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November 14, 2018

The rise of youth-onset diabetes in India

Doctors say diabetes strikes Indians earlier than the rest of the world. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research's Youth Diabetes Registry, one in four people below the age of 25, has adult-onset diabetes, which otherwise affected people in their mid-forties and fifties.

Recently, the Health Ministry announced that in the first phase of the registry of people with diabetes in India, 5,546 patients with youth-onset diabetes were enrolled. The ministry also said that Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) was the most prevalent with 63.9% and youth-onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) was seen in 25.3% youth.

Starting Early: The early onset of T2DM means that young people live with diabetes longer than they would if they developed it as adults. To mitigate the longterm effects of T2DM, treatment and management of the disease should begin soon after detection. Very often, the symptoms of T2DM are not as obvious as T1DM and therefore T2DM can go undetected till it has progressed unmanaged for a few years. Symptoms like the sudden increase in thirst, appetite, frequent urination, obesity, tingling in extremities should not be ignored. Starting a good diabetes management plan early into the disease can prevent further escalation of the disease and complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, amputation of limbs, blindness and nerve damage.

Specialist’s Intervention: Diabetes management goes well beyond checking your blood sugar levels at home and popping pills. Although a general physician is good to help you detect the disease, a specialist can help you manage the disease better by suggesting a change in diet, a change in your fitness regimen, give you a planner to record your sugar levels across a month, recommend you to other specialists if you show symptoms of conditions related to diabetes, like blurry vision, high creatinine which is an indicator of kidney disease, and others. Good diabetes management involves frequent reviews with your physician or a specialist.

Checks beyond Blood Glucose Monitoring at Home: Diabetes can sometimes lead to other health complications. Frequent diagnostic tests will keep you and your specialist aware that there are no other conditions developing. Some of the most common tests advised for people with diabetes are HbA1c, a blood test that gives you the reading of how well your blood glucose levels have been managed over a 2 or 3-month period, blood pressure and cholesterol to make sure that they’re within normal reference range, an eye exam to check for glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataract, a foot exam to check for signs of neuropathy and if you have wounds, a kidney function test, a dental exam to check the health of your gums and an ECG to check your heart health.

July 30, 2018

The lesser-known facts about hepatitis

Most people tend not to think about their liver the way they do about their heart, blood, or skin. However, the liver is a very important organ which ensures the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, produces bile for digestion, removes toxins from the body, recycles blood cells, and stores vitamins A, D, E, and K and glycogens. That’s why a problem in the liver can result in serious health problems.

Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver – is the eighth largest killer in the world. Here are some of the lesser known facts:

Different forms have different causes: Of the five different types of hepatitis, some viruses spread through contaminated food or water, type B virus is contracted through blood and body fluids, and type C spreads through blood only. Vaccines are available only for types A and B.

It can be difficult to detect: Hepatitis begins with mild symptoms like fever, fatigue, and body ache. The more serious symptoms like skin rash, loss of appetite, weight loss, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (called jaundice) may appear after weeks or months. This is particularly true for Hepatitis C. The reason is that the immune response to a chronic infection is smaller.

Alcohol makes it worse: In people suffering from Hepatitis B and C, alcohol worsens and hastens liver scarring. Even moderate drinking can be fatal to such patients, compared to heavy drinkers without the disease.

Some types can cause cancer: If not properly treated, chronic hepatitis can cause cell damage and liver cancer. A family history of liver cancer, or liver cirrhosis (caused by the hepatitis infection), greatly increase the chances of developing live cancer.

Pregnant women should be tested: Mother-to-infant is the most common cause of Hepatitis B transmission. Hence, pregnant women should be screened for the virus when receiving prenatal care. Women vaccinated against Hepatitis B will neither catch the infection nor pass it to their infants.

Two types are linked: People with chronic Hepatitis B are at risk of contracting Hepatitis D, which is difficult to treat with existing medications. It also makes Hepatitis B worse.

There are effective vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B (but not for types C, D, or E). Consult your doctor to know whether and when you should be vaccinated. Stay safe!

July 30, 2018

Be kind to your kidneys

Your kidneys perform an essential function – that of removing waste products from the blood and regulating the water level. Kidney diseases tend to be silent killers, which is why it is so important to take care of your kidneys. Here’s how:

Keep blood sugar under control: Diabetes is a major reason for kidney damage, and about half of all people who suffer from diabetes develop kidney damage. This can be prevented if detected early.

Keep blood pressure under control: High BP is the most common cause of kidney damage, and when combined with diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart diseases, kidney damage is even more likely.

Be active: Many people know that keeping fit is good for the heart, but not many realise that the same goes for kidney health. Exercising regularly keeps blood pressure and sugar under control, and is thus good for your kidneys.

Eat healthy and watch your weight: Reduce your intake of salt. Eat less of processed and restaurant food. Eat more of fresh fruits and veggies. This helps to keep diabetes and high BP at bay.

Quit smoking: It slows down the flow of blood to the kidneys, which impairs their function. Smoking also increases the risk of kidney cancer by about 50 percent.

Get your kidneys checked if you are in the high-risk category:

  • You have diabetes.

  • You have high BP

  • You are overweight

  • A family member suffers from kidney disease

  • You are of African, Asian, or Aboriginal descent

Here’s wishing you a healthy life!

July 04, 2018

Healthy blood, healthy body

How does each and every cell and organ in your body receive oxygen and nutrients? How do they get rid of their waste products? Through blood, as it circulates throughout your body. Naturally, without healthy blood, all organs and systems function below par.

Here are some ways to improve the quality of your blood for optimum body health.

Breathe better: Practice deep breathing. It carries more oxygen into your blood, which transports the same to all your cells and tissues. Shallow breathing – the result of a fast-paced life – is known to adversely affect all systems and incapacitate people.

Move more: When you exercise, the energy that’s used up is replenished with oxygen. Exercise also increases blood circulation, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to all your organs. This is one of the best and easiest ways to enrich your blood!

Eat right:

  • Switch to an alkaline diet: Your blood is slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.365, but excess sugar, meat, and processed foods make blood slightly acidic, which erodes the walls of your arteries. Have plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains like quinoa and buckwheat.
  • Get more iron: Haemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen in blood, contains iron. Eat iron-rich foods to prevent a deficiency.
  • Take aloe vera juice: Being rich in amino acids, enzymes, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals, aloe vera is a natural blood cleanser and builder.

Live natural: Chemicals from cosmetics and body care products are absorbed through the skin and reach the blood. Switch to herbal products. Similarly, don’t use air fresheners, as they contain carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and genetic mutagens.

And finally, stop smoking – as it fills your blood with toxins, and drink enough water – as blood is 92% water.

Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy life.

July 04, 2018

Beware of killer meningitis

Meningitis is a rare and acute infection of the delicate membranes (called meninges) that cover your brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical treatment to prevent complications.

Anyone can get meningitis, but children below 5, young people aged 16-25, and adults over 55 are more susceptible. People with weak immune systems and certain medical conditions are also at greater risk.

Causes: Meningitis can be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that begin elsewhere – in the ear, sinus, or throat – and then travel to the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms: The early signs of meningitis resemble those of flu, so it is important to know the characteristic symptoms of meningitis – high fever, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Others are: nausea, confusion, drowsiness, sensitivity to bright light, seizure, and coma. These may develop over a few hours or a few days. Delayed treatment can cause brain damage or death.

Prevention: Bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis are contagious. Thus, some simple steps can go a long way in preventing meningitis.

  • Wash hands often: before eating and after using the toilet, touching objects handled by many people, and petting animals.
  • Be hygienic: by not sharing food, drink, containers, straws, lipsticks or balms, toothbrushes, tongue cleaners, etc.
  • Keep healthy: through a good diet, exercise, and rest to strengthen your immune system.

Knowledge is power. Be informed to be healthy!

May 31, 2018

World No Tobacco Day.
Say no to tobacco. And yes to health.

According to World Health Organization, tobacco use kills more than 7 million people around the world each year, and that number is predicted to grow unless anti-tobacco actions are increased. The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is "Tobacco and heart disease." Tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease (a narrowing of arteries).

Despite the known harms of tobacco to heart health, and the availability of solutions to reduce related death and disease, knowledge among large sections of the public that tobacco is one of the leading causes of CVD is low.

Here are a few suggestions to curb tobacco use:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
  • Protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke by creating completely smoke-free indoor public places, workplaces and public transport
  • Offer help to quit tobacco (cost-covered, population-wide support, including brief advice by healthcare providers and nationwide toll-free quit lines);
  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco by implementing plain/standardized packaging, and/or large graphic health warnings on all tobacco packages, and implementing effective anti-tobacco mass media campaigns that inform the public about the harms of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure.
  • Enforce comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and
  • Raise taxes on tobacco products and make them less affordable.

These actions include the WHO-supported Global Hearts and RESOLVE initiatives, which aim to reduce cardiovascular disease deaths and improve cardiac care.

Varieties of nicotine addiction quitting methods are provided by various health organizations to help the ex-users to safeguard their lives from nicotine addiction.

May 17, 2018

World Hypertension Day – Check your blood pressure often

According to the European Society of Cardiology, around 10 million people globally die each year because of raised blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, vascular disease and kidney disease, and contributes to dementia. In older people, it is also a major cause of heart failure

The 17th of May is recognized as World Hypertension Day - an initiative of the World Hypertension League, an affiliated section of the International Society of Hypertension to create awareness about the ailment. Many people often don’t even know they have high blood pressure as there are usually no visible symptoms and only find out after they suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Blood pressure values below 120 mmHg systolic and 80 mmHg diastolic are considered optimal by the WHO. Values between 120-139 mmHg systolic and 80-89 mmHg diastolic indicate high-normal blood pressure. The blood pressure values consistently above 140/90 is confided as high requiring therapy.

Sometimes, there may be an underlying cause that can be identified and treated for increased blood pressure. However, for most people lifelong treatment is needed. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, moderate alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet, reducing salt intake, and regular exercise can reduce blood pressure. Our inhouse nutritionists can assist you in charting out a tailormade plan for your health requirements.

Awareness of hypertension is important, due to the number of deaths linked with associated heart attacks, kidney disease and strokes.