Tag Archives: Kolkata

Abnormal height that matters

Doctors may have found an answer to hormonal problems. Structural changes in protein clumps could be the culprit for this abnormality in height.

A fourteen year boy or girl might get a height of  six feet few inches though  his parents are of average height. CLICK & SEE

We call Gigantism  which is a condition that leads to excessive growth — occurs when the pituitary or thyroid gland release excess hormones. But a study published recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry implies that there may be a remedy — over time — for such hormone disorders. CLICK & SEE

Scientists have known for a while that many critical life processes controlled by the hormones are affected even when their production by glands is normal. This usually happens because the hormones are not released when they are needed.

Hormones regulate processes that are crucial for healthy functioning. Many of these hormones — including insulin, glucagon and the growth hormone — are protein or peptide molecules that are synthesised by the body and stored in cells known as secretory granules in clumps called amyloids. These amyloids are released into the blood stream as and when required by the body. For example, insulin, which plays an important role in sugar metabolism, is released from the pancreatic cells in response to glucose levels in the blood stream. CLICK & SEE

Scientists have now discovered that the problem lies in the structural changes that take place in these amyloids.  “The structure or shape of a protein could be crucial for its efficient storage and secretion. Therefore, in most cases, structure governs the function of a protein,”

The group studied the role played by the structure of a peptide hormone called somatostatin-14 (SST14), which is involved in several functions of the human body, the most well known of which is countering a excessive growth hormone secretion, thus regulating human growth. Other important functions include controlling gastric acid secretion and insulin and glucagon secretion in the pancreas. A deficiency of this hormone can lead to gigantism and pituitary adenoma or non-cancerous tumours in the pituitary gland.

The researchers who carried out studies on a lab rat found that the structure of SST-14, which is stored in an amyloid form, could change in abnormal cases. And this happened when a particular chemical bond (disulphide bond) which kept it stable was disturbed. This caused the protein to take on a different structure, resulting in faster amyloid formations. These amyloids, however, do not release the somatostatin hormone readily.

The scientists, who hope to study this in bigger animals in the future, are now figuring out whether these results are applicable to other hormones too.

It shows that the difference between people who have abnormal growth hormone releases and those who don’t may lie in their somatostatin structure. This may help pharmaceutical companies hone their strategy for attacking this disorder,

Now, if experts can create long-acting somatostatin outside the human body, it can be used to treat dwarfism and pituitary deficient newborns too. Besides, this type of somatostatin can also be used to repair body tissue.”

Sources : The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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All about our nails

When we were young, fingernails and toenails gave us no trouble . (They may just be a bit dirty). With advancing age, however, they become brittle, hard, fall off or develop infections and become painful. Suddenly, we are forced to notice our nails!

Looks of nails reveals  many things:
Healthy nails are usually smooth and light pink in colour. Blue nails occur when there is a lack of oxygen in the blood (heart and lung disease). Nails can turn black in vitamin B12 deficiency. A horizontal depression or discoloration can develop across the nail due to illness, antibiotics or chemotherapy. The line becomes prominent as the nail grows out and then gradually disappears. Nails may grow brittle if there is anaemia and can also become spoon shaped. The opposite, a bulged out, parrot-beak like club-shaped nail is seen in chronic obstructive airways disease. Splitting and fraying are associated with hypothyroidism and psoriasis.

Click & see…>Healthy nails

Unhealthy nails

Most important, a close examination of the nails can reveal other disease processes such as iron deficiency (anaemia), vitamin B12 deficiency, diabetes, kidney and liver disease and even infection of the heart valves (endocarditis).

In older people (particularly those who have high blood sugar) an infected ingrown toenail (usually the big toe) is a common problem. This occurs when toenails are trimmed too short, blades or knives are used instead of nail cutters or if the edges of the nails are picked and torn.

Growth of nails:
Fingernails grow faster than toenails. The rate of growth depends on health, heredity and sex. Growth slows during illness and with increasing age, but at the same time, the nails become tougher. They are then more difficult to trim.

Nail biting:
In prehistoric times people had to bite their nails to trim them but today it is a social no-no. Biting in itself is harmless but it can cause secondary bacterial infection of the skin around the nail. It can cause and perpetuate worm infestation. It can transmit flu viruses acquired from contaminated surfaces directly to the mouth. Bitten down nails may work against you in job interviews. It is a habit that is arises out of lack of impulse control, and is perpetuated by stress.

Nail Care:
If there is no diabetes, an ingrown toenail can be treated at home by soaking it in warm salted water for 10 minutes and placing a cotton ball soaked in antibiotic ointment under it.

Nails are also prone to fungal infections. This destroys the nails and gives it an “eaten away” appearance. Topical ointments are not very effective. Medicines have to be taken orally until the infection resolves and a healthy nail grows out. This takes anywhere from three to six months. Medical conditions like psoariasis may mimic fungal infection. A proper diagnosis is essential before embarking on treatment.

For taking care of toe nails, it is advised  to wear slippers or open-toed sandals as in worm climate they  are better than shoes. If shoes have to be worn, they should fit properly. Shoes that people wear every day should have plenty of room around the toes so that nails do not hit the end of the shoe. They should also not be too loose as your feet will slide forward while walking or running and hit the end damaging the nails.It is always adviced to wear socks when one wears shoes.

Resources: The  Telegraph (Kolkata, India)
Diagnose Health Issues by Looking at Your Nails:-

Your fingernails and toenails are not just decorations for the ends of your palms and feet; they’re also an effective warning system for our health. So from now on, before you clip or paint your nails, take a look because they might be trying to tell you something.

WARNING – Some of these images may be unpleasant to look at

1. Dark bands on the nail tips
The tips of the nails seem to have dark bands on each one. This may just be a sign of old age. According to Mayo Clinic, it can also indicate “Terry’s nails“, diabetes, liver disease or even cognitive heart failure. If your doctor diagnoses you as diabetic, you may want to consult with a podiatrist on how to cut your nails to prevent harm.

2. White nails
If your nails are white as seen in the picture,WebMD warns that it may indicate liver problems or hepatitis.

 

3. Clubbed nails
According to the NCBI, nails that are round as seen in the picture may indicate lung problems.

4. Yellow Nails
According to WebMD, if your nails have a yellowish tinge, it may indicate a fungal infection, and even thyroid or lung disease.

5. “Spoon” nails
If the nail edges curve upwards and are soft to the touch, the Mayo Clinic says that it may indicate anemia, heart disease, liver problems, or hypothyroidism.

6. Weak nails
The nails split and chip easily and are overall weak. This often indicates abuse of acrylic nail polish. Let your nails “breath” for a few days, it will help them regain their strength.

7. Bitten nails
WebMD confirms that nails that are bitten down often indicate a state of anxiety, stress, or boredom. Applying foul-tasting nail polish can help you stop chewing on them.

8. Nail dents
If your nails have vertical dents, the NHS says that you may be suffering from skin disorders like eczema or psoriasis, as well as arthritis or even alopecia areata.

9. Loose nails
The nails are loose and come off the nail bed with ease? Cedars-Sinai says that it can indicate hyperthyroidism. If you’re a runner, however, it may just indicate that you’re wearing ill-fitting shoes.

10. Blue nails
Nails that are bluish in color are often an indicator of a lack of oxygen to the extremities. This is why surgeons insist on patients removing any nail polish before undergoing anesthesia. Another possible diagnosis is lung problems, according toWebMD.

11. Ingrown toenails
This is one of the most common nail-related ailments, characterizes by the edges of the toenail growing into the flesh of the toe. This condition may be accompanied by infection and pain.WebMD indicates that the most common causes are: Ill-fitting shoes, trauma to the toe or incorrect trimming of the nails.

12. Dark nails
According to AAFP, if your nails take on a dark color in conjunction with a discoloration of the skin, it may be an indication of melanoma (skin cancer).

13. Nail ridges
Vertical ridges along the nail are actually nothing to worry about.

14. Hematoma under the nail
If you notice spots of red/brown/black color under the nail, it’s most likely indicative of a hematoma, caused by mild trauma to the nail. The AOCDsays that the best treatment is to elevate your feet and ice the injured toe.

15. Horizontal ridges
Horizontal ridges along the nail, known as “Beau’s lines”, occur in cases of zinc deficiency, as well as diabetes, and as a result of high fever. (Source:Mayo Clinic)

16. Thin nails
The AAD warns that constant use of gel nail polish and the subsequent use of UV light and other chemicals can result in thinning of the nails. If this is the case, allow some time for the nails to recover before resuming your gel manicure.

17. Cracked / Missing nails
The NCBI warns that if any part of your nail looks similarly to the discolored, cracked nail in the image on the right, it may indicate that you have a fungal infection called onychomycosis.

18. Pincer nails
According to the NCBI, ill-fitting shoes, excessive trimming, a hereditary condition, and in rare conditions – tumors, can result in the formation of curved “pincer nails”.

19. White spots on the nails
Are there white spots on your nails? WebMD says it’s most likely a result of harsh manicure, nail trauma or ever a hereditary trait.

20. Nail pain
If your nails look healthy but are sore or even painful, visit your doctor and have your nails checked. Pain in the nails can be any of the above reasons, so having them looked at by an expert is not a bad idea.

Source:  E-mail  From of a renowned Doctor

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Some Health Advices

No time to exercise :
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Many peaple say that they donot have any time to exercise but everyone (irrespective of age) should do some form of exercise regularly to mainten good health and less sufferings from ailments.There is a saying “people who donot have time to exercise will have much more time to suffer from illness”

Walking or skiping are very good exercises. There are several innovative ways to skip — using one leg, two legs, alternating legs. That makes in interesting.

Continuous stair climbing for 15 minutes, up and down, not 15 times but 15 minutes. One thing one must do to wear good supportive footwear for these activities. You also need to stretch before and after.

Girl aged 16 years has not yet started getting her periods:
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Usually, if the height, weight and other physical characteristics (figure) are normal, you can wait until the age of 18 years to see if she matures. If you are worried, you can do an endocrinology work up and a scan of the pelvic organs. If there is any specific defect, an endocrinologist will be able to treat it.

Cat bites or scratches:
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Cat bites are as dangerous as dog bites because cats can also transmit rabies. If you get bitten by an animal, clean the wound well with soap and water. You need to take a tetanus booster, and anti rabies injections. You need the post exposure schedule, which consists of five injections. The newer vaccines do not hurt, are given in the upper arm (deltoid) and not around the navel or in the buttock. They are available in private clinics, pharmacies and hospitals. You do not have to go to a government hospital.

Back ache:
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Sometimes if the bed or mattress is not ideal — too soft, too hard, lumpy — this can happen. Try sleeping on a mat on the floor for a few days. If this does not help then you need to consult a doctor to evaluate your spine.

To Prevent UTI:
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Women tend to develop urinary tract infection (UTI) more frequently than men. The problem is anatomical. The urethra is shorter and has only a single valve. It is situated close to the anal opening where there are a lot of potentially infective bacteria. A few preventive measures will help: drink 3-4 litres of water a day, empty your bladder before and after intercourse and lean backwards while passing urine to reduce the angulation between urethra and bladder.
Click to see the pic

Period pain:
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You need to consult a gynaecologist and get an ultrasound scan of the pelvis done. If everything is normal, you just need a painkiller like mefenemic acid on the days that you have pain. If there is anything wrong, the gynaecologist will be able to advice you.

If there are no abnormalities, pain during periods will reduce with regular exercise.

Resources: The Telegraph,(Kolkata, India)

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Some Health Quaries & Answers

Fight that fever :
Q: I read in the newspaper that there is a lot of flu around. I am worried as I get sick every winter.

A: There is an epidemic of influenza. It is especially dangerous in the paediatric and geriatric age groups. Medication called Tamiflu is available to treat flu once it has developed. If you have been prescribed this medication, please remember to take the entire course. Ideally, it should be given twice a day for five days.

Flu can be prevented with a readily available vaccine, which needs to be taken as a single injection and provides protection for six months. Hopefully by that time the flu season will be over.

Ankle ache


Q: I twisted my ankle a year ago. After that I found that if I skid while walking, I tend to sprain it repeatedly. This is very painful.

A: There are ligaments around the ankle joint that should hold it firmly in place. Once you sprain your ankle, the ligaments become stretched and weakened. A slight slip will cause injury and pain. You need to go to a physiotherapist and learn ankle-strengthening exercises. It may make sense to wear an ankle support for a couple of months to prevent slips and strains.

Best exercise :

Q: What is the best exercise to do? There is so much conflicting advice that I am confused.

A: Ideal exercise really depends on how much time you have on your hands. Theoretically you need to do an hour of running or jogging and 20 minutes of stretching. Most people cannot spare that much time. If you are confined to a limited space and cannot go outdoors you could do the same amount of exercise using a stationary exercise cycle, rowing machine or treadmill. But, to make whatever exercise you do more efficient, increase the intensity for 6 minutes and then decrease it for 6. A slow one-hour stroll will improve your health significantly but these variations and additions will add benefit.

Sports physicians have come to the conclusion that the “Burpee” is the best exercise. It involves a squat, followed by a push-up and a leap into the air. Doing about 20 of them is ideal.

Clotty truth

Q: I am going to have cataract surgery and I am on 75mg aspirin once a day. The doctor asked me to “stop it before surgery” but did not specify for how long I should do so. Also should I take clopidogrel instead?

A: Aspirin and clopidogrel have similar actions. Both prevent platelets from sticking together and increase the time taken by blood to clot. You need to stop both for a week before surgery.

Kids and TV

Q: How much television should I allow my children to watch?

A: Television is a free baby sitter. You can place your child in front of it and have some quiet time for yourself. However, more and more studies have shown that television is detrimental for the social and cognitive brain development of the child. The rapidly flashing images deplete brain chemicals. Memory becomes poor and school performance suffers. The educative programmes and channels too have the same effect. Children learn far more from playing with their peers and having books read to them.

Hookah harm:

Q: I found a hookah bar near my college. My friends said it is smokeless tobacco and hence not harmful. Is it true?

A: Hookahs use specially treated flavoured tobacco and then pass the smoke through water. This does not do much to reduce the health risks. The cancer causing chemicals and nicotine are still present in high concentrations. Also since the smoking sessions last longer (an hour or so) the total amount of these poisonous substances inhaled may actually be proportionately greater. The risks for throat and lung cancer remain the same.

Jogging in pregnancy :

Q: Is running during pregnancy safe? Recently I read an article about a woman who completed a marathon and then delivered. But my parents worry even if I walk.

A: The marathon woman obviously was a regular runner with a well-conditioned physique. The dangers in exercising vigorously are dehydration (which will adversely affect the baby) and falls, which may result in injury. If you have not been advised to take bed-rest then try walking for a half hour in the morning and evening. It will build stamina, strengthen your leg muscles and help you have an easy delivery.

Groin pain :

Q: I have pain on the right side of my groin if I cough or sneeze. Do I need to worry?

A: You might be developing a hernia. You need to consult a surgeon.

Sources: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Let’s Talk About Schizophrenia

People sometimes change inexplicably in their late teens – they behave bizarrely, argue unnecessarily with everyone, imagine events, become suspicious or withdraw into a shell. This is actually a disease called schizophrenia and these forms are classic, delusional, paranoid and catanonic. The word itself means “split mind ” in Greek as it was confused with a multiple personality disorder by earlier physicians. Today, these two illnesses are classified separately.
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Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that is likely to affect one in 100 men and women (0.5-0.7 per cent respectively). It strikes people usually in their late teens and twenties. It is rare for schizophrenia to set in after the age of 40 and children are rarely diagnosed with it. They can, however, go on to develop it as adults if they have some other mental illness such as autism.

The onset of schizophrenia is so gradual that it mostly goes unrecognised and untreated, especially in developing countries with inadequate healthcare. In addition, people baulk at the idea of admitting they or a loved one is suffering from schizophrenia though no one has a problem saying they have an incurable chronic illness like diabetes or hypertension.

Schizophrenic patients may be delusional or hallucinate — that is see and hear things that are not real. Their speech may be disconnected, dressing and behaviour may be socially inappropriate and they may cry and laugh for no reason at all. Sometimes the person may be “catatonic” or unresponsive to any external stimulus.

Unreasonable behaviour and a quarrelsome nature may affect relations with friends, family and colleagues. The person may be unable to keep a job. Insomnia and morning drowsiness affect efficiency. The appetite may be poor.

The diagnosis of schizophrenia is difficult as the symptoms evolve gradually over a period of months or years. It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact date at which the changes were noticeable. The symptoms should be present for a month for schizophrenia to be suspected and remain for six months for the diagnosis to be established. The patient or a caretaker can report the symptoms. They should be substantiated by evaluation by a qualified medical professional.

PET scans also do not strictly conform to normal parameters. The brains in schizophrenics have smaller temporal and frontal lobes. The levels and ratios of certain brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and glutamine are altered.

The exact reason for these behaviour altering brain changes is not known. However, seven per cent of persons with schizophrenia have a family member who suffers from a similar disease. Many have been born to mothers who suffered several viral illnesses during pregnancy. Environmental factors also play a role — the incidence of the disease increases in persons who are financially insecure or from dysfunctional families with a history of childhood abuse.

Schizophrenics tend to gain weight because their lifestyle is sedentary. Patients also have a predilection for addiction — to tobacco products, alcohol and drugs like cannabis. They are often unwilling to check the addictions to control lifestyle diseases like diabetes or hypertension. Also, they do not adhere to diet modifications or medications needed to keep their disease in check; so this shortens lifespan. They eventually die 10-15 years earlier than their peers. They are also 15 per cent more likely to commit suicide.

Gone are the days when schizophrenics were locked up, immersed in cold baths or given electrical shock therapy. Today there are a plethora of drugs that can be used singly or in combination to control the symptoms of schizophrenia and help the person function fairly normally. These drugs act by correcting the enzyme and chemical imbalances in the brain. Response to medication may be slow and this may be frustrating for the patient as well as caregivers but medication can be increased only gradually to optimal levels. Drugs, combinations and dosages have to be individualised and vary from person to person.

The side effects of medication are weight gain, menstrual irregularities and drowsiness. Some people become very stiff and have abnormal smacking movements or grimaces but doctors are able to tackle this with other medications.

Rehabilitation is important. Once the symptoms are controlled, patients can function in society and even hold down jobs. They need to be trained to handle money and in personal care and hygiene. Medication needs to be continued even when the symptoms have disappeared. The involvement of the whole family helps as the person is then more likely to follow medical treatment and less likely to relapse.

People often ask for a “miracle drug” — a single tablet to treat all diseases. The only universal ingredient to improve health in all diseases (even mental problems) is physical exercise. So go take a walk.

Source : The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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