Asthma also called bronchial asthma, is a disease that affects the small airways of your lungs characterized by airflow obstruction that varies markedly both spontaneously and with treatment. Asthmatics harbor a special type of inflammation in the airways that make them more responsive than non-asthmatics to a wide range of triggers, leading to excessive narrowing and consequently reduced airflow and symptomatic wheezing and difficulty in breathing. This narrowing is usually reversible. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma to reduce and prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes or exacerbations.
HOW COMMON IS THIS CONDITION?
It is one of the most common chronic diseases with rising prevalence in developing countries with increased urbanization.
HOW DOES IT PRESENT ITSELF?
Asthma can present at any age, with a peak age of 3 years.
Those with mild asthma rarely progress to more severe disease, whereas those with severe asthma usually have the severe disease at onset.
Typical symptoms are wheeze, nighttime or early morning cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
The extent of narrowing and how long it lasts, vary greatly.
WHAT IS AN ASTHMA ATTACK?
During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell, and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucus your body produces clogs up the airways. The attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Some people call an asthma attack an “episode.”
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS AND TRIGGERS?
The disease is interplay between genetic and environmental factors.
Patients with asthma generally suffer from other atopic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis, and eczema. Atopy is a genetically determined production of specific IgE antibodies, with many patients showing a family history of allergic diseases.
Viral infections are common triggers of asthma exacerbation
Diets low in antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, magnesium, selenium, omega 3 fats, Vitamin D deficiency are associated with an increased risk of asthma
Air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, diesel particulates may trigger
Smoking and cigarette fumes
Allergens- house dust mites, pollens, fungal spores, cockroaches
Occupational exposure to many chemicals- where symptoms typically improve during weekends and holidays
Obesity-asthma occurs more frequently in obese people and is more difficult to control
Cold air, exercise, stress could be triggers
Hormones: Premenstrual worsening of asthma which can occasionally be very severe, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism both can worsen asthma
HOW IS ASTHMA DIAGNOSED?
The healthcare provider takes a detailed medical history, and will ask you questions about whether you cough a lot, especially at night, and whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or during a particular time of year. They will also ask about other symptoms such as
Chest tightness, wheezing, and colds that last more than 10 days. They will ask you whether your family members have or have had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems, and they will ask you questions about your home. They will also ask you about missing school or work and about any trouble you may have doing certain activities.
Two commonly used tests are spirometry and assessment with a peak flow meter
Spirometry measures the largest amount of air you can exhale or breathe out using a spirometer. An improvement in the value after treatment to open up the airways is typical of asthma
TREATMENT OF ASTHMA
Aim of asthma therapy:
Minimal or no chronic symptoms
Minimal or no use of B2 agonist inhaler
No limitations on activities including exercise
Minimal or no adverse effects from medicine
The best way to manage asthma is to avoid triggers, take medications to prevent symptoms, and prepare to treat asthma episodes if they occur.
1. Quick relief: Drugs that relax the airway muscles and relieve symptoms rapidly- are termed bronchodilators. This is either as an inhaler or a rotahaler.
2. Long term control: Drugs that inhibit the underlying inflammatory process- termed Controllers help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they don’t help if you’re having an asthma attack
3. Biologic therapies are used for severe asthma when symptoms persist despite proper inhaler therapy
You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer, or another type of asthma inhaler or may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE A SEVERE ASTHMA ATTACK?
If you have a severe asthma attack, you need to get immediate medical care.
The first thing you should do is use your rescue inhaler. A rescue inhaler uses fast-acting medicines to open up your airways. It’s different from a maintenance inhaler, which you use every day. You should use the rescue inhaler when symptoms are bothering you and you can use it more frequently if your flare is severe.
If your rescue inhaler doesn’t help or you don’t have it with you, go to the emergency department if you have:
Anxiety or panic.
Bluish fingernails, bluish lips (in light-skinned people), or grey or whitish lips or gums (in dark-skinned people).
Chest pain or pressure.
Coughing that won’t stop or severe wheezing when you breathe.
Pale, sweaty face.
What should I know about covid-19 and asthma?
If you have moderate-to-severe asthma, or if your asthma symptoms aren’t well controlled, you’re at greater risk of being hospitalized if you get covid-19.
Therefore, you should wear a mask if you go to indoor spaces with other people, get vaccinated, and avoid exposure to people who have the virus. Many people live fulfilling lives with asthma. Some professional athletes with asthma have set records in their sports. Your doctor can help you find the best way to manage your asthma. Yoga and breathing exercises are important alternative treatments of asthma.
The author is Founder and Chief Laparoscopic Surgeon, Infertility Specialist, and Uro-Gynaecologist, Altius Hospital, Bengaluru.
For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.
Punjab populace more hypertensive than the nation: NFHS Survey
When the national average is 25.3% in terms of hypertension prevalence, Punjab is shooting up at 35.7%. As per National Family Health Survey that was conducted in 2020-2021, it is clear that Punjab is the only state where the populace is more prone to hypertension than any other state in India. All thanks to trans fat and the lifestyle of Punjabis makes them easy victims of cardiovascular diseases.
The Daily Guardian spoke to the Community Medicine Professor Dr Sonu Goel on this. Dr Goel exhorted that it has been concluded in many surveys including the NFHS survey that trans fat is an invariable component of industrial fat and one of the major dietary factors associated with cardiovascular disease mortality, increasing the risk of heart disease by 21% and deaths by 28%. Many in the early age group of 35 to 50 years in Punjab have become victims of uncontrolled high blood pressure, says Dr Goel.
“It’s being seen in people with a family history of premature chronic heart disease or stroke and a raised triglyceride level. Besides this, modifiable risk factors include unhealthy diets, excessive salt consumption, a diet high in saturated fats and trans fats, and low intake of fruits and vegetables,” says Dr Goel.
“Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the most found cause of disease burden. In recent years, the rising burden of cardiovascular diseases and high disease severity has been one of the significant threats in low-income and middle-income countries compared with high-income countries. People who are young believe in the myth that heart attacks can occur only in old age. They should wake up and adopt a healthy lifestyle at the earliest. One should give at least one hour to physical activity and make sure not to ignore the body’s signals,” he adds.
There has been an increase in the rate of coronary artery disease (CAD) in India in the last three decades.
A study published by the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research in 2016 states that Indians have three, six, and twenty times greater risk of hypertension than Americans, Chinese, and Japanese populations respectively. “It is a matter of concern and there is a requirement to identify the factors responsible for its increasing prevalence, concludes Dr Goel.
Punjab is the only state where the populace is more prone to hypertension than any other state in India.
HOW TO KEEP CHILDREN SAFE AMID RISING TEMPERATURE AND HEAT WAVE
Here are some tips to beat the heat that parents can try to ensure their child’s health and well being.
The country is experiencing a heatwave with temperatures in many parts of India above 46 degrees Celsius, resulting in states issuing orange alerts. High temperatures and extreme heat can cause children to become sick very quickly.
What is heat-related illness?
Heat-related illness occurs when the body severely overheats. This can occur when a child is exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time and the body’s ability to cope with the heat wears out. The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. The signs and symptoms are as follows:
Heat Cramps: Edema (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39°C i.e.102°F.
Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
Heat Stoke: Body temperatures of 40°C i.e. 104°F or more along with delirium, seizures or coma. This is a potential fatal condition. Heat stroke can lead to damage of a child’s brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.
During summer months, research shows that children may be more likely to visit the emergency department not only for heat-related illness, but also for bacterial intestinal infections, ear infections, nervous system diseases, or for any reason.
Exposure to extreme heat may also make it more difficult for students to do well in school.
Children at increased risk of heat- related illnesses
Anyone can develop heat-related illness, but some children may be at higher risk than others. Infants and young children, especially with chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes; Obese children; children on medications that can make it harder to cope with heat and Children living in urban slums.
Some useful tips to protect the children from heat-related illness and hazards are:
• Encourage children to drink water frequently and have it readily available—even before they ask for it.
• Dress children in clothing that is light-coloured, lightweight, and limited to one layer of absorbent material that will maximise the evaporation of sweat.
• Provide extra rest time to children.
• Keep the surroundings cool and when child is feeling hot, give him or her a bath or sponge the body with water to cool down.
• Never leave child in a car: The inside of a car can become dangerously hot in just a short amount of time, even with the windows open.
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India has asked all states and union territories to review their health facility preparedness for the availability of all essential medicines and equipment amid the rising temperature and heatwave in several parts of the country. States have been advised to continue efforts on sensitisation and capacity building of medical officers, health staff and grassroots level workers on heat illness, its early recognition and management.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India advises following measures to minimise the impact during the heat wave and to prevent serious ailment or death because of heat stroke:
§ Avoid going out in the sun, especially between 12.00 noon and 3.00 p.m.
§ Drink sufficient water and as often as possible, even if not thirsty
§ Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, and porous cotton clothes. Use protective goggles, umbrella/hat, shoes or chappals while going out in sun.
§ Avoid strenuous activities when the outside temperature is high. Avoid working outside between 12 noon and 3 p.m.
§ While travelling, carry water with you.
§ Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks, which dehydrates the body.
§ Avoid high-protein food and do not eat stale food.
§ If you work outside, use a hat or an umbrella and also use a damp cloth on your head, neck, face and limbs
§ Do not leave children or pets in parked vehicles
§ If you feel faint or ill, see a doctor immediately.
§ Use ORS, homemade drinks like lassi, torani (rice water), lemon water, buttermilk, etc. which helps to re-hydrate the body.
§ Keep animals in shade and give them plenty of water to drink.
§ Keep your home cool, use curtains, shutters or sunshade and open windows at night.
§ Use fans, damp clothing and take bath in cold water frequently.
Parents are advised to be vigilant and aware on protective measures during heat wave. They should immediately seek medical care if child develops symptoms like extreme tiredness, feeling faint, intense thirst, vomiting, headache, fever, fast breathing, muscle aches or spasms.
The writer is a Senior Consultant Health, Save the Children.
Better mobility in frail older people linked to regular exercise with dietary advice
A programme of regular exercise along with expert dietary advice is linked to a reduction in mobility problems among frail older people living in the community, finds a trial.
The findings were published in The BMJ. The combination of aerobic (walking), strength, flexibility, and balance exercises alongside personalised nutritional counselling reduced mobility disability by 22 per cent over three years.
US and EU data indicate that about 13 per cent of adults aged 70 years and older living in the community have mobility disability, which is linked to poor quality of life, admission to hospital or residential care, and death, as well as greater healthcare costs.
It is therefore important to find safe and effective ways to preserve mobility in older people at risk of further decline.
So researchers designed the SPRINTT trial to find out whether a combined intervention of physical activity with technological support and nutritional counselling prevents mobility disability in frail older adults compared with education on healthy ageing.
Their findings are based on 1,519 men and women (average age 79 years) with physical frailty and sarcopenia (a combination of reduced physical function and low muscle mass) recruited from 16 clinical sites across 11 European countries between 2016 and 2019.
Physical frailty and sarcopenia was defined as having a physical performance battery (SPPB) score of 3 to 9 points (score range 0 to 12, with lower scores indicating poorer physical function) and low levels of muscle mass, but able to independently walk 400 metres in 15 minutes.
In all, 760 participants were randomised to the intervention, 759 received education on healthy ageing (controls), and all were monitored for up to 36 months.
The intervention group received twice weekly moderate intensity physical activity sessions at a centre and up to four times weekly at home alongside personalised nutritional counselling. Activity was measured by an actimeter worn on the thigh.
Controls received education on healthy ageing once a month and a brief instructor led programme of upper body stretching exercises or relaxation techniques.
Among participants with SPPB scores of 3-7 at the start of the trial, mobility disability occurred in 47 per cent assigned to the intervention and 53 per cent controls.
Persistent mobility disability (inability to walk 400 m on two consecutive occasions) occurred in 21 per cent of intervention participants compared with 25 per cent of controls. SPPB scores increased more in the intervention group than in controls at both 24 months and 36 months (average differences of 0.8 and 1 point, respectively).
Women in the intervention group lost less muscle strength (0.9 kg at 24 months) and less muscle mass (0.24 kg and 0.49 kg at 24 months and 36 months, respectively) than control women, but no significant group differences were seen in men.
The risk of adverse events was, however, greater among intervention participants (56 per cent) than controls (50 per cent).
In a separate analysis of participants with better mobility (SPPB scores of 8 or 9 at the start of the trial), the intervention did not affect the risk of developing mobility disability and had marginal effects on physical performance.
The researchers acknowledge some limitations. For example, older adults with important cognitive deficits were not included, and almost all participants were white, so findings may not apply to other ethnic groups.
However, retention and adherence to interventions were high compared with other similar trials, and their use of validated tests in a geographically and culturally diverse group of frail older people across Europe, suggests that results are solid.
As such, they conclude that such an intervention “may be proposed as a strategy to preserve mobility in older people at risk of disability.”
This fresh evidence confirms the benefits of structured physical activity in community living older adults, says Thomas Gill at Yale School of Medicine in a linked editorial.
He acknowledges that translating even the best designed trial findings into clinical practice can be challenging, but says these findings, along with those from another large US trial (the LIFE Study), “provide compelling evidence that mobility in the community can be preserved among vulnerable older people through structured physical activity, with walking as the primary modality.”
He notes that the cost effectiveness of the LIFE programme “was found to be comparable to that of many commonly recommended medical treatments.”
Confirming these findings in SPRINTT “would further strengthen the case for developing, implementing, and supporting community based physical activity programmes to preserve independent mobility among vulnerable older people,” he concludes. (ANI)
50% of brain’s cells execute new functions
In a new study at Tufts University, researchers came across a previously unknown function performed by a cell type that contains almost half of all cells in the brain.
The findings of the research were published in the journal ‘Nature Neuroscience’. The scientists say this discovery in mice of a new function by cells known as astrocytes opens a whole new direction for neuroscience research that might one day lead to treatments for many disorders ranging from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s to traumatic brain injury.
It comes down to how astrocytes interact with neurons, which are fundamental cells of the brain and nervous system that receive input from the outside world. Through a complex set of electrical and chemical signaling, neurons transmit information between different areas of the brain and between the brain and the rest of the nervous system.
Until now, scientists believed astrocytes were important, but lesser cast members in this activity. Astrocytes guide the growth of axons, the long, slender projection of a neuron that conducts electrical impulses. They also control neurotransmitters, chemicals that enable the transfer of electrical signals throughout the brain and nervous system.
In addition, astrocytes build the blood-brain barrier and react to an injury. But they did not seem to be electrically active like the all-important neurons–until now. “The electrical activity of astrocytes changes how neurons function,” said Chris Dulla, associate professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
“We have discovered a new way that two of the most important cells in the brain talk to each other. Because there is so much unknown about how the brain works, discovering new fundamental processes that control brain function is key to developing novel treatments for neurological diseases.”
In addition to Dulla and lead author Moritz Armbruster, the study’s other authors include Saptarnab Naskar, Mary Sommer, Elliot Kim, and Philip G. Haydon from Tufts University School of Medicine; Jacqueline P. Garcia from the Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology program at Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; and researchers from other institutions.
To make the discovery, the team used brand new technology to devise a technique that enables them to see and study the electrical properties of brain cell interactions, which could not be observed previously.
“With these new tools, we’ve essentially uncovered completely novel aspects of biology,” said Armbruster, research assistant professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine.
“As better tools come along–for example, new fluorescent sensors are being developed constantly–we’ll get a better understanding of things we didn’t even think about before.”
“The new technology images electrical activity with light,” Dulla explained. “Neurons are very electrically active, and the new technology allows us to see that astrocytes are electrically active, as well.”
Dulla describes astrocytes as “making sure everything is copacetic in the brain, and if something goes wrong, if there’s an injury or viral infection, they detect it, try to respond, and then try to protect the brain from insult. What we want to do next is determine how astrocytes change when these insults happen.”
Neuron-to-neuron communication occurs through the release of packets of chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Scientists knew that Neuron-to-neuron communication helps to make sure that neurons stay healthy and active.
But the new study reveals that neurons also release potassium ions.
which change the electrical activity of the astrocyte and how it controls the neurotransmitters.
“So the neuron is controlling what the astrocyte is doing, and they are communicating back and forth.
HOW SLEEP HELPS IN PROCESSING EMOTIONS
Researchers at the Department of Neurology of the University of Bern and University Hospital Bern identified how the brain triages emotions during dream sleep to consolidate the storage of positive emotions while dampening the consolidation of negative ones.
The work expands the importance of sleep in mental health and opens new ways of therapeutic strategies. Their findings were published in the journal Science. Rapid eye movement (REM or paradoxical) sleep is a unique and mysterious sleep state during which most of the dreams occur together with intense emotional content. How and why these emotions are reactivated is unclear. The prefrontal cortex integrates many of these emotions during wakefulness but appears paradoxically quiescent during REM sleep. “Our goal was to understand the underlying mechanism and the functions of such a surprising phenomenon”, says Prof. Antoine Adamantidis from the Department of Biomedical Research (DBMR) at the University of Bern and the Department of Neurology at the Inselspital, University Hospital of Bern.
Processing emotions, particularly distinguishing between danger and safety, is critical for the survival of animals. In humans, excessively negative emotions, such as fear reactions and states of anxiety, lead to pathological states like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). In Europe, roughly 15 percent of the population is affected by persistent anxiety and severe mental illness. The research group headed by Antoine Adamantidis is now providing insights into how the brain helps to reinforce positive emotions and weaken strongly negative or traumatic emotions during REM sleep. This study was published in the journal Science.
A DUAL MECHANISM
The researchers first conditioned mice to recognize auditory stimuli associated with safety and others associated with danger (aversive stimuli). The activity of neurons in the brain of mice was then recorded during sleep-wake cycles. In this way, the researchers were able to map different areas of a cell and determine how emotional memories are transformed during REM sleep.
Neurons are composed of a cell body (soma) that integrates information coming from the dendrites (inputs) and send signals to other neurons via their axons (outputs). The results obtained showed that cell somas are kept silent while their dendrites are activated. “This means a decoupling of the two cellular compartments, in other words, soma wide asleep and dendrites wide awake”, explains Adamantidis. This decoupling is important because the strong activity of the dendrites allows the encoding of both danger and safety emotions, while the inhibitions of the soma completely block the output of the circuit during REM sleep. In other words, the brain favours the discrimination of safety versus danger in the dendrites, but blocks the over-reaction to emotion, in particular danger.
A SURVIVAL ADVANTAGE
According to the researchers, the coexistence of both mechanisms is beneficial to the stability and survival of the organisms: “This bi-directional mechanism is essential to optimize the discrimination between dangerous and safe signals”, says Mattia Aime from the DBMR, first author of the study. If this discrimination is missing in humans and excessive fear reactions are generated, this can lead to anxiety disorders. The findings are particularly relevant to pathological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorders, in which trauma is over-consolidated in the prefrontal cortex, day after day during sleep.
BREAKTHROUGH FOR SLEEP MEDICINE
These findings pave the way to a better understanding of the processing of emotions during sleep in humans and open new perspectives for therapeutic targets to treat maladaptive processing of traumatic memories, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and their early sleep-dependent consolidation. Additional acute or chronic mental health issues that may implicate this somatodendritic decoupling during sleep include acute and chronic stress, anxiety, depression, panic, or even anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure. Sleep research and sleep medicine have long been a research focus of the University of Bern and the Inselspital, Bern University Hospital. “We hope that our findings will not only be of interest to the patients but also to the broad public”, says Adamantidis.
The work expands the importance of sleep in mental health and opens new ways of therapeutic strategies.
ABHA WILL ENHANCE DIGITAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IN THE COUNTRY
The health insurance sector in India is expecting a growth at a rate of 10.1% in the years between 2021 and 2027. Distribution and affordability are two keywords to get a large number of people insured, said experts.
Introducing the challenges and the need for new policies in health insurance in India, a conference on ‘Health Insurance 2042- Let us Plan for Ambitious Target for 2042’ was organised in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The conference organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) highlighted the need to boost the digital healthcare system in the country.
Speaking about the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), Dr. Malti Jaswal, a Senior Consultant, World Bank and Advisor with the National Health Authority, said, “ABDM plans to create a healthcare infrastructure that will bridge the existing gap amongst different stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem through digital highways.” A health id for all Indian citizens-ABHA (Ayushman Bharat Health Account) will help maintain personal health records digitally and easily accessible.
The Ayushman Bharat scheme has also been able to cover the bottom 50% and several voluntary schemes cover almost 20%. The government must focus on the remaining 30%. Pradeep Multani, President, PHDCCI, said, “The health insurance sector has undergone a lot of change in the last two years of the pandemic, with people realising its importance.” He also focussed on the need for customising products as per the customers.
Also, while discussing the growth of digital healthcare, Dr. Harsh Mahajan, Chair, Hospital & Diagnostics Committee, PHDCCI and Founder & Chief Radiologist, said, “The digital healthcare market, valued at $116 billion in the year 2018 is expected to touch $485 billion by the year 2024, a growth of 3.5 times. The spurt in growth is primarily due to the pandemic, which accelerated the diagnostics sector to grow at a rate of 20.5 percent. It is valued at $32 billion now, up from just $5 billion in the year 2012.”
Mr. S K Sethi, Co-Chair, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) Committee, PHDCCI & Founder & CEO, Insurance Foundation of India, stated that from Rs 690 crore in 2001 to Rs 73,300 crores in 2022, the sector has grown approximately 106 times. He stated that blockchain technology would help in eliminating the fraud taking place in the insurance sector
Although the pandemic taught us the significance of mental health, health insurance policies exclude the challenges of mental health. According to Deepak Singh, CEO and Co-founder of Tatsam, insurance companies have developed plans but, except for psychiatrists, have yet to recognise counselors and therapists. Most people have often faced a treatment gap while claiming their insurance. Dr. Steward Doss, Professor, National Insurance Academy, Pune, stated that there is a significant treatment gap in India. A lot of these issues can be resolved with insurance cover.
The knowledge paper on Health Insurance 2042 was also released at the event. Other members who participated in the event were Kanya Saraswathy C, Head Commercial and Reinsurance Practice, Insurance Advisory Group & Lead – US West Accounts, BFSI, Tata Consultancy Services Limited, Ashish Agrawal, Co-Chair, BFSI Committee, PHDCCI, Ravi Bhati During the seminar, Teena Jain Kaushal, Senior Editor of Business Today, and so on.
Opinion2 years ago
South Block’s mistakes will now be corrected by Army
Sports2 years ago
When a bodybuilder breaks Shoaib’s record
News2 years ago
PM Modi must take governance back from babus
Spiritually Speaking2 years ago
Spiritual beings having a human experience
News2 years ago
Chinese general ordered attack on Indian troops: US intel report
Legally Speaking2 years ago
Law relating to grant, rejection and cancellation of bail
Sports2 years ago
West Indies avoid follow-on, England increase lead to 219
Royally Speaking2 years ago
The young royal dedicated to the heritage of Jaipur