must also consider consuming some things that are likely to protect you and help aid in the reduction of cold and flu. Foods that are citric in nature, with Vitamin C, garlicky foods or raw garlic in general help reduce cold and relieves chest congestion. Honey mixed with other warm beverages also help prevent or cure a sore throat and cold.

There are plenty of ways in which you can guard yourself against the most common and highly dreaded infection season and its consequences; these are some age-old, tried and tested ways to keep infections at bay through the winter season. You can always try out more new and innovative measures to cure yourself of the clutches of cold, as each person’s immune system and the body responds to different preventions differently!