Pain In The Joint? – The Know All About Arthritis

With increased aging, your body gets prone to aches and pains. You easily get fatigued and  tend to experience a nagging pain especially around the joints of the legs and hands. Why does this happen? Let’s look at an overview of a common problem that is not limited by age alone – Arthritis. 

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints, which can affect multiple joints at the same time. There are different types of Arthritis, the most common being -osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, is the inflammation around a joint caused due to the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in the joint leading to the bones rubbing against each other. 

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is not related to age but associated to deficiency in the immune system of the body. It is normally supposed to protect the body from the foreign substances like bacteria, viruses etc  from attacking it. This leads to the inflammation that causes the tissues  lining the joints to thicken- causing pain and swelling around the joints. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54.4 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with some form of arthritis. And, out of these 23.7 million people have their activity curtailed in some way by their condition. 

Arthritis is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but it can affect people of all ages, including children. 

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Symptoms :

Though the symptoms of Arthritis depend on the type of arthritis that affects the person, the most common symptoms seen include the following:  

  • Joint Pain 
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling 
  • Redness
  •  Decreased range of motion 

Inflammation may also be associated with general “flu”-like symptoms including: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Fatigue/loss of energy 
  • Headaches 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Muscle stiffness 

If left untreated, it can cause severe joint deformity.

What causes arthritis?

The joints are kept flexible by a tissue called cartilage. The basic function of this tissue is to protect the joint from stress by absorbing the pressure and shock created when you move them. The normal wear and tear can cause a reduction in the amount of this cartilage. Any infection or injury to the joints can exacerbate the natural breakdown of this cartilage tissue. The reduction in the normal amount of the flexible tissue causes inflammation of the joint resulting in some form of arthritis. 

What happens when there is Joint Inflammation? 

When there is inflammation, there is increased blood flow to the part of the body which brings in chemicals to attract the white blood cells. The increased number of cells and inflammatory substances within the joint can cause irritation, wear & Tear of cartilage (cushions at the end of bones), and swelling of the joint lining (synovium). 

 Abnormal metabolism can also affect the cartilages, leading to a form of arthritis called gout and pseudo gout. 

Risk factors:

Certain risk factors have been associated with arthritis. Some of these are modifiable, that is they can be prevented from causing arthritis while others are not modifiable. 

Non-modifiable  risk factors: 

  • Age: Increased aging may increase the risk of developing arthritis 
  • Sex:  Arthritis is more common in females, with around 60 percent comprising of women. Gout is more common in males than females. 
  • Genetic factors: Specific genes are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and ankylosing spondylitis  

Modifiable  risk factors:

  • Overweight and obesity: excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis. 
  • Joint injuries: Damage to a joint can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in that joint. 
  • Infection: Many microbial agents can infect joints and trigger the development of various forms of arthritis. 
  • Occupation: Certain occupations that involve repetitive knee bending and squatting are associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. 

How is arthritis diagnosed? 

Diagnosis of arthritis includes a combination of physical examination and a couple of lab tests.  The physical examination consists of checking for fluid accumulation around the joint, signs of inflammation like warmth, redness and to see if there is any limitation of movements.  

Lab Tests:

Depending on the type of arthritis suspected, the tests done will vary. Common tests include blood tests and tests on the fluid  around the knee joint. Blood test includes tests to check for specific antibodies such as anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF (rheumatoid factor), and ANA (antinuclear antibody). 

 Apart from lab tests, several imaging techniques can also be used to diagnose arthritis. These include: 

  • X-rays: X-rays can show cartilage loss, bone damage, and bone spurs. X-rays are often used to track the progression of the disease. 
  • Computerized tomography (CT): CTs can visualize both bone and the surrounding soft tissues. 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI can produce more-detailed cross-sectional images of soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments. 
  • Ultrasound. This technology uses high-frequency sound waves to capture soft tissues, cartilage and fluid-containing structures such as bursae. Ultrasound is also used to guide needle placement for joint aspirations and injections. 

How is arthritis treated? 

The goal of treating arthritis is to reduce the pain caused and improving joint function. Just like the combination of methods used to diagnose arthritis, there are a combination of methods used to treat arthritis. 

Medication 

Several different types of medication are used to treat arthritis depending on the types of arthritis: 

  • Analgesics This is effective for pain management, but doesn’t help decrease inflammation. 
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -It helps control pain as well as inflammation.  
  • Counter-irritants- It blocks the transmission of pain signals from your joints. 
  • Immuno-suppressants help reduce inflammation 
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs used especially in case of rheumatoid arthritis 

Surgery :

Performing surgery treats the following aspects of arthritis

  • Joint repair 
  • Joint replacement 
  • Joint fusion.  

Physical therapy 

Physical therapy involving exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint is a core component of arthritis treatment. 

Lifestyle and home remedies : 

In many cases, arthritis symptoms can be reduced with the following measures: 

  • Weight loss.  
  • Exercise. 
  • Heat and cold. Heating pads or ice packs may help relieve arthritis pain. 
  • Assistive devices. Using canes, walkers, raised toilet seats and other assistive devices can help protect your joints and improve your ability to perform daily tasks. 

Alternative medicine :

Though many use this reliability is questionable 

  • Acupuncture 
  • Yoga
  • Massage 

Diet also forms an important part of managing arthritis. Here are a few suggestions to include in the diet that could help manage arthritis. 

  • Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, both of which may be beneficial for reducing inflammation and the severity of arthritis symptoms. 
  • Garlic may possess anti-inflammatory properties, and that eating it may be associated with a decreased risk of osteoarthritis. 
  • Broccoli has been associated with reduced inflammation. It also contains sulforaphane, which may have anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which could alleviate arthritis symptoms as well as inflammation. 
  • Berries contain antioxidants that have been shown to decrease arthritis-related inflammatory markers 
  • Spinach is rich in antioxidants, including kaempferol can reduce inflammation and slow the progression of osteoarthritis. 
  • Olive oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and may be associated with a lower risk of arthritis. 

Takeaway : 

Suffering from arthritis could potentially affect your everyday living and have an impact on the quality of your life. However, with the right treatment, support, knowledge, and approach, you will be able to live a fulfilling, happy and successful life. 

Women’s Reproductive Health: An overview

Women are quite different from men in terms of physical and emotional health. The state of their body is designed with a great capacity of bearing pain and giving birth to children- no wonder women are regarded as a giver and an epitome of love.

It’s quite crucial that women are aware of the health aspects, processes and changes in their body- as it is affected in completely different ways than that of a man. If you don’t pay heed to the changes, chances are that it may cause health complications in their future point of lives.

Let’s understand the stages of women’s reproductive health and discuss the changes it brings in terms of their physical, emotional and mental well being.

Reproductive Health

Just like a caterpillar transforms to a butterfly, a woman’s body is designed to undergo rapid transformation to carry forward the process of life. It’s the reproductive or sexual health/ hygiene that addresses the reproductive processes and functions at all stages of women’s life. There are three stages in the reproductive life of a woman, namely

1) Puberty

2) Pregnancy

3) Menopause

In all the three stages in reproductive health, a woman not only experiences physical changes in her body but also alterations in her mental and emotional health.

PUBERTY

This is the stage when a young woman’s body matures to a state when she is ready to bear children. This typically takes place in girls between 11-14 years, where she experiences physical changes in her body along with the development of secondary sexual characteristics- like breasts, and hair at different parts of the body.

She starts to have menstruation – or monthly bleeding called “period.” During this cycle, the uterus lining builds up to prepare itself for pregnancy. During the time, if pregnancy doesn’t happen, then the hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone begin falling. The very low estrogen and. progesterone levels indicate the body to begin menstruation. At the time of menstruation, the body discards the monthly buildup of the lining of the uterus and is seen as bleeding through the vagina.

Now, though this is normal for any woman to go through every month, there is a lot of physical and mental stress that she undergoes due to the changing hormone levels.

Physical Changes

• Increased fatigue
• Bloating of the body
• Cramps in the lower abdomen
• Back pain and leg pain
• Headache and dizziness
• Nausea and vomiting
• Anemia – due to excessive bleeding
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Change in appetite.

Emotional/ Mental Changes

Typically, termed as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) – these changes can be experienced by a woman even as a post menstrual syndrome.

• Mood swings
• Depression or feelings of hopelessness
• Intense anger and conflict with other people
• Tension, anxiety, and irritability.
• Decreased interest in usual activities
• Difficulty in concentrating

PREGNANCY

The next most important stage in any woman’s life is when she will be able to give birth to her own child. With changing life style patterns and increasing stress levels, what seemed to be a natural process earlier, is today becoming increasingly difficult due to increased problems with the reproductive health of women and men.

A woman considers giving birth to a child a salvation and pleasure- beyond words. However, such pleasure is felt by her at the cost of her health. During this phase, every woman undergoes rapid physical and mental transformation and it’s quite necessary for a woman to be prepared well before she gets pregnant. She requires lot of attention, emotional support from the loved ones during and after pregnancy. Changes that woman goes through includes:

Physical Changes

• Weight gain
• Increased respiratory rate – breathlessness
• Increased heart rate
• Heartburns/nausea/ constipation
• Skin changes – stretch marks
• Increased frequency of urination
• Easy fatiguability
• Sleep disturbances
• Changes in hormone levels

Mental and Emotional Changes

• Anxiety
• Depression
• Increased Irritability

During this stage, a woman requires special care for the her and child’s physical and emotional well being . Nutritious food at regular intervals, rich in Vitamins and minerals like Iron, calcium etc is the need of the hour. Good sleep for a minimum of 7-8 hours ensures that emotional stability. Contrary to beliefs, the woman should exercise (though not vigorously) and as per advise of the doctor.

MENOPAUSE

Menopause is the stage when a women stops having her periods permanently. The event of confirmation of menopause is when she had not had her period for 12 months in a row. It usually begins between the ages of 45years and 55 years but can also develop any time before or after this age range.

Why does Menopause Occur?

Menopause is a natural process and occurs as the ovaries age and produce less reproductive hormones, which include
• Estrogen
• Progesterone
• Testosterone
• Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
• Luteinizing hormone (LH)

The notable change seen at menopause is the loss of active ovarian follicles- the structures that produce and release eggs from the ovary wall, allowing menstruation and fertility. The changes are not sudden and occur gradually with the periods becoming less consistent. There also could be changes in the blood flow, which either could become heavier and longer.

The perimenopausal phase is the time around menopause which is quite stressful like the other stages. Here, there are rapid changes in the hormone levels and it plays havoc on the physical and mental being of the woman.

Symptoms include

• Hot flashes (or flushes): Sudden feeling of hot and red blotches on the upper part of the body. They may experience heavy sweating during the hot flash and cold shivering after the flash.
• Irregular periods. Periods may be lighter or heavier, or they may come more often or less often.
• Urinary problems: It includes leaking urine while sneezing, or difficulty in holding urine long enough to get to the bathroom.
• Increased hair growth on other areas of the body, such as the face, neck, chest, and upper back
Other symptoms include:
• Vaginal dryness
• Reduced libido
• Sore or tender breasts
• Dry skin, mouth and eyes
• Weight gain
• Painful and stiff joint
• Hair thinning or loss of hair
• Insomnia: Problems in sleeping
• Mood Changes: feel irritable or have crying spells.
• Increased anxiety
• Feeling Depressed
• Becoming forgetful or having trouble focusing

Health Issues after menopause

• Heart disease. Estrogen helps keep blood vessels relaxed and open. It also helps the body maintain a healthy balance of good and bad cholesterol. Without estrogen, cholesterol may start building up on artery walls leading to the heart.
• Stroke. Your risk for stroke doubles every decade after age 55. The lower levels of estrogen in your body may cause building up cholesterol on artery walls leading to the brain.
• Osteoporosis. Less estrogen levels after menopause causes you to lose bone mass more quickly than before, which puts you at risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes your bones to become brittle, weak and causes it to break easily.
• Urinary incontinence. About half of postmenopausal women have trouble holding in their urine.
• Oral issues. Dry mouth and an increased risk for cavities are more common after menopause.

Takeaway

Women’s health has been described as “a patchwork quilt with gaps”. Although many of the issues around women’s health relate to their reproductive health- menstruation, birth control and menopause, there arises a need to have a broader understanding of women’s health to include all other aspects of health. So much that it has led to replacing the term “Women’s Health” with a much broader term- “The Health of Women”.

Even with conditions such as cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis, that affects both men and women- it manifests differently in women. Women’s health issues also include medical situations in which they face problems not directly related to their biology, but also issues such as gender-differentiated access to medical treatment and other socioeconomic factors.

Women are multifaceted, and play different roles in her lifetime from being a daughter, sister, wife or mother to someone. She always places the health and interests of her loved ones, before her own. Hence it is our duty to care for her as much as she does for us. In Hindu mythology, women are regarded as an epitome of Sakthi- so let’s take time to protect this energy.

This women’s day, gift the woman in your life with an Aarogya shree health package, a comprehensive full body health check- at a reasonable price.

Remember, if a woman remains healthy, the world around her is healthy too.

A complete Guide to Cancer Awareness

Dealing with cancer can make you feel like you’re on an emotional roller-coaster ride. This is because subconsciously, you associate it with the end of life.

But does it always lead to the end?

On account of the World Cancer Awareness day, let’s discuss the basics of cancer at length..

What does the word ‘Cancer’ mean?

Cancer is a general term used for a large group of diseases, whose cause, characteristics and occurrence vary greatly.

Cancer occurs with the growth of abnormal cells in the body which has the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. However, the right treatment can kill the cancerous cells, stop them from spreading to other parts of the body and cure a person from Cancer.

Cancer Fact Sheet

The cancer burden in India is already high according to the National Institution of Cancer Prevention and Research and is expected to rise even more with increasing life expectancy and changes in lifestyles associated with economic development.

Estimated number of people living with the disease in India is around 2.25 million and every year, new cancer patients registered are over 11,57,294 lakh. According to GLOBOCAN 2018 data, there were 11, 57,294 new cancer cases in 2018 in India, both in men and women.

CANCER FACT SHEET

What happens in Cancer?

CANCER MECHANISM

Our body have certain genes that protect us from abnormal growth of cells. When some part of these genes is damaged, our body loses the ability to protect us against this abnormal cell growth. The loss of protective genes puts the body into a viscous cycle leading to the development of cancer.

Recommended read:

Most common types of Cancer

 

    • Breast cancer

Symptoms of breast cancer include a lump in the breast, blood discharge from the nipple and changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast.

    • Prostate cancer

Symptoms include difficulty with urination, but sometimes there are no symptoms at all.

    • Basal cell cancer

This cancer typically appears as a white, waxy lump or a brown, scaly patch on sun-exposed areas, such as the face and neck.

    • Melanoma

Symptoms might include a new, unusual growth or a change in an existing mole. Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body.

    • Colon cancer

Colorectal cancer symptoms depend on the size and location of the cancer. Some commonly experienced symptoms include changes in bowel habits, changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool and abdominal discomfort.

    • Lung cancer

Symptoms include a cough (often with blood), chest pain, wheeze and weight loss. These symptoms often don’t appear until the cancer is advanced.

    • Leukaemia

Many patients with slow-growing types of leukaemia don’t have symptoms. Rapidly growing types of leukaemia may cause symptoms that include fatigue, weight loss, frequent infections and easy bleeding or bruising.

    • Lymphoma

Symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue and weight loss.

Signs and Symptoms

The initial stage of cancer does not produce any symptoms. It might start to appear only when it disrupts the functioning of the organ or produce a visible growth over the area affected.

The signs and symptoms also vary with the type of cancer and the stage at which it is diagnosed. In general the following signs and symptoms can be seen

      • Weight loss: Unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be one of the first signs of cancer. Weight loss is common in people who have pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, or lung cancer, but can occur with any type of cancer.
      • Unexplained Fever: Fevers frequently crop up when a cancer has metastasized. Night sweats often accompany the fevers. Nearly all people with cancer will experience a fever at some point.
      • Fatigue: Feeling extremely tired can be a symptom of cancer in your body.
      • Lump: A lump or thickening of skin can be an early or late sign of cancer. People with cancers in the breast, lymph nodes, soft tissues, and testicles typically have lumps.
      • Skin changes: Yellowing, darkening, or redness of the skin can signal cancer. Also, sores that don’t heal should be checked out. Additionally, moles, freckles, or warts that change in colour, shape, or size could be a sign of skin cancer.
      • Pain: Pain may be an early symptom of bone cancer or testicular cancer. But Back pain is common in people with colon, rectal, pancreatic, or ovarian cancer. Those with brain tumours often complain of a headache that doesn’t go away. Pain could also indicate that the cancer is fast spreading.
      • Bowel or bladder function changes:  Constipation, diarrhea, and other bowel issues may be a sign of colon cancer. People with bladder and prostate cancer may report pain during urination, blood in the urine, or other bladder-function changes.
      • Cough or hoarseness: Persistent cough that does not resolve with regular treatment could indicate that the person might have lung cancer. Change in voice or a swelling in the neck could point to cancer of the larynx, or thyroid cancer.
      • Indigestion: Indigestion or problems with swallowing can be a sign of stomach, oesophageal, or throat cancer.
      • Bleeding: Unusual bleeding is associated with many different cancers. Coughing up blood may signal lung cancer. Bloody stools could be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. Women with cervical or endometrial cancer may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. Blood in the urine could mean you have bladder or kidney cancer. Bloody discharge from a woman’s nipple might indicate breast cancer.
      • Swollen lymph nodes: Sometimes, enlarged lymph nodes can signal cancer. You should have your doctor check it out if your gland remains swollen for three to four weeks.

IMPORTANCE OF RECOGNIZING CANCER SYMPTOMS

cancer awarenwess

Image source: Loquitur

There are many apprehensions related to Cancer cure. While some say it’s curable, some say that the chances of surviving it are low. However, it varies from person to person and it’s not that if a person is detected with cancer, there’s no hope of survival. Early detection is the key. Certain types of cancer when detected early can be treated and completely cured of it, leading to the person having a higher life expectancy.

Detection of cancer early also minimizes the extent of treatment needed. A large cancer obviously requires more extensive surgery than a smaller tumour. Early detection also minimizes the number of treatments needed and reduces the physical suffering and financial bearing of the family. For instance, in some cases a person might need only surgery or chemotherapy. While for some others, a combination of treatments may be required.

RISK Factors:

It is usually not possible to know exactly why one person develops cancer and another doesn’t. But research has shown that certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing cancer. There are also factors that are linked to a lower risk of cancer. These are sometimes called protective risk factors, or just protective factors.

      • Age
      • Alcohol
      • Cancer-Causing Substances
      • Chronic Inflammation
      • Diet
      • Hormones
      • Immuno-suppression
      • Infectious Agents
      • Obesity
      • Radiation
      • Sunlight
      • Tobacco

HOW TO TREAT CANCER?

Treatment of cancer depends on the goal, which can either be one of the following below:

    • Primary treatment which aims at killing the cancer cells in your body.
    • Providing adjuvant treatment that aims to kill the cancer cells that are remaining after the primary treatment.
    • Giving palliative treatment to give the individual relief from the symptoms associated with cancer.

The most common types of treatment are:

    • Surgery:Surgically removes as much of the cancer as possible
    • Chemotherapy:Uses medications that are toxic to cells to kill rapidly-dividing cancer cells
    • Radiation Therapy:It Uses powerful, focused beams of radiation inside (brachytherapy) or outside (external beam radiation) your body to kill cancer cells.
    • Immunotherapy (Biological Therapy):It Uses antibodies to help your body’s immune system recognize cancer so it can fight it off.
    • Hormone Therapy:Removes or blocks hormones that fuel certain cancers to stop cancer cells from growing.

SOME Dos and Don’ts TO PREVENT CANCER:

Take comfort in the fact that simple lifestyle changes can make a difference. Consider these cancer-prevention tips.

Dos

(a) Adopt a healthy lifestyle

      • Ensure you get 7-8 hour sleep
      • Adopt a Diet with sufficient nutrients and is less saturated fats
      • Regularly exercise or do some physical activity.
      • Watch and keep your weight in the normal range and avoid being obese
      • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits
      • Be aware of warning signs and symptoms

 

(b)  Avoid/limit exposure to known environmental carcinogens

(c) Go for regular health check-ups and cancer screening

Don’ts
      • Do not use tobacco in any form
      • Avoid passive smoking
      • Quit alcohol
      • Avoid spicy, fried, preserved, processed and junk food, salt preserved food like pickles and very hot beverages
      • Try and avoid a stressful life
      • Targeted Drug Therapy
      • Uses drugs to interfere with certain molecules that help cancer cells grow and survive.

Takeaway

Cancer, though a deadly disease, can be cured if detected early. It’s important to adopt a healthy lifestyle as it prevents you from a range of other diseases including cancer. Watch your body and Consult your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms to avoid the risk factors as much as possible. Live healthy, live cancer free.

The harmful effects of smoking and the benefits of quitting it

Every smoker is aware, of the harm smoking does to the body. But they choose to smoke for the sake of stress relief, pleasure, or in social situations despite the negative health consequences. Studies reveal that,in a year,only 6 percent of the compulsive smokers who try hard to quit smoking,  are successful in quitting smoking. Though there are lot of alternatives that help people quit smoking, many of them are unable to do so since they  have a compulsive drug seeking behavior that doesn’t seem to abate.

The main reason for this addiction is the presence of nicotine in cigarette and other forms of tobacco. Nicotine primarily affects the brain, which is the control box of your entire body along with the other parts of the body. Whenever you smoke, nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds of entering the body and causes the brain to release a hormone called Adrenaline – a rush hormone that creates a buzz of pleasure and energy in your body. This short lived buzz that smoking creates is what people enjoy, especially when stressed or when depressed and it makes them smoke again and again. The belief is that it alleviates the mood and helps improve the concentration. However, it has more ill effects than just this one benefit that will damage the body to such an extent that it might be difficult to reverse it beyond a point.

How does smoking affect the body

No matter in what form you consume, tobacco is dangerous to your health. It affects almost every part of your body and causes a variety of ongoing complications and long-term effects on your body.

The long term effects of smoking include the following:

• Poor vision
• Sense of taste and smell
• Unhealthy teeth
• Immune system
• Persistent coughing
• Lung cancer
• Heart disease
• High cholesterol
• Increased clotting of blood
• Decreased functioning of the immune system
• Mood instability
• Irritability
• Depression
• Infertility & erectile dysfunction
• Problems with pregnancy and the new born

how smoking affects the body

Image source:Hillbrokedental.com

Apart from damaging the internal organs, smoking also causes an overall dull outer appearance. It speeds up skin aging, making smokers more prone to wrinkles on their face and body and damages skin in other ways that affect one’s appearance and puts smoker’s lives at risk.

Quit Smoking. Why?

Even though quitting can be a challenge, the benefits on your physical and mental health are worth it. You will be surprised with the positive changes your body experiences within just 10 days of quitting smoking.

Addiction cycle gets broken

Many nicotine receptors in the brain will return to normal within one month of quitting smoking, thus breaking the cycle of addiction.

Blood Circulation gets better

Within 2- 12 weeks of stopping to smoke, your blood circulation improves, making physical activity lot easier and lowering the risk of a heart attack.

Taste and Smell Improves

Smoking damages nerve endings in your nose and mouth, dulling your senses of taste and smell. Within just 48 hours of quitting, the nerve endings begin to grow, and your sense of taste and smell begin to improve.

A boost to your immune system

Quitting smoking improves circulation, increases oxygen levels, and lowers inflammation — all of which give your immune system a boost, so it’s easier to fight off colds and other illnesses.

Cleaner teeth and mouth

Smoking yellows your teeth, causes bad breath, and increases your risk of oral infections. Within a week of quitting, you’ll begin to see and feel a difference in your mouth.

Fertility problems averted

Smoking can harm your sex life. It increases the risk of erectile dysfunction in men and contributes to female sexual dysfunction by reducing genital lubrication and orgasm frequency.

Lower risk of cancer

Once you stop smoking, the risk of cancer (especially lung cancer) is lowered by a considerable amount.

Steps to help quit smoking

1. Prepare yourself

Nothing is impossible if you put your heart and soul to it, is a famous saying. Prepare yourself psychologically, to say that you will, and you can quit smoking. Think of the numerous benefits that you would have if you quit smoking. Identify real reasons that can help you stick to your plan and hold yourself accountable.

2. Get a Buddy

Partner up with someone else who wants to quit and support one another. Set up buddy goals and support each other towards quitting smoking.

3. Get Counseling

If you aren’t able to quit smoking by yourself, get help from a professional counselor to get yourself diverted from the habit.

4. Find Nicotine Replacements/ Use Prescription Smoking Cessation Aids

Nicotine replacements have proved time and again to increase the likelihood for success. Nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, sprays, and even lip balms can help curb your cigarette cravings and offer distractions from the oral fixation that comes with smoking.

5.Alternate therapies

Some therapies address the mental and physical habits you have developed around cigarettes. These therapies include:

• hypnosis
• acupuncture
• meditation

6. E-cigarettes

Some people believe that e-cigarettes can help them quit smoking tobacco. Researchers are testing whether this may be true. However, nicotine patches and many other FDA-approved quit aids are available now to help people quit smoking.

Takeaway

Smoking kills and there’s no hope of life beyond it. Though it’s quite hard, there’s quite a benefit in quitting in every bit of it. Don’t look elsewhere, your will power is enough and is the ultimate solution to help you quit smoking.

You can work with your doctor or a medical professional to find the right plan to quit smoking. It’s time to stop smoking now.

The importance of maintaining eye hygiene

Typically when we think of the word hygiene we think of cleanliness, being germ free and overall sanitation.
There is oral hygiene that requires us to brush our teeth two times a day, floss along with annual dental visits, and there’s daily hygiene which includes bathing, the use of deodorant, frequent hand washing and generally a neat presentation. However, many of us forget about ocular hygiene and often overlook the fact that eye health and hygiene is as important as any other aspect of health. Many of us in the morning subconsciously just reach for our glasses or stumble into the bathroom to apply our contact lenses without actually washing hands or cleaning the lenses of our glasses with the sanitation spray. These small factors and good ocular hygiene habits can make all the difference between having healthy vision and eyes or developing bacterial, viral or fungal diseases.

In fact, the most common infections of the eyes are actually due to our lack of preventative care and carelessness. While most infections or inflammations are easily curable there are several that are fatal and can lead to severe diminished vision or complete blindness if not treated or caught in time.

Common eye diseases (that can be avoided with proper hygiene and prevention)

Styes

You run the risk of developing styes when you don’t wash your face thoroughly or you leave makeup on overnight. These are typically pimple-like red bumps which are caused by an infection in the oil glands at the edge of the eyelid. While styes normally resolve themselves and do not generally cause serious injury, chronic stye development can lead to scarring over time.

Bacterial keratitis

It is actually the infection of the eye at the cornea, a dome shaped window in front of the eye. The two main causes of developing a bacterial keratitis is improper contact lens usage or an eye injury.You risk getting an infection from contact lenses if you wear them too long or do not take care of them correctly. Proper care of your contacts will lower your risk of developing a corneal infection.

Corneal Abrasions

We often rub our eye without even thinking about the consequences, but this habit can result in corneal abrasions. These scratches on the clear “skin” that covers the iris and pupil are extremely painful due to the large number of nerve endings on the cornea. The injury can come from dirt on your hands or from aggravating a particle that is already inside your eye.

Apart from the exclusive eye diseases, improper eye hygiene can also contribute to a host of other diseases which are indirectly related to eye. Listed below are the diseases caused by eye hygienic. Click on each link to read in detail.

Signs and Symptoms to look out

If you experience any of the following symptoms you should visit your ophthalmologist as quickly as possible in order to administer treatment or further progression of the disease:

• Pain or discomfort
• Redness
• Itching
• Discharge of fluid
• Swelling of the eyelid
• Burning
• The feeling of a foreign particle in your eye
• Light sensitivity
• Floaters
• Halos in your vision
• Night blindness
• Sudden diminished vision

What causes eye diseases

The thing about eye disease is that we don’t really see it coming, but the outcome is devastating and we can’t help but fall prey to it.

Eye problems and diseases can be classified into 5 different groups:

  • Inflammation of the eye and surrounding eye structures caused by bacterial, viral, parasitic or fungal infection.
  • Injuries to the eye and surrounding eye structures, either as a result of trauma or an object in the eye.
  • Genetically inherited eye diseases, many of which may only manifest later in life (although some children are born with these conditions). Many of these affect the structures and the functioning of the eye and therefore can impair visual abilities.
  • Diseases or conditions, such as diabetes or migraine, which can affect other organ systems of the body, such as the eyes.
  • External causes, such as allergies or eye strain owing to over-use, or as a side effect of medication.

While we can’t really do anything about genetic eye problems, we could definitely take steps in lieu to eye hygiene and prevent diseases caused by bacterial or fungal infections. Most of eye diseases typically affects the outer layers of the eye including the cornea, conjunctive, occasionally and the iris. This later spreads to the other parts of the eye and gradually take toll of your eye health.

Prevention

Our eyesight is something we need to treasure and proper precautions and regular eye checks can definitely save the situation from worsening. While most of the bacterial and fungal infections are easily curable with topical antibiotics or oral antifungals, several of the diseases contracted in the eye can lead to diminished vision, partial blindness or even complete blindness. By following these simple steps and prevention methods we are ensuring healthy vision and eye hygiene.

Hygiene tips for glasses wearers:

• Use clean cloths when wiping your glasses lens
• Always leave your glasses facing up where the lens are not touching any surfaces
• Spray clean your glasses at least once a day
• Do not share your glasses with others
• Avoid touching the lens of your glasses with your hands, hold them by the frame

Hygiene tips for contacts lens users:

• Wash your hands before applying your contacts
• Always use the contact solution to make sure the contacts itself are clean
• Give your eyes a break from your contacts and wear glasses when possible
• Avoid sleeping in your contacts
• If your contacts are daily wear do not overextend their use
• Renew your contact prescription when needed
• Visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist yearly to check if your vision has changed

General hygiene habits for healthy eyes:

• Wash your hands frequently especially before touching your eyes
• Do not share glasses, or eye makeup between friends
• When bathing avoid shampoo and soap near and around the eyes
• Keep nails clean and well clipped to avoid corneal tears or abrasions
• Wash hands after playing with children and animals to avoid allergies or any irritation
• Use caution in the kitchen when cooking with spices and chilies
• Avoid sleeping in eye makeup such as kajal and mascara

What’s your thoughts on this article? How have you been taking care of your eyes? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Diabetes and Eye Disease: What’s the connection?

People affected with diabetes develop unexpected complications due to the varying glucose levels in the body. Although glucose is an important source of energy for the body’s cells, too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, blood vessels and the small blood vessels in the eyes.

Eyes, in specific are affected the most. Studies reveal that 85 percent of Diabetic people could develop eye problems, but the intensity varies from person to person. While some may just have minor temporary blur which can be fixed with treatment, there are cases where people permanently lose their vision.
However the good news is that 90 percent of diabetes-related vision loss can be prevented, but early detection is the key.

That’s why it’s vital to know why you are at risk of eye diseases and what you can do to fix them. We’ve got all the facts and advice to help you do it.

What is Diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may develop as a complication of disease. People with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma, which are often referred to under the umbrella term of Diabetic Eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eyes (retina). This creates dark blotches across our field of vision. At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, it can lead to complete blindness.

Cataract

Cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of your eye. The lens of our eyes is normally filled with transparent proteins. When these proteins clump together, they block our vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma causes increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision.

How does glucose affect eyes?

High glucose can change fluid levels or cause swelling in the tissues of your eyes. This causes blurring of vision. Continued high sugar- damages tiny blood vessels in the back of your eyes. Damaged blood vessels may leak fluid and cause swelling. These blood vessels can bleed into the middle part of the eye and lead to scarring or increase in eye pressure.

However, studies reveal that the blurriness can be fixed when blood glucose down to normal range. If blurriness doesn’t go away when glucose levels are close to normal, you might have retinopathy. Fortunately, it’s preventable and treatable too.

Risk factors to develop Diabetic eye disease

  • High blood sugar: The higher the level of blood sugar, the greater is the risk of developing retinopathy.
  • Duration of diabetes – The longer a person suffers from diabetes, the greater the risk of developing retinopathy. Nearly 90% of people who have had diabetes for over 10 years are at increased risk to develop some extent of diabetic retinopathy.
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure in itself is detrimental to the retinal blood vessels and can cause hypertensive retinopathy. Therefore, among people with both a raised blood sugar level and high blood pressure, the risk of diabetic retinopathy still higher.
  • Smoking: Smokers are at a greater risk of blood vessel disorders, including retinopathy.
  • Symptoms of Diabetes eye Disease

    Often there are no early symptoms of diabetic eye disease. It’s rather progressive with no changes in vision or no pain initially.

    However, When symptoms do occur, they may include

    • blurry or wavy vision
    • frequently changing vision—sometimes from day to day
    • dark areas or vision loss
    • poor color vision
    • spots or dark strings (also called floaters)
    • flashes of light

    Regular Check-ups can save your day

    Diabetes is such a disease that largely depends on the how well you control it. Particularly, regular check ups reduce the probability of worsening of the symptoms and contributes to a peaceful living inspite of being Diabetic.
    You can reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy by doing the following:

    • Keeping your blood sugar as close to normal as possible will help reduce your risk levels

    • Manage your diabetes- Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise activity, such as walking, each week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.

    • Monitor your blood sugar level- You may need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — more-frequent measurements may be required if you’re ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you need to test your blood sugar.

    • Check your glycosylated hemoglobin level- The glycosylated hemoglobin test, or hemoglobin A1C test, reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people, the HbA1C goal is to be under 7 percent.

    • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.

    • If you smoke,quit the same as soon as possible- Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy.

    • Pay attention to vision changes. Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy. Have a dilated eye exam at least once a year – early detection of diabetic eye disease reduces the risk of blindness.

    Takeaway

    The best way to prevent an eye problem, or stop it from progressing, is to make regular visits to your eye doctor. You should always call your eye doctor if you have any sudden changes in vision.

    Remember, diabetes doesn’t necessarily lead to vision loss. Taking an active role in diabetes management can go a long way toward preventing complications. After all, prevention is always better than cure.

The essential guide to understanding Diabetes

Sweets are a weakness for so many of us. For a refreshing morning, the first thing that most of us do is to grab a piping hot cup of coffee or tea. Imagine having that cup without the heap of white powder that powers you through your day. Though many of us dread that very thought, it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can make you sick, especially if that one good thing is sugar.  Life needs be balanced, and this also includes the diet that you follow.

One of the most serious and chronic diseases that anyone can be affected is Diabetes. It is one of the leading chronic causes of debility, especially among the middle aged, who are the breadwinners in most families and the reason for economic growth of a country. Thus if diabetes isn’t detected and managed in time, the chances of fatality and disability can only prove to increase.

Type 2 diabetes typically affects adults over age 40. It’s sudden detection can completely change your habits and priorities. It’s just isn’t a health condition, it’s entirely a lifestyle change. Right from learning how to monitor blood sugar (glucose) levels to counting carb intake, you’ll need to be extra careful to manage diabetes the right way. Here’s your go-to guide on diabetes that helps you understand diabetes on a deeper level and manage it better

Types of Diabetes

Type 1: It is also known as Juvenile diabetes since it typically affects children and young individuals. These individuals cannot produce insulin in sufficient quantities and hence are insulin –dependent over time. To balance the levels, they must take artificial insulin daily.

Type 2: This normally occurs in middle or older age group individuals and is known as insulin resistant Diabetes. In this scenario though the body produces enough insulin, the muscles and liver that normally take the blood sugar and use it for energy. The muscles and liver begin to lose their sensitivity to the hormone insulin inside the body and becomes dependent on external insulin.

Gestational diabetes: This type of Diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy when the body can become less sensitive to insulin. Gestational diabetes generally does not occur in all women and usually resolves after giving birth.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Frequent urination

Excess glucose in the blood causes the kidneys to flush it out, thus increasing the frequency of urination or the urge to urinate.

Increased thirst/ dry mouth

Frequent urination leads to fluid loss that results in the feeling of increased thirst and dry mouth.

Increased intake of food

This tends to be more common with type 2 diabetes, in which the glucose is not utilized by the tissues since they are resistant to the action of insulin causing the pancreas to produce more insulin. The increase in sugar levels are signaled to the brain and the hunger pangs are activated.

Extreme fatigue

Despite taking more food and having more glucose there is extreme fatigability since the excess glucose is not being utilized by the body.

Blurry Vision

Blurred vision occurs when there are rapid changes in blood sugar — from low to high or high to low — to which the eye muscles have not yet adapted to.

Numbness/tingling/pain of hands and feet

Over time, a prolonged exposure to high blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout the body — a condition called diabetic neuropathy

Weight loss

Since the cells are not getting their required amount of energy, alternate sources of energy are looked for which burns the storage of fat and results in weight loss.

Slower healing of wounds

High levels of blood glucose affect the nerves, leading to poor blood circulation, making it hard for blood – vital for skin repair – to reach areas of the body affected by sores or wounds.

How much is too much: The optimum ranges

According to the American Diabetic association, the following criteria is used to diagnose diabetes.

symptoms of type 2 diabetes

Prediabetes

Doctors refer to some people as being prediabetic or having borderline diabetes when their blood sugar is usually in the range of 100 to 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). When the blood sugar levels that are between 70 and 99 mg/dL, it is said to be normal. The prediabetes level means that blood glucose is higher than usual but not so high as to constitute diabetes.Although they do not usually experience the symptoms of full diabetes, people with prediabetes are, still at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The risk factors for prediabetics and type 2 diabetes are similar. They include

  • being overweight
  • a family history of diabetes
  • a history of high blood pressure
  • being older than 45 years of age
  • maintaining a sedentary lifestyle
  • having history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a child with a birth weight of more than 9 pounds
  • a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Prediabetic individual could escape the wrath of diabetes by making healthy life style changes that can ideally stop the progression to type 2 diabetes. Losing weight and having a more healthy diet can often help prevent the disease.

Type 2 Diabetes prevention tips

The good news about managing diabetes is that you are sure to keep your sugars in check when you make appropriate modifications in your lifestyle. However, you literally need to sweat it out to achieve lower sugar targets.Below listed are a few actionable tips that can effectively control diabetes from progressing further.

  • Eating healthier carbohydrates and more fiber will help drop blood sugars levels.
  • Exercise can increase the insulin sensitivity of muscles, which will then absorb more blood sugar.
  • Include foods rich in fiber and healthy carbohydrates in your diet. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help keep your blood glucose levels steady.
  • Eat at regular intervals
  • Only eat until you’re full.
  • Control your weight and keep your heart healthy. That means keeping refined carbohydrates, sweets, and animal fats to a minimum.
  • Get about half an hour of aerobic activity daily to help keep your heart healthy.

Foods to consume

Food and Nutrition plays an important role in controlling Diabetes. It’s important to keep a check on what you are eating during and post your diabetes phase.

Healthy carbohydrates can provide you with fiber. The options include vegetables, fruits, legumes (such as beans), whole grains. You can get healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from a number of foods, including olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, almonds, pecans etc.

Although these options for fat are good for you, they’re high in calories. Moderation is key. When choosing dairy products, choose low-fat options. There are certain foods that you should limit or avoid entirely. These include foods heavy in saturated fats/trans fats, processed meats, red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, baked goods, processed snacks, sugary drinks etc.

Here’s an infographic that talks about Diabetes and the foods you need to.

type 2 diabetes

Takeaway

Diabetes is a life-changing condition that requires careful blood sugar management and a healthy lifestyle for managing it right. Although controlling diabetes entirely depends on the patient’s will and determination, it isn’t really a cakewalk.You may need to battle psychological demons to remain motivated over the long haul and learn how to live a semi-normal lifestyle. But it’s always worth it because diabetes is 90% dependent on management and only 10% on other unforeseen circumstances.

Watch out this space for more insights on managing diabetes.

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