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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40 Weeks to Baby – Is it Important to Reach Full Term?

What constitutes a full term pregnancy?

A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. A pregnancy is considered full-term if the baby is born anytime between 37weeks-40weeks.

Why is it important to reach full term?

Each day that the baby spends inside the mother’s uterus is important for the baby. Unless there is an underlying medical condition or any other medical reason for an early delivery, doctors would recommend waiting until the labour starts naturally. Having a natural labour is best for the baby and the mother to have a smooth pregnancy. Induced labour has its own risks. Induced labour makes it more likely for the mother to have a C-section. Having said that, inducing labour is done in different ways. Certain medications are administered to artificially induce labour by starting contractions.

In some cases, women may be advised to deliver the baby early because of some health conditions like preeclampsia, infection, bleeding during pregnancy etc. If a baby is delivered before completion of 37 weeks, the baby will be born pre-term and this could cause health complications to the baby. Babies born at full term are completely developed and are less likely to develop conditions like jaundice, respiratory issues etc. The longer the baby is in the mother’s womb, lesser are the complications.

What complications might arise from pre-term birth?

Preterm births can be spontaneous or may be due to induced labour or C-section for medical reasons. Any baby born before 37 weeks of gestation is termed as a preterm baby. Most premature babies face short term and long term health complications. These babies are admitted to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as they are born at a time when they are not completely ready to leave the mother’s womb. They are at the risk of developing disabilities and are cared for in a NICU until they reach at least 35 weeks and are able to breathe on their own, and able to suck milk and swallow.

Premature babies are more susceptible to health complications like respiratory issues because of their immature respiratory system, neurodevelopmental issues, conditions of the heart, infections, hearing and eyesight problems, apnea, jaundice etc. Not all preemies suffer from these conditions but being premature increases their risk of developing these conditions. The earlier they are born, the greater number of risks they have. The birth weight of the baby is also a matter of concern. Premature babies will require a longer hospital stay than other babies. Some babies may have chronic lung diseases because lungs are the last organs to develop and may also require respiratory support even at home.

Dr.Usha Suresh, 

Specialist Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Aster Clinic, Marina

Usha Suresh

http://asterclinic.ae/doctor/dr-usha-suresh/

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Heartburn During Pregnancy

Many women experience heartburn for the first time during pregnancy, although rather common and mostly harmless it can be very disturbing. The increase in acidity and heartburn is, in fact, one of the lesser discussed side-effects of pregnancy. Pregnant women, more often than not, are subject to symptoms of heartburn, which usually begins sometime around their second or third trimester and carries on until the end of their pregnancy.

Heartburn is a burning sensation that begins from a person’s stomach and extends till their chest. The lower esophagus that keeps the content of the stomach in place, leaks or becomes weak and lets the acids flow back into the esophagus, hence causing a fiery sensation.

Pregnant women are prone to heartburn and acid reflux for two main reasons; an increase in the amount of progesterone that their body produces during the course of a pregnancy. The change in hormone levels causes the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, resulting in the backwash. Another reason for the increased incidence is the fact that the growing uterus can crowd the abdomen, putting pressure on the stomach and the lower esophagus and forces the stomach acids upwards. These are not the only reasons for heartburn, however, these are most common reasons. Many women experience gastrointestinal issues during their pregnancy that comes and goes during the course until the baby is born.

Despite the inevitability of experiencing heartburn during pregnancy, there are a number of ways to manage and reduce heartburn during pregnancy. Certain common lifestyle changes can help self-manage heartburn during the course of pregnancy.

  • Eat slow and small meals: Eating smaller meals with an adequate interval between them as opposed to a few large meals can greatly help in reducing the effects of heartburn and acidity. Eating your food slowly allows your stomach to better digest the food and also prevents you from overeating. These steps go a long way in calming the acidity that might flare up during and after meals.
  • Drink water before meals: Sipping on a glass of water before meals would not only help you increase your fluid intake, but also give you a sense of fullness that might prevent you from overindulging during your meals. Intake of fluids should be before or after meals rather than during meals.
  • Stand or walk after your meals: It is strongly suggested to stand or walk around for a brief period of time, rather than simply sitting or lying down. Some light activity after meals can help quicken digestion.
  • Do not go to bed right after eating: Despite the fatigue that accompanies pregnancy, doctors say that going to bed right after eating a meal, heavy or light, can exacerbate the symptoms of heartburn. The suggested time period of having a meal is 3 hours before bedtime. This gives the body enough time to begin digestion and prevent the reflux of stomach contents while you sleep.
  • Elevate your head and chest while sleeping: Putting blocks under the legs of your bed can help in elevating your upper body while you sleep. This prevents the backwash or reflux of the stomach acids up to your esophagus.
  • Understand your triggers and avoid it: Different foods elevate heartburn symptoms in different women. It is important to identify and avoid those food items.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes: The growing fetus is already putting pressure on your stomach. Added to which, tight fitting clothes would only serve to add to that pressure on your already crammed abdomen. Wearing loose fitting or maternity clothes from an early stage in your pregnancy can help your stomach and abdomen area have some room to breathe.

There are also certain home remedies to relieve the symptoms of heartburn. Antacids can also be considered, however only after consulting with a gynaecologist. Heartburn during pregnancy is not something that has to be dealt with silently. A few changes in lifestyle practices can help towards ensuring a smooth and heartburn free pregnancy.

 

Dr.Prakash B Shankar 

Specialist Gastroenterologist

Aster Speciality Clinic, International City 

Dr.Dr_.-Prakash-Shankar-Sp.-Gastro-for-Aster-IC_-2-164x200

*Aster Clinics are currently running special GERD clinics on Mondays and Thursdays. For more information and appointments, visit – http://asterclinic.ae/gerd-gastroesophageal-reflux-disease/

 

 

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Dealing with stress during pregnancy

It is completely normal to feel some amount of stress during pregnancy, primarily because of the uncertainty that might come into play the first time you become pregnant. But if the stress and anxiety become constant, the effects on you and your baby could be lasting.

When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, sending out a burst of cortisol and other stress hormones. These are the same hormones that surge when you are in danger and they prepare you to run by sending a blast of fuel to your muscles and making your heart pump faster. In fact, constant stress could alter your body’s stress management system, causing it to overreact and trigger an inflammatory response. And inflammation, in turn, has been linked to poorer pregnancy health and developmental problems in babies down the road. Chronic stress may also contribute to subtle differences in brain development that might lead to behavioural issues as the baby grows.

Here are a few ways to manage your stress and reduce anxiety at work and at home:

  • Practice saying “no”: Being pregnant is as good a time as any to get rid of the notion that you can do it all. Make slowing down a priority, and get used to the idea of asking your friends and loved ones for help.

 

  • Cut back on chores: And use that spare time to rest and relax, both physically and mentally

 

  • Take advantage of sick days or vacation whenever possible: Spending a day — or even an afternoon — resting at home will help you get through a tough week.

 

  • Try deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or stretching: These exercises help in calming the body and in alleviating any negative thoughts that may arise due to stress.

 

  • Get regular exercises such as swimming or walking: Being pregnant does not imply that you have to completely put a halt to any physical activities. Low to moderate intensity of exercise can have a positive effect on you and your fetus.

 

  • Do your best to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet so you have the physical and emotional energy you need: A balanced diet would generally contain 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, as well as plenty of whole grains and foods that are high in calcium – like milk, calcium-fortified foods, and yogurt – along with a variety of protein sources, such as pulses and legumes, soy products, poultry, and meats and an amount of healthy fats such as nuts and seeds.

 

  • Go to bed early: Your body is working overtime to nourish your growing baby and needs all the sleep it can get.

 

  • Limit “information overload”: Reading about pregnancy and listening to your friends’ pregnancy stories are fine — but don’t delve into all the scary things that might (but probably won’t) happen during your pregnancy. Focus instead on how you’re feeling and what’s happening to you now.

 

  • Join a support group: If you’re coping with a difficult situation, spending time with others in the same boat can ease your burden. Many women create support networks using social media or by joining groups online.

 

  • If you’re under unusual stress or feel like you’re at your breaking point, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a therapist, who can better assess how strong your anxiety has become and what you may need to do to feel better. Listen openly to what she has to say. Getting help during pregnancy will protect you and your baby from unnecessary risks and reduce your chances of postpartum anxiety and depression.

The Aster Nurture program aims at nurturing, caring and protecting you, the mother, and your newborn baby from the time when you conceives till when your child is 5 years old. After enrolling in this program, you will be entitled to a range of benefits that will ensure that you have a healthy and happy pregnancy. The antenatal care package that you can avail of, contains antenatal group classes that aim to educate the expectant mothers about the various physical and emotional changes that occur during the term of pregnancy. Attending these classes along with other new mothers would give you a sense of support and help eliminate any negative thoughts that you might be harbouring. Furthermore, sharing your pregnancy stories with others will help you understand the nature of your stresses and the steps that you can take to reduce them.

 

Dr. Sejal Devendra Surti

Specialist Obstretician/Gynaecologist

Aster Hospital, Mankhool

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