Habits to incorporate in our lives after COVID19 lockdown

COVID19 has brought the world to a standstill. Countries are in lockdown, travel has stopped. People are not on the roads. Indian went into lockdown on 25th March and the changes this brought about in how we live and operate were dramatic. People were standing far away from each other. Wearing masks and washing their hands often.

On April 14th, the lockdown was extended for another 19 days up to May 3rd. It was taken as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the virus. With strict measures in place, India may have avoided a huge health calamity. However, the end of lockdown doesn’t mean you can go back to your old lifestyle. Some habits have to be changed and some have to be incorporated to avoid further virus spread. Here are a few habits that can be incorporated into our lives for a healthy future. Until there is a cure for COVID-19, a vaccination, there are certain habits one has to ensure to take care of.

1. Personal hygiene

This one is for life. It is very important to continue washing your hands on a regular basis. It is also advisable not to stop the use of hand sanitizer for protecting yourself from the virus. Apart from these, make sure you take a bath after coming back from outside, before touching anything. Spitting outside, touching surfaces in public areas and blowing nose without cover, etc. should be completely avoided. You should also stop touching your face unnecessarily.   While vaccination and treatments are happening, good personal hygiene will help ward off any risk of infection, not just Coronavirus.

2. Masks 

Masks are the heroes of this period. Wearing a mask not only protects you from catching the disease but it also helps in stopping the spread, if you are a potential carrier. Mask also acts as a barrier between your hand and your face. Very simple cloth masks are essential. A mask is essential, think of it as your phone, wallet, or keys.

3. Learn to shop local

Lockdown might have taught us many things. The importance of food might be one of those lessons. Grow a small kitchen farm and start eating healthy if you have space. It is recommended to continue local shopping, at least for a while. Shopping local not only reduces your exposure to the virus but it also helps the local vendors to get back on their track financially.

4. Social distancing

The end of lockdown doesn’t mean that it is the end of social distancing too. Hugs and handshakes can wait. Let us stick on to namaste for a little more time because social distancing is crucial to avoid the spread of the infection.

5. Eat Healthy and calm your body and soul with exercise and meditation

Never go back to a lazy lifestyle after the lockdown ends. The world is healing and you have to continue your meditation to cope up with things happening around you. Similarly, adults are expected to have 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. Exercising and eating healthy foods not only help you in staying fit but it also helps in increasing your immunity

6. Quarantine yourself

Respiratory problems, cough, high fever, etc. are the usual symptoms of Covid19. Seek immediate medical assistance in case of these symptoms. It is also important to quarantine yourself to avoid the spread within the family too. Consult a doctor and follow their advice without fail.   Even in the future don’t write off a cough as an allergy; monitor your health and get tested.

Break the chain with your new habits. We have been united in this fight on Covid-19, but it is far from over. Staying ahead of the disease is the way to combat it.

Verifying truths twice: Health care in the age of Whatsapp forwards and Google search

With more than 2 billion users, WhatsApp has regularly been a conduit for fake news and information. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, WhatsApp has become a conduit for fake cures and conspiracy theories about coronavirus.

A plethora of false and unverified information has been spread amidst the global pandemic. Well-intentioned and fearful individuals are forwarding messages with misleading information. The cases range from warnings over made-up extraordinary measures the government might take to keep people in their homes to false numbers of deaths and the levels of preparedness of medical services. These kinds of posts have been shared in private chat groups from Indonesia to Nigeria to India. There has also been dissemination of false theories about  herbal cures and misinformation about the virus.

WhatsApp is different from any other social media because of its privacy. It is a messaging application meant for staying in touch with friends and family. Groups in Whatsapp have no public link and there is no publicly available data on how many exist, who’s in them or what their average size is. WhatsApp is susceptible to misinformation because there are a lot of things that circulate in specific circles of communication which cannot be tracked. Many WhatsApp users rely on it as a primary source of information.

Believing this information may prove to be detrimental. Therefore people are encouraged to verify the facts and then take necessary steps to curb its spread. On 20th March the World Health Organization launched a messaging service with partners WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from misinformation related to COVID-19. This application can be reached easily and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people who need it. The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer the questions related to coronavirus.

In the high-speed information free-for-all on social media platforms and the internet, everyone can be a publisher. As a result, citizens struggle to discern what is true and what is false. Therefore the onus of keeping WhatsApp clean largely falls on conscientious users reporting fake content to go government and fact-checking organizations. Therefore we urge everyone to stop sharing unverified information on WhatsApp groups and individual chats. These messages are scaring and confusing people and are hazardous during this time of crisis. We also urge people to verify and check any facts that are being circulated before implementing and acting on it.

Malaria, how the world has been able to control the disease

Malaria is a serious disease caused by plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called “malaria vectors”.  Malaria sometimes proves to be a dangerous and fatal disease.

Malaria has prehistoric origin as a zoonotic disease in the primates of Africa through to the 21st century. Malaria infected every continent except Antarctica. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2018, 228 cases million clinical cases of malaria occurred and 405,000 people died. As malaria causes so much illness and death, the disease is a great drain on many national economies. The disease is known to maintain a vicious cycle of disease and poverty.

According to WHO, Malaria is an acute febrile illness. Symptoms in a non-immune individual appear approximately 10-15 days after being bitten by an infective mosquito. Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, chills. They are often difficult to recognize as symptoms of malaria. If not treated within 24 hours, P. falciparum malaria can progress to severe illness, often leading to death. People get malaria after being bitten by female Anopheles mosquitoes. Only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria after being infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person. The parasite is found in the red blood cells of an infected person. It can be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or the shared use of needles or syringes contaminated with blood. It can also be transmitted from an infected mother to an unborn child. However, malaria is not transmitted from one person to another. One cannot get malaria through casual contact with a person.

Vector control is the only way to prevent malaria from spreading. There are two forms of vector control – insecticide-treated mosquito nets and indoor residual spraying. They are effective in a wide range of circumstances. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets, when used while sleeping, can reduce contact between mosquitoes and humans by providing both a physical barrier and an insecticidal effect. From the killing of mosquitoes on a large scale where there is high access and usage of such nets within a community can result in population-wide protection. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) with insecticides is another powerful way to rapidly reduce malaria transmission. Spraying the inside of housing structures with an insecticide, typically once or twice per year is recommended. To confer significant community protection, IRS should be implemented at a high level of coverage.

There are a number of anti-malaria drugs available for protection and care. Chloroquine, artemisinins, insecticide called DDT (DichloroDiphenylTrichloroethane), pyrethrum are all anti-malarial drugs. Use of chemoprophylaxis, intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine are also some of the recommended anti-malarial drugs used. Since 2012, WHO has recommended seasonal malaria chemoprevention as an additional malaria prevention strategy. Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease and prevents deaths. It also contributes to reducing malaria transmission. The best available treatment, particularly for P. falciparum malaria, is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) is the first and, to date, the only vaccine to show that it can significantly reduce malaria, and life-threatening severe malaria.

The permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of malaria infection caused by human malaria parasites as a result of deliberate activities is known as malaria elimination. Continued measures are required to prevent re-establishment of transmission.

First Aid First, making a basic first aid kit at home

First-aid is the first and immediate assistance given to any person suffering from either a minor or serious illness or injury, with care provided to preserve life, prevent the condition from worsening, or to promote recovery.  A well-stocked first-aid kit is a handy thing to have. We should always be prepared for emergency situations.

It is advised to keep a first-aid kit in your home and in your car. Always be informed about where to find a first-aid kit. You should also be aware about the location of the first-aid kit in your work-place. Whether you buy a first-aid kit or make one, make sure that you have all the necessities. The kits can be basic or comprehensive based on the medical proficiency and how far you are from professional medical help. If you are travelling, make sure to have enough medical sustenance for as long as you may be travelling.

You can make a simple and inexpensive first aid kit yourself. Home first aid kits are usually used for treating these types of minor traumatic injuries like burns, cuts, abrasions, stings, splinters, sprains and strains. Travel first aid kits need to be comprehensive because a drug store may or may not be accessible. The kit should have contents to be able to alleviate fever, nasal congestion, cough and sore throat. It should also contain items to treat cuts, mild pain, gastrointestinal problems, skin problems and allergies.

You can get all the items of the first aid kit in a well-stocked pharmacy. You can ask the pharmacist to help you with it. A household first aid kit should have at least 15 of the following items in it.

  1. Adhesive Tape

  2. Anaesthetic spray

  3. Sterile gauze pads

  4. Ace bandages

  5. Adhesive bandages

  6. Diphenhydramine – for allergic reactions

  7. Exam gloves

  8. Antibiotic cream

  9. Non-adhesive pads

  10. Pocket mask for CPR

  11. Resealable  oven bags as a container for contaminated items

  12. Safety pins both large and small

  13. Scissors

  14. Tweezers

In case of a medical or trauma related emergency, a list of family member’s medical history, medications, doctors, insurance company, and contact persons should be readily available.Try to keep your first aid kit small and simple. There should be multi-use items. Try to make it water-proof and drop-resistant.

Dealing with COVID-19 isolation, how to cope with it.

The circulating memes on the internet make us believe that staying at home is an easy task. But it is not always as simple as they portray, especially when we, human beings, are born as social creatures. So, to start with, it is completely okay to feel the way you do. Taking care of your mental health during this self-isolation period is as important as self-isolating. The thought of a virus outbreak alone can bring in stress and anxiety to people. Persuading someone to deal with all this alone might add up to their existing misery. Here are a few tips for you to deal with COVID-19 isolation.

1. Follow a healthy lifestyle

It is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle even when you are in isolation.

  • Eat healthy food. However, try not to overeat

  • Exercise daily. Meditating can help you relieve stress.

  • Get enough rest. Sleep at least for 8 hours a day. Don’t over-sleep.

  • Stay hydrated(This is very important)

2. Make your time worthy

“An Idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. When you are alone for long, you start to question the meaning of life. But once you engage yourself in something meaningful, your mind focuses on the right things. It is crucial to engage in activities to keep yourself and your mind busy during this period. You can rejuvenate your mind by embracing your hobbies. You now have time for everything you always wanted to do. You can start by redecorating your house or you can restart your drawing or you can even restart your instrument practice. Also, if some rest is what you were longing for, devote yourself to some self-care with body care, hair care, etc. Anyhow, make these days satisfying for you and your soul.

2. Stay informed

Stay updated with accurate and true news from credible sources. Staying well-informed can reduce your stress. Don’t fall for fake news. It is also important to reduce your media consumption, especially if you are already feeling vulnerable. Consumption of too much data from news channels, online content, etc. will feed your anxiety and fear and will adversely affect your isolation days.

3. Stay connected

Don’t let this isolation period break your social network. Stay connected with your friends and family through video calling and other social media. You can share your worries and anxieties with your loved ones too. This will reduce stress. You can also check on other people who live alone and talk about how they are coping up with the situation. It is also important to talk about things other than the virus outbreak to feel relaxed.

4. Avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol

The tendency to use smoking and drinking as relief is normal. But never fall for it. It will not help you in any way. It is better to avoid drinking and smoking during this situation as it may affect your mental health. Make sure you keep it under control if you do engage in smoking or drinking.

  5. Stay busy. But never forget to breath

To be engaged all the time is good during this period. But never take it too hard on yourself. Take time to breathe and enjoy the benefits of this period. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Enjoy your company and embrace peace. You should never hesitate to seek medical assistance in case you find it too difficult to handle

Feeling lost and anxious about the situation is normal. Sharing such grief and following the above tips will help you overcome this period. Be happy about the time you got. Make maximum use out of it. Stay productive and happy, because everything is going to be alright.

The right medication: The wrong pill is worse than no pills at all

Over-the-counter medications or home remedies might sound reliable as they are easy to get.
We tend to self-diagnose our symptoms and decide to take a pill for relief. Sometimes we find
the medications online by ourselves. Sometimes, we seek help from our friends or family
members who have the same symptoms. Other times, we decide to rely on pharmacists for the
medication. Each of these scenarios raises health risks. Ingestion of a wrong medicine or a right
medicine in the wrong dose can cause harmful drug reactions.

It is always advisable to take medicines only after doctor consultation. Sticking to a medication
routine, i.e, consuming medicines as prescribed at the correct dosage- the right way at the right
frequency is called the right medication. Any sort of divergence from this arrangement affects
your health adversely. The medical condition for which you take the medicine can get worse,
your organs can get damaged or even be fatal.

Other than these, wrong medication can also cause skin irritation, constipation, dizziness,
headache, insomnia, and a lot more. The side effects thus vary from minor to severe and
sometimes, it might even become life-threatening. The adverse effects of the wrong medication
arise from non-compliance or non-adherence of medication.

Sometimes wrong medication can happen even without your knowledge. A pharmacy can
provide you with the wrong medicines or alternatives. It is important not to fall for it. You must
have a clear idea of what your medicines look like in shape and colour to avoid pharmacy
mistakes. Avoid taking the alternatives to as the interaction of certain drugs can cause serious
health risks. You might be unaware of the drug reactions that can happen when these OTC
medicines get mixed up with your regular medications. All these harmful side effects of
medications bring us back to the importance of doctor consultation.

To avoid risks caused by wrong medication, you should always keep a track of the medicines
consumed, especially when you start a new medication. The unusual changes should not be
ignored and in such cases, the medicine intake should be stopped immediately. This alleviates
the risk of medications and stops it from getting worse. It is also necessary to take these
medication errors or unusual effects caused by such medications to your doctor without further
ado. Self-medication, over-the-counter medication, consumption of medicines in the wrong
quantity or frequency, home remedies, etc. can pose serious health risks starting from multiple
organ failures to even death. Seeking medical assistance for every medical requirement is the
only solution to avoid such risks.

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.

What is a TMT test?

Treadmill test (TMT) is a form of exercise test where a stress test is performed while the person is exercising on a treadmill during the course of an Electro Cardiogram (ECG). The purpose of a TMT is majorly to compare blood circulation in the heart when the person is resting and when under optimum physical pressure. Abnormal heart rhythms can be detected while exercising and therefore diagnose the presence or absence of coronary artery diseases.

The test involves walking on a treadmill while the electrical activity of the heart is being monitored. The speed and incline of the treadmill are increased throughout the span of the test. The result shows how well the heart responds to the stress of different levels of exercise. The blood pressure, heart rate and electrocardiogram (ECG) are monitored before, during and after the test. Adhesive electrodes and mild abrasion are used to ensure good quality ECG. The person is advised to walk as long as possible because the test is effort-dependent.  It is also important for the person to tell the technologist if he experiences symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness and unusual shortness of breath or extreme fatigue. The blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG are monitored for 3 to 5 minutes after the exercise. The data is reviewed by a cardiologist.

The patient is advised against eating or drinking anything other than water for nearly 4 hours before the test. If the patient is diabetic, he should consult the doctor on the quantity of insulin that can be injected on the day of the test. If the person is under medicine for diabetes he should only resume taking them only after the test has been administered. Comfortable clothes and shoes should be worn for the test.

A TMT is performed to identify a congenital heart problem like Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) where coronary arteries get clogged, diseased or damaged. It is also used to determine the condition of the heart after a person went through angioplasty or heart-attack. Shallow breathing, dizziness, chest discomfort, and abrupt bodily weakness are some of the repressed conditions that can be detected through a TMT. A TMT can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of medicines on angina and ischemia.  It also helps in discerning any abnormal heartbeat rate because of exertion caused by exercise.

TMT is now widely available at a relatively low cost. It is used to estimate prognosis and determine functional capacity. It helps in assessing the probability and extent of coronary disease.

Hygiene Check

Hygiene Check: How often should you clean, replace certain household items like bedding, toothbrushes, pillows, towels

Your home is where you eat, sleep and spend a lot of your time in. But how hygienic is your home environment? Do you take the time out to clean and replace household items or do you lay back and let filth collect in your home? A sweep and a mop are not enough to do away with household dust and the growth of bacteria.

Here is a handy list of everyday household items that you should be cleaning and changing at regular intervals:

1. Pillows

While you might be washing your pillowcases from time to time, the pillow is not given as much importance. When left unwashed, your pillow collects dust mites, bugs, dead skin and a significant amount of fungi as well. To avoid this, just toss the pillows into the washing machine once every three months and remember to replace them every one or two years.

2. Bedsheets

We spend an average of 7-10 hours a day in bed, at which point our sweat, body oils, saliva, sexual fluids and much more accumulate on the bedsheets. It makes for the perfect breeding ground for dust mites, which can cause problems for those with respiratory issues. Bedsheets need to be washed on a weekly basis and thrown away after 2-3 years of its use.

3. Mattresses

If your bedsheets are not cleaned at regular intervals, your mattress will face the wrath of it. All the dirt that gets accumulated on the bedsheets will find its way to your mattress. Bed bugs are common critters often found breeding in mattresses are old and left uncleaned for long periods. For this reason, it is important to get your mattress cleaned at least once or twice a year and ditch it every eight years. A new mattress will give you better sleep as well.

4. Bathroom towels

It is important to wash your towels after every three of four uses. It may seem that a towel should be able to go longer without a wash since it is only used against our clean bodies. However, these towels are often left damp and warm allowing germs and bacteria to grow on them. Don’t forget to replace the towel every three to four years as they will lose their ability to absorb water making it easier for bacteria to grow.

5. Toothbrush

Unless you are looking forward to cavities, bad breath, and gum disease, your toothbrush needs to be replaced at least every 3 months. Do not wait around for your toothbrush looks like you need a new one. A splayed out toothbrush could harm your teeth while brushing causing tiny abrasions where bacteria can grow from. When it comes to a toothbrush, it is important to purchase one of good qualities.

6. Hairbrush

If you think about the times you have combed your hair with the same brush, it should be enough reason for you to clean your brush regularly. You can blame your greasy hair and dandruff on the unclean hairbrush that has collected all the sweat and dead skin cells from your scalp. At least once a week, clean your brush using hot soapy water and remove all hair caught in it. Dispose of it when the bristles begin to give out, preferably once every year.

While every household item has its own timeline for cleaning and replacing, the timelines get altered when you fall ill. If you’ve been sick for a few days, it is best to get it all cleaned from bedsheets to towels.

Tinnitus: Why are my ears ringing?

Tinnitus is usually a noise that a person hears consciously. The sound does not come from any source outside the body. Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying problem. The most common form is a high-pitched ringing in the ears. Other forms of sounds are also heard such as ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking, hissing and humming. The sound may vary from a low roar to a high squeal. Sometimes the sound is so loud that it interferes with one’s ability to hear properly or concentrate. Tinnitus can be perpetual or intermittent. There are two kinds of tinnitus, subjective and objective. Subjective tinnitus includes sound in the ears that only the affected person can hear. It is caused by problems in the inner, middle or outer ear. It might also be caused by complications in the auditory nerves and auditory pathways. In very few cases the sound is objective which means other people can also hear the sound, especially a doctor when examining a patient. This type of noise is caused by cardiovascular or musculoskeletal movements or because of a middle-ear bone condition. Objective tinnitus is of a more serious nature.

Symptoms of tinnitus include non-auditory, internal, intermittent or continuous low or high-pitched sounds in one or both ears. It is advised to consult a doctor when tinnitus develops after an upper respiratory infection such as cold and it does not improve within a week. One should also consult the doctor if there are hearing loss and dizziness.

There are a number of causes behind tinnitus. Age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, earwax blockage and ear-bone changes are some of the causes. Some of the less common causes of tinnitus include Meniere’s disease, TMJ disorders, head or neck injuries, Acoustic neuroma, Eustachian tube dysfunction and muscle spasms in the inner ear.

Fatigues, stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety, lack of concentration and memory problems are some of the complications that arise from tinnitus.

In most of the conditions, tinnitus arises from something that cannot be prevented. However, some precautionary measures can be undertaken to prevent certain kinds of tinnitus. As long exposure to loud noises can lead to hampered hearing, using hearing protection and turning down loud volumes can prevent tinnitus. Regular exercise, eating right and developing other healthy habits to keep steady cardio-vascular health can also prevent tinnitus.