Learn to differentiate between seasonal flu and swine flu

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Mortality can be reduced or averted through timely precautionary measures

New Delhi, 7 February 2019: India has recorded an alarming spike in swine flu (H1N1) this year, with 6,701 cases and 226 deaths confirmed till February 3, compared to 798 cases and 68 deaths during the corresponding period in 2018. The sharpest spike was in the week ending February 3, which reported close to a third (2,101) of the total cases. Rajasthan alone confirmed 507 cases and 49 deaths in one week, followed by Delhi with 456 cases, shows data from across India. There have been no deaths in Delhi thus far.

Seasonal influenza, including H1N1, infects 3 to 5 million people worldwide and kills between 290,000 and 650,000 of them each year, estimates the World Health Organisation. In most cases, it causes symptoms of headache, fever, runny nose, cough and muscle pain, with people remaining undiagnosed and recovering within a week after using non-prescription medicines for fever and pain.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Despite the news abound of an increase in the number of swine flu cases, it is imperative that people do not panic. If adequate preventive measures are taken at the right time, there are less chances of mortality. Patients who have fever with coryza, that is, inflammation of the mucous membrane, and breathlessness should be kept in isolation and investigated for influenza. It is important that everyone takes vaccine for ordinary influenza. It will not prevent swine flu but will reduce its severity. Flu is usually caused by influenza viruses A and B. The strains vary each year. One may often confuse flu with a common cold as the symptoms are very similar. It is imperative to get a shot of the flu vaccine every year to prevent any incidence particularly in children, pregnant women, and older citizens.”

As viruses adapt and change, so do those contained within the vaccines – what is included in them is based on international surveillance and scientists’ calculations about which virus types and strains will circulate in a given year.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Flu is primarily treated with rest and fluid intake to allow the body to fight the infection on its own. Paracetamol may help cure the symptoms but NSAIDs should be avoided. An annual vaccine can help prevent the flu and limit its complications.”

Here are some tips to prevent spreading of seasonal flu.

·     Those who are not sick should avoid close contact with people who are sick.

·     People with flu should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

·     Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

·     Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

·     Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Say no to colistin in farming

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Specialists in the field should also consider repurposing old antibiotics

New Delhi, 22nd December 2018: Recently, samples of raw food lifted across Chennai have tested positive for colistin-resistant bacteria, conforming to a global trend. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are hiding in food and not just meat. This includes everything from tomatoes to apples. Of the samples tested in the study, about 46.4% were found to harbor the highly-resistant bacteria. Eating such contaminated food every day can cause resistant bacteria to invade the human gut. This further will render the host resistant to the powerful antibiotic Colistin in case of an infection.

Colistin is called ‘holy water’ in the practice of medicine. It is often the last resort for patients who are extremely sick. Resistance to colistin is already an issue in clinical practice and there are established food origins in India.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Antibiotics work by targeting specific mechanisms within the microorganisms essential for growth and survival. However, bacteria have certain defence systems that gradually evade these effects and become resistant. Spurious use of antibiotics can speed up this defence system much faster than we can counteract them. The pipeline of antibiotic drug development is fast drying up. There is a need to speed up and support research on new drug molecules and drug targets. The idea of repurposing old antibiotics also merits more attention.”

Medical science still lacks clear knowledge about how resistance to antibiotics develops and evolves. There are several gaps in the understanding of cellular and molecular processes involved. All this makes antibiotic research a very fertile ground and the concerned authorities need to wake up to the absolute need and potential of this field.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Over prescription and unguided over-the-counter usage of antibiotics have reduced efficacy of valuable drugs like carbapenems and colistin. We are fast running out of life-saving options as the medical community at present heavily relies on antibiotics right from treating simple infections to complex surgical procedures. Doctors need to put an end to unnecessary prescriptions, and patients themselves need to check over-the-counter use of antibiotics. The use of antibiotics in poultry and farming also needs to be vigilantly monitored. Time is short, and R&D initiatives need to look for alternatives to salvage this situation.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Practice rational use of drugs antibiotics
  • Use when needed and according to guidelines
  • Avoid broad spectrum antibiotics without appropriate diagnosis
  • Prevent infections with the use of vaccination and by improving basic hygiene including hand hygiene and infection control techniques and sanitation in health care settings as well as in the community

· Farmers and food industry must stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Hypertension likely to affect one-third of the population by 2020

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Hypertension likely to affect one-third of the population by 2020

Inactivity and unhealthy food patterns can complicate the situation

New Delhi, 21st December 2018: Exercise might be as effective as blood pressure medications in lowering systolic blood pressure below 140 mm Hg, indicates a recent study. An exercise regimen could reduce the need for blood pressure lowering medications in the future. he systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the heart while pumping blood out of the heart by contraction of the heart muscles. It represents the top value in a blood pressure reading.

Hypertension is defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mmHg. It is emerging as one of the major lifestyle disorders today. As per estimates, about one-third of the Indian population will suffer from the condition by 2020. Current studies put the prevalence of hypertension at 20% to 40% in urban areas and 12% to 17% in rural areas.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The prevalence of hypertension in Indian adults has shown a drastic increase in the past three decades in urban as well as rural areas. It is important to get an annual checkup done after the age of 30 even if you have no family history of hypertension, are not diabetic or don’t have any other lifestyle-related disorder. For those in the high-risk category, a checkup is advised every month. Hypertension can be prevented provided a person makes necessary lifestyle changes right at the outset. It is also imperative to spread the message of prevention and encourage people across various age groups to check their blood pressure at regular intervals.”

Some signs and symptoms of hypertension include dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes chest pain, palpitations, and nosebleeds.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “High blood pressure imposes an up-front burden in people who know they have it and who are working to control it. It adds to worries about health. It alters what you eat and how active you are, since a low-sodium diet and exercise are important ways to help keep blood pressure in check. Some people need medication and may need to take one or more pills a day, which can be a costly hassle.”

Some tips from HCFI.

• Achieve and maintain a healthy weight for your height

• Exercise regularly

• Eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

• Limit sodium intake to under 2,300 milligrams a day (one teaspoon of salt) and get plenty of potassium (at least 4,700 mg per day) from fruits and vegetables

• Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all

• Reduce stress

• Monitor your blood pressure regularly, and work with your doctor to keep it in a healthy range

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