Fatty liver disease sets in without apparent symptoms

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In the absence of precautions, the condition can progress rapidly and cause complete scarring of the liver

New Delhi, 21 April 2019: There has been a rise in the cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) this year as compared to 2018. While there are no definite statistics available yet, doctors indicate that they have been observing at least 10 to 12 new cases every month, with patients across age groups. Fatty liver disease is a disorder that occurs due to excessive build-up of fat, which leads to scarring of the liver.

Not all types of NAFLD are lethal, but they’re not benign either. Once detected, the patient must undergo further tests to know if the liver is scarred or inflamed. About 20% of liver inflammation cases have a chance of developing cirrhosis. It is known as a silent killer due to an apparent lack of symptoms till the condition progresses.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “NAFLD is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristic of this condition is too much fat stored in liver cells. A healthy liver should contain little or no fat at all. The main complication of NAFLD is cirrhosis, which is late-stage scarring (fibrosis) in the liver. Cirrhosis occurs in response to liver injury, such as the inflammation in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.  As the liver tries to halt inflammation, it produces areas of scarring (fibrosis). With continued inflammation, fibrosis spreads to take up more and more liver tissue.”

Some signs and symptoms of this condition include enlarged liver, fatigue, pain in the upper right abdomen. When it progresses to cirrhosis, it can cause ascites, enlarged blood vessels and spleen, red palms, and jaundice.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Those with NAFLD have a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease and it is one of the most common causes of death in them. About 10% weight loss can improve fatty liver and inflammation.”

There are reports to indicate that cinnamon (dalchini) can help improve lipid profiles and NAFLD due to its antioxidant and insulin-sensitizer properties.

Some tips from HCFI to reduce the risk of NAFLD

  • Eat a healthy plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
  • If you are overweight or obese, reduce the number of calories you eat each day and get more exercise. If you have a healthy weight, work to maintain it by choosing a healthy diet and exercising.
  • Exercise most days of the week. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Excessive use of multiple digital devices can cause weight gain in the longer term

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It is imperative to take a social media holiday at frequent intervals

New Delhi, 5 April 2019: A recent study has found that people who switch between digital services tend to gain weight. It has revealed that media multitasking is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain. When media multitaskers saw pictures of food, researchers observed increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation. The findings indicate that there could be links between media multitasking, a risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues.

Up till now the debate has been whether mobile radiations can cause brain cancer or not. But recently, a new spectrum of diseases related to use of mobile phones has come to the notice of medical profession and it is anticipated that 10 years from now they will take an epidemic shape.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “In this digital era, the key to good health should be moderation – moderate use of technology. A lot of us have become slaves to devices that were really meant to free us and give us more time to experience life and be with people. Unless precautionary measures are taken at the earliest, this addiction can prove detrimental to one’s health in the longer term. We live in an age where mobile phones have penetrated our lives and actual human interaction is almost non-existent. Although technology has made life easier for everyone, there is a severe limitation of actual human empathetic interactions. We have begun to place more importance on what others think of us and how they perceive us. All of this can lead to anxiety and depression in the longer term.”

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Apart from obesity, there are several other health issues posed by the overuse of smartphones and social media. There is a need to measure the use of these devices in our daily lives and focus on health.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Electronic curfew means not using any electronic gadgets 30 minutes before sleep.
  • Facebook holiday: Take a Facebook holiday for 7 days every three months.
  • Social media fast: Avoid use of social media once in a week for the entire day.
  • Use your mobile phone only when mobile.
  • Do not use computer for more than three hours in a day.
  • Limit your mobile talk time to more than two hours in a day.
  • Do not recharge your mobile battery more than once in a day.

Mobile can also be a source of infection in the hospital setup; therefore, it is disinfected every day.

Therapy and understanding are key to managing children with autism

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Even autistic children can excel at some things with the right approach

New Delhi, 3 April 2019: According to the World Health Organisation, 1 out of every 160 children is living with autism. However, there is a lack of awareness about this disorder on a whole. People living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are prone to problems relating to communication and social interaction. These issues can be tackled successfully if ASD is detected at a young age and thereof managed-well.

About 3 million people in India suffer from ASD and the count is rapidly increasing, with 1 in every 60 children being the victim now. The symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders may be present in the early developmental period, but it manifests much later when a child fails to perform normal activities.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Autism is a highly misdiagnosed condition in India. Many still treat children with autism as abnormal and mentally deranged and therefore, diagnosis gets delayed further. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better it is for the child. In children with this disorder, certain information processed by the brain is sent out in the form of signals that are just noise for him/her. Autistic children find it difficult to distinguish vital signals from this noise. The brain develops differently in autistic children and some are brilliant in few things although they may be unable to communicate as effectively as others. While an autistic child may be unable to speak clearly, he may turn out to be excellent in something else.”

The Indian government now recognizes autism as a disability. Although autism was thought to be incurable till late, there have been improvements and therapies such as art therapy have been found to help this condition somewhat.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “There is no single line of treatment for children with autism. A treatment approach that encompasses addressing social, language, and behavioral difficulties is the key. Parental and family support is highly important in treating such children. It is a good idea for parents and other members of the family to learn how to interact with them in ways that promote social interaction skills, manage problem behaviors, and teach daily living skills and communication. Certain medications are also prescribed for hyperactive children.”

Life is not very easy with an autistic child. There may be new challenges every day. However, it is important to acknowledge the condition and accept it. Celebrating every accomplishment of your child however small it may be, have a lot of patience, love them unconditionally, and putt in consistent effort. Here are some tips for parents of children with autism.

  • Be aware and focus on the positive Autistic children, just like others, respond to positive reinforcement. Praise them for any small milestone they achieve and for any other good behavior they exhibit.
  • Give it time Nothing works overnight, and this is true of therapy and treatment as well. Do not get discouraged if your child does not respond to a certain line of therapy.
  • Get support Try and look around for similar groups of parents as this will help you share advice and get support on various aspects.

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