Environmental pollution: one of the major causes for increasing asthma prevalence in children, says HCFI

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Proper management and correct use of inhalers are key to prevent attacks

New Delhi, 6th May 2019: According to the World Health Organization, about 80% of asthma deaths occur in the low and lower-middle-income countries. Of the estimated 1.5 to 2 crore asthma patients around the world, at least 1 in every 10 lives in India. A recent study also indicates that about 35% of preschoolers in the country exhibit asthma symptoms. While two-thirds outgrow the symptoms in later years, about 16.67% continue to suffer.

On World Asthma Day, the need of the hour is to raise awareness on the fact that environmental pollution is emerging as a big risk factor for the condition, especially among children. The theme for World Asthma Day this year is ‘STOP for Asthma’. STOP expands into Symptom evaluation, Test response, Observe and assess, and proceed to adjust treatment. It is imperative to educate patients on proper management and correct use of inhalers.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “It is important to understand the working of airways to understand asthma. The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs. In people with asthma, these airways are inflamed, which makes them swollen and very sensitive. Due to this, the airways react strongly to certain inhaled substances, which causes the muscles around them to tighten. As a result, the airways become narrow causing less air to flow into the lungs. The cells in the airways might make more mucus than usual. All these can result in asthma symptoms, which can occur each time the airways are inflamed. There is no specific reason for the development of asthma in children. However, there are several triggers such as dust, air pollution, and exposure to secondhand smoke. Pediatric asthma is one of the major reasons for absenteeism from school.”

Some symptoms of asthma in children include wheezing (whistling sound) when breathing, coughing, rapid and labored breathing, complaints of chest hurting, reduced energy, and feeling weak or tired.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Airway sensitivity is going up among people in both rural and urban areas due to sustained exposure to a combination of triggers. Asthma requires continuous medical care and those with moderate-to-severe asthma must take long-term medicines such as anti-inflammatory drugs. These should be taken every day to prevent symptoms and attacks. Short-term medicines such as inhaled short-acting beta2-agonists are also used for quick relief of asthma symptoms.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Prevent exposure to dust mites. These are tiny insects and one of the most common asthma triggers. They tend to live in beds, carpeting, upholstered furniture and soft toys. It is important to keep all these things dust free.
  • Restrict the child’s contact with pets especially if he/she is allergic.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and encourage good eating habits. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their diet.
  • Avoid exposure to smoke. Expectant mothers should quit smoking altogether as this is one of the major risk factors for development of asthma in children.

·       Breastfeed your infant. This will increase immunity and help ward off potential complications.

Poor dental hygiene may be a warning sign for potential heart problems: HCFI

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Smoking and drinking and irregular cleaning of teeth can cause infection

New Delhi, 4th May 2019: According to a recent study, common oral infection in childhood is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis in adulthood. The study particularly focused on periodontitis which is currently considered an independent risk factor for atherosclerotic vascular diseases. It is therefore imperative to prevent and treat oral infections during childhood.

Advanced gum disease, also called periodontitis, is caused by bacterial infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth. If left unchecked, the resulting inflammation can spread down below the gums and along the roots of the teeth, causing destruction of the periodontal ligament and the supporting bone. This ultimately leads to the loosening and potential loss of the teeth.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Oral hygiene is extremely essential. Dental health is often ignored by many people. Stress can have lasting effects on the teeth as on the overall system. Under stress, many people pick up the habit of smoking and consuming alcohol, which can have serious implications on dental health at a later stage. Periodontitis is a serious condition and if not managed on time can be detrimental to dental health. One should not ignore warning signs and visit a dentist as soon as possible. A dull tooth ache, which does not subside, bleeding gums, and sensitivity to certain eatables are signs that should not be ignored.”

There are more than 700 different species of bacteria colonized in a healthy mouth, most of which are completely harmless and live in harmony with their host. However, in the absence of oral hygiene and tooth cleaning, bacterial deposits build up next to the gums, forming a plaque, and the conditions become suitable for more dangerous bacteria to flourish.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “What many people are unaware of is that dental hygiene is also imperative for heart health. Poor oral health and tooth loss is associated with modest increases in future heart blockages and paralysis.”

Some tips from HCFI to care for the teeth

  • Brush your teeth twice daily. Brushing helps in preventing the build-up of plaque and bacteria which can cause tooth decay and periodontal diseases.
  • Floss every day as flossing helps clean the crevices where the brush can’t reach.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Avoid sugary and starchy foods as sugar in such foods reacts with the bacteria in saliva to form an acid that erodes the tooth enamel leading to tooth decay.
  • The tongue too harbors bacteria. Therefore, it is a good idea to invest in a tongue scraper and clean it each time you brush your teeth.
  • Consult a dentist if your gums are inflamed or if they bleed. Do not ignore any pain in the teeth and/or gums.
  • Get your teeth checked every six months. Dental cleaning and check-up twice a year is imperative.

Variety and moderation in diet are key to a healthy body and mind: HCFI

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Poor diet has overtaken smoking as the world’s biggest killer

New Delhi, 3rd May 2019: According to the latest Global Burden of Disease Study, poor diet has now overtaken smoking as the world’s biggest killer, causing 20% of deaths globally in 2017. It is imperative to convince people to eat plant-rich diets, avoid junk food and care about nutrition. These measures will be critical to global human health and tackling climate change in future.

Crash diets, stressful work environments that encourage people to eat comfort foods, all-day desk jobs, etc. have distorted the definition of an ideal weight and wholesome eating. It is important to understand that a healthy diet does not just require consuming calories equivalent to 30 times a person’s current weight. The right balance of macro and micronutrients is equally essential.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Our ancient rituals and traditions have given us a way out of the conundrum of diet problems. They advocate the principles of ‘variety’ and ‘moderation’ i.e. eat a variety of food and eat in moderation. They also recommend including all seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, white) and six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) for a balanced diet. There are several examples of food rotation in our mythology. For instance, fasting is a tradition for us. However, it does not mean ‘not eating’ but rather omitting certain foods from the diet on the day of the fast.”

The brain gets a signal that a person has eaten only after 20 minutes. Thus, it is important to chew every bite at least 15 times. It not only provides enough hormones for enzymes but also sends signals to the brain. Therefore, the time spent per meal should be 20 minutes.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The taste buds are only on the tip and side of the tongue. If you gulp food, the brain will not get signals. Eating small pieces and chewing them properly also sends the signals through the taste buds. The size of the fullness of the stomach also decides how much one can eat. The brain gets signal only when the stomach is 100% full. Therefore, one should not overeat and fill the stomach to its size. Also, if you eat less and over a period of time the size of the stomach will shrink.”

Follow these tips for a healthy meal

•       Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly

•       Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.

•       Avoid oversized portions which can cause weight gain.

•       At least half of your grains should be whole grains.

•       Limit consumption of food high in trans fats and sugar.

•       Choose healthy fats. Use fat–free or low-fat milk and/or dairy products.

•       Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.

•       Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.

•       Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.

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