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Dr K K Aggarwal

5 Steps to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Check your waistline.
  3. Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.
  4. Exercise regularly. Aim for 2½ to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking or try a vigorous exercise like jogging for half that time.

Keep a watch on your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and blood sugar numbers.

(Source: Harvard)

Righteousness and truthfulness

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • When you cough or sneeze, you tend to expel out respiratory waste, which can be droplets (larger than 5 micron) or airborne droplets less than 5 micron; both have different clinical implications.
  • Droplets remain suspended in the air for a limited period only and exposure of less than 3 feet is usually required for human to human transmission of droplet-borne respiratory organisms. In flu, this can be up to 6 feet. The examples of droplet infections are meningitis, influenza, rubella (German measles), etc.
  • No precaution needs to be taken by a person who is 6-10 feet away from the patient but if a person is sitting or working at even 3-6 feet distance, the non-coughing person should wear a simple mask.
  • Airborne droplet nuclei that carry respiratory secretions smaller than 5 microns can remain suspended in the air for extended period and can cause infections to people who are standing even more than 10 feet away. The examples of airborne droplet nuclei infections are TB, measles, chickenpox and SARS.
  • Patients with these diseases should be placed in an isolation room and all healthcare personnel who are looking after these patients must use a safe N95 mask.
  • In normal house with windows opened, there is a constant exchange of air, which prevents spread of infections but in AC setups with no air exchange, the infections can spread from one person to another.
  • When sitting in an air-conditioned atmosphere, the setting of the AC should be such that the same air is not circulated and fresh air is allowed to exchange. Split ACs, therefore, are more dangerous than the window ACs.
  • In an office with split AC, if one employee is suffering from any of the droplet nuclei disease, he/she can transmit infection to others. Therefore, patients with confirmed TB, measles, chickenpox and SARS should not be allowed to work in split AC atmosphere.

Tips to relieve heartburn

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Avoid foods that trigger your symptoms.
  • Eat small portions and dont overeat; chew food slowly and completely.
  • Avoid smoking, eating quickly, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated beverages as they lead to swallowing excess air.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get enough rest.
  • Dont lie down within 2 hours of eating.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

(Source: Harvard Healthbeat)

Hand, foot and mouth disease: Salient facts

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral illness most commonly caused by the Coxsackie virus A6.
  • Enteroviruses 71 (EV71) can also cause hand, foot and mouth disease.
  • Both adults and children can develop this infection. But young children below 5 years old are more susceptible.
  • It is a moderately contagious illness.
  • The incubation period is 5 days.
  • The illness begins with fever, which lasts for 24-48 hours.
  • Fever is followed by appearance of painful sores in mouth. They begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. Tongue is involved.
  • There are peripherally distributed small tender non itchy rash with blisters on palms of the hands, and soles of feet and buttocks.
  • The sores hurt on touch and swallowing is difficult.
  • There is proximal separation of nail from the nail bed.
  • The virus is present in mucus from nose, saliva, fluid from sores and traces of bowel movements.
  • The virus spreads in the first week of infection.
  • The infection spreads from person to person by direct contact with nasal discharge, saliva or blister fluid or from stool of infected persons.
  • The virus can persist in the stool for weeks.
  • The illness is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals
  • The illness stays for 2-3 days. It is usually mild and self-limited.
  • Enterovirus 71 is associated with brain involvement (meningitis and encephalitis), lungs and the heart.
  • The patient remains infectious after the symptoms have gone.
  • Test is not necessary.
  • There is no specific treatment.
  • Paracetamol tablet can be taken to relieve pain and fever.
  • Aspirin is to be avoided in children.
  • Avoid dehydration.
  • Eat ice cream to numb the pain.
  • Using mouthwashes or sprays that numb the mouth.
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid exposure to infected person.
  • Maintain touch hygiene to reduce your risk of acquiring the infection.
  • During first week of illness, the child should be kept in isolation.
  • Schools should be closed.
  • There is no vaccine currently available.

Tips for safe eating

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Snack with raw vegetables instead of potato chips.
  • Add fruits in breakfast.
  • Prefer juice instead of a usual coffee, tea or soda.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with water and scrub with a dish brush when appropriate.
  • Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and cabbage.
  • Peel and cook when appropriate, although some nutrients and fiber may be lost when produce is peeled.
  • Avoid fruits and vegetables that look brownish, slimy or dried out. These are signs that the product has been held at an improper temperature.
  • Wash cutting boards with hot water, soap and a scrub brush to remove food particles.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially fresh whole fruits and vegetables and raw meat, poultry and fish. Clean under fingernails, too.

Water Hygiene

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Safe water is an essential commodity for prevention of most water- and food-borne diseases, like diarrhea, typhoid and jaundice. These diseases are 100% preventable. All of them can be potentially life-threatening if not prevented, diagnosed or treated in time. Transmission of parasitic infections can also occur with contaminated water. Here are a few tips:

  • Travelers should avoid consuming tap water.
  • Avoid ice made from tap water.
  • Avoid any food rinsed in tap water.
  • Chlorination kills most bacterial and viral pathogens.
  • Chlorination does not kill Giardia cysts.
  • Chlorination does not kill amoeba cysts.
  • Chlorination does not kill Cryptosporidium.
  • Boiled/treated/bottled water is safe.
  • Carbonated drinks, wine and drinks made with boiled water are safe.
  • Freezing does not kill the organisms that cause diarrhea. Ice in drinks is not safe unless it has been made from adequately boiled or filtered water.
  • Alcohol does not sterilize water or ice. Mixed drinks may still be contaminated.
  • Hot tea and coffee are the best alternates to boiled water.
  • Bottled drinks should be requested without ice and should be drunk from the bottle with a straw rather than with a glass.
  • Boiling water for 3 minutes followed by cooling to room temperature will kill bacteria and parasites.
  • Adding two drops of 5% sodium hydrochloride (bleach) to quarter of water (1 liter) will kill most bacteria in 30 minutes.
  • Adding 5 drops of tincture of iodine to a quarter of water (1 liter) will kill bacteria within 30 minutes.

Food poisoning with rice dishes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Staph and Bacillus cereus can cause acute food poisoning within 6 hours of ingestion of food. B. cereus is likely when rice is the culprit.

  • B. cereus is able to persist in food processing environments due to its ability to survive at extreme temperatures as well as its ability to form biofilms and spores.
  • B. cereus has been recovered from a wide range of foods, including rice, dairy products, spices, bean sprouts and other vegetables.
  • Fried rice is an important cause of emetic-type food poisoning associated with B. cereus.
  • The organism is frequently present in uncooked rice, and heat-resistant spores may survive cooking.
  • Cooked rice, subsequently at room temperature, can allow vegetative forms to multiply. The heat-stable toxin that is produced can survive brief heating such as stir frying.
  • Two distinct types of toxin-mediated food poisoning are caused by B. cereus, characterized by either diarrhea or vomiting, depending on which toxin is involved. The diarrheal toxin is produced by vegetative cells in the small intestine after ingestion of either bacilli or spores. The emetic toxin is ingested directly from contaminated food. Both toxins cause disease within 24 hours of ingestion.
  • The emetic syndrome is caused by direct ingestion of the toxin.
  • The number of viable spores and vegetative bacteria that produce diarrheal toxin is reduced by heating, although spores associated with emetic toxin are capable of surviving heat processing.
  • Cereulide is heat stable and resistant to gastric conditions.
  • The ingested toxin itself may therefore cause disease despite sufficient heating to kill B. cereus.
  • The emetic syndrome is characterized by abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea also occurs in about one-third of individuals. Symptom onset is usually within one to five hours of ingestion, but it can also occur within half an hour and up to six hours after ingestion of contaminated food.
  • Symptoms usually resolve in 6 to 24 hours.
  • Rice-based dishes, in particular, have been implicated in emetic toxin-mediated disease, usually as a result of cooling fried rice dishes overnight at room temperature followed by reheating the next day.
  • The infective dose of cereulide required to cause symptoms is 8 to 10 micrograms per kilogram of body weight.

Poor hygiene may lead to typhoid fever

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Typhoid fever is caused by a bacterium called Salmonella typhi and is transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink that has been contaminated by the feces or urine of infected people. Flying insects feeding on feces may occasionally transfer the bacteria through poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions.

Though the cases occur round the year, more cases are seen during the summer and rainy seasons.

Symptoms usually develop 1-3 weeks after exposure, and may be mild or severe. They include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhea and enlarged spleen and liver. A healthy carrier state may follow acute illness.

It can be treated with antibiotics. However, resistance to common antimicrobials is widespread. Healthy carriers should be excluded from handling food.

Sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid.

Few salient facts about typhoid fever

  • Typhoid does not affect animals and therefore transmission is only from human to human.
  • Typhoid can only spread in environments where human feces or urine are able to come into contact with food or drinking water.
  • Careful food preparation and washing of hands are crucial to preventing typhoid.
  • Typhoid fever, in most cases, is not fatal.
  • Prompt treatment of the disease with antibiotics reduces the case-fatality rate to approximately 1%.
  • When untreated, typhoid fever persists for 3 weeks to a month.
  • Resistance to common antibiotics is now common.
  • Typhoid that is resistant to common antibiotics is known as multidrug-resistant (MDR) typhoid.
  • Ciprofloxacin resistance is an increasing problem, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
  • Azithromycin is a new drug for drug-resistant typhoid.
  • Typhoid vaccine taken every 3 years is the best preventive approach.

Expressive writing can relieve stress

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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One can significantly boost mental and physical health by spending 30 minutes each day for four days to write out the innermost thoughts and feelings.

This so-called expressive writing requires only pen and a paper.

In expressive writing therapy, patients are encouraged to express whatever is on their mind, letting their hopes and fears flow out in a natural, unrestrained way. It is like keeping a journal, but more focused on the things that might be bothering one or triggering stress.

Four of the best exercises you can ever do

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Swimming. It is a perfect exercise. Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing.
  • Strength training. Lifting light weights won’t bulk up your muscles, but it will keep them strong. If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time.
  • Walking. Walking is simple yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood and lower your risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Kegel exercises. These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence. While many women are familiar with these exercises, they can benefit men too.

To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze and release the muscles you would use to stop urination or prevent you from passing gas. Alternate quick squeezes and releases with longer contractions that you hold for 10 seconds, and then release for 10 seconds. Work up to three sets of 10–15 Kegel exercises each day.

(Source: Harvard HealthBeat)

Guidelines about Eating

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Eat only when you are hungry.
  • Do not eat for pleasure, social obligations or emotional satisfaction.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Eat less; dinner less than lunch.
  • Take small mouthfuls each time; chew each morsel well, swallow it and only then take the next morsel.
  • Do not eat while watching television, driving a car or watching sports events. The mind is absorbed in these activities and one does not know what and how much one has eaten.
  • Do not talk while eating and never enter into heated arguments. The stomach has ears and can listen to your conversation. It will accordingly send signals to the mind and heart.
  • Plan and decide in advance what and how much food you will be eating.
  • Use low fat or skimmed mild dairy products. Use oils which are liquid at room temperature for cooking.
  • Do not take red meat and if you are a non-vegetarian, you may take poultry meat or fish.

Women Beware of Heart Disease

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Cardiovascular disease is very common in women. The warning signals of heart attack include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

However, women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Pain in one or both arms.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness.
  • Unusual fatigue.

In the presence of any of the above, one should not wait for more than five minutes and get to a hospital right away.

More than 80% of cardiac events in women can be prevented by modifying diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking.

Sangat and smoking

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Sewa, Simran and Sangat are the three principles of life as per the Vedic literature. Even Adi Shankaracharya described Sangat as the main force for living a spiritual life.

Sangat is the company of people you live with. Living in the company of good people makes one good and the reverse is also true.

The same is now being proved in the allopathic context. A research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that when one person quits smoking, then others are likely to follow. One person quitting can cause a ripple effect, making others more likely to kick the habit.

  1. If your spouse stops smoking, youre 67% less likely to continue smoking.
  2. If your friend kicks the habit, its about 36% less likely that youll be smoking.
  3. When a sibling gives up cigarettes, your risk of smoking decreases by 25%.
  4. Your risk of smoking drops by 34% if a co-worker in a small office quits smoking. Its sort of like watching dominoes. If one falls, it very quickly causes others to fall.

People should be treated in groups, rather than as individuals. Friends and family need to be involved. If you want to quit, try to get close friends and family to quit as well.

Quitting smoking may have the side benefit of improving social well-being, just as it improves physical health.

Types of smokers

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Light: < 10 cigarettes per day
  • Heavy: > 25 cigarettes a day
  • Chippers: Very light smokers (< 5 cigarettes a day) who regularly use tobacco without developing dependence
  • Light and intermittent smokers: 1-39 cigarettes per week, or an average of 10 cigarettes per day or 1-4 grams of tobacco per day and have never smoked daily.
  • Low-level smokers: < 20 cigarettes per day and < 1 pack per week
  • Low-rate smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and never more than 10 cigarettes per day
  • Non-daily smokers: smoke < 7 days per week and may smoke < 3 packs per week
  • Occasional smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and smoke < 3 times per week, usually dependent on circumstances such as partying or drinking or after meals
  • Social smokers: < 5 cigarettes per day and < 7 days per week in last two years and have never exceeded that limit.

5 steps to lower Alzheimer’s risk

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Check your waistline.
  3. Eat mindfully. Emphasize colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources; plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes, too.
  4. Exercise regularly. Aim for 2½ to 5 hours weekly of brisk walking (at 4 mph). Or try a vigorous exercise like jogging (at 6 mph) for half that time.
  5. Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight and waistline, keep a watch on your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar numbers.

(HealthBeat)