How healthcare technology is impacting our lives

Technology has changed the world so much that if someone from 100 years found themselves in today’s world, they would probably think that they have been teleported to another world. The speed of change is so rapid that it’s difficult to anticipate where we are heading to in the span of 10 years.

Healthcare technology is no different. From improved operational efficiency to standards in patient care, the healthcare transformation has enhanced the entire experience for both patients and medical professionals.

Moreover, breakthroughs like robot-assisted surgery, virtual healthcare, nanomedicine are pushing boundaries of innovation that technology has brought to healthcare.

The following are five of the top healthcare technology and healthcare industry trends and innovations that are revolutionizing the field at the present.

Availability of Information and big data

There isn’t a doubt in the fact that big data has changed the way we manage, analyze and leverage data in any industry. Even in healthcare, its application has a lot of positive and lifesaving outcomes.

Healthcare data has helped doctors in gathering data and convert it in critical insights, that can then be used to provide better care. Healthcare data analytics is used now to analyse the data-driven findings to predict and solve a problem before it is too late, but also assess methods and treatments faster, keep better track of inventory, involve patients more in their own health and empower them with the tools to do so.

Electronic Medical Records

Electronic medical records allow all patient histories, test results, diagnoses and relevant information to be stored centrally in an online location. The data allows for more focused and accurate care as well as the ability to see health trends for each individual. Moreover, it’s becomes easier to access, share and store the voluminous health information in a single place, without the risk of misplacing or losing critical health information.

Telemedicine/Telehealth

The barriers of getting a professional medical advice is now shorter as medical professionals can now use media such as video, online discussion platforms for real-time consultation with patients. It gives patients options to consult right from home without having to travel. It also have opened up opportunities to patients to consult specialists out of town. The launch of electronic medical records has added to the efficiency of teleconsultation, making patient health records accessible to all relevant departments and care providers for discussion and deriving health insights . This results in improved case management, treatments and patient recovery.

Mobile apps

Mobile apps are key to improving accessibility for patients and healthcare professionals. It enables people to easily manage their health and wellbeing- right from prompting them to get checkups, to finding general medical information or accessing their test results securely online without having to spend more time in waiting to visit GP. There are also apps where healthcare professionals, can quickly access information relating to diseases and drugs, images for clinical matters, continued education activities and so on.

Medical breakthroughs

VR For workforce training: In a study, radiologists who viewed images of arteries through 3D VR technology were more confident when diagnosing splenic artery aneurysms.

VR for physical and mental health: Specialists use VR for pain management where immersion of virtual worlds have been shown to lower levels of anxiety and have relaxing effects. It is also used in Expose therapy where VR simulators can recreate frightening or tramautic environments to help patients accept emotions and face fears.

Healthcare technology have made lives easier, increased efficiencies and brought the world closer.

What are your thoughts on this? Share your thoughts in the comment section.


Why is immunization important?

It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.

Diseases that used to be common around the world can now be prevented by vaccination. Thanks to vaccination the outbreak of smallpox was nullified because of its discovery. There are many cases where vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives.

While some of us are clearly against the use of vaccination for developing body immunity, we”l show you reasons why you should administer vaccines for immmunization.

Why vaccination?

Children are born with an immune system composed of cells, glands, organs, and fluids located throughout the body. The immune system recognizes germs that enter the body as “foreign invaders” (called antigens) and produces proteins called antibodies to fight them.

The first time a child is infected with a specific antigen, the immune system produces antibodies designed to fight it. The immune system “remembers” that antigen and when it enters the body again, even after many years, the immune system can produce antibodies fast enough to keep it from causing disease a second time. This protection is called immunity achieved by administering vaccines.

And as the famous adage goes” Prevention is always better than cure”.V prevent.

What happens in the body when we vaccinate?


Vaccines contain the same antigens (or parts of antigens) that cause diseases. For example, measles vaccine contains measles virus. But the antigens in vaccines are either killed, or weakened to the point that they don’t cause disease. However, they are strong enough to make the immune system produce antibodies that lead to immunity. In other words, a vaccine is a safer substitute for a child’s first exposure to a disease. T. Through vaccination, children can develop immunity without suffering from the actual diseases that vaccines prevent.

A good vaccine will provide adequate and prolonged protection against the disease.However, the number of doses needed varies from vaccine to vaccine. For some vaccines, there is a need for a booster dose later in life to maintain protection. These include vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and pertussis. Booster doses may also be required for travel vaccines.

Offers lifelong immunity

The best time to vaccinate is when we are tyoung. There are ample well resaerched reasons why health experts have chalked out atime table for administereing vaccinations. Once your body is introduced to vaccinations, your body rovides a lifelong vimmunity to that disease. Many diseases have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines.

Is safe and effective

Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.

Saves time and money

Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance. The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families. Ask your child’s health care professional for more detailsI

Protects future generations

Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Your children don’t have to get smallpox shots any more because the disease no longer exists. By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus no longer are seen in the United States. If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.

Have you vaccinated your child yet? It’s time to get going. Share your thoughts about it in the comments section.

A beginner’s guide to Vitamin D

It’s not easy to estimate if you’re getting enough vitamin D. The only way to know for sure if you have a deficiency is to get tested, which most people rarely do.

Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D is crucial for many of your body’s functions, but many of us aren’t getting nearly enough of it. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased risks of various cancers, cardiovascular disease, immune disorders, depression, and other adverse health conditions.

If you’re suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, it’s in your best interest to get yourself back up to recommended amounts quickly. Restoring your levels can help prevent health problems and complications. Fortunately, there are many simple, healthy, and effective ways to increase vitamin D levels.

What is Vitamin D and how does it help in the processes in our body?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Unlike other vitamins, Vitamin D is mostly made up by our body on its own, rather than solely relying on food sources.

To obtain vitamin D, our body first converts sunshine into chemicals that are used by the body. In particular, when UV-B sunshine rays land on the skin,  a substance in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol converted into vitamin D3.

7-dehydrocholesterol is very similar to cholesterol itself and converts “previtamin D” to make it into usable vitamin D3. Previtamin D first travels through the kidneys and liver in the bloodstream and then is converted into a biologically active and usable substance called calcitriol.

Vitamin D actually becomes a hormone within the body, particularly a secosteroid hormone which impacts not only our skeletal structure, but also our blood pressure, immunity, mood, brain function and the ability to protect ourselves from cancer.

How Our Bodies Get Vitamin D From the Sun to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

Many people assume that the best way to acquire vitamin D is through drinking milk, eating fish or even taking supplements like cod liver oil. While these do serve as food sources of vitamin D, direct exposure to the sun is actually the best way to absorb this important vitamin.

When you sit in the sun unexposed, without sunscreen, for roughly 10 minutes, you likely absorb about 10,000 units of natural vitamin D. However, keep in mind that this amount differs from person to person, depending on skin tone.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency

You might not realize that you have a vitamin D deficiency as the symptoms can be very vague and unnoticeable. But certain signs are more common than others — manifestations of a deficiency can include lower back pain, throbbing bone pain marked by feelings of pressure over the sternum or tibia and muscle weakness. These symptoms sometimes lead to a misdiagnosis of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or arthritis.

Testing for a Deficiency

Ask your doctor for a vitamin D test, known as the 25(OH)D test which will measure your levels in nanograms per milliliter.  The insufficiency levels is often categorized as under 30 nanograms per milliliter and a deficiency as less than 20 nanograms per milliliter. It is recommended that the level of 50 nanograms per milliliter. If your results return as insufficient or deficient, speak with your physician about the best course of treatment.

Top Vitamin D Sources to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

While some foods provide vitamin D, exposure to sunlight is still the best way to get the vitamin D you need in order to prevent vitamin D deficiency symptoms. However, eating foods that are rich in vitamin D also helps you acquire more. This good-quality , natural sources of vitamin D into your diet regularly really helps:

  1. Sunlight: Aim to spend 10–20 minutes of unexposed time in the sun daily (between 1,000 and 10,000 IUs).
  1. Food Sources: Such as Halibut, Carp Fish, Mackerel, Eel, Maitake Mushrooms (exposed to UV light), Salmon, Whitefish, Portobella Mushrooms (exposed to UV light), Swordfish, Rainbow Trout, Cod Liver Oil, Sardines, Tuna, Eggs, Raw Milk
  1. Taking a vitamin D supplement If you’re vitamin D deficient, it’s likely that your doctor will recommend a vitamin D supplement

Top 7 Health Benefits of Vitamin D

1. Contributes to Bone Health

Vitamin D plays a role in absorption into the bones. It also has effect on other important vitamins and minerals that contribute to both health, including vitamin Kand phosphorus.

A deficiency in vitamin D can result in the softening of your bones, which is called osteomalacia, or a bone abnormality called rickets. Additionally, a deficiency increases your risk for developing osteoporosis and experiencing fractures or broken bones.

2. Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels and Can Prevent Diabetes

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and utilization, therefore contributing to the regulation of insulin secretion. (16)

According to a 2015 study published in Current Diabetes Reviews, vitamin D replacement has beneficial effects on all aspects of type 2 diabetes, including the incidence, control and complications of the disease. There is also mounting evidence linking low vitamin D levels to diabetes. (17)

3. Protects Against Cancer

Researchers have found that increased sunlight exposure and circulating levels of vitamin D are associated with the reduced occurrence and mortality in many types of cancer. (18)

Moreover, vitamin D deficiency symptoms have been correlated with increased risks for cancer development, especially breast, colon and prostate cancers.

4. Enhances the Immune System

Our immune cells contain receptors for vitamin D, and it’s been shown that vitamin D seems to prevent prolonged or excessive inflammatory responses. Inflammation is often at the root of many modern, chronic diseases and autoimmune disorders: multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders, high blood pressure, and more. (22)

6. Facilitates Hormone Regulation and Helps Improve Mood

Because it acts like a hormone within our bodies and affects brain function, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk for mood disorders, including depressionseasonal affective disorder, and severe mood problems experienced during PMS, insomnia and anxiety. (23)

What are your thoughts on this article? Are you aware of your Vitamin D levels? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Older Adults

Diabetes is common in the elderly population. By the age of 75, approximately 20% of the population are afflicted with this illness. Diabetes in elderly adults is metabolically distinct from diabetes in younger patient populations, and the approach to therapy needs to be different in this age group.

Moreover, the diagnosis of diabetes in the elderly is often missed because its symptoms, such as dizziness, confusion, and nocturia, are often common and nonspecific.  When left untreated, it can cause further health complications which cannot be corrected in later point of time.

This article will walk you through the risk factors and the diabetes management techniques in older patients. Let’s begin.

Why are seniors at risk of diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is linked to an unhealthy lifestyle. Major risk factors for diabetes include age, being overweight, genetic predisposition to diabetes, and a reduction in activity levels. The rates of type 2 diabetes steadily increase with age.

Type 2 diabetes is most likely to occur if you:

  • are over 45 years old and have high blood pressure;
  • are over 45 years old and are overweight;
  • are over 45 and have (or have had) one or more family members with diabetes;
  • have had a heart attack in the past;
  • have heart disease;
  • have or have had a blood sugar test that is borderline-high;
  • have or have had high blood sugar levels during pregnancy (a condition called gestational diabetes);
  • have polycystic ovary syndrome and are overweight;

What are the effects of diabetes on seniors?

A key issue for seniors with diabetes is that, sometimes, the symptoms may not be very obvious.

In addition, symptoms of type 2 diabetes such as excessive thirst or frequent urination ar e not strong symptoms to be noted and other symptoms like feeling tired and lethargic can often be misinterpreted as just part of the normal ageing process. For all the above reasons, older people with diabetes may be relatively free of symptoms and may remain undiagnosed until damage has been done.

If left unchecked, the accumulation of glucose in the blood can cause enormous damage to nearly every major organ in the body, including kidney damage; artery damage, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack; eye damage, leading to vision loss; erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men; and nerve damage, which can lead to traumatic injury and infection. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to mend the damage that has already been done, but you and your doctor can work together to control your blood sugar and help minimise the impact of diabetes in the future.

How do other conditions affect diabetes for the elderly?

Many older people have other health conditions along with diabetes, and this can complicate diabetes management.

For example, high blood pressure or high levels of certain fats in the blood can progressively speed up the common complications of diabetes, such as kidney problems, eye problems, foot problems and heart and blood vessel problems.

Particularly elderly affected with diabetes and whose blood glucose levels are high are more prone to infections than people with normal blood glucose levels.  It ‘s important to keep your blood glucose levels in check while simultaneously taking precautionary measures against additional infection. Having regular vaccinations against ‘flu and pneumonia can help in this case.

Medications, herbs and supplements can also have an impact on your blood glucose levels, so make sure you tell each doctor, pharmacist and complementary healthcare practitioner who treats you that you have diabetes so they can recommend the appropriate treatment for you.

How can doctor help in diabetes Management in the elderly

Your doctor needs to run regular tests on the following:

  • Blood tests  to check that your diabetes is under control;
  • Eye check to keep track of possible eye disease (diabetic retinopathy);
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Foot health for any signs of foot ulcers or infections and recommend a specialist or podiatrist to help manage any diabetic foot problems, if necessary;
  • monitor your levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (types of fat found in the bloodstream), and provide treatment if your levels are outside the normal range;
  • Urine tests to check for any kidney problems (diabetic nephropathy);
  • Provide vaccinations against ‘flu and pneumococcal disease up-to-date to help prevent additional illness; and

Self management techniques for the elderly

For diabetes, the golden rule is management. Let’s explore a few self management techniques which by regular practice can show consistent results.

  • Wear proper footwear and monitor feet regularly
  • conduct regular blood glucose monitoring to keep track of your condition;
  • watch your diet and make healthy choices such as eating less fat and more healthy, carbohydrate-containing foods such as fruit, vegetables, bread and legumes;
  • quit smoking
  • lose weight if you need to;
  • Do some form of physical activity, under the guidance of your doctor;
  • keep any recommended vaccinations up-to-date; and
  • Ensure you take your medication according to your doctor’s instructions.

Remember, while untreated diabetes puts you at significant risk of a range of serious health problems, the risks can be minimized by appropriate medical and lifestyle treatment.

What are your thoughts on this article? Share it in the comments section.

Health Facts and Myths on Coffee

For most of us, this aroma filled golden vice is what starts our day! But when we are tempted to drink more of it, the endless conflicting stories about coffee fills us with guilt. Here we are with some deep research on how coffee affects your health, so that you can satisfy your taste buds and devour your next cup of brew with clear conscience. Let’s begin

Myth: Coffee causes heart disease

Fact: Two or more cups of coffee a day was associated with increased risk of heart disease and decreased mortality. This is not true.

There are many research evidence that coffee consumption does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease nor does it raise cholesterol levels or cause irregular heartbeat. There weren’t any high alert observations noted, except a slight temporary rise in the blood pressure in individuals who were sensitive to caffeine. Moreover, this rise was temporary and not very different from the result from normal activity, such as climbing stairs.

Note: People with high blood pressure need to watch out and are required to consult their physician about the caffeine intake as there are metabolic issues in this case.

Myth: Coffee causes decreased mortality

Fact: High coffee intake was associated with death from cancer, heart disease or anything. This is not true and there was a long research to prove this wrong.

The Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986, and the Nurses’ Health Study, which started in 1976, have been following coffee consumption habits of healthy men and women for decades.

The statement given by Dr. Rob Van Dam of Harvard’s school of health is –

“We did not find any relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease. Even people who drank up to six cups of coffee per day were at no higher risk of death.”

Note: Some populations can find coffee consumption potentially harmful. People with sleep issues or uncontrolled diabetes may need to ask their doctors before adding caffeine to their diets.

Myth: High amount of coffee causes Cancer.

A huge study of more than 25,000 coffee drinkers in South Korea shows that moderate daily consumption — that’s three to five cups a day – is found to moderately reduce one’s risk for melanoma, a highly dangerous skin cancer. But in the case of decaffeinated coffee, it was not the same and didn’t provide protection. The study supports a previous finding of a link between coffee and a reduced risk for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.

The reality check

Weighing between the benefits and the harm caffeine gives our body, it was noted that high intake of caffeine significantly reduced the benefits that coffee gives to our body. That means- it’s necessary to watch your coffee intake and limit it to 3 times a day. High caffeine intake is associated with:

Women should take particular note. Coffee may increase menopausal hot flashes. And pregnant women might be more likely to be at risk as it reaches the fetus and might restrict growth. Doctors recommend only a cup a day during pregnancy.

  • Contributes to higher blood pressure

There’s a genetic mutation many of us have that can affect how fast our bodies metabolize caffeine. The gene is called CYP1A2 — if you have the slow version, it might contribute to your high blood pressure. If you already have High BP, it’s advisable to consult a doctor on your caffeine intake.

There’s more…

There multiple studies with Caffiene intake, but one thing is clear- high intake of caffeine is harmful (in some cases). And interestingly enough, the way you make your coffee could also make a health difference — there’s a compound called cafestol in the oily part of coffee that can increase your bad cholesterol or LDL. It’s caught in the paper filters, so as long as you use paper filters to strain those, it should be fine. But if you’re a lover of French press, Turkish coffee or the boiled dark coffee popular, you could be putting your health at risk.

What’s your thought on this article? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

A beginner’s guide on lowering Cholesterol

Cholesterol is an essential type of fat that is carried in the blood but too much of it is a risk factor for heart disease. Managing your cholesterol by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can help reduce your cholesterol levels. The catch is: even if the changes don’t show up directly in the cholesterol numbers, they can be lowering your risk for heart disease. So if you still haven’t made the change to a heart-healthy lifestyle, Check out this guide to get started.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods and it makes all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in foods from animal sources, such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called “plaque.” As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing blocks blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

    Check out tips from our health experts.

    Follow the golden rule: Exercise

    exercise

    If your cholesterol numbers aren’t where they ought to be, working out should be a key part of your get-healthy strategy. The right kinds of workouts or activities, done regularly, can raise levels of heart-protecting HDL cholesterol and drop dangerous triglyceride levels. The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends the following activies as safe to follow

  • Brisk walking
  • Bicycling
  • Racewalking, jogging, or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Playing tennis (singles)
  • Aerobic dancing
  • Hiking uphill
  • You can add Resistance Training for Heart Health to lower LDL levels. Resistance training uses machines, free weights, bands, or your own body weight to build muscle. Adding muscle increases your metabolic rate, so you’ll burn more calories even when you’re at rest. The AHA recommends strength training at least twice a week for heart health.

    Be food aware- track your Diet

    Your body can produce all the cholesterol it needs. High-cholesterol foods are often foods that are also high in saturated fats. These foods should be limited in a healthy diet Try to avoid much amount of – fatty meats, processed meats like salami and sausages, snack foods like chips, deep-fried foods, cakes, biscuits and pastries.

    Here are our dietery recommendations:

  • Increase the amount and variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods you have each day.
  • Choose low or reduced-fat milk, yoghurt and other dairy products or have ‘added calcium’ soy drinks.
  • Choose lean meat (meat trimmed of fat or labelled as ‘heart smart’).
  • Limit fatty meats, including sausages and salami, and choose leaner sandwich meats like turkey breast or cooked lean chicken.
  • Have fish (fresh or canned) at least twice a week.
  • Replace butter and dairy blends with polyunsaturated margarines.
  • Include foods in your diet that are rich in soluble fibre and healthy fats, such as nuts, legumes and seeds.
  • Limit cheese and ice cream to twice a week.
  • LDL cholesterol can be lowered by polyunsaturated oil (for example, sunflower or safflower oil). Eating oats and legumes can lower LDL cholesterol by five per cent. Food components like saponins (found in chickpeas, alfalfa sprouts and other foods) and sulphur compounds (like allicin – found in garlic and onions) may also have a positive effect in lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Plant sterols can lower cholesterol level. Consume nuts, legumes, cereals, fruit and vegetables.
  • Don’t go by the labels

    Don’t avoid dairy foods just because they have cholesterol.

    Some people believe that cutting out dairy foods altogether is the safest option, but this isn’t true. Dairy foods are an important part of your daily diet and contribute many essential nutrients, especially calcium. Vegans, however, can obtain calcium from many other sources including soy milk.

    You don’t need to avoid eggs and seafood

    Some foods are high in cholesterol but are fine to eat in moderation, as long as your overall diet is low in saturated fats. For example: Egg yolks – a single egg yolk contains 200–250 mg of cholesterol, which is almost the uppermost recommended daily intake (300 mg). However, reducing egg intake is probably not important for healthy people with normal blood cholesterol levels.
    Seafood – prawns and seafood contain some cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat and also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood is a healthy food and should not be avoided just because it contains cholesterol. However, avoid fried and battered seafood.

    Reduce Portion Size to Lower Cholesterol

    Reduce food portion sizes to help keep your weight down to a healthy limit for heart health.Controlling your weight is an important part of getting to healthy cholesterol levels, so it’s crucial to know your portion sizes if you’re trying to lower cholesterol. A portion of starchy carbohydrate, like potato or pasta, should be only about half the size of a baseball. A heart-healthy portion of meat should be about the size of a deck of playing cards, or about three ounces.

    Restaurants commonly serve more food that you need, so consider splitting an entrée. Cooking at home will give you more control over your portion sizes, as well as what goes into each dish. You can learn more ways to enjoy smaller portions at the USDA’s Choose My Plate site.

    Stop smoking to lower cholesterol and protect your heart health.

    smoking

    There are many reasons your heart will thank you for not lighting up. Cigarette smoke raises levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and a blood fat called triglycerides. Those cause waxy plaque to build up in your arteries. At the same time, it lowers HDL, or “good” cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease.It also indirectly affects the heart in the following ways.

  • Clogs your arteries
  • Increases clotting
  • Fills your lungs with tar
  • Thickens your blood
  • Take help when needed

    For some people, diet and lifestyle changes are not enough. High blood cholesterol levels often have a genetic component. Some people inherit altered genes that cause high cholesterol and this cannot usually be changed sufficiently by lifestyle or diet. If you are not able to cut down cholesterol levels on your own, it is advisable to do so in your doctor’s guidance.

    What’s your thought on this article? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

    How to keep your liver healthy

    The liver is a workhorse of the body that is often taken for granted.  It performs almost 500 functions, which includes the primary work of filtering blood coming from the digestive tract before it travels to the rest of the body and producing necessary proteins for blood clotting. It detoxifies chemicals, metabolizes medications, breaks down hormones and secretes the bile that helps in the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In short, the liver is an incredibly vital organ.

    To keep the  body’s regulatory, detoxification and metabolic functions in optimal condition, it’s necessary to keep your liver healthy and free from complications. Fortunately, most liver problems are reversible or treatable if discovered early. Check out tips from our health experts on how to keep your liver healthy.

    Cut down smoking

    Smoking essentially spoils the entire body as it releases over  7,000 or so carcinogens which circulates the entire body, beginning in your esophagus and winding up in distant locations you wouldn’t give a second thought to.

    As for the liver, cigarettes are extremely harmful to the liver processes as it produces chemicals that damage the liver cells and impair its processes.  Read the entire research study here.

    There are also studies that link cigarette smoking with the development of liver cancer. Apart from this, smoking is known to alleviate the toxic properties of some medications (such as paracetamol) on the liver and reverse the effects of medicines.

    Limit your alcohol intake

    Our liver can only process or break down a small amount of alcohol every hour. Beyond this, it can damage the liver cells and lead to inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis). It can cause the alcoholic liver disease which causes oxidative stress and toxins in the gut area.

    For this reason, men should limit their alcohol intake two standard drinks a day while women should only have one.

    Regularly exercise

    Regular exercise is key to a healthy liver. Exercise decreases stress on the liver, increases energy levels and helps to prevent obesity – a risk factor for liver disease. Exercises like  walking, swimming, weight training etc  can help you maintain a healthy weight which is essential for optimal liver function. Aim for a total of 150 minutes of exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming per week

    How much you exercise, the types of exercises you do, and how well you take care of yourself are all keys to having a healthy liver and healthy life.

    Have a balanced diet

    High levels of fat in the blood  and high levels of cholesterol  are common causes of fatty liver disease. Reduce the intake of saturated fats, transfats and hydrogenated fats in your diet.

    Deep fried foods, red meats and dairy products have saturated fats while trans and hydrogenated fats are found in processed foods. Choose high-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains or proteins such as  fish, white meat, beans and nuts.

    Get vaccinated against viral liver infections

    Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, both viral liver infections. Hepatitis A is contracted from contaminated food and water. It is better to  avoid raw or contaminated seafood or shellfish.

    Hepatitis B, on the other hand,  can be contracted through sexual contact, contaminated blood, and needles. It is advisable to practice safe sex and avoid unnecessary sharing of toothbrushes, razors, needles and other personal care items –as these can also transmit hepatitis B or C. If you are a Hepatitis B or C carrier, consult your doctor for a screening program to detect problems early.Also, take an immediate screening test if your parents are a carrier and/or you are not sure of whether you have or not.

    Be careful of weight loss pills or fad diets

    Over-the-counter weight loss pills which are available without a prescription may contain toxins and ingredients which can be harmful to the liver. Second an opinion with your doctor on the side effects before taking medication for weight loss.

    As for the diets, fad diets that makes your weight fluctuate aggressively cause excessive stress on your liver. Avoid any diet that promises large amounts of weight loss in an unrealistically short period. These diets are usually lacking in essential nutrients and are not beneficial but harmful to your liver. If you are looking for an effective way to lose weight, it’s advisable to ask your doctor or dietitian to help you create a healthy diet.

    Takeaway

    If you may notice, a lot of health problems can be avoided by simple modifications in your lifestyle. It is especially true in the case of liver. Adopt these practices in your everyday routine and experience the difference it brings to your body.

    What are your thoughts on this article? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

    How to protect your eyes from blue screen light

    Mobiles/Desktops have become a part of our everyday lives. This especially accounts for employees who spend almost three fourth of their awake time in front of devices. The continuous exposure to blue screen light affects the cornea and causes eye and health complications that reflect in the later phase of their lives.

    Most of us undermine the consequences of blue screen light and don’t take any preparations in reducing the exposure. Here’s a blog article with insights on why blue light is harmful and steps that can be taken to reduce the risks associated with it.

    Why is blue light harmful?

    The artificial blue light from the LED and screen-based OLED illumination operates on the spectrum of the 380–500 nanometer range- which falls in the most harmful range of 415-455 nanometer range.

    Because of its temperature and frequency, the blue light tends to affect both the retina and the cellular anchors, which lead to early onset of Advanced Macular Degeneration. Blue light has also been linked with consistent melatonin disruption which could successively lead to some cancers.

    Different age levels require different levels of protection. Children under the age of 14 who use tablets and phones with high energy light are at special risk. Until 14, their corneas aren’t fully developed, and if they’re constantly in front of a device, it could affect just not their eye sight but also their mental health.

    Adults have their own issues to deal with. Blue light penetrates all the way to the retina in the back of the eye and builds up there over time. The cumulative effect caused by blue light leads to eye strain, dry eye, and unnecessary exhaustion.

    How to cope up with device strain?

    Use proper lighting.

    use proper lighting

    Eye strain often is caused by excessively bright light either from outdoor sunlight coming in through a window or from hard interior lighting. While using a computer, your ideal lighting should be about half as bright as that typically found in most offices.

    Eliminate exterior light by using shades or blinds. Reduce interior lighting by using fewer light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or using lower intensity bulbs and tubes. If possible,keep your computer monitor or screento the side of the windows, instead of in front or behind it.

    Minimize glare.

    minimize glare

    Glare on walls and finished surfaces, as well as reflections on your computer screen also can cause computer eye strain. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor and try painting the bright white walls a little darker color with a matte finish.

    If you wear glasses, purchase lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating. AR coating reduces glare by minimizing the amount of light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your eyeglass lenses.

    Upgrade your display.

    computer screen

    It’s best if you replace CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) with a flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD) which is typically used on laptop computers.

    Compared to CRT, LCD screens are easier on the eyes and usually have an anti-reflective surface. The CRT screens can cause a little flicker of images, which is a major cause of computer eye strain. Even if this flicker is unnoticeable, it still can contribute to eye strain and fatigue during computer work.

    When choosing a new flat panel display, select a screen with the highest resolution possible. Resolution is related to the “dot pitch” of the display. Generally, displays with a lower dot pitch have sharper images. Choose a display with a dot pitch of .28 mm or smaller.

    Finally, choose a relatively large display. For a desktop computer, display can be of at least 19 inches.

    Adjust your computer display settings.

    Adjusting the display settings of your computer can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Generally, these adjustments are beneficial:

    • Brightness. Adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness of your surrounding computers. If it looks like a light source, it’s too bright. If it seems dull and gray, it may be too dark.
    • Color temperature. Blue light is of short-wavelength visible light that causes more eye strain than longer wavelength hues -such as orange and red. Reducing the color temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted by a color display for better viewing comfort. Nowadays mobile screens also have the feature of using the reading mode which causes the colour temperature go orange red from blue.
    Exercise your eyes.

    Consider looking away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye doctors call this the 20-20-20 rule.”Looking far away relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye to reduce fatigue.This exercise reduces the risk of your eyes’ focusing ability to “lock up”  after prolonged computer work.Remember to blink frequently during the exercises to reduce your risk of computer-related dry eye.

    Consider computer eyewear.

    eye wear

    Computer glasses are best to protect your eyes from unnecessary glare.Consider photochromic lenses or lightly tinted lenses for computer eyewear to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful blue light emitted by digital devices.You can take help from your optician to find the best glasses to fit your type of eyes.

    What’s your thoughts on this article? Share it in the comment section.

    How to protect yourself from heatwaves

    According to meteorologists, the sweltering temperatures with a heat index reaching past the normal range will hold steady for the next few days. The heat can drain you off your energy, making you prone to infections, prickly heat and low blood pressure. Moreover, the harmful UV exposure can cause dehydration and damage your skin in the cellular level.

    Impact of heat waves on health

    Scorching sun and heat waves can cause number of illnesses. From mild heat cramps to serious heat- strokes, it cannot be taken lightly. Especially, people with respiratory and cardiovascular health conditions need to take necessary steps to prevent further complications in event of extreme heat.  Listed below are the health effects of extreme heat, in decreasing order of severity:

    Heat stroke:

    The most serious type of heat illness is a result of overload of body heat Signs of heat stroke may include a core body temperature of more than 40°C/104°F.

    Heat exhaustion:

    It is caused by excessive loss of water and salt. Symptoms may include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, and nausea.

    Heat fainting:

    It is caused when our body tries to cool itself but heat exertion dilates the blood vessels to such an extent that blood flow to the brain is reduced.

    Impact of heat waves on skin

    Heat waves cause increased sweating that makes the small particulate matter from pollution more likely to stick to the skin, causing free radical damage. UV radiation and pollution act cause damage to skin in cycles, causing damage at a cellular level. Moreover, people might also experience eczema and psoriasis flare-ups as hotter temperatures cause increased blood flow to the skin, which can in turn intensify inflammatory skin conditions.

    While we can’t possibly do anything about the heat, we can take measures to protect ourselves from the rising temperatures and stay healthy. Here, five simple steps for keeping your body healthy—and your skin cool.

    1. Stay Hydrated

    Staying hydrated is very crucial during summer as it ensures that your body keeps functioning normally. Excessive heat causes sweating, which lowers energy levels and electrolytes from your body. You can replace the lost electrolytes in your body by intake of some flavored water with mineral rich fruits like watermelon, lemon, kiwi, etc. Consuming fluids in any form like- slushies and lemonades- also helps your body regain the fluid balance.

    2. Know when to act

    Be able to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and true heat emergencies (heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, heat stroke)

    Image source:CDC gov

    3. Watch your diet

    watch diet

    If you normally eat three meals a day, break that up five or six smaller ones to fight the natural fatigue that comes with heat. Avoid heavy, hot foods as well. (Meat and other heavy foods generate heat both when you cook them and when you digest them.) Stick with salads and fruit for something cool and satisfying.

    4. Moisture your skin

    moisturize

    Sun’s rays can cause pigmentation and wrinkles if you don’t protect your skin during the warmer months, as increased exposure to the sun’s UVA rays is primarily associated with skin ageing.
    Moisturising after shower is the best way to keep your skin hydrated.  Water usually moves from high concentrations to low, meaning that you are more likely to get moisture loss after you get out of the shower. In hotter seasons this effect is increased, which can lead to dry skin.

    Remember to apply a good quality moisturizer after you shower to avoid this from happening. Moisturizing not only keeps your skin fresh and hydrated, but it will also help to maintain your tan.

    Look for ways to keep your surroundings cool

    Air conditioning is the best way to keep your body under optimum temperatures.

    However, there are also downsides of using AC as people in over air-conditioned environments may experience chronic headaches and fatigue. Those who work in buildings which are constantly being pumped full of cool air may also experience constant mucous membrane irritation and breathing difficulties. Their skin also loses moisture content and makes skin dry.

    It’s always best to use an AC just as much as needed and look for alternate ways to keep your environments cool, here’s an entire blog to guide you on this.

    Special measures are needed to protect your body against heatwaves. Grab refreshing drinks, wear loose and comfortable clothes and keep yourself cool.

    Do you have any thoughts to add?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

    Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome ( PCOS)

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine system disorder that affects women in their reproductive years.

    It causes disruption in ovulatory and menstrual cycles, with an excess production of male type hormones- all of which contribute to infertility. PCOS are likely to be caused due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

    PCOS can be associated with a number of complications like insulin resistance type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and high blood pressure. If not treated in time, PCOS can cause serious health complications in their reproductive health.

    This article looks at the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of PCOS.

    Understanding PCOS

    Most women with PCOS grow a number of small cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, on their ovaries.

    pcos

    Image source:         MANJ.com

    The cysts are not harmful, but they can lead to an imbalance in hormone levels.

    Of the many health conditions associated with PCOS, it mainly causes infertility in women –  as it can prevent ovulation and reduces the chances of conceiving.

    Even  if women do conceive with the presence of PCOS, they have higher chances of developing complications associated with pregnancy such as miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and premature delivery.

    Risk factors

    The risk factors of PCOS aren’t identified. But the incidence of risk of PCOS are vaguely related with that of genes, Insulin resistance and stress.

    1. Genes: PCOS is thought to have a genetic component. A research study states that women with a family history of PCOS are 20-40% more likely to get affected with it.
    2. Insulin Resistance: PCOS isn’t only about infertility; it causes major metabolic problems, too. Women with PCOS are more likely to have insulin resistance if they’re overweight, inactive, or have an unhealthy diet. However, there is also no clear evidence of the fact whether insulin resistance causes PCOS development, or if it’s the PCOS that leads to insulin resistance.

    Associated health risks

    There are several health risks associated with PCOS.

    These include:

    • type 2 diabetes
    • infertility
    • high cholesterol
    • elevated lipids
    • sleep apnea
    • liver disease
    • abnormal uterine bleeding
    • high blood pressure
    • obesity possibly leading to issues with low self-esteem and depression
    • metabolic syndrome
    • nonalcoholic fatty liver (steatohepatitis)
    • depression and anxiety

    Also, there is an increased risk of endometrial, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure,heart attacks and miscarriage.

    Symptoms

    Apart from the formation of cysts on the ovaries, the  symptoms of PCOS include:

    • irregular menses
    • excess androgen levels
    • sleep apnea
    • skin tags
    • infertility
    • acne, oily skin and dandruff
    • high cholesterol
    • male pattern balding
    • insulin resistance
    • type 2 diabetes
    • pelvic pain
    • depression and anxiety
    • decreased libido

    Tests and diagnosis

    A doctor can diagnose the condition through medical history, a physical exam that includes a pelvic exam, and blood tests to measure hormone, cholesterol, and glucose levels.An ultrasound may be used to look at the uterus and ovaries.

    Treatment

    Though a definitive cure for PCOS is yet to be ascertained-  currently managing the  symptoms that affect an individual is the mainstay of treatment. Once the symptoms abate, slowly  it reduces the risk of PCOS. However, it’s also important to evaluate the purpose for treatment of PCOS- whether the individual wants to become pregnant or is it to reduce the risk of secondary medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

    There are several recommended treatment options, including:

    Birth control pills: These can help regulate hormones and menstruation.

    Diabetes medications: These help manage diabetes, if necessary.

    Fertility medications: If pregnancy is desired,  follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) medications are recommended.

    Fertility treatments: These include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or inseminations.

    Surgical options include:

    • Ovarian drilling:Tiny holes are made in the ovaries that can reduce the levels of androgens being produced.
    • Oophorectomy: This Surgery aims in removing one or both ovaries.
    • Hysterectomy:This involves removal of the uterus.
    • Cyst aspiration:Fluid is removed from the cyst.

    Lifestyle changes

    There is no cure for PCOS, but some home and lifestyle interventions can make a difference and relieve some symptoms.

    These include:

      • eating a healthy, well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables
      • exercise regularly
      • maintaining a healthy weight in order to reduce androgen levels and reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
      • not smoking, as this increases levels of androgens and the risk of heart disease

    Diet and PCOs

    Women with PCOS are often found to have higher than normal insulin levels. If you don’t produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can rise. This can also happen if you’re insulin resistant, meaning you aren’t able to use the insulin you do produce effectively.

    In such cases, your body may try to pump out high levels of insulin in an effort to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Too-high levels of insulin can cause your ovaries to produce more androgens, such as testosterone.
    A diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as starchy and sugary foods, can make insulin resistance, and therefore weight loss, more difficult to control.

    The bottom line

    If you’re coping with PCOS or any of its symptoms, you may feel frustrated at times. Taking proactive steps regarding your health can improve your mood as well as reduce your symptoms. If your symptoms persist, speak with your doctor. They can work with you to identify the cause and recommend next steps.