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.

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.

Precautions After Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is an important treatment against cancer. It involves the use of medications that help rid the body of cancerous cells. Although the treatment is very effective, the disadvantage of it is that it also damages the healthy tissues. Most chemotherapy drugs fail to distinguish between cancer and normal cells. Chemotherapy kills the cancer cells all over the body, along with killing the normal healthy cells, thereby suppressing the immune system. This suppression in the immune system makes the person undergoing chemotherapy susceptible to other infections, side effects and certain other complications.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is associated with a variety of side effects and complications. Side effects present themselves differently in different people. Some may have mild side effects of the treatment, while some may have severe. The most common side effects associated with chemotherapy are nausea and vomiting, anemia, fatigue, depression, hair loss, infections, and mouth sores. It increases the risk of infections, bleeding etc. and it is very important for you to take care of yourself. This includes mouth care routine, appetite changes, managing nausea and vomiting etc.

These few precautionary measures will help you deal with the post-chemotherapy issues, boost your immunity, and make your life better and simpler at the same time.

Managing nausea and vomiting

Managing nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting is the most common side effect associated with chemotherapy. Antiemetics, which are anti-nausea drugs, can be taken to prevent nausea. They block the path of the nerve impulse from the blood and stomach, to the vomiting centre located in the brain. Avoiding foods with strong odour may help prevent nausea and vomiting. Consumption of hot, spicy, fatty and greasy foods etc. if avoided, will be beneficial for health.

Washing your hands

Hand Wash

As most infections are spread by unclean hands, it is important to wash them to prevent the spreading of infection. Since the body is weak from a recent chemotherapy, washing hands frequently may help reduce risk of infections. It is equally essential to keep the surrounding around you clean.

Maintaining a well balanced and healthy diet

Chemotherapeutic drugs often lead to loss of appetite in patients, leading to subsequent weight loss. Maintaining a healthy diet can help you get back on track to a good appetite. Planning a daily menu in advance can guarantee that.

Make sure the diet is rich in calories and protein. Since proteins are essentially the building blocks of the tissues, it helps in faster recovery of immune function. Increase sodium and potassium in the diet if you are suffering from diarrhea. Plenty of fluids should be consumed.

Healthy Diet

Since chemotherapy also causes the mouth to go dry and result in difficulty in swallowing, intake of soft and small food items can be help reduce swallowing issues. 5-6 small meals per day is helpful, since it increases the intake of protein and calories. Follow good mouth practice after every meal to avoid infections.

Mouth care

Brush your teeth and take care of your gums after every small or large meal you eat. Chemotherapy results in dry mouth and can cause sores. This can lead to accumulation of bacteria in the gums, which in turn leads to infections. Taking good care of your mouth is important. Brush your teeth and gums using soft brushes. Avoid using mouth wash that contains alcohol. Using lip care products can avoid dry and cracked lips. Avoid eating foods having too much sugar.

Mouth Care

If dentures or braces are being used, you should make sure they are thoroughly cleaned twice a day by brushing or by soaking dentures in antibacterial solutions. Avoid citrus and tomato products if you have mouth sores. Drink plenty of fluids and juices and eat moist foods and soups in case of a dry mouth. Smoking and alcohol aggravates mouth sores, so it is better to avoid indulging in these habits.

Maintain healthy skin

Dry and cracked skin, another side effect of chemotherapy, is susceptible to breaking and provides abundant sites for an infection to cultivate. Staying hydrated and frequently applying moisturizer or lotion on the skin restores moisture to the skin cells and prevents it from drying and cracking. Scratching, biting or tearing of cuticles, all lead to same result and hence, precautions should be taken to avoid them and decrease the risk of infections.

Gently patting the skin instead of rubbing it vigorously is a better way to ensure the skin is not dry. Wear loose, cotton clothing to avoid skin irritation. Chlorine makes skin matters worse, so swimming should be avoided.

Chemotherapy also brings about changes in the nails, the most common of which is hyperpigmentation. These changes can be managed by taking certain precautions like properly trimming and keeping nails clean. Gloves should be worn when gardening or working to prevent damage and minimize the risk of infections.

No contact with people who are ill

No contact

Chemotherapy suppresses the immune system by causing damage to the normal, fighting tissues and cells. This suppression of immune system makes the person highly susceptible to the onset of several infections. So, it is important for you to avoid contact with people suffering from cold, flu, or any contagious diseases. It is also advisable to steer clear of people recently administered with live vaccines.

Coping with changes in memory and thinking

Cancer related cognitive impairment or commonly called cancer fog, is difficulty in concentrating, thinking and remembering things, yet another side effect of chemotherapy. Fatigue, sleep problems, emotional issues like depression or stress, can also be caused by chemotherapy. Though these issues resolve over time, many people experience them for a long period of time.

In such cases, it is important to discuss these issues with your partner, family or even a counsellor. Get plenty of sleep as it helps in strengthening memory and concentration. Keep a track of appointments, birthdays etc. by writing them down in a diary. Writing down anything you need to remember can be helpful. Light exercise and indulging in tasks like crosswords or puzzles may keep the mind active and help cope with the struggle.

Avoid accidents and injuries

Injuries like cuts, bleeding, open wounds etc. increase the risk of infection exponentially. If there is any injury like a cut or a scrape, make sure to wash the injury thoroughly with warm water and an antiseptic. The cleaner the area, the less risk of an infection. To prevent them, you can always wear gloves while handling sharp equipment and while gardening. Be extremely careful while using razor or sharp objects. Be careful with pets. Playing rough with them might result in scratches and bites which can get infected.

Maintain a healthy weight

Losing or gaining weight during chemotherapy treatment is a natural occurrence. However, it is always important to maintain a healthy weight. If you need to increase your weight, you can. With the help of your doctor, devise a diet plan that increases the total intake of carbohydrates and proteins that can help the body get stronger. This can help in coming up with ideas and ways to make the food more appealing. This can also help reduce the nausea at the sight of food and increase appetite.

Healthy Weight

If you want to lose weight, you can follow a light exercise regime that will also help your body recuperate by being active. Limit the calorie intake and balance it with exercise. Take it slowly so that you don’t stress yourself.

Cancer and chemotherapy have known to take a toll on a person. Chemotherapy is experienced differently by different individuals. Side effects of different chemotherapeutic drugs are experienced differently too. However, with the advancements in treatment, taking precautionary measures against these side effects post-chemotherapy has become easier.

Talking to a partner, family members or a support group, makes it easier to cope with the gruelling chemotherapy. Taking these precautions post-chemotherapy, may help you in adjusting to the changes and can assist you to lead a considerably easy life. Be sure to talk to your doctor; it might help come up with necessary plans and routine changes to help you cope better.

10 Kidney Damaging Habits You Should Know

Kidneys are a pair of small, fist-sized organs resembling beans in shape. They are present one on each side of the spinal cord. The main function of kidneys is to filter waste and excess fluids and maintain the levels of electrolytes and fluid balance in the body. Healthy kidneys are vital in normal functioning of the body. Kidneys filter blood and excrete toxins from the body via urine.

kidney

Damage to kidneys can interrupt their ability to filter blood and fluids and excrete the toxins. Accumulation of these fluids and toxins can lead to kidney failure. Certain habits and lifestyle changes cause damage to the kidneys. Don’t you want to know what these habits are?

These are ten kidney damaging habits you should know:

1. Smoking

smoking

One of the main causes of kidney disease is high blood pressure. Smoking interferes with the medicines taken for regulating blood pressure. It also leads to higher excretion of albumin in urine and lower levels of creatinin, suggesting early stages of abnormal functioning of kidneys. Smoking also interferes with the blood flow to kidneys as it narrows the blood vessels in kidneys and damages them.

2. Excessive sugar intake

Excessive sugar intake

Sugar levels above 180 mg/dl results in kidneys expelling sugar in the urine. In diabetic conditions, excess sugar can cause kidney damage. High sugar levels damage the blood vessels in kidneys resulting in their inefficiency to work properly. This can lead to high sugar levels in urine and retention of water and salt, and accumulation of waste materials. Indulging in sweets too often should be avoided.

3. High sodium foods

Consumption of food containing high salt, elevates sodium levels in the bloodstream leading to imbalance. Too much salt affects the ability of the kidneys to remove water. High water retention and consequent strain on kidneys, result in high blood pressure which can lead to chronic kidney disease.

High sodium foods

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for sodium is 2-2.3 g/day. Consuming more than the recommended value can cause elevated blood pressure. Avoid eating salty foods and meat products such as ham, sausages, bacon, anchovies etc. Cutting down on cottage cheese, buttermilk, canned beans and pizza will also be beneficial. Alternative to these food products are milk, egg, fresh or frozen fish, beef, lamb etc.

4. Sedentary lifestyle

Little to no physical activity can cause damage to kidneys. Physical activity improves blood pressure and maintains glucose metabolism. Both of these factors are essential for good health of kidneys. Sitting still for a long period of time with no physical activity can affect the blood pressure and can put stress on the kidneys and eventually lead to damaging them. Sitting for more than 7-10 hours a day is bad for health. Routine exercise, for about 2-4 hours a day, can benefit in reducing the risk of any damage to kidneys.

5. Excess use of painkillers

Excess use of painkillers

Pain medications such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) reduce blood flow to the kidneys. Pain medications may provide relief from the pain but they also possess health risk such as damage to kidneys, fluid retention and increase in blood pressure. Long term intake of painkillers can cause irreversible kidney damage and chronic kidney failure. These medications should only be taken as per prescribed dosage.

6. Inadequate water intake

Low water intake is also one of the main reasons for the development of kidney stones. Dehydration is also one of major causes for kidney diseases. Adequate amount of water consumed, helps kidneys excrete sodium and toxins from the body, thereby rendering it healthy. A total of 2-3 liters of water or fluids should be consumed per day to prevent kidney stones and other damages to kidneys.

7. High protein diet

Reports have shown that a high protein diet can increase the progression of kidney damage in patients already suffering from kidney disease. High protein consumption can also lead to acidosis and harm the kidneys. A well balanced diet with vegetables can be consumed to avoid the damage. Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein in adults is 0.8 g/kg/day. Limiting protein in the diet can help in decreasing the loss of kidney function. Meat, dairy products and nuts should be avoided to decrease the protein intake.

8. High alcohol consumption

High alcohol consumption

Alcohol, even in small amounts, can have a negative impact on kidneys’ functioning. Alcohol causes dehydration, putting a strain on the kidneys to maintain the water level during this time. Excessive alcohol intake can also lead to vomiting and impaired pH levels, resulting in strain on the kidneys. Intoxication also interferes with kidneys’ function to filter blood and fluids, thus impairing their normal function. Excess alcohol can cause a strain on kidneys for prolonged period of time, resulting in kidney damage. People who drink and smoke have a higher chance of kidney diseases.

9. Full bladder for a long time

Full bladder for an extended period of time can result in too much pressure on the kidneys and may increase the risk of infection or kidney damage. Holding it in for too long results in the kidneys retaining toxins and fluids that harm them.

10. Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation

A study reports that, kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle. Less amount of sleep is directly proportional to a faster decline in kidney function. Missing out on sleep can disturb the functioning of kidneys. Less than 6.5 hours of sleep daily can lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD). Getting enough sleep for about 7-8 hours a night can help in maintaining normal kidney function and decreasing the risk and prevention of CKD.

Kidney damage occurs gradually over a period of time. The main causes are these habits and improper lifestyle choices. Little changes in these lifestyle choices can help slow the progression of kidney damage and help prevent severe kidney disorders. Drinking sufficient water, following a healthy well balanced diet, getting proper sleep, routine exercise etc. are certain factors that can be regulated and managed properly to avoid health complications. Remember, healthy kidneys help in maintaining a healthy body. So we need to take care of kidneys to stay healthy.

What is Salt Room Therapy?

Salt room therapy is one of the newer alternative therapies that is rapidly gaining popularity for all the right reasons. It is based on the principle that direct exposure to the right amount of salt helps in rejuvenating all the body tissues. It is part of dry salt therapy and has been used successfully to treat several disorders.

Salt room

Salt room therapy is inspired by an ancient form of therapy that originated in Poland. People used to visit caves that were known to have a good amount of salt deposits. Exposure to salt helped them get rid of several ailments. There are several spas and health resorts all over Europe, America and Asia offering salt room therapy.

Health Benefits of Salt Room Therapy for Patients

Some of the health benefits of salt room therapy are mentioned below:

Respiratory System:

Salt room therapy is said to be the most beneficial, for treatment of respiratory disorders. Patients suffering from asthma, COPD, asbestosis, experienced considerable improvement in their symptoms after regular sessions of salt room therapy.

Respiratory System

Exposure to dry air laced with salt helps in drying up the unhealthy secretions of lungs and bronchial tubes. This is one of the major benefits of salt room therapy for lung ailments.

Nervous System:

Salt room therapy is known to have a rejuvenating effect on tired and fatigue ridden nerves. Many people who need a break from their daily grind opt for a session of salt room therapy and come back refreshed.

Nervous System

Salt particles help in stimulating nerves to conduct electrical impulses better and leave the patient feeling energetic. Salt room therapy is also known to have beneficial effects in curbing headaches of nervous origin, migraine, spinal nerve disorders etc.

Mental Health:

Exposure to salt and minerals stimulates energy levels and also enhances blood circulation to all body tissues. This helps in improving cerebral circulation and helps in maintaining healthier brain cells.

Patients battling depression have experienced great benefits from regular salt room sessions. Anxiety, sleep disorders, mood disorders are also known to benefit from this therapy.

Skin and Hair:

It is said that salt helps in balancing the moisture levels of skin. People undergoing salt room therapy get their skin directly exposed to salt. This allows the salt particles to repair dead and damaged skin and help to retain the required amount of moisture.

Skin and Hair

Health conditions like psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis respond very well to salt room therapy. Salt has an anti bacterial effect which makes it an efficient cure for skin infections. Aside from skin disorders, salt therapy also helps in cleansing the skin and making it healthier. People who opted for salt room therapy as part of rejuvenation, developed healthy, glowing and soft skin.

Salt is also known to have a beneficial effect on one’s immune system. It helps to control levels of IgE and thus helps in battling allergic responses. Salt is a known anti inflammatory agent. Therefore, salt therapy is also helpful for patients suffering from joint disorders, auto immune disorders etc.

Salt Room Therapy for Healthy People

Other than helping to treat several health disorders, salt room therapy is also known to provide a rejuvenating and relaxing experience. Many people who want a break from their daily grind, indulge in salt room therapy regularly. People have reported feeling fresh and more energetic by spending time in a salt room on a regular basis. Salt room therapy helps to get rid of mental stress, tired nerves, muscular soreness, which has become part of the daily fast paced life most people lead.

What is a Salt Room?

Salt room therapy is conducted in artificially built salt caves. Temperature controlled rooms are built in an attempt to simulate a sea side experience, minus the humidity. Floor of these rooms is layered with salt and salt is also introduced in the room through air vents. Due to absence of humidity, patients can can experience the benefit of dry salt therapy. The salt is usually imported from ancient caves in Poland known for their rich salt deposits or from Himalayas. The salt is then processed and refined before using it for therapy sessions.

A halogenerator is used in most of the spas offering salt room therapy. This device filters and spreads salt evenly into the salt rooms during therapy sessions. People can enjoy a relaxing session of dry salt therapy in one of these rooms for a time span of anywhere between 25-45 minutes. Salt therapy does not make use of chemicals, steroids or any artificial preparations. This makes is 100% safe with little possibility of side effects.

Limitations of Salt Room Therapy

Salt room therapy has proven to be beneficial since ancient times. People have been benefiting from it since as early as the 1800s. However, no scientific or medical experiment has been conducted to prove its efficacy. Therefore, this therapy has not received adequate recognition.

There is no documented evidence of salt therapy proving to be beneficial in every patient. The therapy cannot replace medical or surgical treatment completely. It has to be used in conjunction with main stream treatment. While ancient proofs and documents exist about how salt therapy was discovered and used, there is no proof of any recent study being done for the same.

Contraindications of Salt Room Therapy

While salt room therapy is impressing one and all across the globe, it may not be helpful for everyone. Certain health conditions may contradict the use of salt room therapy.

Pregnant women should not undergo this therapy; especially if they have been battling blood pressure issues. It is also inadvisable for patients with cardiac disorders to opt for this therapy. While salt room therapy has proven to be beneficial in case of respiratory ailments, it should be avoided during acute exacerbations of symptoms. Patients who have recently suffered from burn injuries, should also refrain from undergoing salt room therapy as it may irritate the skin.

Salt room therapy should be chosen as a treatment method, only if it has been approved by a qualified physician. This form of therapy is widely available in Europe, America and parts of Asia.

Improve Your Liver Function to Improve Your Thyroid Health

Liver is an internal organ that is important for carrying out metabolism in a proper and adequate way. The left and right lobes, gallbladder, intestines and pancreas work together along with the liver to complete the metabolism process. Liver just like other vital organs, is an indispensable organ. Liver and thyroid are interdependent. Diseases and disorders of thyroid are often related to liver abnormalities. The liver health if not looked after diligently, can open the doors to a host of other liver diseases and damages. Of which, a sluggish liver is one such disorder. To safeguard the liver health, undergoing the thyroid test and liver test function is necessary in the long run.

Improve Your Liver Function to Improve Your Thyroid

Symptoms of sluggish liver

Basically, a sluggish liver is when the liver doesn’t function optimally. Sluggish liver is the term given to a dysfunctional liver. There can be a wide variety of factors responsible for this. Alcohol, diabetes, exposure of liver to metallic content from foods, lack of exercises and many more other factors are responsible for causing a sluggish liver.

Following described are the symptoms of a sluggish liver:

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How to Get Vitamin-D and Its Importance in Thyroid Health

Vitamin D belongs to the group of fat soluble vitamins. It is a form of essential nutrient; which means that it is not synthesized in the body and needs to be consumed through diet or other external sources. Vitamin D plays a very important role in maintaining good health. Hence, it is essential to consume vitamin D in optimum quantities to fulfill the body’s daily requirement.

Imporatance of Vitamin-D In Thyroid Health (1) (1)

Sources of Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which is found in very less quantities in any kind of food or drinks. Sunlight is the only known natural source of Vitamin D. To maintain optimum levels of vitamin D, it is essential to get exposed to adequate amount of sunlight for adequate time at regular intervals.

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Get Ready For June: Antimalaria Month

Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease caused because of bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito. The infected mosquito carries malaria causing pathogens called as plasmodium parasites. These parasites comprise of plasmodium vivax, plasmodium falciparum, plasmodium ovale, plasmodium malariae and plasmodium knowlesi. The bite of an infected female anopheles mosquito creates a path for these parasites to enter into the blood stream of the victim (person). Once, they enter into the blood, within few days they mature in liver and then start affecting red blood corpuscles of the body. They rapidly divide and cause harm to the whole body.

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This Is How NT Scan Will Detect Down Syndrome in Baby

Pregnancy is a very challenging stage in every women’s life. It is a period when women need to take extra special care of herself so that her baby grows pink and healthy. Health is the most important aspects for her when she is pregnant. Mother’s body is the source for the baby’s food and growth, hence she must eat healthy and stay healthy during this time period.
Pregnancy is a period of nine month that is almost equal to 40 weeks. This span of time is divided into three trimesters, where each trimester is of three month’s time. The first trimester of pregnancy starts from the 1st week to the 12th week. Second trimester is from 13th week to 27th week and the third trimester is from 28th week to the baby’s birth.

Down-Syndrome-Baby

Pregnant ladies must eat all healthy and nutritious food at regular intervals of time throughout the day. Sleep is another important aspect of pregnancy. Pregnant mothers must get proper amount of sleep so that they are active during the rest of the day. Pregnancy period is the time when women must keep their body and mind healthy. In order to maintain these factors, doctors suggest light exercises. Yoga and meditation can also be done to keep her mind and body calm and away from all the worries.

Pregnant mothers must also take regular check ups to keep a note about her health and the health of her baby. Regular health check ups during pregnancy is also a very import factor. It gives you the knowledge about how well and healthy your baby is growing inside. Also, if in case she falls sick or suffers from cold, cough or any such health issues, she must visit a doctor immediately before it affects the foetus (unborn developing baby in the mother’s womb). The slightest amount of change in your physical and mental health can affect your baby. Therefore, make sure you keep balance of all these important aspects to keep problems at bay.
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