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Dr K K Aggarwal

Why are most temples located in faraway places?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Most temples represent God or the spirit or the deity located in the temple or mandir situated in an area at the outskirts of the city. A spiritual atmosphere is one that is devoid of pollution and which promotes rajasik or tamasik behavior. The silence of the spiritual atmosphere reduces the internal noise and helps us onward in our inner journey. The inner journey of being in touch with one’s consciousness requires detachment from worldly pleasures and the withdrawal of the five senses of the body

To be in touch with one’s consciousness, one needs to bypass the disturbed state of consciousness controlled by emotion, memories and desires, through mind, intellect and ego. This usually requires a prolonged period of persistence and undertaking the inward journey devoid of external stimuli. The parikrama, which means “the path surrounding something”, incorporating many long walks helps to detoxify the mind and thus shifts the consciousness from a disturbed state to an undisturbed, calm state.

A long walk not only offers physical benefits but one also gets the benefits of nature as one’s inner stimuli are exposed to the outer stimuli during the parikrama. The person is often required to walk bare foot on natural ground, inhale pure air and concentrate and listen to the sounds of the nature, birds and trees. This proximity to nature helps in the inward spiritual journey and shifts one from the sympathetic to parasympathetic mode described by lowering of blood pressure and pulse rate. The final happiness invariably comes from within us at the time of final darshan when a person invariably closes his eyes and experiences God within his heart.

Most temples today are being constructed in residential colonies and provide a holy atmosphere to people right at their doorstep. However, they do not have the same spiritual significance and benefits as a temple located at the outskirts of a city.

There is no way a person can go to a temple in the vicinity of his house and detoxify his mind as this can hardly be achieved in minutes unless you are a siddha yogi, and if you are one, you need not go to a temple as the temple is within you.

In Vedic texts, it has been clearly mentioned that to acquire powers and inner happiness, rishi, munis had to do tapasya for months and years together. This tells us that spiritual well-being is acquired over an extended period of time as the process of detoxification is a long drawn process. Cars and other vehicles should not be allowed near temples as the basic motive is to have a pollution-free atmosphere and to give time and space for the mind to detoxify.

Do not ignore breakfast

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Taking a good breakfast made up of carbohydrates and lean protein, can help lessen cravings and hunger during the rest of the day, which can lead to significant weight loss

A research by Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz, a clinical professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and an endocrinologist at the Hospital de Clinicas Caracas in Venezuela has shown that sedentary, obese women lost almost five times as much weight on the “big breakfast” diet as did women following a traditional, restrictive low-carbohydrate diet.

While treating obese people we need to treat carb cravings and hunger. On waking up in the morning, the body is primed to look for food. The metabolism is revived up, and levels of cortisol and adrenaline are at their highest. The brain needs energy right away, and if one doesn’t eat or eats too little, the brain needs to find another fuel source. To do this, it activates an emergency system that pulls energy from muscle, destroying muscle tissue in the process. Then when you eat later, the body and brain are still in high-alert mode, so the body saves energy from the food as fat.

The levels of the brain chemical serotonin are highest in the morning and the craving levels are at the lowest and you may not feel like eating. As the day wears on, serotonin levels dip, and you get cravings for chocolate or cookies, and such similar foods. If you eat these foods, your serotonin levels rise, and your body begins to associate good feelings with them, creating an addictive cycle. The high protein, carbohydrate mix in breakfast gives the body the initial energy boost it needs in the morning.

Throughout the rest of the day, the meals are made up of protein and complex carbohydrates, like vegetables. Because protein is digested slowly, you wont feel hungry. If you have to eat chocolate, eat it in the morning as having a small piece of chocolate or candy when serotonin levels are high, wont taste as good, and the brain wont feel the same serotonin boost, which will eventually help cut down on cravings.

Eating breakfast with high glycemic foods may be harmful. After eating cereals or a doughnut, the blood sugar and insulin levels spike. Once that blood sugar is used up, you’ll still have excess insulin circulating, which makes you hungry and makes you crave carbohydrates.

Normal Aging Changes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Heart rate shows less variability.
  • There is altered circadian pattern (24-hour cycle of the body).
  • There is a delayed response of bone marrow to loss of blood or hypoxia (reduced oxygen).
  • The function of the white blood cells is impaired.
  • Advancing age is a procoagulant stage. This means that the blood gets clotted easily.
  • Reflux of the stomach acid in the food pipe is common.
  • Tendency to constipation is common.
  • Painkillers can quite easily cause ulcers in the stomach.
  • Renal functions decline with age.
  • Older kidney is more prone to be damaged with painkillers.
  • Calcification of heart valves may occur.
  • The maximum heart rate may not reach the level as that in the young age in response to exercise.
  • About one-third of the lung volume may be lost.
  • Aging slows the rate of fracture repair.
  • Skin may become atrophic (thin) and elasticity is reduced.
  • A person may not be able to read small print.
  • There may be impaired speech recognition in noisy environment.
  • There may be loss of taste and smell.
  • There may be high frequency hearing loss.
  • Immunity may be reduced.
  • With age, one is more prone to get urinary tract infection.
  • With age, ejaculation may get impaired.

Music as a Drug

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Our body is the largest pharmaceutical group in the world and has the capacity to heal each and every disease. The very fact that there is a receptor for every drug in the body means that the body has the capacity to produce that drug. Music is one such modality, which can heal by initiating various chains of chemical reactions in the body.

  • Chanting vowels produces interleukin-2 in the body, which works like a painkiller.
  • Chanting nasal consonants produces tranquilizers in the body.
  • Sounds like LUM are associated with fear, VUM with attachments, RUM with doubt, YUM with love, HUM with truthfulness and AUM with non-judgment.
  • Various chemicals can be produced in the body by chanting of various vowels and consonants.
  • Nasal consonants are vibrant sounds and produce vibrations of the autonomic plexus causing balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic states. More the nasal consonants in music, the more will be its relaxing healing power.
  • Listening to overtone chanting in music can also heal people in the vicinity of the music.
  • Recitation of music can also increase or decrease respiratory rate of the singer. Lyrics which reduce respiratory rate will lead to parasympathetic healing activity. The respiratory rate of a listener too can increase and decrease if he is absorbed in the song.
  • Listening to a song word by word and by understanding its meaning can also change the biochemistry of the listener. A song can create excitement or a feeling of depression.
  • A song can also work like intent by speaking in the form of prayers. Group prayers can have powerful effects and convert intent into reality through the concept of spontaneous fulfilment of desire.
  • Music is often linked with dance, both classical and western, which provides additional healing.
  • Gestures, mudras, bhavs and emotions associated with songs produce parasympathetic state in both the singer and the listener.

Younger women with acute coronary syndromes may not have classic chest pain

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Younger women with an acute coronary syndrome are slightly less likely than men to present with the classic symptom of chest pain, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. As a result, they often fail to receive a correct diagnosis in the emergency department.

Nadia Khan and colleagues prospectively analyzed data from more than 1,000 ACS patients 55 years of age or younger– 30% of whom were women– participating in the GENESIS PRAXY study.

In these younger patients, women were less likely to have chest pain than men (19% of women presented without chest pain versus 13.7% for men, p = 0.03).

Women were also more likely than men to have a non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (37.5% vs 30.7%; p = 0.03).

Upon multivariate analysis, women and patients with tachycardia were less likely to have chest pain. The absence of chest pain did not herald any change in the type or severity of the ACS.

Diagnosis of any disease with a lower prevalence but higher mortality, such as coronary artery disease in younger women, is more challenging.

Public health messages should “target both men and women regarding ACS symptom presentation with or without chest pain so as to encourage earlier and more widespread access to appropriate and lifesaving care.”

Spiritual Prescription: Who am I? – Know Your Soul Profile

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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“I am not my physical body, as I know, once my body dies, nobody wants to touch it.” (Adi Shankaracharya in the Bhaja Govindam)

“I am not my mind as I know whenever I am in trouble; the mind asks the heart for help” (Deepak Chopra in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success).

“I am my consciousness which is residing in the core of my heart” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 5.8).

“This consciousness is nothing but a web of energized information situated in the void” (Chandogya Upanishad Chapter XII — the Birth of the Gross from the Subtle).

“The consciousness is timeless, has no beginning, no end, weapons cannot cut it, air cannot dry it, water cannot wet it and fire cannot burn it” (Bhagavad Gita 2.23, 24).

Each one of us has a physical profile (as defined by our height, complexion, collar number, waist size, etc.) and has a mental or ego profile. A few examples of ego profile: my bank balance, car, job designation, locality of residence, size of house, contacts, power, clothes, etc.

Similarly, each one of us also has a soul profile. We should give sometime to ourselves for knowing our soul profile and revisit it at least once in a week.

According to Deepak Chopra, to know the soul profile, an individual should ask 7 questions to his/her consciousness while sitting in a meditative pose or in state of relaxation. The answer to each question should be either in three words or three phrases.

  1. What is my purpose of life?
  2. What is my contribution going to be for my friends and family?
  3. Three instances in my life when I had my peak experiences.
  4. Names of three people who inspire me the most.
  5. Three qualities which I admire in others the most.
  6. Three of my unique talents.
  7. Three qualities I best express in my relationship.

These 21 answers will characterize your soul profile or will be your passport for every action you perform in your life.

In day-to-day life, one should act from the soul profile and not from the ego profile. Soul profile cannot be manipulated while the ego profile can be.

There are only three ways of improving one’s soul profile and these are:

  • The choices one makes should be soul profile-oriented and not ego profile-oriented. Whenever there is an opportunity for an action, ask the head for choices, then ask the heart to choose one, and finally order the hand to take action. A soul-based action is the one which is based on the truth, is necessary, and which makes the person and the people around him or her, both happy.
  • Total clarity of vision of “What do I want” and also “What I don’t want”.
  • Learn to enter into discontinuity of thought processes using “beej mantra” or doing primordial sound meditation 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.

These can also be equated to the eight limbs of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, where the “choices I make” represents Yama and Niyama, “what do I want” represents Dharma and the “entering into discontinuity” represents Dhyana and Samadhi.

Heart risks detected by age 7 in overweight kids

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Children at risk of future obesity should be examined for body mass index rebound.

BMI rebound is the age at which body mass index (BMI) reaches its lowest point before increasing through later childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

An earlier BMI rebound age is associated with adverse risk factors for heart disease as measured at age 7: higher BMI, higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures, higher serum insulin and leptin levels, higher left ventricular mass and left atrial size.

Early BMI rebound age for children is lower than 4.4 years for boys and 4.2 years for girls. Normal values are 4.4 to 6.6 years for boys and 4.2 to 5.7 years for girls.

All children who start gaining weight between 3 and 4 years should be classified as high-risk for future diabetes and heart disease.

Desire, Hatred and Ignorance

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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According to Buddhism, the three negative emotions that cause a disease are ignorance, hatred and desire and accordingly physical sickness is classified into three main types:

  • Disorders of desire (Ayurvedic equivalent of Vata imbalance): These are due to disharmony of the wind or energy. The seed of these disorders is located in the lower part of the body. It has cold preferences and is affected by mental desires. In this, the person mainly suffers from the disorders of movement functions.
  • Disorders of hatred (Ayurveda equivalent of Pitta imbalance): It is due to disharmony of the bile. The seed of these disorders is centered in the middle and upper part of the body and is caused by the mental emotion of hate. The person suffers from metabolic and digestive abnormalities.
  • Disorders of ignorance (Ayurveda equivalent of Kapha imbalance): It is due to the disharmony of phlegm, the seed of which is generally centered in the chest or in the head and the disorder is cold in nature. It is caused by the mental emotion of ignorance.

Desire, hatred and ignorance are the main negativities mentioned in Buddha’s philosophy. They are all produced in the mind, and once produced, they behave like a slow poison.

The Udanavarga once said, “From iron appears rust, and rust eats the iron”. Likewise, the careless actions (karma) that we perform lead us to hellish lives.

According to the other scriptures, six afflictions are most troublesome, namely ignorance, hatred, desire, miserliness, jealousy and arrogance. Patience is the most potent virtue a person can acquire. According to the Shanti Deva, “There is no evil like hatred, and there is no marriage like patience. Therefore, dedicate your life to the practice of patience.”

Bhagvad Gita classifies the enemies as Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha and Ahankara; and out of them Kama, Lobha and Ahankara, are the three gateways to hell.

Tips to prevent Dengue and Malaria

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  • Both malaria and dengue mosquitoes bite during day time.
  • It is the female mosquito which bites.
  • Dengue mosquito takes three meals in a day while malaria mosquito takes one meal in three days.
  • Malaria may infect only one person in the family but dengue will invariably infect multiple members in the family in the same day.
  • Malaria fever often presents with chills and rigors. Suspect chikungunya if the fever presents together with joint and muscle pains.
  • Both dengue and malaria mosquitoes grow in fresh water collected in the house.
  • The filaria mosquito grows in dirty water.
  • There should be no collections of water inside the house for more than a week.
  • Mosquito cycle takes 7-12 days to complete. So, if any utensil or container that stores water is scrubbed cleaned properly once in a week, there are no chances of mosquito breeding.
  • Mosquitoes can lay eggs in flower pots or in water tanks on the terrace if they are not properly covered.
  • If the water pots for birds kept on terraces are not cleaned every week, then mosquitoes can lay eggs in them.
  • Some mosquitoes can lay eggs in broken tires, broken glasses or any container where water can stay for a week.
  • Using mosquito nets/repellents in the night may not prevent malaria and dengue because these mosquitoes bite during the day time.
  • Wearing full sleeves shirt and trousers can prevent mosquito bites.
  • Mosquito repellent can be of help.
  • If you suspect that you have a fever, which can be malaria or dengue, immediately report to the doctor.
  • There are no vaccines for malaria and dengue.

The Scientific Aspects of Prayer

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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It is natural for us to promise or offer to pray for someone who suffers from sickness. So many people believe in the power of prayer that it has now caught the attention of scientists and doctors. Today most hospitals and nursing homes are building prayer rooms for their patients, based on the principle that a relaxed mind is a creative mind. During prayer, a person is in touch with the consciousness, and is able to take correct decisions. Most doctors even write on their prescription “I treat He cures”.

Medically it has been proved that the subconscious mind of an unconscious person is listening. Any prayer therefore would be captured by the patient, building inner confidence and faith to fight terminal sickness. We have seen the classical example of the effect of mass prayer on a person’s health in the case of Amitabh Bachchan’s illness.

“Praying for health is one of the most common complementary treatments people do on their own,” said Dr Harold G Koenig, co-director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center.

About 90% of Americans and almost 100% Indians pray at some point in their lives, and when they’re under stress, such as when they’re sick, they’re even more likely to pray.

More than one-third of the people surveyed in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine said they often turned to prayer when faced with medical concerns. In a poll involving more than 2,000 Americans, 75% of those who prayed said they prayed for wellness, while 22% said they prayed for specific medical conditions.

Numerous random studies have been conducted on this subject. In one such study, neither the patients nor the healthcare providers had any idea who was being prayed for. The coronary-care unit patients didn’t even know there was a study being conducted. And, those praying for the patients had never even met them. The result: While those in the prayer group had about the same length of hospital stay, their overall health was slightly better than the group that didn’t receive special prayers.

“Prayer may be an effective adjunct to standard medical care,” wrote the authors of this 1999 study, also published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. However, a trial from the April 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal suggests that it’s even possible for some harm to come from prayer. In this study, which included 1,800 people scheduled for heart surgery, the group who knew they were receiving prayers developed more complications from the procedure, compared to those who had not been a focus of prayer.

Many patients are reluctant and do not discuss this subject with their doctors. Only 11% patients mention prayer to their doctors. But doctors are more open to the subject than the patients realize, particularly in serious medical situations. In a study of doctors’ attitudes toward prayer and spiritual behavior, almost 85% of the doctors thought they should be aware of their patients’ spiritual beliefs. Most doctors said they wouldn’t pray with their patients even if they were dying, unless the patient specifically asked the doctor to pray with them. In that case, 77% of the doctors were willing to pray for their patient.

Most people are convinced that prayer helps. Some people are ‘foxhole religious’ types and prayer is almost a reaction or cry to the Universe for help. However, many people do it because they’ve experienced benefit from it in the past.

If a patient wants to pray and feels it might be helpful, there’s no reason he should not. If he believes that prayer might work, then he should use it.

Diet and Aging: Gaining a Nutritional Edge

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Choose fruits and vegetables wisely

  • Get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
  • When filling your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose from a full color palette.
  • For even more health benefits, aim for nine servings a day. To get there, choose vegetable soups and vegetable or fruit salads. Sprinkle fruit on breakfast cereal, and select it for snacks or as a sweet end note after meals.

Choose fats wisely

  • Whenever possible, use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Avoid trans fats entirely. Limit saturated fats to less than 7% of daily calories and total fat to 20% to 30% of daily calories.
  • If you don’t have coronary artery disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, or mackerel, twice weekly. If you have documented coronary artery disease (CAD), consume roughly 1 g a day of EPA or DHA from oily fish and supplements if your doctor advises this.

Choose carbohydrates wisely

  • Choose whole-grain foods over those made with refined grains, such as white bread. Look beyond popular choices like whole oats and brown rice to lesser-known whole grains like barley, bulgur, kasha and quinoa. Limit your intake of white potatoes.

Choosing protein wisely

  • Emphasize plant sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and grains, to help you bypass unhealthy fats predominant in animal sources. Enjoying a wide variety of vegetables and eating beans and grains helps you get a full complement of amino acids over the course of a week. Shy away from protein sources high in saturated fat. Favor fish and well-trimmed poultry. If you do eat beef, pick lean cuts.
  • Don’t char or overcook meat, poultry, or fish — it causes a build-up of carcinogens. Cutting off fat, which causes flames to flare on the grill, can help avoid charring; try gently sautéing, steaming, or braising these foods in liquid instead. Grilling vegetables is safe, however.

Merits & Demerits of Focused Living

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In the epic Mahabharata, Yudhishthir symbolizes a person who has learnt the art of being in balance in loss and gain and the one who practices righteous living. Arjuna symbolizes the quality to focus and the quality to see only the eyes of a fish when focusing on the fish. Bheema symbolizes the power to fight the evil. Sahdev stands for the quality of helping others and Nakul symbolizes how to remain neutral in any circumstances.

The weakness of Yudhishthir was lust (gambling); of Arjuna was losing focus due to any doubt and of Bheema (Bal), to get instigated on small things.

A person who is too focused can easily get diverted by any doubt. This is what happened to Arjuna when the Kurukshetra war started. He was focused completely before and after the Bhagvad Gita.

Bhagvad Gita is a dialogue between Arjuna and Lord Krishna, which was delivered when Arjuna was overpowered by doubts in his mind whether he should fight or not? Was he justified in fighting with his own people?

Once the doubts were removed by Lord Krishna using the principles of cognitive behavior therapy (as it can be termed today), he regained his focus.

In Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna represents consciousness, therefore in any doubt one should redirect it to the heart/consciousness to take the right decision.

Natural fast food is good for health

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Natural fast food includes fruits, vegetables, milk products, sprouts and sattu. On the contrary, unnatural fast food, also called as junk food, is bad for heart health as it includes items like refined ‘bad’ carbohydrates and either animal ‘bad’ fat or trans fats.

Sattu is a grounded roasted powder of soaked pulses and cereals. It is consumed along with fruit slices, gur or milk. Green chili, lemon juice and salt can be added to add flavor.

The commonest form of sattu is grounded roasted black gram or chana. Other common variety is grounded roasted black gram with barley.

Originally, sattu was made of seven Anaja (7 cereals, millets and pulses). The seven ingredients are maize and barley (cereals), black gram, pigeon gram or Arhar, green pea, kesari daal, kulath daal (pulses).

Sattu is a high fiber diet with low sugar producing properties. It is a cooling and refreshing fast food with anti-diabetic and anti-obesity properties.

It is a full breakfast, mid-day or lunch meal and has minerals and vitamins. It is both an energy drink and energy food. So called energy drinks available in the market are harmful as they contain three times the caffeine content of coffee or tea.

Sattu drink can be made sweet by adding gur or honey, sour by adding lemon, and salted by adding black or rock salt.

Roasting is one of the best forms of cooking.

Sattu is both a fast food and a summer soft drink, but healthy.

Why do We Worship the Tulsi Plant?

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Yanmule sarvatirhaani

Yannagre sarvadevataa

Yanmadhye sarvavedaascha

Tulasi taam namaamyaham

“I bow to the Tulsi, At whose base are all the holy places, At whose top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the Vedas.”

The Tulsi or Sacred Basil is one of the most sacred plants. There is a saying in Sanskrit: “Tulanaa naasti athaiva tulsi” meaning that which is incomparable in its qualities is the tulsi. It is the only pooja samagri which can be washed and reused.

Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary wealth. The scales did not balance until a last single tulsi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion. Thus, tulsi played the vital role of demonstrating that even a small object offered with devotion is of greater value than all the wealth in the world.

The Tulsi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various ailments, including the common cold. Tulsi seeds are good for male infertility and increase the viscosity of semen and sperm counts. It has detoxifying properties and is used in fasts including the Satyanarayana Katha where a thousand tulsi leaves are added to the water for pooja, and which is consumed later by everybody.

Tulsi also symbolizes Goddess Lakshmi. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulsi. Tulsi is ‘married’ to Lord Vishnu with pomp and show like any other wedding. This ‘marriage’ is solemnized because according to a legend, the Lord blessed her to be His consort. Tulsi is worshipped in the months of Magh and Kartik. Tulsi vivah is observed in the month of Kartik and is the symbolic marriage of Lord Vishnu in the form of a shaligram (sacred stone) and Tulsi. It indicates the importance of Tulsi for fertility. Tulsi pooja is an important component of any marriage.

Poor hygiene habits may lead to typhoid

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi and is transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink 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 all through the year, the number is higher during the summer and rainy seasons.

Symptoms usually develop 1 to 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.

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

Good sanitation and hygiene are critical measures to prevent typhoid.

  • Typhoid does not affect animals and therefore transmission occurs 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 hand washing are crucial to prevent 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 may persist for three weeks to a month.
  • Resistance to common antibiotics is now common.
  • Typhoid that is resistant to common antibiotics is known as multidrug-resistant typhoid (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 three years is the best preventive approach.