A First-Of-Its-Kind Magazine On Environment Which Is For Nature, Of Nature, By Us (RNI No.: UPBIL/2016/66220)

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Dr Deepak K Agarwal

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Dr Deepak K Agarwal

Dr Deepak K Agarwal

Dr Deepak K Agarwal

Specialist Corner

Common diseases & their prevention during the rains

The sudden onset of monsoon after an extended hot summer makes an average individual prone to a host of diseases. Some of the diseases associated with monsoon are malaria, jaundice, gastro intestinal infections such as typhoid and cholera. Apart from these, viral infections such as cold and cough also make their presence felt. Some other diseases that occur during this time are leptospirosis and conjunctivitis. Our body’s intestinal and digestive system becomes weak during the rainy season, which makes us highly susceptible to all kinds of infections, so we should eat light and avoid spicy greasy, fried and fatty foods as they have heated thermal effect on our body and make us feel sluggish.

Contamination of water and unhygienic conditions are very often the cause of many monsoon ailments. Skin conditions, asthma and arthritis also get aggravated because of excess humidity. During the rains, humidity reaches its peak and has an adverse impact on hair health. Use of styling gel or perming or straightening activity on hair should be strictly restricted. One should also ensure regular cleansing of scalp with shampoos followed by a conditioner, as there is high chance of dandruff due to dirt accumulated in scalp pores. Do not leave your clothes wet and carry an umbrella. The changing weather causes allergies and acidity problems too.

In developing countries four-fifths of all the illnesses are caused by water-borne diseases, with diarrhoea being the leading cause of childhood death. The global picture of water and health has a strong local dimension with some 1.1 billion people still lacking access to improved drinking water sources and some 2.4 billion to adequate sanitation. Today we have strong evidence that water-, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases account for some 2,213,000 deaths annually and an annual loss of 82,196,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). WHO estimates indicate that worldwide over 2 billion people are infected with schistosomes and soil transmitted helminthes and 300 million of these suffer serious illness as a result. Malaria kills over a million people every year, and a large percentage of them are under five as well, mainly in Africa South of the Sahara. Pregnant women are the main adult risk group. As one of the major public health problems in tropical countries, it has been claimed that malaria has reduced economic growth in African countries by 1.3 % each year over the past 30 years. An estimated 246.7 million people worldwide are infected byschistomiasis, and of these 20 million suffer severe consequences of the infection, while 120 million suffer milder symptoms. An estimated 80% of transmission takes place in Africa south of the Sahara. Diarrhoea occurs worldwide and causes 4% of all deaths and 5% of the health loss to disability.

This is likely to occur where public and private drinking water systems get their water from surface waters (rain, creeks, rivers, lakes etc.), which can be contaminated by infected animals or people. Runoff from landfills, septic fields, sewer pipes, residential or industrial developments can also sometimes contaminate surface water. This has been the cause of many dramatic outbreaks of faecal-oral diseases such as cholera and typhoid. However, there are many other ways in which faecal material can reach the mouth, for instance on the hands or on contaminated food. In general, contaminated food is the single most common way in which people become infected. The germs in the faeces can cause the diseases by even slight contact and transfer. This contamination may occur due to floodwaters, water runoff from landfills, septic fields, and sewer pipes.

In order to prevent water-borne diseases, do not drink water, which is not properly boiled and stored. Drinking water should be boiled and properly filtered. Avoid consuming food that is exposed to the surroundings for quite a long time, since food that is exposed for a long time is contaminated by germs, which may cause various infections. Flies are the most common carriers of germs that mostly cause contamination. Therefore remember to cook the vegetables well and steam them properly to kill the germ content in them, if any. Diabetic patients need to take extra care of their feet during monsoon season. These patients should take specific care as not to walk bare-foot since the soil on which they walk is a reservoir of all types of germs. Asthma patients also need to take special care during monsoon, as they should ensure that there is no accumulation and seepage of water from the vicinity of their residence since that will cause severe health problems. They should also ensure that fungus does not grow in the wooden furniture, and in other articles such as shoes and leather bags. One should avoid roadside food.

During the monsoon, roadside food can lead to various infections and ailments. The reason behind it is that germs & bacteria’s often breed during rainy seasons & food items kept in the open are most vulnerable to infections. One should also eat thoroughly cleaned and well cooked green leafy vegetables, as these are good for health. Try to avoid intake of cut fruits & salads during the rains. Eating out can be done but at good hygienic restaurants to ensure quality food. Raw vegetables should be avoided and steamed veggies should be consumed instead especially during monsoons. Avoid intake of stale food. If some food is left, you must refrigerate it and not leave it in open.

One should also drink plenty of water but boiled during the monsoon season even if you are not thirsty as it keeps you hydrated and prevents diarrhoea. During rainy season drink filtered or boiled water. Personal hygiene is a must. Clean your body with regular bath to prevent germ and bacteria that can cause any type of skin problem.

Water-related diseases: Water-borne diseases are any illness caused by drinking water contaminated by human or animal faeces, which contain pathogenic microorganisms.  The following conditions are caused by contaminated water: Anaemia; Arsenicosis; Ascariasis; Botulism; Campylobacteriosis; Cholera; Cryptosporiodiosis; Cyanobacterial toxins; Dengue; Diarrhoea; Dracunculiasis; Fluorosis; Giardiasis; Hepatitis; Hookworm infection; Japanese encephalitis; Lead poisoning; Legionellosis; Leptospirosis; Lymphatic filariasis; Malaria; Malnutrition; Methaemoglobinemia; Onchocerciasis; Polio; Ring Worm or Tinea; Scabies; Schistomiasis; Trachoma; Trichuriasis; Typhoid

The only way to break the continued transmission is to improve the people’s hygienic behaviour and to provide them with certain basic needs: drinking water, washing and bathing facilities and sanitation. Malaria transmission is facilitated when large numbers of people sleep outdoors during hot weather, or sleep in houses that have no protection against invading mosquitoes. Malaria mosquitoes, tropical black flies, and bilharzias snails can all be controlled with efficient drainage because they all depend on water to complete their life cycles. Clean water is a pre-requisite for reducing the spread of water-borne diseases. It is well recognised that the prevalence of water-borne diseases can be greatly reduced by provision of clean drinking water and safe disposal of faeces. Water is disinfected to kill any pathogens that may be present in the water supply and to prevent them from growing again in the distribution systems. Disinfection is then used to prevent the growth of pathogenic organisms and to protect public health, and the choice of the disinfect, depends upon the individual water quality and water supply system. Without disinfection, the risk from waterborne disease is increased. The two most common methods to kill microorganisms in the water supply are: oxidation with chemicals such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide or ozone, and irradiation with Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation.

Colon Cancer: A condition that may spring up on you Colon cancer and piles are very different conditions, but they both can produce blood in the stool. Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine that forms in the lining of the colon. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small clumps of cells called colon polyps. While these polyps start out as benign, if not discovered and removed, usually during a colonoscopy, they can become cancerous and develop into colon cancer. Symptoms of Colon Cancer Many cases of colorectal cancer have no symptoms or warning signs until the cancer has advanced. However, the following symptoms may indicate colon cancer. Of course, other conditions can cause the same symptoms, such as piles, IBD infection, etc., so patients should consult their doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms. Unexplained anaemia Anaemia refers to a lowering of red blood cell count. In terms of colon cancer anaemia may be caused by a microscopic amount of chronic blood loss in the stool. In this case, iron is lost with the red blood cells and can slowly deplete the total body stores of iron. The production of new red blood cells is reduced and eventually the total red blood cell count decreases causing anaemia. Anaemia can also cause fatigue because the red blood cells are responsible for delivering oxygen to the body tissues. In women, an iron deficiency is commonly seen during menstruation. However, for men, iron deficiency is uncommon and needs to be further investigated by a physician. Unexplained weight loss A drop in your weight is usually celebrated, but if you don’t have an explanation for a significant amount of weight loss, that could be a little scary. Unexplained weight loss due to colon cancer may not occur until the cancer is in its advanced stages. One of the other symptoms of colon cancer is diarrhoea that lasts for more than a few days. Diarrhoea can also cause weight loss. Abdominal pain is another symptom of colon cancer that may prevent you from eating normally. If you have lost a significant amount of weight accompanied with these symptoms, you need to talk to your doctor immediately to determine the cause. Changes in bowel habits Every now and then, we all experience changes in our bowels. We may experience diarrhoea or constipation due to something we ate or due to being sick with something like the flu. But changes in you bowel habits that continue may indicate a more serious condition. If you experience diarrhoea or constipation that lasts for more than a few weeks, you need to talk to your doctor. Another change in bowel habits that may indicate colon cancer is having narrower than normal stools or other changes in the appearance of your stool. If your stool looks pencil-thin or looks different for more than a few weeks, you need to talk to your doctor. Blood in stool Anal bleeding is a serious subject, no matter the cause. Having a doctor take a closer at your symptoms can determine whether the cause is a condition like haemorrhoids or if it is something more serious, like colon cancer, and decide on the right course of treatment. If you notice either bright red or very dark blood in your stool, along with severe pain, you need to contact your physician as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to examine you and will most likely suggest a colonoscopy to check for polyps or tumours that may the source of the problem. Abdominal pain Almost everyone experiences abdominal pain, bloating or cramps at some point in their life. Most of the time it is not caused by a serious condition, and the severity of your pain is does not necessarily reflect the seriousness of the condition causing the pain. However, if you experience any amount of abdominal pain that is unfamiliar, you should talk to your doctor. They may have a simple solution to your pain, or further testing to diagnose a more serious cause may be recommended. Be sure to listen to your body and recognize when something doesn’t feel quite right. Vomiting Vomiting can be caused by a number of normal occurrences: motion sickness, a virus or unpleasant sights or smells. But if nausea and vomiting are accompanied with other symptoms such as constipation or pain, colon cancer could be the cause. When vomiting is a symptom of colon cancer, it is usually because a tumour is causing a bowel obstruction. Depending on the severity of the blockage, solids, liquids and even gas may be prevented from passing through the colon. This can lead to painful stomach cramps and constipation. Either of these symptoms can result in nausea and vomiting. Risk Factors for Colon Cancer Though scientists are unsure of exactly what causes colon and colorectal cancer, some risk factors have been identified as: Age; Polyps (growths inside the colon and rectum) that may become cancerous; A high-fat diet; Family history of colon cancer or polyps; Inflammatory bowel diseases involving the colon; Sedentary lifestyle; Diabetes; Smoking; Alcohol; Obesity. Tests to Diagnose Colon Cancer Colonoscopy Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Virtual Colonoscopy Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBT) Double Contract Barium Enema (DCBE) Treatments for Colon Cancer Colon cancer is both preventable and highly treatable when detected early. There are a number of screening options to check for colon cancer, but a colonoscopy is considered the gold standard. Ask your doctor about which screening methods are right for you. The three primary treatment options available for colon cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment options for colon cancer depend on the stage and location of the cancer, whether the cancer has recurred and the patient’s general health. The surgical option, a partial colectomy, is the main treatment and includes removing the affected portion of the colon. How much of the colon is removed and whether it is done in conjunction with other treatments will depend on the location of the cancer, how deep it has penetrated the wall of the bowel and if it has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. In surgical treatment, the part of the colon that contains the cancer, as well as portions of healthy colon on either side, will be removed to ensure no cancer is left behind. Nearby lymph nodes will be removed and tested at the same time. Usually the doctor is able to reconnect the healthy portions of the colon, but if that is not possible the patient will have a temporary or permanent colostomy bag. A colostomy bag is a device that is worn on the skin discreetly under the clothing and is attached to the remaining bowel. Waste material travels into this bag which is then disposed of, and the bag is replaced as needed. Sometimes, a colostomy is done temporarily to give the bowel time to heal. It may become permanent if too much of the colon or the rectum has to be removed. If the cancer is small, early stage and localized in a polyp, it is possible it may all be removed during a colonoscopy. If the cancer is very advanced or the patient’s health is extremely poor, surgery may be done simply to provide comfort. This is an operation that will relieve a blockage of the colon to improve symptoms. This will not cure cancer but may relieve pain and bleeding. Chemotherapy can be used after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells, and may be recommended by the doctor if the cancer has spread beyond the lining of the colon. Chemotherapy can be used in conjunction with radiation. Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources to kill any cancer cells that may remain after surgery or to shrink large tumours before an operation. This option is rarely used in the early stages of colon cancer.

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