Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have an itchy eye? Keep away from steroid-based eyedrops

Mumbai: A senior researcher with a government lab thought his conjunctivitis had healed in a record time of 48 hours after his redness, itchiness and irritation disappeared soon after applying a steroid-based eye drop. But, as soon as he withdrew the drop, the infection returned with a vengeance affecting his vision and causing unbearable pain in his eyes.
    He rushed to JJ Hospital where the steroid-based eye drop was immediately replaced with an antibiotic one. Professor of ophthalmology at the hospital Dr Ragini Parekh cautioned that it was not an isolated case. And, that there were many instances where abuse of steroid drops have led to deterioration in normal conjunctivitis infections. The hospital has treat
ed over 100 conjunctivitis cases in the last three weeks.
    Steroid-based drops, as Parekh explained, hide the infection, and give a feel good feeling to the patients. "But, the infection lies dormant and does not get killed by steroids. So as soon as the drop is discontinued, the actual infection comes out and takes a virulent form," she said. The duration of infection also gets prolonged as healing takes longer.
    Steroid drops, say city ophthalmologists, are primarily meant for post-surgical comfort, and is mostly prescribed under the cover of antibiotics. Cornea surgeon Dr Tripti Mongia of Aryan Hospital in Kurla said that every one-two out of 20 conjunctivitis cases this year had some corneal infiltration. "Normal conjunctivitis does not affect the cornea but due to improp
er medication the infection moves to the secondary level requiring
more aggressive management," she
said. Plain antibiotics are more than enough to treat viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, she added.
Bacteria vs virus
Incidentally, the verdict is split over the issue if it is a virus or a bacteria that is responsible for the 'pinkeye syndrome' in the city. Some eyecare centres in the city like the Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital are seeing more of bacterial infections (60%), while several other centres including JJ Hospital is witnessing more of viral. Parekh said that conjunctival swabs had been sent to the hospital's microbiology laboratory for investigation. "They will look into the nature and trend of the organism this year," she said adding that reports are expected within two days.
Red in the eye
Besides, ophthalmologists are also witnessing cases of sub-conjunctival haemorrhage where patients are left with a red clot in the eye even
after the infection has subsided. Cornea surgeon Dr Kavita Rao of Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital said that those were cases of bleeding on the outer surface of the cornea. "Viral infection can make the blood vessels to rupture as they become fragile," she said. "But, it is a routine occurrence and is self-resolving," she said.
Not an epidemic
The good news though is that doctors say it is still not an epidemic like situation. "Cases are more and worse than normal but not that unusually high," said ophthalmologist Dr SS Bhatti. Head of epidemiology cell of BMC Dr Daksha Shah too said that numbers are normal so far and ample medicines have been made available to civic hospitals. Till last week, civic hospitals had treated over 850 cases.

Pink-Eye Threat

Wash hands often Avoid rubbing eyes Refrain from sharing eye drops, towels, pillows, etc Stay indoors and avoid attending gatherings to curb the spread of infection Watch out for reduced vision or sensitivity to light Wear sunglasses Avoid using public swimming pools

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coffee's 'the secret to long life'

LONDON: Sipping a hot cup of coffee daily could give you more than a healthful lift of energy. The drink helps people live longer by warding off heart disease, a study has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Athens have carried out the study and found that drinking a cup of coffee everyday improves elasticity of the arteries, which can stave off heart disease, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

In fact, the researchers have based their findings on an analysis of 485 people with high blood pressure.

The subjects of the study were all aged between 65 and 100 and long term inhabitants of Greek island of Ikaria. It is known as the "land of longevity" and a third of residents reach the age of 90.

Dr Christina Chrysohoou, who led the study, said there was conflicting evidence about the effect of coffee drinking on heart health, with some research showing it aggravated high blood pressure.

"But drinking coffee is a deeply embedded social tradition in Greek culture which made it imperative to probe on this island of 'high life-expectancy," she said.

In the study, the subjects' arteries were assessed for distensibility - or elasticity. The 56 per cent who were moderate coffee drinkers consuming between one and two cups a day, had best arterial health, with their blood vessels behaving like those found in younger people.

Their arteries were more elastic than those measured in people who drank little or no coffee. Around one in 10 who drank three or more cups a day had the least elasticity.

Dr Chrysohoou said moderate coffee drinkers consumed 25-50ml of coffee a day. Typically they were drinking strong Greek coffee but other types might work as well.

She suggested that ingredients such as caffeine and antioxidants may partly improve arterial function by increasing the ability to take up nitric oxide, which is impaired in hypertensive patients.

The findings have been released at European Society of Cardiology Congress in Stockholm.

Read more: Coffee's 'the secret to long life' - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Coffees-the-secret-to-long-life/articleshow/6473132.cms#ixzz1029IGaQm

There’s much more to health than karela juice

In the first of a two-part series, Rujuta Diwekar debunks the popular premise of detox foods

If you think you need to 'detox' you need to think really hard. For starters think what really drives you to toxify your system. And then think what makes you think that 'detox' for 2/5/7 days will magically wipe out all the diet and lifestyle sins committed over the last 2/5/7 months or who knows years.
    Honestly, I think what we do to our bodies in the name of 'detox' is similar to what the BMC does to our neighbourhood gully two days before some big neta's visit. What happens after the netaji leaves? Our little street goes back to its dirty old self in a matter of few moments. Now what we need to do to keep our neighbourhood gully permanently clean is exactly what you will need to do to 'detox' your system. First know that it's not a one day or a one week job, it's a behaviour modification or a lifestyle change that needs to be adopted forever.
    Nutritionally what you do to your body in the name of detox is just as bad, if not worse, as things you do to your body when you are in the 'toxic' (normal) zone. 'Detox' is understood as something that you will do over few days where you will probably eat nuts, fruits, juices of various vegetable or just eat nothing to 'rest' or detoxify your system. Some really exotic detox will mean some magical potion being injected anally into your system and then all your system gets wiped clean, or so we are told. (I have never been able to understand why a running stomach is mixed with the idea of 'cleansing the
system'). We subject ourselves to this torture feeling really virtous about ourselves, all the while knowing deep within our hearts that we will be back to our old dirty ways in a matter of few days, max weeks. Let's assume for a second that the torture of starving our body or limiting its intake by consuming only fruits, nuts, vegetable juices accompanied by excessive amount of water and other liquids (orally and or anally) actually cleanses and is healthy. Then why not do it for the rest of our lives? And here is the true answer, because its unsustainable. A true detox will require an approach that is reasonable, sustainable and takes into account your work timings, diet history, likes, dislikes, state of mind, exercise status, the environmental factors like humidity, heat, height from sea level etc. In short, it's hard work to come up with a detox which is not just doable (for few days) but also sustainable for the rest of our lives. Or else our life will be going along the lines of the latest buffet at five star hotels — the salad and dessert buffet. Yup, they have cracked it, they know that we are avoiding main course and eating salads in the name of detox and allowing ourselves to eat that pastry because we have 'earned it' after putting ourselves through detox.
    Here's what you really need to understand, cleansing and detoxying the system is something that needs to be practised on a daily if not hourly basis. And like the thumb rule of any cleaning process you have to begin by
    reducing the damage. The four main pillars on which our sense of wellbeing
    rests are — 1. Food, 2. Activity, 3.
    Sleep, 4. State of mind. To achieve
that truly light and energetic feeling that we are hoping for after repeated attempts to detox can be achieved by reducing our abuse to these factors and simultaneously working to strengthen these pillars. Work at identifying what is your state of your mind, sleep, exercise and food patterns just before deciding to take that harsh step to 'detox'. Do you notice a sense of irresponsibility towards your body's needs? Do you typically feel like a detox after a festive season or a holiday? Is it coming from a sense of guilt or shame? Are you hoping to fit into those tight jeans or to lose weight after the detox ordeal? It's important to answer these questions if we want to get out of the salad — dessert mode. It's your responsibility to keep your body clean, smooth and light, just like it's our responsibility to put our garbage inside and not outside the BMC's garabage cans. A detox can be a disaster because it follows the now proven and well understood phenomenon — feasting and fasting or starving and stuffing. So know that other than a yo-yo weight there is nothing to achieve post a fad, whatever its name, including detox. So let's begin by getting real and by reducing the toxins that we expose our bodies to on a daily basis.
Tomorrow, I will talk of detox from the holistic angle of the four main pillars and sincerely urge you to put that glass of dudhi/ karela juice down. There is more to it than food.

(Rujuta Diwekar is the author of the popular book, Don't lose your mind, lose your weight. She is the nutrition consultant to the country's A-list)