All That You Need to Know About H1N1

The recent news of H1N1 or Swine Flu caused panic and uproar of sorts, but that is why you need to know the facts. For instance, did you know? The first pandemic of H1N1 was way back in 2009, in Mexico. It is a respiratory disease and is contagious. It lasts from 3-7 days and serious illness may take up to 9 days to recover. As in the cases of most contagious diseases, the best way forward is prevention. We hope the information you get here helps you prevent or cope with this disease.

What is Swine Flu?

As the name suggests, the virus that infects the respiratory tract of pigs has the same symptoms as a virus in human flu. The pigs that survive, the sickness lasts up to two weeks. People who are closely associated with pigs, for example, pig rearers, vets or pork food processors may come in contact with this virus and develop the swine flu infection through the same virus. Similarly, when humans with flu come in contact with pigs, the pigs can get infected too.

What Causes it?

Swine flu or H1N1 is contagious, so that means that simple acts of coughing or sneezing will send the virus flying into the air, and if ingested or inhaled, you can be infected. Therefore, one thing must be clear here that you will never attract the virus by eating cooked pork. If you touch an infected surface and then eat or touch your eyes and nose, then chances of spreading the virus from saliva and mucus are much higher.

Risk Factors for Swine Flu

From the little outbreaks prevalent since 2009 and the recent one in India, it is seen that H1N1 is most common with children ages 5 years and up. However, you can be at a higher risk of contracting this disease if you were:

  • A senior, over the age of 65
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children under 5 years
  • Teenagers under 19 years regularly taking aspirin therapy
  • Weak immune system
  • Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease.

Symptoms of H1N1

If you or your loved one ever had the flu, then the symptoms of H1N1 are much the same. Since it is the respiratory tract that is infected, you will have trouble breathing because of the stuffy nose, coughing, chills, and fever. There can be nausea and vomiting, sore throat, body ache, fatigue, and diarrhea too. It is so exhausting that you will have to rest for two weeks to recover.

Warning Signs

If you are a person with a weak immunity or who easily gets sick, then you may worry, that’s understandable. The symptoms let you know this is a terrible disease however, most patients recover with no problems. The high-risk individuals though are likely to have a worse outcome. The complications may look like a severe case of pneumonia or bronchitis including sinus and ear infections.

Prevention Tips

H1N1 is contagious and so, the easiest way to prevent getting infected by the virus is to keep yourself away from an outbreak in your community. Whether it is school, work or any public gathering, stay at home before you get a vaccination for it. If you find yourself surrounded by people affected by the virus, make sure you wash your hands with warm water and soap.

Avoid touching your face, nose or eyes with unwashed hands. If you feel you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, rush to your doctor for a diagnosis and take prescribed medicines. It’s best to stay at home and rest if you contract the illness. Use disposable tissues or sneeze into your shoulders to prevent others from being infected.

Home Remedies to Prevent H1N1

  • Increase daily intake of citrus fruits, such as amla.
  • Eat at least five tulsi leaves daily in the morning to boost immunity.
  • Drink warm milk mixed with a pinch of turmeric at nights.
  • Swallow two pods of raw garlic, on empty stomach in the morning with warm water.
  • Regular Pranayam can help you keep your throat and lungs healthy.

The best way to ease your symptoms of swine flu is to remain hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids such as warm water, soup or juices. You need to rest as much as possible. Last, stay informed with local community news to learn about new vaccine availability and other relevant information about H1N1.

10 Things to Help You Improve Your Heart Health

Did you know? One in every third person is killed by a Heart Attack in India. That’s a scary statistic. Here’s another statistic, smoking cigarettes increases your risk to a heart attack by 12 percent! Don’t be a statistic. If you want to lower your risk to heart disease, then here are science-backed ways to improve your heart health.

Listen to Music

Yes! You read that right. Listening to the music you love lowers blood pressure and your heart rate. The tempo matters here so if you are a heavy metal fan that will only increase your blood pressure. Listen to soft, mellow music that relaxes you and calms you down.

Stop Stressing so much

Stress has become the new normal. People easily accept it coming from work, finance, traffic, people relationships. But did you know? All this stress increases your risk of heart disease by 40 percent! If you experience office stress, take the time to reflect on what is causing you stress, identify the triggers and deal with them. You can also reflect on your personal relationships and see if any of those need mending, your love, and support to thrive.

Eat Chocolate

If you are die hard for chocolate, then this must be great news for you! Countless studies reverberate the same notion. Dark chocolate helps you reduce blood pressure. The cocoa in the chocolate is rich in antioxidants and the flavonoid compound helps create more nitric oxide in your body. This element helps your blood walls to relax and open wider. That’s how you lower blood pressure.

Drink Protein Shakes

Whey protein is plant protein and consuming 56gm a day of protein improves our heart health. It reduces the risk of heart attack by 8 percent. Now that’s a good chunk, considering how delicious and healthy your breakfast shakes will be when you add fresh or frozen fruit along with whey in it.

Go Easy on the Salt

If you like salty foods or too much salt in your sabzi then you need to think twice. Excess salt in your blood causes damage to your blood vessels, constricting them this increases the blood pressure, giving you high BP. There is sodium in salt and high sodium consumption is a major red flag for your heart. Ditch processed foods with sodium and eat fresh food sprinkled with natural salt.

Stay Hydrated

When your body is deprived of fluids, especially water, your heart has to work double time to make up for it. Your heart’s job is to pump blood in and out of your blood vessels to remove toxins and purify your blood. You need to stay hydrated by drinking more water every day. If you do workout, then it’s even more important to hydrate. Sip water instead of gulping down water only after meals. Bonus point? Water helps your skin, hair and fights bad breath too. It’s good for you in every other way.

Be Heart Strong with Running

Running is great for your heart health. If you ever thought of running as an exercise, then this is your cue to do it today. When you run, if improves your coronary arteries’ flexibility. This boosts the blood flow. Therefore, no lumps are formed in your arteries. Blocked arteries lead to heart attack. You don’t have to run 20 kilometers every day. Walking is just as good.

Have more Sex!

Sex can tire you out, it can excite you, increase your heart rate and blood pressure, but the great thing about sex is that it reduces the risk of heart disease by 50 percent because of all the happy hormones released by having sex. These hormones help you relax, reduce stress, improve relationships and help you get better sleep.

Get Adequate ZZZZs

Sleep deprivation contributes to high blood pressure, and that contributes to increased risk of heart disease too. You can stay active all day and go to sleep at least by 10.15 pm to get a full night’s rest. Improve our sleeping environment by dimming the lights, keeping away from smart devices and installing heavy curtains to block out external heat and light.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure

The wearable revolution has made this so easy for you. Check it as often as you can remember and see if it goes above 120/80. After the age of 35, you have to schedule and learn your numbers with a full physical checkup. This should raise a flag and you must go see your doctor to discuss your options.

 

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Are Not the Same

Do you get confused when people use these terms? Alzheimer’s and Dementia are interchangeably used so much these days that one can easy mistaken it to have the same meaning. Well, it’s not. While one may form a part of the other, but Alzheimer’s and Dementia are not the same. Here’s an analogy to help to understand and decipher the difference between the two medical terms.

A quick analogy for illustration

Say one day you cough and sneeze a lot but you are unsure why. Since it’s summer you don’t have a cold. So you go to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor checks your breathing and orders a series of tests to help decide the cause. After the test results come in, the doctor is sure what is causing the sneezes. The diagnosis is that you have developed an allergy. It’s the summer and the most common allergy could be due to pollen in the air, etc.

Are you wondering where Alzheimer’s and Dementia come into play here? Well, perhaps you want to read the illustration again because the allergy is the diagnosis – which is dementia. A cough and sneeze are symptoms like memory loss and we’ll talk more about it in a just a bit. The pollen or one cause for dementia is the Alzheimer’s disease. Go ahead, read the analogy again to get a fair idea.

Why it’s important to know the difference

Dementia impacts memory, performance to do things, and communication. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease that affects memory and language and gets worse with time. The symptoms, causes and the effects of both Alzheimer’s and Dementia are different. It’s important that you know the difference for management and treatment of the two degenerative diseases. Let’s get to know them one by one.

Dementia is the umbrella term

First, dementia is a syndrome which is a bunch of symptoms. Dementia affects the brain and attacks memory and reasoning of the individual. It is an umbrella under which the Alzheimer’s disease falls. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes for the development of dementia. Not the other way around.

There are many types of dementia because it may stem from different causes. No matter the cause, as dementia progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for an individual to function independently. Although young people can develop dementia, it’s one of the biggest concerns for the elderly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 47 million people affected by dementia all over the world. and Indian houses close to 4.1 million of them. These numbers are expected to double every two decades.

What are the symptoms and causes of dementia?

It is hard to know the symptoms at first because they are not easily seen. You forget where you put the keys or if you have turned off the gas or to switch off the geyser. It starts with simple forgetfulness that seems like an everyday thing. Those having dementia seem to lose track of time.

With time, as the forgetfulness increases so does confusion. People struggle with remembering names and connect faces and eventually, show obvious signs when personal hygiene becomes a problem too. Some of the symptoms of dementia include:

  • Asking same questions repeatedly
  • Questionable hygiene
  • Poor skills for decision-making
  • Difficulty in recalling names and recognising faces
  • Depression
  • Aggression

 Dementia is more likely to occur with age and one of the leading causes if damaged brain cells which are caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. Around 70% of dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s. Other causes include HIV, stroke, depression or drugs.

Alzheimer’s Disease

There is no known cure for the Alzheimer’s disease and the exact cause it yet to be determined. This is a progressive disease wherein; the damaged cells in the brain impair memory and cognitive function. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are seen after the age of 60 years, although even young people get it too. When it occurs in the elderly, it can be fatal almost within three years of the diagnoses. For young people, it may take longer.

While there is memory and cognitive loss even with the Alzheimer’s disease, just as in dementia, there are other symptoms, which include:

  • Struggle to recall events and conversations
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Struggle to speak, swallow and walking

Overlapping Treatments

Since dementia may have multiple causes such as chronic drug use, stroke, tumor metabolic or thyroid disorders, the treatment of these cases is likely to go well. These are reversible causes. However, irreversible dementia has not treatment to help stop it or cure it.

For Alzheimer’s there is no known treatment. But some antipsychotic medication, pills for memory, sleep, and depression may help the symptoms to be manageable. However, Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness. Depending on the age, the time to death may vary. Some young people live with Alzheimer’s for two decades, others older than 80 years may die within three years of diagnoses.

If you are not sure about the symptoms you or your loved ones may have, speak to your doctor. Getting on the right treatment plan will help you manage the symptoms better.

 

Common Eye Ailments You Need to Be Aware Of

Eye ailments are cynical if you think about it. Problems in your eyes may not happen just with old age. Those can happen to you even if you are as fit as a fiddle. Either way, eyes are your greatest assets and so, it is important to celebrate them. The most important body feature apart from your teeth! Your eyes are the window to your soul but you also consume the world with your eyes. You eat with your eyes first, no? There is no point in taking your eyes for granted, for common eye ailments. Here is what you need to know so you can maintain your eye health to the T.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is contagious and one of the most common eye ailments. It comes in different forms. For instance, the infection can result from having a cold or other viral infection. Wearing infected lenses also are one of the leading causes of this disease. If you are allergic to animals or pollen, your eyes can get dry and itchy; this is the allergic form of conjunctivitis. Antibiotics are best to treat this common eye ailment.

Myopia

Did you ever have trouble looking at far away things? If you’ve been to an eye doctor’s office, this is a routine test given to patients. The test helps the optician to choose the best prescription glasses for you. Myopia can cause things at a distance to appear blurry. This is also known as a refraction error of the eye, so being near-sighted or far-sighted is a part of it. Age is also a factor and is a leading factor in developing myopia after the age of 40. Although wearing the right prescription glasses, taking vitamins may help prevent myopia, there is not enough evidence to prove this. Either way, wearing glasses or the right contact lenses can help cure the refraction errors.

Cataract

Ok so this one is more common with the aging population, but can happen at any age. Regardless, you need to know of this eye ailment. This way, you can prepare yourself and take better care of your eye health before it is too late. The cataract disease affects your lenses, clouding the eyes. It is the leading causes of blindness in most countries. There are many risk factors of cataract such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, just to name a few. You’ll be surprised to know that overexposure to the UV (ultra-violet) rays is one of the main reasons that cause cataract at any age. Untreated cataract causes severe damage to your lenses, causing vision loss. It’s not all that bad, though. The best way to cure yourself out of a cataract condition is a swift surgery – which is covered by most insurance policies too!

Glaucoma

This one is a silent killer – and it’s hereditary. In the sense, it may not show you any real symptoms or signs. This common ailment affects the nerves in your eyes. The prolonged pressure inside the eye can cause serious damage and even vision loss if left untreated. There is evidence that cancer can cause glaucoma. Although this eye ailment cannot be cured, regular visits to the doctor can help you get started on treatments to prevent further damage.

Keratoconus

Just as a robust steel skeleton holds a concrete building in place, so do collagen fibres in your eyes. These fibres keep the shape of your cornea. This is not a common eye ailment, but it isn’t rare either so that’s why we’re talking about it. You need to know of keratoconus because it can be cured with treatment. Otherwise, there is always a keratoconus transplant surgery for this eye ailment.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Yes, diabetes has serious repercussions and a common eye ailment as diabetic Diabetic Retinopathy is one of them. Diabetes gets extreme amounts of blood sugar in your blood. Prolonged high doses of sugar in your blood causes severe damage and rupture to your eyes. With the fast increasing numbers of diabetic patients in the world, keep your eye out for this common eye ailment. Although there is no cure for this (yet) laser treatments and surgical removal of the damage blood vessels in your eye help improve vision.

Macular Degeneration

This is another age-related common eye ailment. You will not believe it but this common ailment has a “Dry” and “wet” form. The dry form takes at least 10 years to complete vision loss. The wet form is more cynical. It’s bad enough that there is no cure AND factors such as smoking and family history increase the risk factors to Macular Degeneration. Then again, there are treatments available now to delay the speed at which this disease progresses. Make sure to see your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) who can help detect any early signs and help you prevent its progression.

Do you know what these common eye ailments have in common? These diseases can be prevented or even cured if detected early. Remember to keep your doctor’s appointments – especially if you wear glasses. See you doctor regularly to make sure you maintain your eye health regardless of your age.

Mercury Rising – Here is How You Can Avoid Heat Stroke

Summer has come and with it, arrived weather-related illnesses. The weather change may bring slight discomfort and fever in little children but everyone has to know of a potential heat stroke. Did you know? Your body is an amazing machine that manages its temperature by producing its own heat in the winter times and cooling the body by sweating in the summer times. Your body can take care of itself around 37 degrees, but as soon as the mercury rises, your body’s mechanisms to cool may not keep up and it should. So, when your body cannot cool itself down in extreme temperatures, heat-related problems creep up.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Hot environments are a threat to your body. The most common heat-related illnesses are heat stroke followed by heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is similar and also serious but not fatal like a heat stroke can be. There is a general weakness, heavy sweating, vomiting, partial loss of consciousness or pale skin.

Whether you are shopping outside, working in your garden or fields, exposure to extreme humidity and heat impedes your body’s ability to cool off. You may get heat rashes, faint due to heat exhaustion but a heat stroke is a deadly condition. If you don’t get to the doctor on time, it can even be fatal. You should know the warning signs of a heat stroke to make sure you and your loved one get immediate medical attention.

Warning signs of a Heat Stroke

If you were having a heat stroke, you may not know it! it’s funny, isn’t it? Well, knowing these signs will help you recognise the discomfort in your loved ones so you can get them help. While the signs may vary in different people, keep a lookout for these warning signs of a heat stroke:

  • No sweat and dry/hot skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • Strong pulse or heart rate
  • High temperature (above 39.4 degrees)
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures

What causes heat strokes?

Knowing the causes will help you do things to avoid heat stroke. Any kind of heat-related disease is because of your body’s failed heating and cooling system. When our body sweats, it is a natural way to cool it down. Working out in hot weather, wearing heavy clothing in the heat, consuming alcohol and dehydration are of the causes for heat exhaustion. Feeling exhausted by overheating for an extended amount of time can lead to a heat stroke. Even though anyone experiencing overheating is at risk for a heat stroke, other factors can also increase the risk of heat stroke.

Who is at risk for heat strokes?

As a general rule of thumb, little children under the age of four and seniors over the age of 65 are more at risk for heat-related diseases. This is because their bodies experience difficulty in regulation at such an age.

Do you or your loved one take medication for high blood pressure? Such medications and heart-related illnesses may cause dehydration which increases the risk of heat stroke.

Are you overweight? If you or your loved one weighs more than normal, your body retains heat more and finds it difficult to cool down fast also.

Planning a vacation to a warmer or cooler climate? If you go to a place with extreme temperature, your body may struggle to keep up and maintain balance. If you going to a hotter climate, your body may not regulate itself which may cause a heat stroke.

Focus on preventing heat stroke

Here are five ways to avoid heat stroke.

  1. Avoid overexposure to the sun: Even if you have to work outside, find a cool place in the shade and away from the heat of the sun. If that is not possible, then make sure you take a lot of breaks or reschedule to avoid working in the heat all together. Use sunscreen.
  1. Stay hydrated: Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of heat stroke apart from extended heat exposure. Drink water at regular intervals even before you feel thirsty. Remember, if you are thirsty, then your body is already dehydrated. Seasonal fruits like sugarcane juice, lemon juice, and all sorts of melons are excellent hydrates of the body.
  1. Wear appropriate clothing: Some people have a tendency to put on extra clothes on babies, even in the heat! Avoid this because even babies and little children need to regulate their body temperatures and are more at risk of a heat stroke. If you have to go outside or work outside, make sure to cover your head with a scarf or a hat. Wear cotton clothes that are loose and airy to help instant cooling of our body in the summer heat.
  1. Avoid heat-y foods: Replace caffeine and alcohol with smoothies, fresh fruit or vegetable juices. Eating spicy food also increases your body temperature. So eat light meals to keep your body cool this summer.
  1. Avoid sitting in a hot car: Don’t leave little children, the elderly or your pets in a parked car. In the hot summer heat, cars tend to heat up quickly and as the mercury rises, they are at most risk of heat stroke.

With heat stroke, it’s so important to focus on the prevention methods. Do you have more tips?