New Delhi, Dec 25 (IANS) As millions celebrate Christmas, researchers have pointed out certain health hazards like the 'holiday heart syndrome' or even the pine needles in the tree, that can be avoided during the festivities.The Christmas season is associated with preventable harms from cards, tree decorations and presents, as well as overeating and overdrinking, so do the benefits of Christmas outweigh the harms?In the Christmas issue of The British Medical Journal (BMJ), Robin Ferner and Jeffrey Aronson found some cautionary tales from the archives.They found that Christmas cards can be a potential source of harm.In 1876, a young man developed arsenic poisoning after painting festive cards with the highly toxic Scheele's Green paint.More recently, a woman amputated her fingertip while posting Christmas cards through the spring-loaded flap of a letter box.Injuries from falls while decking the house with Christmas lights are common -- and a reminder not to get on ladders -- they may tip when you are tipsy."Items swallowed unintentionally can also pose problems," they wrote.Excessive eating and drinking too much alcohol can not only increase waistlines, but also trigger outbreaks of gastroenteritis and salmonella infection and cause heart complaints (holiday heart syndrome).Bulbs from Christmas lights, sharp pointed confetti stars, and Christmas tree shaped decorations, have all found their way down toddlers' throats and have had to be removed.Christmas trees, too, can bring pain as well as pleasure."Pine needles can penetrate the lungs, causing breathing difficulties, and branches can poke you in the eye, causing corneal abrasion. Burns from candles are also common," the authors noted.Christmas presents pose unforeseen dangers too, they added.For example, a pet hamster spread lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, while Haitian bongo drums carried anthrax bacilli in their goatskin hides.In 2002, researchers analysed the cost effectiveness of Christmas and concluded that "Christmas is not cost effective."But cost effectiveness is not everything, they said."Most of our sources are anecdotal, and we did not find strong evidence of widespread adverse effects. So we will leave you to decide whether the benefits of Christmas outweigh its harms".--IANSna/pgh
London- After some reports linked Covid-19 with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) -- a rare disorder where the body's immune system attacks nerves and can lead to respiratory failure and death, a new study found no association between them.
The study, published in the journal Brain, have found no significant association between Covid-19 and the potentially paralysing and sometimes fatal neurological condition Guillain-Barre syndrome.
"In this epidemiological and cohort study, we sought to investigate any causative association between Covid-19 infection and GBS," said study authors from the University College London (UCL) in the UK.
The team assessed the number of GBS treatments reported to the NHS England National Immunoglobulin Database between 2016 and 2019.
This was compared to the number of cases reported during the Covid-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020.
The annual incidence of GBS treated in UK hospitals between 2016 and 2019 was 1.65-1.88 per 100,000 individuals. Incidences of GBS fell 40-50 per cent between March and May 2020 when compared to the same months of 2016-2019.
This new finding contradicts that of other smaller and less extensive international studies.
"Our study shows there was no increased incidence in GBS during the first wave of Covid-19; rather, there was a decrease and therefore no causal link of Covid-19 to GBS can be made," said study first author Stephen Keddie.
Separately in this study the research team also tried to establish if there was any genetic or protein structure in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, which could trigger an immune response causing GBS.
Unlike Camplylobacter, which contains human-like antigens causing an autoimmune response, no credible link was found with SARS-CoV-2.
"Most Covid-19 vaccinations are based on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which drives a complex immune response creating antibodies to fight infection," the study authors wrote.
"Our analysis shows SARS-CoV-2 contains no additional immunogenic material known or proven to drive GBS. Concerns that Covid vaccination might cause GBS in any significant numbers are therefore almost certainly unfounded," they noted. (IANS)
New York- Researchers have reported the first instance of Covid-19 triggering a recurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome - a rare disorder where the body's immune system attacks nerves and can lead to respiratory failure and death.
While there have been several reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome following Covid-19, this is the first in which Covid-19 actually triggered a recurrence of the condition.
According to a case report, published in the journal Pathogens, a 54-year-old man who had suffered with Guillain-Barre Syndrome twice and had a third occurrence after testing positive for Covid-19.
"The patient came to the emergency room with complaints of progressive difficulty swallowing, then had a fever for three days, followed by weakness in the arms, legs and face," said study researcher Erin McDonnell from the Rutgers University in the US.
"His symptoms were worse this time than in previous episodes. He has since recovered," McDonnell added.
The research tram looked at about 1,200 hospital patients diagnosed with Covid-19 who were admitted and discharged between March and May of 2020 and this was the only instance where Covid-19 triggered the recurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome can follow acute viral and bacterial infections, causing symptoms including weakness and tingling in the extremities.
As the condition worsens, the weakness quickly spreads, eventually sometimes paralysing the whole body.
According to the researchers, while most people recover from the condition, about five per cent of people experience a recurrence.
The findings will improve the understanding of the spectrum of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which may be triggered by acute viral or bacterial infection, and help create treatments for Covid-19 patients. (IANS)
Toronto, Nov 9 (IANS) Researchers have found that people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are likely to die early."The good news is life expectancy has increased in people with IBD, but there is still a gap between people with and without the disease," said study author Eric Benchimol from The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada."However, people with IBD suffer from pain, which can negatively affect daily functioning and contribute to decreased health-adjusted life expectancy," Benchimol added.The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal included 32,818 people living with IBD in 1996 (matched to 163,284 people without IBD), increasing to 83,672 in 2011 (matched to 418,360 non-IBD people). In women with IBD, life expectancy increased by almost three years between 1996 (75.5 years) and 2011 (78.4 years). The findings showed that Life expectancy among men with IBD increased by 3.2 years between 1996 and 2011, from 72.2 years to 75.5 years.However, people with IBD had a consistently shorter life expectancy than those without IBD. Women with IBD can expect to live between 6.6 years and 8.1 years less than women without IBD.Men with IBD can expect to live between five years and 6.1 years less than men without IBD. When measuring health-adjusted life expectancy, a measure of how health-related symptoms and functioning affects both quality of life and life expectancy, the gap between those with and without IBD was even greater. Women with IBD have a health-adjusted life expectancy that is 9.5 to 13.5 years shorter than women without IBD. Men with IBD have a health-adjusted life expectancy that is 2.6 to 6.7 years shorter than men without IBD."Patients with IBD often experience inflammation beyond the intestinal tract and are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other conditions," the authors wrote.--IANSbu/arm
London - Researchers have found that down syndrome is associated with a 10-fold increased risk for Covid-19-related death.
Down syndrome (sometimes called Down's syndrome) is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome - hence its other name, trisomy 21.
This causes physical and mental developmental delays and disabilities.
"Although the down syndrome was not specifically mentioned on official lists of conditions that put people at increased risk, the condition is associated with immune dysfunction, congenital heart disease, and pulmonary pathology," said study author from the UK.
Therefore, it may be an unconfirmed risk factor for severe Covid-19, the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reported.
For the findings, researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Nottingham and the University College London studied a cohort of 8.26 million adults through a 'QResearch' database to evaluate if the down syndrome is a risk factor for death from Covid-19.
The authors found an estimated a 4-fold increased risk for Covid-19-related hospitalisation and a 10-fold increased risk for Covid-19-related death in persons with Down syndrome.
"We are unaware of the effects of down syndrome on Covid-19 outcomes being reported elsewhere yet during this pandemic," the study authors wrote.
They stressed this novel evidence should be used by public health organisations, policymakers, and health care workers to strategically protect vulnerable individuals. (IANS)
Online gadgets have become an integral part of most of people's activities throughout the day, whether for work, entertainment, or staying connected with friends and peers.
This dependence on gadgets has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic and led to increased incidents of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain, experts warned during a webinar conducted on 'Eye health care and online practices during COVID-19'.
Dr Saurabh Choudhry, CEO and HOD, ICARE Eye Hospital and PG Institute, explained how CVS impacts those working on screens for long hours. "It is a new type of disease that has started to take shape as more and more people started working in front of computer screens and felt symptoms like redness, irritation, difficulty in focusing and others," he said while addressing a panel discussion during the webinar.
The webinar was organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) as part of their ongoing series on health - 'Illness to Wellness'.
Dr G.V. Divakar, Managing Director, Divakar's Speciality Hospital, and Asian Research & Training Institute for Skill Transfer, stated that use of online devices such as phones and laptops has significantly gone up during the pandemic by almost 75 per cent. He also said that the increase of screen time is occurring in both children and adults due to online classes and work from home, respectively, leading to CVS.
"Prolonged exposure to screens can lead to developing symptoms of CVS where patient gets headaches, redness etc. When you look at the screen for too long, the blinking rate reduces and can lead to symptoms of dry eyes. To avoid that, we should reduce the duration of screen time, resolution of the screen and can also use supplements like eye drops," he said.
Dr Divakar suggested that gaps in between the sessions are mandatory for children to avoid developing CVS. "The normal screen time should be maximum 30-35 minutes at a stretch. It is advisable that teachers take classes for 30-35 minutes and then give a gap of 15 minutes before resuming classes," he advised.
Meanwhile, experts advised a 20-20-20 rule to avoid CVS consequences for professionals who are working from home.
"For professionals, we suggest that you take a break every 20 minutes for about 20 seconds and look at something 20 feet away. This will relax the muscles and then they can start working again. You can also opt for automated methods where the screen goes dark every 20 minutes and you are forced to take a little break. This will enhance blood circulation to the eyes, neck and back so everything is taken care of by following the 20-20-20 rule. Other factors like the lighting of the room, position of the body, quality of the computer screen also need to be taken care of," Dr Choudhry said.
Besides, other panelists also highlighted the need for more awareness among the public to acknowledge the eye conditions. Dr Mahipal Singh Sachdev, Chairman & Medical Director, Centre for Sight and President of All India Ophthalmological Society, said that parents should let their children undergo eye tests as early as one year after birth.
"It should be well established that after a child is born, after it is one year old and for every year it is in school, it should undergo eye checkups and wear glasses if needed. If you need glasses for refractive error correction and do not wear it then it can affect your performance in school and college. Awareness needs to be increased as it is only in India that the largest cause of blindness is cataract, a completely reversible disease," he said.
Meanwhile, Anil Rajput, Chairman, ASSOCHAM CSR Council, added to the discussion by speaking on best practices to keep our eyes protected. "It is extremely important that we avoid touching the mucous membrane of our mouth, nose and eyes as any contamination on the surface of any object can easily pass on the virus through this mode. It has also been suggested that glasses provide a shield by protecting the eyes from any droplets that can enter through the eye," he said.
The experts also stated that COVID-19 should not be a reason for patients to postpone their checkups and eye surgeries as eye hospitals are taking all precautions to keep patients and caregivers safe. (IANS)
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