new covid variant Metropolis Healthcare

Crossing a year now, the pandemic has been changing a lot in our lives. With some new terms joining in every day, thankfully there isn’t much add-on to the most common symptoms like fever, dry cough, and breathing difficulty. Some patients also showed signs of taste and smell loss, nasal congestion, sore throat, nausea, severe headache, etc among others.

But just when we started taking it lightly, scientists discovered a new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and since then, other variants have been identified and are under investigation. News about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging and scientists are working to learn more about how easily they commute, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines are effective to safeguard people against them.

We are in this together. Make sure to get tested for COVID-19 if you have any symptoms suggestive of the illness. Book a home sample collection here.

The virus that causes COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses- named after the crown-like spikes prevalent on their surfaces. While scientists are constantly monitoring the changes in the virus, there is a lot going on in our heads around how virus mutation might affect its spread from one person to the other and what happens to people who get affected by it. Here, we have answered some of the most common questions about the new COVID variants including will the COVID-19 vaccines still do their intended job, are there new or different things one should do now to keep their family safe? And a bit about the double mutant virus.

What do we know of the new variants so far?

With a new variant of the virus popping up every now and then, even scientists are in a fix as to their rapid emergence, or whether or not they are riskier than the already existing ones. Like all viruses evolve over a period of time, so does the SARS CoV-2 virus. When any virus replicates itself, it mutates i.e. it changes a little. A virus then with one or more new mutations is known as a variant of that original virus. There are now multiple variants of the Covid virus:

  • Beginning fall of 2020, the United Kingdom reported a new variant B.1.1.7, which was considered to be more infectious in comparison to the other existing variants, and it has been reported in India too.
  • Another one is the variant from South Africa, called B.1.351. Though initial understanding explains higher viral load for this particular variant, deeper insights on the severity, its transmission, and diagnostics, etc are still being explored. This South African virus has to date been reported in four countries.
  • P.1, a new variant from Brazil was detected in travelers from Brazil in Japan in January this year. It contains mutations that affect the variants’ traceability by the antibodies.

The double mutant COVID variant

A “double variant” of the novel coronavirus has been traced by Indian genome researchers in western Maharashtra. In the current scenario, the analysis has shown that the positive samples reported both E484Q and L452R mutations. These double mutants are likely to escape the immune system and confer increased infectivity,” as stated by the health ministry said in a statement.

What various tests can be conducted to know if a person has a new COVID variant?

The COVID-19 RT-PCR continues to remain the gold standard diagnostic test. The samples are collected from the person’s nose and throat with the help of a cotton swab. It is then sent for testing the viral genetic material. The positive result conveys about the COVID-19 infection but not about the variant that has caused the infection. If you want to check if you have had a COVID-19 infection in the past, get an antibody test done.

Is the current COVID-19 vaccine effective against these new variants?

While there has been a lot of research going on in this regard, most experts say, the current COVID-19 vaccines are at least expected to provide some protection against these new variants. The vaccines elicit a broad immune system that covers a multitude of antibodies and cells. Even if a few of the running COVID-19 vaccines prove ineffective, scientists predict they will be able to alter the composition of the vaccine to protect patients from the new variants.

The WHO has set up a dedicated SARS CoV-2 risk monitoring and evaluation framework team to identify and keep a check on the virus variants. They research, evaluate the impact, collect data and analyze the variants in and out in order to be a guiding light for vaccine manufactures around countries.

What measures can be taken to prevent the new variants of the Coronavirus?

Though people may expect some relief from the pandemic with the onset of the vaccination drive, one must not take it lightly. The precautions still remain the same as what was guided since day one, namely social distancing, avoiding crowded gatherings, wearing a mask at all times, coughing or sneezing onto your elbow, and washing/ sanitizing your hands often.  These are basic safety measures that the whole population, either vaccinated or not vaccinated, needs to follow to keep us safe from catching the virus especially when we don’t know who all are infected. With a surge in cases nationwide, make sure all of us get our elderly and high-risk people vaccinated. The virus still can be detrimental if caught by those who have preexisting medical conditions, elderly people, or anyone who has a compromised immune system. While it is assumed that we can encounter the second wave in India, follow the measures as recommended by the health experts- get tested well within time, isolate if tested positive, and let us ensure to care for each other at a distance.

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iron deficiency anemia

Iron is an essential nutrient that performs several vital functions in your body. Most importantly, it helps form hemoglobin, the protein in the red blood cells (RBCs), and facilitates oxygen transport in your blood from the lungs to body organs. It is also an integral part of many important enzyme systems. Enzymes are biological catalysts that modulate different metabolic activities in your body. A lack of sufficient iron levels can cause anemia, and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is by far the most common cause of anemia.[1] As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), two billion people are affected by anemia in the world and half of these anemic cases are due to iron deficiency.

Could you have iron deficiency anemia?

The symptoms of iron deficiency anemia can be so subtle at first that you may not even notice them. The American Society of Hematology (ASH) says, most people do not even realize they could have mild anemia until they get routine blood work done.

You may experience some or all of the below-mentioned symptoms if you have moderate to severe iron deficiency:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • A tingling or crawling feeling in the legs
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Brittle nails
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Weird cravings to eat ice or clay

Not just these, iron deficiency anemia increases the risk for preterm labor, low birth weight, and even infant mortality, and thus poses significant consequences for future generations.[3] Deficiency of iron also leads to decreased intellectual performance among school children. If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms and doubt that you may not be taking enough iron in your diet, do get your iron levels checked through a lab test and consult a doctor to get medical advice. Pregnant women should be especially cautious about having sufficient iron levels in their blood. 

What can cause an iron deficiency anemia?

Inadequate iron intake: Unlike some vital substances, your body cannot produce iron and thus it must be absorbed from the foods you eat or from iron supplements. If youare not eating enough iron over an extended amount of time, you can get deficient in iron.

Inability to absorb iron: Evenif you take sufficient iron in your diet, your body might not be able to absorb and utilize iron.Certain disorders or surgeries like celiac disease, gastric bypass can impair iron absorption in your body.

Pregnancy or blood loss due to heavy periods: Blood loss during delivery or heavy menstruation are the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia in women.

Certain medical conditions that cause internal bleeding: Gastric ulcers, polyps in the colon or intestines, cancer of the colon, or injudicious use of some pain relievers can lead to internal bleeding and loss of iron from the body.

Who is at risk of getting iron deficiency anemia?

While anemia can affect men and women of any age, some people may run a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia than others, such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • People with poor unhealthy diets
  • Women of childbearing age
  • Vegetarians who fail to take enough iron-rich food

Think you could be at risk of iron deficiency anemia, be sure to talk to your doctor and discuss if blood testing or dietary changes can benefit you.

Which health tests can help diagnose iron deficiency anemia?

Complete blood count (CBC) test

A CBC is a routine blood work that measures the amount of all blood components including red blood cells (RBCs), hemoglobin, hematocrit, white blood cells (WBCs), platelets, etc. This simple blood test can provide insights into the iron levels in your blood and help diagnose iron deficiency anemia. Your hematocrit and hemoglobin levels tend to be low if your iron levels are low. Your RBCs are usually smaller in size than normal.

Other tests

A CBC test is usually confirmatory to know about anemia. However, your doctor might recommend certain additional iron studies tests to know about the cause and severity of your anemia. These blood tests will provide information around some specific parameters (such as ferritin, iron binding capacity) and help determine better treatment options.

You may also be advised of a fecal occult test or endoscopy to look for any internal bleeding.

While lack of iron can adversely affect many of your vital functions, excess iron can also be toxic to the body. So ensure to consume a recommended amount of iron only.

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electrolytes disorder

What are electrolyte disorders?

We will come to that, but first, do you know what electrolytes are? These are minerals that occur naturally in your body and help your body perform multiple day-to-day functions. Electrolytes not only help balance the water levels in your body but also regulate the acid-base balance, help nutrients move in and waste move out of the body cells, and pass signals across nerve and muscle cells. Examples of electrolytes include sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and chloride. These minerals are present in your blood, urine and body fluids.

When the level of any of these physiologic compounds gets either too high or too low, the imbalance is termed as an electrolyte disorder. To prevent your vital body functions from getting affected by electrolyte disorders, it is important to identify the warning signs, get them diagnosed early, and receive treatment on time.

How do you tell if you have electrolyte disorders?

Depending on the severity of the electrolyte disorder, symptoms might vary from person to person. In fact, the milder forms may not cause any symptoms. Thus, it is very common for electrolyte disorders to go unnoticed. The best way to know if you could have electrolyte imbalance is to get a health test done that checks electrolyte levels. This test will provide a detailed break up of all the electrolytes and let your doctor see if there is any disruption in the electrolytes levels.

Also, different electrolyte disorders can share many symptoms in common.

Some of the common symptoms of electrolyte disorders include:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Cramps in abdomen
  • Muscle weakness and cramps
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fast heart rate
  • Numbness and tingling sensation in hands and feet

Severe electrolyte imbalances can cause serious concerns like coma, seizures, and cardiac arrest. It is thus advisable to not let your electrolyte disturbances be left untreated. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms too often without any other known medical concern, get tested for electrolytes and consult a doctor.

What can give you electrolyte disorders?

The most common causes of electrolyte disorders include loss of body fluids due to prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating. Burns causing fluid loss can also lead to electrolyte disturbances.

In some people, certain underlying health conditions like chronic kidney disease or some medicines can cause electrolyte disorders. However, the exact cause may differ based on the type of electrolyte imbalance.

Could you be at risk?

While anyone can get an electrolyte disorder, the risk may be increased in some people due to their medical history. Health conditions that put a person at risk of developing electrolyte disorder include:

  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Disorders related to the adrenal gland.

Can electrolyte disorders be of different types?

Yes, depending on the electrolyte whose levels are disturbed and whether the levels have elevated or depleted, electrolyte disorders can be of many different types. For example, if calcium levels have gone down, it is called hypocalcemia; if they have gone up, it is termed hypercalcemia. Similarly, if sodium levels dip down, it is called hyponatremia; if sodium levels rise, it is termed hypernatremia.

How are electrolyte disorders treated?

Treatment options are usually aimed at restoring the balance of minerals in the body. Also, it will vary based on the type of electrolyte disorder and the underlying cause.

Some of the treatment options include:

Intravenous (IV) fluids such as sodium chloride: These are commonly used in cases of dehydration resulting from vomiting or diarrhea.

Certain IV medicines depending on the electrolyte imbalance you have: For example, calcium gluconate, potassium chloride, and magnesium chloride. These can help restore electrolyte balance quickly.

Oral medications and supplements: These are commonly used if a person has been affected with ongoing kidney disease. Hemodialysis: Hemodialysis is a procedure that uses a machine to remove waste from your blood. It is used when an electrolyte disorder is caused by sudden kidney damage and other treatment options do not seem to help.

What can you do to prevent electrolyte disorders?

  • Keep yourself hydrated and eat a balanced diet. Minor forms of electrolyte imbalance can be corrected via replenishing the body’s stores via eating mineral-rich food items. For example, including bananas, oranges, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, etc in your diet can help your body fend off potassium deficiency.  
  • If you are working out for more than 30 minutes, sip a sports drink containing electrolytes. Avoid drinking too much water along with it, as it might dilute the minerals and decrease the health benefits.
  • If you experience any warning sign of an electrolyte disturbance, get your electrolyte levels checked, do consult a doctor, and seek medical advice.

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COVID 19 vaccine India Metropolis Healthcare

The year 2021 brought with it the exhilarating news of the COVID-19 vaccination to begin in India. On January 16, India launched the world’s largest COVID vaccine drive as one of the pivotal measures against the pandemic. Until February 6, 2020, more than 54 lakh people have been vaccinated, as confirmed by the Union Health Ministry. The COVID-19 vaccine development was much-awaited for helping curb the spread of this pandemic that has claimed more than a million lives and shattered businesses. However, multiple apprehensions and doubts are doing the rounds which might prevent people from getting the jab. Are you also confused about how various COVID vaccines different from each other and how they will protect you against the disease? Read on to know all that you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in India.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

The COVID-19 vaccine helps your body make protective antibodies against the coronavirus. Having these antibodies means that you have developed an immunity. Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will help you prevent the coronavirus infection, or protect you from developing a serious illness or complications even if infected.

Is the immunity developed from natural infection better than the vaccine?

To understand this, let us first help you understand how natural infection provides immunity. When you get infected with a new germ, your body is unaware of this infection-causing foreign invader. But it will gear up, take some time to collate all its infection-fighting tools (various types of body cells) to fend off the illness. Your body remembers how it fought the germ and saves this information for future attacks. When the same germ infects you next time, your body knows how to kill it and protect you from getting the disease.

The vaccines are prepared in such a way that they also train your body to recognize and combat the germ. So, when the infection-causing germ attacks, your body knows the way out even without getting the disease.

For most diseases, natural immunity might provide better protection than vaccine-acquired immunity. However, the natural infection is quite unpredictable and the prognosis will depend on the individual’s body response. A vaccine is a far safer bet.

What different types of COVID-19 vaccines are available?

While various COVID-19 vaccines are undergoing clinical trials, some have been approved by the regulatory bodies for use (emergency use authorization). COVID vaccine candidates that are currently being used for inoculations include:

  • Pfizer-BionTech
  • Moderna Inc
  • Oxford-Astrazeneca, developed in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII)
  • Sputnik V 
  • Indian landscape: The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved two COVID-19 vaccines including SII’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin

Thinking how do these vaccines compare with each other? So, you can compare available vaccine options based on the technology used, efficacy, safety, storage, and price.

COVID-19 Vaccine Technology:

Talking about the vaccine technology, while both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, Covishiled uses a viral vector and Covaxin is an inactivated virus vaccine. Don’t get boggled! These all are just the ways to train your immune system to fight off the virus in future. The mRNA vaccines lead to production of a harmless protein in your body that resembles the protein found on the surface of the virus. Your body recognizes that it is an invader and produces antibodies against it. The viral vector vaccine makes use of a genetically modified, harmless virus (adenovirus in this case) to induce antibody production against the coronavirus. The inactivated virus vaccine contains a killed virus that evokes the antibody response in your body and gets you immune. While inactivated virus and viral vector are time-tested vaccine technology that are being used in many other vaccines for different diseases, mRNA is a new technology. However. it must be noted that contrary to the notion that mRNA vaccine can interfere with your genetic makeup, it does not interact with your genes in any way!  

COVID-19 Vaccine efficacy:

The Pfizer vaccine has an efficacy of 95% and requires two doses given 21 days apart. It is approved for people age 16 and above. The Moderna COVID-19 is found to be 94.1% effective, with two doses injected 28 days apart. This vaccine is for people aged 18 and older. The Oxford vaccine is found to be 62% effective after two full doses, and has shown an efficacy of 90% in a small group that received a half dose followed by a full dose.

COVID-19 vaccine Storage:

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stirred at -94 °F, an obscenely cold temperature that requires a special freezer. The Moderna vaccine can be stored in a normal freezer. And, the oxford vaccine can be stored in a normal refrigerator at a temperature of 2-8 °C.

COVID-19 vaccine Price:

The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is cheaper than the Pfizer and Moderna ones as it is not making any profit amid the pandemic. In India, as yet, the vaccine administration has been done free of cost for all the health and frontline workers.

Watch this video to know more.

All vaccines help make antibodies. So, can I mix and match different COVID-19 vaccines?

No! If you have got one shot of Cobaxin, the other jab should also be of Covaxin, and the same applies for Covishiled. Mixing doses of different COVID-19 vaccines does not ensure effective protection against the infection.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe as it is being tested and introduced in a short span of time?

Vaccines development has been fast tracked but they have been introduced only after the regulatory bodies have cleared them based on the safety and efficacy. Also, follow up was as thorough as it had been for any vaccine, and months’ data is now available on people who received the vaccine. 

Can there be any side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?

Just like other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccine might also cause mild symptoms like fever, fatigue, pain or swelling at the site of injection, muscle pain, chills, nausea and vomiting. However, these must be short-term and will be resolved after a day or two. Rarely, a few people can have severe allergic reactions to the vaccine but they might face the similar issue with vaccine shots for different conditions as well. Always consult your doctor and discuss your medical history before you get yourself vaccinated.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine give you COVID-19?

The COVID-19 vaccines currently being used are not using the live virus that causes COVID-19. So, you are not likely to get the infection due to COVID-19 vaccine. Keep in mind that the vaccine will take a few weeks to build immunity. Continue taking precautions after being vaccinated. The protective antibodies will take two weeks after receiving the 2nd dose.

Who should not get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Children (and teens below 18 years of age), pregnant and breastfeeding women, people who have anaphylaxis or allergic reactions and people who are isolated or having active COVID-19 should not get vaccinated. Also, people with coagulation disorders need to follow cautions while getting inoculated. More information will become available on the COVID vaccine contraindications as the experts gather more data.

When will this vaccine be available to me?

The vaccine drive is aimed at covering health and frontline workers, followed by people over 50 years of age and people with comorbidities based on vaccine availability. Only after inoculating these high-risk groups, it will be made available for the general public that might take another 6-7 months. Keep following hygienic measures to stay protected from coronavirus. If you face any symptoms suggestive of the infection, get yourself tested for COVID-19 and seek doctor’s advice.

Can the recipient choose which vaccine candidate to receive?

No. Different virus candidates have been assigned to different vaccine booths across the nation. While the recipient can opt for consent or not being inoculated, they can’t choose between covishield and covaxin.

How long will this vaccine-acquired immunity last?

There is no concrete data available on the duration of protection achieved from COVID vaccines as yet.

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine even if I’ve already had COVID-19?

You can delay your vaccination until 90 days after your diagnosis if you’ve already had COVID-19. Natural coronavirus infection offers some immunity against the reinfection. However, it’s not clear how long this protection lasts, people who have already had COVID-19 should also get a COVID-19 vaccine for better protection. Want to check if you have developed COVID-19 antibodies? Book a COVID-19 antibody test.

The final word

Please understand the fact that the mild side effects of COVID vaccine outweigh the health risks posed by COVID-19. Getting vaccinated will help us come out of this grave pandemic situation super soon. So, do not fall prey to misnomers and stay well-informed.   

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prostrate problems

The prostate is a small gland in men, which is located between the urinary bladder and penis just in front of the rectum. This gland makes secretions that contribute to semen and nourish sperms. Just like any other body organ, the prostate gland can also be affected by a number of health issues. Generally, it is a walnut-sized organ. However, its size tends to grow as men get older. The prostate gland can get inflamed too. In fact, prostate problems become increasingly common after age 50. The best part is knowing about these issues can help you take the preventive steps for prostate-related issues while you still can.

Symptoms of prostate problems

The symptoms of prostate problems might depend on the underlying cause and condition. At large, urination-related problems generally appear with most of them. Do check with your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Frequent waking at night to urinate
  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Inability to empty bladder completely
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Pain or burning sensation while passing urine
  • Dribbling of urine
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips, pelvic area, or upper thighs

Common prostate problems affecting men

Enlarged prostate: The age-associated enlargement of the prostate gland is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. This is very common in older men. Please note this prostate enlargement is non-cancerous. There is no known cause, but healthcare experts say that it is usually linked to hormonal changes a man’s body goes through while one age. The treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms. You can be given medicines that help shrink the size of the prostate or relax the muscles near your prostate to improve the symptoms. Your doctor might also recommend surgery. Certain other treatment options like lasers are also available.

Prostate cancer: Prostate cancer is a slow-growing cancer which when detected early, can be completely treated. The symptoms include common problems associated with urination and thus people may ignore them considering aging signs. Hence those with risk factors including men above 50 years of age or having a family history of prostate cancer (father, brother, etc had been diagnosed with prostate cancer) should get screened for prostate cancer to keep an eye on their prostate health. The two tests used for prostate cancer screening include prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and a digital rectal examination (DRE). While the PSA test looks for PSA levels that can be high in men with an enlarged prostate gland or with prostate cancer, the DRE can help your doctor manually check any hard areas, lumps, or growth spreading beyond the prostate, any pain while pressing the prostate, or any change in the texture or size of the gland. Most doctors might suggest annual PSA testing for all men starting at age 50. Men at high risk of prostate cancer can also be asked to start screening even earlier. Consult with your doctor to know what is best for you.

Treatment for prostate cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy. Your doctor knows the best about the treatment options.

Inflammation of the prostate gland, called prostatitis, is another common condition that affects up to one in six men at some point in their lifetimes. Unlike the enlarged prostate and prostate cancer that are largely seen in old age, prostatitis affects men of all ages. The causes of the inflammation can range from a bacterial infection, to stress and mechanical or neuromuscular issues in the pelvic muscles that tend to irritate the area.

At large, prostatitis can be of four types: acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. Acute bacterial prostatitis can give you fever, chills, or pain in addition to prostate symptoms. The good news is most cases can be treated with antibiotics. If an infection keeps on coming back time and again, it might be chronic bacterial prostatitis. It might need long-term treatment with antibiotics. Other chronic forms that are not caused due to infection might require a combination of medicines, surgery, and lifestyle changes. While certain risk factors such as aging and family history are not changeable, you can make simple changes in your lifestyle that can help lower your risk of developing prostate problems. Certain studies have stated that men who ate a high-fat diet were at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer. Include sufficient amounts of antioxidant-rich food like tomatoes, green leafy vegetables in your diet and reduce intake of unhealthy fats like trans fats. Make sure that you are keeping yourself physically active. You do not need to sweat it out at all times, simple steps like walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a day on at least 5 days in a week can go a long way. Also, make sure to schedule your PSA test at a frequency advised by your doctor. 

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kidney health

Maintaining the good health of your vital organs is important for healthy living. When we talk about vital organs, kidneys often take a backseat. These are a pair of bean-shaped organs, each about 4 or 5 inches long, located at the base of the rib cage. These multitasking organs are responsible for critical functions like the removal of wastes and toxins from the body, production of certain hormones, induce formation of red blood cells, and regulation of extracellular fluid volume, blood pressure, acid-base balance, and electrolyte concentrations.  While your kidneys work hard day in and day out to keep you going, are you sure you are doing the right things to keep your kidneys healthy?

Here are 6 simple rules you should definitely follow to keep your kidneys healthy:

1. Maintaining a healthy body weight

Staying fit is really important for your kidneys because obesity can lead to high blood pressure which is bad for your kidney health. Regular physical activity can prevent weight gain, high blood pressure, and the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Reduced physical activity and performance have been observed in CKD patients as compared to the general population. Several studies suggest that exercise involvement can improve several health parameters in CKD patients.

Aerobic activities like walking, running, skiing, jogging, cycling, dancing, and swimming are great for your health. Try to work up slowly for at least 150 minutes every week. But, don’t overexert yourself, be mindful of how much exercise you do. If you are not keeping yourself active now, discuss with a fitness expert before beginning any new workout program.

2. Keep sipping water often

Water helps the kidneys remove toxins from the blood and make your body free of waste material. It also helps in preventing kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

It is a popular belief that everyone should drink eight glasses i.e., approximately 2 liters of water per day, but since everyone’s body is different, daily water requirements also differ from person to person. How much water you require depends on factors like age, climate, exercise intensity, health conditions, etc. Staying hydrated is good for your kidneys but don’t overdo it as no studies have proven that over-hydration can enhance kidney function.

People who have previously had kidney stones are advised to drink a bit more water to help prevent stone deposits in the future. If you have kidney or heart or liver disease, consult your healthcare provider on the adequate water intake for your condition.

3. Do not overdo OTC pills

Prolonged use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS)/ pain-killer (e.g. drugs like ibuprofen) may harm your kidneys.

People with healthy kidneys who take the medicines occasionally are likely in the clear. However, if you have kidney disease or decreased kidney function, taking medicines without consulting a doctor should be strictly avoided.

4. Assess your risk and get tested

If you or your family have a history of kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity, get your kidney function checked. Also, remember to keep your blood glucose numbers and blood pressure levels close to the healthy goals. Diabetes and high blood pressure both are leading causes of kidney problems.

If you don’t have any symptoms of high blood pressure or diabetes or you are not aware of your family health history, still you could be at risk. So, the best way to know your kidney’s health is to get your health tests done regularly. This helps to identify any health condition at an early stage, and take action to slow or prevent future damage.

5. Eat healthy diet

Healthy food choices can help to maintain ideal body weight, prevent diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other conditions associated with CKD. Eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Cut down on salt and added sugars. Aim for a low-sodium diet, no more than 2,500 milligrams of sodium a day. Limit your added sugar intake to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. Check food labels to see how much salt and sugar is in a serving. Don’t eat too much fatty food, restaurant food, processed meats, and other kidney-damaging foods.

6. Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake

Try to quit smoking completely and limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Smoking and drinking alcohol both raise your blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of chronic kidney diseases.

Smoking can damage blood vessels, which decreases blood flow to the organs, including kidneys. When the kidneys have inadequate blood flow, they can’t function optimally. Smoking also increases the risk of developing several cancers including kidney cancer.

When you quit smoking, your risk will drop. Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult, but you can seek the help of an expert to start your smoke free journey now. If you drink alcohol, it is advised to limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day if you are a woman and two drinks per day if you are a man. One drink is roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol found in 12 ounces of a regular beer or 5 ounces of table wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

Get, set, go!

Now you know the simplest rules that can help keep your kidneys healthy. Remember, they are vital to your overall health and well-being. So, start taking good care of them.

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health checks covid positive Metropolis Healthcare

Vikrant (name changed), a 42-year-old working professional, got tested positive for COVID-19 a few days back. He had a very mild illness, with symptoms such as mild sore throat, headache, and moderate fever that would come down with medicine. He was quite at an ease with the virus until the last two days when he developed a high fever, severe throat, and even difficulty in breathing. He called his doctor and visited the clinic in person as advised. Thankfully, after being under continuous observation for 3 days, he has come back home and got along with the quarantine time again.

“But, isn’t COVID-19 only causing a mild illness in almost 80% of people,” enquired Vikrant to his doctor, “I thought a severe COVID-19 illness is only for elderly people,” he further added.          

There are many people like Vikrant who are unintentionally ignoring the unpredictable nature of coronavirus infection. If you or a loved one has tested positive for COVID-19, it is important for you to understand that not all people experience the symptoms in the same way. In fact, the duration and severity of the infection might vary from person to person. So, while it is common for most people to have mild COVID-19 illness, you must monitor your health status closely and be vigilant of any worsening of the symptoms.

COVID Monitoring Profile for COVID-19 positive people

There are a few tests that help track your health condition, check that the infection might not turn into a severe infection, keep an eye on if you need to see a doctor immediately. We at Metropolis have curated an exclusive monitoring package that helps you avoid the hassle of booking different tests and get all the required tests done at one time.

Your doctor might advise you to take these tests during the first few days of the illness, in between the illness if you experience any worsening of the symptoms, and even after recovery to keep a continuous watch on your health. COVID monitoring tests are required whether you are admitted to hospital or under home care.

Major tests included in the package and their clinical importance

  • Ferritin and Prothrombin time:The increased numbers of both these tests point towards an issue in blood coagulation, an abnormality that is significant in view of severe COVID-19infection.
  • IL-6 and CRP (C-reactive protein): Elevated IL-6 and CRP levels indicate severe inflammation in the body.
  • SGPT, LDH, Creatinine, Albumin, Troponin, etc.: These parameters check for tissue damage for vital body organs including liver, kidney, and heart.

Apart from these specific tests, the Complete blood count (CBC) test is also included to give a complete picture of your blood and check if there is any significant rise or fall in the critical blood-related numbers.

As per the experts and Research

  • Reduced white blood cell count (lymphopenia), increase in neutrophils (neutrophilia), elevated levels of liver enzymes ALT and AST, elevated LDH, CRP, and ferritin levels have been associated with greater disease severity and hospitalization in COVID-19 patients
  • In a meta-analysis including nine studies, IL-6 levels were more than three times higher in people with complicated COVID-19 compared with those with the non-complicated disease. Also, the increased IL-6 levels were associated with mortality risk.
  • A raised serum C-reactive protein (CRP) level had been observed in most people with COVID-19. In fact, people presenting with severe pneumonia had high CRP levels. As per studies, CRP levels can be used in the early diagnosis of pneumonia.
  • Elevated ALT, AST, and creatinine seen in severe cases suggests that COVID-19 carries an increased risk of impaired liver and kidney function
  • As compared to non-ICU people, lymphopenia (reduced levels of white blood cells) was more common in ICU patients.
  • C-reactive protein (CRP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), high-sensitivity troponin (hs-Tn), N-terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), and D-dimer helps improve the prognosis in patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19.

The Takeaway

The COVID monitoring profile checks the levels of biological biomarkers in your body that assess the severity of the COVID-19 infection. A continuous check on these numbers helps your doctor devise the best treatment plan for you and see whether you need in-hospital care or can be managed at home. Health tracking helps improve prognosis and minimize the mortality risk in people with severe disease. So, make sure to get your health parameters measured as your immune system fights off the virus.

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Urinary Tract Infection

Urine infections and symptoms

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections that occur in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. However, most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra. In fact, bladder infections are the most common type of UTI. Common symptoms of UTIs include a strong, frequent urge to urinate, pain or burning sensation while passing urine, bloody, cloudy, strong-smelling urine, muscle aches, pain in the abdomen, and even fever in severe infections.

Women are at greater risk of getting UTIs

Do you know women have a lifetime risk of above 50 percent of getting an infection of the urinary system? The cause is the physical differences between women and men. A woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s. The urethra is the tube that carries the urine from the bladder to the urethral opening from where it comes out of the body. A shorter urethra makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder and cause infection.

Things you must do to stop recurrent urine infections: 

Look for the cause
Getting an idea of what might be giving you UTIs can help look for an effective solution. The infections are usually caused by bacteria, E. coli, being the most common cause. Your doctor will advise a urine culture and sensitivity test to check what germs are troubling your urinary system. You will be prescribed an antibiotic therapy to kill the infection-causing germs and relieve your symptoms.

Please note that UTIs can be caused by germs other than E. coli too. Make sure that you do not delay the tests suggested by your doctor as they help your doctor optimize your treatment and advise the most effective medicines that suit your condition. Apart from the urine tests, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound or Computerized tomography (CT) scan of the urinary tract as well.

Increase your water intake
If you have been suffering from recurrent urine infections, you must have heard this advice coming through your doctor every time. Having more water helps flush out bacteria in your urine. It also dilutes the urine, which might reduce the burning sensation temporarily. The good news is having enough water daily can help prevent you from getting urine infections repeatedly.

Urinate after having sexual intercourse
As per some experts, sexual intercourse increases the number of bacteria in the bladder, putting women at risk of UTIs. Most gynecologists recommend women who keep getting UTIs that they must urinate after sex to reduce their risk of catching an infection. Also, washing your genitals before and after sex is also considered a good hygienic practice to keep UTIs at bay in women.

Wipe from front to back
There are no robust scientific claims around this health recommendation, but it’s more like a simple science. By wiping from back to front, you tend to carry bacteria (E. coli) which is very commonly present in the intestine as a harmless germ, to the vagina, where it can cause harm by causing infections. So, practice wiping your genitals from front to back.  

Check if your age is setting the stage for UTIs
After menopause, women undergo certain physical changes, including a natural decline in the numbers of healthy bacteria in the vagina. Also, with the lack of estrogen, an important female hormone, the tissues in the vagina and urethra tends to change, leading to irritated tissues and increased risk of infection. Consult your doctor if an estrogen therapy would be helpful in preventing urine infections. 

Steer clear of over hyped natural remedies or marketing gimmicks
Avoid scented feminine products. Skip deodorant sprays, scented powders, and other products with chemicals. The use of such products can irritate your genital parts, and make them prone to getting infections. You might also come across on the Internet a plethora of natural remedies like washing private parts with apple cider vinegar, etc. Please consult an expert before trying anything bizarre as it might be tricky to decode everything you should know about any such home remedy (how much to use, how long to apply, how frequently to use, etc.).   

Sip on cranberry juice
As per some researchers, cranberry juice can help fight urine infections to a little extent. Studies report that the active biochemical compounds in cranberry juice prevent bacteria from developing into infections in the urinary tract. However, please note that cranberry juice cannot be considered as a treatment or cure for urine infections.

Taste is another concern that prevents women from using cranberry juice in urine infections. We talked to an experienced gynecologist, who suggests if you dislike cranberry taste, having vitamin C-rich juices might also help. The best approach will still be to eat whole fruits and have plenty of water.  

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medical-tests-elderly image

Health tests for seniors

Health tests for seniors

Are you caring for an elderly at home? Confused about how to take care of them in a better way? And most importantly, do you think they don’t need anything as they aren’t asking?

Either you want to identify their unmet needs or you want to be on the top with taking their care, one thing which you must do is to take a proactive approach. This holds true for almost every aspect of life- it could be their day-to-day activities or occasional engagements. But more so, when it comes to the health needs. Your elderly might not reach out to you to get a health screening done or consult a doctor until something is upsetting repeatedly, grossly! But that shouldn’t be the case, right? What can you do here? We have a tip: Just anticipate their health needs, take initiatives, and do what you need to do even before something starts bothering them or they have to reach out to you.  

Looking for help to help your seniors stay healthier and happier? Then, read on to know what medical checkups or tests are required for older adults (you can thank us later!):   

  • Bone density check: The bones tend to lose essential minerals like calcium and phosphate in place of retaining them as aging occurs. This means bones, joints and muscles get weaker, which in turn affects your posture, strength, and movement. Schedule a bone density scan for your seniors to know about their bone health. Also, vitamin D helps your body absorb more calcium and also keeps your muscle movement intact. So, it is very important to check the body’s vitamin D level and replenish it if required. 

  • Diabetes: The risk of getting diabetes increases with the advancing age. In most simple words, diabetes means having higher than normal sugar (glucose) levels in the blood. Do you know India is already home to 72 million diabetics?[1] This is a health threat that not only older adults but young people also need to be well-aware of. High sugar levels impact almost every vital body organ, including heart, kidneys, and brain. In fact. uncontrolled diabetes is a prime risk factor for heart disease.
    Make sure to get your elderly’s blood sugar tested every 3-6 months. If they have already been diagnosed with diabetes and taking medicines, keep monitoring their health status through a HbA1c test, at a frequency advised by the doctor. An HbA1c test measures average blood sugar for the past 2-3 months and gives directions on treatment and lifestyle changes.   
  • Blood pressure: You must have heard from your elderly that they get to know when they are having a high blood pressure (BP). However, the truth is high BP often does not show any symptoms, and that is why medical experts call it a silent killer. Do not wait for them to blame the high BP for that morning headache, get their BP checked during routine health checkup. You can do that with the help of a blood pressure monitor at home too. This is especially important if they are overweight, have diabetes, or any other heart-related condition.    

  • Cholesterol levels: Cholesterol is a fat-like substance produced by your liver naturally. Cholesterol is important for maintaining cell health in your body. But, having an excess of cholesterol can cause your blood vessels to clog and pose obstruction to free flow of blood. High cholesterol levels are considered a risk factor of heart attack and stroke. It is thus important to keep an eye on the blood cholesterol parameters and consult an expert if the reports ask so. 

  • PSA (Prostate specific antigen) test for elderly men: The PSA test is a screening test that checks for prostate cancer. As per age-specific studies, the risk of prostate cancer begins to rise sharply after age 55 years, peaks at 70-74 years, and slightly decreases thereafter.[2]  
  • Breast cancer and cervical cancer screening: Though breast cancer can affect young women, half of the newly diagnosed cases are seen in women who are over 60 years of age, and more than a fifth are over 70.[3] Also, risk of getting great cancer increases with age. Talking about the screening, a self-examination of breast and mammogram can help detect the disease at an early stage and take the right treatment on time. There is some ambiguity between the medical experts on how often most women need breast cancer screening. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms beginning at age 45, then switching to once every 2 years at age 55 years. On the other side, the US. Preventive Services Task Force calls for screening every other year for ages 50 and above, and then no more after age 75. Women under 50 should consult their doctor about whether they require screening.

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina (called cervix). There are two tests that help in cervical cancer screening- Pap test and HPV test. While the Pap smear test looks for cell changes on the cervix, the HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause cell changes.

Path to a better senior health

Along with scheduling the medical tests and routine health tests on time for your elderly loved ones, make sure to encourage them to eat healthy, avoid smoking, and stay physically active. And most important of all, spend time with them to let them feel cared for!   

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Badha-Konasana image

Many of you might have been through the discomfort (and even pain) that comes with constipation. Constipation is that irritating moment when you have dry and hard stools that are difficult to eliminate or pass through the body. This ultimately leads to lesser bowel movements on a day-to-day basis. In general, chronic constipation is defined as a stool frequency of less than three per week that can last for several months.

Common symptoms of constipation include:

  • Going without bowel movements for over 3 days
  • Passing hard, lumpy stools too often
  • Straining while passing stools
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling a blockade in the gut

Leading causes of constipation include:

In most cases, you can find relief from constipation symptoms with lifestyle changes. Experts suggest eating enough fibers and keeping physically active are the top things that can relieve your constipation in a jiffy if it is caused due to lifestyle disruptions. In fact, you do not need to climb mountains or lift heavy weights, simple yoga asanas at home can do wonders not only for the digestive system but for the entire body.

Here are 8 yoga poses that can provide relief from constipation

Yoga can help ease the pain and discomfort of your digestive troubles and relieve constipation. Roll out your mat and try out the poses as described:

Ardha-Matsyendrasana image
  • Ardha-Matsyendrasana: Also known as Sitting Half Spinal Twist Pose, this asana stimulates the pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach and improves bowel movements, relaxes the abdominal muscles and, thereby providing relief from constipation.

Sit down on the ground with your legs extended and toes pointed toward the ceiling. Place your left leg under the right one, while extending your foot next to your right buttock. Gently twist your upper body to the right and place the right arm on the ground behind the back, and your left hand preferably on the right ankle in front of your body. Repeat on the other side.

Vajrasana image
  • Vajrasana: This yoga asana is considered to be one of the best yoga poses for constipation and indigestion. It improves blood circulation in the abdominal region and can be useful for conditions like chronic constipation and stomach disorders.

Kneel on the floor with your knees and ankles pulled together, with your feet in line with your legs. Put your hands on your thighs and exhale while you sit back on the legs.

Bhujangasana image
  • Bhujangasana: Commonly known as the cobra pose, this asana is effective in improving the function of the digestive tract, strengthening the abdominal muscles, and stimulating the appetite.

Lie down on your stomach, raise your trunk and head with the help of your palms. Bend your arms at the elbows and look upward gently. Keep your stomach pressed against the floor and apply pressure on your toes as they press the floor.

  • Halasana: This yoga pose helps reduce stress and provides strength to the back muscles. Halasana helps in better digestion as it stimulates the abdominal viscera.

Lie on your back with your arms by your side, use your abdominal muscles to lift your feet off the ground till your head. Support your hips with your hands and lift them off the ground. Make sure your back is perpendicular to the floor as you sweep your legs 180° over your head.

Pavanamuktasana image
  • Pavanamuktasana: This asana gives relief from gas and improves the digestive system. This is highly recommended in case of chronic constipation.

Lie on your back, lift both your legs towards your chest, and press them against the chest with your hands. Bend the neck and place the chin on your knees. Keep breathing normally throughout.

  • Dhanurasana: Dhanurasana puts pressure on the abdomen. It stretches the entire abdominal organs and relieves the body of any gastric problems.

Start by lying on your stomach, bend your knees, and hold your ankles with your hands. Try and lift your legs as high as you can and look up while doing the pose for a while so as to stretch the neck muscles also. Your body should resemble the shape of a bow. Slowly come back to your normal position by putting your knees down. Exercise caution when doing it, and do not be too harsh on your body.

Paschimottanasana image
  • Paschimottanasana: The seated twist strengthens the back muscles and the abdominal organs, stimulates the digestive organs, and aids in detoxification. The deep intraabdominal compression provides relief from weak digestion or constipation.

Sit with your legs stretched straight; bring your arms up over your head. Inhale and stretch your spine, while you exhale slowly bend forward towards your feet. Try and touch both your feet with your hands bend forward.

Badha Konasana
  • Badha Konasana: Better known as the butterfly pose, it is easy to do and is very effective in combating indigestion and gas. It relieves the body of cramps, bloating, etc. The butterfly asana if done regularly can also be used to reduce stress.

Sit with your spine erect, bend your knees so that the feet touch each other. Grab your feet tightly with both your hands and bend down towards the feet as much as possible. Slowly flap both the legs up and down like the wings of a butterfly. Start with slow speed and then gradually increase the speed for better results.

To get rid of constipation, practice these yoga asanas on a regular basis. No matter what yoga poses you choose, don’t forget to calm your thoughts and breathe deeply, because a peaceful mind goes a long way in fixing your digestive woes.

Also, remember that it is pivotal to eat more fibrous foods such as spinach, black beans, wholegrain cereals, fruits, etc. Some effective foods that can be consumed during constipation are yogurt, herbal tea, buttermilk, etc. Drinking enough liquids (8-12 glasses of water) can also help relieve constipation in otherwise healthy people.

If lifestyle changes do not seem to provide relief, and the condition appears to be worsening, you should consult your doctor and check what is causing this problem and accordingly treat it.

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