While wearing double masks, which helps create a strong barrier against Covid-19 infection spread via airborne viral particles, has become the new normal, prolonged wearing of masks can develop hydration issues or other nagging breathing troubles, health experts said on Wednesday.
There has been enough evidence through the pandemic to show the importance of masks for effective pandemic control. At the start of the pandemic, it was seen that countries (primarily Asian nations) which enforced early masking had lesser mortality rates as compared to countries in the West where compulsory mask wearing was introduced quite late.
"Prolonged mask wearing can be associated with certain problems the most common being headaches, dehydration, acne and difficulty in breathing," Radhika Banka, Consultant Pulmonologist at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.
Breathing issues are "usually seen in mouth breathers and in people with underlying respiratory problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)", she added.
According to Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and HOD, Pulmonology, at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, wearing double mask for long hours can also lead to dryness.
"It is because natural humidification of nasal mucosa gets impaired," Jha said.
There are various masks available in the market, including cloth masks, surgical masks and respirators such as N-95s.
The cloth mask has the least protection and the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a disposable surgical mask along with a cloth mask for additional protection. For surgical masks, the knotted technique (that is knotting the ear loops to provide better fit and prevent leakage from the sides) is recommended.
But with full vaccination rolled out in most countries, are double masks still required?
"Even after double dose vaccination, people can get breakthrough infections and can still be asymptomatic carriers and spread the infection. Hence masking is important even after double vaccination," Banka said.
The health experts stated that for people living in India, double masks become more important as vaccination of children has not yet begun in the country, and asymptomatic transmission is the highest from children. Added to this is a high population density, where social distancing is not practically possible in many cases.
Most of the countries which have made masks voluntary are those in the West with low population density, where social distancing is feasible. These countries have managed to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of their population with two doses. Also, masks in these countries are still recommended in enclosed spaces, public transports, healthcare facilities etc.
"With only 48 per cent of our population being vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent being vaccinated with two doses, I do not think India can yet take the risk of removing the mandatory use of masks," Banka said.
However, according to Jha, "A single mask, if worn properly, is sufficient."
"People who wear double masks, have this tendency of adjusting their masks repeatedly due to breathing issues, and that way the whole purpose of wearing a mask is defeated," he said.
Jha added that for someone like a healthcare worker, who is in an area with high concentration of Covid viral droplets, an N-95 mask should be worn all the time. For other situations, a normal surgical mask (single) is sufficient.
"We need to ensure that masks are worn properly, with proper seal at nose. Improperly worn masks are more dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that a mask alone may not protect. One needs to follow hand hygiene as well as maintain social distancing," Jha advised.
Although several countries have loosened mask restrictions citing vaccine efficacy, various studies and health experts have stressed on the need for continuing wearing masks, even after being fully vaccinated, including booster shots; and following other protective measures such as physical distancing and handwashing.
A recent study led by researchers from the Monash University and the University of Edinburgh analysed more than 30 studies from around the world and found a statistically significant 53 per cent reduction in the incidence of Covid with mask wearing, and 25 per cent reduction with physical distancing. Handwashing also indicated a substantial 53 per cent reduction in Covid incidence.
Most people are able to wear masks fairly well for a few hours, but if your job requires you to wear masks for a prolonged period, it is essential to take adequate breaks to hydrate oneself and prevent any skin problems, Banka suggested. (Agency)
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Without a doubt, the wedding is one of the most important days of a person's life. To ensure everything is memorable comes with its own set of pressures and anxiety This can take a toll on your mind and body, leaving you stressed. A great way to combat wedding anxiety is with yoga.
The ancient practice offers scientifically proven solutions to everyday problems both physical and mental. Yoga lowers the stress hormones and also strengthens the nervous system while stimulating the lymphatic system which is responsible for removing toxins from the body.
Yoga also calms the mind and can contribute to deeper regulated sleep which is crucial for wellness. We all are aware how good sleep can help heal and maintain a healthy body. With so much to tend to at a wedding, sound sleep helps you stay fresh the whole day.
Here we sharing yoga poses to help unwind and find your peace:
Sukhasana refers to a cross-legged, seated position, and one of the most basic poses used in yoga practice and meditation. It is also a calming pose and it is one commonly used for meditation and practicing breathing exercises.
Sit on your padding in a comfortable, cross-legged position.
Slide the shoulder blades down your back so your shoulders move away from your ears. The crown of your head should rise towards the ceiling.
Your hands can rest in your lap or on the tops of your thighs.
On your inhalations, feel your spine grow long. On your exhalations, root down through your seat.
Standing Forward Bend stretches and lengthens the hamstrings and calves. It is regarded as a relaxing and stress-relieving pose. Traditionally, it is said to help relieve insomnia.
From Raised Hands Pose, sweep your arms down on either side of your body to come into a forward fold from your hips.
Bring your fingertips in line with the toes. Press your palms flat to the mat if you can. You can use blocks under your hands here if they don't reach the floor.
Bend the knees a little bit so that they are not locked.
Bring your weight a little bit forward into the balls of your feet so that your hips stay over your ankles.
Let your head hang.
Inhale and place your hands onto your hips, press your tailbone down and contract your abdominal muscles as you rise up slowly.
Cobra Pose increases the mobility of the spine, strengthens spinal support muscles, and can help relieve back pain. It opens the chest and the front of the body.
Place your palms flat on the ground directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows straight back and hug them into your sides.
Pause for a moment looking straight down at your mat with your neck in a neutral position.
Inhale and lift your chest off the floor. Roll your shoulders back and keep your low ribs on the floor. Make sure your elbows continue hugging your sides.
Keep your neck neutral. Your gaze should stay on the floor.
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As you perform SetuBandhasana, also known as Bridge Pose, you will become more alert in both body and mind. This rejuvenating backbend will open your chest up and keep your spine flexible.
Lie on the floor, bend your knees, and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.
Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, lift the buttocks off the floor.
Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin.
Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck up into the torso.
Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor
Corpse pose is essential to practice at the end of every yoga practice. This posture rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit while reducing stress and tension.
Spread the legs one to two feet apart, the toes are turned outwards, the heels facing each other, a comfortable distance apart.
Bring the arms a little away from the body, palms turned upward.
Relax the neck and allow it to turn to the side if it is more comfortable.
Close the eyes and focus the attention on the body, breathing normally.
Begin focusing on each body part and relaxing it, then moving on. Keep the mind focused on relaxation, the breath should be normal. Relax the whole body.
Breathing properly contributes to the stress response which worsens with anxiety. Do not take breathing for granted, take out the time at the beginning and the end of any yoga session or just once in a day breathe deeply for at least 2-3 minutes and you can see the difference without moving a muscle.
The short time effects of yoga can be felt through breathing techniques by learning to deeply breathe you not only allow your muscles to relax but you also feel equipped with other relaxation techniques like meditation.
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A regular and consistent yoga practice can do wonders for your health and over well-being. The pandemic has accelerated the need for physical activity, and no wonder, yoga has emerged as the preferred choice.
Sarvesh Shashi, Founder, SARVA lists the top mistakes beginner yogis often tend to make:
1. Don't over-exert yourself. If on a scale of 1 to 10 -1 being easiest and 10 being the toughest every asana need not be a 10. Some days an 8 feels like a 10 and on others, a 15 feels like an 8!
2. Don't hold your breath unnaturally unless the trainer specifically mentions this during practice. Breathe normally.
3. Avoid practicing yoga when you are exhausted, during illness, Yoga should make you feel the rush of happy hormones in the end, not entirely exhausted!
4. Do not practice alone. This one is more of a guideline. If you're a beginner, it's best to practice under someone's guidance. It is not advised to simply read and practice, it may lead to a muscle pull or discomfort. While practicing advanced postures for the first time, it's best to have someone assist you while doing these.
5. Avoid wearing tight clothes and do not wear shoes. Especially tight upper body clothing will restrict the movement of the rib cage and lung that would result in incomplete breathing.
6. Don't shower immediately, after a good sweaty workout, let the body dry normally and then shower for a normal cool-down of the body.
7. Do not perform inversion or 'feet up' asanas, during the menstruation cycle. Preferably perform relaxation and breathing techniques.
8. Do not perform any high-intensity workout post-yoga. Perform it before yoga practice for a better effect.
9. Avoid drinking too much water during the practice. You can have water at a moderate level just to overcome your thirst during practice.
Read More► Can Yoga Help With Fertility Issues?
<br>One of the biggest innovations in the IVF techniques will be the "Time-Lapse Imaging" of the embryos. It is a major technological advancement that gives us clarity about the growth of embryos and helps to select good embryos and deselect the bad quality embryos. In the time-lapse process, the embryos are under constant surveillance, where a camera is kept above the dish which contains the embryos. During this process, every 10 minutes images are captured and converted into a video which made the work of embryologists more streamlined, as they do not even need to open the incubator to check the embryos behaviour throughout, as it is captured in the time-lapse video which gives great insight. For example, with the help of this technique embryologists have come across an abnormal development of embryos called "Reverse Cleavage" it is described as blastomere fusion or failed cytokinesis. With the help of time-lapse technology, these embryos do not go unnoticed, otherwise, it will result in abortion or implantation failure. Another big adaptation/leap for embryologists for IVF treatment will be the use of AI techniques to select embryos. AI tech can be used to analyze time-lapse imaging data with sophisticated computer algorithms. This includes the use of AI to evaluate embryo development data, as well as the use of computer vision with image processing software to examine raw time-lapse images and to detect bad quality or features of embryos that cannot be detected by the naked eye. While AI is going to be a big thing soon, but at present, the AI capacity to surpass the manual embryo grading method is underway but with the help of AI fertility facilities can standardize the embryo selection procedure across their fertility treatment centres and clinics. In fact, AI technology provides precision and eliminates human error while choosing the best embryos.Vitrification is a technology used in the embryo and egg freezing process stored for later usage. The technique vitrification was introduced a decade ago, and this technique allows higher embryo survival rate as compared to slower freezing techniques which have a lower survival rate.While these above techniques that are focused on the embryos, equal attention needs to be given to the sperms, like the separation techniques for good quality sperms. Technologies like "Magnetic-activated cell sorting" (MACS) used to separate apoptotic sperm with high proportions of fragmented DNA from the rest, thus enhancing the overall quality of the sperm used for fertilization.During this pandemic, following the Covid-19 guidelines is essential. We want to make sure there is no infection exchange between patients and doctors and cross contamination between gametes and embryos. Embryologists are following a non-contact safe policy when giving instructions, sample collection containers to the patients. Embryologists are trying to handle one sample at a time and during the procedure the embryologists do not share even stationery, which can pass the infection from one person to another person and the labs and facility should constantly be cleaned with non-embryotoxic cleaning material to avoid contamination. Thus, it is advisable to exercise extreme caution.As embryologists, we recommend the patients get their Covid tests done before starting their IVF treatment and two to three days prior to egg retrieval procedures. If the female is infected with Covid-19 it is recommended to reschedule the IVF cycle. But in some cases, rescheduling the cycle is not advised because some females may have their follicles grown, and if not treated the patient will have a condition called hyperstimulation syndrome that can be harmful. In that case, the embryologist needs to go ahead with the procedure with all kinds of precautions to ensure there is no/ zero contamination. A strict disposal policy is adopted to dispose the body fluids material from an infected patient as it goes in biohazard bags for safety. When a male patient is infected with the Covid-19 infection, we must check if there is a backup frozen sample semen sample frozen in the early days of this cycle, if yes then we use that sample for IVF treatment and advice the male patient not to be in close contact with his partner as chances of getting Covid infection are more. We can use those frozen samples for IVF treatment. In case we do not have a backup sample, we freeze the oocytes from the female partner who is not Covid positive. Later after getting Covid negative test results, the male patient can come back and give the sample, and the IVF treatment can begin.Overall, the process of forming an embryo depends on various factors. For starters, it depends on the quality of the gamete. Then it depends on the lab's physical component, the experience of the embryologist, and the kinds of technologies used for the treatment. While choosing a fertility treatment centre, patients should check, if safety protocols are maintained where the hospital staff and clinical team diligently follow these protocols. (Sujatha Ramakrishnan, Head of Embryology, Nova IVF Fertility, Coimbatore, Chennai)<br> <br>(IANSlife Features can be contacted at [email protected])--IANS<br>sujatha/lh/tb/<br>
While Covid-19 cases continue to surge, we need to be even more vigilant, while staying at home and keeping ourselves healthy and fit. While eating right and exercising ensures our bodies and minds stay fit, it is also important to strengthen our respiratory system as that is also severely affected by the virus.
Breathing exercises are a great way to develop the lungs as they improve lung muscles, clear out any secretion and increase the capacity by supplying an adequate amount of oxygen. There are several other benefits to these exercises as well! It also helps us stay calmer, and de-stress especially in these unprecedented times we are living in.
To get started, here are five breathing exercises you can do at any time of the day and in any comfortable space.
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Deep breathing with increasing counts: breath-in and breath-out
This is one of the easiest and most important exercises. It helps in strengthening our lungs and improving blood flow, immunity and eliminating stress and anxiety.
* Sit down in a relaxed position, take a deep breath and count your inhalation and exhalation. Ideally, your inhalation and exhalation counts should be the same.
* With each breath increase the count to inhale and exhale for as long as comfortable. Practise from 2 to 5 minutes duration.
Also known as belly breathing, or abdominal breathing, this particular exercise has various benefits such as managing irritable bowel syndrome, depression, anxiety and insomnia. Normally people get in the habit of breathing without fully utilising the lower part of their lungs. With this breathing technique, you consciously practise filling in lungs to their maximum capacity and increasing oxygen uptake.
* Lie flat on the floor or sit in a comfortable position and relax your shoulders
* Put one hand below your chest and just above your stomach (this is where your diaphragm sits)
* Take a deep breath in by expanding your diaphragm or stomach and exhale slowly.
The benefit of any cardiovascular exercises is that it increases your heart rate which forces the respiratory system to become more efficient and eventually increases the amount of oxygen you take with each breath. This allows for your lungs to improve capacity and function better. Here are some of the most common cardiovascular exercises that you can do from the comfort of your home: are brisk walking, spot jogging, jumping rope, jumping jacks and climbing staircase.
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More commonly known as alternate nostril breathing, it is a prevalent Pranayama and has been spoken about in the Hatha Yoga literature. This exercise helps clear out the nasal passage and improves respiratory muscle strength. It is advised that Anulom-vilom should be practiced on an empty stomach ideally in the morning or in the evening after a long meal gap.
* Sit on a chair or on the ground cross legged, in a meditation position
* With your right thumb, close your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. Release your right nostril and with your middle and ring finger, close your left nostril exhaling through the right nostril
* Inhale through the right nostril, then release the fingers, closing the right nostril and exhaling through the left nostril
* Continue the slow breathing through alternate nostrils and focus on the breath
* Practise this for 10 minutes for benefits to start accruing
Derived from Sanskrit, brahmari literally means a bee. It is a humming exercise, which increases nitric oxide in the body and acts as vasodilators; helps with easier blood flow through the vessels and prevents muscles from tightening.
* Sit on a chair or on the ground cross legged, in a meditation position.
* Close your ears using your thumb and place your middle and ring fingers lightly at the inner corner of your eyes.
* Rest your index finger above your eyebrows and little finger where it rests on your cheeks.
* Take a deep breathe in and while exhaling make a soft humming sound similar to 'hmmmmm', throughout the entire exhalation. Inhale again and while exhaling make the humming sound.
* Practise for 10 minutes for benefits to start accruing.
These exercises won't help prevent Covid, however, if performed daily, they will help in developing a stronger respiratory system which can help our body to fight any possible infection. Having said that, if you or your family members have any pre-existing health conditions or are feeling any discomfort, please do consult with your doctor.
* Saoji AA, et al. Effects of yogic breath regulation: A narrative review of scientific evidence. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. Volume 10, Issue 1, (2019): 50-58
* Martel, J., et al (2020). Could nasal nitric oxide help to mitigate the severity of Covid-19?. Microbes and infection, 22(4-5), 168--171
* Sivakumar G, et al. Acute effects of deep breathing for a short duration (2-10mins) on pulmonary functions in healthy young volunteers. Indian J Physio Pharmacol 2011; 55 (2) : 154--159
* Hakked CS, et al. Yogic breathing practices improve lung functions of competitive young swimmers. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. Volume 8, Issue 2 (2017): 99-104 (Jyoti Dabas, Founder & CEO, Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Sciences (INFS))
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London, May 31 (IANS) Inserting breathing tubes early may reduce Covid-19 patients' ICU stay by a week, claims a study.The study, led by researchers at McMaster University and the University of Toronto in Canada, looked at tracheostomies, which are a procedure that helps patients breathe through tubes, the Daily Mail reported.The findings, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, showed that tracheostomy shortened Covid patients' stay in the ICU when it was done within two weeks of their arrival.In addition, the procedure didn't pose a significant risk to healthcare workers if they use personal protective equipment, the report said.One of Covid's severe symptoms is the inability to breathe on one's own. The virus causes mucus and other fluids to block patients' lungs, making it difficult for air to get through.In the usual scenario, doctors insert a breathing tube into a patient -- in a procedure called tracheostomy -- on patients after spending two weeks on a ventilator. The procedure involves cutting a hole into a patient's neck -- connected to their windpipe -- and hooking that tube up to the ventilator. It helps air flow more easily into the lungs.But, the medical community has different opinions on performing the procedure -- and its timing.To examine what benefits the procedure may have for patients, the team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 69 studies.The results conflict with past guidance to physicians, which recommends waiting 14 days to give a patient breathing tubes so that the doctor can ensure they really do need breathing help for an extended period of time.Another concern, especially when it's done earlier is that it can endanger the healthcare workers tending to ICU patients.While cutting into a patient's neck or moving a ventilator during this procedure, coronavirus particles will escape from the patient. This is a riskier process when it's done soon after a patient has arrived at the hospital, since Covid patients tend to be at a higher risk of infecting others within the first two weeks of their disease.The National Institute of Health recommends extreme caution during tracheostomies for this reason.The researchers found, however, that only five per cent of studies in their summary analysis reported healthcare workers testing positive after a breathing tube procedure, the report said.--IANSrvt/ash