As vital as the spine is for the body, problems occuring due to the sedentary lifestyle in lockdown have amplified manifold in the ongoing pandemic, says a spine expert.
According to Dr Samir Salvie - Consultant Orthopedic and Spine Surgeon, P. D. Hinduja Hospital and MRC, a complete change in routine activity in the early days lead to many chronic sufferers worsening their pain, as they were used to a certain activity level.
"Work from home has caused another pandemic, that of back and neck pain. Poor ergonomics and sitting on laptops all day has resulted in back issues for many professionals. Those who were used to such work had to sit in bad postures, and teachers and students had to get used to a totally new normal of sitting for hours staring at a screen. Additional house work due to lack of maids and helpers was another factor. Stress, fear and anxiety also led to increased focus on back pain, and worsening clinical conditions," he told IANSlife.
Why the spine is important?
The spine is one of the vital structures in the body. It is a complex, yet wonderful mechanism, which allows us to stand, sit, lie down, bend and indeed take up many postures. It bears the weight of the body day in and day out. And yet, it has the even more crucial function of protecting the spinal cord and the nerves which go to all parts of the body.
Humans have developed the ability to stand erect and be on two feet as opposed to animals, and this simple act of evolution has led to extreme strain on this wonderful organ. What lends great support to the spine is the musculature of the back and abdomen, and this supports and moves the spine, sharing the loads and demands in varying degrees.
Why Spines are strained?
Further development in social and economic structure has lead to newer stresses on the spine. Nature did not mean for humans to sit in one place for hours on end, or indeed, stand. Nor did it really account for heavy labour of the industrial age, with construction and factory work. Least of all it did not factor in dietary fads and lack of activity leading to obesity and poor muscle strength, says Dr Salvie.
And hence back pain and back problems have become universal. Backache is one of the most common occupational disorders and comes second as a cause to taking a day off from work, causing a huge economic burden in addition to human suffering.
Preventing back pain
As in any disease, prevention is better than cure. If one has taken care of their back, any additional stress is less likely to cause a worsening. The spine is like a complex machine, and hence has to be cared for as you would if you possessed a very expensive object. As has been mentioned, the main support for the spine comes from the muscles of the back and abdomen. It is essential to keep these supple and strong. And this is accomplished with a proper exercise program. Even half an hour of stretching and strengthening exercise per day for back and neck will do wonders. These exercises are easily available on the internet, or in fact our ancient tradition of Yoga incorporates many of these useful postures.
Care of posture and good work habits is equally important. Sedentary workers must make sure that their sitting position and computers are properly placed. They need periodic breaks and stretches. Heavy laborers should use ergonomic methods of lifting and assist tools. Attention to pillows and mattresses is equally important. Bone health and nutrition should be looked after. Adequate calcium, Vitamins D and B12, proteins, all support strong bones, leading to reduced musculoskeletal problems. Finally, obesity is a major trigger for back pain, and controlling one's weight would have a great positive impact.
Back pain remedies
Once you have back pain, it may be better to seek help from a local doctor. Depending on severity and duration, you may be prescribed medications, local ointments, fomentation and rest. The good news is that almost all back pains do tend to get better. A rehabilitative exercise programme and attention to correction of poor work habits will add to the recovery and prevent recurrence.
The word 'Spine Surgery' sparks great fear. However less than 1 percent of people with back pain require surgery. And if the time does come where surgery is the best option, newer techniques like keyhole and micro-surgery, and hi-tech equipment and infrastructure has made the these surgeries extremely safe, allowing patients to lead active and fruitful lives, the expert explains. (Siddhi Jain)
London - New research adds to the growing body of evidence that effective or proper indoor ventilation may be a key factor in preventing the spread of Covid-19 virus.
The study, published in the journal Environment International, found that SARS-CoV-2 is rather moderately infectious and a person would need to remain in a poorly ventilated room for a considerable amount of time to receive an infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2.
"Multiple studies provided quickly strong scientific evidence for successful indoor airborne transmission of Covid-19 in inadequately ventilated environments," said study author Jarek Kurnitski from Estonian Research Council in Estonia.
"The virus is transmitted via saliva droplets with a size from 0.5 micrometres up to a few thousand micrometres produced by a person by talking, sneezing, coughing, or even just breathing," Kurnitski added.
According to the researchers, the point is that small and large droplets act completely differently. Tiny droplets below 5 micrometres do not settle on surfaces, they remain airborne and follow airflow streamlines for tens of metres.
Large droplets above 100 micrometres in diameter fall down like rocks - they do not travel farther than 1.5 metres even by coughing.
The air exhaled by humans contains mainly droplets with a diameter in the range of 1-10 micrometres.
Until this spring, it was held in the medical literature and guidelines that droplets larger than 5 micrometres fall down at the distance of up to two metres (which is why it was concluded that 2-metre social distancing would ensure complete safety).
By now, however, scientists have found out that this was a misconception or even a long-persisting erroneous medical dogma.
Aerosol physics shows convincingly that in reality only droplets larger than 50 micrometres fall down at a distance of two metres, while smaller ones remain suspended in the air and travel farther.
Thus, acknowledging this tenfold error fundamentally changed the understanding of the spread of virus particles and it was realised that the largest number of exhaled droplets travel far and the virus can remain infectious in aerosol particles for up to three hours.
By breaking this medical dogma, researchers also gave an important signal regarding the measures applied to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that led to the paralysis.
"Measures can and must be applied taking into account the known transmission routes, which is why it is important to know that the disease is transmitted by aerosols, i.e. tiny droplets suspended in the air," the authors wrote.
This means that people can get the virus in two ways: in close contact, where the concentration of aerosols and larger droplets in close proximity of the infected person is very high.
"Or farther away in inadequately ventilated rooms, where the concentration of aerosols remains so high that a person can get an infectious dose for example within an hour spent in the same room with an infected person," Kurnitski noted. (IANS)
Covid-19 can cause male infertility by harming the testicular cells which produces sperms thereby making it difficult to make the female pregnant, says a new study done by the scientists of Israel.
The study, published in the journal of Fertility and Sterility, claims that the studied men had a reduction of around 50 percent on average of the number of sperm per milliliter, total volume of ejaculate, and motility of sperm.
Nobody knows yet how severe this problem is and these effects are reversible or not. Infection is accepted as a possible underlying cause of male infertility. For example mumps may have a long term effect on fertility of male patients and can cause azoospermia, so we know viruses can have such an impact.
Dr Shobha Gupta, Medical Director and IVF Specialist from Mother's Lap IVF Centre says: "I wouldn't be surprised if this virus causes a temporary down in sperm production. People who get corona virus are probably quite unwell, they are having low immunity even influenza will cause a decline in sperm count temporarily. The question is how long it will last and whether it is recoverable."
"Every time there is a new thing coming up with this virus, we are still learning and if the person has low immunity and is prone to catch the infection in any way the sperm count is affected and can cause male infertility" she added.
Dr Shweta Goswami, Sr. Consultant IVF from Jaypee Hospital Noida and IVF Consultant from Zeeva Clinic explains: "Any viral infection but just Covid-19 can lead to high grade fever and decrease in sperm count and motility at least temporarily. It's too early to suggest anything for Covid-19 as semen changes can take up to 3-4 months post infection and numbers are too low at present but it could potentially cause harm and any sort of illness fever can reduce sperm count and motility and this may hold for corona virus as well."
Mask-wearing can help to protect their fertility during the pandemic, even if one ultimately becomes infected.
"Men who have moderate or serious Covid-19 infections could find their fertility impaired for an unknown amount of time. Because mild cases don't seem to affect fertility, I would advise men to wear facemasks. This way, even if they get sick, their immune systems will be dealing with a smaller viral load and consequently they'll have a milder form of the disease and there has to be more studies to confirm how severe this problem is, once the patient recovers semen parameters may improve" said Dr. Anubha Singh, another city based Gynecologist and IVF Specialist from Shantah Fertility Centre.
"If people are protected by a mask, and the smaller the load of catching the infection, the better the immune system's chances of beating the virus while still in the mild stage and having minimal impact on sperm" added Dr. Anubha Singh.
Choose a healthy life and take precautions, as this virus is very new and nobody knows how to recover from it or how not to catch the infection. So we have to be our on guard till the vaccine comes. Follow these advices as precautions to protect fertility:
Wear Masks and do proper sanitizing
Avoid being overweight
Do not smoke and refrain yourself as much as you can from consuming alcohol
Do not wear tight underwear as it can affect the circulation of blood in the genital region and raise the temperature of the testicles which further decreases the sperm count
Avoid keeping mobile phones near genital area as it causes radiation also do not place laptops on your lap as it can raise the scrotum temperature
Eat nutritious food and exercise regularly to maintain healthy immunity
Cell phones have become integral to function for nearly everyone. While it has brought a lot of tasks to our fingertips, cell phones also have a host of disadvantages. Cellphones emit intermittent electromagnetic radiation (also referred to as Radio Frequency energy) and bright screen light, both these aspects have tremendous impact triggered from prolonged use.
Increased screen time also affects the sleep and psychosocial behavior across age groups. Usage of cellphones has exponentially increased over time, so much so that we usually take it to bed, to the play areas, and even to the toilet.
Being exposed to the bright light emitting from cell phones has been shown to reduce levels of Melatonin, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining your natural sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is a hormone which is secreted by the Pineal Gland to give cues to the biological clock and brain, that it's time to sleep. Studies have shown that excessive use of cell phones leads to reduced duration and quality of sleep; it also increases daytime fatigue. It increases personal stress by creating an urge to reply to the text messages immediately, and respond.
A study done by He et al. reported that avoiding cellphone use 30 minutes prior to sleep, increases the duration and quality of sleep, it also improves work memory. An NCBI study on Japanese adolescents found that long duration of mobile phone use was associated with Insomnia, particularly in students using mobile phones for 5 hours or more each day.
Additionally, long hours spent on social networking aites and online chatting apps using mobile phones, was related to depression, particularly in students who spent over two hours on these sites. It concluded that appropriate use of mobile phones should be propagated in order to prevent sleep disturbances and the impairment of mental health among adolescents.
Reducing mobile phone usage at night before sleeping is a great habit to cultivate. The literature on the dangers of cellphone use and electromagnetic radiation on the brain is still in an emerging phase, however the advantages of avoiding phone use before sleeping and excessive use during day are very much evident.
Here's how you can better your sleep patterns:
Reduce blue light exposure in the evening; restrict gadget use by 30 minutes to one hour before bed time
Do not consume caffeine late in the day
Cut out alcohol
Curb irregular daytime naps
Exercise regularly for 30 minutes at least, but not before bed time
Dinner should be consumed 1-1.5 hours before bed time
Take a relaxing bath or shower before bed
Consistently maintain a sleep and wake time
(The author Dr Preyas Vaidya is Consultant Pulmonologist, Fortis Mulund and Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi.)
London - Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found that there is much higher risk of mortality faced by Covid-19 patients in intensive care, who have chronic kidney disease (CKD), or those who develop new (acute) kidney injury (AKI).
CKD is a type of kidney disease in which kidney function declines over a period of months to years, and is more common in older people.
AKI is an abrupt loss of kidney function that takes place over seven days or less and can have several causes, including the damage and inflammation caused by the Covid-19 virus itself.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive analysis of outcomes in critically unwell Covid-19 patients in the UK with kidney failure, particularly in patients with pre-existing chronic kidney disease," said study author Sanooj Soni from Imperial College London in the UK.
For the study, published in the journal Anaesthesia, the research team examined the association between AKI and CKD with clinical outcomes in 372 patients with Covid-19 admitted to four regional intensive care units (ICUs) in the UK.
The average age of the patients was around 60 years, and 72 per cent of them were male.
A total of 216 (58 per cent) patients had some form of kidney impairment (45 per cent developed AKI during their ICU stay, while 13 per cent had pre-existing CKD), while 42 per cent had no CKD or AKI.
The patients who developed AKI had no history of serious kidney disease before their ICU admission, suggesting that the AKI was directly related to their Covid-19 infection.
The authors found that patients with no kidney injury or disease had a mortality of 21 per cent.
Those with new-onset AKI caused by the Covid-19 virus had a mortality of 48 per cent, whilst for those with pre-existing CKD (Stages 1-4) mortality was 50 per cent.
In those patients with end-stage kidney failure (CKD stage 5), where they already required regular out-patient dialysis, mortality was 47 per cent.
Mortality was greatest in those patients with kidney transplants, with six out of seven patients (86 per cent) dying, highlighting that these patients are an extremely vulnerable group.
The investigators also examined the rates of renal replacement therapy, a form of hospital dialysis, due to Covid-19 in these ICU patients with kidney injury.
Out of 216 patients with any form of kidney impairment, 56 per cent of patients requiring renal replacement therapy, the researchers said.
The authors noted that mortality in patients with end-stage kidney failure and on dialysis, who normally have worse outcomes in many other diseases, was similar to that in patients with less severe kidney disease and Covid-19 associated AKI.
This finding may suggest that such patients benefit equally from ICU admission and thus the threshold for admission should be calibrated accordingly in any future Covid-19 surge.
"Our data demonstrate that kidney disease and failure in critically ill patients with Covid-19 are common, and associated with high mortality," the authors noted. (IANS)
New York - In a fight against the novel coronavirus, scientists have found that certain oral antiseptics and mouthwashes may have the ability to inactivate human coronaviruses.
The results, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, indicate that some of these products might be useful for reducing the amount of virus in the mouth after infection and may help to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
"While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed. The products we tested are readily available and often already a part of people's daily routines," said study researcher Craig Meyers from the Penn State University in the US.
During the study, the research team tested several oral and nasopharyngeal rinses in a laboratory setting for their ability to inactivate human coronaviruses, which are similar in structure to SARS-CoV-2.
The products evaluated include a one per cent solution of baby shampoo, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers, and mouthwashes.
The researchers found that several of the nasal and oral rinses had a strong ability to neutralize human coronavirus, which suggests that these products may have the potential to reduce the amount of virus spread by people who are Covid-19-positive.
They used a test to replicate the interaction of the virus in the nasal and oral cavities with the rinses and mouthwashes.
They treated solutions containing a strain of human coronavirus, which served as a readily available and genetically similar alternative for SARS-CoV-2, with the baby shampoo solutions, various peroxide antiseptic rinses and various brands of mouthwash.
They allowed the solutions to interact with the virus for 30 seconds, one minute and two minutes, before diluting the solutions to prevent further virus inactivation.
According to Meyers, the outer envelopes of the human coronavirus tested and SARS-CoV-2 are genetically similar so the research team hypothesizes that a similar amount of SARS-CoV-2 may be inactivated upon exposure to the solution.
To measure how much virus was inactivated, the researchers placed the diluted solutions in contact with cultured human cells.
They counted how many cells remained alive after a few days of exposure to the viral solution and used that number to calculate the amount of human coronavirus that was inactivated as a result of exposure to the mouthwash or oral rinse that was tested.
The one per cent baby shampoo solution, which is often used by head and neck doctors to rinse the sinuses, inactivated greater than 99.9 per cent of human coronavirus after a two-minute contact time.
Several of the mouthwash and gargle products also were effective at inactivating the infectious virus.
Many inactivated greater than 99.9 per cent of the virus after only 30 seconds of contact time and some inactivated 99.99 per cent of the virus after 30 seconds.
The results with mouthwashes are promising and add to the findings of a study showing that certain types of oral rinses could inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in similar experimental conditions, the study noted.
Recently, a study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, found that Sars-Cov-2 viruses can be "inactivated" using commercially available mouthwashes. (IANS)