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Time You Stopped Poping Those Antibiotics

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Antibiotics are used liberally during this season of coughs, colds and sore throats, even though most sinus, ear infections and sore throats are mostly viral infections. Antibiotics, as the name suggests, should only be used to treat bacterial diseases, and using it for anything else can lead to antibiotic resistance, which means the medicines won’t work when you actually have a bacterial disease.

This in turn can have serious consequences with mankind returning to a pre-antibiotic era where bacterial infections were untreatable. Simple bacterial diseases would turn fatal, and epidemics of diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis could become a reality.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most critical public health threats, according to the US’ Centers for Disease Control And Prevention and the World Health Organization. It has emerged as a very serious health issue in India, according to the Chennai Declaration, an association of medical societies across India specially created in 2012 to formulate a road map to tackle the menace of antibiotic resistance. One of the reasons antibiotics are overused in India is easy accessibility—you don’t need always need a prescription to purchase them. The efforts of the Chennai Declaration has led to recent regulation that says that from 1 March, antibiotics can no longer be sold over the counter. This is a step forward in the right direction.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US

Mixed signals

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Pain is a protective experience: It�s our brain�s siren call to get us to pay attention to what it perceives as a dangerous situation for the body. If you accidentally sprain your ankle while running, the brain tells you that it hurts so that you tend to your ankle immediately. If you didn�t feel the pain after spraining your ankle, you�d keep running and seriously damage your ankle. �Pain is one of life�s most sophisticated mechanisms, assisting us to successfully navigate our physical environments,� says Lorimer Moseley, professor of clinical neurosciences and chair in physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, in an email interview.

Sometimes, though, pain can become the illness itself. In 1931, French medical missionary Albert Schweitzer wrote that �pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself�. Chronic pain, or pain that extends for three months or more, is a disease of relentless anguish. According to a report published in May by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., a US-based market research firm, more than 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain, and though exact figures are hard to come by, doctors assume that a few million of those sufferers live in India. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source.

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This Post Was Built With Fusion Page Builder!

Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.

The silent epidemic

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

What do you do when you can�t hear something that is quietly but steadily wearing out your body? You try and listen more closely. High blood pressure (BP), or hypertension, has reached epidemic proportions among Indians today.

Sanofi�s 2009-10 Screening India�s Twin Epidemic (SITE) study on hypertension and diabetes found that 46% of 15,662 adults tested across urban areas in seven states (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat) and Delhi had hypertension; 20.6% had both diabetes and hypertension, and 34.7% had diabetes. The study was funded by pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis.

The SITE study results reflect the number of Indian adults suffering from hypertension alone, and not as a consequence of any underlying diseases.

The study was carried out by Shashank Joshi and his colleagues at Mumbai�s Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre, Bhatia Hospital and Grant Medical College, and the results were published in the Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics journal in January.

While many of us are aware of the diabetes epidemic waiting to explode, not many of us know that cases of hypertension too are on the rise. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Don’t Back Away From Back Pain

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Dehli-based Varsha Jain, 35, is the busy mother of two teenagers. A few months ago, she bent down to pick up keys from the floor and suffered a severe pain in her lower back followed by a spasm. She had to lie down right there. Jain was diagnosed with mild disc prolapse and was recommended bed rest and medicines for pain relief and swelling. She was also asked to do a few simple back-strengthening exercises, including the bridge pose. She says exercising and the medicines helped her recover in a month.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Beat the blues

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Seeking help when you’re feeling down or blue for weeks or even months is something that many people feel uncomfortable doing. Most people do not think twice about looking for treatment for physical health problems like a broken leg rather than reach out for a mental health problem like addiction. Perhaps it is because a broken leg is visible and treatable in a straightforward manner and likely to garner sympathy from family and friends. Being addicted to alcohol may or may not be visible depending on how successful the person is at hiding the addiction, but it isn’t as straightforward to treat and it isn’t going to garner support from family or friends. People often think of mental ill health or addiction as evidence of a weak character or lack of willpower, but it is an illness like any other that requires professional treatment. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Tormented by headaches?

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Adull ache started behind my right eye one afternoon six months ago. By the evening it had morphed into a throb the size of a golf ball. It got so bad that after 3 hours of braving the pain I had to take a paracetamol and lie down. The painkiller didn�t help and I spent the evening feeling maddeningly alert given the throbbing in my head and the pangs of nausea that accompanied the pain.

The headache came in waves till it finally subsided. The headache came again around the same time next month and the months thereafter. There was a pattern, the headaches preceded my monthly period by exactly two days.

I consulted S. Murali, consultant neurologist at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. He took a detailed patient history and advised that I get a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan done to check for any structural abnormalities in the brain. The scan was normal and Dr Murali said what I was experiencing was a run-of-the-mill migraine headache.

A head start: Supplement medicines with relaxation techniques like meditation for quick relief.

Common though they may be, migraines can be extremely painful and debilitating. I was losing two-three days every month because there wasn�t much I could do except lie down once the headache started. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source.

blog1-compressor

This Post Was Built With Fusion Page Builder!

Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don’t look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn’t anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.

Not just baby fat

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

A 14-year-old-girl in class IX in New Delhi had her parents worried. She had a petite 5ft, 1-inch frame and weighed a whopping 74kg. She also had excessive facial hair, acne and irregular periods. She seemed uninterested in playing sports or engaging in extra-curricular activities.

Her parents took her to the doctor and medical investigations revealed that she was clinically obese, and her insulin levels were dangerously high. When the doctor probed further he found that a large portion of the girl�s diet consisted of fried foods and aerated drinks. She was barely exercising. She spent her time outside of school on the computer or in front of the TV. After a detailed investigation by an endocrinologist, dietitian and psychologist, it was decided that she needed to change her diet and get both exercise and behavioural counselling. She and her parents were counselled on the health pitfalls that awaited her if she didn�t lose weight, and on the benefits of exercise. She was encouraged to eat right and to do a minimum of 45 minutes� exercise a day. After six months, her weight was down to 56kg and her Body Mass Index (BMI�a measure of body fat derived from a person�s weight and height) was at a healthy 23. Her insulin levels were back to normal, her facial hair, acne and period irregularity were less severe and the doctor told her everything would be back to normal as long as she maintained her weight. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

HPV vaccine: cancer killer

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Bharati Jacob, founder-partner of Seedfund, a venture investment firm based in Bangalore, had her daughter vaccinated with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine when she entered her teens. “My brother-in-law is a paediatrician and he recommended that I vaccinate my daughter. I am pleased I could do something to protect my daughter against cervical cancer,” Jacob says.

Duru Shah, scientific director of Gynaecworld, Mumbai, recommends the vaccine to all her patients—teenagers and women in their early 40s alike. One of her patients who is in her 40s recently took the second of three doses of the HPV vaccine that are required to confer protection against the HPV infection. “My father died from gastric cancer, and my mother was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer,” she says. “After seeing them suffer, I wanted to do what I could to protect myself from any kind of cancer.”

On 2 June, actor Michael Douglas announced in an interview in The Guardian that his throat cancer had been caused by the HPV infection, a sexually transmitted disease.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US

The power of afternoon naps

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

I have been taking 20-minute afternoon naps every day for the past 25 years,” says Suresh Pingale, 73, agriculturist and former president of the Rose Society of India. “I knew I was on the right track when I learnt that Sir Winston Churchill believed in afternoon naps too. I find that naps refresh me and allow me to keep up with my work and other commitments till 10.30pm at night. It’s like getting two days in one.”

Scientists have been studying afternoon naps for a while and in March 2012, a review of scientific articles on afternoon naps, Prioritizing Sleep For Healthy Work Schedules, was published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology. The review by Masaya Takahashi, of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Kawasaki, Japan, sheds light on how power naps help rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit.

Takahashi’s review found that studies on brief power naps of 15-20 minutes, taken in the middle of the workday, show an improvement in brain function by increasing our ability to learn and remember. A study in Academic Medicine in October, published after Takahashi’s review, had similar results. The sleep study was conducted by Avram Gold and colleagues at the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, Stony Brook University, Northport, New York, US, and they looked at the effects of a 20-minute afternoon nap on 29 first-year medical residents, a particularly sleep-deprived lot of professionals. The study found that the 18 medical residents who took a nap were far more alert and less error-prone for the rest of their workday compared to the 11 who stayed awake during that period.
And the length of the nap seems to be important.Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

It’s all in the genes

By |March 9th, 2016|General|

Do you need to know if your DNA is imbedded with disease-causing mutations?

The answer is, it depends.

In May, actor Angelina Jolie announced in an article in The New York Times that she had a double mastectomy, or the surgical removal of both her breasts. She wrote that she chose this path because of a heightened risk of breast cancer given her family history and because her DNA carries breast cancer-related mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

It is no surprise then that mutations in these genes—basically errors in their blueprint—predispose us to cancer. Mutations in these genes prevent damaged DNA from being repaired and this DNA damage over successive replications can result in the cell growing uncontrollably and the tissue becoming cancerous.

All cancers are caused, in part, by mutations to the DNA, but only 5-10% of all cancers are caused by mutations inherited from our parents. As we age we tend to accumulate mutations as a natural part of ageing and these mutations can result in cancer. But these mutations are not inheritable, which is why in most people cancer appears later in the lives.

Vijay Haribhakti, consultant surgical oncologist, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, worries about Jolie’s decision and the impact it can have. “Some women in India may choose to undergo a preventive double mastectomy when they do not need to,” he says. According to him, 80% of his efforts in surgery are on breast conservation and his advice is that a double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery is not something to take lightly. “It is a major surgery with risks of complications at several junctures. Also, latest research shows that compared with a double mastectomy, a double mastectomy combined with an oophorectomy, or the removal of the ovaries, is even better at risk reduction if that is the end-point being considered,” he adds. However, an oophorectomy has its own side-effects of accelerated ageing and accelerated osteoporosis. Read More

Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.

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