How to Treat Insomnia

The word insomnia originates from the Latin ‘in’ meaning no and ‘somnus’ meaning sleep. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. It causes sleeplessness and is characterized by the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This leads to unrefreshing and non-restoring sleep and can have devastating effects on the mind and body.

Insomnia

Insomnia, more often than not, occurs as a result of some other problem. It can occur independently; however, it is usually the symptom of some other problem or disorder. Insomnia occurs generally due to psychological stress, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and several other medical conditions.

Insomnia is usually diagnosed by physical examinations, medical history, and sleep history. Sleep studies using polysomnography are also done to determine insomnia. Sometimes insomnia is present for a short period of time and goes away on its own. Insomnia that lasts for a longer period of time may need treatments and solutions. Treatment largely depends upon the cause of insomnia and may include medications, therapy, sleeping pills, cognitive behavioural therapy, sleep disorder treatment, etc.

Types of Insomnia

Insomnia can be acute or chronic. Acute insomnia is a short term insomnia that occurs due to certain changes in lifestyle such as stress of a new job, examinations, etc. That usually lasts for a few days or a few weeks. Chronic insomnia is a long term insomnia lasting from a few months to a few years. There are two types of chronic insomnia; primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is not a result of any underlying disease or condition and affects the daytime functioning. Secondary insomnia is a symptom or a side effect of some other disorders like depression, anxiety, chronic illness, etc.

Treatment of insomnia has a pharmaceutical as well as non-pharmaceutical approach. Insomnia can be treated by inducing certain lifestyle changes like reducing caffeine intake, avoiding exercise close to the bed time, increasing exposure to sunlight, etc. to name a few.

Treatment for Insomnia

Suggested treatment and changes include home remedies as well as medical therapies and may include the following:

Good Sleep Hygiene:

Having a good sleep hygiene is the most important aspect in overcoming difficulties faced regarding sleep. Good sleep habits can promote good sleep and help beat insomnia. Going to bed at the same time every night can help you sleep well. Avoid using gadgets that give off light before bed. It can make it harder to fall asleep. Increase exposure to sunlight. This regulates the melatonin production which in turn regulates the sleep-wake cycle of the body.

Good Sleep Hygiene

A proper environment to fall asleep includes a room that is dark, set at right temperature, and is quiet. Earplugs and sleeping masks can help drown out the lights and sounds, if they are a problem. Avoid associating other activities with bed. Use your bed only for sleeping and relaxing. A good sleep hygiene promotes healthy living.

Reduce Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol Intake:

Caffeine stimulates the body into hyper active mode and makes it harder to fall asleep. This can hinder with the normal sleep routine. Avoiding caffeine and caffeinated drinks a few hours before bed is suggested as caffeine can have disruptive effects on your sleep. This is because it blocks the adenosine receptor, a substance that promotes sleepiness, and keeps you from feeling sleepy.

Reduce Alcohol

Nicotine and alcohol before bedtime have a negative impact on the sleep schedule of a person. This is because they are stimulants and hence disrupt the sleep cycle. Nicotine levels decrease in the morning and may cause a person to wake up at ungodly hours to satisfy the craving. This disrupts the sleep leading to insufficient amount of sleep for an individual. Similarly, alcohol may help fall asleep quickly but its breaking down has a stimulant effect. This can cause a person to wake up early or several times during the night.

Hence, avoiding these stimulants is the best way to treat insomnia at home. This does not necessarily mean you have to stop smoking or drinking. But, limiting yourself to a glass of wine at dinner or smoking 4-5 hours before bedtime, can ensure you will have a satisfying sleep at night.

Meditation:

Meditation is a mind calming practice that has shown to promote sleep by focusing on breathing and awareness. It helps in breaking the train of stressful thoughts and worries, and evokes a relaxation response. As the mind calms, you begin to feel the effects of sleep. Meditation is the best treatment for people who want to treat their insomnia with no medications.

Meditation

This technique increases the sleep time, reduces measures of arousal in the brain, helps reduce the intake of sleeping pills, and reduces stress and anxiety. This ultimately helps in falling asleep faster and staying asleep for a longer period of time.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a treatment technique for insomnia that works with or without medications. CBT-I aims at improving the sleep habits by bringing about a change in the behavioural patterns and thoughts that may affect a person’s ability to sleep. It focuses on treatment of underlying causes. Once the causes have been identified, steps towards generating a better sleep schedule are taken.

These steps involve:

1. Stimulus Control
2. Sleep Hygiene
3. Sleep Restriction
4. Relaxation Training, and
5. Cognitive Therapy

Stimulus control aims to associate the bed with sleeping and guides people with insomnia to limit their activities in bed to sleep and sex, get out of the bed at the same time every day, and go to bed only when they are tired.

Sleep hygiene maximizes the hours of sleeping and ensures a peaceful and restful sleep. It mainly focuses on controlling the bed time rituals and sleeping environment to provide a good night’s sleep.

Restful Sleep

Sleep restriction aims at limiting the amount of time a person is asleep for. Insomniacs spend a lot of time in bed wide awake, leading to frustration and anxiety. This leads to the brain forming a negative connection between the bed and sleep. So, restricting the amount of time a person spends in bed is beneficial. Sleep restriction therapy is the most difficult step of CBT-I as it works by restricting the sleep time but causes an increase in the depth of sleep.

Relaxation therapy utilizes a number of techniques that help a person relax throughout the day and especially close to bedtime. These techniques help sort out thoughts and worries and help insomniacs relax. Meditation, guided imagery, etc. are some of the techniques that are used.

Cognitive therapy in CBT-I often aims at dispelling the beliefs and attitudes regarding sleep. It offers education regarding these thoughts and beliefs and how they affect the sleep cycle. Therapists often point out flaws in the beliefs, or subject the patient to situations that compel them to test their own beliefs. Therapists work to control the worry of patients by writing down their concerns, and approaching and solving them together, one at a time.

Medications:

There is a wide range of medications that are helpful in treating insomnia. These sleeping pills are often termed as hypnotics. Antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is an example of one of the most commonly used over-the-counter medications to treat insomnia. These medications can have side effects and hence consulting a doctor is often advised.

MedicationsPrescription medications include anti-depressants, sedatives, antihistamines, and melatonin receptor agonists. These medications have a variety of therapeutic effects and are often used to treat sleep disorders.

Certain medicinal herbs like Valerian roots, chamomile extracts, lavender, etc. are used as natural remedies to treat insomnia as they have natural medicinal and sedative properties. Some other herbs such as passionflower, lemon balm, and hops, are also promoted as effective sleep remedies. Some essential oils also improve sleep quality, decrease stress, relax the body, and promote better sleep.

Insomnia may be one of the most debilitating, exhausting, and chronic sleep disorder but it is not incurable. Figuring out the reasons and causes for insomnia can help people treat and overcome the disorder. Most of the cases of insomnia are related to stress, anxiety, depression, lifestyle choices, lack of exercise, poor sleep hygiene, chronic illness, or side effects of certain medications.

Insomnia can be treated with behavioural therapies, improving sleep habits, and identifying and treating the underlying causes. It is important to consult a sleep specialist to help cope with insomnia. Lifestyle changes and behavioural treatment can help people who do not want to treat insomnia with medications. And, medications are available for those who need it.

A good night’s sleep equals a good day and vice versa. Taking care of yourself day and night can ensure you get the best sleep. Make sure your daytime activities consist of healthy habits such as exercise, meditation, etc. Healthy lifestyle promotes a better sleep routine. A good night’s sleep is essential for providing rest and restoration to mind and body, and promotes healthy living.

Top Ten Tips for A Good Sleep

Are you familiar with the term sleep hygiene? It is a term used to collectively describe your bedtime and night time rituals and habits. The behaviours and habits can promote a good sleep routine and help in maintaining health.

Good Sleep

Having a good night’s sleep is an essential part of your routine in this world that is working 24/7. But bad sleep hygiene may prevent you from getting required amount of sleep and can often lead to decreased energy levels, low performance, can disrupt mood, and several other issues that may decrease your overall health. Getting enough sleep improves overall health quality, mood, energy levels, and performance.

The sleep-wake cycle of our body is controlled and regulated by an internal clock in the brain. Almost all our physical activities and processes are synchronized with this 24-hour physiological clock. Good sleep hygiene ensures good quality sleep, and is critical in maintaining balanced mental, emotional and physical health.

The most important elements to a good sleep are quiet room, dark room, cool temperature, and a comfortable bed or mattress. If you have these 4 essentials covered, you are most definitely on your way to a better sleep routine.

However, incorporating or improving one thing in your sleep hygiene can assist you in getting that fruitful good night’s sleep you are striving for. Here are some tips to follow that will definitely assist you in regulating your bed time habits.

  • Maintain a schedule and be in tune with your sleep-wake cycle:

The most important and easiest thing you can do, is sleep and wake up on the same time everyday. Even on weekends. Yes, that’s right! Sleeping in to catch up on sleep can disrupt your body’s habit of falling asleep at a particular time and will make it harder for you to fall asleep the next time. Stay in tune with your body’s sleep and wake cycle.

Sleep-Wake Cycle

Hitting snooze is another toxic habit and should be avoided at all costs. Set up an alarm for the exact time you want to get up. Hitting snooze every now and then will disrupt your sleep pattern. This will leave you feeling groggy and will result in you waking up with a headache.

  • Control Light Exposure:

It has been observed that light plays a major role in helping your body stay awake and fall asleep. Light has a profound effect on our biological clock and can affect the sleep-wake cycle to a great extent. Light exposure incorporates feelings of wakefulness, alertness, and makes you feel energetic.

This exposure to light at night can have unpredictable effects on sleep. Excess light exposure will trick your brain and body to believe it is day time and make it harder to fall asleep.Control Light Exposure

So stop using your phones, tablets, e-book readers, when you are in bed. Don’t watch television in bed as it uses blue light, that brain perceives as sunlight, and will interfere with your body’s ability to sleep. Dim the light an hour before you sleep to allow your body to start its progression towards sleep. Hang up dark curtains. Make your room as dark as possible.

  • Exercise During the Day:

Exercising helps you stay healthy, fit, and energized, and improves overall health. It can also tire your body by the time its time for bed. However, exercise should be done 3 hours before bed time. This is because exercising before bed can stress the body, making it difficult to fall asleep. The more energized and awake the body is, the harder it is to fall asleep.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:

Negative thoughts and actions hinder your ability to sleep. Cognitive behavioural therapy helps in sorting and relaxing these thoughts of yours and helps you develop a habit that promotes good sleep hygiene. This therapy may help people recognize and realise how their thoughts and thought processes affect their sleep schedule.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive therapy helps people suffering from insomnia get rid of constant inappropriate and absurd thoughts that largely keep them awake at night. It also gives ideas and solutions about other conditions and situations that may be affecting the sleep cycle and patterns.

  • Eliminate Caffeine Intake Before Bed:

Caffeine promotes alertness and acts as a stimulant. It interferes with adenosine receptors and prevent you from feeling sleepy. This could disrupt your sleep cycle and can cause frequent awakenings. Hence, avoiding coffee, soda, or tea, a couple of hours before bed is suggested.

Caffeine Intake Before Bed

Similarly, alcohol may induce immediate sleepiness, but it can result in frequent waking up during odd hours at night and ultimately result in a non-restful sleep. Try having a glass of warm milk or herbal tea to sleep better.

  • Don’t Lie Awake in Bed:

Go to bed only if you are sleepy. If you are not sleepy and force yourself to sleep, it might cause frustration and anger, and may keep you up longer than necessary. When this happens, do something other than trying to force yourself to sleep. Read a book, go to another room, take a walk, or do something that will make you tired and sleepy. Also, avoid falling asleep at places other than your bed. This can also disturb your sleep schedule.

  • Avoid Bedtime Use of Electronic Devices:

Studies have reported that increased screen time after bed has been associated with sleep anxiety, increased frequency of waking up at night, and over all total sleep disturbance. This is because, these devices use blue light that, as written above, tricks the brain into recognizing it as sunlight and decreased the production of melatonin, which in turn results in your body being awake.

  • Limit Activities in Bed:

If you suffer from insomnia, do not work, watch TV, make phone calls, or use mobile when in bed. This can increase alertness and can increase the difficulty of falling asleep. Use your bed only for sleeping and relaxing.

An ideal environment is a dark, cool, quiet room with a comfortable bed and minimal background noise.

  • Say No to Large Meals and Drinks Before Bed:

Late dinner and a large meal activates your digestive system and having them right before bed will keep you up. If you suffer from heartburn, eating and drinking too close to the bedtime, can aggravate your symptoms. Instead, a small snack or a small meal for dinner, several hours before bedtime, is advised.

Drinks Before Bed

Similarly, fluid intake close to the bedtime should be reduced. This is because excessive fluid intake can keep the bladder full and guarantee a lot of trips to the bathroom that is going to disturb your sleep.

  • Unwind and Clear Your Head before Sleeping:

Laying in bed thinking about what tomorrow would bring is a habit everyone is a victim of. This has a severe negative impact on your sleep schedule. However, this can be solved.

Consider allotting a period of time before bed, possibly after dinner, to worry about tomorrow. You can make a list of all the goals you have to finish tomorrow, review them, make plans accordingly and get organized. That effectively reduces a lot of stress, anxiety and concerns of the next day.

This could help you sort out all your thoughts and work related concerns, and help you get that much needed sleep.

If you suffer from insomnia or thrive on low levels of sleep, there are a lot more options and steps you can take to bring about a much needed change in your behaviour and lifestyle. These ten tips can help you beat sleeplessness and overcome common difficulties you might face in falling asleep.

Clear Your Head before Sleeping

Every time you face difficulty in falling asleep; take a warm bath, listen to relaxing music, do some yoga that will relax your mind and body, and stay calm. Always make sure your bed is comfortable and control the environment in which you are likely to fall asleep. Anxiety related to sleep can cause trouble in falling asleep, which is why avoiding it all costs is an essential step.

Afterall, getting a good night’s sleep is the key to a healthy, happy, and long life.

Stress Affects Women More

Should this be treated like a question, a statement or a general opinion? Stress has become synonymous with the fast paced lifestyle that is so commonly prevalent today. Regardless of age, social stature, economic status, and gender, every person combats stress on a daily basis.

Stress and Women

A lot of scientific research is constantly underway to study more about the cause, symptoms and long term effects of stress on the human mind and body. While it is difficult to encompass every detail about this evil that is taking roots into people’s life, this article tries to scratch the surface about the hazard that stress is.

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal physiological response to the various situations and conditions encountered on a day to day basis. People tend to experience stress at physical as well as mental level.

Physiologically, stress is associated with release of certain hormones in the bloodstream. Facing difficult situations, or those that cannot be dealt with, is the commonest trigger factor for release of the above mentioned hormones.

what is stress

Whether women are affected more by stress has been a topic of debate since some time. In stark contrast to ancient times, women have stepped out of the confines of their houses and have started taking up tasks dominated only by the male gender earlier. Women have successfully managed to balance various roles assigned to them professionally, socially and personally.

Traditionally, women have been playing the role of homemaker while tending to every need of their family members. The same has continued till now, with women successfully balancing their domestic duties in a bid to achieve professional success.

While some may argue that societal expectations and multitasking makes women more prone to getting stressed out, not everyone agrees with this. This article attempts to shed some light on the various stress factors in the life of women.

What Causes Stress In Women?

As mentioned earlier, involvement of the modern woman has extended beyond her kitchen and household activities. Women stand shoulder to shoulder with men, often tasting more professional success than their male counterparts.
Even women who choose to become homemakers and stay as home moms, take up a lot of challenging responsibilities on the domestic front that extend beyond cooking food and caring for their children. These factors have caused stress to increase multifold in the lives of women. While there are no specific causes of stress applicable to all women, some common factors have been discussed below:

Societal Pressure

Human beings have been subject to societal pressure since time immemorial. Women often fall victims to this pressure in a bid to fulfill expectations which others have from them.

Professional Expectations

Despite modernization of public views, certain patriarchal norms continue to persist in the society even today. More often than not, women are blamed, judged, discouraged and even ridiculed for the decisions they make. Being under the watchful gaze of society constantly takes a toll on women’s health, affecting their morale and causing them to stress out.

Motherhood

Motherhood is nature’s gift to mankind and women are the fortunate ones to enjoy this gift. However, it comes with its fair share of challenges. From conceiving a child, to delivering your bundle of joy, and caring for him/her, is as stressful as it is joyous.

Motherhood

Not only does motherhood take a toll on the woman’s body, but it also stresses her out mentally. Lack of sleep coupled with constantly running behind your toddler is not an easy task. Fathers too step in and take up a lot of their child’s responsibility. However, a mother’s care and duties are irreplaceable and have to be performed by her alone. Post-partum depression, leaving a promising career for children’s sake, making little time for oneself, are some of the most stressful aspects associated with motherhood, which tend to take a toll on women.

Professional Expectations

Gone are the days when women meekly surrendered to the head of their family. Women have become bold, courageous and take on challenging roles in the big, bad professional world. The female gender is actively present at the helm of every profession, be it doctors, engineers, architects, pilots, even army officers.

Societal Pressure

However, due to centuries of being considered the weaker gender, women tend to face considerable backlash in their professional lives. Their capabilities are often questioned. Working mothers have to face more difficulties as they attempt to balance work life with their domestic duties. Most working mothers bear the brunt as they get taunted for being ‘bad moms’ who do not make children their priority. These are some of the many setbacks working women have to face, which contribute to considerable stress.

Homemaker Duties

While some women choose to be homemakers, some must take on the role due to life circumstances. In either case, being a homemaker is as difficult as, or even more difficult than being a working woman. There are no fixed working hours, no lunch breaks, no salary, and definitely no appreciation for the duties a homemaker performs.

Homemaker Duties

Homemakers are often taken for granted and their work is not noticed. The same people who will taunt a working mom for neglecting her house, leave no stone unturned in telling a homemaker how she is wasting her education by not taking up a job.

Crimes Against Women

There has been a steady and unhealthy rise in the crimes targeted against women. Women often fall victims to some hideous crimes like sexual offenses, homicides, acid attacks etc.

Common occurrence of such crimes ensures that women stay under constant mental stress and pressure. Even those who do not fall victims to these crimes live under fear; a major cause of mental stress.

Though the above mentioned causes of stress may not apply to all women, they are the most common ones. Other causes than those mentioned above may also trigger stress in women.

Symptoms of Stress in Women

As mentioned earlier, stress tends to take its toll on a person’s mind as well as physique. Physiologically, women tend to affected in a slightly different manner by stress in comparison to men. This is due to the hormones estrogen and progesterone which dominate the female physiology. Symptoms of stress noticed commonly in women are mentioned below:

Symptoms of Stress in WomenMental Symptoms

  • Acute or chronic depressive phases
  • Anxiety to perform tasks that were previously found to be easy
  • Panic attacks
  • Lack of self confidence
  • Doubting one’s own capabilities
  • Sleeplessness
  • Unexpected bouts of rage or anger in previously calm and composed persons

Physical Symptoms

  • Changes in hunger pattern
  • Digestive disorders like hyperacidity, indigestion, constipation, I.B.S
  • Rapid weight changes
  • Disturbed menstrual cycle
  • Symptoms of hormonal disturbances like skin pigmentation, thyroid dysfunction etc.
  • Generalized pains and aches experienced all over the body
  • Unexplained fatigue

People suffering from acute or chronic stress may also experience symptoms other than those mentioned above.

Symptoms of stress often lead to physiological disturbances as well. Blood tests for thyroid function, blood cell count, sugar levels may yield abnormal results in this case. Patients may suffer from deeper pathological disturbances as well in which case, scans like USG, MRI or CT may show significant findings.

How Do Women Deal With Stress?

It is the coping mechanism of a person which determines the course that stress will take in his/her life. Every person tends to deal with difficult situations depending on their nature, mental strength and will power. While the methods may differ on an individual level, most members of the female gender follow a certain pattern while coping with stress.

  • Women tend to reach out to others for help. This may include talking to friends, family, colleagues, or seeking professional help.
  • Many women search for a hobby to distract their mind. Indulging in creative things like painting, dancing, or swimming, not only is a good distraction but also provides positive mental stimulation.
  • Socializing is an important stress buster for women. It helps them forget their worries even if it is momentary, and this helps them to cope with stress.
  • Joining a physical activity class is often resorted to and is quite an effective way to deal with stress. Physical exercise boosts enzymes that reduce negative emotions.

Women may resort to other measures of dealing with stress than the ones mentioned above. Unfortunately, some women also tend to handle stress negatively by indulging into unnecessary vices like alcohol, recreational drugs and smoking. This is an absolutely unhealthy way of living and is strongly discouraged by doctors and mental health experts. The above mentioned ways of dealing with stress are not exclusive to women.

Do Women Get More Affected With Stress Than Men?

To sum it up, men and women both face equal amount of stress in day-today life. Women are more likely to be exposed to certain trigger factors for stress. These factors are never encountered by men. Women tend to be more expressive of their feelings and needs and hence are more likely to report that they are stressed.

stress

The roles that were traditionally being performed by men are being actively taken up by women. However, vice versa doesn’t happen in the exact same proportion. Therefore, it is safe to assume that women are likely to face higher levels of stress in certain aspects of life than men. This does not negate the fact that there are many situations and factors causing stress to men, which women have to face very rarely.

This article tries to shed light on some of the commonest stress factors in the lives of women. It attempts to express a general view and not a fixated opinion.

A Comprehensive Guide to Treating Gallbladder Stone

Gallbladder is a small pear shaped organ which is located beneath the liver and is part of the digestive system. Along with the pancreas, liver, bile duct and hepatic duct, the gallbladder is a part of the hepato-biliary system. Gallstone is a health disorder occurring due to the formation of solid stones inside the gallbladder. Significant metabolic disturbances lead to gallstone formation.Gallbladder

Gallbladder plays a vital role in the metabolism and assimilation of fats. Therefore, any disturbances in the physical or physiological functioning of gallbladder, leads to faulty fat metabolism. Stone formation is one of the commonest disorders of the gallbladder. This article explains in the detail about the cause, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of gallstone.

Causes of Gallbladder Stone

Gallbladder produces and secretes a digestive juice known as bile. It helps in metabolizing fats. Sluggish flow of bile often causes its components to deposit and harden within the gallbladder. These hardened deposits are termed as gallstones. Contributing factors to gallstone formation are mentioned below.

Causes of Gallbladder Stone

1. Components of Bile

Oxalate, calcium, cholesterol, bilirubin, are some of the key components of bile. Elevated levels of either of these components is a major causative factor for the formation of gallstones.

2. Other Health Disorders

Any disorder which increases the levels of bilirubin circulating in the system, indirectly leads to formation of gallstones. Polycythemia Vera, sickle cell anemia, jaundice, hepatocellular inflammation, are commonly responsible for gallstones.

3. Lack of Exercise

Exercise is the best way to keep diseases at bay and maintain good health. It helps in maintaining good muscular tone, blood circulation and a healthy metabolism. Lack of exercise leads to loss of healthy muscle tone which is an important contributing factor to the formation of gallstone.

When the gallbladder muscles are well toned, it helps in maintaining an adequate flow of bile. This prevents stasis of bile and subsequent gallstone formation. People who tend to have sedentary lifestyle and indulge in little physical activity are more likely to develop gallstone than people who are physically active.

4. Unhealthy Diet

Cholesterol levels are important in determining how healthy a person’s fat metabolism is. Consumption of empty calories and junk food leads to accumulation of ‘bad cholesterol’ in the body tissues. This affects the person’s fat metabolism in a harmful way.

Excess accumulation of cholesterol enhances the possibility of gallstone formation. In order to keep cholesterol levels in check, junk food, fried food, food packed with excess calories, should be avoided. It is important to include salads, fruits, fiber rich food etc. in the daily diet.

5. Gender

Statistically, women are more likely to develop gallstone than men. While there is no medical evidence to pinpoint towards a specific cause, this is believed to be due to women’s menstrual cycle.

Estrogen is the dominant hormone in the female body. It increases the levels of blood cholesterol, thus contributing to gallstone formation. Proportion of estrogen is negligible in men as compared to women. Therefore, men are at a much lower risk of developing gallstone.

6. High B.M.I

Medical studies have revealed that people who have B.M.I above 30 are more likely to develop gallstones. B.M.I is directly related to a person’s body weight and height. Greater the person’s weight, higher is the B.M.I.

Overweight and obese people have higher B.M.I due to their weight. They also tend to have unhealthy cholesterol deposits in their bloodstream. This leads to formation of gallstones.

Other contributing factors for developing gallstone include immunity, daily diet, lifestyle, stress levels, social environment etc. It is important to remember that people who do not fit into either of the above mentioned criteria may also develop gallstones.

Symptoms of Gallstone

The importance of good health is not realized till the onset of any disease. Patients themselves observe the earliest sign of ill health, even before a doctor can notice anything wrong. These signs can be in the form of externally visible changes or subtle changes experienced by the patients only. The commonest signs of ill health experienced by patients suffering from gallstones are mentioned below:

Symptoms of Gallstone

1. Indigestion

Sluggish flow of bile takes its toll on the digestive system. Indigestion in the form of nausea, vomiting, altered appetite, altered bowel habits, may be experienced by patients suffering from gallstones. Patients often complain of lack of desire to consume any food. Spicy food, oily food, food rich in carbohydrates, tends to be troublesome for patients.

2. Bloating

Bloating is another complication caused due to sluggish flow of bile. Since food cannot be digested at its usual pace, there is increased gas formation in the intestines, leading to bloating. Patients will often complain of heaviness in the abdomen after a meal. Taking a walk or performing light physical activity often provides comfort from these symptoms.

3. Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain could be dull and constant in nature, or sharp and spasmodic. Pain occurs primarily due to inflammation in and around the gallbladder. Pain is felt more often in the right upper part of the abdomen. Patients are also known to complain of abdominal pain radiating up towards to right shoulder. Sudden increase in the intensity of pain can be attributed to torsion of the gallbladder in an effort to expel the stones.

4. Jaundice

Jaundice is a set of symptoms commonly occurring in patients with hepatobiliary dysfunction. Patients with gallstones often complain of yellowness of skin and mucus membranes accompanied by dark yellow pigmentation of urine.

Presence of all or any few of the above mentioned signs and symptoms prompt a visit to the doctor. Patients may also present with signs and symptoms other than those mentioned above. Along with diagnostic tests and the doctor’s examination findings, patients’ own symptoms help in confirming the presence of gallstones.

5. Silent Gallstones

Silent gallstones is a condition wherein, patients do not experience any symptoms or discomfort despite presence of gallstones. Gallstones may be detected during a routine health check up or while undergoing diagnostic scan for any other health condition. However, despite absence of symptoms, patients need to be watchful of their health.

Diagnosis of Gallstones

1. Physical Examination

When patients present with symptoms of gallstones, doctors confirm the diagnosis using their own medical skills. A detailed physical examination of the patient reveals certain findings that are characteristic of gallstones. Some of these findings are mentioned below:

  • Tenderness and pain experienced by patient on palpation of the abdomen
  • Yellowness of skin and mucus membrane
  • Discoloration of tongue
  • Elevated body temperature may be observed in some patients

The final step to confirming diagnosis of gallstones includes certain diagnostic tests.

2. Diagnostic Tests

Blood tests and scans are often advised to patients who are suspected to be suffering from gallstones. Blood tests reveal elevated levels of white blood cell count and CRP (C-reactive protein).

Scans like USG are useful in confirming presence of gallstones. USG helps in determining the number as well as dimensions of the gallstones. MRI scan and CT scan may be ordered if patients present with any health complications or do not respond well to treatment.
These tests and scans are utilized not only for primary diagnosis of gallstones but also during follow ups, to determine how well patients respond to treatment.

Treatment of Gallstone

The mode of treatment for gallstones depends on the number and dimension of gallstones and intensity of symptoms. Following treatment options are offered by doctors:

1. Medicinal Treatment

Medicines are prescribed to offer relief from symptoms of gallstones and not to get rid of the stones. Pain killers, anti-inflammatory medicines, antacids, anti-flatulent medicines, anti fever medicines, are commonly prescribed to patients.Medicinal Treatment

Patients who have been diagnosed with gallstones but do not require immediate surgical treatment, are often treated using oral medicines only.

2. Surgical Treatment

Cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal surgery is advised to patients as a mode of treatment for gallstones. Patients experiencing recurrent gallstones or health complications due to gallstones are often advised to undergo surgery.

Gallbladder removal surgery tends to affect the patient’s digestive functions in long run. However, those effects can be taken care of with regular medication and diet.

3. Lifestyle Modification

Patients with silent gallstones do not require immediate medicinal or surgical treatment. However, they need to be careful about their health and may be asked to make minor changes in their day to day habits.
It is important to take care of diet and exercise in order to maintain good health. Avoiding junk food, consumption of empty calories, food that is heavy to digest is advised to patients. It is important to indulge in regular physical exercise to maintain good health.

Gallstones if left untreated may cause complications which could require further treatment. Patients are advised to seek medical help promptly, should they experience any of the symptoms of gallstones. Further diagnosis and treatment should be initiated only after consulting with a physician or gastroenterologist.

Oral Hygiene – Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums

Are you aware of the fact that there are millions of bacteria residing in your mouth? It is true. There are about 300 different species of bacteria, totaling up to a billion, at any given time, in your mouth. While some of the flora is extremely beneficial, certain are harmless.Oral Hygiene

However, there is a third category of these bacteria which are responsible for dental diseases like tooth decay, gingivitis, etc. Though these organisms are microscopic in size, they are leading causes of certain severe oral diseases due to their alarmingly high numbers. This particular group of bacteria grows by feeding on the sugar that is present in the foods we eat. They eat, grow, and dispose waste materials in the form of plaques. These plaques damage the teeth inside out and give rise to severe conditions like periodontal disease.

Whether you are 7 or 70, dental health is an integral part of overall well being. Oral health forms an integral part of overall well-being and healthy body. Oral health covers all aspects of health of the teeth, gums, and the complete oral-facial system that allows and helps us to smile, speak, and chew.

Many people avoid visiting the dentist every year, even though regular check ups play a vital role in preventing the onset of many oral diseases. It is a false notion that you only have to visit a dentist when there is something wrong with your teeth or when you experience pain in your gums. In reality, regular check ups contribute largely to a healthy mouth devoid of diseases.

Many people are unaware that bad oral health is directly linked to several severe disorders like cardiac problems, diabetes, complications in pregnancy, etc. This is why, maintaining good oral health is recommended by every doctor. To prevent tooth decay and damage, having a good oral hygiene is very important. Dentists recommend a rigorous oral care routine for healthy teeth, gums, and mouth. This benefits a person in multiple ways and ultimately keeps one healthy.

Tips for Perfect Oral Health

There are certain rules and guidelines given by several healthcare companies and dentists that can help you figure out the best routine for you. Remember to follow these tips to ensure you have a perfect oral health care routine:

1. Don’t Go to Bed Without Brushing Your Teeth

Don’t rush when you brush. Take your time. Clean your teeth thoroughly but brushing should not be vigorous. Make sure the toothbrush is soft enough to clean everything and not harm the gums in the process. Use slow and short strokes. Some people have the notion that the firmer the toothbrush, the better it is. But it is simply not the truth. As you age, your gums grow weaker. Using a hard bristled toothbrush can injure the gums and cause them to bleed.

Brushing teeth

Brushing twice a day is an important step to add to your oral care routine. This is because, the foods that we eat are digested by bacteria and they leave acid residue in the mouth. This acid residue damages the soft tissues of teeth, enamel and gums. Hence, brushing is an important step as it reduces the inflammation and the build up of plaque. Consequently, it prevents bad breath, improves gum health, and prevents discoloration of the teeth.

2. Use Proper and Clean Tools

Use fluoride toothpaste recommended by dentists and a soft bristle brush that can reach groves and crevices of teeth perfectly. You could use a battery operated toothbrush to ensure extra reduction in plaques or residues than manual brushing. Remember to clean your toothbrush with water and keep it upright to air dry it.

Clean Tools

Avoid putting it in the same containers as other brushes and cleaners, to prevent cross contamination. Do not enclose toothbrush in any covers, caps or cases. This could facilitate the growth of bacteria or other disease causing organisms. Using mouthwash containing fluoride is also a good idea.

3. Flossing is a Necessity

Plaques develop when the food remains stuck in the teeth with no scope of removing it through brushing or when saliva and fluoride have no access to it. This more often than not results in tooth decay and gum disease. So, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), it is very important to incorporate inter-dental cleaning in routine oral care. Inter-dental cleaners like floss are available to clean the buildup or residue left in between the teeth. This is important because cleaning between the teeth ensures removal of plaques and prevents development of cavities, gum disease, etc.

Flossing

ADA recommends flossing at least once a day. Dentists believe you are doing only half a job if you brush and don’t floss. However, it is important to use proper technique for flossing. Flossing roughly, can damage teeth and gums, and can make them bleed. Different variations of floss are available in the market for you to chose the one best suited for you.

4. Cleaning Your Tongue is Equally Important

The food we consume leaves debris not only in the teeth and gums, but also on the tongue’s surface, in the cavities. The tongue has several small taste buds and often times the debris left behind get stuck in the crevices of the tongue as well as teeth and gums. The eventual build up leads to the growth of microorganisms and bacteria, and results in bad taste and bad breath. If left untreated for a period of time, it can lead to periodontal diseases.

tongue cleaning

To prevent this, you need to finish your oral routine with cleaning your tongue. You can use your toothbrush, but it will not be as effective as a tongue scraper/cleaner. Dedicated tongue cleaner is more hygienic and efficacious as it will prevent the bacteria from getting trapped like in the bristles of toothbrush. Give your tongue gentle strokes and this will make sure the bacteria and debris are removed. The end result is fresh breath and a clean mouth.

Ridding the tongue of dead cells and bacteria improves your ability to taste.

5. Choose Correct Dental Care Products

With new dental care products coming every now and then, this makes it difficult to choose a perfect product. From toothbrush to mouthwash, inter-dental brushes, to tongue cleaners, you have options for every product. You can consult your dentist to figure out the best suited products for you.

6. Rinsing – The Final Step

Toothbrush and floss are the important tools against the prevention of plaques, gum diseases, tooth decay, etc. However, rinsing offers a more in-depth prevention against these problems. Mouthwashes and mouth-rinses should be an integral part of your oral care set. Mouthwashes, especially the ones containing fluoride, are efficient in removing the debris and food particles that are stuck in the teeth in places the brush cannot reach.

rinsing

Antiseptic and antibacterial properties of these mouthwashes ensure the elimination of harmful oral bacteria and removal of food particles. This subsequently controls the plaques and tartar build up. Rinsing not only brings about fresh breath but it also cleans the whole mouth.

Following the dos can be a little easy sometimes. However, the real challenge is following the don’ts. Getting rid of habits doesn’t seem easy and achievable at first, but it is possible. And it is important to get rid of those habits if they interfere with your life when the ultimate goal is being healthy and devoid of diseases.

Here are a few don’ts you need to pay attention to, to improve your oral hygiene.

1. Smoking- A Big No!

Smoking causes several dental problems including but not limited to yellow teeth, bad breath, increased deposition of plaques, inflammation of salivary glands, etc. It is also one of the leading causes of oral and throat cancer. It delays the healing process and creates complications after procedures like tooth extraction, periodontal surgery, or oral surgery.

Smoking- A Big No

Smoking also affects the sense of taste and smell. Moreover, the tar from the cigarette stains the teeth, discolors the tongue and is also responsible for bad breath. Excess smoking results in tooth decay and gum disease, ultimately. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that smokers have twice the chance of developing gum disease when compared to non-smokers.

Whenever you smoke, the harmful substances from tobacco smoke pass through your mouth, oral cavity and eventually reach your lungs. The constant exposure to this smoke damages the inner linings of mouth, throat, and lungs, thereby causing oral cancer. It also leads to necrosis of the gum tissue which smells and tastes bad. However, people who stop smoking eventually are at a decreased risk of developing gum disease.

2. Avoid Eating Ice Cubes

Drinking ice tea or iced soda often ends in us crunching the left over ice cubicles. Fun, right? No. You may not know this but it is the most common way to damage teeth. These ice cubes form microscopic cracks in the teeth leading to tooth fracture later in life. Crushed ice may be better than ice cubes but dentists still vote against it.

It should be avoided because chewing on ice can chip tooth enamel and expose teeth. This results in increased sensitivity and since it lowers the mouth temperature, it makes teeth more susceptible to damage and cracks. Ice not only affects the teeth but it also harms the gums. The sharp edges may somehow injure gums and cause them to bleed. This bleeding could damage gums, leading to gum recession and can be a start point to development of a gamut of gum diseases.

3. Be a Responsible Foodie

Diet influences the health of your teeth and gums. The foods chosen and how often they are consumed, affects general health as well as dental health immensely. Eating too many sugary sweets or sugary drinks puts you at a risk of tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when the plaques come in contact with sugars in the mouth. This results in acid attacking the teeth. Tooth decay is the most common dental disorder in childhood but, good news is, it is completely curable. Avoiding excess sugar intake is the best solution.

Acidic foods can weaken teeth. Excess intake of oranges, lemons, limes, etc. can wear your teeth down. Prolonged intake has an adverse effect on the enamel as it weakens the enamel. Eating foods that have low nutritional value can lead to gum disorders. This is due to weakness of the tissues that is caused by nutritional deficiency and hence, they are not strong enough to fight off infections of the mouth, thereby affecting gums. It is usually more severe in people with poor nutrition and bad eating habits.

In order to keep the mouth clean and healthy, good oral hygiene should be practiced daily. Brushing, flossing and rinsing are the real ABC’s of dental hygiene. However, they are alone not enough for a healthy mouth and a great smile. Brushing after meals, using mouthwash, flossing at least once a day, using inter-dental brushes, etc. are the best ways to inhibit the growth of disease causing bacteria and preventing tooth decay.

Brushing your teeth twice is advised but brushing them for a short amount of time may not be helpful. Dentists recommend brushing the teeth for 2 minutes straight. You could make it a routine by putting on a song, setting up a timer, or watching a video to ensure you are taking 2 minutes for it. Using appropriate toothbrush and floss also makes sure that proper attention is being given to your mouth. Incorporating proper techniques helps make sure there is no food or any other substance stuck in the teeth that could facilitate the growth of bacteria.

Using mouthwash and rinsing are important but they should not replace the equally essential steps of brushing, flossing, and visiting a dentist biannually. Maintaining a daily routine can help you keep your mouth healthy, your breath fresh, your teeth white, and your smile wide.

Everything About a Migraine

Migraine, often considered a neurological disorder or condition, is a recurring, throbbing pain on one side of the head. Usually associated or preceded with signs and symptoms, these headaches last from a few hours to a few days. Migraine mainly affects people in the age group 15-55 years.

Migraine

The exact cause of migraine is unclear but it is thought to be an unusual activity and imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. Usually triggered by a variety of factors, it is experienced differently by everyone. These factors are often a combination of environmental and genetic conditions and three of these main factors are gender, family history, and other medical conditions.

The onset of migraine is usually associated with an aura that causes a flash of light and blurred vision. Migraine headache, often worsened by physical movements, and lights and sound, is often debilitating.

Causes of Migraine

Migraine is a neurovascular condition in which certain specific nerves are activated during a headache that send pain signals to the brain. What causes this activation of the nerves is yet unknown but it is thought to be caused due to unusual brain activity and some chemical imbalance.

Causes of Migraine

The migraine pain-centre or generator area in the mid-brain is activated when overactive nerve cells send impulses to blood vessels in the brain which releases prostaglandins, serotonin, and other chemicals. This causes inflammation of blood vessels in the area surrounding the nerves, which subsequently causes extreme pain.

Genes also make you more susceptible to migraine and many reports have suggested a positive family history. Women experience migraine during menstrual period and are three times more prone than men.

Symptoms of Migraine

The onset of a migraine is characterized by a number of symptoms from mild to severe. The principle symptom of migraine is a throbbing, sharp pain on one side of the head. The pain is moderate to severe and worsens when there is rapid movement. The most common symptoms associated are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme sensitivity to light and sound
  • Severe pain on movement

Symptoms of Migraine

Few other symptoms that manifest during the attack include:

  • Sweating
  • Feeling very hot or cold
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of concentration
  • Vertigo
  • Stomach ache
  • Fatigue

These symptoms usually last from 3 hours to 3 days and this often tires and weakens the individual. These additional symptoms are not experienced by everyone and sometimes people may experience migraines without being sick.

Phases of a Migraine Attack:

Migraine manifests in well defined phases divided into prodrome, aura, attack, and postdrome. Each of these phases have numerous potential symptoms and their severity varies immensely.

  • Prodrome Phase:

Also called the early warning phase, it usually occurs several hours or upto two days before the headache begins. It is generally experienced by 60% of the people suffering from migraine.

The symptoms of this phase include anxiety, unusual excitement and energy or irritability, fatigue, constant yawning, poor concentration, sensitivity to odour or noises, and food cravings. Aphasia, difficulty in speaking, also manifests during this. Constipation, diarrhea, constant urge of urination, mood changes, neck pain, and hyperactivity, often accompany.

  • Aura Phase:

This phase occurs an hour before the headache strikes. About 20% people experience this phase but not during every attack. There are several symptoms, visual or otherwise, associated with this phase and can typically last from 5 to 60 minutes.

Aura is usually a visual disturbance but can also be sensory or motor disturbance. The major symptoms associated are blind or coloured spots, flashes of lights, tunnel vision, and zig zag lines. Sometimes there can be temporary blindness. Other symptoms include pins and needles sensations in arms and legs, numbness, and weakness in one side of the body.

Aura often serves as a warning sign and can help manage migraine at the early stage by using painkillers or abortive medications.

  • Headache Phase:

This phase is characterized by the unilateral or bilateral pain in the head. This phase can last from a few hours upto 3 days. The pain during this phase varies from person to person and from incident to incident. Some attacks may be mildly painful while some may be excruciatingly painful.

Headache Phase

Symptoms associated with this phase are nausea, anxiety, heightened sensitivity to lights, sounds, smells and movements, severe neck pain, dizziness, confusion, dehydration, aphasia, and vertigo. The inflammation of trigeminal nerve in this phase causes pain around the eyes, nose, teeth and jaw. Since there is increased sensitivity, even a simple touch causes tremendous pain.

  • Postdrome Phase:

The final phase of the migraine attack, the postdrome phase, often leaves people feeling a little hungover after the attack is over. A majority of people suffering from migraine experience it. The shift from the headache to postdrome phase is often difficult to distinguish since some people often experience the same pain as an attack. Symptoms include dizziness, sluggishness, fatigue, sharp pain when bending, anxiety, and poor concentration.

  • Triggers of Migraine

Plenty of factors contribute in triggering the onset of migraine. Lifestyle, environment, and habits, have a great impact on the frequency of migraine attacks. Common triggers include:

Stress:

Stress and migraine are closely linked. Depression, pain, anxiety, and excitement can lead to a migraine attack.

Hormonal changes:

Due to changes in the hormone levels during menstruation, a lot of women experience migraine attacks during periods.

Physical Causes:

Insufficient sleep, fatigue, physical overexertion, poor posture, and shoulder and neck pain, all contribute to migraine. Hypoglycemia and jet lag are also contributing factors.

Dietary Content:

Additives like tyramine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and aspartame, trigger migraine. Other food products like cheese, yogurt, broad or fava beans, and citrus fruits, are also triggers.

Skipping Meals:

Lack of food or irregular meals are a potent trigger of migraine. Balanced meal and small snacks at regular intervals reduce the frequency of migraine.

Environmental Conditions:

Environmental factors such as extreme cold, high humidity, altitudes, loud noises, and exposure to flickering lights can induce migraine.

Caffeine and Alcohol:

Tremendous caffeine consumption can trigger the onset of migraine. However, cutting down caffeine suddenly can also be a trigger. So, gradually decreasing the intake may be beneficial. Alcohol, especially red wine because it contains tyramine, is a potent trigger.

Sedentary Lifestyle:

Limited movement may cause stiffness and muscle tension in neck and shoulders and this muscle tension is a trigger.

  • Dealing With Migraines

Taking prescribed painkillers or over-the-counter medications in the early phases, can help prevent a full blown migraine attack. Frequent painkillers or over-the-counter medications can cause a medicine induced headache, so limiting the intake is often advisable.

Dealing With Migraines

Dietary changes are a very essential preventive measure. Avoiding consumption of foods containing tyramine, aspartame, and MSGs, can help reduce the frequency of headaches. 5-6 small meals instead of one large meal a day are beneficial. Regular and complete meals are the most important aspect of preventive cure. Limited intake of alcohol and caffeine will prevent headaches. Dehydration is one of the major triggers of migraine and staying hydrated will avoid it.

Maintaining a diary to note down the signs and symptoms experienced, can be helpful in future. You can track the foods you eat to know if they are a trigger. This can help in cutting down one triggering food at a time. Managing stress by exercise and getting enough sleep can reduce migraines.

There is no exact cure for migraine but taking precautions and prescribed medicines may make dealing with the severity of migraine a little easier.

The unpredictability of migraine attacks can often make it difficult to participate in any kind of activities. It impacts social life, relationships, careers, and often affects the quality of life, making one feel isolated. So, it is important to see a specialist or join a support group to get better by their support and tips.

Vaccination Chart for Babies in India

Childhood is a period of learning the ways of life, for parents and children alike. Health of young children is more vulnerable in comparison to adults. This happens because they have not developed a strong immunity yet. This makes them more likely to fall ill with allergies, infections etc.

Illness stimulates the immune system to develop a healthy defence against various harmful influences. However, this does not imply that diseases should be allowed to run rampant. It is necessary to protect young children from developing disorders which could compromise their health on a permanent basis. Defending their health from harmful disorders is most important. The first step towards this is providing proper vaccination to babies right from birth.National Immunization Schedule

The National Immunization Schedule is a venture initiated by the health ministry. This schedule provides a detailed chart of all vaccinations required from birth till the age of 18 years. The name of vaccine, diseases it helps to fight against, mode of administration and the age at which each vaccine should be administered, are some details mentioned in this chart. Timely vaccination is one of the best ways to develop a strong immunity.

Several vaccines are administered to children from birth till the age of 18 years. These vaccines have to be given at a specific age only, to have the desired effect on the child’s immune system. Given below are details of all vaccines included in the National Immunization Schedule. This schedule is approved by Health Ministry of India. All vaccines mentioned in the schedule are mandatory as per regulations of the Health Ministry.

  • At Birth

The first vaccine to be given soon after birth is B.C.G (Bacillus-Calmette Guerin). It acts as a protective shield against the deadly tuberculosis infection. Calmette and Guerin are the names of scientists who developed this vaccine. It is injected into the skin of the left forearm on the outer side only. It is advisable to administer BCG within the first few hours of the child’s birth.

At Birth

Along with BCG injection, the first oral dose of polio vaccine and first injection of Hepatitis B, are also administered at birth. Hepatitis B injection is administered on the muscles of thigh only and at no other site. Local swelling and redness at the site of injection is the most common complication of both the injectable vaccines. These symptoms subside within no time.

  • 6 weeks of Age

The second vaccination after B.C.G, polio dose, and hepatitis B injection, is given at 6 weeks of age. The first dose of injectable pentavalent vaccine is given when the baby turns 6 weeks old / 1 and a half months old. The five diseases against which this vaccine offers protection include Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, and Influenza.6 weeks of Age

All of these are infectious disorders caused by deadly virus and bacteria. Except Hepatitis B and Tetanus, the other 3 disorders are highly contagious. Their contagious nature makes is difficult to contain them and therefore, it is important to vaccinate infants against these diseases.

The first dose of injectable polio vaccine is also given along with pentavalent vaccine. It is mandatory to administer Pentavalent and Polio vaccines to all children once they turn 6 weeks old. In some States of India, it is also mandatory to administer rotavirus vaccine. This vaccine offers protection against viral diarrhoea which can have a strenuous effect on the infant’s health.

  • 10 weeks of Age

A dose of pentavalent vaccine is repeated before the child turns 3 months old. This is known as a booster dose as it enhances the effect of a vaccine which has been previously administered. Infants who have received the first dose of rotavirus vaccine, need to be given a booster dose for the same.

  • 14 weeks of Age

Once the baby turns 3 months old, another dose of Pentavalent vaccine is given. 2nd booster dose of rotavirus is given along with Pentavalent vaccine to those children who have received previous doses. The first booster dose of injectable polio vaccine is mentioned in the immunization schedule at the age of 14 weeks.

Most injectable vaccines lead to swelling and pain at the site of injection. Children may suffer from temporary discomfort due to this. However, these symptoms subside with time and do not cause any long lasting health issues.

  • 9-12 months of Age

Children are given vaccination against infections like, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Japanese Encephalitis for the first time when they are nearing one year of age. Both vaccinations are administered in the form of subcutaneous injections. Japanese encephalitis is mandatory only in regions where the condition is endemic.

9-12 months of Age

Children of this age group are given the first oral dose of Vitamin A in order to avoid deficiency of this particular nutrient. Despite this supplement, parents should ensure that they include foods rich in Vitamin A in their children’s diet. Consuming foods that are naturally rich in Vitamin A, is a better way of avoiding Vitamin A deficiency.

By the time a child turns 1 year old, he/she has been administered with all the vaccines mentioned in the national immunization schedule at least once. From 1 year of age till 18 years of age, repeated doses of these vaccines are administered. They serve as booster doses which enhance the action of previously given doses of the same vaccine. Booster doses of Japanese Encephalitis vaccine are given only to those children who have been given the first dose of the vaccine.

  • 16-24 months

3 out of the five vaccines included in the pentavalent vaccine are repeated before the child turns 2 years old. These vaccines are combined into a single injectable dose known as D.P.T (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus). It is an intramuscular injection administered into the thigh. Some toddlers may experience fever, pain and discomfort after the vaccine.

A booster dose of oral polio vaccine is also given to children of this age group. Another booster dose administered during this period includes injectable vaccine of M.M.R (Mumps, Measles, Rubella). Children staying in endemic regions are also vaccinated against Japanese Encephalitis.

The first booster dose of Vitamin A is to be given orally before the child turns 2 years old. Along with this oral dose, children should also receive a healthy diet that is rich in Vitamin A.

  • 2-5 years of age

From the age of 2-5 years, children are to be administered with booster doses of Vitamin A supplement. The dose is administered every 6 months in oral form.

Vaccination continues till the age of 18 years. It primarily comprises of booster doses of tetanus vaccine, diphtheria vaccine and measles vaccine. Due to advancement in medical research, newer vaccines are tested and introduced into the market every year. Teenage females can now be vaccinated during their childhood so that they do not get affected with life threatening infections like measles later during their pregnancy.

2-5 years of age

Many people argue that children should be allowed to develop their immunity naturally without vaccinating them. While this is true to some extent, one simply cannot risk exposing infants and young children to infections as serious as Japanese Encephalitis or measles. Simple viral flu, seasonal cold and cough, do not require vaccination and in fact help children in building a healthier immunity. However, the same cannot be said about infections that can have fatal outcome.

A debate on pros and cons of vaccination has stirred up a lot of controversies lately. While some parents prefer to stick to the old school ideology of vaccinating their children, some parents have started taking the ‘no vaccination’ approach. There is adequate research to support the usefulness of vaccinating children. However, research on the disadvantages of vaccination is still in a nascent stage. Therefore, not much tangible proof exists on the adverse effects of vaccination.

It is unwise to reach a decision of vaccinating or not vaccinating young children without consulting with a pediatrician.

Top 5 Most Searched Medical Specialists in India

Owing to constant research and advanced studies in the field of medicine, a diversification has occurred in the techniques of medical practice. The concept of ‘family doctors’ is slowly fading away, as people have started becoming more aware of various health issues and the medical specialties which cover these issues. Patients prefer visiting the specialist doctor directly, rather than being referred to him/her by a physician.

Medical Specialists

Specialist doctors are those who have additional qualification in dealing with health issues pertaining exclusively to certain body parts or systems. With additional post graduate training after completing basic medical graduation, these doctors opt to pursue their preferred medical specialty. A huge number of medical and surgical specialties have cropped up over the past few decades. Though all of them are in great demand, some are sought after, more than the others.

This may happen because disorders pertaining to that specialty occur more commonly. Given below are details of the top 5 medical specialists who are the most sought after by Indian patients.

Dentist

Dentists specialize solely in the diagnosis and treatment of problems related to teeth, gums and jaw bones. Contrary to common belief, dentists do a lot more than just maintaining health of teeth. It is their job to ensure that along with the health of teeth, the patient is also educated about importance of dental hygiene.

Dentist

People of every age group rely on the expertise of a dentist for various health issues. Right from dentition in infants, to artificial denture in elderly patients, a dentist guides with his/her expert advice all the way. Dentition troubles, faulty alignment of permanent teeth, tooth decay, impacted wisdom tooth, are some common problems with which people visit a dentist.

Dentists specializing in maxillo-facial surgery have expertise in treatment of jaw fractures, congenital anomaly of jaw, issues affecting maxillary tissue, and they also perform facial reconstruction surgery. Maxillofacial specialists also tend to have expertise in treating cancerous tumors affecting the jaws and surrounding areas.

Some dentists having expertise in cosmetology perform dental procedures like smile designing, fitting dental braces, bridges etc. Cosmetic dental procedures include all surgical and medical procedures which enhance a patient’s appearance by altering their dental alignment. People working in the showbiz industry often consult dentists for procedures like teeth whitening. This branch of dentistry is in great demand among celebrities, T.V. personalities and common folk alike.

Conditions like trismus, hemorrhage from the gums, dislocation of jaw etc., are medical emergencies which only a dental surgeon can manage efficiently. The basic qualification required to be a practising dentist in India is B.D.S (Bachelor of Dental Surgery). Specialization can be done in various fields like endodontics, periodontics, maxillofacial surgery etc., by pursuing M.D.S (Masters in Dental Surgery).

Dentists may have their individual private practice or may be associated with a hospital.

Pediatrician

Treating patients without getting any symptoms from them is a tough task; something which pediatricians master well through years of practical experience. Pediatricians are doctors specializing in diagnosis and treatment of children’s health disorders. Children between the age of 0-18 years are eligible to be under medical care of a pediatrician.

Pediatrician

Every new born baby receives detailed medical attention from a pediatrician soon after birth. A general physical examination and checking for any congenital issues is done by pediatricians as soon as infants are born.

Right from a child’s birth, pediatricians guide parents about normal medical care, vaccination, nutritional counseling, physical and mental development of the child. Pediatricians specialize in diagnosis and treatment of allergies and infections affecting small children. Apart from treating such disorders, pediatricians also monitor growth and development in small children at regular intervals.

Pediatricians specializing exclusively in the care of new born babies are known as neonatologists. These doctors have expertise in providing medical care, including life supporting techniques to new born infants. Neonatologists are the first doctors who attend to prematurely born babies.

Pediatricians are closely associated with N.I.C.U facility reserved exclusively for new born babies and children. They are usually associated with hospitals or have their own private practice. The basic qualification required to become a pediatrician in India includes M.D or D.N.B degree in Pediatrics. Only those doctors who have completed M.B.B.S are eligible to apply for these post graduate courses.

E.N.T Specialist

E.N.T surgeons are doctors specializing in diagnosis and treatment of disorders exclusive to ears, nose and throat. The most common disorders for which people consult with an E.N.T doctor include tonsil troubles, ear infection, adenoids, nasal polyp, deviated nasal septum. E.N.T surgeons are well qualified to perform minor medical procedures like ear wax removal, audiometry, on outpatient basis.

ENT Specialist

E.N.T surgeons also perform more complicated surgeries like cochlear implant, thyroid cancer surgery, skull base surgery etc. Medical treatment for disorders like rhinitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, is part of therapy provided by E.N.T doctors.

Small children, adults and elderly people alike, may require the medical expertise of an E.N.T specialist at some point in life. E.N.T specialists often have their own private practice or may be associated with a multispecialty hospital.

E.N.T specialists may work in conjunction with a speech therapist and audiologist. In order to practise as an E.N.T specialist, doctors have to complete their M.S, which is a post graduate course in E.N.T. Alternatively, another post graduate course known as D.N.B may also be pursued. Completing M.B.B.S from a recognized college in India is a pre-requisite for both these courses.

Cardiologist

Cardiologists are easily one of the most sought after doctors in India. They deal exclusively with disorders of the heart. Atherosclerosis, chest pain, hypertension, myocardial ischemia, are some of the cases for which cardiologists are most commonly consulted. Cardiologists only deal with the medical aspect of heart disorders. They do not perform cardiac surgeries. However, they are trained to perform specific diagnostic procedures pertaining to the heart. These procedures have been highlighted later in this article.

Cardiologist

Cardiologists are highly efficient in management of emergency cases requiring immediate medical or surgical attention. Part of their job also includes performing cardiology diagnostic procedures like angiography, ECG, 2D-Echo, cardiac catheterisation etc. Cardiologists are trained in performing medical procedures like angioplasty on outpatient basis. Patients are also required to consult a cardiologist before and after undergoing cardiac surgery like coronary bypass, heart transplant, valve replacement etc. They often work in conjunction with rheumatologists while treating patients experiencing rheumatic heart ailments due to some other pre-existing rheumatic condition.

Special training is required to treat cardiac disorders affecting new born babies and small children. Doctors who have completed M.B.B.S are eligible to pursue M.D or D.N.B in Cardiology in order to practise as a Cardiologist.

Cardiologists work in association with hospitals or have their private clinics. They are closely associated with the functioning of I.C.U facilities reserved exclusively for heart patients.

Gastroenterologist

A Gastroenterologist is a doctor specializing in diagnosis and treatment of disorders pertaining to the digestive tract. Acid peptic disease, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, are some conditions for which treatment expertise of a gastroenterologist is needed. Gastroenterologists are often consulted for treatment of intestinal cancers which do not require surgical intervention. Doctors who study gastroenterology may also continue specialization to achieve expertise in treatment of liver and biliary tract disorders.

Gastroenterologist

G.I tract infections like typhoid, cholera, hepatitis virus infection, are also treated by gastroenterologists. They are trained in performing diagnostic procedures like endoscopy, colonoscopy, capsule endoscopy etc., on an outpatient basis.

Gastroenterologists also handle more complicated cases like Crohn’s disease, intestinal hemorrhage etc. Patients who undergo surgery of digestive tract need to consult with a gastroenterologist for pre and post-operative medical treatment. Gastroenterologists are trained to perform medical treatment of intestinal and biliary disorders. They do not perform digestive tract surgeries.

Doctors who have completed M.B.B.S are eligible to study M.D or D.N.B in gastroenterology in order to practise as a Gastroenterologist.

All of the above mentioned medical specialists have to be registered practitioners of the Indian Medical Association. Their licenses are duly renewed at regular intervals. Their practice ethics are under strict control of the local health department. Violation of any rules set by government authorities could lead to loss of rights to practice medicine. All doctors are bound by rules of doctor-patient confidentiality. They cannot reveal details about their patients under any circumstances, unless ordered to do so by any legitimate figure of authority.

Other medical and surgical specialists whose expertise is often required include orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists, gynecologists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, oncologists, plastic surgeons, psychiatrists etc.

All You Need To Know About Aquatic Therapy

Exercises and treatments performed in water for relaxation, therapeutic benefits, fitness and physical rehabilitation is termed as aquatic therapy. Usually done in a pool or any aquatic environment, it is done under the guidance of a trained healthcare professional like an aquatic therapist. These treatments and exercises are performed while floating or while being partially or fully submerged into the water.

Aquatic Therapy
Many aquatic therapies are also performed in temperature-controlled pools. Rehabilitation mainly focuses on the issues associated with injuries, illness or disabilities. Physical therapy involving water is extremely beneficial to people suffering from neuromuscular or musculoskeletal disorders.

For centuries, water has been used as a therapeutic alternative in healing people suffering from various health issues, because of the healing capabilities that water possesses. This therapeutic use of water is termed as aquatic therapy. Although hydrotherapy uses water for therapeutic benefits, there is a vast difference between hydrotherapy and aquatic therapy.

Aquatic therapy includes a wide range of techniques and methods consisting of aquatic exercises, physical therapy, aquatic bodywork, and hydrokinesiotherapy, the movement based therapy in water.

Aquatic therapy programs have certain goals to achieve and these include:

  1. Balance and co-ordination improvement
  2. Increase in flexibility
  3. Strengthening
  4. Increase in muscle strength and endurance
  5. Reduced spasticity
  6. Assistance with locomotion and stride
  7. More relaxation and less stress
  8. Reduction in joint swelling and pain
  9. Increase in range of motion
  10. Increased tolerance to sitting and standing

Aquatic therapy is usually performed under the guidance of the therapist who helps in assisting in the exercises and is termed as passive treatment. However, it can also be performed on your own with self-generated and controlled movements, and exercises, termed as active treatment. Such techniques include Ai Chi, Aqua Running, Bad Ragaz Ring Method, Burdenko method, Halliwick concept and Watsu.

For a long time, it has been believed that water promotes healing and has been used in a variety of treatments for managing the ailments along with other treatments. The therapeutic application of water includes neurological disorders, cardiopulmonary problems, spine pain, musculoskeletal disorders, orthopedic disorders, pediatric disabilities etc. It is also beneficial for obese people as it helps them perform exercises that are difficult to perform on land.

Aquatic therapy has different variations which helps the therapists create treatment plans and exercise schedules according to individual needs and conditions. Such specific treatment plans help the patients mentally, emotionally and makes them stronger, thereby improving their overall quality of life.

History of Aquatic Therapy

Water has been used as a healing element for a very long period of time. Over the time, several other terms have been coined for this therapy such as hydrotherapy, aquatic exercise, water therapy, water gymnastics, aquatic rehabilitation, aqua therapy, pool therapy etc. Water has been used for a numerous remedial purposes.

The use of water as a therapy, aquatic therapy, dates back to the early 2400 BC, when the people in Asia and Greece immersed themselves in water for religious and therapeutic purposes. The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, wrote about the healing properties of water and bathing in spring water to alleviate illnesses. He used water both externally and internally to treat a variety of illnesses. By 1500 BC, fevers were treated with water therapy. Ancient Greeks knew all the benefits of water, especially for healing muscle and joint pains.

Ancient Egyptians enjoyed bathing in their sacred river, Nile. Romans, following Greeks, considered bathing as a regime for good health. They built recuperation centers for wounded soldiers. Fatigued and injured from the war, the Roman soldiers used natural spring water to relax their muscles and treat sore wounds.

As time progressed, the use of water in therapy increased. In 800 BC Bath, England, known for its natural hot water springs, became famous as a center for healing through bathing. In the 1700s however, hydrotherapy developed by a German doctor Sigmund Hahn, came into existence. During this time, cold water was used to treat small pox victims. Vincent Priessnitz, in 1830, combined cold water and a rigorous exercise regimen to help sick people gain strength. This lead to the start of research on water, it’s temperature, and its reaction to certain diseases in Europe.

Over the course of several centuries, use of water therapy spread all over the world. New names were given, new methods and combinations were developed and new equipment were developed. Today, aquatic therapy is found in every sports center and facility. It helps in improving balance, co-ordination, muscle strength, cardiopulmonary endurance, pain management, motor skills and control, range of motion, and circulation.

Principles of Aquatic Therapy

The physical properties of water contribute to therapeutic effects.

Buoyancy permits floatation and reduces the effect of gravity. This allows people who cannot weight-bear on the land to put weight on their limbs in the water. Buoyancy has numerous benefits. It decreases joint compression forces, stress on connective tissues etc. It supports weak muscles, enhances flexibility and range of motion, and strengthens the muscles.Principles of Aquatic Therapy

Hydrostatic pressure is a force exerted on the body immersed in fluid. Hydrostatic pressure is beneficial in treating cardiovascular issues. The hydrostatic pressure pushes blood from the limbs towards the chest causing the heart to pump more blood and stretching of cardiac muscles. The stretching results in requiring a few heartbeats less than normal to pump the same amount of blood, thereby decreasing the patient’s heart rate while in water.

Routine aqua exercises can increase breathing capacity outside of water and increases efficiency of the heart. Similarly, hydrostatic pressure helps alleviate issues of renal system, respiratory system, and nervous system. Benefits of hydrostatic pressure are, reduction in pain and edema which in turn increase range of motion and increases blood circulation.

Viscosity provides resistance to water which increases as much as force is exerted against it. This helps in muscle strengthening. However, the resistance halts when the movements stop. It increases muscle balance and tone, and improves cardiopulmonary output. This resistance is especially helpful in people with Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy.

Aquatic Therapy Techniques

Ai Chi: Developed in 1993 by Jun Konno, Ai Chi is a total body relaxation and strengthening technique used in aquatic therapy. It uses deep breathing techniques inspired by Tai Chi and Qigong. This technique focuses on deep breathing and gradual movements of the upper and lower extremities, trunk and then the entire torso. The movements are slow, accompanied by deep diaphragmatic breathing and a calm state of mind.

Bad Ragaz Ring method: Developed in Bad Ragaz springs in eastern Switzerland by physiotherapists, it is a technique primarily focusing on improving neuromuscular functioning. Ring refers to the floats or rings that this method uses to support patients to be on surface of water. It involves a therapist acting as a fixed point, assisting the patient in their movements while the patient floats horizontally. The patient is guided through specific movements for muscular elongation and relaxation, and pain modulation with the ultimate goal of improving neuromuscular function, and active and passive range of motion.

Burdenko method: Developed by a Soviet professor, Igor Burdenko, this method focuses on six main aspects of movement. It is an integrated land-water sports therapy, mainly focusing on balance, co-ordination, strength, flexibility, endurance, and speed.

Halliwick concept: Developed in the late 1940s by fluid mechanics engineer, James McMillan, this technique focuses on the biophysical principle of motor control in water. This develops sense of balance and core stability. It mainly focuses on teaching swimming and independence in water to disabled patients. It has been used in neuro rehabilitation and pediatrics.

Watsu: Developed in the early 1980s by Harold Dull in California, this technique is used for deep relaxation and is a passive therapy. It is performed one-on-one in warm chest-deep water. The therapist gently cradles, moves, stretches, and massages a patient. The session consists of breathing co-ordination, movement patterns including stillness, gentle cradling, and stretching and mobilization, and massage depending upon the needs of the patient.

Aqua running: It is a form of water sport done in deep water using a support to float in the water. It involves running and jogging in the water. Helpful for injured athletes and people aiming for low impact aerobic workout. Aqua running or aqua jogging, conditions the cardiovascular system.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy is a unique form of physical therapy that assists the patient to slowly recover at a progressive pace that reduces the normal recovery time. Though aquatic therapy has been around for centuries, it is still progressing and developing new techniques to help patients recover. This form of physical therapy has variety of benefits. Some of which include improved balance and coordination, increased muscle strength, tone and endurance, cardiopulmonary endurance, improved motor skills and control, improvement in range of motion and circulatory function.Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Benefits of this therapy are greatly experienced by people suffering from sensory disorders, muscle weakness, spasticity, incoordination, balance issues, orthopedic injuries, trauma, neurological problems, arthritis, respiratory problems, depression, cardiac issues and motor skill defects.

Aquatic therapy is specifically designed for therapeutic purposes and is typically used by people suffering from disorders, disabilities, or injuries. You don’t need to know how to swim if you want to undergo aquatic therapy. Indulging in this form of therapy helps you develop an ability to perform exercises and a sense of confidence that you have great endurance and flexibility.
This therapy provides a relaxing way to reconnect with your body after suffering from an illness and helps you recover faster. It helps reduce stress and pain and pushes you towards a healthier and improved way of living.

If you or a person you know wants to get involved in this therapy, talk to your healthcare provider and understand if this is a better option for you to recover.

10 Things You Need to Know Before a Blood Test

Your blood is responsible to carry nutrients, minerals, body fluids and most importantly, oxygen to different parts of your body. Whenever your body is attacked or affected with infection, inflammation or any other disease state, it produces chemicals that notify your system that something is wrong. This is why, for most types of disorders, a blood test is carried out to diagnose a health condition.

Types of blood test

Blood tests can say a lot about your system functionality. Therefore, they are divided into varied types that serve a specific medical purpose. As a patient who is undergoing such a test, there are some things that must be known before you take a blood test.

Here are 10 things that you need to know before a blood test

1. Type of Test you are taking

You must know which type of blood test you will undergo as there are minute changes in two similar types too. A basic understanding is therefore necessary.

As mentioned before, there are “n” number of health problems that can be studied with the help of a blood test. As a result, blood tests have different types, and aim towards learning each problem individually.

Blood test can be in a form of a singular test or group tests (also known as a profile). A profile contains more than one type of blood test or more than one type of diagnosis in a single test. For example, in a thyroid profile, blood is sampled to learn about levels of T3, T4, T3RU and TSH.

Blood test

Other types of blood tests include blood culture test, smear test and other types. Blood culture test is performed to study specific types of infections. Blood in such test is cultured and kept under observation to learn about the nature of infectious microorganisms in your blood. A smear blood test is a microscopic examination of your blood for variety of medical reasons. Other types of blood tests usually include learning about the measurement of a specific component that is present in your bloodstream.

2. Normal and abnormal measurements

Blood analysis for counting the amount of a particular substance should be within its normal range. If the count exceeds or becomes less than its normal range, body tasks begin to alter. This causes minor to major problems with respect to the substance we are addressing.

Blood analysis

Note that the normal range of measurements for blood tests differs in men and women.

3. Diet

Few types of tests need a proper follow-up of diet, 1-2 days prior to the day of test. Some are asked to avoid specific food items or beverages (alcoholic/non-alcoholic) 2-3 days prior to the test, whereas others are asked to fast, hours before the test. The change in diet depends on the type of test you are taking.

4. Medication

MedicationIf you are taking a routine check-up that doesn’t usually need a prescription, you must note down this point. Before going for few tests, you may require to discontinue medicines that can alter your test reports. If you do not have any idea about the same, talk to the lab technician in advance.

5. Pregnancy

While taking a blood test it is important to inform your doctor if you are in your gestational period. During pregnancy, a lot of hormonal changes occur that will be reflected in the blood reports of that woman. As a result of which, sugar levels may increase. Test reports will be considered according to a pregnant state of that patient.

6. Previously diagnosed disorder

Nothing is ever completely cured. If you are previously diagnosed with a disorder, there can be a possibility that the micro-organisms associated with it still remain inside your body. Even though the disorder is treated, patients experience risks and complications after the cure. You should inform the lab assistant about your previously diagnosed disorder which may be one of the problems that reflects on your test results. risks and complications, even after a cure.

7. Health history (hereditary)

The study on your blood samples will be done with respect to certain points. One of them is your family’s health history. A hereditary health issue can be seen in your blood reports. This is why you should keep your physician informed in advance about the same.

8. Disorder that may spread through body fluids

HIVIf you are suffering from a serious disorder like HIV, you should let your lab technician know. This is because such diseases can spread through body fluids. Lab analysts must be extra careful with the blood samples of such individuals.

9. Number of samples required for your blood test

For some tests, it is important that blood samples are collected by lab assistants on more than one occasions. This step depends on the type of examination you will undergo. So be well prepared. Carry a packet of biscuits containing glucose or juice to keep you energetic after you have provided your blood.

10. Immediate precaution

Some patients show sudden reaction on their skin or body area from where blood is collected. On the other hand, few cases may require an immediate precautionary measure, right after the test is conducted. For example, the point of injection can lead to swelling or any other issue after the test is done. Using an ice pack can help reduce it.

Remember all the above points. They can be useful for you in some way. Apart from the mentioned ones, there are general points that every patient must consider. If you have symptoms like weakness, fatigue, or any thing associated with a low energy, carry an energy drink or ORS supplement. Take at-least one glass of it after you have given blood.

Apart from all this, rest is the most important thing that patients with ill health must take. Drink plenty of water and keep your body hydrated enough. Eat healthy to stay healthy.