The Dangers of Self-Medication

Nowadays, everyone feels like they have the qualities of a doctor. And hence, they often resort to self-medication. ‘Bad stomach? I know the pill for it!’ ‘Pain in the abdomen? It’s probably just acidity!’ While health issues like cough, cold, and fever can be treated at home, at times, the health issue at hand may be much bigger for which, visiting a doctor is an absolute must. The doctor is the only one who can give you a complete diagnosis of your situation and provide you with guidance regarding the steps you can take going forward, to enhance the healing process.

Self-medication is harmful due to a number of reasons. A study by Psychology Today explains that individuals tend to act as their own physicians in an attempt to handle the symptoms of the physical or mental health concern involved with it. A lot of times they want to hide their condition since going to the doctor may come across as a sign of weakness. Sometimes, they are scared or embarrassed, and at times, they simply want to avoid the expenses of getting the diagnosis of the problem from a professional. Truth is, self-medication can ruin a person’s life, the lives of others around him/her and can end up making the original situation much worse than it was.

Some of the important dangers of self-medication are:

Wrong Drug Dosage

When you decide to prescribe drugs for yourself, there is no one to tell you the right dosage for the pills you are using. Even if you have got the drug right, factors such as the dosage of the drug, how it needs to be taken, its composition and its side-effects or reactions, if any, also need to be considered. Ignorance and lack of awareness when it comes to these things can cause serious problems and can also lead to a fatality. According to a study by the non-profit group, Trust for America’s Health, nearly 52% of deaths were related to prescription drug overdoses where the patients did not even know that they have taken an overdose.

Side-effects

Many medicines tend to have side effects on your body. When you go to a physician, he gives you appropriate drugs to counter those effects and stabilize your body. He prescribes medicines keeping in mind your body type, your diet, your daily routine, etc. Self-medication, on the other hand, can lead to severe side effects such as allergic reactions, loose stools, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Wrong Diagnosis

One of the major things that can go wrong when you resort to self-medication is the wrong diagnosis of the disease at hand. You may be suffering from some specific symptoms and will link those to a disease that you know of. You will end up taking the medicines for it but that probably will not work. This can complicate simple situations and also make it difficult for the doctor to correctly diagnose and treat your situation at later stages.

Self-medication for Pregnant Women

This one could probably be the most dangerous kind of self-medication. Wrong moves or intake of unfamiliar drugs could cause birth defects and congenital anomalies in the child. What the mother consumes during the pregnancy stage directly affects the child so it is very important that they find out all the information about the particular drug that they are consuming. Visiting a physician and taking his recommendations for the medicines would be the best way to go about it.

Addiction to the Wrong Drug

A lot of times, there are cases wherein a patient is taking a wrong drug and gets addicted to it. This is especially true in the case of medical conditions such as depression where the doses of the drug are very high and cause severe effects. If you are following self-medication, there is no one who can reassess the prescription for you. Strong pills and their overdose can lead to severe problems or even death. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 33,175 people died in 2012 due to an unintentional drug overdose.

Masking the Symptoms of a Serious Condition

The route of self-medication may also cause the patients to overlook the symptoms of a serious condition that they may be suffering from. For example, a patient may be suffering from a condition such as pneumonia but may pass it off as a case of the flu. At times, people tend to take this route to save themselves the embarrassment of being the victim of a serious disease. However, this is very harmful and the most inappropriate way of dealing with the problem.

Alternately, there are times when people tend to adopt the route of telemedicine. A lot of times, this may prove to be fruitful since it reduces the hassle of visiting the doctor in person and thus saves time and money. But where does the credibility come in? With so many portals offering medical advice, there are a lot of cases of spam and frauds. The advising authority may not have the right knowledge or skills to guide you with the best possible treatment. Carelessness and lack of precision from their end could lead to devastating results and also a case of fatality. When you are looking for doctors offering telemedicine, look for the credibility of the doctors and the portals which offer this service.

Don’t take your health very lightly. Always remember, Google is not your doctor – avoid self-medication. Always consult a doctor for the smallest of health issue. After all, the preservation of health is always easier than a cure of the disease.

 

14 Tips to Stay Fit and Healthy This Monsoon Season

We are always happy to welcome the monsoons! The first showers that bring in the smell of fresh rain, soaking up dry mud are a welcome break from the scorching heat we have to face for the months before that. While the rainy season comes in with a lot of positivity, the one thing we need to pay attention to in this season is our health. Cold, cough, running nose, or viral fever become a common phenomenon during this season. Water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, dengue, malaria, cholera and typhoid are also seen to spread among the masses easily. All this and our eating habits adversely affect our workout routines as well, leading to an overall disruption in our health routine. So how do we ensure that we do not become victims of the diseases floating in the air this season? How do we know that we are making healthy choices? Here’s a quick guide to some of the things we must and must not do to stay healthy and fit this season:

1) Eat only when you feel hungry. This is a universal mantra for food all year round but holds a lot of relevance during the rainy season. Overeating causes ingestion problems and other illnesses.

2) Make fruits an important part of your daily diet. Fruits such as apples, mangoes, pomegranates, and pears are great. You can avoid summer fruits such as watermelon and muskmelon.

3) Foods such as brown rice, oats, and barley are the best foods you can have during this monsoon.

4) Try to have as less salt as possible by using it in average amounts in your food. Salt causes high blood pressure and water retention.

5) Opt for dry foods such as corn, gram flour, chickpea and stay away from watery foods like lassi and or heavy food items like rice.

6) Hot foods like soups, stir fries, and curries will be a treat to your throat as well as your body in this season. Add a dash of garlic to these – it will help in increasing immunity.

7) Avoid too much milk in your diet and try inculcating yogurt, curd, and almonds instead. Consume a lot of water each day to keep your body hydrated and try to stick to boiled or purified water to keep yourself away from the harmful germs and bacteria.

8) Your body is very prone to infections of different kinds in this season. Eating bitter vegetables such as bitter gourd and bitter herbs such as neem, turmeric powder, and methi seeds will make your body stronger and help in preventing infections.

9) Stay away from sesame oil, peanut oil, and mustard oil as they can invite infections. Instead, choose drying oils such as corn oil or light oil.

10)If you have sensitive skin or skin that is prone to rashes and other such problems, the monsoons can have adverse effects on your skin. To avoid skin allergies, skin irritation, boils,

change in skin colour dullness, rashes and pyoderma, refrain from eating spicy foods. Take care of your skin by using a good moisturiser and a good sunscreen lotion.

11)Don’t include large quantities of sour foods such as tamarind, tomatoes and lime in your diet since these can also be the cause of water retention in the body.

12)Ginger tea with hot pakodas this season feels great! You can also try having herbal teas, which have anti-bacterial properties. Try different variations such as ginger, pepper, honey, mint and basil.

13)While the rains and gloomy weather may make you lazy to hit the gym, a great alternative to losing calories would be to indulge in household chores. Sweeping and swabbing the floor proves to be the best exercise. You can try different yoga techniques at home too.

14)Another great alternative for workouts is using the stairs. Choose them over the lift every time you step outside the house. An average of ten rounds up and down the stairs will make you feel pumped up and re-energized.

Follow these simple guidelines, carry an umbrella to avoid getting wet in the rains every time you step out, and get ready to enjoy a healthy monsoon this season!

Who Says Vegetarians Can’t Get Enough Proteins?

Since the historic time of Home Sapiens, the human species is used to getting their dose of nutrients and proteins by feeding on other animals and creatures. But over the years, things changed. We, humans, became more aware of our health and the food we intake to keep our bodies fit. Due to our concern for the environment and other species, and our love for animals, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming increasingly popular among the masses. However, a lot of critics claim that a purely meatless diet is not as nutritious, one of the major reasons being the lack of proteins in it.

Protein as a nutrient is essential for the human body. Having healthy hair, skin and muscles all depends majorly on the amount of protein your body receives. A deficiency of protein in the body can lead to various problems such as fatigue, muscle weakness, hair loss, etc. So how can we stick to our personal food preferences and yet ensure that we achieve optimal health for our body? Worry not, because this is definitely possible even without including meat in your diet! As opposed to the popular myth that vegetarians will always face a lack of nutrients for their body, choosing the right kind of food can keep you healthy. Here are some of the food items that are purely vegetarian and still contain high amounts of proteins and vitamins:

Nuts

The easiest answer for proteins for vegetarians is nuts. Right from almonds and cashews to peanuts and hazelnuts, all kinds of nuts can be consumed at any time of the day and are rich in nutrients. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein with 4 gm per tablespoon. All you need to do is watch the salt if you consume these on a regular basis. Choose regular instead of salted to keep the sodium intake low.

Lotus Seeds or Makhana

A food item which is catching up on the popularity meter is Makhana. With tasty versions of it being introduced in the market, Lotus seeds are a great source of nutrients for the body. Along with being rich in protein they are anti-inflammatory and act as a great antioxidant. You can eat them raw, roasted, ground or boiled and can also add them to soups, salads, and also desserts.

Dairy

If you are a vegan, this section will not be applicable to you but if you are not, CHEESE is the answer to everything! Cottage cheese, cheddar, parmesan, they all are high in protein and can be eaten in all forms. Low sodium parmesan makes it to the protein heavyweight category with 42 gm in a 100 gm serving. Other products falling in the dairy category such as milk and ice cream also provide the body with a lot of protein, along with calcium.

Beans

Rajma chawal or beans on a pile of cheese nachos, whatever be the form, as long as you’re having beans, you know that your body is receiving a wealth of proteins. Black beans have the most proteins so try to include them in your diet as often as possible. Low in cholesterol and high in magnesium, half a cup of beans yields up to 7.5 gm of protein.

Soy

Soy is another food item packed with protein and is considered as a great alternative for meat by a lot of chefs. Tofu, tempeh, natto or soy milk, whichever form of soy suits your pallet, you know that it is going to be healthy. Tofu contains an impressive 20 gm of protein in every half cup, whereas soy beans have 14 gm per half cup.

Quinoa

Catching up soon into the world of good food, quinoa is another food item which chefs are eyeing and incorporating in new recipes. This tiny little seed is the only seed that provides all the nine essential amino acids which the body needs. It is rich in magnesium, iron and fibre and is a great resort for those suffering from diabetes. It can easily be chosen as a healthy substitute for pasta or rice.

So the next time someone gets to your head about the lack of protein your diet, you do not have to worry about it. With appropriate ingredients in the good proportions in your diet, you know that you are doing it right!

Health Track – Six Health Parameters Should You Care About Everyday

How do you manage your health? Ask anyone this question and they will rattle off a list of health and fitness apps they use. From tracking the number of steps you take each day, to monitoring your heart rate every hour…there is an app for almost everything related to your health. While most of us cram our smartphone with the latest ‘fad’ app, few of us know what really we should be monitoring every day when it comes to managing our health better. So, in the spirit of making the smartphone a useful health accessory, here’s a look at some of the key health parameters you should care about every day.

Step Tracking

Yes, step tracking has assumed a sort of cult status at the moment. Since we have suddenly woken up to the fact that ‘sitting is now the new smoking’, everyone is jumping on the 10,000 steps bandwagon for its obvious health benefits. Whether it is 10,000 steps, or more, or less, getting a means (app or wearable) to track your basic activity level helps in managing your sedentary life better. Exercise tracking apps make sure you stay put on the health track by helping you set and achieve your goals, give you work out ideas, quantify the calories burnt v/s calories ingested and track your progress. Time to roll off the couch and be active!

Diet Tracking

We are what we eat…but do we watch what we eat? A cookie here, a sip of soda there, a so-called light workday lunch at your favourite salad bar could be potentially derailing your weight loss initiatives and keeping you from being your fittest best. Health apps can help you scan, save, track and calculate the calories that you consume and also provide information on the nutritional content of the food that you have eaten. You can also use these apps to track your daily calories, fat, carbohydrate and protein intake to make sure that you have the scales tipping in your favour.

Caffeine Tab

Can’t sleep too well? What’s your caffeine intake on a daily basis? Most people think that caffeine in their system comes only from the cup of coffee that they drink. However, apart from the cups of coffee that you drink regularly, caffeine is a very common ingredient found in soft drinks, energy drinks, and other beverages. Coffee tracking apps make it easier to see how much caffeine you already have in your system and will intimate you when you need to take that ‘coffee –break’…literally.

Sleep Tracking

Want great health? Sleep well. Sleep tracking applications come in handy when you want to monitor and analyze your sleep cycles and review your sleep and wake patterns. Analysing these patterns help you figure out what’s tampering with your sleep and make the necessary adjustments to help you sleep easy.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Are you sure you are working out at the right intensity? Heart rate monitoring apps check your real-time heart rate and help your heart rate become your personal coach. These apps give a clear evaluation of the condition of your cardiovascular system during physical activity and can keep you informed is you need to increase or pull back your workout intensity or if you have found your perfect workout groove.

Water Tracker

Most of us don’t drink enough water and can benefit from a time to time aqua alert to make sure we stay healthy. Using a water drink tracker application not only gives you timely reminders on when you should drink water but also tracks how much water you should actually drink keeping your height, weight and activity levels in mind.

To manage your health better you need to monitor it well. So go ahead, take control of your health in your own hands (literally!) and enjoy a fit and healthy mind and body.

Have you Got Your Annual Check-up Done Yet?

Generally, we visit the doctor only when there is something wrong. Sure, you feel fit and healthy and have not called in sick even once in the past year. But given that we lead very sedentary lives that are high on stress and low on activity, getting that annual health check-up is the only guarantee that your health is at its 100%.

With lifestyle related diseases rampant today, getting regular health check-ups is one way to ensure that you can take a preventive approach to disease management. Some of the factors to take into consideration are your age, family history, and lifestyle choices. Family history, in a number of cases, influences the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer as well. With the help of regular health check-ups, problems can be identified earlier and treated on time. So how should you prepare for a health check-up?

The first step that you should take when preparing to take an annual health exam is by identifying a good physician. Once that has been done prepare a checklist which details:

• Your family medical history

• Types and number of surgeries

• Smoking history

• Medication and immunization list

• Allergies list

• Life changes that impact overall health

• Weight gain

You should also know that there are three kinds of health check-ups; routine physical examination, preventive health check and master health check-up. Preventive health check-ups are especially important for people with risk factors owing to family history or lifestyle choices such as smoking. A routine health exam assesses the condition of an individual’s general health while a master health check-up is more detailed and aids early detection of health problems. According to a number of studies, getting a whole battery of tests annually is not required since some of the invasive ones can actually have a negative health impact in the long term. If you are of relatively good health, have made the right lifestyle choices, and have no family history of heart-related diseases, diabetes, cancer or strokes here are a few things that you should ideally get assessed annually.

Haemogram:

A haemogram is a broad screening blood test to check for anomalies such as anaemia, infection, and other diseases. A haemogram check:

• Haemoglobin

• Packed cell volume

• R.B.C. count

• MCHC/MCV/MCH

• E.S.R.

• Peripheral Smear

• Platelet Count

• Total W.B.C./Differential Count

Biochemical Parameters:

The biochemical profile forms the database for most diagnostic investigations of internal diseases and includes:

• Fasting Sugar

• HbA1C

• Urea /Creatinine

• Uric Acid

• PP Blood Sugar (only for diabetic patients)

Lipid Profile:

Lipid Profile tests help identify an individual’s risk to heart disease and depending on the results, along with other associated factors, are taken into consideration to develop a treatment plan.

• Total Cholesterol

• HDL Cholesterol

• LDL Cholesterol

• Triglycerides

• Total Cholesterol /HDL Ratio

Liver Function Tests:

Liver Function Tests, also known as Liver Enzyme Tests are done to detect if the liver is functioning properly. These tests detect inflammation and damage to the liver and check the level of the certain liver enzymes. A typical Liver Function test will include:

• Total Protein/Albumin/Globulin

• SGPT/SGOT

• Alkaline Phosphatase

• GGTP

• S. Bilirubin

General Tests:

Apart from the above tests, there are a couple of preventive tests that fall under the category of general tests to check the overall health of an individual and identify if he/she is at risk for deadly diseases like cancer. These tests include:

• Complete Urine Analysis

• Stool Test(optional)

• ECG (Resting)

• X-Ray Chest

• Ultrasonogram of the abdomen

• Pap Smear (for women)

• Clinical examination

Along with getting all these tests done make sure that you keep a record of them as well. Instead of keeping mounds of physical records that can be easily displaced, look at digitizing them and store them on a secure healthcare platform that you can easily access from your smartphone. That way you are in control of your medical history and can pull it out whenever you need – anytime, anywhere.