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Tips for Online Medical Consultations

Lockdowns and social distancing norms that were necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic led to increasing number of patients seeking online consultations from doctors. There are many web and mobile applications that provide a convenient interface for medical advice through video calls. As these calls usually have a time constraint, it is important to be prepared with all the required information before going into the call so that it is convenient for the physician to understand the problem and provide the right diagnosis and treatment.

  1. Keep prior medical history ready. Particulars about allergies towards any medicine and information about food habits & life style should be kept ready.
  1. Before consultation, basic medical data pertaining to the consulting person should be prepared. This data includes height, weight, BMI (Body Mass Index), body temperature, pulse rate, blood glucose levels, BP readings & heart rate.
  1. Test reports related to blood or any other tests which have been recommended should be completed prior to the online consultation.
  1. Records about current medical condition, as well as all symptoms must be kept ready before the consultation so that the complete details of the complaint are given to the doctor.
  1. It is recommended to upload all the medical records and prescriptions in the portal before consultation so that the physician can access it during the consultation.
  1. During video consultation, make sure that the room is well-lit, and the person consulting is facing the light source. This will help the doctor to have a clear image during consultation.
  1. Ensure that you login well in advance and have a stable internet connection throughout the call.
  1. Keep digital or net banking payment options ready, to make online payment for the consultation.Always make payment through verified payment methods.
  1. Most of the applications have built-in online prescriptions formats. If not, request the doctor to send a digital copy of the signed prescription via email. This will be required to get medicines as well as to keep a track of the medication.
  1. Make sure to keep records of all your online consultation for future reference if necessary.

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Amino Acids & Wound Healing

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They constitute around 16% of our total body weight. There are 20 amino acids which make up the proteins found in the human body. Proteins are necessary for various functions in our body. They provide the basic structural components for our muscles, brain, nervous system, blood, skin and hair. In addition to providing structure, proteins are needed for building and repairing body’s tissues, facilitating metabolic reactions and immune functions, and coordinating bodily functions.

Classification of Amino Acids

Out of the 20 amino acids that we require, our body can produce 11 of them. The other 9 must be obtained through diet. These nine amino acids are called Essential Amino Acids: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine and Histidine.

The 11 amino acids that are produced by the body are called Non-essential Amino Acids. These are Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Cysteine, Glutamic acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine.

Among the non-essential amino acids, there are few amino acids that are considered as Conditionally Essential Amino Acids. These amino acids become essential during certain conditions (such as pregnancy, illnesses, ageing, etc.)when our body is not able to produce required quantities. For example, L-Glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid during pregnancy.

Amino Acids and Wound Healing

Collagen is a structural protein in the human body and is the primary component of the connective tissue that rebuilds the wound. Collagen comprises of approximately 90% nonessential amino acids. During wound healing process, the body needs an increased supply of these amino acids for faster collagen formation. The body also needs essential amino acids to decrease the number of inflammatory cells during wound healing process and to help in the faster formation of collagen fibers.

Important roles of some of the Amino acids in wound healing process:

1. Arginine

Arginine is the producer of nitric oxide, which is essential for wound healing because nitric oxide increases oxygen and blood flow to the wound, increases collagen formation, and reduces inflammation.

2. Glutamine

Glutamine acts as an energy source for fibroblasts and epithelial cells which are needed for healing.

3. Cystine

Cystine is required to synthesize glutathione (GSH), an important antioxidant that plays a key role during tissue repair and collagen synthesis.

One of the major concerns with any significant wound is that the body is in a catabolic state which leads to decrease in the lean body mass. Supplementation of mixture of amino acids can significantly increase the overall lean mass and hasten the wound healing process by increasing protein synthesis.

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Importance Of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is often described as the best feeding for a baby. It is the first food in terms of oral intake and strongly establishes a child’s health trajectory from that point on.

Breastfeeding, also called nursing, begins within the first hour of birth. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years and beyond.

Breast milk containsvital nutrients such as protein, vitamins, fat, sugar and water that are essential for the all-round development of the child. The first milk produced is called colostrum.  It is easily digestible, protects the gastro-intestinal tract, helps the baby pass stools and the antibodies act as a defence against harmful diseases.  The importance and benefits of breastfeeding are mutual and highly endorsed.

There is no set frequency to breastfeed.  It is totally up to the mother and child. However, it is noted that immediately after birth, feeding is once in 2-3 hours.  In a couple of months, the frequency moves to once in 3-4 hours.  Babies are introduced to other foods after the sixth month. At this time, the frequency of breastfeeding becomes once in 4-5 hours or longer.

The most common way of understanding when to breastfeed is when the baby cries. As the days progress, they exhibit other signs such as turning to look for the breast, licking their lips, sticking their tongue out, opening their mouth and sucking their fingers.  When these signals go unnoticed, they begin crying.

Breastfeeding mothers should be on a supernutritiousdiet that provides proteins, calcium, iron, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods that provide these nutrients are lean meat, eggs, chicken, dairy products, nuts, green leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and oats.  Fenugreek is widely known to increase the supply of breast milk.  Since fenugreek is bitter, it can be flavoured with honey to make it drinkable.

The following are the health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child.

  • It is easily digestible
  • It protects against respiratory illnesses
  • It prevents allergies
  • It helps release excess bilirubin, which causes infant-jaundice
  • It keeps the digestive system smooth
  • It fights off viruses, germs and infection
  • It is a shield against lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity
  • It contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that help neural development
  • It forges an incredible bonding between mother and child
  • It protects the mother against breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, endometriosis and osteoporosis.
  • Children who have been properly and extensively breastfed are more intelligent, diligent, active and cognitive.

The purest of relationships is that between a mother and child.  When a mother breastfeeds her baby, there is communication without words, an emotional bond beyond explanation. She is not just filling the child’s stomach, but his/her emotions as well.

Breastfeeding is not recommended only in extremely rare cases, where the child or mother suffers life-threatening disease.  Otherwise, mother’s milk is the best start and sustenance.

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Wound Management at Home

The skin is the largest organ of the body which acts as a protective barrier. A wound is a breakdown in the protective function of the skin.

Wound healing is a complex process; proper wound care helps in faster healing of wounds, in reducing the chances of infection and in hastening the recovery.

Wound classification

Wounds may be classified as open wounds or closed wounds. A closed wound involves tissue damage wherein bleeding occurs under the surface of the skin and is usually accompanied by swelling at the site, for example – contusion. An open wound involves a break in the skin wherein the internal tissue is exposed. Minor open wounds may be treated at home. Falls, accidents with sharp objects, and minor accidents are the most common causes of open wounds.

Types of open wounds

Abrasion: An abrasion wound occurs when the skin rubs against a rough surface, for example – scraped knee.

Laceration: A laceration is a deep opening in the skin. Lacerations usually occur from accidents involving knives or other sharp tools. Bleeding is usually more in this type of wound.

Punctures: A puncture wound is a small hole in the soft tissue. Splinters and needles can cause acute puncture wounds.

Stab wounds: Knife or gunshot wounds are examples for stab wounds; these can damage deep muscles and internal organs. These wounds can lead to significant bleeding.

Home care for minor wounds

Any wound that results in severe bleeding has to be treated immediately by professionals. However, minor wounds may be treated at home. Even if minor, these wounds need to be treated quickly in order to avoid any infection. Proper wound care at home is vital for healing.

The following should be considered while treating minor wounds at home:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap before wound cleaning.
  • Wash and disinfect the wound to remove all dirt and debris.
  • Use direct pressure and elevation to control bleeding and swelling.
  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • You may apply common antiseptics on the wound site.
  • Minor wounds may heal without a bandage, but if required wrap the wound with a sterile dressing or bandage.
  • Healthy diet consisting of high protein, vitamins & minerals and plenty of rest are very important for faster healing of wounds.
  • Depending on the type of wound and symptoms, several treatments can relieve the pain, for example holding ice on the affected area can relieve bruising and swelling.

During wound healing process, following things have to be avoided

  1. Intense workouts – these may cause wound or scab to reopen
  2. Swimming in the ocean or public pool – to avoid bacteria exposure
  3. Covering the wound with shoes or gloves for lengthy periods of time

When to see a doctor

Most minor cuts and scrapes will heal in few days, but some wounds necessarily require doctor’s advice:

  • Wounds with higher risk of infection requiring prescription for oral antibiotics or topical antiseptics / antibiotics.
  • Cuts or punctures from a rusty or dirty object that may require tetanus shot
  • An open wound that is deeper than 1/2 inch
  • Wounds where the bleeding doesn’t stop with direct pressure on the injury site for over 5 minutes
  • Wounds on the face, which requires medical attention for cosmetic reasons
  • Wounds that show signs of infection, such as redness, pain when touched and draining pus.

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The Hazards of Self-Medication

Self-medication refers to the act of taking medication without a proper prescription by qualified medical personnel.

Some of the drugs that people tend to self-medicate are:

1. Analgesics or Pain relievers–e.g., Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Diclofenac
2. Opioids – e.g., Tramadol
3. Antibiotics – e.g., Azithromycin, Ciprofloxacin, Amoxicillin
4. Stimulants – e.g., Pills for weight loss
5. Anti-Allergies –e.g., Cetirizine, Levocetirizine
6. Laxatives – e.g., Bisacodyl, Ispaghula powder
7. Antacids – e.g., Milk of Magnesia
8. Multi vitamins and minerals preparations

Many times, we tend to do self-medication considering it to be an easy way to avoid cost and save time, but the dangers are many. Following are some of the potentially dangerous situations we may encounter because of self-medication:

1. Self-medication can worsen the present disease condition

If the diagnosis is not correct, then the self-medication can cause more harm as it delays the correct treatment regimen.

2. Drug Interactions

Ignorance about drug interactions with other drugs you may be taking or with various food or drinks including alcohol can cause harm.

3. Possibility of misdiagnosis of Illness

Taking self-medication for fever, presuming it to be viral fever, when in fact it is bacterial or some other illness such as dengue or covid-19 which requires monitoring of other vital parameters, could lead to life-threatening situations.

4. Insufficient Dosage or Overdosage

During self-medication, there is typically lack of awareness about the correct dosage -the strength, the frequency of taking the medication as well as the number of days to be on the medication. Both under-dose and over-dose are harmful.

5. Habit-forming drugs

Taking pain relievers for headache or other pain, or taking antihistamines for cold can easily become habit-forming. This reduces the body’s immunity, pain threshold and natural defenses against infections.

6. Dangerous side effects

One of the most dangerous aspects of self-medication is the lack of awareness of the side effects as well as the contraindications of the drug that may lead, for example, to miscarriages in pregnant women, life-threatening complications in patients with high blood pressure or diabetes, hepatotoxicity, etc.

Some of the side effects by different medications

1. Painkillers/ Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Taking painkillers especially ingesting a double dose for quicker relief can cause acidity, ulcers, stomach bleeding, nausea, dizziness, headaches, high blood pressure and kidney damage.

2. Cough syrups: Many cough syrups are alcohol-based and cause drowsiness, irregular heart rhythm, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, restlessness and reduced concentration.

3. Antibiotics: Taking unprescribed antibiotics to treat a cold, cough or other upper respiratory tract infection leads to bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Some of the side effects include allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hair fall, vaginal infection, and drug resistance.

Self-medication is not a safe practice. With the availability of information on the internet, the practice of self-diagnosis and self-medication is becoming increasingly common, but the risks are high. It is prudent to always consult a qualified physician before taking any medicines.

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Skin Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

The skin is the largest organ in the human body that not only is an indicator of good health, but also displays different warning signs of other underlying diseases and illnesses. This article lists out some of the health conditions whose symptoms can be picked up from skin-related issues.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome And Testosterone-Increase

Acne is the most common skin disorder that presents itself as whiteheads, blackheads or large red bumps on the face and neck region, and affects young men and women. In men, it could mean an increase in testosterone and in women, it could indicate poly cystic ovarian disease or syndrome. PCOD also shows up as dark skin on the neck and arms.

Jaundice and Liver Disorders

Yellowing of the skin and the white part of the eyes are indications of liver disorders, of which the most prevalent is jaundice. Jaundice is a disease of the liver when it is unable to process red blood cells, as a result of which bilirubin gets accumulated in the body.

Depression, Anxiety and Stress

Psoriasis is a chronic disease that makes the skin hard, flaky, pinkish red and irritable. Psoriasis is linked to several mental health conditions, including anxiety, stress, and depression.

Diabetes

Skin eruptions and injuries that do not heal, unexplained itching, dark and dry skin can be indicators of diabetes. Diabetes is a health condition that affects how the body controls sugar levels in the blood. Narrowed blood vessels in diabetics do not allow circulation of blood around the wounds, making them difficult to heal.

Cholesterol, Hypertension and Hormonal Imbalance

Skin tags are an indication of high cholesterol in the body. Skin tags are small, black, irregular-shaped projections on the body, found mostly on and around the neck region. Skin tags can be surgically removed in a couple of minutes, but they tend to re-appear. They can also signify hypertension and hormonal imbalance.

Menopause

Women approaching the menopause phase (stopping of monthly period) of their lives experience dry, wrinkly and itchy skin. This is due to the gradual loss of elasticity caused by a dip in estrogen.

Vitamin-D Deficiency

Skin rashes, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis may point to a deficiency in vitamin-D levels. Vitamin-D, also called the “sunshine vitamin” helps the growth and repair of skin cells, amongst other benefits that it offers the body.

Dehydration

Last but not the least, dry and flushed skin that peels means that the body is missing its normal supply of water.

In many cases, skin problems may just be skin problems and need to be addressed and treated from that perspective. But it is also important to understand the signs and symptoms that may require the diagnosis and treatment of other underlying causes.

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How Diet can Impact Your Sleep

A third of our lives is spent sleeping. Sleep cannot be set aside as something that is not important since it is a physically unproductive, non-dynamic and dormant activity. In fact, the brain and body are active during sleep. Most of the body’s repair functions begin when the body is at total rest. The efficiency of the brain depends on the optimum amount of sleep the body receives.

Lack of sleep can be due to various reasons, of which the most common are:

1) Work shifts
2) Screen time -television, mobile phones and other electronic devices
3) Medical issues
4) Substance abuse

The CDC recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep for an adult, though 8 hours is ideal. A good night’s sleep translates into a good day’s routine. A person who has met his sleep requirement is capable of competently performing his duties of the ensuing day, without feeling tired, worn-out and drained. His circadian schedule or body-clock is programmed to function at its best, before signalling that it is time to retire for the day.

There are a number of factors that impact an individual’s sleep pattern, and one of them is diet. We all know that a complete nutritious diet is the key to glowing health and vitality. Since sleep is part of the health cycle, we discuss how diet impacts sleep.

Light and Early Dinner

The proverbial “breakfast like a king and dinner like a beggar” hold good, even to regulate sleep schedule. Too much of food with little or no time to digest is a bad idea. It is preferable to eat really well for breakfast, since the whole day lies ahead. Best dinner options are soup, lentils, chicken, lean meat, fish, vegetables and fruits.

Less Spice, More Fibre

Food that is easy on the stomach and at the same time provide necessary fibre for digestion qualifies for a great dinner. Whole grains like rice, wheat, oats and corn are high on fibre, while fruits like bananas, kiwis and melons are mild on the stomach.

Stack Up Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle by responding to darkness and light. Nuts like pistachios and almonds, warm milk, fish, eggs, goji berries and tart cherries are excellent sources of sleep-inducing melatonin.

Probiotics

Probiotics can help to relieve insomnia and get your sleep cycle back on track. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in certain foods like yoghurt, buttermilk, miso soup and cottage cheese.

Protein Shakes

For those who exercise regularly, a protein shake for dinner is a great health tip. The milk in the protein shake promotes sleep while the protein goes to work repairing muscle. Including nuts and fruits make it one power-house of a meal.

Less Sugar, More Sleep

“Sweet dreams” was never meant to be the result of a dinner of sugary doughnuts, pastries, fruit-juice, burgers with sauce and coke. In fact, sugar messes with sleep and should never be part of the last meal for the day.

Water

Some studies suggest drinking water before going to bed, while others – the opposite. Drinking water throughout the day is the balance we need to strike in order to stay hydrated. Consumption of water should reduce around dinner time. This avoids the urge to break sleep and empty the bladder.

Coffee

There are chemicals in our brain that prompt us to get to bed, and caffeine blocks those signals, thus keeping us alert and awake. It is noteworthy that we turn to coffee to keep us awake during the exams. Coffee during dinner time – a definite no.

Alcohol

The drowsiness that alcohol supplies is not to be confused with sleep. Alcohol keeps a person in the lighter regions of sleep, which is why it is possible to wake up feeling extremely tired and sore.

Get Them Young

It is necessary to inculcate a proper sleep schedule from a young age. Fixed times to sleep and arise, proper diet, exercise, refraining from electronic devices and the right amount of room light contribute to excellent sleep. It also avoids the need to investing in therapies and treatments later.

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The Common Cold and Cough

The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract (viz) nose and throat, and could be caused by any one of more than 200 viruses. It gets its name probably from the fact that it is the most frequent infection that affects humans.

Many have heard it being said – “If you medicate a cough and cold, it will leave in one week. If not, it will stay for seven days.” When enquired about, it is also referred to as “just a cold”. It is so common that almost everyone has contracted it.

The following prevention tips help, not only for the common-cold and cough, but also in keeping other serious respiratory infections such as the coronavirus away.

Prevention Tips

Cleanliness is key to a disease-free home. It is necessary to use disinfectants and sanitizers to wipe down surfaces that are frequently accessed.

Using disposable tissues instead of cloth handkerchiefs and paper towels in the kitchen area prevents other members of the family from getting infected.

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet – complete with whole grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean meat, egg and fish keeps the common cold at bay.

Spice up your meals and beverages with cold-attacking pepper, fenugreek, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and honey.

Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or hand-rub.

Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water keeps the mucous moving and relieves the stuffiness that makes the infection most bothersome. Water is also known to be a defence mechanism that helps the body recover faster.

Make exercise a lifestyle. Everyone who has had a cold would vouch for the fact that curling up in bed only makes the congestion worse. A little movement, and there’s relief. Hence, it is advisable to resort to mild exercises and for shorter durations.

Using an antiseptic gargle or just plain salt water gargle clears up the phlegm and soothes the throat.

Rest is one of most under-estimated requirements during an illness, especially with a common-cold and cough. A person who has ample rest tends to recover faster than one who has his nose to the grindstone.

Avoid smoking. It worsens the condition of the lungs that are already struggling. Smoking increases cough and extends recovery time.

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Healthy Ageing

Ageing is the process of becoming older. It is a gradual, continuous process of natural change.

A person’s age can be categorised in the following different ways:

Chronologic age: Chronologic age is based solely on the passage of time. It is a person’s age in years. Chronologic age has limited significance in terms of health. Having said that, the likelihood of developing a health problem increases as people age.

Biological age : Biological age refers to changes in the body that commonly occur as people age. Because these changes affect some people sooner than others, some people are biologically old at 65, and others, a little later. However, most noticeable differences in apparent age among people of similar chronologic age are caused by lifestyle, habit, and effects of disease.

Psychological age: Psychologic age is based on how people act and feel.

To understand the process of ageing from a scientific stand point, we can classify it as follows:

Cellular ageing: Cells age based on the number of times they have replicated. A cell can replicate about 50 times before the genetic material is no longer able to be copied accurately. The more damage done to cells by free radicals and other factors, the more cells need to replicate.

Hormonal ageing: Hormonal ageing is more pronounced in women than in men.Hormones play a huge factor in ageing, especially during childhood growth and adolescent maturity. Hormone levels fluctuate through life. During puberty the body goes through a lot of changes including acne, increase in body hair, etc. As women get older, hormonal changes lead to menopause.

Accumulated damage related ageing: These would include external factors that affect our body. Exposure to toxins, excessive exposure to sun, intake ofprocessed and genetically modified foods, pollution, and smoke affects the body. Over time, these external factors can lead to tissue damage and hastens the ageing process.
We can turn this inevitable ageing process in to one that is healthy and smooth. Our simple goal should be to remain active and independent while avoiding mental and physical disorders as much as possible.

Some of the ways in which we can age gracefully

Eat a well-balanced diet: A nutritious diet with the right balance of all macro and micro nutrients helps to keep the body healthy and fight diseases. Protein intake in particular should be adequate especially for old people as proteins contribute to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels and maintain bone health. Getting adequate nutrients from food becomes tougher as a person ages because the body becomes less efficient in absorbing nutrients. The body may fall short of several key nutrients and may need to be supplementedin addition to the diet after talking to a healthcare professional.

The table below shows some of the essential nutrients, their function in old age specifically and dietary sources.

Nutrient
Function in Old Age
Dietary Source
Vitamin B12 Healthy nerve function Milk products, fish,egg, poultry
Folic acid / folate Prevents Anaemia Fruits and vegetables
Calcium Deficiency leads to brittle bones and increases risk of fractures Milk and yoghurt
Vitamin D Aids in calcium absorption and prevents osteoporosis. Also helps in protecting againstcancer, type 1 diabetes,rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D supplements
Potassium Reduces high blood pressure and prevents kidney stones Fruits and vegetables
Magnesium Contributes to cardiovascular health and bone health Whole grains, fruits and vegetables
Fiber Healthy digestion and gut health Whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables

Exercise regularly: 30 minutes of moderate activity a day like walking to the supermarket, or walking the dog can increase longevity.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Avoid smoking, drugs and alcohol. Quitting smoking improves circulation and blood pressure, and drastically reduces the risk of developing cancer.

Minimise exposure to toxins in the environment: Apart from staying away from polluted places, it is wise to cut down the excess use of pesticides, insecticides, room fresheners, deodorisers, cleaning and personal care products. These products contain toxins that hasten the process of ageing.

Access to Health care: It is imperative to be in touch with a good health care practitioner who is abreast with the latest medical trends and who is also attached to a well-equipped health care facility.

Sleep: A good night’s sleep is the best tonic to keep all diseases at bay, lower stress levels and improve mental health.

Stay mentally active: Simple mental exercises like recalling phone numbers and remembering simple grocery lists improves memory by 50 percent. Intellectually challenging games like chess or sudoku also help the mind stay active and alert.

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Stages of Tooth Decay

Our smile is the most valuable asset on our face and clean white teeth the most desirable sight. Adults have 32 teeth – 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 molars, 8 pre-molars, 4 wisdom, and children have 24 teeth by the age of eight. The wisdom teeth are the last to grow, completing the set of 32.

Our teeth do not reveal much about their health till there is a tinge of pain or discomfort. Tooth decay affects all ages, more so with older people as their gums tend to recede and enamel wears away. Younger people also suffer tooth decay due to food habits and poor oral hygiene.

More often than not, the starting phase of tooth decay attracts no attention. We tend to think that it will just go away or subside on its own. Since it happens in an area that we don’t look out for, the mind chooses not to dwell on it. The reality is that the condition gradually and steadily grows and festers, till there is pain enough to visit the dentist.

These are the different stages of tooth decay.

Stage 1 – The pin-hole sized white spot (PIT)

Our teeth are made of strong material called enamel. The acid and sugar content in the food we eat, when not rinsed off the teeth after each meal, are hard enough to penetrate the enamel. This causes a pin-hole sized white spot (PIT) to appear on the enamel surface. At this stage there is no pain or discomfort.

Stage 2 – The brown stain (FISSURE)

The pin-hole sized white spot that goes unnoticed keeps working on the tooth, eroding and damaging the enamel further, causing a brown stain on the surface. Even at this stage, there is little or no pain or discomfort, providing the perfect setting for a successful tooth-decay mission. The brown stain is visible and if noticed in time, can be cured.

Stage 3 – Dental caries or cavities

Bacteria that have been working hard on the enamel gain entry through a fissure into the dentin, which is the tissue just beneath the enamel. As dentin is not as hard as enamel, it makes it easier for the decay to progress rapidly. There is some amount of noticeable sensitivity at the fissure stage. The strength of the enamel being compromised gives way to small holes on the under-surface of the teeth. These are called dental caries or cavities.

Stage 4 – Deep Cavities

The pulp that houses the nerves and blood vessels is attacked at this stage and begins to swell up. The swelling pressurizes the nerves, causing pain, sensitivity and discomfort.

Stage 5 – Pus formation

The tooth is infected at this stage. Inflammation causes pus formation and a collection of this pus is a tooth abscess. It becomes unbearably painful, affecting the jaws, face and neck. Visiting the dentist is inevitable, and depending on the scale of damage, the tooth is retained or removed.

Treatment that follows a tooth decay can be any of these

  • Fluoride treatment if the decay is in its early stage
  • Tooth extraction and replacement with crown
  • Removal of tissue and filling tooth with filling material
  • Root canal treatment if the pulp is affected

The following points help prevent tooth decay and maintain good oral health.

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste or mouth-rinse
  • Reducing sweets, snacks, juices and aerated drinks
  • Rinsing the mouth well after every meal or snack
  • Visiting the dentist regularly to remove plaque build-up and to check for early signs of tooth decay
  • Teaching children to brush, floss and rinse

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Nutritional Requirements To Manage Menopause

The what, when and why of menopause

The word menopause is derived from the Greek words ‘menos’ – for month and ‘pause’ – for stop. It is the time during which a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs, thereby gradually stopping her monthly period, till there is absolutely no menstrual cycle for 12 months in a row.

The time leading to the onset of menopause, when signs start developing, is called peri-menopause and can last upto 10 years. The time after, is called post-menopause and the time in between, when symptoms are rampant is menopause transition.

This phase of a woman’s life happens anywhere between 40 and 55 years of age, depending on her health, lifestyle and hereditary factors.

How menopause affects a woman

  • It all begins with a change of schedule or duration in her monthly cycle and/or lighter or heavier bleeding patterns.
  • A majority experience hot flashes, which are feelings of heat (of varied intensity), predominantly over the upper part of the body.
  • Nights become traumatic for some, with chills, sweats and sleeplessness.
  • Emotional problems may include unprovoked irritation, frustration, mood swings and forgetfulness.
  • The transition affects the appearance of many women. Weight-gain, dry skin, and excessive hair-loss are some well-known factors.  There’s a spurt of facial hair in some women, while others lose breast volume.
  • Inexplicable tiredness and sleepiness can mark most part of the day.
  • Health-related issues like cardio-vascular disease, Osteoporosis and Urinary Incontinence tend to flare up.
  • Menopause brings on deficiencies in Estrogen, Vitamin D, Vitamin B-6 and Calcium, which explain the reason for the health-related issues.

Nutritional supplements that help tide over menopause

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids help combat hot flashes and night sweats. They are found in fatty fish and flax seeds.
  • Fiber promotes digestion and fills the stomach, prevents overeating and weight gain. Foods like whole grains, almonds, dried fruits, nuts, beans, potatoes and apples provide substantial fiber.
  • Calcium is vital for the protection of bones and is supplemented by dairy foods like milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt.
  • Vitamin D helps absorb Calcium. In the absence of Vitamin D, Calcium supplements are useless.  Fatty fish, soy, cheese and egg yolks are some super suppliers of Vitamin-D.
  • Vitamin B-6 controls the emotions caused by low serotonin levels. Chicken and oats and good sources. 
  • Fruits and vegetables are mandatory. Apples, oranges and bananas – juiced or eaten raw, and steamed or tossed veggies like carrots, beans, greens, broccoli and tomatoes are suitable for a great daily diet.
  • Water. Last but not the least, water is a universal remedy.  It cleanses, detoxifies and hydrates the body like no other.

Other good lifestyle suggestions

  • Exercise tops the list because of its immense benefits. A regular workout regime consisting of cardio like walking, swimming and cycling, and strength training like dumb bells are good choices as they strengthen the parts of the body that menopause affects.
  • Choose to take the stairs than use the elevator.
  • Dance – it enhances the mood and makes life look and feel good.
  • Spend time in the open – getting a waft of fresh air is incredibly helpful for the mind and body.
  • Go easy on certain foods – those high in salt and sugar, processed food, saturated fat and alcohol.

While there is general ambivalence on the subject, it is worth knowing that menopause is a natural phenomenon with no reason for worry or panic. It sure rearranges a couple of things for a woman, but understanding the aforementioned key points on the way things work, can help in the transition.

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Skin Care During Winter

With a total area of about 20 square feet, the skin is the largest organ in the body. Its primary function is the sense of touch, besides protecting and covering. Across the world, people differ according to the colour, texture and quality of their skin. Biological factors determine these variations, as also do geographical location, exposure to the sun and living conditions.

It is a well-known fact that summer comes down hard on the skin, and a whole beauty industry can survive manufacturing products for sun tan, sun burn, prickly heat, sweat and so on. But winter is no less. It can cause long term damage to skin in the absence of proper prevention and care.

Winter and skin don’t hit it off well. The dip in temperature not only dries the skin to flakiness, creating itching and blotches but also dries the lips, nose and heels. It is a noteworthy point that though the sun is not shining in all its strength during the winter, its effect remains through the ultraviolet rays it emits. Cold air that feels good on the skin actually dehydrates it, making the skin irritable and dry.

There are numerous ways to get a grip of the situation, but these are by far the best. The results are verified and lasting.

Water

We normally do not feel thirsty for water during the cold weather But keeping hydrated by drinking lots of water is the best way to retain great looking skin during winter (and otherwise too).  The loss of moisture from the surface of the skin gets replenished by the regular intake of water, while detoxifying the internal system.  That way, it’s a double-dynamite.

Who doesn’t enjoy a hot bath on a winter morning?  The trouble with a hot bath is that it dries the skin further, increasing the damage caused by the cold.  On the alternate, a warm bath with gentle moisturizing soap is a real rejuvenator.

Cool water can be used to wash the lips to provide relief from chaps and cracks, followed by a dab of Lanolin, VitaminE-rich chap-stick or petroleum jelly.

A humidifier keeps the air warm and moist enough to hydrate the skin. A dash of essential oil in the humidifier calms the senses as well.

Clothes

Come winter and we think wool.  Wool can irritate an already inflamed skin and cause itching.  Cotton clothes do well for the skin and the body.  After a shower, pat dry to help the skin retain and absorb moisture.  A vigorous towel rub strips the skin of its natural oils.   Socks protect the feet, especially the heels, from drying out and developing cracks.  Apply lanolin, petroleum jelly or crack-cream before wearing socks.

Immunity

Nothing beats a healthy body, fortified by nutritious food, lots of water, exercise and fitness, meditation and good sleep.  Immunity helps the body bounce back and heal fast.  Immunity boosters and supplements are available over the counter for those with a rapidly depleting immunity system.

Oils and Creams

Bath oils breathe luxury into a dreary bath-routine and slathering on moisturizing cream (preferably glycerin-based) towards the end of a shower locks precious moisture in the skin.  Just ensure that the water is warm for the bath oils to penetrate, and the body is damp while applying moisturizing cream.Lanolin is an excellent choice as a bath oil and moisturizer.

Exfoliation

Using a gentle exfoliator to remove dead cells makes the skin permeable and helps moisturizer do its work efficiently.  Vigorous exfoliation exposes the skin to the cold and further damage.  Oatmeal is a refreshing, natural and mild exfoliator.

Anti-Fungal / Anti-Bacterial Powder

Dry skin can spur infection in the inner-thigh region for people on the heavier side, causing rashes and redness.  It is necessary to wash the area regularly with warm water, pat dry and dust on anti-fungal / anti-bacterial powder.  Wearing pants separates the thighs and helps the area heal faster.

While there is nothing much that can be done about the weather, and since winter is mostly synonymous with holidays and happiness, the only choice left would be to protect the skin from damage.  There are promising beauty treatments for all kind of skin conditions, but a personal skin care schedule can work wonders.