Dengue Fever – Symptoms, Tests and Treatment

Dengue is an acute viral infection that continues to plague many countries across the world, including India. Almost over 40% of the world population is living in areas where there is a high risk of dengue. It is still considered one of the leading causes of illness in many countries.

While mild dengue can cause flu-like symptoms, severe dengue can present with potentially fatal complications. Dengue is caused by the bite of the female Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the same species responsible for spreading other viruses like Zika, Chikungunya, etc. It is a mosquito-borne disease caused by four related viruses (called serotypes) namely Dengue virus 1, 2, 3, and 4. Once you are infected with one of these viruses, your body tends to develop immunity to that particular virus, however, you can still catch the other three viruses and get infected at a later stage in life. Because of this very reason, a person can be reinfected with Dengue in his/her lifetime. Although outbreaks in India were mainly due to serotypes 2 and 3 (DENV-2 and DENV-3), dengue virus serotype 1 (DENV-1) was the predominant serotype reported in the 2010 Delhi outbreak.

The mosquito that spreads the dengue virus is mostly found in contaminated stagnant waters in buckets, flower vases, coolers, etc, and usually bites on the legs and arms and is most commonly seen during the daytime, indoors or outdoors. The virus is only caused by the bite of the Aedes mosquito and cannot be transmitted from person to person. Very rarely, dengue can be spread through blood transfusion, organ transplant, or through a needle stick injury.

  • Dengue Fever Symptoms

Symptoms of Dengue are often mistaken or confused with other flu or cold-like illnesses responsible for causing fever and body aches. The most common symptoms of Dengue are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes on the body
  • Muscle or bone pains
  • Body ache
  • Severe headache
  • High fever
  • Tests for Dengue

Doctors use simple blood tests for diagnosing dengue fever. These tests can check for the viral antibodies or the presence of a specific antigen. The most definitive test for Dengue includes a rapid point of care test, known as Dengue NS1 antigen test which can help in identifying the fever early and with more promptness. It increases the likelihood of providing a confirmed diagnosis which enables the doctor to provide patients with appropriate and timely advice and quick follow-ups as well. For patients presenting more than 1 week after fever onset, IgM detection is most useful, although NS1 has been reported positive up to 12 days after fever onset.
Dengue fever usually results in a decreased platelet count in most people. Therefore, the platelet count should be monitored carefully and regularly. A complete blood count (CBC) test gives a complete blood picture along with the platelet count. Make sure to get tested on time.

Typically, if you have dengue, you will be positive for dengue-specific NS1 antigen, a decrease in platelet count, and a decrease in total white blood cells (WBC) count.

  • Treatment for Dengue

Symptoms of dengue typically last 2–7 days. Most people will recover after about a week. The treatment is usually symptomatic, so if someone has a fever or body pain due to dengue, he/ she need to use over-the-counter fever medicines or pain killers to bring down fever, body pains, or headaches. A word of caution here would be to avoid aspirin or ibuprofen as these can further worsen the situation. You should drink plenty of fluids and take proper rest. Drink water at regular intervals or any drink with added electrolytes. Mild symptoms can be treated at home with care, but if the symptoms continue till the late, getting yourself admitted to the hospital as and when advised by your doctor to avoid further complications is the wisest choice.

  • Treatment for severe dengue

If you have any warning signs, seek medical assistance immediately. There is no vaccine for preventing severe dengue. Medical treatment might include blood or platelet transfusion, giving intravenous fluids for hydration. In cases where the patient’s oxygen levels dip, oxygen therapy is also suggested.

  • Prevention of dengue

The first and foremost thing to be done for preventing dengue is to reduce the mosquito population to avoid getting bitten by the Aedes mosquitoes. Follow the below guidelines:

  • Use a good mosquito repellent both inside the house as well as when you step outside.
  • Go for mosquito nets during sleeping, if you are not comfortable using them, you can also apply repellent or use electric repellent devices.
  • For reducing the mosquito population, make sure water is not collected in birdbaths, pet dishes, flower pots, cans, or any other empty vessel.
  • During summers, keep changing the water inside the coolers. All of these should be checked, emptied, and refreshed regularly.
  • Wear full sleeves clothes while going outside to prevent mosquito bites.

Remember, a little bit of extra caution can go a long way in preventing you and your loved ones from falling sick with dengue.

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Scientific Tips For Aging Gracefully

The population of the world, as a whole, is living longer. It is thus essential to implement proactive steps to create changes at both individual and environmental levels, which can promote aging in a better way.

The concept of aging well is a fundamental requirement to improve health and well-being in order to enhance length and quality of life. Aging well highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping wellness on priority while growing older.

Here are 7 scientific tips that can help you age gracefully:

  1. Keeping physically active

It has been observed that poor health in old age is mainly caused due to the effects of multiple lifestyle choices, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and smoking.

Regular exercising lowers the risk of several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. Several studies also suggest that aerobic exercises may improve the symptoms of Alzheimer disease. Moreover, certain evidence have demonstrated the beneficial effect of physical activity on aging at cellular levels, causing an increase in energy, flexibility and overall sense of well-being.

Various types of physical activity that can be done are:

  • Simple exercises such as walking, jogging, yoga, weight lifting or a dance class possess multiple benefits as they can control weight, uplift mood, and makes you sleep better
  • A 30 minute-walk every day, it can also be broken into shorter strolls

It has been recommended that an adult should do 2½ - 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise, 1 ¼ - 2 ½ hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises, or a combination of these two.

If you haven’t been exercising, discuss with your doctor about how you can get started gradually.

  1. Eating a balanced diet

Diet is shown to play an active part in how well you age. Nutritious diet helps in keeping an individual mentally sharp and gives energy to enjoy day-to-day activities. Eating a balanced diet not only helps you age well, but also prevent oneself against various diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, etc.

Numerous studies have shown that chronic illnesses, particularly auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, can be associated with our diet, hence, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory components such as fresh fruits and vegetables is recommended.

In addition, avoiding processed food with a higher glycemic index can raise your BMI, increase your waistline, and raise your blood sugar. Enough vitamin D level is essential as it helps contribute to bone health as you age. Salt should be kept to minimum to prevent high blood pressure.

The recommended diet for aging well should include the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta
  • Lean protein, such as fish and beans
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that contain vitamin D
  1. Focusing on mental health

Mental health is very crucial as happiness with less stress levels can help a person age gracefully and liver longer and healthier.

Various tips for improving your mental health includes:

  • One should practice the habit of staying optimistic. Keeping a positive outlook can cure stress associated with life problems.
  • One should stay connected as loneliness is harmful for your mental health. A lonelier individual has higher levels of stress hormones that cause inflammation, linked to disorders like arthritis. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network enhance both mental and physical well-being and longevity.
  • Learn to embrace different aspects of life with a positive attitude.
  • Find new hobbies as exploring new and meaningful things can provide a sense of purpose and keep your anxiety levels to minimum. Keep yourself busy to lessen stress about things you can’t control.
  1. Getting enough sleep

The sleeping habit of an adult in this era has been greatly affected by changed lifestyle and work pressure. This sleep-deprived state in turn, leads to fatigue and premature aging of body cells.

It has been observed that insomnia is more common in older adults. Thus, sticking to a sleeping schedule is important as it can keep a body in sync for appropriate sleep. For an uninterrupted sleep:

  • Keep the room a little cooler and dark
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening
  • Avoid electronics before bedtime which emit blue light.

Usually sleeping hours are majorly dependent on your age, an 8-hours sleep is recommended for an adult for better mental and physical health. It has been reported that our skin cells build and repair themselves during sleep, and that’s why we feel renewed and rejuvenated.

Beneficial effects of appropriate sleep include:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reducing the risk of obesity
  • Improving focus and concentration.
  1. Restricting smoking and alcohol consumption

Smoking and alcohol, both have shown many negative effects on the process of aging. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products with nicotine can cause ailments like heart disease, cancer, lung and gum disease, etc. Similarly, limit your alcohol consumption to avoid risk of health diseases including liver ailments.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are resources that can help you quit. Seek the help of a healthcare professional.

It has been reported that your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette.

  1. Scheduling health tests on time

    As you age, your body organs also age. The aging body organs are more prone to get diseased and less likely to repair themselves. By getting your health tests done regularly, you are keeping an eye on the aging body. This helps to identify any health condition at an early stage, and take action. Ensure to get a full body check up done twice a year.
  1. Maintain hydration

    Hydration is vital to our bodies as drinking water regularly helps in releasing out toxins and aids in digestion. Additionally, it aids in sleeping better, and improves focus and weight loss. Adequate water intake can also help you avoid dry, flaky skin and fine lines, which in turn, can help your skin look younger.
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winter exercise ideas Metropolis Healthcare

Did you just get started with your daily workout routine, but finding exercising completely impossible during this chilly time of the year? Feel like pulling up the blanket and not move even an inch unless that move is within your cozy bed? Ha ha! This is certainly not new for most of us. However, what makes achievers achieve their fitness goals is a little motivation and few simple hacks to stay active in winter.

It’s important to exercise in winter 

Exercising in winter might appear difficult. But, there are enough reasons why you should not give up on your workout during chilly winter. First and foremost, exercise improves your blood circulation and helps keep the body maintain a comfortable temperature inside. There is no heat and humidity, so you can exercise even longer and gain most out of the winter workout! Even a simple walk in the sunlight helps you get a daily dose of vitamin D. Also, amid COVID-19, staying active is quintessential for keeping your immunity intact to fight infection-causing germs.

Here are 6 simple tips for staying active in winter and beat inactivity:

  1. Check the mirror and play a mind game with yourself

    As per few global surveys, people tend to gain 2.25 to 3.15 kg on an average during the winter months. Remind yourself that it is easy to hide that belly fat under sweaters and loose fitting sweatshirts, but summers will be back in some 2-3 months and that will no more be easy! Your mind will keep reminding you about this and make you move more. Remember, it’s not about the few kilos you put on, it’s about the extra load you aimed to take off! 

  2. Bring exercise indoors

    You may not feel comfortable to exercise outside during the winter months. Opt for workouts you can do indoors, and also stay active and warm. You can walk up and down the stairs for 10-15 times in one go and repeat this twice to thrice a day. Join a community dance class or work out to a video at home. If you love to dance, just move around on that groovy music track you love. The most important part of an exercise routine is to find pleasure in it and enjoy it too. If you’re having fun, you are more likely to stick with exercise.
  1. Remove layers as you heat up

    It is common to put on too many layers during winter. The mistake that most people make is to not peel them off in time. Exercising helps your body get considerably warm. Remember that it is time to discard the layers to feel comfortable as soon as you feel your body temp is at about baseline. If you get cold later after finishing up, you can put it back on.

    The intensity of exercise will affect how many layers you need. If you chose to run, you might need fewer layers than if you are a walker. The faster you move, the more body heat you produce. Keep in mind that you should always choose a workout that your body can feel comfortably with. A mild pain is common when you are just getting started. However, if you continue to feel lethargic and uncomfortable, consult your doctor. Scheduling a full body health check-up is a great way to know what might be causing the fatigue.  

  2. Don’t let a lack of time get you down

    You might have a very busy schedule, but remind yourself that exercise does not have to take long. Weave movement in your daily chores. There are many simple ways to increase your physical activity. When your favorite song comes on the radio, dance for a minute or two. While you’re brushing your teeth, walk a bit and tighten the muscles in your bottom and thighs during spitting out. Get up and stretch on your sides every 2-3 hours.

  3. Seek out a workout partner or group
    When you exercise with a partner or group, you are more likely to be regular with exercising due to social pressure. You will have to show up because they’re there, waiting for you, even if it is so chilly outside. Exercise partners motivate you and also build a competitive mindset that lets you never skip a workout session.

  4. Get yourself a fur friend

    When it comes to getting fit in the most enjoyable way, your best workout buddy might just be your furry friend! You might not be in the habit of morning walk, but it’s so hard to deny those cute eyes, it won’t let you wimp out if it is drizzling! They will wait by your walking sneakers, and tail wagging. Their habit can be enough to change your lazy winter nature.

These great winter workout tips don’t require you to brave the cold or the pandemic. Just make your mind that exercising in winter isn’t that tough! 

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Why You Need More Vitamin D In The Winter

The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, requires exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from the sun for its synthesis. During the sunny summer days, making enough vitamin D can be very efficient. However, as soon as the winter arrives, less sunlight is available and the risk of vitamin D deficiency increases. As per many researchers, your body needs vitamin D not only to maintain bone health but also to keep healthy and to fight infections. The irony is that in winter, when you need vitamin D the most, you end up getting deficient for this essential vitamin.

You can fix a problem only when you know it exists. Especially during the winter months, experts recommend a blood test that assesses the amount of vitamin D in the body. It is particularly important for you to get tested for vitamin D if you are over age 70, have darker skin, have malabsorption problems or take medicines that interfere with vitamin D absorption (for example, glucocorticoids). If you have liver and kidney disease, you can be often deficient in vitamin D. These organs are required to make the active form of the vitamin, whether it comes from the sun or from food.

For a good gut health during winter

Enough has been known and written about vitamin D deficiency leading to bone diseases like rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. However, research has shown that vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. One of the ways vitamin D functions is by keeping the gut microbes healthy. If you have sufficient vitamin D levels, you are more likely to have those healthy gut bacteria just right in number and diversity. This helps reduce inflammation throughout the body. On the other side, low vitamin D levels can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease in some people.

Strong immunity needs vitamin D

There has been a lot of buzz around the role of vitamin D in boosting immunity. This holds great significance in the times of COVID-19 pandemic. Some scientists have claimed that the immune system has vitamin D receptors that determine which cells can use vitamin D. Having enough of this sunshine vitamin might help improve your ability to fight infections and reduce inflammation.

Less time spent outside

In the winter, you are more likely to catch infections. Also, you are more likely to lie comfortably in your cozy blanket and spend less time outside. This leads to more and more of us getting vitamin deficiency in the winter.

Vitamin D and Calcium, the best friends

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium from your diet. Along with vitamin D, calcium plays a significant role in keeping your bone and muscles health intact.  

Eat healthy to get enough vitamin D

Apart from exposure to the sun, you can get enough vitamin D for your body through certain food items as well, including tuna, sardines, mushrooms and fortified dairy and orange juice. Adding vitamin D supplements can be a good way to reach the recommended vitamin D intake.

Lack of sun exposure during the winter months would be less of a problem if diet provided adequate vitamin D. But there aren’t many vitamin D–rich foods , and you need to eat a lot of them to cover up the recommended vitamin D intake of 10 μg/day (400 IU/day) for adults.

The COVID-19 angle

Some of the recent researchers have claimed that people who are deficient in vitamin D are more likely to get severe COVID-19 illness. Vitamin D deficient people might have a higher chance of getting hospitalized too. Whether vitamin D has any role in preventing coronavirus infection or not, it isn’t clear yet and needs more data and robust evidence.
Think you have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19? Book a COVID-19 test and get tested at home. 

Overdoing is prohibited, too

While you aim to get enough vitamin D, keep in mind that too much vitamin D can be harmful. Want to know exactly how much vitamin D healthy adults should have? Or confused about when to get tested for vitamin D? Check out this article to stay in the know.

Remember that the same UVB rays that help in vitamin D synthesis, can damage your skin as well. Under the right circumstances, 10 to 15 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all the vitamin D we need. However, various factors affect this synthesis: the season, the time of day, where you live, cloud cover, and even pollution levels. In addition, your skin’s production of vitamin D is influenced by age, skin color, and sunscreen use.

Book a vitamin D test to be sure if your levels are enough to support a healthy you. This winter, get tested on time and don’t let your body suffer from lack of vitamin D by taking early steps.  

Also read “Why and when you should get tested for Vitamin D?

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5 effective ways to deal with hair fall in the winter

With the onset of winter, it’s not surprising to see yourself losing a lot of hair in the shower than you normally do. Just as your skin health is cyclical based on the changing seasons, as is the hair loss you’re likely to suffer during winter. Excessive hair loss in winter is largely due to the dry air outside that sucks out all the moisture from your scalp, and makes it dry. A dry scalp leads to dry hair, which in turn results in hair damage, breakage, and hair loss. A dry scalp also leads to dandruff, which makes your head feel itchy and unhealthy. This, along with arid air, can cause a significant amount of hair fall in the winter.

Even those with the healthiest of hair have their set of challenges this time of the year. If you’re wondering what you can do to make sure your hair doesn’t fall out or break in the colder months of the year, read on to discover what you can do to stop hair loss in winter!

Follow these 5 tips for effectively reducing hair fall in the winter:

1. Oil massages

There’s nothing like a good scalp massage for your hair in the winter. This helps increase blood circulation to your scalp, which helps strengthen the hair follicles from within.

Warm up 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil or almond oil and massage it slowly on the scalp to help it penetrate deep down the hair roots. For deep conditioning, you can apply the oil on the length of your hair too. Besides being extremely soothing, oil massages are a great way to provide your hair and scalp with the right vitamins needed to fight the winter winds. Regularly massaging your hair with oil is essential to maintain its strength and shine, improve blood circulation and ensure good nourishment for your hair cuticles. Keep an eye on your vitamin B levels as vitamin B12 promotes healthy hair growth.

To get rid of dandruff, take some oil and mix some amount of camphor and apply to your scalp. Camphor works as an antiseptic and helps in reducing the dryness of your scalp and preventing itchiness.

2. Look for the actual cause of hair fall

From stress to nutritional deficiencies, simple daily habits of yours can add to your winter-related hair fall. Consult a hair specialist (trichologist) to help you keep your strands lustrous and healthy. Your doctor can recommend you certain health tests to understand your health numbers and blood parameters. A complete blood picture can help your doctor rule out systemic diseases that might be causing your hair and scalp’s condition. Book blood test now.

3. Eat healthy and stay hydrated

Unhealthy diets coupled with lack of essential vitamins, minerals and other hair nutrients in your diet can result in hair loss. Vitamin A stirs up healthy production of sebum in the scalp, vitamin E stimulates blood circulation in the scalp to help hair follicles remain productive and vitamin B helps in maintaining the hair’s health. Poor diet coupled with nutritional deficiencies inhibits your body’s ability to create new hair follicles. Ensure you consume sufficient green meals and proteins as required in cold weather. Eating lean meats, curd, fish, soy or other proteins promotes hair growth and keeps a check on hair loss.

Think you are not taking enough care of your health? Book a health check up now.

Besides, water is the magic potion that we all need to stay hydrated from within in this dry winter weather. Drink plenty of water and keep your hair well hydrated. This will prevent split ends and brittle hair, nurturing shiny, radiant hair.

4. Use the right kind of hair products as per your hair type

You use a plethora of hair products including hair oils, shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks. Choosing the right hair product that suits your hair needs is a critical part of preventing hair loss. For example, if you have dry hair, opt for products that offer deep conditioning.

Moisturising with a conditioner is a key hair care routine step which is skipped way too often. It is in fact the most crucial step in winters. Conditioning works wonders on your hair’s outermost layer, the cuticle for it to look healthy and shiny. By conditioning after every wash, you ensure that the cuticle serves its purpose as the protective shield that it’s meant to be. While buying, look for a conditioner with cetyl alcohol as it is considered as a good moisturizing agent.

In addition to this, a deep conditioning hair mask is a great way to keep your hair hydrated, and prevent it from drying out and becoming dull and lifeless. Natural home-made hair packs for winter hair care give you shiny hair and can be applied once or twice a week.

To start with hair care at home, take a mashed banana and egg and mix well to form a paste. Add a few drops of lemon along with a Vitamin E capsule and blend well using a blender. Apply this paste from roots to tips of your hair and wait for 30 minutes before washing it off with a mild shampoo.

You can even use a natural aloe vera gel and add a few drops of lemon juice along with one tablespoon of olive or coconut oil. Apply this mixture well from root to the hair tips. Wait for 30 minutes. Use a mild shampoo and cold (preferably) or lukewarm water to rinse your hair.

5. Avoid taking hot shower

Avoid taking prolonged hot showers or head wash in hot water. Too much heat can damage your hair. Instead, opt for lukewarm water while taking a head bath.

Also, try limiting the use of curling irons or blow dryers. The less you’ll deal with these heat styling tools, the better off your hair will be. If you style your hair too often, use a hair protection spray before experimenting.

All set to control hair fall in winter?

Make these tips a regular routine for your winter hair care and make great hair with great care! This winter, bid adieu to all your hair woes and leave all those bad hair days behind.

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Must follow winter tips for diabetics

Winter has almost arrived in most parts of the country. With the changing season, everyone needs a little more care, a little more attention. If you or a loved one has diabetes, this becomes all the more important since diabetes is a chronic health condition that needs constant support and efforts in every season.

Winter and diabetes

As per a study, most people with diabetes could have higher HbA1c levels in winter as compared to the summer. This occurs because the body tends to release more glucose to keep itself warm in winter; but for this ends up being more harmful than helpful for those having diabetes.

Here are 8 practical tips diabetics must know for a healthy winter: 

1. Eat healthy without going overboard

Cold weather in winter may make you prone to comfort eating. Remember, the basics of mindful eating do not change with the changing weather. Avoid processed and deep fried food items. If you face craving for some hot ghee parathas with butter, opt for cooking that at home. This helps avoid unhealthy, refined oil in the outside food. 

2. Store your insulin and diabetes devices out of the cold

Similar to extreme heat, extreme cold may also affect your insulin and diabetes devices such as insulin pens, pumps, and glucometers. Avoid exposing your insulin solutions to temperature below 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing temperatures can cause insulin to break down and lose its effectiveness. Your glucometer working might also be affected. Ensure it is protected in a safe case.

3. Don’t skip your health tests and expert consultations

As mentioned earlier, the season changes need you to monitor your blood sugar closely. If you experience any worsening of symptoms or a new symptom appears, consult with your healthcare team. You might need adjustments in your medicines and diet to help keep your sugar numbers within the desired range.

Check out our Diabetes monitoring profiles.

4. Keep an eye on your skin, especially feet

Dry air in the winter can cause your skin to lose moisture and crack. A cracked skin is more prone to wounds and infections. Take extra care of your feet. Keep checking the area in between the fingers. If you notice any injury or infection that isn’t healing or taking too long to heal, talk to a diabetes expert immediately.

5. Boost immunity to stay safe from infections

Health issues like flu, bronchitis, sore throat, etc, are quite commonly encountered in winter, and can cause diabetics to get complications or a more severe disease. Get your flu vaccination done to help keep yourself safe against the flu. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or keep hand sanitizer handy while going out. If you do get sick, follow sick day rules provided by your doctor.

Sick days can cause stress and result in blood sugar fluctuations. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to not ignore any kind of fever. As per experts, people with diabetes have an increased risk of getting a severe COVID-19 illness. Ensure to get tested well in time to seek early care.

Work on your body’s natural defense system as well. Include herbal teas and sugar free chyawanprash in your daily diet to boost immunity.

6. Keep your hands warm

Cold weather can leave you with cold hands, making testing your blood glucose more difficult. It gets a bit difficult to bring blood drop while pricking. Wearing hand gloves is one of the easiest ways to keep your hands warm. If your hands are cold before testing, warm them up on a warm mug or with warm soapy water.

7. Keep yourself physically active

Getting out of the cozy blanket for exercising might not appear as a good idea. However, keeping active helps increase blood circulation and makes you feel warmer. Don’t skip your exercise routine. Continue to keep yourself moving during the winter season to help keep your blood sugar levels under control. You can even choose to work out at home.

Feeling fatigued to work out? Check your health within the comfort of your home.

8. Use hot water bags correctly

Avoid keeping hot water bags in direct contact with bare skin. Your skin sensitivity may be impaired in people with diabetes due to diabetic neuropathy. Keep a barrier, such as a hand towel or a folded cotton dupatta, between the skin and the water bag.

Takeaway You can enjoy this cold weather in the best of your health by simply following these winter health hacks. Ensure to go out only when necessary. Stay at home. Stay safe. And, learn to keep your diabetes in check.

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simple stretches to relieve back pain Metropolis Healthcare

Modern technology has blessed us with plenty of benefits and conveniences, but with one major drawback: our fondness for prolonged sitting. Many of us sit for more than nine hours a day, seven days a week. Experts are now convinced that sitting for long stretches can affect our health in the long run and have linked too much sitting to several ailments such as back pain, increased stress of the upper and lower back, neck, arms and shoulders. With the work from home scenario, prolonged sitting in a hunched over position can put greater strain on the back muscles and spinal discs, the fluid-filled cushions that protect the vertebrae from rubbing against each other and act as the shock absorber for your spine. However, you can save your back from the pain by finding simple ways to incorporate health and fitness into everyday work life.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of efforts to track and take better care of your health on the job. Book a complete health check-up in no time.

Working from home and feeling that restricted movement is harming your back? Including stretching exercises into your daily routine can help relieve back pain and improve your posture and flexibility.

7 simple stretches to relieve back pain

Stretching, improving hip flexibility and core stability can help reduce the symptoms of lower back pain. To help you get started, we have put together this list of 7 simple yet effective work-friendly stretching exercises that will counter the effects of sitting all day.

  1. Bridge exercise

Rest comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your shoulders and head pressed against the floor and relaxed, tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles. Keeping your arms by your side and your core engaged, raise your hips towards the ceiling to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders, with your chest off the ground. Try to hold the position long enough to complete 3-4 deep breaths. Return to the starting position. Do five repetitions and gradually work up to 20. Do not try to hold your breath as you perform this exercise.

  1. Knee-to-chest stretch

Lie on your back with your heels flat on the floor. Using both hands, pull up one knee and press it to your chest while keeping the other leg bent or extended straight out along the floor. Feel the tight stretch down the back of your leg and the gluteus muscles. Tighten your abdominals and press your spine all the way down to your tailbone and avoid lifting your hips. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Return to the starting position, switch legs and repeat the same thing. Next, return to the starting position and then repeat with both legs at the same time, preferably 2-3 times. To take it a notch higher, tuck your chin into your chest and lift your head up toward your knee.

  1. Back twist

For occasions, when you’re unable to get away from your work area, doing a back twist could be a good alternative. Sit comfortably in your chair and place your right arm behind your right hip. Twist to your right and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Do this 4-5 times in both the directions. This is a natural stretch that you can do when your body is feeling a bit stiff and tired.

Your bones and muscles need Vitamin D for optimal functioning. Sure your body has enough of it? Book a Vitamin D test now.  

  1. Prayer Stretch or Child’s pose

Sit back on your heels while tucking legs underneath your thighs and bend forward at the waist, extending arms out over the head onto the ground, making sure your lower back muscles are stretched completely and your hips are resting on the heels. Rest your belly on your thighs. Hold for 30-60 seconds and slowly bring yourself back to the start. Breathe deeply, releasing any tension or tightness. Repeat 3-5 times to help relieve back pain and strengthen your muscles. Feeling better now? You can do this pose several times during the day, and also between each stretch.

  1. Lower-Abs lifts

Simply, sit straight up, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg up at a 90 degree angle, keeping the core tight. After doing 7-8 reps, switch to the other leg. And then try lifting both up at the same time. Alternatively, extend your right leg out in front of you until it’s straight and parallel with the floor. Hold the pose for 10 seconds, release, and repeat with your left leg. You can make it more challenging by positioning both your hands parallel to the floor, in a straight-back position.

  1. Spinal Twist

Keeping seated with your knees in line with one another flat on the floor, place your right hand on your left knee and twist your entire upper body to the left, looking behind your shoulder. You can place your hands on the chair handle to help deepen the stretching exercise. Take a few deep breaths, and then twist back and repeat on the other side. Hold on for 20-30 seconds and as far as you comfortably can. This stretch keeps your spine flexible, and is also beneficial to your lower back.

  1. Hip-Flexor stretching exercise

To begin with, place one foot on top of your chair, shift slightly forward onto your straight leg, bringing your back hip forward as well. Feel the stretch on your hip flexor of that back leg. Make sure your lower back is straight throughout; if not activate your core by pulling your torso back towards your spine. Remain in this pose for 10-15 seconds and then switch sides before you repeat.

When to seek Medical Care for lower back pain

While not common, certain back pain symptoms can signal a serious underlying medical condition. If your lower back pain interferes with daily life activities, it’s advisable to seek medical attention to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Your health numbers can give a fair enough idea to your healthcare provider what might be causing your back pain. Book a full body check-up now. 

Apart from these, a diagnostic imaging scan including X-ray, CT scan, and MRI can provide more insights and may be indicated if you have acute pain, not relieved within two or three months or one that does not get better with nonsurgical treatments.

You can now save tax on the Preventive health check-ups up to Rs. 5000, under section 80D of Income Tax Act, 1961.

Ready to relieve back pain at home?

You use your lower back for several important things, from walking and running to simply getting out of bed in the morning, which makes it essential to keep it in good working order with regular stretching. While some mild discomfort and pain can be expected anytime you start a new workout, as you work your way back to better health and your muscles strengthen, that pain and discomfort should disappear.

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Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium and phosphorus from the diet. That is why it is essential for the development and functioning of bones and teeth. It is available in two forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is mainly found in plant-based food and whereas vitamin D3 is made by your own body when it is exposed to sunlight. It is also found in animal-based foods. 

Both forms of vitamin D are changed to an active form which is 25 hydroxyvitamin D, also known as 25(OH)D.

What is the importance of Vitamin D test in India?

According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, approximately 70-90% of the healthy Indian population is vitamin D deficient. Low level of vitamin D occurs commonly in India across the different age, sex, gender, urban or rural settings. 

How do you know if your vitamin D levels are sufficient?

If you have low levels of vitamin D, your body might give some signs such as pain in joints and limbs, fatigue, etc. However, it is not uncommon to have vitamin D deficiency and have no signs altogether.
A Vitamin D test is the best way to know if you have sufficient levels of vitamin D in your body. This test is done to measure the level of 25 hydroxyvitamin D in your blood to check whether it is low or higher than normal.

When should you get a Vitamin D test?

You need to undergo vitamin D test if you fall into any one of the following categories:

1. You suffer from bone problems: Studies state that vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, which plays an important role in the maintenance of bone health. Hence if you are suffering from pain in the bones or weak and fragile bones; you should get a vitamin test done. 

2. You have a disease that reduces the body’s ability to use vitamin D: These are diseases of the liver, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, digestive system, and others.

3. You are a senior citizen: Elderly people need to get their vitamin D level tested. This is because due to age and staying indoors, their skin fails to make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as efficiently when young.  Aging causes a range of health problems. Want to make aging easier for you? Make sure to get your full body health tested regularly.

4. You are obese: In case of obesity, body fat binds to available vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood. Thus obesity might make you vitamin D deficient.

Obesity can cause derangement of cholesterol levels. Get tested for high levels of bad cholesterol here. 

5. Your exposure to sunlight is limited: Since your body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you are housebound or have an occupation with limited sun exposure (if working in corporates, hospitals, etc.)

6. You underwent weight-loss surgeries: Weight loss surgeries reduce the size of the stomach. This makes it difficult for the body to absorb a sufficient amount of vitamin D.

7. If you are taking certain medicines: Medicines such as anticholesterol, antifungal, antifungal, and antiviral drugs also affect vitamin D metabolism. 

8. Breastfeed babies: Breastmilk is not rich in vitamin D. That is why breastfed babies are advised to take vitamin D supplements. If not, their vitamin D level should be tested to probe vitamin D deficiency.

9. You have dark skin: This is because a large amount of pigment melanin in the skin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

10. Your diet lacks a source of vitamin D:  Vitamin D is mainly found in animal sources including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, milk, and liver. If you follow a strict vegan diet, you might end up having a low level of vitamin D. 

11. You are suffering regularly from one of these: Frequent nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness can be a sign of excess vitamin D in the body.  

What happens in a Vitamin D test?

This test is performed using a blood sample. Following steps are taken:

  • A fresh syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood from a vein in your arm. 
  • A healthcare provider will first tie an elastic band around your arm. You may be asked to open and close your hand to make a fist. This makes the veins swell with blood and visible. 
  • The area from where the sample will be taken will then be cleaned with an antiseptic solution and a cotton ball. 
  • The needle is then inserted into the vein to collect your blood sample.
  • You will feel a tiny prick like an ant bite during the procedure. 
  • Blood samples once collected will then be sent to the laboratory.

What do vitamin D test results mean?

This test measures the level of the active form of vitamin D which is 25(OH)D: 

  • Lower levels of 25(OH)D can indicate various health problems like bone disorders, insufficient nutrition, or other medical problems. It can be due to less exposure to sunlight, deficiency of vitamin D in the diet, or decreased absorption from the intestine. 
  • Higher levels of 25(OH)D than the normal range indicates vitamin D excess which might occur due to overdose of vitamin D.


The normal range of vitamin D is measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or nmol/L and can vary from lab to lab.

  • Deficiency- <20
  • Insufficiency- 20-29
  • Sufficiency- 30-100
  • Toxicity- >100

How frequently do you need to take the vitamin D test?

Normally doctors do not recommend a vitamin D test but if they do, ask about your risks. If you are at a higher risk, it is advisable to get the test. If it is low, you can take advice to boost your vitamin D level with supplements and sun exposure.

Bottom line

Maintain an adequate level of vitamin D with a proper diet and spend time in the sun. If you choose to take supplements, it is advisable to take it only under medical prescription.

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Vitaminb12 Deficiency symptoms

In today’s time, almost everyone is turning towards a plant-based diet. Although it is healthy, it has a few downfalls if you do not take supplements for certain nutrients missing in a plant-based diet. One of these important nutrients is vitamin B12. Falling short of vitamin B12 can have a serious impact on your health

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for the human body. It is a micronutrient which means your body requires it in small amounts. It is naturally found in animal foods. Vitamin B12 is required for red blood cell formation, optimal functioning of brain and nerve cells, and maintenance of a healthy immune system.

It is also known as cobalamin and is a water-soluble vitamin. This means it can dissolve in water and travel into the bloodstream. Any excess vitamin B12 is excreted in the urine.

Your body can store vitamin B12 for several years in the liver, so a deficiency of this vitamin is usually rare. However, if you are a vegetarian, you might become deficient because plant foods do not contain vitamin B12. To prevent that, you need to take vitamin B12 from supplements.

Where can you get vitamin B12 from?

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods. Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Poultry
  • Red meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Fish
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified nutritional yeast
  • Enriched soy milk

How much vitamin B12 do you need?

According to the National Institute of Health, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for men and women aged 14 years and above is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) daily.

For pregnant and lactating women, it is 2.6 mcg and 2.8 mcg daily, respectively.

Want to get your vitamin B12 level checked? Check here

What happens when you do not take an adequate amount of vitamin B12?

This leads to various deficiencies such as:

1. Anemia

When you do not take an adequate amount of vitamin B12, it leads to a type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia. In this condition, the size of the red blood cells increases. As a result of this, the red blood cells are unable to move from bone marrow to the bloodstream. Consequently, you might face fatigue, weakness, pale skin, and shortness of breath.

2. Tingling sensation in hands and legs

Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in maintaining the covering of nerve cells, called the myelin sheath. It is the fatty material that surrounds and protects your nerves. When you are vitamin B12 deficient, your nerve cells cannot function properly. This eventually might alter the way you move. It can affect your body balance and make you more likely to fall.

3. Brain fog

Your memory can become hazy. You can find it difficult to concentrate.

4. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones become weak and may break from a fall. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in maintaining good bone health. Low levels might lead to low bone mineral density. This makes the bones delicate and fragile over time, leading to osteoporosis.

Some of the other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are confusion, depressive symptoms, and vision loss. Some of the studies had stated that vitamin B12 deficiency could pose a risk of COVID-19 in older patients. However, these studies still remain to be peer-reviewed. Further validation research is required to claim the association of vitamin B12 deficiency and COVID-19.

Who can be at a risk of vitamin B12 deficiency?

  • People avoiding animal products

People who follow a strict plant-based diet are at risk of becoming deficient in vitamin B12 since it is found naturally in animal products.

  • Elderly people

Gastritis is a condition that affects elderly people the most. In this condition, the body becomes unable to absorb vitamin B12 that is naturally present in food.

  • People with certain digestive disorders

Certain digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac, and Crohn’s disease reduces the body’s potential to absorb vitamin B12. Thus causing deficiency of vitamin B12.

  • People who had undergone gastrointestinal surgery

Weight loss surgeries or surgery to remove part of the stomach often interferes in the proper absorption of vitamin B 12 from the diet.

  • Pregnant and lactating women

Vitamin B12 can pass from mother to baby via breast milk. Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their baby and follow a plant-based diet might make their baby deficient of vitamin B12. Without enough vitamin B12, the baby might have growth and developmental delays.

  • People with chronic alcoholism

In this condition, the body becomes unable to absorb vitamin B12 efficiently from the diet.

How to overcome vitamin B12 deficiency?

You can take animal-based food and if you are a vegetarian you can take vitamin B12 fortified cereals. You can also take vitamin B12 supplements with doctor’s advice.

Are there any side-effects of vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. After the body utilises the required amount of vitamin B12, leftover amount will pass through urine. Generally, there are no side-effects seen with excess vitamin B12 intake from food. However, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before starting a high dose of vitamin B12 supplements.

When do you need a vitamin B12 test?

If you think you might be vitamin B12 deficient, it is advisable to consult your doctor and get a blood test done. Vitamin B12 is like a regular blood test and you can get it done from any trustworthy laboratory.

The normal range is 211 – 911 pg/mL irrespective of sex and age.

Bottom line

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble and essential vitamin. It is responsible for various health benefits like preventing anemia, supporting the nervous system, improving and maintaining healthy bones. You can get the required amount of vitamin B12 from your diet (animal food). However, if you follow a plant-based diet or have a condition that affects absorption, supplements are a simple way to increase your B12 intake.

Take care, stay healthy!

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Ayurvedic Remedies For Cold Cough

Who does not love to enjoy a cup of piping hot coffee on a beautiful rainy day? Everyone does! But this season also brings a tale of woes: Cold & Cough. 

Although mild common cold is relatively harmless, it can still be taxing for you to do your daily chores. Apart from the change in season, there are other factors that can cause coughing and cold. Well, cough is a common reflex action and can also occur when a foreign particle enters inside your airways. 
Seasonal and environmental allergies are among one of the most common causes of cold and cough. Think you could be allergic to some substances? Take an allergy test and know at the comfort of your home.

Manage cold and cough at home with these ayurvedic remedies

In addition to medicines and cough syrups, you can use some simple ayurvedic remedies to help you feel better. 

According to Ayurveda, imbalance in any of the three doshas i.e., vata, pitta, kapha can cause an ailment. In this case, an excess of Pitta and Kapha in the body causes nasal congestion and cough. 

To tackle this, here are some ayurvedic remedies to manage your cold and cough:

1. Tulsi

In Ayurveda, Tulsi is known as "Mother Medicine of Nature" and "The Queen of Herbs". Tulsi leaves help improve the individual’s ability to fight against common cold as well as cough. 

How it works

Tulsi boosts the production of antibodies thereby preventing the onset of any infections. Tulsi has cough relieving properties. It helps soothe the airways by helping you cough out the sticky mucus. 

How to take

Tulsi leaves

  • Chew 4-5 tulsi leaves the first thing in the morning. You can continue taking Tulsi leaves to boost your immunity.

Tulsi kadha

  • Take a few tulsi leaves. Wash it well.
  • Boil water in a pan, add the tulsi leaves.
  • To it, add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger and 5-6 peppercorns.
  • Boil the mixture for at least 10 minutes.
  • Finally, add a pinch of black salt and squeeze ½ lemon to it.
  • Let it stand for 1 minute.
  • Strain and drink it warm.

Tulsi Tea

  • Add fresh tulsi leaves to 1½ cups of water.
  • Boil on a medium flame for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the water using a strainer.
  • Add lemon juice and mix well.
  • Drink warm to get relief from cough and cold.

2. Honey

With loads of antimicrobial properties, honey is not only heavenly for your taste buds but also helps ease sore throat. It is an effective cough suppressant. 

How it works

Honey provides relief from chest congestion by loosening thick mucus and helping you to cough it out. This helps reduce wet cough. 

How to take

  • Take a teaspoonful of honey before going to bed at night to reduce the severity of cough. Continue till you do not get relief from cough.

Honey in Ginger Juice

  • Take 1 teaspoon honey.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of ginger juice and 1 pinch of black pepper.
  • Take once in the morning and once before going to bed at night to get relief from a sore throat and cough.

Honey is a miracle of nature which not only aids in improving digestion but boosting your metabolism also. Keep a check on your overall health with a comprehensive full body check-up.

3. Mulethi

Mulethi or Licorice, also known as “Sweet wood”, is an effective Ayurvedic herb for cough. Mulethi powder is useful in managing sore throat, cough and excessive production of mucus in the airway.

How it works

Mulethi has expectorant property. It thins and loosens the mucus inside the airways. This eases coughing and reduces congestion.

How to take

Mulethi water

  • Take 1 teaspoon Mulethi powder and add to 1 glass of warm water. Drink this twice a day.

Mulethi tea

  • Take 1 small piece of Mulethi root and add it to boiling water.
  • Add grated ginger and let it simmer for around 5 minutes. 
  • Add a tea bag and drink this tea twice a day.

Mulethi kadha

  • Take 1/4 teaspoon mulethi powder, a pinch of cinnamon powder, black pepper powder and few tulsi leaves.
  • Add to 1 cup of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a cup and add 1 teaspoon honey to it. 

Drink this kadha twice a day.

4. Pippali

Pippali is an effective herb in managing cough and cold. Studies state that it gives relief from headache and congestion associated with common cold. 

How it works

Pippali loosens mucus and helps to cough it out, thus allowing the patient to breathe freely. This is due to its expectorant property.

How to take

Pippali Churna

  • Take a pinch of pippali churna.
  • Swallow it with 1 teaspoon honey. 
  • Repeat 1-2 times a day and continue till cold and cough subsides.

5. Sonth

Dry ginger popularly known as sonth or sukku or soonth is one of the main ingredients of herbal cough syrups. Sonth, when taken with honey, acts as a soothing remedy for cough and cold.

How it works

Sonth contains certain molecules that have anti-inflammatory properties. This helps reduce sore throat. 

How to take

Sonth with honey

  • Take 1/4 teaspoon sonth and add to 1 teaspoon honey. 
  • Mix well and take it twice a day for at least 3 days.

Sonth goli

  • Take 2-3 tbsp of desi ghee in a pan. Keep the flame low.
  • Add 2-3 teaspoon jaggery powder and let it melt. To this add 2-3 tbsp sonth powder. Mix well.
  • Allow it to cool. 
  • Shape into bite-sized balls.
  • You can take 1 goli twice a day.

6. Cinnamon

This woody aromatic spice is loaded with many health benefits and one of them is relief from cold and cough. It not only gives relief from common cold but is also great for a sore throat. 

How it works

Cinnamon is known to have antiviral property. This helps fight against the virus causing common cold. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help give relief from a sore throat. 

How to take

Cinnamon tea

  • Make your regular cup of black tea.
  • Add a pinch of cinnamon powder to it.
  • Drink it 2-3 times a day.

Cinnamon with honey

  • Take 1 teaspoon honey and add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder.
  • Mix and take it twice a day for at least 3 days.

7. Giloy

Giloy, also known as Amrita or Guduchi in Hindi, has heart-shaped leaves that resemble betel leaves.

It helps manage cold and cough caused due to allergic reactions to pollution, smoke or pollen. It also helps to manage cold and tonsillitis. It is also the most effective herb to boost immunity. 

How it works

Giloy has good anti-inflammatory property. This helps reduce frequent cough as well as a sore throat.

How to take

Giloy juice

  • Take two teaspoons of Giloy juice with warm water on an empty stomach in the morning.

Giloy tablet

  • Alternatively you can also take 1 Giloy tablet with warm water in the morning.
  • You can buy Giloy juice or tablet from any Ayurvedic store or buy online.

Quick tips to keep distance from cold and cough

  • Wash your hands properly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to prevent the spread of cold viruses.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose. 
  • Sanitize your hands with alcohol-based hand gels after touching contaminated surfaces at work-place like door-knobs, mouse, chair handles, etc.
  • Keep a distance of 6 feet from people who are suffering from cold and cough.
  • Wear a mask whenever you step outside the house or whenever you come in contact with people you don’t live with.
  • Increase your water intake and have hot tea and liquids.
  • Do steam inhalation by adding 1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of hot water. Repeat 2-3 times a day to get relief from a stuffy nose. 
  • Strengthen your immune system by taking a balanced diet rich in vitamin C food.
  • Lastly, indulge in some form of exercise or yoga to keep yourself active.

So which Ayurvedic remedy have you tried to get relief from cold and cough?

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