What causes Kidney stones and how are they treated?

Kidneys are the organs that remove waste from the blood and makes urine. This process is important to keep us healthy and functioning. Sometimes, if there is an excess of certain types of waste and insufficient fluid in our body, it can cause waste matter to stick together and form stones. These are called kidney stones and are often hard deposits of minerals and salts formed inside the kidneys.

Kidney stones can affect any part of the urinary system from the kidneys to the bladder. The concentration of urine causes the stones to form by facilitating the minerals to crystallise and stick together.

Symptoms of kidney stones

Usually, kidney stones remain asymptomatic until it moves around inside the kidney or passes into the ureter. While moving into the ureter which is the tube that connects the kidney and bladder, the stone may cause the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain in the back and sides, below the ribs
  • Radiating pain to the lower abdomen and groin area
  • Fluctuating pain in the lower abdomen and back
  • Pain during urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present
  • Urinating in small amounts

The pain experience can change in intensity as the location changes when it moves through the urinary tract.

Treatment of Kidney Stones

Small stones may naturally pass through the urinary system without causing much pain or other symptoms. Bigger stones need medical intervention and at times pain killers as it passes through the urinary tract. Drinking loads of water will help speed up the process. If the stone is quite big and difficult to pass through naturally, doctors can perform shock wave lithotripsy to blast the stones into small pieces. These can then pass through the urinary tract without much pain.

Other procedures that can be used by doctors are:

Cystoscopy and ureteroscopy: A cystoscope is used by the doctor to look inside the urethra and bladder to find the kidney stone. At times a ureteroscope can also be used to see detailed images of the stone and also to find it. Once the stone is found, the doctor can either remove it or break it into smaller pieces and allow it to pass through naturally.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: The doctor uses nephroscope to locate and remove the stone. The viewing tool is inserted directly into the kidney and used to either remove the stone or break it into smaller pieces. You will be required to stay in the hospital for some time after this procedure.

Prevention is always better than cure, so drink loads of water to help your kidneys perform the cleaning effectively and dissuade the formation of stones. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience: severe pain along with nausea and vomiting, pain accompanied by fever and chills, blood in urine, difficulty while passing urine or a constant urge to urinate.

Alopecia: Not your regular hair fall

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder that results in unpredictable hair loss in all hair-bearing skin. In the majority of the cases, hair falls out in small patches around the size of a coin. Most often, these bald areas regrow. But in some other cases, it might be severe and result in complete hair fall. Alopecia Totalis is when you lose hair only the head and Alopecia Universalis is when you lose hair on your entire body.  The condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender. But it is more prevalent in people who are 30 and above. Alopecia develops when the immune system mistakes the hair follicles as foreign substances and starts attacking them. Sudden hair loss may occur on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, face and other parts of the body as well. It can also develop slowly and recur after years.

How is it caused?

Alopecia Areata is caused by an abnormality of the immune system that damages hair follicles which are responsible for growth and re-growth of hair. This abnormality leads to an autoimmune disorder whew the system tends to attack its own body. Alopecia Areata is occasionally associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid, vitiligo, arthritis and more. There is little evidence that suggests that consistent stress may be a trigger of Alopecia.

The main clear symptom of Alopecia Areata is hair loss. It usually falls out in small patches. These patches may later connect and become a prominent bald spot.
Hair loss might also occur in other parts of the body like the face, chest, eyelashes, beard etc. Some people lose hair in a few places while others lose it in a lot of spots.
If the bald spots are in the back of your head, someone may bring it to your attention. The hair loss associated with this condition is unpredictable and quite spontaneous. The hair may fall out and grow back again anytime, or not. The extent of hair loss and growth varies on person to person. So if you have an unexplained stint of heavy hair loss, it is advisable to get in touch with your doctor immediately.

Alopecia Areata can also affect the nails. In fact, sometimes these changes are the first signs of the condition.  Some of these small changes are,

  • Appearance of pinpoint dents on them
  • Appearance of white spots and lines
  • nails becoming rough and patchy
  • nails losing their shine
  • nails becoming thin and split

There is no permanent cure for Alopecia. But there are certain treatments that can control future hair loss or help hair grow back more quickly. Both medical and natural treatments are available on a trial and error basis. The most common treatment is the use of corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. These are most commonly administered through injections, topical ointments or orally.

Steroid treatments are also becoming more prevalent. This way of treatment is a common choice for mild, patchy alopecia to help hair grow back on bald spots. Tiny needles are used to inject steroids into the bare skin of affected areas. This treatment has to be repeated once in every one or two months to re-grow hair and stop further hair loss.

The alternative to this is natural treatments that include the following,

  • Probiotics
  • Micro-Needling
  • Acupuncture
  • Topical gels and Aloe Vera drinks
  • Herbal supplements such as ginseng and green tea
  • Regular scalp massages

Most alternative therapies haven’t been through clinical trials, so their effectiveness isn’t known. The effectiveness might vary from person to person. Some people won’t even need treatment because their hair grows back on its own. In other cases, however, people won’t see improvement despite trying all treatment options. You might need to try more than one treatment to see a difference. But remember that hair re-growth may only be temporary. It’s possible for the hair to fall out again.

People suffering from this condition can balance out the protective qualities of hair with a few simple practices such as,

  • Wearing sunscreen on the head if exposed to the sun.
  • Wearing wraparound glasses or goggles to protect the eyes from particles the brows and lashes would usually defend.
  • Headwear such as hats, wigs, and scarves.
  • Using ointment inside the nose to protect against organisms that are normally trapped by nostril hair.

Alopecia Areata does not directly make people sick, nor is it contagious. Most of its effects take a toll on the emotional health of the patient. It is a traumatic disease that requires treatment that addresses the emotional strain of hair loss. A lot of resources are available to help people cope with stress related to hair loss.

If you are looking for help or more information on Alopecia, please get in touch with us on www.vikramhospitals.com

Lung Cancer; how does smoking affect lung health?

Lung cancer, as the name suggests, is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs. The lungs are two spongy organs that take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. This process is what helps to keep us alive. There are certain things that make us more susceptible to lung cancer and the most notorious one is smoking.  Although lung cancer can occur in people who have never smoked, people who smoke regularly are at a greater risk. The risk increases with the length of years and the number of cigarettes you’ve smoked. On the flip side, it’s easy to recover from the lung damage quickly if you decide to do so. If you quit smoking, even after smoking for many years, you can significantly reduce the chances of contracting lung cancer.

Lung cancer usually doesn’t cause signs and symptoms in its earliest stages. Signs and symptoms of lung cancer occur only when it’s advanced. Some of these symptoms may include,

  • A consistent cough that doesn’t recede
  • Coughing up blood
  • Respiratory troubles
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness in voice
  • Unplanned weight-loss
  • Headache

It is believed that smoking causes cancer by damaging the cells that line the lungs. The smoke we inhale is filled with Cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. These substances cause changes in the lung tissues almost immediately. Our body might be able to repair this damage initially. But with repeated exposure, the lung cells may get increasingly damaged, start to act abnormally and eventually become cancerous. A series of mutations take place in order for a normal cell to become a cancer cell. Our cells have our DNA-our genetic blueprint. DNA carries instructions of the proteins made by the cell. Some of these proteins help the cell to grow and multiply, others aid in repairing the DNA. They also work to eradicate damaged cells in a process called apoptosis. Smoking can result in these mutations in lung cancer cells by several different mechanisms.

Although not all smokers get lung cancer, smoking can also affect your lung health in various other ways. It causes significant changes in your airways. Some changes are sudden and last just a while. But more chronic changes happen slowly and can last a lifetime- like emphysema.

Mucus and infections

Smoking causes an increase in the size of cells in the lungs. These cells produce mucus in your lungs and airways. As a result of smoking, this mucus increases and thickens. The lungs cannot effectively clean out this excess mucus. This mucus is what leads to smoke cough by clogging your airways. It is also prone to infections. Smoking also speeds up the ageing process of the lungs and hinders their defence mechanisms.

Less oxygen flow

Smoking destroys your lungs and lung tissues. It inflames the lung almost immediately and causes coughing and irritation. Consistent smoking decreases the number of air spaces and vessels in the lungs, resulting in less oxygen flow to other critical parts of the human body.

Damaged cilia

The lungs are lined in broom-like hairs called cilia, which clean the lungs. Just in a few seconds after you take your first drag, the cilia slow down in movement. Smoking just one cigarette can slow the action of your cilia for several hours. It can also reduce the number of cilia in your lungs, hindering the cleaning process in the organ.

Smoking also has a lot of ill-effects on the other parts of your body. The tar in the cigarettes contains harmful chemicals that might infect your bloodstream. This increase the risk of experiencing blood clots as your blood becomes thicker. Your blood pressure and heart rate might also increase because of this. Chain smoking cause reflux- the esophagus is weakened and allows acid to travel in the wrong direction. Though few people are aware, smoking also speeds up the aging process by reducing the amount of oxygen that your skin receives. The most common issue caused by smoking is Asthma. It is a chronic airway disease that might be triggered by smoking or second-hand smoke. People with asthma have periods of shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and cough.

Even though smoking is one of the most addictive activities there is, it is possible to retract and quit from smoking gradually. The flip side is that your lungs and body recover hundred percent from the ill-effects smoking the day you quit. If you are addicted to smoking and looking out for help, please feel free to get in touch with us on www.vikramhospitals.com

Typhoid and everything you need to know about it

Typhoid is a serious bacterial infection that spreads through the contamination of food and water. It is caused by Salmonella Typhi bacteria. Typhoid can lead to a high fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. If typhoid is diagnosed early, it can be treated with antibiotics. If not, it can be fatal.  Urbanization and climate change have the potential to increase the risk of typhoid infection and spread. In addition, increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics making it easier for it to spread through overcrowded cities with inadequate water treatment and sanitation systems.

Typhoid spreads through oral-faecal route. (Passes through contaminated food or water) It can also be passed through direct contact with a person infected with typhoid. There are a small number of people who don’t suffer by typhoid but carry the S.typhi. These ‘carriers’ can also spread the infection. It is most prevalent in underdeveloped and developing countries where the water and sanitation facilities are poor. Regions such as India, Africa, South America and South-East Asia have a higher incidence of typhoid than other countries.

Symptoms of typhoid usually start showing between 6 and 30 days after the exposure or infection.

Fever and rashes are the two major symptoms. The fever gradually increases day by day. And the rash, which doesn’t affect every patient, is mostly found in the neck and abdomen area.

Other symptoms of typhoid are as follows,

  •          Weakness
  •          Stomach pain
  •          Fatigue
  •          Confusion
  •          Headache
  •          Poor appetite
  •          Constipation or diarrhoea

If left untreated, typhoid can cause more complications like intestinal bleeding or the fatal bloodstream infection, sepsis. Some of the complications that untreated typhoid could cause are,

  •          Paranoia
  •          Pneumonia
  •          Kidney or bladder infections
  •          Pancreatitis
  •          Myocarditis

Another infection, paratyphoid, caused by Salmonella enteric, has similar symptoms, but is less life-threatening.

Antibiotics are the only effective treatment for typhoid. Most commonly used antibiotics include Ciprofloxacin and Ceftriaxone. In severe cases, where the intestines have become perforated, surgery may be required. The developing resistance of the bacteria to the available antibiotics is a major concern for medical practitioners. New antibiotics such as Cephalosporins and Azithromycin are being used because of this reason. Resistance to Azithromycin has been reported but is not common as of yet. Even when the fever goes away, patients may still be carrying the bacteria. This increases the risk of it spreading to someone around them. Some practices have to be followed when you are being treated for typhoid.

  •          Take the prescribed antibiotics as long as the doctor asks you to, even if the fever goes away.
  •          Wash your hands with soap every now and then.
  •          Do not prepare or serve food.
  •          Have your doctor to ensure that the bacteria in completely eliminated before stopping your course of antibiotics.

There are two types of vaccinations against typhoid. But neither of them is completely effective.

Oral- A live vaccine that consists of 4 pills. One to be taken every second day. The last pill would be taken a week before your travel.

Shot- An inactive vaccine, administered two weeks before travel.

Your doctor might suggest typhoid vaccination under the following circumstances,

  •          If you are a carrier without the fever
  •          If you are in close contact with a carrier
  •          If you are travelling to a place where typhoid is common
  •          If you a laboratory worker who may come in contact with S.typhi

However, vaccines do not give you complete protection from typhoid. Fortunately, there are some preventative measures you can take in order to keep the bacteria out of your system.

  • Ensure food is properly cooked and still hot when served.

  • Avoid raw milk. Drink only pasteurized or boiled milk.

  • Avoid ice unless it is made from safe water.

  • When the safety of drinking water is questionable, boil or disinfect it with a reliable, slow-release disinfectant agent

  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently using soap after contact with pets or farm animals, or after having been to the toilet.

  • Wash fruits and vegetables carefully with clean water, particularly if they are eaten raw.

If you’re recovering from typhoid fever, these measures can help keep others safe:

  • Be sure to finish the entire prescription of antibiotics so that the bacteria is completely wiped out.

  • The most important thing you can do to keep from spreading the infection to others is to wash your hands often. Use soapy water and scrub thoroughly for at least 30 seconds, especially before eating and after using the toilet.

  •  Avoid preparing food for others until your doctor says you’re no longer contagious. If you work in the food service industry or a healthcare facility, don’t return to work until tests show that you’re no longer shedding typhoid bacteria.

Typhoid is really contagious and preventing it might be quite a task. But one can always be clean and take proper measures in order to avoid the bacteria as treating it is a bigger task than ever, with the growing resistance of the bacteria to existing medications. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you have an unexplained fever that seems to be rising every day, it is advisable for you to seek a doctor right away. For more queries on typhoid or its vaccinations, feel free to get in touch with our doctors at 91-080-61930123 or inquiry@vikramhospital.com

Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO)

Fever of unknown origin or FUO is defined as fever at or above 101°F (38.3°C) that lasts for more than three weeks or occurs frequently without any explanation. This fever does not result from a self-limited illness, rapidly fatal illness, or disorders with clear-cut symptoms or with abnormalities on common tests such as chest x-ray, urinalysis, or blood cultures. A diagnosis is a step towards treating it when a doctor cannot determine the cause of the fever.

Types

- Classic FUO

Classic FUO affects previously healthy people with no identified cause and lasts for over 3 weeks. Infections such as leukemia may be the cause of Classic FUO. Diseases that affect connective tissues can also be causes of Classic FUO.

- Immune-deficient FUO

This FUO usually occurs due to immunodeficiency diseases such as neutropenia. It occurs in people with compromised immune systems which puts them in at increased risk of infection.

- Healthcare-associated FUO

This FUO occurs as a result of hospitalization. This happens in people receiving acute care with no infection present and then begin to run the unexplained fever.

- HIV-related FUO

HIV can cause fevers and can make people susceptible to infections that can cause fever. It can last over 3 weeks in patients with confirmed HIV infection.

Causes

For diagnostic purposes, FUO can be categorized into four groups:

- Infection

Frequently accompanied by chills, it can occur due to infections from atypical mycobacteria, disseminated fungi, pet contact, blood transfusion, surgeries, oral care, etc.

- Inflammatory

Caused by infections occurring from common connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, vasculitis, etc.

- Malignancy

It can occur from the most common neoplastic causes such as lymphoma, leukemia, pancreatic carcinoma, and other cancers and sarcomas. This FUO is identified by physicians when a significant weight loss occurs in the patient accompanied by early anorexia.

- Miscellaneous

Include drug reactions, deep venous thrombosis, recurrent pulmonary emboli, sarcoidosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and factitious fever.

Recognizing FUO in children

Your child may have a fever if they:

- Are less active than usual

- Have fussy behaviour

- Have decreased appetite or increased thirst

Giving your children acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to bring their fever down is fine, but you should not give them aspirin (Bayer) as it is associated with a very serious condition in children called the Reye’s Syndrome. Contact your pediatrician if your child:

- Cries inconsolably

- Has purple rashes on their skin

- Has a stiff neck

- Struggles to breathe.

Spinal Tuberculosis; Causes, symptoms and treatment

Tuberculosis is an incredibly infectious ailment resulting from the bacterium Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. It’s one of the top-10 causes of death, globally. Tuberculosis (TB) is most common in developing countries. It is preventable, and if discovered early, generally treatable.

Tuberculosis mostly affects the lungs, but in some cases, it can spread to other parts of the body. This syndrome is referred to as Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis (EPTB). One form of EPTB is bone and joint tuberculosis. Even though bone TB could affect any bone in your body, Spinal Tuberculosis is the most common in this category.

Tuberculosis is normally spread from person to person through the air. But Spinal TB occurs when you contract TB and it spreads beyond your lungs. It spreads through blood from the lungs or lymph nodes into the bones, spine, or joints. Spinal TB usually begins because of the rich vascular supply within the spine and other long bones. Bone tuberculosis is exceptionally rare; however the rate of it has accelerated in growing countries, partly due to the spread of AIDS.  It is tough to diagnose and may cause severe problems if left untreated.

Symptoms of Spinal TB

The symptoms of Spinal tuberculosis are nor easily recognizable until the condition gets really severe. It is specifically hard to diagnose because it is painless in its early stages and the subject may not be exhibiting any signs at all. In addition to this, TB can also be dormant for a long time in a person’s lungs before its spread to other parts without the patient being aware of any symptoms at all.

There are a few symptoms like swelling, stiffness, severe back pain and abscesses that can be identified when a patient has contracted TB. When the condition is advanced, some dangerous symptoms like neurological complications, limb-shortening in children, bone deformities and paralysis start showing. Patients with Spinal Tuberculosis may or may not exhibit general tuberculosis symptoms like fever, fatigue, night sweats and loss in weight.

Treatment of Spinal Tuberculosis

Spinal Tuberculosis can lead to a lot of painful effects. But the damage is usually reversible when treated with the right kind of medications. In most cases, surgery is required to treat spinal TB.

One such surgery is Laminectomy, where a part of the vertebrae is removed to eradicate the infection.

Medications are tried out for Spinal TB and surgery is used as the second resort. The course of treatment can last anywhere between six to eight months and medications include, antituberculosis medications, such as rifampicin, isoniazid, ethambutol and pyrazinamide.

The risk of developing Tuberculosis is more in growing and developing nations, due to the risk of the spread of AIDS. But even developed nations need to look out for Bone and Spinal Tuberculosis even though the risk is pretty low. After diagnosis, this can be treated with a regimen of medications or the combination of medications and surgery.

Dystonia and ways to treat it

Dystonia is a medical term for a variety of movement disorders that cause muscle spasms and contractions. The spasms and contractions might either sustain or recur. Movements are usually repetitive and cause uncommon, awkward and generally painful postures. Tremor shaking during movements may also be a characteristic of some kinds of dystonia. Dystonia is assumed to be a neurological condition, caused by underlying issues with the brain and nervous system. However, in most cases, brain functions like intelligence, memory and language stay unaffected.

What causes Dystonia?

The exact causes of the development of Dystonia remain unknown, however, it is thought to be caused by a complication with the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. If there is no classifiable reason behind Dystonia, or if the cause is genetic, it’s diagnosed as Primary Dystonia. Secondary Dystonia happens as a sign or symptom of an underlying condition or injury. Some common conditions that might cause Dystonia are strokes, brain injuries, encephalitis and Parkinson’s.

Methods of treatment

There’s no cure for Dystonia, however, the condition can be effectively managed. Treatment can vary based on the sort of Dystonia you’ve got and also the precise nature of your symptoms. There are some generic forms of treatment.

Medication

Botox injections into specific muscles may scale back or eliminate muscle contractions and improve abnormal postures. Sometimes these have to be taken for three to four months repeatedly. Side effects are usually temporary. Weakness, dryness in mouth or changes in voice are a few. Other medications target neurotransmitters that have an effect on muscle movement. Some of these medicines are:

Carbidopa-levodopa (Duopa, Rytary)

To increase levels of the neurochemical, Dopamine.

Trihexyphenidyl and benztropine (Cogentin)

These medications act on other neurochemicals besides Dopamine. Side effects include cognitive state, blurred vision, drowsiness, waterlessness and constipation.

Tetrabenazine (Austedo, Xenazine)

This medication blocks Dopamine. Side effects include sedation, nervousness, depression or sleep disorder.

Diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin) and baclofen (Lioresal, Gablofen)

These medications scale back neurotransmission and may control some styles of Dystonia.

Therapy

Your doctor or health care advisor might recommend,

  •         Stretching or massage to ease the pain.
  •         Physical therapy, occupational therapy or both to educe symptoms and improve functions.
  •          Speech therapy if the Dystonia affects the voice

Surgery

If the symptoms are severe, the doctor might suggest,

Selective denervation surgery- It involves cutting the nerves that control muscle spasms. This treatment can be done if the condition doesn’t change despite other treatments.

Deep brain stimulation- Involves the implantation of electrodes into specific parts of your brain and connected to a generator implanted in your chest. The generator sends electrical pulses to the brain to help control the muscle spasms and contractions. The generator can be modified to treat specific conditions.

Home remedies

There are certain things one can do at home in order to control or reduce the symptoms of Dystonia

  •          Apply something hot or cold to ease muscle pain and control spasms.
  •          Practice effective coping skills such as meditation, deep breathing and positive self-talk in order to manage stress.
  •          Some sensory tricks can be used to stop muscle spasms temporarily.

Alternative remedies

  •          Meditation and deep breathing might ease the stress that can worsen your muscle spasms.
  •          Regular Yoga might help reduce spasms by combining physical postures, breathing techniques and relaxation.
  •          Electronically monitoring body functions like muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure in order to learn to cope with them through different measures. This is called Biofeedback

Living with Dystonia will prove to be very difficult and frustrating. It may be uncomfortable in certain social situations. Therefore, it might be helpful to talk to a therapist or join a support group which will make the disease easier to live with.

If you are looking out of more information or any kind of help related to Dystonia, please feel free to get in touch with our doctors at 91-080-61930123 or inquiry@vikramhospital.com

What bit you? Could it be malaria?

Malaria, not an uncommon name in India, is a life-threatening disease caused by the female anopheles mosquito. Infected mosquitoes carry the plasmodium parasite which is injected into your bloodstream when the mosquito bites you. The parasites travel to your liver in the bloodstream and begin to mature there. After maturity, the parasites enter the bloodstream to infect red blood cells of the body.

The disease is mostly endemic to tropical and subtropical regions as that’s the ideal climate for the parasites. The World Health Organization (WHO) Trusted Source states that, in 2016, there were an estimated 216 million cases of malaria in 91 countries.

How is it caused?

Even though it is mostly caused by mosquito bites, it is bloodborne. So it can also be transmitted through:

  •          A blood transfusion
  •          An organ transplant
  •          Contaminated needles or syringes

An infected mother can also pass malaria to her baby. This is called congenital malaria.

How do I know if I have it?

Malaria is divided into two types, uncomplicated or severe. The symptoms of malaria usually develop within 10 days to 3 weeks of the infection. But some malarial parasites can enter the body and be dormant for a long time. So symptoms might not show up for several months. Common symptoms for all types of malarial infections include,

  •          Shivering and chills
  •          Profuse vomiting
  •          High fever
  •          Nausea and headaches
  •          Diarrhea
  •          Muscle pain
  •          Convulsions

Is it easily diagnosed?

Your doctor will be able to diagnose malaria just with a few blood tests and a liver or spleen examination to confirm it. The tests will be able to show you whether you have malaria, the type of malaria you have, if the disease has caused anaemia and if it has affected your vital organs.

How is it treated?

Malaria can be a fatal condition. Especially when you are infected with the parasite P. falciparum.

Patients are usually admitted for close monitoring and medications are prescribed based on the type of parasite and the severity of the symptoms. In some cases, the parasites are resistant to medication and might not respond to drugs. You doctor might have to follow more than one medication pattern or change the medication completely in order to tackle these cases. Certain types of parasites have liver stages. They can live in your body for long periods of time and reactivate at a later date. If you are infected with one of these parasites, additional medication will be prescribed in order to prevent a relapse.

How do I prevent the infection?

As the disease is mostly caused by mosquitoes, insect and pest control is the most effective way.

  •          Don’t let water stagnate anywhere around your residence.
  •          Use mosquito repellent creams.
  •          Wear full-sleeved clothes when you are outdoors in the lawn or garden.
  •          Keep your indoors hygienic and bright as mosquitoes breed in damp conditions.
  •          Take prescribed medicines when you are travelling or camping.
  •          Use mosquito nets when required.

In emergency situations, local healthcare authorities carry out ‘fogging’, where they spray insecticides in large proportions in a community to prevent the spread of mosquito and insect-borne diseases.

While there are no specific prevention methods, one can always be proactive and keep their community clean and mosquito-free in order to prevent malaria from spreading.

Fibromyalgia; All you need to know about it

Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain disorder accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. It amplifies the pain sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. The symptoms develop after a traumatic incident, infection or surgery in some cases, and in others, the pain accumulates over time without any triggering events. Women are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia than men.  Many people who suffer from this are also subjected to headaches, anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome and TMJ disorders.

The symptoms of fibromyalgia can be controlled through a variety of medications, exercise, relaxation and stress reduction. But there is no complete cure to the disease till date.

Causes

Genetics-

It can run in the family and certain mutations make you more susceptible to the disease.

Infections-

Some illnesses can trigger or aggravate fibromyalgia.

Physical or emotional trauma-

It can be triggered by a traumatic incident or even stress.

Even though we don’t know what exactly causes fibromyalgia, research suggests that there are physical, psychological and neurological factors involved. Anxiety or depression can make the pain seem worse. And being in pain can cause low mood, sadness and irritability. People suffering from this condition experience pain differently and are more sensitive to physical pressure.

Symptoms

Symptoms of fibromyalgia are prominent and aren’t difficult to take notice of. Some of the major ones are,

Extreme tiredness-

People suffering from this disease wake up tired even after long hours of sleep.

Cognitive difficulties-

It is commonly known as ‘fibrofog’ or ‘brainfog’. Patients have trouble focussing on a particular mental task, paying attention or remember things properly.

Widespread pain-

Patients suffer from pain on both sides of their body and both above & below the waist.

Sleep disturbance-

People who suffer from fibromyalgia have sleep disruptions caused by pain, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

Other common symptoms are:

  •          Irritable bowel syndrome
  •          Migraines
  •          Painful bladder syndrome
  •          Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)

Diagnosis

It is quite difficult to diagnose fibromyalgia first because there are other conditions that cause the same symptoms. And currently, there are no lab tests for the condition which can result in a delayed or missed diagnosis.

The American College of Rheumatology has established three criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia.

  •          Pain symptoms over one  week, out of the 19 identified body parts, levels of fatigue, trouble in sleeping or cognitive problems
  •          Ongoing symptoms (3 months)
  •          Absence of another health problem to explain the symptoms

Tender points were used earlier to diagnose the condition. But these are no longer recommended as a criterion to diagnose fibromyalgia.

Treatment

Fibromyalgia has no complete cure as of yet. Your doctor will be able to prescribe treatments that will control the symptoms and ease your pain. These may include drug treatments but other therapies are just as important. Some of them are as follows,

  •        Physiotherapy
  •        Occupational Therapy
  •        Active exercise programs
  •        Massages
  •        Behavior modification therapy
  •        Anti-Depressants
  •        Acupuncture

Many patients affected by the condition  have learned to manage their conditions and lead fairly normal livesAlthough the disease isn’t curable, conditions can improve significantly for patients following their treatment plan.  Modern medicine and brilliant medical practitioners have given patients the luxury of controlling the symptoms drastically and living a normal life.

Childhood depression; why seeking help is more important than being worried?

Depression can occur in various forms and at  various stages of life. Chronic depression often makes people lonely, aloof and in extreme cases leads to suicides Fortunately, with the right guidance and therapy, depression is manageable.

Childhood depression occurs because of different reasons. Sometimes, children face and go through depression for reasons that adults can’t understand or find ‘silly’. It is different from the general ‘blues’ and daily emotions that the child develops. just because he/she seems sad, it doesn’t mean they are going through depression. But if this becomes a persistent issue that interferes with normal activities, social interactions, schoolwork or family life, it may indicate a depressive illness. It’s a sensitive self-diagnosis before you take it forward to a therapist or paediatrician.

What causes childhood depression?

Depression, in general, is caused by a combination of various psychological and emotional contributors that result in the biological deficiency of serotonin in the brain.  Depressive disorder in children does not have one specific cause. But here are some contributors that might tell you why the child is facing it.

  •         Disruptions to family life ( parental conflicts, divorce etc )
  •         Bullying
  •         Exposure to physical, emotional and verbal violence
  •         Traumatic instances like physical, emotional or verbal abuse
  •         Social isolation
  •         Negative body imaging
  •         Subject of excessive criticism

These causes can kick-start a chain reaction and cause various types of disorders that might result in chronic depression. That’s why it is important for your child to grow up in a place that is healthy for his/her mental and emotional growth.

How do you tell if your child is depressed?

Due to the sensitive nature of the symptoms, depression in children often goes undiagnosed or ignored. The symptoms are passed off as normal emotional and psychological changes that occur during growth.

This might result in ‘masked depression’ which affects children chronically at different stages of their life. Childhood depression is mainly evidenced by a sudden ‘acting out’ or an angry behaviour of the child, particularly in younger children. Older children may display consistent sadness or low mood similar to adults.

The primary symptoms of childhood depression include,

  • Irritability or anger
  • Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection
  • Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased
  • Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep
  • Vocal outbursts or crying
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don’t respond to treatment
  • Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Impaired thinking or concentration
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Not all children might face all of these symptoms. Although a lot of them function reasonably well in structured environments, the ones with significant depression will suffer from prominent changes in social activities. Children may also begin using drugs or alcohol, especially if they are 12 or older.

Is there a way to prevent depression in children?

Seeking help is an easier task than preventing depression. Almost all humans go through a depressive state of mind at least once in their life. But extra care has to be given to children because they are at a sensitive stage of life. Childhood Depression, when left untreated, will have chronic effects throughout the life of the child. Even though there are no set measures to prevent depression, some measures can be taken to keep the child mentally and emotionally healthy.

  •         Healthy parent-child interactions and attachment can make them feel secure.
  •         Model good parental behaviour
  •        Supportive parenting
  •         Good peer relationships
  •          Regular social interactions with other healthy minds
  •          Prevention of bullying
  •        Healthy and nutritious diet
  •        Regular habit of physical exercise

      There are always measures that one can take. But at the end of the day, life happens to us and each one of us has to fight different battles at various stages of our lives. Parents need to be more open-minded make their children understand that it is okay to seek help, despite the social stigma around depression and therapy. Mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses. They require the same level of care and attention, in order for humans to be at their best potential. This should be established in young minds so that the future generations know that it’s important to seek help and take care of themselves.

If you are looking to seek out help or know someone who needs it, please feel free to call us