Young business man holding his lower back at work

Lose the Back Pain at Work

In today’s time and age with the wide scale spread of the corporate culture, the majority of the people spend their days working at a desk and in front of a laptop. Despite not having to do anything physical or strenuous that might strain the back directly, this makes people susceptible to back pain irrespective of the age. Long working hours coupled with long commutes only serve to exacerbate the gradual damage that can be caused by having a bad posture.

The ill-effects of sitting with poor posture for a few hours is not immediate, but over time the stress that poor posture places on your spine can lead to anatomical changes in your spine. This, in turn, can provoke back pain through the constriction of your blood vessels and nerves. Back pain due to poor posture is characterised by the following symptoms, firstly, it is worse at certain times of the day. Secondly, it starts in the neck and moves down to the upper and lower back. Thirdly, the pain subsides once you switch positions or stand. And finally, it might coincide with a chair or a new car. However, despite the ill effects of slouching during work or while driving, there are a few remedies to prevent the onset of back pain. These include;

  • Straighten your head: Ensure that your head is straight above your neck and shoulders. Straining forward to work on your laptop can put pressure on your spine.
  • Change the position of your mouse: Your mouse should be right next to your keyboard. This prevents your wrist and shoulder from over-reaching and twisting.
  • Pick a comfortable chair: Pick a chair with good back support and a comfortable cushion at the base so that your tailbone is not subjected to additional pressure.
  • Adopt the correct breathing posture: Make sure that when inhaling your stomach moves outwards, away from the spine. And when exhaling, it comes inwards towards the spine. A correct breathing posture maintains the stability of the core, which in turn maintains a correct form for the upper body.
  • Sit within reach: Sitting too far away from the laptop can cause you to lean forward while typing and reading, thereby resulting in a curved back which would gradually manifest itself as your default posture while sitting.
  • Feet on the floor: Ensure that your feet are planted on the floor in order to ease the tension in your knees and ankles. When your feet are planted on the floor it also ensures that you lean back and use the lumbar support of your chair.
  • Take breaks: Getting up to use the washroom, to walk till the water cooler or even to stretch reduces pressure on the spinal disks and boost circulation.
  • Stretch your shoulders: Shoulder rolls and shoulder raises help to make your neck more flexible and allows for a greater blood circulation.
  • Do not sit cross-legged: Sitting cross-legged makes it difficult to keep your spine straight and shoulders squared, and you risk overstretching the muscles around the pelvis, increasing your risk of varicose veins by interrupting blood flow.
  • Do not cradle your phone: Cradling your phone while multitasking puts enormous strain on your neck. This should be prevented by using a Bluetooth headset or headphones.

Most of us get backaches at some point in time caused by repeated activities at work or at home. There is a lot that can be done to prevent this from happening. Being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight are ideally important to have a healthy lifestyle. In addition to this certain simple practices by maintaining a good posture can help go a long way. However, if any of these practices do cause increased pain, it is best to consult a physician.

Dr. Abul Kalam Kolangara Parambath

Specialist General Medicine

Aster Clinic, Abu Hail  

Dr. Abul Kalam - Abu Hail

http://asterclinic.ae/doctor/general-medicine-specialist-dubai/

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World kidney day

Obesity Fuels Chronic Kidney Diseases

A health survey conducted by the Dubai Health Authority in collaboration with the Dubai Statistics Centre revealed that 11.9% of people in Dubai suffer from obesity.[i] The growing issue of obesity plays a key role in reducing people’s life expectancy and causes several severe health conditions. Obesity is a combination of factors including high calorie intake, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle practices etc. Obesity is now a growing phenomenon across the globe and is one of the key factors responsible for a number of chronic diseases including kidney diseases.

Obesity causes mortality due to diabetes, stroke, conditions of the heart, certain cancers etc. However, a rarely discussed and rather unknown fact is the link between obesity and its consequences on the kidney. Obesity is directly linked to chronic kidney diseases (CKD) and its progression because obesity facilitates diabetes and hypertension which are the two common causes of kidney conditions. Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most used parameter to determine obesity, however, the waist circumference or waist to hip ratio is a better indicator of chronic health conditions. Obesity influences chronic kidney conditions in two ways; an obese individual is at a higher risk of diabetes and high BP which are causative factors of CKD. On the other hand, an obese individual’s kidneys will have to function much harder for the process of filtration in order to meet the demands of a person with higher BMI. An obese individual can also be at the risk of having kidney failure.

Obesity is reported to be one of the leading causes for chronic kidney conditions and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The end stage of chronic kidney conditions is called ESRD when they kidneys are no longer able to function to its ability on a daily basis.

The most common kidney damaging conditions are;

Polycystic kidneys: is a condition where a person has multiple cysts in the kidneys causing it to enlarge. This condition is generally a birth defect.

Kidney stones: or Nephrolithiasis are hard mineral deposits made of acid salts that form inside the kidney or urinary tract. People who take medicines for gout are at a risk of kidney stones, dehydration is also a cause for the condition.

Proteinuria: a condition developed when there is abnormal protein in the urine. Albumin is a protein found in the human blood because the body needs it to fight infections, build muscle etc. The function of the human kidney is to filter the blood and remove things that aren’t required by the body. There will be an underlying cause for proteinuria which needs evaluation.

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis: is a condition caused by scarring of the kidney. This condition may be caused due to primary or secondary reasons. The primary reason of scarring being no obvious cause, the secondary reason may be caused by another pre-existing condition, a prescribed drug, obesity or any other underlying condition.

Glomerulonephritis: is a condition causing inflammation of the Glomeruli (the kidney cell). This can lead to Hypertension, blood in the urine and proteinuria. In certain cases, this can progress to acute kidney failure.

It is extremely important to keep your kidney healthy for it to function to its full capability. Your blood sugar needs to be in control, failing which will cause diabetes. Keeping your body and mind fit by staying active helps in keeping the body fit and healthy. Water is key to prevent kidney conditions, drinking water flushes out the toxins from the kidneys and reduces the chance of kidney stones. Smoking is a causative factor for a number of health conditions, and it is always best to quit it. Certain over the counter medications may also cause kidney damage. This does not mean that they should not be taken at all, however, a physician must be consulted before self-medication. Routine medical checks are important to screen for chronic kidney conditions and for those who aren’t aware of the health risks they have. An obese individual must be aware of the positive impacts of losing weight which will include prevention and reduction of various chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases and kidney conditions.

Every year, March 9th is celebrated as World Kidney Day with the aim of educating people about the importance of kidney health and the diseases associated with the kidney. This year World Kidney Day goes by the theme of ‘kidney disease and obesity’ because obesity is a potential risk factor for kidney diseases which is an unknown fact. Obesity and chronic kidney conditions are both preventable, upon undertaking healthy lifestyle practices. This kidney day lets us all promise ourselves to ensure adopting and advocating healthy lifestyle practices to beat the harmful health consequences of obesity and related kidney diseases.

Dr. John Cherian Varghese

Specialist Nephrologist 

Aster Clinic & Hospital 

Dr. John Cherian

[i] –  http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/health/survey-12-of-dubai-population-is-obese-1.1838295

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vaccination 1

Don’t Wait, Vaccinate

Going on a vacation is an exciting time for everybody. Your bags are packed, your tickets are booked and you can’t wait to get on that plane that will take you to your destination. All the excitement and anticipation, however, can often cause people to disregard one simple additional task, getting vaccinated.

You don’t need to get vaccinated whenever you travel, but international travel particularly, makes you vulnerable to getting afflicted by diseases and disorders that you might not have been vaccinated for previously because those vaccine-preventable diseases might be rare in your country. However, some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, may have higher health risks. These risks depend on a number of things including where and when you are travelling, the age you are off, any specific health condition you suffer from and your vaccination history.

The World Health Organization defines a vaccine as a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. Some vaccinations are generally recommended while others are specifically required when travelling to a particular country. It is very important to gain knowledge about the vaccinations that you may be required to take, at least 4 weeks in advance. This will help the body to develop immunity and also some vaccinations may involve multiple doses spread over several weeks.

The first step to ensuring that you are properly vaccinated before your travels are to consult a specialist physician with your immunisation records. Vaccinations have a number of advantages that we generally tend to disregard. They help prevent diseases that can be easily passed onto those who aren’t vaccinated. We live in a time and age where people travel across the globe easily, and it is only easier for diseases to travel and pass on from person to person.

Vaccinations are as important for an individual’s personal health as is eating right and staying fit. Yet many people do not get themselves or their children vaccinated as recommended, causing them to be vulnerable to illnesses. Vaccinations can actually help prevent certain conditions, like breast cancer, HIV/AIDS etc. A number of people lose their lives each year to such vaccine-preventable diseases. Pregnant women, infants and adults with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases during travel. These complications can include long-term illness, hospitalisation, and even death. Immunisation is considered one of the greatest public health achievements and experts agree that immunisation is key to staying healthy.

Vaccinations are not just for an individual’s better health, it is about staying healthy yourself and protecting a community. Travel vaccinations are particularly necessary because you are likely to develop health issues that you didn’t have at home in foreign lands.

It is however not guaranteed that a vaccination will protect you from a disease and you will not develop a particular disease because of the vaccination. However, following a healthy travel routine can help to stay away and safe from infectious diseases. A shot that lasts less than 10 seconds could save you from pain and ill health, and make your trip one remember. It is of utmost importance to pack good health for the trip.

 

Dr.Samer Nours Alfil 

Specialist General Medicine 

Aster Clinic, Al Barsha 

Samer-Nours-Alfil - Barsha

*Aster Clinics are running special vaccination campaigns for Umrah. For more information and appointments, visit – http://asterclinic.ae/vaccination/

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Busy is life

How About Some ‘Desk-ercise’?

What is the Cubicle Circuit concept and how would it benefit people? What does it do to the body?

People with desk jobs have an established itinerary of activities to perform on a daily basis. Most people have all day desk jobs where they begin and end their day at their desks, parked in front of a computer for 8/10 hours straight. A lot of times people completely disregard the havoc a simple desk job can cause to their body. Research has linked a number of health concerns with too much sitting. Low back pain, wrist pain, obesity, metabolic syndrome, shoulder aches, stiff neck etc. are a few of the health issues that may be caused.

Sitting in one position continuously can cause people to have a hinged back and increase the risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. A lot of systems in the body are affected by sitting for prolonged hours, predominantly the muscular-skeletal system. The posture maintained by the body for prolonged periods is directly related and contributes to health conditions like neck and back problems, muscle pain etc. The body needs some form of an exercise. Sitting continuously for prolonged periods can lead to obesity. Cardiac diseases are also on the rise because of a sedentary lifestyle.

Busy is Life is an initiative of Aster Clinics to trigger a thought in the minds of those people who are so busy in their day to day lives that they completely ignore their health. Cubicle circuit, in particular, is to help those with a desk job to take a break to break the chain of activities every 30 minutes – 1 hour. Instead of sitting, standing up to work for a few minutes, walking when talking over the phone, stretching a little at regular intervals, are all small steps towards breaking the circuit towards a healthier workplace environment. Movement can have profound impacts on your health. When one is sitting continuously, all health processes are stalled which is why the more you sit in a particular position for prolonged periods, the more serious are the health conditions.

Can the stretching suffice or do U have some tips on what people on desk jobs eat or binge on? As most of them feeling bored or hungry and want to snack on and off.

Standing up, stretching, walking and changing your posture at regular intervals in a day can help negate the harmful effects that sitting for a long duration can cause. Along with these activities, one must also sit on a comfortable chair, adjust the position of the chair and desktop/laptop screen in a way that slouching is avoided.

It is rather common that people snack on sandwiches, chocolates and cookies, coffee etc. excessively when doing a desk job because these are all convenient foods. They are easily accessible and the most convenient to pack and get along. This is another major change that needs to be made. The food that you eat at work should be healthy and full of lean protein. Drinking lots of water are extremely necessary to stay hydrated throughout the day. Salads and fruits must be a regular inclusion in the diet. Snack options should be yoghurt, a fruit or vegetable or even nuts like almonds and walnuts. There may be a number of times where you are required to eat out for a celebration at work, it is best to choose the healthiest option when it comes to restaurant or even the food. It surely isn’t possible to be completely away from food items like pizzas, biscuits, soft drinks etc. which is why an occasional indulgence is okay. This practice should be made not just at work but also in general to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Also people doing desk jobs tend to get very low and bored at times due to the monotony of work, do you think Cubicle Circuit can uplift their mood, interest in work and Happiness factor?

Sitting in one place and working throughout the day causes a mental block in your head after a certain point. Towards the end of the day, you will be tired, drained, fatigued and mentally drained. Research states that more than sitting at the desk throughout the day, it is your seating posture that affects the mood because different muscle groups are affected, hence leading to hormonal imbalance. Sitting for a very long time also makes a person more prone to depression because the mind has an effect on the body. Also, slouching while sitting induces feelings of fearfulness, dullness and sluggishness.

The head, neck and shoulder should always be aligned, the neck or spine shouldn’t ever curve because the brain considers it a signal that the body is tired making you feel fatigued. A spine stretch will help better your mood. Standing up at intervals helps relieve the stress in the back and neck, hence acting as a mood buster for the body.

Any examples you’d like to give to anyone who has seen a considerable change in work performance and health by following Cubicle Circuit?

Doctors always advise people to follow these steps to increase productivity at work and to improve their health. Walking and stretching at regular intervals can help us stay motivated and avoid being tired. These are little steps that everybody should incorporate in their life as they lead a long way in ensuring a healthy body and mind.

Your health and happiness related advice for people with desk jobs?

As it is very rightly said, ‘Health is Wealth’. Always ensure to take good care of your health, irrespective of whether at home or work. The human brain isn’t meant to work for extended periods, our focus shifts from time to time, however only a small break is required to get the focus back on track. Taking small breaks from a sitting position at work to standing up and moving around will not only help the body relax but also helps the brain to regain focus. Employees who take frequent but short breaks during work have much more stamina and suffer from fewer aches and pains. Avoid eating at the desk and continuously staring at the computer screen as it increases the strain caused to the eye. You may feel that a two minute break is not long enough but it is long enough to do your body a favour and give it the rest it needs. Unfortunately, this advice is not taken seriously and people do not realise the toll of stress and fatigue on an individual’s health and performance. Breaks are most effective when they are taken before they are actually needed. Taking a two minute break in between work to walk or stretch and eating healthy food instead of junk, are crucial steps that are essential to have a healthy mind and body.

 

Dr.Faisal Dalvi 

Internal Medicine Specialist 

Aster clinic, Muteena (DMPC) & Bur Dubai (AJMC) 

Dr faisal - DMPC

News Source – http://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/uae-health/how-about-some-desk-ercise

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joint pain

Healthy Joints For a Healthy Living

A joint also called an articulation, is any place where adjacent bones come together (articulate with each other) to form a connection.  The joint allows the bones to move freely but within controlled limits.

There are various types of joints in the body but among them, the synovial joints are the most common joint.

A key structural characteristic for a synovial joint is its joint cavity. This fluid-filled space is the site at which the articulating surfaces of the bones come into contact with each other. This gives the bones of a synovial joint the ability to move smoothly against each other, allowing for increased joint mobility.

Some joints, such as the knee, elbow, and shoulder, are self-lubricating, almost frictionless, and are able to withstand compression and maintain heavy loads while still executing smooth and precise movements. Other joints such as sutures between the bones of the skull permit very little movement (only during birth) in order to protect the brain and the sense organs.

In a joint, bones do not directly come into contact with each other. They are cushioned by cartilage that lines your joints (articular cartilage), synovial membranes around the joint and a lubricating fluid inside your joints (synovial fluid).

Muscles provide the force and strength to move the body. Coordination is directed by the brain but is affected by changes in the muscles and joints. Changes in the muscles, joints, and bones affect the posture and walk, and lead to weakness and slowed movement.

AGING CHANGES ON JOINTS AND MUSCLES

From about age 30, the density of bones begins to diminish in men and women. This loss of bone density accelerates in women after menopause. As a result, bones become more fragile and are more likely to break, especially in old age.

As people age, their joints are affected by changes in cartilage and in connective tissue. The cartilage inside a joint becomes thinner, and components of the cartilage (the proteoglycans—substances that help provide the cartilage’s resilience) become altered, which may make the joint less resilient and more susceptible to damage. Thus, in some people, the surfaces of the joint do not slide as well over each other as they used to. This process may lead to osteoarthritis or osteoarthrosis. Additionally, joints become stiffer because the connective tissue within ligaments and tendons becomes more rigid and brittle. This change also limits the range of motion of joints.

Loss of muscle (sarcopenia) is a process that starts around age 30 and progresses throughout life. In this process, the amount of muscle tissue and the number and size of muscle fibres gradually decrease. The result of sarcopenia is a gradual loss of muscle mass and muscle strength. This mild loss of muscle strength places increased stress on certain joints (such as the knees) and may predispose a person to arthritis or falling.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can include:

  • Painstiffnessa grating or grinding sensation (crepitus) when the joint movesswelling (either hard or soft)not being able to use the affected

Joint normally, which can make it difficult to do certain activities

(For example climbing stairs).

PREVENTION

Exercise is one of the best ways to slow or prevent problems with the muscles, joints, and bones. A moderate exercise program can help you maintain strength, balance, and flexibility. Exercise helps the bones stay strong.

A Harvard Alumni Study has published a report that a caloric expenditure of >2000 kcal/day associated with 25% reduction in mortality, they even suggested that physical activity levels must be maintained THROUGHOUT life

Research shows that:

  • Exercise can make bones stronger and help slow the rate of bone loss.
  • Older people can increase muscle mass and strength through muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Balance and coordination exercises, such as tai chi, can help reduce the risk of falls.
  • Physical activity in later life may delay the progression of osteoporosis as it slows down the rate at which bone mineral density is reduced.
  • Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or weight training, is the best type of exercise for maintenance of bone mass. There is a suggestion that twisting or rotational movements, where the muscle attachments pull on the bone, are also beneficial.
  • Older people who exercise in water (which is not weight bearing) may still experience increases in bone and muscle mass compared to sedentary older people.

Aerobic exercise is any exercise that increases your pulse rate and makes you short of breath (for example a brisk walk, swimming or using an exercise bike). Regular aerobic exercise should help you sleep better, is good for your general health and well-being, and can also reduce pain by raising the levels of pain-relieving hormones called endorphins.

  • Stretching is another excellent way to help maintain joint flexibility.

See your doctor before you start any new physical activity program. If you haven’t exercised for a long time, are elderly or have a chronic disease (such as arthritis), your doctor, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can help tailor an appropriate and safe exercise program for you.

To summarize

Older adults are the fastest-growing segment of the population

  • As the older adult population increases in number, there is considerable impact on health care and economic aspects of society
  • Observational studies suggest that physical activity may increase the quantity and quality of life

It’s never too late to start living an active lifestyle and enjoying the benefits.

Dr. Ashwin Narasimhaprasad 

Specialist in Orthopaedics  

Aster Clinic, Muteena (DMPC)

Dr. Ashwin - Muteena

http://asterclinic.ae/doctor/dr-ashwin-narasimhaprasad/

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