The Importance of Decompressing After a Long Workday.

Stress is one of the major health concerns that are plaguing all the generations, especially the working population. Stress has been connected to everything from seizures and high blood pressure to the common cold and depression. Therefore relaxing is important. It is required for a long and healthy life.

It is difficult to find relaxation while working therefore it is important that you unwind in a productive way after you are home. Relaxation can take place at home and during the weekends. Creating a space in your home to unwind after a tough day can be one of the ways of decompressing. Your home should be viewed as a retreat from all the stress of work, however, this is not always true. There are kids at home, chores to be done and various other responsibilities at home. Therefore you would have to have a designated place where you can unwind and relax. All of it depends upon the balance of home and work. The three most important things that one has to keep in mind while designating an unwinding space at home are versatility, comfort and style. The space should not only be a place to take a nap, if you like listening to music, place music players and speakers, if you like reading, put a shelf with books on it.

 Leaving work at the office is also one of the most important ways in which you can make sure to come back home and relax. Bringing work with you at home will only add to the stress and will have detrimental effects on your health. Physically leaving work at the office is what should be done. Turn off your computer, do not check your mails and stop work related communication until the next morning. However, leaving work mentally once one is headed home is more difficult. This involves forgetting about the impending deadlines and work.

Meditation can also help you to unwind after the busy schedule. There are numerous benefits of meditation. Psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman says that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress. The aim is to put you in a relaxed state of mind.

Avoiding procrastination can also help reduce stress. Getting the chores done in time will help you to relax more. By getting things done earlier in the day, one can relax for the rest of the evening without constantly thinking about it.

Spending time to observe your surroundings can also help you to relax. However, this needs a little practice. It yields astounding results. Turn off all your unnecessary stimuli and try harnessing your thoughts for a few moments. Try focusing on the various items in your surroundings, it can be the lamp, the indoor plants etc. As you’re looking at various elements, notice all of the details, ridges, textures and colors. Once you lose focus of one item, move to the next. This forces you to drown out other thoughts and rein in your mind. After doing this for a few minutes, you’ll find it easier to relax for a longer period of time. Deep-breathing, self-massage, taking a walk, exercising, going outdoors, taking a day off etc can also help you decompress after a long and tiring day at work.

The art of relaxation can be learnt if practiced efficiently. It will help you to be more productive and also keep you healthy and away from various lifestyle diseases. Right ways of decompressing after a long work day can actually save your life.

 

The double helix: The discovery of what makes us ‘US’

It is not too long since the discovery of what makes us ‘Us’ was finally put forth. This discovery is considered as one of the momentous discoveries of the 20th century in the field of biological science. In the year 1953, an American biologist James Watson and English Physicist Francis Crick submitted their paper on the “Molecular structure of nucleic acids” disclosing the double helix structure of DNA. This twisted-ladder structure of deoxyribonucleic acid(DNA) submitted by them is still recognized as a milestone in the history of Science. It paved the way to modern molecular biology, the area of science that studies genes and its roles. This study and the knowledge gained from the same to date, have helped in numerous developments in the field of medicine, especially in improved disease diagnosis and in the discovery of plenty of new drugs.

However, Watson and Crick weren’t the first ones to come up with these findings. DNA was discovered many years ago by a Swiss chemist named Friedrich Miescher by the late 1860s. But he nor his successors were able to present an actual shape for DNA. But all those studies and researches laid a scientific foundation to Watson and Crick’s study, who finally proclaimed the most groundbreaking discovery that DNA is a three-dimensional double-helix shaped molecule.

The road to this discovery was not at all easy. It was confusing and complicated. When Florence Bell and William Astbury acquired the first X-Ray diffraction pattern of DNA in the year 1938, they portrayed it as “a close succession of flat or flattish nucleotides standing out perpendicularly to the long axis of the molecule to form a relatively rigid structure”. The existence of RNA and the presence of genetic information in DNA was already founded by 1944. Although the scientists didn’t know the structural and chemical structure of DNA, they started calling it “gene” by the early 1950s, considering DNA to be the smallest unit of genetic information. After multiple failures, by the time Watson and Crick formulated an exact description of DNA’s molecular complex, they knew that this “gene” has been replicating itself since the first life on this earth which was some four billion years ago.

Now, this double-helix molecule is not just a microscopic organic structure. The discovery made by James Watson and Francis Crick with the help of the findings by their predecessors now represents ‘Us’ and what makes us ‘Us’. We share our DNA with a lot of living things, some feel natural and the others feel odd, we share about 98% of our DNA with chimps and almost 50% with bananas! The understanding of evolution, history, or even the mystery behind our unique behaviors would have remained unsolved without the discovery of DNA and its molecular structure. The knowledge gained from all these understandings now acts as the pillar of many current advances in ethics, science, and medicine like genetic fingerprinting, forensic, etc. That is how the double helix, the face of DNA, became the face of modern biological science as well.

 

World Parkinson’s Day: Treating for Normalcy

Parkinson’s disease is the world’s second most common neurodegenerative disorder behind Alzheimer’s. April is Parkinson’s Awareness month, with 11th April being Parkinson’s awareness day. People need to be more informed about the disorder in order to understand the patients and be sensitive towards them. Each year international communities come together on this day to raise awareness of the illness. With events taking place across the globe, experts are constantly trying to raise vital funds for research and cure.

Parkinson’s is caused by a loss of a nerve cell in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. Experts believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the damage of nerve cells in the brain. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder, which means that over time, the brain of an individual living with the disease becomes more damaged. The dopamine level in the body is affected by Parkinson’s. Dopamine is responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells in the brain. The main symptom of Parkinson’s involves the involuntary shaking, slower movements and the usual stiffness in the muscles. Other symptoms may include difficulty balancing, nerve pain, incontinence, insomnia, excessive sweating, depression and anxiety.

While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s Disorder, symptoms may be controlled through treatments. The most common form of treatment used for Parkinson’s is medication.  With the help of drug treatments, doctors aim at increasing the dopamine level that reaches the brain and stimulates the parts of the brain where dopamine works. However, the medication for each person differs according to their vitals. As the symptoms of the disorder progress, the drugs used to treat the condition may need to be changed. While the drug treatment may help to manage Parkinson’s symptoms, it cannot slow the progression of the disease. Supportive treatments like physiotherapy and occupational therapy also prove to be helpful for people with Parkinson’s. Sometimes brain surgeries are also done to improve the condition.

Many people respond well to treatments and only experience mild to moderate disability, whereas a minority of people may not respond well to the treatments, and in time can become seriously disabled. Carbidopa/Levodopa remains the most effective symptomatic therapy and is available in many strengths and formulations. It also may be used in combination with other classes of medications including Dopamine Agonists, COMT Inhibitors, MAO Inhibitors, and Anticholinergic agents. Physical therapy can improve gait and direct an individual to the right exercise regimen. Occupational therapy can be used to maximize fine motor skills. Speech therapy can be useful to address speech and language problems that may arise with Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s does not directly cause people to die. However, the condition can place great strain for the body and cause some people to become vulnerable to serious illness and life-threatening infections. With advances in treatment, most people with Parkinson’s now have normal or near-normal life expectancy.

Autism

According to WHO Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively. A certain set of behaviours defines Autism. It is a “spectrum-condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees. There is no known cause of Autism. Early diagnosis helps the individual to receive help and support required to lead a quality life. It causes problems functioning in the society. Children often show symptoms in the first year. However sometimes children appear to develop normally in the first year and then go through a period of regression between 18 and 24 months when they develop Autism symptoms.

It is estimated that 1 in every 160 children have autism worldwide. The prevalence of ASD appears to be increasing globally. Environment and genetics are believed to be the primary causes of Autism. Intervention is required in the early years to tackle autism. For the optimal development and well being of a child with autism, routine monitoring of child development, maternal and child health care is required. There is no cure for autism. However evidence-based psychological interventions such as behavioural treatment and skills training programmes for parents and caregivers reduces the difficulties in communication and social behaviour. The complex health-care needs of people with ASD require a wide range of integrated services like health promotion, care, rehabilitation services and collaboration with other sectors like education, employment and social care.

Some of the signs and symptoms to look for in early infancy are reduced eye contact, lack of response to their name and indifference to care givers. Some children may have normal development in the early years and then become withdrawn or aggressive. They may also lose language skills that they had already developed. Sings are usually seen by the age of 2 years. Each child with autism spectrum disorder is likely to have a unique pattern of behaviour and level of severity, from low to high functioning. Some children have difficulty learning and lower IQ. However, some may have high intelligence and learn quickly yet have trouble communicating and applying their knowledge in everyday life and adjusting to situations. It is often seen that children with ASD use a singsong or robotic voice to communicate, does not understand simple sentences, questions and directions, is expressionless with emotions and feelings, inappropriately approaches a social situation with passive-aggressiveness or disruptiveness, has difficulty understanding non-verbal cues such as understanding facial expressions, body postures or tone of voice. They often perform repetitive movements such as rocking, spinning or hand flapping, self-harming activities such as head-banging and biting.

As they get older some children to become more engaged and show fewer disturbances in behaviour. Others with severe conditions will continue to have difficulty in social skills and the teen years would bring in worse behavioural and emotional problems.

If you’re concerned about your child’s development or you suspect that your child may have autism spectrum disorder, discuss your concerns with your doctor. The symptoms associated with the disorder can also be linked with other developmental disorders.

Epilepsy: Is there a cure?

The diagnosis of epilepsy comes with numerous questions like whether it will be cured, or whether there is any specific drug available to treat it. Doctors claim that there are hundreds of different epilepsy syndromes, which involves many different types of seizures. Therefore pinpointing a particular kind of treatment for epilepsy is very difficult.

Epilepsy may be inherited or it may not. Some people also inherit an abnormally active version of a gene that is resistant to drugs. This is the reason why people sometimes have a hard time controlling their seizures with medication. Even if the seizures look different, they all start at the same place. However, they cannot be treated in the same way.  All of them start in the brain. They are caused by a sudden change in the way the brain cells send electrical signals back and forth. A doctor has to have an accurate diagnosis of the exact type of epilepsy a person has in order to treat it properly.

For most people seizures are controlled through medication. However, for some people, there is no proper response to the medication. If the seizures continue despite all the efforts, specialized surgery may be the answer. All surgeries entail some risk but fortunately for epilepsy surgeries, the risks are low. Surgery in epilepsy contributes to a far better way of life.

There are various other treatment options available for epilepsy, they are:

Dietary changes: It refers to a strict meal plan to help children whose seizures are not controlled by medicine. It involves close working with the doctor and a dietician. It starts out with a fast that lasts 24 to 48 hours. The patient is usually admitted to the hospital for this span of time so that they can be observed. After that, they are required to have foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): A VNS is surgically placed in the chest that delivers short bursts of energy to the brain. It works a lot like a pacemaker. Scientists have found that a VNS reduces seizures by 40% to 50%. However, it does not work this effectively for everyone.

Responsive Neurostimulation Device (RNS): This treatment method consists of a small neurostimulator implanted under the scalp and within the skull. The neurostimulator is connected to one or two wires called electrodes. These electrodes are placed where the seizures are expected to originate within the brain or the surface of the brain. The device detects abnormal electrical activity in the area and delivers electrical stimulation to normalize brain activity before seizure symptoms begin.

Epilepsy makes one feel like they do not have control over their own lives. It is important to work in partnership with the doctor, be updated about any kind of information, like about the seizures or the side effects of the medication and ask questions. There are many ways to get help and maintain a happy, healthy and productive life.

The simple prescription to beating #COVID-19 -Social Distancing

The simple prescription to beating #COVID-19 -Social Distancing

Pandemonium. From panic buying to end of the world conspiracies. The internet is full of conjectures about the Coronavirus. While some downplay it by saying ‘it is a regular flu’ to some predicting the ‘death of millions’ and calling it a ‘plague’. There is just too much misinformation floating around. It is rightly being called an ‘infodemic one is bound to feel easily overwhelmed.

At the very outset, let’s make one thing clear. While it would be irresponsible to say that the Coronavirus is a regular flu.  But it isn’t a death sentence either. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and multiple other health organizations have tried to persuade everyone to not panic, but it has done little to calm the mass.

What is a pandemic? Does Pandemic mean deathly?

NO. Pandemic means the sustained and continuous transmission of the disease, simultaneously in more than three different geographical regions. Pandemic does not refer to the lethality of a virus but to its transmissibility and geographical extension.

Why should one not panic?

The recovery rate is promising: So far, the world has seen 246,760 cases of COVID-19, out of which the death toll has been 10,062. While the total number of recoveries seen, add up to 88,488.  Other diseases like Smallpox, Influenza, Cholera, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Plague have had a much higher death count than that of COVID-19. The point is not to underplay the severity, but to explain that if controlled in time, we could very well stop the spread of the virus.

The solution is simple: While there is no vaccination right now, doctors and scientists are working tirelessly to ensure we find a cure. But in the meantime, there is a simple solution. To keep away from people who might be sick. The constant reminder by the medical professionals and health institutes is to self-quarantine and practice social distancing. The need of the hour is to understand that it can happen to anybody, and the only way to keep ourselves safe is by seclusion.

Prepare, not panic. That’s the mantra. We can all go about our daily lives once this is over. The good news is that we know what COVID-19 is and how it presents. The recovery rate is about 80% or even higher. In fact, most patients show mild or no symptoms. A 14-21 day quarantine is all that’s needed.

Stay by yourself: In an age of high-speed internet, it has never been simpler to keep in touch with family and friends than now. Do not panic. If you are getting anxious you can always call your family no matter where you are.

The virus spreads through contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth: A huge reason why the spread of the virus will be contained is that people have started practicing right-hand hygiene habits. From washing hands for 20 seconds to coughing and sneezing into their elbows and not touching their faces. These habits will go a long way in combating the virus.

The virus dies very easily: Just Soap. That’s all. Regular soap is sufficient to kill the Coronavirus. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently especially before eating food or touching your face is all that’s needed.

One thing that has become amply clear is that the onus of containing the virus is on each of us. So being truthful is an absolute must. If there is one thing that will help healthcare professionals working everywhere, round the clock, will be complete honesty from patients. Being honest about one’s health, travel history and symptoms is the need of the hour. Thinking about the community and society will minimize the risk of others getting infected. Especially those who have compromised immune systems like cancer patients, children or the elderly.

There are reasons to be optimistic, as there are ways to contain the virus and lessons to learn for the future. Prevention, preparedness, and people can help assuage fears. We are in this together and we can do the right things with calm and protect ourselves.

 Do not worry, if you have any symptoms, track them, if they do not subside contact a doctor. Based on your travel history, potential contact with someone who has tested positive COVID-19 and on the severity of your symptoms. The doctor should be able to guide you to the right channels.

Do not take any drastic measures and do not fall for rumors and false information. To stay informed and prepared is very important.

Indian superfoods you must include in your diet

Superfoods are food that is rich in nutrients and exceptionally beneficial for health and well-being. It’s important to include superfoods in your diet to keep your diet nutrient-dense. They are often associated with food such as broccoli and avocados. In reality, you can find many superfoods in your kitchen at home.

Choose these below Indian superfoods to help improve your health and get rid of toxins from your body:

1. Ghee

Most often dismissed due to its high-fat content, ghee is rich in antioxidants and aids in strengthening the immune system. If consumed on a regular basis, it also improves digestion, promotes brain function and strengthens bones. A single tablespoon a day is all it takes so, add it over your rice, rotis or just about any dish to enjoy all its nutritional benefits.

2. Amla

Commonly known as the Indian gooseberry, Amla is another superfood that helps strengthen the immune system. Along with having strong antioxidising capabilities, the fruit is rich in vitamins and promotes the growth of hair, skin and nails. It is also a natural remedy for those suffering from the common cold, many chronic skin conditions and it even helps regulate blood sugar levels. You can consume this superfruit once a day in the form of juice or chutney.

3. Turmeric

We have been hearing about the medicinal properties of Haldi milk for decades. Turmeric is a detoxifying agent that helps significantly improve cardiovascular health, enhance liver functions and fight inflammations as well. Coming from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, this spice is easy to incorporate into almost any dish and is favourable for the bright yellow colour it adds. Even the West is beginning to catch-up with the health benefits of the Indian spice.

4. Ragi

Highly recommended for diabetics, ragi is a super grain that greatly lends a hand in regulating blood sugar levels. Since it is also rich in iron and vitamin D, it reduces the chances of getting a stroke. Loaded with calcium and fiber, it is the ideal alternative for those who are allergic to gluten and lactose. Adding ragi into your diet will also help with weight loss.

5. Curd

We know curd as a great source of calcium which helps strengthen our bones and muscles. Those who regularly consume curd can also benefit from enhanced digestion and improved cardiovascular health and immunity. It is also a common food for diet plans for weight loss and de-stressing.

6. Jackfruit

For a more nutritious energy boost, go for a jackfruit. Since this superfood can be a fruit, nut and carbohydrate, it is considered a whole meal which can be consumed in place of rice or rotis. It is rich in vitamins, fibre, and phytonutrients that instantly energize your body when consumed. It can also help with weight loss, reduce cholesterol and even beat diabetes. Because of its meat-like tenderness, it is also known as the Indian vegan substitute for meat.

7. Makhanas

Sold in the market as lotus seeds, makhanas are a great healthy snack option to keep around the house. Not only are they low in fat, but they are also rich in protein, iron, zinc and magnesium. Makhanas can also help people de-stress and sleep better. These superfoods are proven to help slow down the ageing process as well.

The Indian superfoods list is a long one and includes many other food items such as drumsticks, daliya and jau. They are very simple to add to your diet and can make a world of difference to your mental, emotional and physical well-being. It’s time to switch to superfoods and get the whole family involved in the routine.

Sugar Epidemic: Why should we cut down on sugar?

Sugar Epidemic: Why should we cut down on sugar?

There is a tremendous rise in the consumption of added sugar in recent years. In this fast-paced world, people do not have time to sit back and pay attention to their health. Common go-to foods like low-fat yogurt, barbeque sauce, ketchup, fruit juice, chocolate milk, granola, coffee, iced tea, protein bars, cereal bars, canned food, breakfast cereal, etc. have added sugar in them. Most of these foods are easily available and are referred to as quick-bites. People with busy schedules are inclined towards them. High consumption of sugar affects the brain, teeth, joints, kidneys, skin, liver and heart. Experts believe that it is the main cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Sugar is also an addictive substance. It might create substance dependency in an individual which would result in craving of sugar at any time, especially during times of emotional stress. Often, foods that are marketed with ‘zero sugar’, ‘zero-calorie’ or ‘low-fat’ labels contain more hidden sugars than normal food.

Excess consumption of sugar secrets a huge surge of dopamine in the brain which is a feel-good hormone. Since dopamine gives a feeling of pleasure and goodness, people tend to crave more sugar to experience it again. Sugar also gives a quick burst of energy by raising blood sugar levels. However, when the level drops, people experience a “sugar crash” where a person may feel jittery and anxious. Added sugars are mostly found in candies, doughnuts, and other sweet treats.

The lingering sugar in the teeth from these treats often causes bacterial growth and cavity. Eating lots of sugar causes inflammation in the body that worsens joint pain. Too much sugar in the diet increases the rate of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

 Another effect of inflammation is that it makes the skin age faster. Excess sugar attaches to proteins in the bloodstream and creates harmful molecules called Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs). These molecules make the skin age faster. They damage the collagen and elastin in the skin; they are protein fibers that keep the skin firm and youthful.

Excess sugar causes Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is excess fat build-up in the liver. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is also caused by excess sugar consumption. It is fatty liver inflammation and steatosis which means scarring of the liver. Scarring cuts off the blood supply to the liver. In many cases, this escalates into cirrhosis and would require a transplant.

Extra sugar also increases the secretion of insulin in the bloodstream which might affect the arteries all over the body. The walls get thicker, inflamed and stiff. This causes stress in the heart and damages it over time. Sugar increases the rate of heart diseases, heart attacks, and heart failures. Research shows that people who get 25% of their calories from sugar consumption are twice as likely to die of heart disease.

The pancreas is also affected because of the high intake of sugar, which causes type two diabetes in an individual. Kidneys and body weight are also affected because of high sugar consumption. Chronically high levels of sugar in the bloodstream can make men impotent.

There are a lot of ways to cut down on sugar. Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar. Switching to plain porridge and whole wheat cereal biscuits may prove beneficial. Many foods that taste sweet are surprisingly high in sugar. Ready-made soups, stir-in sauces and ready meals can also be high on sugar. Condiments and sauces such as ketchup may have as much as 23g of sugar in a 100g. In snacks, fruits, unsalted nuts, unsalted rice cakes, oatcakes or homemade plain popcorn are good options when it comes to avoiding sugar. In drinks, fizzy drinks, sweetened juices, squashes, and cordials should be avoided. When it comes to desserts, there should be rules that should be followed. Less sugary desserts include fruits, fresh or frozen, dried or tinned.

Cutting down on sugar in one’s diet promotes a diet balanced and a healthy life. It decreases the rate of susceptibility to diseases.

support system

Support systems, an integral part of recovery from ailments

Providing support to people suffering from illness is a delicate job. It requires patience and empathy. Strong support gives patients a way to process their emotions. The layers of support that are created around the patient should be able to help them to cope with the physical as well as the mental adversities. These support systems can come in many forms like family, faith-based community, neighborhood or support groups. But the most important thing that should be provided to an ailing individual is hope. It is very difficult for people to go on with their pace or strength of belief and endurance after being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Most of the time, it takes a toll on mental health even before the ailment presents itself physically.  Support systems and caregivers can provide logistic help as well. Apart from emotional support, caregivers can help family and friends of the patient with practical issues like taking them to appointments and also being present there for help. It is often seen that when one is diagnosed with an ailment, which is serious and incurable, it often leads to disruption of life, work, and relationships.

Having a good support system makes sure that there are people to listen to and depend on. Peer support is one of the most sought after support groups as it consists of people who have gone through similar conditions and hence can help a newly diagnosed person with their inspiring experiences and situations. Patients with a good social support system tend to have better outcomes. People who care for their loved ones or any member of a support group often experience burn out. Therefore it is incredibly important for members of support groups to know how much of themselves they can give. It is important for them to sometimes take a step back and analyze whether the needs of the patient are actually being met or not.

Illness for each individual is a unique experience that they respond to differently. Hence it is important to listen to an individual’s personal choice when taking care of them. Patients react with anxiety, sadness, fear, anger and sometimes also with a façade of nonchalance. Sometimes patients need support and other times they need to be left alone. Therefore their choices must always be understood and respected. Sometimes it’s very difficult for the caregiver to resonate with a terminally ill patient and hence it becomes difficult to help them. In these cases, support groups within the community can help a lot. Support systems can provide help with referral visits and transition to a hospital, follow-ups, making sure the discharge list focuses on action and not just history, communicating patient’s needs and preferences, identifying problems and intervening to solve them.

An excellent support system can be built if the patient can be convinced to talk to their family and friends and talk about the diagnosis, asking for help and reaching out and connecting with fellow patients and caregivers.

A good support system is needed when it comes to taking care of ailments. Friends and family are always willing to help but they often do not know what to do or how to act. In the midst of a support group, a patient is very likely to find answers and people who can empathize.

What is an MRI ?

What is an MRI - Uses, application, history, relevance in medical science

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create a detailed image of the organs and tissues within the body. The development of MRI has revolutionized the field of medicine. MRI is a non-invasive and painless procedure. A giant circular magnet surrounds the MRI scanner tube. The magnet creates a strong magnetic field that aligns the protons of hydrogen atoms, which are then exposed to a beam of radio waves. The various protons of the body start spinning because of this and produce a faint signal that is detected by the receiver portion of the MRI scanner. The received information is then processed by a computer to produce an image.

The development of the MRI scanner includes the work of many researchers that contributed towards the discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The early research on the physics of magnetic resonance imaging started in the early 20th century. MR imaging was invented by Paul C. Lauterbur. He developed a mechanism to encode spatial information into an NMR signal using magnetic field gradients in September 1917. In the late 1970s and 1980s Peter Mansfield further refined the techniques used in MR image acquisition and processing.

MRI scanning is used to evaluate organs of the chest and abdomen including heart, liver, biliary tract, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, and adrenal glands, pelvic organs including the bladder and the reproductive organs such as the uterus and ovaries in females and the prostate glands in the males. MR angiography can also be done to detect abnormalities in the blood vessels with the help of an MRI scanner. Conditions such as tumors, cirrhosis, abnormalities of the bile ducts and pancreas, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, heart problems and congenital heart problems, a fetus can be examined to diagnose or monitor treatment. Anomalies of the brain, joints, back knees, and spinal cord, breast cancer, fibroids and endometriosis, uterine problems and infertility in women can also be accurately diagnosed with the help of an MRI scan.

Some of the side-effects of MRI are headaches, nausea, pain or burning at the point of injection that arises from the contrast dye. Allergy to the contrast is also seen in a few people that can cause hives and itchiness. Claustrophobia may also be experienced by people who are uncomfortable in closed spaces.

MRI technology is always expanding in scope and use. Scientists are developing newer MRI scanners that are smaller, portable devices. They can be useful for detecting infections and tumors of the soft tissues of the hands, feet, elbows and knees. These new applications of MRI scanners are being medically tested.