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Monday, December 23, 2013

City parents spend 10-11 hrs on phone a day, 3-6 with kids

Mumbai: If you were asked to choose between the company of your child and technology, what would your answer be? In a survey conducted in the city to gauge the relationship between parents and children, more than 70% of working parents said they end up spending 75-80 hours on mobile phone every week, and spend only between 20-40 hours with their children at home. 

    Surprisingly, the scene did not change for stay-athome mothers either as almost 65% said that even though they spent close to 50 hours with their child every week, they spent more time on their mobile phones. 
    Conducted over a period of two months, the survey by Podar Education Network interviewed 5,600 parents and 1,900 children. 


•76% of stay-at-home mothers spend over 68 hours a week on their mobile phones 

•70% of the 1,900 children interviewed said their parents talk on the phone while crossing the road and driving a car 
Both working & stay-at-home parents put phone before family, finds survey 
Experts Warn Of Radiation, Strain On Family Ties 

Mumbai: A survey conducted in the city has found that both working parents and stay-athome mothers end up spending more time on their mobile phones than with their kids. 
    Both parents and children were interviewed for the survey. Students were made to 
paint their thoughts on a sheet of paper and almost 70% of kids interviewed said that their parents talk on the phone while walking on the road, crossing the road and driving a car. About 68% of kids said their mothers talked on phone while cooking while 89% kids said their dads talked on the phone while eating at the dinner table and watching television. 
    Podar Education Network, which carried out the survey, interviewed over 5,000 parents and nearly 2,000 students in schools, trains, at malls and oth
er public places. "It is true that we are all dependent on technology but we should not let it override human interaction/emotion. Apart from this, radiation is one of the prime drawbacks of all such gadgets and we constantly urge parents to ensure that they keep themselves and their families' safe while using mobile phones," said Swati Popat Vats, president of Podar Education Network. 
    "We know that many times parents don't do this knowingly but it is our responsibility to point to them the same. We are 
talking about children who have 'mirror neurons' and they tend to follow what their parents or others in the surrounding do. Parents need be aware of this," added Vats, an expert in early childhood behaviour. 
    "Even five-year-old kids are aware of SMS and other messenger services. This is not a healthy trend," said Vats. 
    Health experts pointed out the growing dependence of parents as well as children on technology, leading to loss of quality time in families. "The dependence on technology is leading to 
many online addiction disorders and also loneliness after a point as people depend heavily on the virtual world and lose touch with what is real," said clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany. She added that she has counselled families where the dependence on technology has even led to marital problems. "It is about time we take charge of this situation before we become completely helpless. As clich├ęd as it sounds, no activity should supersede spending quality time with family," she concluded.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

SWEET NEWS Insulin pills spell end of diabetes jabs

Indian Experts Find Way To Get The Hormone Directly Into Bloodstream

London: Daily injections for diabetics could soon be history. Indian scientists have developed insulin pill that can save millions the painful daily shots — a breakthrough medical science has been waiting for since the 1930s. 
    Published in the American Chemical Society journal, the medical advance could someday not only eliminate the "ouch" factor but also get needle-wary patients to take their medicine when they should. 
    For years, it had been a challenge for researchers to transform delivery of insulin therapy from a shot to a pill as the body's digestive enzymes 
also break down insulin before it can get to work. Now the scientists have found ways to shield insulin from the digestive enzymes and get it into the bloodstream. 
    Sanyog Jain from India's National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research combined two approaches to shield insulin from the digestive enzymes and then get it into the blood. The team of researchers packaged insulin in tiny sacs made of lipids or fats called liposomes which were wrapped in layers of protective molecules called polyelectrolytes. 
    In order to get these "layersomes" absorbed into the bloodstream, the scientists attached folic acid, a kind of vitamin B that has been shown to help transport liposomes across the intestinal wall into 
the blood. In rats, the delivery system lowered blood glucose levels almost as much as injected insulin, and more importantly the effects of the "layersomes" lasted longer than that of injected insulin.
    Diabetes inhibits production or use of insulin, a hormone that helps blood glucose get absorbed into cells to give them energy. It's one of India's biggest health challenges. By 2030, the number of diabetics in India is expected to cross the 100 million mark, against 87 million estimated earlier. 
    Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin, while in Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't make produce enough or use insulin very well, caus
ing glucose to remain in the blood. "Oral insulin could make a big difference to the lives of people with diabetes. Children, elderly people and those with a phobia of needles would benefit particularly if and when insulin capsules become a safe and effective treatment for the condition," said Libby Dowling, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK. 
    "Many people with Type 2 diabetes take tablets. They are not the same as insulin. 
    "The tablets work in different ways to lower blood glucose levels – for example by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin, or by helping the body to use the insulin that it does produce more effectively," she said.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spill the beans Survey after survey has proven that Mumbaikars have weak kidneys. Here’s a quiz to test how well you know the filtration units of your body

Last month, a news report had the BMC admit that Mumbai is suffering an 80 per cent shortage of dialysis beds. Several patients, unable to access dialysis, have succumbed to kidney failure. 

    With lifestyle disorders on the rise among urban Indians, it's especially important to take care of your kidneys (so what if you have a pair?). For that, you'll have to know the bean-shaped filters of your body inside out? Take our quiz to find out if you do: Where are your kidneys located? 
a) Front and upper section of your body b) Front and lower section of your body c) Lower section of your body, in the back d) Lower section of your body, in front 
Answer: C. Kidneys are located behind the abdominal cavity, above the waist. While their rear portion is covered by the ribs, the lower section is unprotected. If you place your hands on your hips, the position of your thumb indicates the position of the kidney. 
Smoking affects the kidneys 
    a) True b) False 
Answer: A. The kidneys perform the essential function of keeping the blood in the body free of toxins. In fact, several heavy smokers suffer from renal cell carcinoma, says Dr Madan Bahadur, consultant nephrologist and transplant surgeon at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre. Smoking also increases the deposition of cholesterol in large blood 
vessels, reducing blood supply to kidneys. This means oxygen levels in the kidneys drop, causing hypoxia, diminishing their ability to function optimally. How much blood does a kidney filter every day? 
a) 10 litres b) 100 million litres c) 180 litres d) 100 litres 
Answer: C. A healthy adult's kidneys filter about 180 litres of blood every day to remove toxic wastes. 
What's a kidney-friendly combination? 
    a) Carrots and green beans 
    b) Pineapple, green peas and coffee 
Answer: B. Pineapple, green beans and coffee are all low potassium foods. Potassium is a mineral present in most foods, and your kidneys are responsible for maintaining potassium levels in the body (healthy levels — 3.5 - 5.0 mEq/L). High levels can lead to a irregular heartbeat, and even a heart attack. 
The primary cause of kidney failure in India is 
    a) Kidney stones 
    b) Diabetes 
    c) Hypertension 
    d) Kidney infection 
Answer: B. Fifty per cent of kidney related diseases are caused by diabetes. In diabetics, the albumin protein necessary for muscular functions, leaks into the filtering unit of the kidney blocking the tubules from which urine is sent out of the body. Hence, urine is absorbed back into the body altering the balance of the cytokine level — cell-signalling molecules that aid cell-to-cell communication in immune responses resulting in permanent damage. 
Which common habit is a kidney-killer? 
a) Taking strong painkillers off and on. b) Eating stale food. c) Drinking hot soup. 
Answer: A. Heavy doses of strong painkillers that fall in the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) category interfere with the filtration of the kidneys, directly increasing toxicity levels in the body. This could either cause acute injury to the kidneys (this is reversible) or chronic injury (which signifies permanent damage). "While it's okay to pop the occasional painkiller, ensure that you drink a lot of water after.



Painful cosmetic procedures can wait. Jet-spray, a relatively new technique that is touted to take away years from your face, is increasingly getting popular. City skin specialists tell us more about it... 

What's jet-spraying? 
Dermatologist Dr Apratim Goel says, "Jet spray technology or the jet peel is a relatively new, non-invasive, relaxing and painless skin-care procedure." 
How it works 
The technique is based on a simple principle. "Pressurised air accelerates a jet of micro droplets, which is used to gently cleanse and exfoliate your skin," says Dr Goel. The technique removes dead skin cells and also helps regulate blood circulation. 
How it helps 
The technique delivers key micronutrients in facial skin. "Vitamin C (which acts as an antioxidant) and Hyaluronic acid (Restylane and Vital) are mainly used in this treatment. Hyaluronic acid moisturises the skin naturally," says dermatologist Dr Bindu Sthalekar. The jet transports moisture and vitamins into your skin without even touching it, adds Dr Goel. 

Is it new? 
Jet Spray is a relatively new technology. "It has been in the market for two-three years," says Dr Sthalekar. 
The benefits 
"Penetration is better in jet-spray technology," says Dr Sthalekar. It unclogs pores and removes debris that naturally builds up in your skin. The jet also massages and improves blood circulation, making your skin look vibrant, smooth and younger," adds Dr Goel. 
Is it painful? 
Not at all. The jet is cool and soothing and one feels instantly relaxed. 
Experts say many people are not able to handle the pressure created by the jet-spray. Also, senior dermatologist Dr Sushil Tahiliani points out that the procedure doesn't have any scientific validity. He says, "It claims to cleanse debris and improve blood circulation, but there are no scientific studies to prove it. The human body is designed to age. Even if you stop ageing of the face using various methods, you cannot stop the layers under the skin, the muscles and the bones from ageing. You should not run after procedures that claim to make you fairer and younger."


It’s official! Exercise does reduce risk of dementia

A new study has found that the five measures to stave off dementia are taking regular exercise, not smoking, keeping low body weight, eating healthy and having a low alcohol intake. People who consistently followed four or five of these behaviours experienced a 60% decline in dementia and cognitive decline — with exercise being the strongest mitigating factor — as well as 70% fewer instances of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, compared with people who followed none. 
    "What the research shows is that following a healthy lifestyle confers surprisingly large benefits to health — healthy behaviours have a far more beneficial effect than any medical treatment or preventative procedure," 
said researcher Peter Elwood. 
    "Taking up and following a healthy lifestyle is, however, the responsibility of the individual. Sadly, the evidence from this study shows that very few people follow a fully healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, our findings reveal that while the number of people who smoke has gone down since the study started, the number of people leading a fully healthy lifestyle has not changed," he added. ANI


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

‘Tummy clock’ tells us how much to eat

Melbourne: Scientists have found the first evidence that the nerves in the stomach act as a circadian clock, limiting food intake to specific times of the day. The discovery, by University of Adelaide researchers, could lead to new information about how the gut signals to our brains about when we're full, and when to keep eating. 
    In the University's Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory, Dr Stephen Kentish investigated how the nerves in the stomach respond to stretch, which occurs as a consequence of food intake, at three-hourly intervals across one day. "These nerves are responsible for letting the brain know how much food we have eaten and when to stop eating," said Kentish, who is the lead author of the paper. 
    "What we've found is that the nerves in the gut are at their least sensitive at time periods associated with being awake. This means more food can be consumed before we feel full at times of high activity, when more energy is required," Kentish added. 
    "However, with a change 
in the day-night cycle to a period associated with sleeping, the nerves in the stomach become more sensitive to stretch, signalling fullness to the brain quicker and thus limiting food intake. 
    "This variation repeats every 24 hours in a circadian manner, with the nerves acting as a clock to coordinate food intake with energy requirements," he said. So far this discovery has been made in lab studies, not in humans. "Our theory is that the same variations in nerve responses exist in human stomachs, with the gut nerves being less sensitive to fullness during the day and more sensitive at night," he said. PTI



Saturday, November 30, 2013

WORLD AIDS DAY HIV-positive patients getting free life-saving drugs double since ’08

More People Want To Get Treated: Docs

Mumbai: The happy news on the HIV epidemic front continues. Just when United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) has praised India for reducing 
new HIV infection rate by 57% in a decade, news from Mumbai shows that the number of patients put on life-saving drugs has almost doubled in the last five years. Figures released by the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) on the eve of World AIDS Day show that 36,920 HIV patients in the city have 
been put on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) over the years. 
    The therapy has been instrumental in changing the perception of AIDS from being a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease. "This is a 96.2% increase in the number of patients tak
ing ART since 2008," said Dr B Adsul, additional project director at MDACS. The numbers show that the AIDS-control programme is spreading wider into the community. The city's government-aided AIDS control programme has registrations of 67,326 patients across the city. 
    "In the last five years, we have managed to increase the number of patients coming to us for treatment by 60%,'' added Dr Adsul. That HIVpositive individuals are living healthier lives can be gauged from the fact almost 40% of the registered patients don't need ART yet, said an MDACS official. 
    The MDACS, which works under the civic body, operates 69 centres for testing and counselling patients as well as 10 centres to distribute ART medicines. 
    In the last five years, the number of people getting themselves checked for the disease has gone up by 39%. The number of pregnant women getting themselves checked for HIV has increased by 5%. 
India among 12 nations with most HIV+ adolescents: UN Global AIDS Deaths In 10-19 Age Group Up 50% 
New Delhi: A new report puts India among 12 highburden countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania that are home to the 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV in 2012. 
    A UNICEF report says that AIDS-related deaths amongst adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 increased by 50% between 2005 and 2012, rising from 71,000 to 110,000 and that many adolescents were unaware that they were infected. 
    The 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS—released on the oc
casion of World AIDS Day on Sunday— says that an estimated 74% of the 2.1 million adolescents live in 12 high burden countries. It says that investments to the tune of $5.5 billion by next year will be required to avoid an added two million adolescents, particularly girls, getting infected by 2020. Investments in 2010 were US$3.8 billion. 
    "If high-impact interventions are scaled up using an integrated approach, we can halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020," said UNICEF executive eirector Anthony Lake. "It's a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programmes – urgently." 
    The report also found that girls are more vulnerable among adolescents. Of the total of 2.1 million individuals, 1.2 million are females. The total infected adolescent population in South Asia is 130,000 with 51% men and 49% women.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tap water causing pink eye Navi Mumbai In Grip Of Rare Conjunctivitis

Mumbai: A peculiar type of conjunctivitis, caused by a parasite found in contaminated water, has affected many in Navi Mumbai. A private hospital, which carried out a preliminary analysis, recorded over 20 cases in little over a month. 
    The Advanced Eye Hospital and Institute in Navi Mumbai saw patients who complained of the classic symptoms of conjunctivitis such as redness, irritation and light sensitivity. Most of them also got unsuccessfully treated for viral conj
unctivitis only to be diagnosed with microsporidial infection later. Experts confirmed such cases are few and far between. 
    More worryingly, tap water emerged as the common source of infection. The mother of a nine-year-old boy said, "We live in a posh society and my son goes to a good school. There is 
no way he gets exposed to dirty water." She added that one of his son's friends was also diagnosed with it two days before him. 
    Cornea surgeon Dr Vandana Jain said the infection in normal individual was baffling. "Microsporidia are opportunistic pathogens that mostly 
affect those with weak immune system and not individuals with normal immunity." 
    Adoctor from MGM Hospital in Vashi said they have also treated a couple of cases post monsoon. The doctor added that patients should use boiled water to wash their eyes if they feel any kind of irritation. 

The disease is caused by an infection with organisms called microsporidia 
These parasites live within other host cells where they produce infective spores or cells that can reproduce 
The cells cause a disease called microsporidiosis 
It is commonly seen in 
immuno-compromised people such as HIV, TB and transplant patients 
    The infection can also affect brain, intestine, muscles and kidneys 
    It is not contagious like classic conjunctivitis 
    It can affect vision permanently if not treated appropriately and in time


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

55% of 21,000 diabetics in Mumbai are women

Mumbai: Even as the BMC will attempt to detect more cases of hidden diabetes by randomly checking the blood sugar of more than two lakh Mumbaikars on Wednesday, existing statistics reveal a worrying trend. More women than men—55% of the 21,000 patients are women—seek free treatment at BMC's 55 diabetic clinics. 
    "We were surprised to find more women than men as patients," said additional municipal commissioner Manisha 
Mhaiskar on Tuesday. However, city's executive health officer Dr Arun Bamne said that the gender bias could be a reflection of the fact that women were free to attend the civic clinics that function during afternoons. 
    But the BMC's more-woman-patients theory ties in with a similar finding three years when Metropolis Laboratory found more woman patients among the two lakh people tested for the disease. "Diabetes usually doesn't discriminate on 
gender lines, but Indian women could be more prone because of their poor vitamin D levels," said endocrinologist Shashank Joshi from Lilavati Hospital. 
    The BMC's diabetes programme began with 21 special clinics offering free tests and medicines in 2011. It now covers 52 clinics. "We offer free medicines to 35,647 patients registered at our suburban hospitals. Another 34,782 are listed at our teaching hospitals and get free insulin too," said Mhaiskar. TNN


Saturday, November 9, 2013


 While chocolates as Diwali gifts have been around for the last couple of years, they've never really surpassed good ol'mithai. However, this Diwali along with the corporate firms, many people also opted for ribbon-wrapped crowns of soft-centers over gooey Indian mithai. 
    Chocolates, beautifully wrapped, intricately moulded and often with the corporate logo embossed on each piece make a smarter and more costeffective bulk gift. So, while a beautiful box of chocolate could cost you merely Rs 150, a
box of dry fruits is anything from Rs 350 to Rs 2,000. 
    "Chocolates speak of class. Mithai is boring — besides you can't give pedhas and any dry fruit mithai is expensive. Chocolates have a standing that has style, individuality and a character. And of course, they are cheaper without being perceived to be," says 38 year-old Anita Sabharwal. 
    According to Mehernosh Khajotia, a shopkeeper, "It's all about the money. When you have to distribute sweets to half the city, you are looking for a cheaper, yet impressive option. And a box of assorted, 
hand-made, beautifullywrapped chocolates makes better sense than a handful of dry fruits." 
    Another deciding factor that tilts the scale in favour of chocolates ishealth consciousness. While you would not normally think of a chocolate as healthy, weigh it on the same scales as mithai and it's definitely lighter on your waist. And of course, the clincher —kids always prefer chocolates. Since the shelf-life of chocolate is far longer than traditional mithai, parents can also ration it for longer.


Move over boys, hunt now for suitable sperm

First they tried to find a suitable boy for their daughter. Then they busied themselves finding a suitable sperm donor. "My parents' earlier search didn't yield results but this one is going to give us a precious gift," says Richa Aneja, who's single and looking forward to a surrogate baby soon. 
    Having a baby through IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or a surrogate mother was once fraught with stigma. Even married couples chose to hide the fact from their families and friends. Now, the tide is chang
ing, say infertility experts. Parents, and even in-laws, are supporting—and often paying for—assisted reproduction techniques for their children. Women in mid-30s freezing their eggs Aneja, 34, is unmarried but that didn't stop her parents and brother from being willing partners on her journey to becoming a parent. "When I told my family that I wanted to be a mother with the help of IVF they gave me their blessings and promised full support," says Aneja who runs a software business in west Delhi. At present, her surrogate is pregnant and the family is busy discussing possible themes for a nursery at her home and names for the much-awaited baby. 
    While there are no figures to quantify this trend, doctors confirm that numbers are growing. Dr Firuza Parikh, a well-known infertility expert consulted by Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan, met three single women who wanted to freeze their eggs last week, all of whom were accompanied by their mothers. "They are all in their mid-30s but still haven't found the right man to settle 
down with," says Dr Parikh and adds that she is also seeing more and more cases of in-laws extending financial help to young couples undergoing IVF. 
    One cycle of IVF in India usually costs between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 4.5 lakh. The IVFsurrogacy package — including the costs for hormonal medicines for egg retrieval, egg placement, hospital delivery of the baby, legal charges, etc — costs close to Rs 15 lakh. The procedure of retrieving and freezing eggs costs around Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh and the annual fee for storage varies from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. 
    Dr Rita Bakshi, who runs the Delhi-based International Fertility Centre, says that with blossoming of women's careers she is seeing a sea change in attitudes towards ART (assisted reproduction technology). "Till a few years ago women themselves shied from IVF. Now we get parents who bring their daughters to us for the procedure," she says, citing the example of a 
39-year-old unmarried woman who came to her clinic with her parents, who were footing the bill. She wanted a baby through surrogacy. 
    "Parents want to see their children happy," explains Dr Aniruddh Malpani, a Mumbai-based infertility doctor. "Children have a mind of their own. So parents reconcile and bow to their child's wishes." He cites the example of a client who is a scientist in the US. She is single by choice and her mother was initially opposed to the idea of "nontraditional baby-making". "But eventually she relented," says Dr Malpani. The scientist got pregnant thrice but miscarried. "At that point her mother advised her to go for surrogacy," says Dr Malpani. Now, her surrogate is 14 weeks pregnant. This scientist meticulously, and anonymously, blogs about her IVF and surrogacy experience at, which has more than three lakh page views. 
    (Some names have been changed on request)


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Helpouts: Get advice from experts via video chat

San Francisco: Google Inc is launching a service that lets consumers pay for live video chats with experts who can provide everything from step-by-step turkey cooking instructions to marriage counselling. The Google Helpouts service, introduced on Monday, features roughly 1,000 partners in fashion, fitness, computers and other topics, available for live, oneon-one video consultations. The video sessions can be as short as a few minutes or can last several hours, depending on the topic, with pricing set by each individual provider. 

    The video consultations represent an expansion of Google's traditional web search service, which for years has answered consumers' questions by pointing people to the most appropriate web page. 
    While Google remains the world's No.1 internet search engine, consumers are in
creasingly turning to social networks like Facebook Inc to get advice and recommendations from their friends about movies, restaurants and other topics. "Most of the world's useful information still resides in people's heads," Udi Manber, vice president of engineering at Google said at a small briefing with reporters in San Francisco on Monday. Helpouts "opens the door to that information as well." 
    Manber said that Google will initially provide tight oversight of the Helpouts website, deciding which types of services can be offered on Helpouts. For providers of medical consultations, Google will con
duct background checks to ensure that the provider has valid credentials. In addition to individual experts, brands such as Sephora, Weight Watchers and Rosetta Stone will also be offering video sessions on the Helpouts service. 
    Google will take 20% of the fee that the providers collect from consumers for the video chats, though Google is initially waving the transaction fee for providers in the Health category. Consumers can leave reviews of the different video chat experts and Google will refund consumers who are not satisfied with their video consultation, the company said. REUTERS

HELP AT HAND: Google will allow consumers to pay for live video chats with experts who can provide help for everything, from step-by-step turkey cooking instructions to marriage counselling


Friday, November 1, 2013

2 deadly dengue strains behind spurt in city-wide infection

Mumbai: Two worrying strains of dengue have been found to be circulating in Mumbai's air, and could well explain the viral infection's rise and spread this monsoon. Preliminary investigations by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, have revealed that the strains—DEN-2 and 3—have been behind dengue in the city. 

    Mumbai, much like the rest of the country, has been reeling under a dengue spell that peaked between September and October, and is likely to linger for some more time. Virologists, though not completely surprised about the presence of DEN-2, are worried about its predominance. A 2011 study at Kasturba Hospital's molecular lab had found DEN-2 responsible for 85% and DEN-3 for 11% of the cases. 
    Dr Jayanti Shastri, head of microbiology at BYL Nair Hospital, said DEN-2 is associated with more severity world over; more so in south-east Asia. 
    Quoting a recent study that mapped the complete genome sequence and evolution of 
DEN-2 virus, Shastri said, "There are two major genotypes of DEN-2—American and cosmopolitan—in India, and significant variations have been seen in the cosmopolitan type. These variations themselves could be responsible for the change in the virus' behaviour." 
    Shastri, also head of BMC's molecular lab, said research carried out by Gwalior's Research and Development Establishment, had found the newer 
Indian DENV-2 isolates were 9% divergent from the older Indian strain. Traces of DEN-2 are found in cities reporting an epidemic-like situation. 
    On the other hand, the NIV also observed that DEN-3 is reemerging as a dominant serotype and that it belongs to the genotype associated with DHF in the subcontinent. "DEN-2 particularly, and in certain cas
es DEN-3, is capable of causing bleeding, hypotension, liver failure, cardiac condition and shock syndrome, among other life-threatening conditions," said a doctor from Sion Hospital. 
    All dengue strains are capable of causing mild to severe infection. "But infection with one type is not worrisome. It is only when a person gets infected twice with different seroty
pes that it becomes tricky," said Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician, Bombay Hospital. 
    Officials from the nodal laboratory in Pune confirmed the findings have been conveyed to the BMC. Civic health officials, though, remained tight-lipped. Around 101 samples from Mumbai have been sent to the NIV for serotype testing, a few of which have arrived.


Thursday, October 31, 2013


Weak eyesight has nothing to do with age anymore. An increasing number of children are complaining of it

    Have you noticed a substantial rise in the number of children wearing glasses? Well, there's a reason for it. Experts say kids these days have more eye-related problems since the load placed on the eye has significantly increased. 
Not only has the quantum of school work increased, new technology has also led to massive eye strain. Says Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Keiki Mehta, 
"Ideally, for a growing child, nearpoint application, which includes reading on computers and tablets, should be restricted to two to four hours per day. However, the increasing emphasis on competition, at an even earlier age, has led to excess pressure on their developing system." 
    Consultant cataract and refractive surgeon Dr Nikhil Nasta says many problems leading to visual loss are related to lifestyle. "Vision depends on a clear lens and rich microcirculation 
to the retina and the visual nerve cells of the retina called rods and cones. These are adversely affected when exposed to toxins and oxygen-free radicals. Poor dietary habits can also be harmful," he says. 
Near and far sightedness: 
Dr Nasta says refractive errors (spectacle number) account for 80% of visual impairment in kids. "This includes Myopia or nearsightedness, where distance vision is blurred, but a child can usually see well enough to read or do other such tasks. This occurs most often in school-going children. The prescription for glasses will indicate a minus sign before the power (for example, -2.00). Another problem is Hyperopia (far-sightedness), because of which crossing of the eyes, blurred vision or discomfort may develop. Most children are far-sighted early in life and it becomes a concern only in extreme cases where the focusing muscles are not able to keep the vision clear. A prescription for hyperopia will be preceded by a plus sign (+3.00)," he says. 
This is commonly caused by a difference in the surface curve of the eye. Instead of being shaped like a perfect sphere (like a basketball), the eye is shaped with a greater curve in one axis (like a rugby ball). This causes fine details to look blurred or distorted. Prescribed glasses have greater strength in one direction of the lens than in the opposite 

This problem causes children to have a different 
prescription in each eye. This can create a condition called lazy eye, where the vision in one eye does not develop normally. Glasses (and sometimes patching) are needed to ensure that both eyes can see clearly. Lazy eye or Amblyopia: 
    Seen only in one per cent children, it is a failure of the eye to connect to the brain due to lack of use of one eye during infancy and childhood. Therefore, the vision in the amblyopic eye remains poorer than in the normal one. 
    To solve this, the weaker eye is forced to be used by patching the other one. Treatment also includes using glasses if necessary. Amblyopia must be corrected by nine years of age, by when it becomes permanent. To detect and treat amblyopia, it is necessary to examine preschool age children. 
Squint or Strabismus 
"Also called crossed-eyes, this means that the eyes are not aligned but are pointing in different directions. They may either point inwards towards the nose (esotropia), outwards to the ear (exotropia) or up or down (vertical strabismus). The problem can be constant or intermittent. However, intermittent strabismus occur in the first few months of infancy, especially when the baby is tired, since they are still learning to focus their eyes and to move them in a coordinated fashion. Most babies outgrow this by the age of three months. For others, various treatment options are available, including exercises for the eyes called orthoptics. Other common 
eye problems in kids include cataract, glaucoma and retinal problems," adds Dr Nasta. 

• All children need the same nutrients, no matter what their age. A healthy diet with an emphasis on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts is a must. For non-vegetarians, add eggs and a small amount of fish. Avoid addictive sweets as well as junk food. Natural, unprocessed foods help preserve circulation to the retina, rods, cones and lens. 

• Regular exercise helps maintain low blood pressure and preserves blood vessels, which the retina is rich in. It also helps support the health of endothelium, the cells that line the arteries. These cells relax blood vessel muscles and maintain blood flow. 

• Lens and retina are damaged when exposed to ultraviolet light. However, moderate sun exposure is healthy. Widebrimmed hats and UV filtering sunglasses (in older children) protect the eyes. 

• In India, over 25% of childhood blindness is due to Vitamin A deficiency. Many dietary supplements improve vision and protect the macula (the area of the retina with the sharpest vision) and the lens. These are vitamins E and C, and the trace minerals Selenium and Zinc. Others are amino acid Taurine, carotenoids such as betacarotene, lycopene (found in tomatoes), lutein (from spinach) and anthocyanosides (found in grapes). 
    — Dr Keiki Mehta 

• Increase rest periods and emphasise on ocular hygiene. Reading in good light and keeping the book at a minimum distance of 12 to 14 inches are basic requirements.

• Playing sports is one of the best ways to increase blood circulation to the eye and end point mobility. 

• A child should study in an area where he/she does not face the wall. It is preferable if they sit near an open window or in one corner of a big room — this way, when they look up, they can look into the distance and relax. 

• While taking breaks in between studies, the eyes need to be relaxed. Reading a comic book or playing on a computer or cell phone defeats this purpose. 

• Yearly eye check-ups are recommended for children. 

Eye examination in children 

A pediatrician should examine a newborn's eyes. An ophthalmologist should examine all premature infants. Vision screening should be done between three and threeand-a-half years of age. Detailed eye examination is a must if there are
symptoms of visual impairment.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Docs alarmed as antibiotics lose sting ‘Drug Resistance Could Make Treatment Of Severe Infections A Challenge’

New Delhi:Are we approaching the end of the antibiotic era? A statement to this effect by none other than the US's Center for Disease Control and Prevention has sent shock waves within the medical community here. The bacterial disease burden in India is among the highest in the world. Also, a significantly large population is at risk of secondary infections through non-communicable diseases necessitating antibiotics. This is almost a doomsday scenario. 
    Antibiotic resistance is a resistance of bacteria, such as E Coli, which causes gastroenteritis or urinary tract infections, to a drug to which it was originally sensitive. 
    "The end is nearing. We are forced to use older drugs with known side-effects to save lives because the current high-end antibiotics have become ineffective in some infections. The microorganisms have evolved at a higher speed than drug development," said Dr Sumit Ray, vice-chairman, critical care medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. 
    He added, "Colistin, a fourth-generation antibiotic developed in the 1960s, used to be forbidden in hospital-acquired infections as it damaged the kidney. But now we have to use it routinely." Health experts say no new groups of antibiotics have been developed since the 1990s. "Carbapenem is the 
last group of antibiotics developed worldwide. There have been modifications to the available antibiotics but no new drug has come up. This is despite an increase in drug-resistant microorganisms. The New Delhi superbug or New Delhi Metallo-BLactamose 1 (NDM1) is just one example," said Dr Ray. 
    Ramanan Laxminarayan, the vice-president for research and policy at the Public Health Foundation of India said antibiotic resistance is seen across the world. "But unlike the developed countries, our preventive measures are not as robust. Unavailability of clean drinking water and poor sanitation 
cause widespread infection, necessitating antibiotics," he said. Drug resistance is found in community and hospital acquired infections. 
    Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-Doc Centre for Diabetes, Obesity, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, said drug resistance is common in bacterial diseases 
like typhoid, pneumonia, wound infections, etc. "There is no government control on the sale and purchase of even high-end antibiotics. People get it over the counter for common fever or diarrhoea," he said. He conceded that many private practitioners prescribe advanced antibiotics where it is not required. 
Have we entered the 'end of antibiotics' period? A statement made by the US' supreme body on health policies, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has sent shockwaves among the medical community. Here's why India must worry, and act: 

The bacterial disease burden in India is among the highest in the world Lack of clean drinking water & sanitation causes infections Diabetes, heart diseases and cancer—diseases that cause low immunity—are common New drug-resistant bacteria, such as New Delhi metallo-B-lactamose-1 (NDM1), found in the past 10 years Fungi, known to cause infection in critically-ill patients, are turning drugresistant, too, studies show 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE Patients: Take antibiotics as 
    prescribed by doctors, avoid 

Physicians: Prescribing antibiotics only when needed, surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and use, and practising infection control to prevent spread of drug-resistant pathogens 
Government: Strong policy measures, such as a ban on over-the-counter sale of high-end antibiotics 
Cancer patients 
People receiving chemotherapy can quickly become serious due to infections; effective antibiotics are critical to save them 

Surgery cases 
Risk of infection at the surgical site is high in operations like cardiac bypass. In some cases, antibiotics are given to prevent infection 

Rheumatoid arthritis 
Infl ammatory arthritis affects the immune system; antibiotics are vital to check infections in patients 

Patients undergoing dialysis for end-stage renal disease 
Infections are the second leading cause of death in dialysis patients 

Organ and bone marrow transplants 
Recipients are vulnerable to infections. Antibiotics make organ transplants possible 

Staph infection in wounds and bloodstream, pneumonia cases 
Pseudomonas infection in urinary tract, abdomen and bloodstream 
Infections caused by E-Coli bacteria 
Hospitalacquired infections


Monday, October 28, 2013

Eye, throat infections spike in muggy weather

Increased humidity, fairly high temperatures and sporadic rainfall are forcing Mumbaikars to pay frequent visits to the doctor. Experts say humidity increases the virus load in the air, which in turn makes people vulnerable to conjunctivitis, upper respiratory tract infections and skin infections. If the weather continues to be the way it is for long, viral infections are likely to increase, doctors warn. 
    Ophthalmologists say conjunctivitis is common in the post-monsoon months. It has been only about 10 days since the monsoon has withdrawn and already quite a few cases have been reported. "When people suffer from cold, they may touch their eyes and thus transfer infection. We see that most patients with conjunctivitis also suffer 
from cough and cold," said Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults at Jaslok and Breach Candy hospitals. 
    "We have several patients with cough and cold. Though fever subsides in a few days, body ache and a low platelet count persists, thus causing weakness," Dr Thacker said. 
    Dr Khusrav Bajan, intensivist at Hinduja Hospital, said patients have re
ported four types of viral infections. "Dengue has been present since the start of the monsoon. But of late, the number of patients suffering from lower respiratory tract infections has increased. They come with high-grade fever and cough that refuses to go for 10 days. Besides, viral gastroenteritis and conjunctivitis, along with skin reactions, are also common," Dr Bajan said. 
    What happens is that the body is unable to adapt to weather changes, explain doctors. "The cilia, or the protective hair within the respiratory tract, are not 
able to adapt to changes in the weather outside. Even the immunity system becomes weak, which results in cough and cold. This may go on till weather conditions settle," said Dr Bajan.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Watch your food habits, not all coughs come from the lungs

Do you have a cough that is not responding to routine measures? Do you getunexplained hoarseness of voice? Do you have trouble with your throat early in the morning which clears up during the day? 

    Then this may be for you. GERD— gastro esophageal reflux disorder—is a condition wherein food remnants and gastric acid contents creep up the food pipe into the oropharynx (common receptacle for the food pipe and wind pipe) and spill into the windpipe passively. 
    In these patients, the gastro-esophageal sphinctervalve between the food pipe and the stomach, is defective and allows regurgitation (backward flow) of stomach contents. 
    At night during sleep, when the horizontal posture aids the backward flow, the stomach remnants find their way up and soil the respiratory tree. The chemical nature of the contents cause inflammation of the vocal 
chords and as they trickle down the trachea, they irritate the respiratory lining. When this occurs with periodic regularity almost every night, the tracheal inflammation becomes chronic which the normal body response is unable to ward off. Chronic dry cough and a stubborn hoarseness of voice is the result. The cough is often likened to the short sharp barking of a dog. 
    Standard therapy directed towards the respiratory track proves ineffective and symptoms continue unabated. The patient goes from family physician to chest
consultant to ENT specialist, with no avail. Clinical examination is near normal and blood tests and X-rays of the chest draw a blank. 
    Some even get CT scans of their lungs. By then they have consumed antibiotics, cough syrups, antihistamines and sometimes even inhalers and nebulizers. Grandma and home remedies have failed. 
    GERD is more common in obese patients, those individuals who lie down soon after meals and those who eat heavy, large meals late at night. The content of the spicy, often alcohol-contain
ing meal, the late timing and the lax tone of the abdominal muscles, tend to open up the sphincter and permit leakage up the food pipe. In addition to these bizarre respiratory symptoms, such patients tend to have water brash and heartburn owing to the gastric hyperacidity. 
    While treatment lies in changing the lifestyle and eating habits, drugs are available to increase the tone of the sphincter, neutralize the hyperacidity and blunt the hypersecretion. 
    In fact, the treatment of GERD focuses on the GI tract and the respiratory symp
toms are seen to vanish— all coughs do not emanate from the lungs! While a lax sphincter may be due to a primary disorder, more often than not it is bad lifestyle that is the culprit. 
    With Diwali round the corner and parties dime a dozen, those vulnerable should take heed about late night dinners for "lungs se ooper" stomach is the "Boss" when it comes to a teasing cough. 
    (Dr Hemant Thacker is a consultant physician and cardio metabolic specialist in south Mumbai Hospitals. Email:


735 dengue patients in city this month: BMC

Mumbai:The extent to which dengue has spread in the city became clear on Tuesday when BMC officials gave out, for the first time, figures of patients treated in both private and public hospitals. As against 578 dengue patients treated in public hospitals from January to September, BMC officers on Tuesday revealed that this month had seen 735 patients. 

    The dengue outbreak in the city has cost 11 lives so far, prompting the BMC to call in experts from Delhi's National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme and the National Institute of Malarial Research from Goa. 
    Till Tuesday this month, 615 dengue patients were treated in private hospitals and 120 in public hospitals. 
    "An analysis of our data shows that 50% cases are re
ported from non-slum areas and over 90% of the (mosquito) breeding was found in patients' homes or surroundings," municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said. 
    Two of the newest patients are assistant municipal commissioner (estates and markets department) Chandrashekhar Chore and his eight-year-old daughter. Both are in Jaslok Hospital. 
    Chore is the same officer against whom a departmental 
inquiry was initiated after the Mazgaon building collapse that killed 61 people. 
    Additional commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said the BMC was clearing up outdoor breeding sites, but people should ensure that their homes were free of denguecausing mosquitoes. 
    The BMC also plans to make the dengue test—the NS1 antigen test—available at 50 dispensaries within the next three days. It is so far available only in the major public hospitals. 
    The BMC has also served notices to 570 housing societies found responsible for failing to prevent mosquitobreeding sites. It has already begun collecting blood samples of dengue patients admitted to Sion and Kasturba hospitals. These will be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune to ascertain if there is any mutation in the virus.


Complaints of throat infection and pain radiating to ears flood doctors

Mumbai: The increasing pollution levels accompanying the gradual change in weather is pulling Mumbaikars down. The spike in allergic as well as viral infections can be partly blamed on the haze and rising pollution levels. 

    Suspended particulate matter causes grief to the respiratory tracts of Mumbaikars, especially those who suffer from chronic problems. The situation is aggravated by the particulate matter trapped in the haze. 
    "The viruses thriving due to increase in humidity may be an additional reason for throat infections," said Dr Shahid Barmare, who consults at Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla. A primary viral infection, if untreated, may be followed by a bacterial infection. "Most patients are coming with throat pain and often it is radiating to the ears as well," he said. 
    Doctors say children and those already suffering from chronic respira
tory problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive respiratory disorder (COPD) are more at risk. 
    "Most patients are coming with throat infection. There is hardly any fever, but the patients get dog-like barks and weakness in the limbs," said Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults with Jaslok and Breach Candy Hospitals. 
    Different sizes of particles may affect different parts of the respiratory system. "Small particles (5-15 microns in size) affect the upper parts of the respiratory tract like nose, sinuses, throat, bronchii (small airways). Since these particles are big, they are stopped by the hair lining the inside of the nasal tract. However, particles 1-5 microns in size manage to reach the deeper parts of the lungs," said Dr Ashok Mahasur, chest physician at Hinduja Hospital. 
    While the body has its own mechanism to combat even the smallest particles, in areas where construction is a continuous process, these particles 
are abundant and a beyond-the-limit quantity in the body may cause serious health hazards. 
    "The white blood cells present in the alveoli can eat up these particles. But there is a limit to it. When a person stays near a construction site, the particles get accumulated in the lungs over time and stay there. Prolonged accumulation of these particles may cause chronic cold, allergies, pharynxitis, bronchitis, an increase in asthma or trigger pneumonia along with the dreaded COPD," said Dr Neelam Rane, professor of physiology at D Y Patil Medical College. 
    Doctors advise Mumbaikars to start preparing for a worse onslaught of upper respiratory track infections. "Winter is round the corner and so is Diwali. There will be smog in the mornings and the crackers are not going to help matters. Those suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma should take precautions and increase their doses," said Thacker.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

3 Indians suffer a stroke every min, don’t know it

Mumbai: Three adults suffer from a stroke every minute in India and around 5 million people are disabled globally due to the brain attack each year. Yet, half the residents of metros in India are unaware of strokes and their link to the brain. 

    A survey carried out across six metros in the country has revealed that awareness of astroke is abysmally low. More shocking is the fact that increasingly younger people are becoming vulnerable to strokes, reasons for which vary from lifestyle to ignorance about the problem itself. "Most people think that stroke is related to the heart," Dr Shirish M Hastak, neurologist and former president of the Indian Stroke Association, said. 
    A stroke occurs when a blood vessel taking blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or ruptured. When this happens, brain cells don't get the required blood. 

MEGA BLOCK WORLDWIDE 20m suffer strokes each year 
5m die, 5m left disabled/yr 
1 in 6 suffers stroke in lifetime IN INDIA 1.5m suffer strokes each year 
3,000-4,000 hit every day 
Strokes kill more than TB, HIV and malaria put together 
42% Mumbaikars ignorant of strokes 
Brain Disease Affects 1.5mn Indians: Study 

Mumbai: Younger people are increasingly suffering strokes, but knowledge about the problem is shockingly low in most Indian cities, a survey shows. 
    Astroke occurs when brain cells do not get the blood they require. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells stop working and die within minutes, so the part of the body they control can't function either. "It is extremely difficult for a person to seek immediate medical help if one does not even know about a problem," Dr Dr Shirish M Has
tak, a neurologist, said. 
    The survey covered 1,507 people aged between 25 and 50 years in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Chennai. It 
mainly captured the respondents' awareness and understanding of the term stroke, its symptoms, perceived causes, the prevailing knowledge about treatment options, and their experiences with stroke sufferers. 
    Worldwide, 20 million people suffer from stroke each year, five million die and another five 
million are disabled. In India, 1.5 million suffer from stroke every year and 3,000 to 4,000 are affected each day. According to the survey, 48% of people did not know what stroke meant. 
    "Bangalore scored fairly well with 68% aware of what a brain stroke is. Mumbai's performance was average with 58% aware that stroke is associated with the brain, followed by Kolkata. Delhi and Hyderabad had the lowest levels of awareness, with 36% and 27% respectively," said Dr Hastak. 
    The survey showed younger people were getting vulnerable to strokes. Doctors said it had to do with their lifestyle and eating habits. "I've observed an about 15-20% increase in the 25-40 age group reporting a stroke or unmistakable symptoms of it," said Dr P P Ashok, head of neurology, Hinduja Hospital. 

STROKE | A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, causing brain cells to die as oxygen and glucose cannot be delivered to the brain 

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body) 
Loss of voluntary movement and/or sensation may be complete or partial. 

Sudden trouble speaking or understanding speech, seeing and walking. 

Emergency medical care should be sought 
The affected person should be made to lie flat to promote optimal blood flow to the brain 
If drowsiness, unresponsiveness, or nausea are present, the person should be placed in the rescue position on their side to prevent choking if vomiting occurs 
While aspirin plays a major role in stroke prevention, once symptoms of a stroke begin, doctors say additional aspirin should not be taken till the patient receives medical attention



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