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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hole in the Heart – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

There are a wide variety of diseases and disorders concerning the heart which is part of cardiovascular system in human body. Some of them are in the body since birth and some are contracted later on in life. The former category is termed as congenital heart defects and the latter is called acquired heart diseases.

Hole in the heart

Atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm disorders, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are some of the cardiac diseases people suffer. Again, there are a number of diseases that come under the collective umbrella of congenital defects or congenital heart diseases. Anomalous pulmonary venous return, Atrial septal defect (ASD), Atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD), Ventricular septal defect (VSD), Tetralogy of Fallot are few congenital heart defects. In this article, ASD and VSD are discussed ahead.

What is hole in heart?

Hole in the heart is a layman term for denoting ventricular septal defect (VSD) and atrial septal defect (ASD). VSD is less common in adults, because some VSDs close on their own.

The heart is made of different components like left and right atria which are known as the chambers of the heart, blood vessels comprising of capillaries, veins and arteries and lastly tricuspid and mitral valves. In a healthy person, blood travels from heart to lungs for oxygen, and in turn oxygenated blood is provided to the body. Congenital heart defects are a result of structural abnormalities of formation of components of the heart. And thus, when there are defects or malformations since birth, the pumping function does not take place as it should.

What is hole in the heart

The heart starts developing at 22 days in a baby, when it is still inside the womb. The inside structures and chambers start forming by the 28th day. Structural defects form when the inner parts do not form correctly. When there is a heart defect in the child, the blood flow to the heart becomes abnormal and is reflected in his or her heartbeats. However, a normal life is possible for the child that is born with an Atrial or Ventricular Septal Defect after the conditions are treated. Adults with complex heart defects are also able to lead productive lives with the help of medications, treatments and lifestyle changes. Congenital heart defects are referred to as or congenital cardiovascular malformations, congenital heart disease or heart defects.

What are the causes of hole in the heart?

There is no set data that supports occurrence or origin of congenital heart disease. However, the development of congenital heart defects can be attributed to following factors:

  • Gestational Diabetes: When blood sugar levels in pregnant women having gestational diabetes is uncontrolled, this leads to anatomical defects in the growing fetus.
  • Rubella: Women who contract rubella during their pregnancies are likely to cause the baby to get congenital heart defects. If a pregnant woman has not undergone vaccination against this virus, she is likely to pass on the virus to the unborn baby, who in turn develops heart problems, liver disorders, mental disabilities etc.
  • Genetic History: There may be a family history of this particular heart defect that may cause the unborn child to develop congenital heart defect. Congenital heart defect may be passed on to the first child, if anyone of the parent has it. Likewise, heart defects are likely to occur in children, if any of the parents have had it from their childhood.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoke has a number of toxins like nicotine, carbon monoxide, arsenic etc. These poisonous substances do not allow nutrients and oxygen to reach the baby or get absorbed well. Any type of smoke is harmful for the baby and can cause health problems like lung disorders, pre-term birth, congenital heart defects, to name a few.
  • Drinking: Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is also not advisable, as it has the capacity to interfere with development of the child’s heart. Consumption of alcohol can also be attributed to the unborn baby developing congenital heart defects. Drugs like cocaine are also a contributing factor in structural problems and cardiac malformations in the child.

What are the symptoms of hole in the heart?

Provided herewith are signs and symptoms that are seen in anyone suffering from Atrial or Ventricular Septal Defect.

Symptoms like fatigue, difficulty in breathing after exercise or littlest of exertion, swelling in legs and abdomen, and weakness suggest possible presence of congenital heart defects in adults.

symptoms of hole in the heartLikewise, signs like a bluish tint in the fingernails, skin, and lips, fast breathing and shortness of breath while breast-feeding, are the signs that suggest congenital heart defects in babies. Also, if the hole in the heart is small, it may not show any symptoms.

The doctor may order chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiography, pulse oximetry, color Doppler for diagnosing a congenital heart defect. A chest X-ray can spot abnormalities in the blood vessels and chambers in heart. Whereas, the electrical signals in the heart are measured with the help of an electrocardiogram to diagnose cardiac problems. Functions of heart valves and heart chambers are mapped with the help of an echocardiography. Thickness of ventricles can be useful in detecting congenital heart defects. Pulse oxymetry will reveal oxygen quantity in the blood and that will help in determining presence of defect in the heart. Color Doppler studies blood flow through the blood vessels. This helps in determining abnormalities in the heart chambers.

What are the treatments required for hole in the heart?

There are various treatment methods available for treatment of congenital heart diseases. However, many deciding factors influence the method of treating this disease.
Sometimes, medications like beta blockers and diuretics can be sufficient to rein on the condition and sometimes, a combination of treatments has to be implemented for treating the congenital heart defect.

Surgery is only recommended, if the congenital defect causes serious symptoms and discomfort to the child. Sometimes, if the defect is small, it closes on its own.

Heart Transplant – This heart transplant procedure employs implant of a new heart from a donor’s body to treat the cardiac or congenital heart defect in the patient. It is only done, when other treatments for treating the cardiac illness haven’t worked out. This surgery takes a minimum of 4-6 hours.
The patient is connected to a heart-lung by-pass machine that carries out functions of both of these organs during procedure. A cut is made near the breastbone for accessing the heart. After which, the existing heart is taken out, and the new transplanted one is connected to the veins and arteries. The body’s response to the new transplant is monitored through follow-up treatments. A lot of lifestyle changes need to be incorporated after the transplant in order to prevent the body rejecting the new heart.

Catheterization – Cardiac Catheterization involves treatment of the cardiac defect without opening the heart chamber for accessing the heart. It is used both as a diagnostic as well as surgical procedure.
Cardiac catheterization helps the doctor in diagnosing blockages, heart valve disorders, and also combining it with surgical procedures like angioplasty and valvuloplasty to name a few. Likewise, cardiac catheterization is a technique used for diagnosing congenital heart defects as well. The hole in the heart is closed with the help of a catheter. The catheter is threaded through a vein in the leg and up to the heart. The catheter, thus repairs holes in the heart’s walls.

Open Heart Surgery – It can also be termed as corrective surgery for congenital heart defects. Open heart surgery is the technique used for treatment of the particular heart defect.

Atrial Septal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect can be treated using an open heart surgery. If left untreated, the hole in the heart can lead to medical problems, such as arrhythmia, heart failure and the like.
This surgery starts with an 8-10 inch long incision done on the patient’s chest. Another incision across the breastbone makes the surgeon get a clearer view of the heart. Next, a heart-lung machine is connected for performing function of the heart and for oxygenating and circulating blood. Patches are placed for repairing ventricular or arterial defects. The incisions are then sealed. The patch that was placed, then naturally gets covered by heart tissue lining and it becomes a part of the heart for rest of the life.

Fairly, all congenital heart defects can be treated with the help of medication or surgery. The defect also does not have a long-term effect on the child’s day-to-day activities or health. The child will do just fine once he/she is operated on.

Spa Therapies – Types, Health Benefits and Cost in india

Spa. What does this three letter word bring to your mind?? A luxury or just a cosmetic route for relaxing your mind and body? Majority of you readers would have answered with the first one had we been living in the 19th century. Spas and the various services they provide in terms of their packages are becoming more and more accessible to people of different social status. Cosmetic therapies and alternative medicine practices for mind and body relaxation are gaining traction with people these days. Naturopathy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology are just few forms of alternate medicine.

A spa is a place for illegal activities is a popular misnomer among sections of society. However, it is a total misgiving and false assumption. A spa to put in simple terms is a therapy center that offers facials, massages and other cosmetic services. Spas are registered with appropriate governing bodies. spa-services-in-india

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