FUNGI and FURUNCLE – Here is What You Need to Know

Have you ever noticed a brittle nail, with a flaky texture or yellowish tinge? Or maybe a painful, red bump on your skin, especially after a tropical vacation or a trek outdoors? Don’t worry, you’re not alone and you have plenty of options as far as treatment is concerned.

Although fungi and furuncles are equally uncomfortable, they are completely different from each other. It’s important to know these differences so that they may be successfully diagnosed and treated. Let’s start with the basics- fungi affect the nails whereas furuncles affect the hair follicles. There are treatments available for both, so there’s no need to worry if you notice either of the two erupt on your skin or nails. Let’s go into detail:

What are the symptoms of fungi?

  • The initial symptom is spotting on the nails, they begin to get stained yellow or white, and then get darker from the debris that collects under the nail
  • The texture of the nails is notably different, they tend to become extremely brittle, fragile and crumb-like.
  • There is also an unpleasant odour that develops if the nail is covered for a long time
  • In extreme cases, or if not diagnosed on early, the nail can also be dislodged from the skin

What causes fungi and how can I prevent it?

  • If you wear socks and shoes on a daily basis, you are at risk because you’re feet do not get the ventilation they need. This is the perfect chance for bacteria and infection to spread. Make sure that your shoes aren’t too tight, and your socks are made from a breathable fabric. Thick socks that absorb perspiration work the best.
  • Walking around public areas, such as swimming pools or saunas barefoot may not be the best idea. This is because these areas are an open ground for infections. If you are going to the nearest club for a swim, or for a relaxing massage at a spa, make sure you are wearing some sort of footwear at all times.
  • If you have an injury on your fingernail or toenail, make sure it is covered up. This is because an open wound makes you more susceptible to disease, especially fungi.

What are the various treatments for fungi?

  • A long-term treatment for fungi would be oral antifungal medicines which can be prescribed by a doctor. This treatment could last for six weeks, or could even take as long as five months for a healthy nail to grow back.
  • Another long-term treatment is medicated nail polish, which can also be prescribed by your doctor. This usually takes a year.
  • If you’re looking for something faster, there is laser therapy treatment for fungi as well.
  • In extreme cases, you might have to get your nail surgically removed. In this case, you will have to wait for a new, healthy nail to grow back.

 

So now that we have an understanding of what fungi is, why it’s caused and how to prevent it, let’s move on to furuncles!

What are the symptoms of furuncles?

  • A furuncle usually begins with a tiny, pea-sized reddish bump, and can be quite painful
  • The skin around the bump gets inflamed and appears red and swollen
  • The furuncle actually grows continuously as it fills with pus. If it’s not treated on time, it can grow to the size of a tennis ball
  • Like pimples and boils, the top of the furuncle has a tiny, white tip which is where the pus can be drained out from

What causes furuncles and how can I prevent them?

  • Furuncles are caused by a bacteria which infects the hair follicles
  • If your skin is broken due to an injury or an insect bite, you’re at risk because bacteria can enter your skin with ease. Make sure to clean the area thoroughly and keep it covered and dry till it scabs. Scratching insect bites is a big no-no as it’s a sure way to rupture irritated skin

What are the various treatments for furuncles?

  • If your furuncle is detected before it grows too big, it can be drained by a doctor
  • If your furuncles are severe or keep recurring, antibiotics are usually prescribed
  • A simple home remedy is to apply a warm, muslin cloth on the furuncle through the day. This helps it rupture and drain quickly. If you are not a professional, do not try rupturing the furuncle by yourself! You’ll need the help of a doctor for the same

Fungi and furuncles can be easily avoided if you take care of yourself and maintain proper hygiene. If you find yourself in the great outdoors, make sure you’re equipped with the right footwear, socks and insect repellent. The next time you see early signs of either fungi or a furuncle, remember it’s best to nip it in the bud. Remember not to self-diagnose or self-medicate, you can always reach out to us if you’re in need of a trusted Doctor.

10 Common Health Notions Examined Closely

Have you heard the notion about not swimming or taking a bath after you’ve eaten? There are many ways to become healthy, all roads lead to Rome kind of situation. Here are 10 common health notions dissected and presented so you can understand the truth thoughtfully too.

Drinking milk every day is good for you.

Call it aggressive marketing or an old wives tale, adults and even senior adults seem to have their hopes for health pinned on drinking milk every day. Milk is miraculous only up to a certain point for humans. Most grownups want to drink milk for their calcium and vitamin D fills. However, now compelling research now shows there is no direct link between drinking milk and less number of fractures in your life. On the contrary, there is a link with drinking milk and a higher rate of mortality in humans.

The 5-second rule of eating food dropped on the floor.

Have you heard this before? If you drop something on the floor, it’s ok to grab and eat it within five seconds of it falling. Now if it’s the last second chip from your pocket or your only piece of chocolate to sweeten your day – what would you do? Since you’ve heard of this common health notion before, you pick it up and eat it without a second thought, no? First, bacteria and virus don’t need seconds, they get attached to your food within milliseconds of falling on the floor. So give this notion a pass the next time your favourite food falls on the ground.

Don’t eat ice-cream when you have a cold

Most people find ice-cream comforting but if your kid has a cold ice-cream is a strict no-no in the house. Did you know? If you have a sore throat or are sick with a cold, ice-cream can soothe you. Besides, the notion “food the cold” stays true and ice-cream can give you those much-needed calories you otherwise may not get by starving yourself from sickness.

Sugar is bad for kids, it makes them hyperactive

One of the recent and most common notions is that sugar makes children hyper or refined sugar causes attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in kids. Be comforted that many scientific studies were conducted and these have failed to prove this notion.

Spending 1 hour a day at the gym is good for health 

Going to the gym and exercising an hour a day is great for you. However, did you know? Sitting at the desk or on your couch for five hours straight is equivalent to smoking a whole pack of cigarettes. Yes! Your one hour at the gym is one thing but you have many other hours in the day. Make the most of them too for better health.

Flu vaccination is only for babies

We all need a flu vaccination! Having flu is a serious illness and it can cause serious damage to your body, even cancer! Once you get the vaccination, before the flu season starts, it works without giving you side-effect. Prevention is always better than cure and so, flu vaccinations are critical even for adults and specifically the senior adults.

Taking supplements keep you healthy

Popping pills are fine but if you skip meals and then take supplements to make up the loss is a whole different matter. Vitamins don’t work that way. Taking vitamins or supplements without a go head from a physician is risky. Studies have now found a link between overuse of supplements and increased risk of cancer.

Drink 8 glasses of water daily to lose weight

Drinking water and staying hydrated is important but strictly eight glasses? If you replace caffeinated drinks with water or replace your canned fruit juices with water, you will consume fewer calories in that perspective.

Cure a hangover by drinking one more of whatever you had last night

No, that one shot of tequila again in the morning will not help your hangover. Even coffee is bad to follow up after all the alcohol binging. You are dehydrated so drinking more alcohol or coffee will prolong the effect rather than help it. Drink lots of water and get breakfast instead.

Sugar causes diabetes

Diabetes is complex and there are is no compelling research to suggest a direct link of sugar with diabetes disease. However, if you consume sugary drinks and sports drinks, you can become overweight and weight gain is associated with many diseases, not just diabetes.

With so much information right at your fingertips now, you can’t help but examine these common health notions that people throw at you every day. So the next time you hear something, question it and do the right thing for your health.

 

 

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.