Recovery from any infectious disease relies a lot on an individuals immunity system and by far, COVID-19 has certainly put our abilities to test.
Lung health during the pandemic can be majorly affected as the virus harms the respiratory system. Our lungs process and help in the distribution of oxygen in the body. It is therefore extremely important to ensure lung health, especially during these times, in order to be able to put up a fight against the infection that mostly takes the respiratory route to enter the person.
"COVID-19, can cause lung complications like pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, and in some fatal cases, total collapse of the lungs. In case of pneumonia caused by this virus, the air sacs in the lungs are filled with fluid and the valves of the lungs get inflamed, leading to breathing difficulties accompanied by coughing. While most people recover from pneumonia without any lasting lung damage, this particular virus may cause breathing difficulties that take longer to withdraw completely," says Dr Karthik Anantharaman, Director e-pharmacy, Medlife.
In cases of acute respiratory diseases, as the pneumonia progresses, more of the air sacs fill up with fluid, leaking from the blood vessels in the lungs. This eventually results in severe shortness of breath that may lead to acute respiratory problems.
"Such levels of infection happens, in most cases, to people with pre-existing co-morbid conditions. These conditions could be uncontrolled blood sugar in a diabetic patient, uncontrolled blood pressure in a hypertensive patient, uncontrolled cholesterol in a cholesterol patient and uncontrolled thyroid in a thyroid patient. While these four conditions may not be related directly to lung damage, they play a huge role in reducing the overall immunity of a patient," adds Anantharaman.
People with pre-existing lung ailments like breathing irregularities, asthma or bronchitis are also at a risk for COVID-19 because there are underlying causes to it. There are instances of cases where people are allergic to pollen, fine dust particles, and even some proteins that cause breathing difficulties. The simple solution is for such people to stay away from these to maintain their lung health. Such people are also prescribed inhalers and medicines to be taken regularly, irrespective of a virus attack. As long as they keep their immunity strong, they are at no higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Measures to keep lungs healthy
Two functions determine over all lung health e Lung capacity, which is the extent to which lungs can expand, which is genetics. The second is, "lung function", which is the processing of oxygen and distribution to the body. This function grows till the age of 25, after which it gradually reduces. Improving lung function should be the primary aim and this can be achieved majorly by exercises.
A minimum of 30 minutes for adults and 60 minutes for children every day is imperative to keep any lung distress at bay. Physical exercise allows us to take deeper breaths than usual, expand and contract the lung inner valves and ensures optimum oxygen saturation levels, to ensure healthy lung functions. It also keeps a check on the Haemoglobin and RBC level in the blood to ensure unrestricted flow to and from the lungs.
Running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming are all good examples of suggested physical exercises. Aerobics help in removing carbon dioxide from the blood while strength training helps strengthen the thoracic muscles and core strength, which are important for breathing. Strengthening these muscles can greatly help a person affected by COVID-19. Substituting these with gentler forms of exercise like Yoga is not advisable. These exercises must be performed out in the open air, as opposed to a confined room with air-conditioning.
For older people or for individuals with physical limitations, deep breathing exercises are recommended. They must take deep breaths every hour. This helps in mobilizing unused parts of the lungs.
It has been ascertained that people with underlying conditions like diabetes and obesity seem to fair worse when faced with COVID-19 infection. This could be due to chronic inflammation which influences the body on releasing inflammatory proteins called cytokines. These cause short term inflammation which can help heal the body.
However, chronic inflammation throughout the body can trigger a reverse, overreactive immune response that can cause organ damage. These are also responsible for severe lung damage and death in COVID-19 patients.
The best way to reduce chronic inflammation is to ensure proper nutrition, particularly with foods high in antioxidants like fruits and vegetables. Bananas, apples, tomatoes and grapes are all rich in natural antioxidants and can reduce inflammation over time. Foods rich in Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon help in boosting the immune system to prepare for any virus attacks.
Kicking the butt
Over the last few years, lifestyle has not just changed for good, it has also changed for the worse. One of the worst elifestyle change' is smoking. Smokers are more at risk from developing COVID-19 complications and there cannot be a more opportune time to get rid of this habit. Smoking is linked to inflammation and lowering of the immune function in the lung's airways. This can increase the likelihood of complications if exposed to COVID-19. It destroys lung tissue, narrows air passages, and is a major cause of cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, among other intense ailments.
Medical experts can see remarkable difference in the lungs as early as 12 hours from the time of quitting, when the blood pressure returns to normal. In a week to 10 days after quitting, lung function returns to normal when the individual can take deep breaths without coughing. In 5 years, the risk of heart attacks becomes equivalent to that of a non-smoker.
For patients with lung damage, treatment is a factor that plays an important role and recovery depends on how quickly they are diagnosed and treated, which can also reduce lung damage considerably. While timely treatment is important, one must practice good habits to ensure healthy lungs in the first place. Proper nutrition, good exercise, and hydration can go a long way in helping people avoid complications. (Agency)
The onset of monsoons brings much relief, but with rain showers comes the risk of infections and ill-health. The risk of being exposed to multiple viruses, bacteria, parasites and other infections is two times higher during the monsoon than in any other season.
The high moisture content in the air and water accumulation enables harmful microorganisms to thrive, leading to a number of health- related ailments. Usually the common monsoon diseases remain undetected until there is a major symptom or a big impact on the health of a person. Early diagnosis and a few preventive and hygiene measures can keep you stay safe during this season.
Strengthen your immunity
A person with a weak immune system gets infected easily. Have a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables and cereals. Drinking green tea can also help in strengthening your immunity. Monsoon is the perfect time for pathogens to thrive. This time of the year cases of viral fevers, bacterial, and other parasitic infections are rampant. A strong immune system guards our body against harmful infections and bacteria. The best way of strengthening immunity is by increasing intake of foods rich in Vitamin C, leafy vegetables, proteins like sprouts and soya, Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi told IANSlife.
His dietary recommendations: Add foods rich in Vitamin C and fibres to your diet. Due to high humidity during the rainy season, the body takes a longer time for digestion, therefore, it's best to have smaller meals rather than larger ones. To boost your immunity, include herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, holy basil, etc, in your diet. Loaded with essential nutrients and antioxidants, these are useful for your overall health and wellness. Foods rich in minerals and iron like pulses and cereals should be key components of your diet during rainy season. You can have well-cooked sprouts, soya beans, corns, ragi, etc, in generous quantities.
Maintain personal hygiene
Take good care of yourself. Keep your skin dry and maintain personal hygiene. Moisture or dampness attracts the growth of infections that in turn weakens the immunity system.
During monsoons people feel less thirsty and hence this reduces their intake of water. However, the body needs the optimum intake of water, irrespective of the season. It's imperative to drink lots of purified water to curtail the risk of stomach-related ailments. You can also swap your morning cup of tea with herbal teas like ginger tea, chamomile tea, etc, which act as good immunity boosters.
Avoid having street food
Fruit and vegetables that are cut and sold on the roadsides should be strictly avoided. The road is usually filled with potholes full of water and mud. These form perfect incubators for various kinds of harmful microorganisms. Food items that are left exposed in the open air at the roadsides are likely become dwelling places for harmful infective organisms.
"Monsoon brings with it common infections like cold, viral infections, Gastritis, and other ailments like Hepatitis, Malaria, Dengue, Leptospirosis, Influenza, Typhoid etc. Since the humidity is high, microbial growth increases and so does the risk of infection. Most of these infections are food and water borne. Since children are carefree when they venture out, they are at greater risk of these food and water borne infections. Also, children and the elderly may have a weaker immune system, and thus their susceptibility to these infections also increases," adds Minal Shah, Senior Nutrition Therapist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
For a healthy monsoon, do not compromise on two essentials - adequate sleep and a regular exercise regimen.
Summers are for eating mangoes, watermelons, and other nutrient fruit like apricots. The bright sun improves of Vitamin D and lightens our mood as the sweat detoxifies us making us lose weight. Monsoons are for blissful rainy days and cups of tea with samosa. But this is the time when your skin can break out leading to acute skin problems which can spoil all the fun.
Your skin and hair, especially uncovered parts are victim to harsh rays of the Sun, harmful polluted gases and humidity, add to that the woes of wearing a protective mask most times.
The situation is aggravated by more sweating which acts like a magnet and attracts the dust particles as well as pollutant. Summers and monsoons have a combination of heat and more sweat which leads to an increase in the skin problems.
Dr Swati Mohan, Senior Consultant, Dermatology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad shares skin problems and solutions for these months :
Dehydration: Hot weather causes water loss from body increases sweating and cause dehydrations
Sun-burn: Excessive exposure to sun especially between 11 am to 4 pm can create an acute sun-burn.
Dry irritated skin: Even with a hot & humid outdoors air one can have a dry & irritated skin due to culprits like air conditioning, pool & off course sun.
Prickly Heat / Heat Rash: Because sweat can not get out it builds under your skin causing itchy tiny bumps because of sweat create a prickly sense which is very troublesome.
Skin Allergies: People on antibiotics like doxy, ciproflox (Flu, Antifungal, Anti-depressant like Amitriptyline makes more sensitive to sun & heat. hair dryer, mehendi, perfumes disinfects on sun can create severe rash. Sum sun rashes can induce systematic disease like Lupus Erythematosus, Porphyrias etc.
Fungal Infection: Fungal infection is warm and damp environment especially if one wear tight clothes, denims or synthetic clothes for long time. Fungal infections like athlete foot (due to excessive wearing shoes), Jockey Itch (Fungus Infections) are troublesome and need to be treated.
The best form of prevention is to drink plenty of water and cooling drinks like lime water, jaljeeras, coconut water and fruit like water melon.
Regular shampoo and mild cleansers are best for baths. The use of a fragrance-free moisturiser within 5 minutes of your bath helps keep the moisturiser in the skin.
Temperature of air conditioning should be moderated as it makes your room too dry.
Use antifungal products or talcum powder, cooling agents like calamine. Protection from sun is of course like most important lotion precaution.
Slip on T-shirts
Slip-on Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen of 30 SPF at least 45 minutes before go out
Slip on broad brimmed hat
Slip on Sunglasses
Shade from sun wherever possible
The monsoon has begun, and while it brings relief from summer heat it also brings perils of humidity. With the rain showers comes the risk of being exposed to viruses, necessitating measures to manage the six most important seasonal flu symptoms-- breathing difficulty, body ache, cough, blocked nose, headache and muscular stiffness early on.
Dr. Kunal Manek, Ayurveda Consultant, and Panchakarma Physician shares a few tips on how you can build your immunity and respiratory health at home.
Consume Haldi Milk
Haldi or turmeric as we all know is one of the most powerful spices hidden in your kitchen. A staple in Indian cooking, it is also a go-to fix for an array of health issues. For centuries Ayurvedic medicine has been using Curcumin, the active component in turmeric for its antioxidant properties. This is why consuming a warm glass of turmeric milk is advised. The anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agents present in turmeric help strengthen our immune system from the inside
Practice Steam Inhalation
Steam therapy is one of the widely used home remedies to build better respiratory health by soothing common cough and cold that our body often catches during this seasonal transition. You can make this more effective by adding ayurvedic ingredients like Pudina (Mint) leaves and Ajwain (Caraway seeds) that helps in aiding dry cough and sore throat. You can also add one to two teaspoons of a medicated rub in a bowl of hot water (not boiling), which contains Pudina, Ajwain, Kapoor & Nilgiri for faster relief of cough and cold symptoms. These rubs are easily available at any chemist shop/at nearby chemist shop and are safe to use for adults and kids aged six years and above. It is advisable that one reads the label before using and if symptoms persist, please consult your doctor.
Eat a Balanced Diet
A nutrient-rich balanced diet rich is an essential and more so during the flu season as it is an important way to help your body fight symptoms. One need to strengthen immunity through immunity boosting foods and supplements. Boost your body with vitamins, minerals and fiber from fruits, vegetables and grains whichsupport your immune system and make it stronger.
A sedentary lifestyle weakens your immune system making it prone to illnesses. Therefore, take out time for some physical exercise to improve your overall health, but also relax your muscles and mind. Yoga is a great way to give your body the energy. A few asanas or just the Surya Namaskar in the morning will strengthen your core, make your body strong and more importantly, improve your respiratory health
The Ministry of AYUSH had recently issued self-care guidelines for preventive health measures and boosting immunity with special reference to respiratory health. The guidelines included doing regular steam inhalations with fresh Pudina (Mint) leaves or Ajwain (Caraway seeds) once in a day to help in decongestion, consuming Haldi milk, which contains an antioxidant, and practicing Yoga to maintain overall health.
The refreshing showers and the cool weather of monsoon will feel like bliss after the sweltering heat of summer. However, with the cool breeze and showers comes humidity packed with additional bacteria in the air leading to clogged pores resulting in acne, blackheads and whiteheads. Before we enter in the monsoon take steps to keep your skin blemish free.
Acne is a common problem that troubles teens and adults alike. Get extra cautious this season. Dr Satish Bhatia, MD, FAAD, Dermatologist and Skin Surgeon shares with IANSlife some useful handy tips which you can incorporate into your daily routine to keep your skin acne free and supple during monsoons.
Forehead, neck, jaw line, cheeks are acne prone areas. Clean these zones thoroughly without rinsing too hard. Use a mild soap-free cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser twice daily to wash your face. For oily or combination skin, use a cleanser best suited to the skin type.
Toning to the rescue
Tone your skin to remove the leftover dirt and make up. Toning also helps in closing pores to avoid oil clogging. If you aren't a fan of toners available in the market then use natural ingredients like green tea, lemon juice, rose water, cucumber water and
chamomile tea for toning your skin. Cucumber is a much loved skin cooler that works wonder on all skin types.
Replenish your skin
From time to time, your skin may feel sticky and oily but that shouldn't discourage you from using a moisturizer. Moisturizers keep the skin hydrated and supple. Choose a moisturizer which is light weight, yet rich in macadamia oil and sunflower oil, which helps to hydrate and nourish the skin. Make sure it is specifically formulated to soothe dry skin and is non-greasy, non-irritating and non-comedogenic since this will eliminate clog pores. You can opt for Cetaphil Moisturising Cream.
Drink it up
It's far more important to drink more water in monsoon and winter than summer since you won't naturally feel as thirsty as you do during summers. It's one of the most sureshot ways to get healthy skin without any breakouts or acne.
Eat and exercise right
We cannot stress enough on the importance of refraining from eating fried food and exercising regularly. The excessive build-up of oil internally will reflect on your skin through breakouts, zits, blackheads and whiteheads. To prevent it, consume a balanced diet. Additionally, exercising will ensure that you sweat out the toxins, stay in shape and keep stress at bay especially on the gloomy monsoon days. (Agency)
Monsoon takes a toll on your skin and hair. Frizzy hair, lackluster skin and chapped lips are all a result of the humidity. Whether youre staying indoors or stepping outside, all you need to do is tweak your skincare routine to introduce products that address these issues.
Sobiya Moghul, Content Lead at Amazon Beauty, recommends the eight must-have products to protect your skin and hair this rainy season.
Cleanser: A good cleanser helps remove excess oil and dirt, leaving the skin feeling smooth and fresh. A gentle, chemical-free cleanser is perfect for everyday use.
Toner: Of all the monsoon skincare products, the toner is the most underrated. It revitalizes skin and helps control blemishes and clogged pores. Use one that is light and alcohol-free for clear and smooth skin.
Moisturizer: Opt for a gentle and non-greasy moisturizer for skin that feels fresh and hydrated, and for a face that glows naturally.
Body Lotion: Flawless skin is a result of the daily application of a good body lotion. A shea or cocoa butter enriched formula works well for dry skin while a lighter formula works well for oily skin.
Sunscreen: Contrary to popular belief, a sunscreen is essential even during the monsoon and even when you're staying indoors. Choose one that offers broad-spectrum protection and is water resistant to avoid skin damage from the harmful rays of the sun.
Hair Mask: Humidity makes the hair frizzy and sticky in no time. It is therefore essential to use a hair mask enriched with natural ingredients for healthy looking hair.
Conditioner: It is essential to follow-up with a good conditioner after you shampoo your hair. An effective conditioner locks in the moisture and protects your hair from splitting, damage and environmental fizziness.
Lip Balm: Lips tend to crack and get chapped during the monsoon. To get your perfect pout back, start using a nourishing lip balm in a flavour of your choice.
Lip and Cheek Tint: Breathe life into your face by adding a pop of colour to create a natural flush that lasts all day. A water-based gel tint in your favourite shade works well on your lips as well as cheeks.
(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])