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Spending excessive time on computer or mobile phone often leads to neck pain which has grown to be a common problem among masses over the past few years.
A cough is a reflex action to clear the throat from mucus and the external irritants such as the dust particles, smoke, microbes, and fluids etc. In short, the cough is a quick eviction of air from the lungs, which passes through the mouth. It is a common reflex that helps remove the obstruction of breathing and does not need immediate medical attention at the initial stage. However, if a cough lasts longer, it may possibly a sign of the serious disease as well.
A cough can be divided into two parts viz. an Acute Cough and Chronic Cough. Coughs that last not more than 2 to 3 weeks are called Acute Cough while Chronic Coughs last longer than 3 weeks and can be dangerous for health. These kinds of coughs are known as Persistent Coughs as well.
Causes of Acute Coughs (Short-Term Coughs)
A quite common infection that causes the Acute Coughs is called the Upper Respiratory Tract Infection, which is also known as the URI or URTI. This infection affects the throat, trachea and sinuses, which triggers flu, common cold, and Laryngitis.
Another reason that causes Acute Coughs is called the Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI), which affects the lungs and lower airways. This infection causes Pneumonia and Bronchitis. Besides, Acute Coughs can cause Hay Fever as well.
Causes of Chronic or Persistent Coughs (Long-Term Coughs)
There can be a number of reasons that cause Chronic Coughs such as smoking, Asthma, Bronchitis, post-nasal drip, Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) or Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) etc.
A cough caused by the smoking is often called the ‘Smoker’s Cough’. It usually lasts longer and may lead to loads of complications in the respiratory system of the body including the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which obstructs the lung and creates several breathing problems and poor airflow for a long-term.
Asthmatic Coughs include symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and tiredness etc. This type of coughs increases during the nights and cause difficulty sleeping.
Bronchitis is a type of inflammation that damages the bronchial tubes, which carries the air to the lungs. It produces thick mucus that can further result in bronchial tubes to be swelled and/ or blocked.
4. Post-Nasal Drip:
The body produces mucus, a thick, wet and stingy fluid substance, on a regular basis to help gets rid of the external dust particles and virus. Usually, it is not noticeable and drips down the throat from the back of the nose. However, when the body produces an excessive amount of mucus, it comes out of the nostrils and mouth and causes running nose.
5. Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD) or Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD):
The Acute Coughs often cause stomach acid to leak up into the tube that joints mouth and stomach, which is called oesophagus/ esophageal or gullet. The tube is also known as the food pipe. GORD usually leads to the heartburn and affects the taste buds as well.
Types of Coughs
Coughs can further be divided into four distinct categories namely Croup Coughs, Dry Coughs, Wet Coughs and Whooping Coughs. Let us know about these four types of coughs first.
1. Croup Coughs:
Croup is an infection that is caused by the viruses and bacteria, and affects the Larynx, also called the voice box, trachea, known as the windpipe and the bronchial tubes that supply air to the lungs. Croup Coughs are usually contagious, especially at the initial stages. It irritates the Upper Respiratory Tract and makes it swelled that causes complications while breathing.
2. Dry Coughs:
Dry Coughs are often caused by several factors such as the infection in the nose and throat, allergies air pollution, change in the temperature, dry atmosphere and acid reflux etc. It produces very less or no mucus during the infection and is also known as the Tickly Coughs and Non-Productive Coughs.
3. Wet Coughs:
Wet Coughs are also known as the Chesty Coughs and Productive Coughs. This type of coughs produces a large amount of mucus and phlegm, which is stored in the Lower Respiratory Tract due to the infection and/ or asthma. Wet Cough occurs to remove the additional mucus through the nostrils and mouth.
4. Whooping Coughs:
Whooping Coughs are also known as the Pertussis. This type of coughs is caused by the bacterial infection into the Upper Respiratory Tract and is highly contagious. Some of the symptoms the Whooping Coughs cause include the running nose, fever, nasal blockage, watery eyes, and extreme fatigue in some cases.
Cough Symptoms and Signs-
- Sore throat
- Excessive production of the mucus and phlegm
- Blocked nasal
- Running nose
- Post-nasal drips
- Unpleasant and sore taste
These are the common symptoms, in case of multiple symptoms, ask your doctor to consult the patient.
Complications of Cough
While Acute Cough is a protective function that removes the blockage in the airways and fights the external bacteria and germs, Chronic Cough can sometimes be quite dangerous and can lead to many other serious diseases. Some of the common and major complications that cough causes include:
1. Fainting and Dizziness
The severe coughs sometimes cause fainting and dizziness and are often known as the Cough Syncope. It affects the sensory organs and reduces the blood flow to the brain while coughing, which can lead to major damages. Usually, Asthma, Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Whooping Coughs, and some kinds of heart diseases cause fainting during the coughs.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder, which is among the common complications caused by the coughs. Regular production of mucus makes the body release it through the coughs and makes it difficult to sleep at nights. The post-nasal drips and symptoms of GERD are the two main causes that increase the chances of having insomnia.
3. Abdominal Hernia-
Chronic Coughs often cause throat infection, which can spread throughout the body and can affect other parts as well; and can lead to tearing the abdominal wall. This condition is however quite rare. Usually, the abdominal hernia caused by other infections or diseases is hard to identify, however, the hernia caused by the coughs are easily identified.
4. Fractured Ribs-
As per the article published by the World Journal of Emergency Surgery in 2006, fractured ribs caused by the Chronic Coughs are among the quite common complications occurred by the coughs. It mainly occurs in the old adults and has an effect on women for the most part. Chronic Coughs majorly affect the middle ribs and increased the chances of attacking the people having low bone density.
The severe Persistent Coughs affect the gas exchange in the lungs and blocks the necessary amount of oxygen required by the body tissues. This condition is called the Hypoxia. Hypoxia caused by the Persistent Coughs commonly attacks infants and babies as compared to the adults. Furthermore, Whooping Coughs develop the bacteria in the body that cause the Pneumonia, which may increase the risks of getting Brain Hypoxia.
Other Complications of Cough
- Physical exhaustion
- Cough-induced urine leakage
- Hoarse voice
- Muscle uneasiness
- Small blood vessel injury
- Inflammation in the throat tissues
- Coughing up blood
How to Prevent Coughing?
- Avoid the extreme change in the temperature, such as the sudden exposure to the Sun or moving to the air-conditioned rooms from the heat outside.
- Avoid taking warm bath late at nights or early in the morning.
- Avoid consuming pickles and fried foods as sour food items increase the chances of getting a cough
- Avoid extremely cold food items, especially the cold drinks and ice creams
- Keep the hands and body clean to get rid of the germs
- Keep the house clean and make sure bathroom and kitchen are hygienic and germ-free
- Avoid getting in touch with dust
- Keep the rooms ventilated with filtered air-conditioning system
- Keep the body hydrated and consume enough water or any other beverages
- Avoid being in contact with infected people. Many types of coughs are contagious and transmit the bacteria very quickly.
- Have proper sleep
- Avoid consuming alcohol and smoking
The doctor starts the diagnosis procedure with examining the throat and test out if the infection persists. Further analysis includes listening to the sound of coughs and enquiring about the symptoms the patient is having. If the patient has a bacterial infection that causes coughs, the doctor will recommend some oral antibiotics.
Generally, there is no need to have intense treatment for mild and Acute Coughs as it usually does not harm the body severely at the initial stages. Such mild coughs can be treated at some by consuming fluids and keeping the body hydrated. Taking painkillers such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen will also work. However, if the coughs persist for weeks and becoming rigorous day by day, a medical care is required immediately.
Home Remedies for Cough-
1.Treatment of Cough by Honey-
Honey is being used to cure the coughs since the centuries now and is considered as one of the most effective remedies for coughs. Having honey with warm tea, warm lemon water or even with the grape juice helps soothe a sore throat. Drinking honey alone is also quite effective as it coats the throat and lessens the irritation caused by the infection.
(Note: Do not give honey to infants and babies under the age of one year as it contains the bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum, which may increase the risks of infant botulism).
2. Treatment of Cough by Herbal Tea-
Drinking a couple of cups tea helps tame coughs as fluids soothe the throat and reduces the infection. One of the best parts of having tea is one can experiment the drink with several herbs and spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, honey, and clove etc. Further, adding turmeric, marshmallow root, or liquorice root is a scientifically proven treatment to cure coughs.
3. Treatment of Cough by Steam Inhalation-
One of the great ways to treat Chronic Coughs includes inhaling the steam. It helps reduce the amount of mucus and phlegm stored in the lungs and helps hydrate the airways, thus, providing relief in a cough and cold. Using eucalyptus oil while inhaling steam proves to be quite helpful in reducing the mucus.
4. Treatment of Cough by Warm Water-
Water, as always, is the best remedy to cure both Acute and Chronic Coughs. While gargling with salted water helps cure the swollen throat tissues, adding lemon, honey and eucalyptus leaves in the warm water helps reduce the soreness in the throat.
5. Treatment of Cough by Peppermint Leaves-
Peppermint has the menthol possessions that reduce the congestion produced by the mucus and helps soothe the throat from infection. Peppermint’s antibacterial properties help relax the muscles that cause fever and sore throat. Drinking peppermint tea with honey is also a proven remedy that is often used to cure Wet Cough.
(Note: Avoid giving peppermint to infants as it can cause burning mouth and tongue.)
6. Treatment of Cough by Lemon-
Lemon is also an effective remedy to calm the soaring throat caused by the infection. Lemon has the Antioxidants and Vitamin C that helps stimulate saliva and reduce the throat irritation. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle black pepper and salt on it. Squeeze it in the mouth and slurp it to get an instant relief. Drinking lemon juice with added honey in it is also quite helpful to cure coughs.
7. Treatment of Cough by Garlic
Garlic possesses antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help restore the Upper Respiratory Tract from throat infections. Boil a cup of water and add garlic, two to three cloves and one teaspoon honey and mix in properly. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes and let it cool to a room temperature. Once its temperature gets down, drink it.
8. Treatment of Cough by Almonds
Almond is believed to have the nutritional properties that help relieve bronchial problems. Soak few almonds in the water at night and make a smooth paste of it in the morning. Add teaspoon butter or sip it with the orange juice. Repeat this activity for a couple of days to remove the symptoms of coughs.
Back Pain Symptoms
Back plays a very important role in a human body. It is composed of a complex structure of muscles and ligaments that supports the body and enables us to stand, move around, and indulge in almost every physical activity. The inconveniences with any of these bodily structures can lead to back pain which might range from severe to moderate. This is very common among people from all age groups due to their sitting and standing position.
Do you think why you have a back pain every time? Well, the cause of back pain is still unknown. The back pain varies from one person to another. Some of its symptoms suggest that back pain has a more serious cause that includes fever, weight loss, and numbness.
Symptoms of Back Pain
In most cases, back pain gets cured and one does not go to a doctor. Back pain is accompanied by many symptoms; some of those are included below. If a person experiences any of these symptoms, it might be a sign of a back pain; the doctor should be informed about it.
- Fibromyalgia – Fibromyalgia causes pain in the entire body. A person has painful tender joints that hurt a lot even after taking medicine. In this condition, the affected person should not indulge in any kind of exercise. The symptoms of fibromyalgia differ from one person to another, but symptoms such as stiffness, fatigue, and issues while sleeping are common. Apart from back pain, patients also experience stiffness in the shoulders and neck. Patients complain of feeling extremely tired, especially waking up and feeling pain in specific areas called tender points. Many patients complain about stiffness, which is worse in the morning and increases as the day passes. Any physical exertion increases the pain.
It can be improved by adopting lifestyle changes that include a change in diet and exercising daily.
- Degenerative arthritis –This condition occurs due to an internal damage caused to the facet joints. The surfaces of the joints are lined with smooth cartilage that allows movement. Both sides of the joint rub against each other, thus allowing a free movement. In case of injury or internal damage, apart from back pain, patients may also experience stiffness and pain in bending over. The joints are smaller when compared to the body weight they bear. The stress and strain may cause damage to the cartilage. Injuries and other internal and external damages over a lifetime may cause the joints to degenerate.
- Inflammatory arthritis– It is a group of disease caused due to inflammation of joints and other tissues. In this condition, there is pain in the lower back, together with morning stiffness in the hips or both; in some cases. There is also pain, feeling of tiredness and stiffness in the neck or the chest. Other symptoms of this disease include psoriasis, eye pain, and fever; depending on the specific disorder that is causing the back pain.
- Osteoporosis – This condition is different from rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis as it only affects joints without affecting organs or soft tissue areas of the body. It is often characterized by thinning and weakening of bones that fracture easily. It is most common in postmenopausal women. When vertebrae are compressed because of a fracture, along with a slight to moderate slouch, it may result in back pain. This condition does not cause any pain unless a bone fractures.
- Cancer in the Spinal Column: If cancer spreads to spinal nerves that control the bladder and bowel, there may be bowel incontinence. Its symptoms depend on various factors, including the tumor type, size, age and health. Some of the common symptoms include back pain, numbness, weakness and difficulty while urinating. These symptoms even get worse with time.
Sometimes the symptoms may occur quickly and sometimes slowly and it may take hours and days. Metastatic spinal tumors, which spread to the spine from a different location in the body, progress quickly.
- Protruding disk: A spine intervertebral disc when sustains an injury to the spine, it is commonly referred to as Protruding disk. This injury can not only occur in the lower, upper, and middle back, but also at the cervical spine. People with significant disk disease go through severe pain in the lower back. If a disk compresses a nerve, the pain may spread down to one leg. In this condition, one should avoid bending or twisting. It is mostly caused due to poor posture while sitting and standing. To lower the effect of poor posture on the spine it is necessary to continuously maintain a good posture or regularly change the posture.
- Back sprain: A series of ligaments and muscles hold the bones of the spinal column together. A person may strain these muscles by stretching them too much. This can even tear the tissue.
The muscles get weak due to which it cannot be held at one place. Because of this, the spine gets a little unstable and causes back pain.
Back pain usually occurs after heavy exertion in which muscles in the back, buttocks and thighs get stiff.
One can avoid back pain by improving one’s physical condition by adopting certain changes in lifestyle.
- Exercise: One should start their day with light aerobic activities that do not strain the back. This can increase the strength of the back by allowing the muscles to function better. Walking and swimming are the most recommended form of exercise. Alternatively, people can talk to a doctor about which activities they should indulge in.
- Build muscular strength: One should practice abdominal crunches and back muscle exercises that strengthen muscles so that they can work together. Communicating with the therapist to know the right exercises is important.
- Watch your weight: Being overweight strains the muscles of the back. Overweight people should cut down on their weight in order to avoid back pain.
People suffering from back pain should bring about some changes in their normal routine and temporarily avoid lifting heavy items and sitting for long hours. If a patient is recovering from back pain, they can ask the doctors to follow up regularly to know whether the symptoms have been cured or not. Once the symptoms have relieved and the patient feels decrease in the intensity of the back pain, they should go back to their normal routine.
The word "asthma" originates from the Greek word, ásthma that means, "panting.” Asthma is a medical condition in which the airways swells and produces extra mucus that can make breathing difficult. Because of the inflammation and the extra mucus, it can trigger shortness of breath and wheeze or coughing.
Documented as early as Ancient Egypt, Asthma can be either a minor nuisance or life-threatening. In asthma, the inside walls of the airways get inflamed so that lesser air can pass through them from and to the lungs making breathing a difficult exercise. This swelling can also make the airways really sensitive and increase a person’s susceptibility to allergic reactions.
Asthma has been on the rise significantly since the 1960s and now according to WHO estimate, around 300 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. In fact Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood illness.
Symptoms of Asthma-
The symptoms of asthma vary. But what most people with asthma have in common is the extreme airway sensitivity because of triggered airway inflammation. Some people have frequent asthma attacks, some people experience asthma only during certain times, some people have it all the time and some people only experience it infrequently.
Common asthma signs and symptoms include:
- Wheezing or coughing
- Shallow breathing
- Throat infection
- Faster heart rate
- Trouble in sleeping
- Difficulty in speaking
Types of Asthma-
Normally people suffering from an asthma attack tend to have a whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling. There are different types of asthma. Some of the most common types of asthma are:
1. Exercise-induced asthma
Also called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, this type of asthma is induced by strenuous exercises and can cause symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness or breath and other symptoms. These symptoms may worsen when the air is dry and cold and usually get triggered during or after an exercise.
2. Occupational asthma
As the name suggests, occupational asthma is triggered by breathing in certain chemical fumes, dust, gases, or other kinds of exposure to allergens at the workplace.
3. Allergy-induced asthma
Allergy-induced asthma is the most common type of asthma, which is triggered by common airborne allergens like pollen, mold spores, dust mites, or particles of skin.
What Are Causes of Asthma?
Although the causes are not particularly clear and anyone can get asthma at any age, it is more common childhood ailment. The studies are still underway to prove a clear asthma cause but according to the researches this disease is believed to be caused by a blend of genetic and environmental factors. Genomics, which is the study of how a person’s genes interrelate with environmental factors, may be the key to understanding why certain people are more prone to asthma than others.
Asthma triggers can differ from person to person and the key is to know what irritants trigger your asthma to ensure minimized exposure to it. Some generic asthma signs and symptoms can include:
- Cold air
- Exercise and other physical activities
- Common cold and other respiratory infections
- Airborne substances like pollen, mold spores, pet dander, cockroach waste, dust mites, etc.
- Airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander
- Certain chemicals and air pollutants (smoke)
- Certain preservatives (added to food and beverages)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Certain medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing asthma including:
- Genetics. Having a family especially a blood relative suffering from asthma
- Having other allergic condition (hay fever)
- Exposure to secondary smoking
- Obesity (people who are overweight are at a greater risk of developing asthma)
- Exposure to increasing amount of smoke or other pollutants
- Occupational triggers
- Stress and anxiety
Diagnosis of Asthma-
Even though it is a common childhood disease, it doesn’t mean, as an adult one cannot develop it. If a person is feeling any of the symptoms whether a child or an adult, it is always a good idea to get checked to know for sure if you have asthma. Asthma symptoms can come and go since it is a ‘variable’ disease.
It is also important to not do self-diagnosis, as some symptoms, which may look like asthma triggers, may not be actually asthma-like persistent cough caused by other diseases like certain heart diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Effective diagnosis of Asthma depends upon its classification. There are four different classifications of Asthma:
Classification of Asthma
- Mild intermittent – It is a mild case of asthma if the symptoms last only for up to two days a week, symptoms flaring up mainly at night and asthma lasting not more than two nights in a month.
- Mild persistent – Mild persistent asthma is when the symptoms can occur twice in a week but not more than one episode per day.
- Moderate persistent – This happens when a person experiences symptoms once a day and in excess of one night a week.
- Severe persistent - Symptoms can last throughout the day and frequently at night on most days.
Diagnosis of Asthma
1. Physical test
The doctor would want to rule out other possible condition through a physical exam to get to know the signs and symptoms.
Some lung function tests can help in determining how the lung in functioning in a person.
One of the most common pulmonary function tests, spirometry measures lung function by checking the amount of air a person can inhale and exhale after deep breaths.
3. Peak flow
The peak expiratory flow is a pulmonary device that can measure the maximum speed one can breathe out. If the readings are low, it may be a sign that the person’s lungs are not working properly and could be a potential sign of asthma.
These tests can be done with a medicine called as bronchodilator (albuterol) to check if the lung functions better with the medication. If the test gets better after the use of bronchodilator, then it is highly likely for a person to suffer from asthma
Additional tests and Diagnosis For Asthma
Other tests that may be required to diagnose asthma include:
1. Methacholine challenge-
Methacholine is considered an asthma trigger and so when it is inhaled it can cause mild constriction of the airways. Most people who have asthma are likely to react to methacholine. Doctor could use this test to determine whether you have asthma.
2. Imaging tests-
Certain imaging tests like x-rays and CT scan can help in identifying certain abnormalities that might be causing breathing issues.
3. Allergy testing-
Most allergy tests can help in identifying allergy to triggers like pollen, dust, etc.
4. Sputum eosinophils-
This test can help in identifying the while blood cells in the mucus to see if asthma is present or not.
5. Nitric oxide test-
For people whose airways are inflamed, they may have higher nitric oxide level than normal which may be able to help in identifying whether the person is suffering from asthma or not.
7. Provocative testing for exercise and cold-induced asthma-
As the name suggests, in this a person is made to perform vigorous physical activities in a controlled environment to check for the triggers.
Treatment of Asthma-
Although there is no known cure available for asthma and it is generally a life-long condition, treatment can control asthma symptoms so a person can lead a normal life. Also when it comes to asthma, there is no one-size fit all treatment methodology. The idea is to understand the triggers that worsen your symptoms, taking steps to avoid them and taking the medication on time to keep asthma in check.
Inhalers are medical devices, which are used for supplying medication into the body through the lungs. There are three types of inhalers. These are:
- Reliever Inhalers: These inhalers are used for the purpose of relieving symptoms at the time of asthma attack. Normally reliever inhalers don’t have many side effects, in some people they may increase heart beat and induce shaking.
- Preventive Inhalers: True to their name, this types of inhalers are used to stop the symptoms from developing.
- Combination Inhalers: If either of these kinds of inhalers doesn’t work for a person, they would need an inhaler that would both relieve the attack and prevent it from happening again.
2. Tablets -
If inhalers don’t work to control the symptoms, one may also use tablets.
Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs)
LTRAs are the oral tablets prescribed for asthma and are also available in syrup and powder forms. It can be taken every day without many side effects. However, some people may experience some side effects including headaches and stomach pain.
If LTRAs tablets cannot be prescribed for some reasons or is not working, doctors may also prescribe Theophylline. It should be taken every day.
- Steroid tablets-
Steroid tablets are given to give relief from an asthma attack. Long-term usage of steroid tablets for is not recommended unless a person is suffering from severe asthma and if inhalers aren’t handy controlling the symptoms. Some possible side effects of using steroid tablets for long-term are mood swings, fragile bones, high blood pressure, etc.
Other treatments for Asthma
Other treatments like surgery or injections may be required in case other treatments don’t work for a person.
For certain people with severe asthma, some injections like omalizumab, mepolizumab, or reslizumab may be able control the symptoms. For some severe asthma patients, injections are prescribed every few weeks in order to control the symptoms. However, these injections should be taken only under the prescription from an asthma specialist, as these injections may are not advisable for every asthma patient.
For some people for whom treatments like inhalers, tablets, and injections don’t work or in certain cases cannot be administered, a surgical procedure called bronchial thermoplasty can be used. In this treatment, a flexible thin tube is passed down the throat into the lungs and heat is used to warm up muscles surrounding the air controlling nerves to stop causing asthma-like symptoms.
However, this process is fairly new and so much research has not been done on its long-term relief.
There are many complementary therapies that can help ease the symptoms, prevent asthma from happening, and help strengthen the lungs and the airway muscles. However, before incorporating any of these therapies in your lifestyle, it is always best to check with your asthma specialist first. These therapies include
Certain breathing exercises including yoga
- Alternative medicines like homeopathy, chiropractic, and Ayurveda
- Dietary supplements
- Certain traditional Chinese medicine
Common Myths About Asthma
Myth #1: Asthma is a psychological disease
One of the biggest beliefs that many people have is that asthma is psychological and thus they don’t believe in getting medical help. Since asthma affects the airways it is to be noted that is not psychological as it causes the immune system and the lungs to behave erratically when it comes to certain triggers.
Myth #2: Asthma medications lose their effectiveness over time
Asthma meds don’t lose their effectiveness over time and can be used for long-term if the right doses are taken as directed.
Myth #3: People with asthma should avoid physical activity
Although strenuous exercises can sometimes induce asthma, simple exercises can keep a person fit and healthy and help them lead a normal life.
Myth #4: You can outgrow asthma
Some asthma symptoms may improve over time. People also learn how to deal with asthma better as they age since they know what triggers it and what doesn’t. However, there is no outgrowing asthma because it is a lifelong condition.
Myth #5: Asthma Is Easy to Control
Asthma can be easy or difficult to control depends on the kind of asthma a person is suffering from and the triggers. Although even in mild form of asthma, the treatment is required to give the necessary relief to a person to reduce flares and maintain proper lung functions.
Depression is a medical condition that leads to unrelenting sadness or interest deprivation. It is also referred to as mood disorder, depressive disorder to clinical depression. The disease affects the feeling, thinking pattern or behavioural pattern of the patient leading a several emotional or physical issues.
A lot of people relate depression with weakness and do not pay heed to the treatment of the disease, which results in several complications. Often, depression requires long-term treatment. Most depression patients can lead a healthy lifestyle with the help of proper medication or psychotherapy, and in some case the blend of both.
Types of Depression:
There are several types of depression. Some of the many types of depression are:
- Anxious Distress (Restlessness)
- Mixed Features (Concurrent depression and mania)
- Melancholic Features (Depression involving feelings of agitation or guilt)
- Atypical Features (Depression accompanied by hunger, or sleep disorder)
- Psychotic Features (Depression accompanied by hallucinations or delusions)
- Catatonia (Depression with persistent or uncontrollable movement)
- Peripartum/Postpartum Onset (Depression during or after pregnancy)
- Seasonal Pattern (Depression during change of seasons)
While these are the common types and variations, depression is not limited to these and it may occur in manifold ways and at manifold times in one’s life. It is imperative to stay vigilant, not only for the patient but for those who are around them, since unlike other diseases, often depression cannot be noticed by the person who is experiencing it, and those around them have to initiate inquiry.
Disorders that Lead to Depression:
In addition to the different types of depression disorders, some other disorders may also lead to depression. Some of these disorders are:
- Bipolar I and II Disorders (Extreme high or low mood)
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (frequent extreme temper outbursts)
- Persistent Depressive Disorder
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
- Other Depression Disorders
While it is common to have disorders or other reasons that lead to depression, it is important to remember that sometimes the reasons or situations may not be clear. Processing emotions become incredibly difficult when one is depressed, which only makes it worse.
It is insensitive and downright uninformed to seek clear reasons and outlines from a depressed person as to why they feel the way they feel, as is to ask them to go out more or just focus on other things.
It is only when the basic activities like sports, music, hobbies, etc stop entertaining a person that they get depressed, so asking them to do those things reflects immaturity and lack of any knowledge about the subject.
Symptoms of Depression:
Often signs and symptoms of depression often go unnoticed. Some people ignore depression symptoms like weakness or temporary mood swings. But it is important to understand the symptoms of depression and get adequate treatment for the same.
Typically, symptoms of depression include:
- Extreme emotions of hopelessness or sadness
- Extreme angst, irritation or frustration
- Loss of interest/pleasure
- Sleep disorder (too much sleep or insomnia)
- Appetite loss
- Weight gain
- Restlessness or anxiety
- Slow reflexes
- Emotions of guilt
- Problems in concentrating, thinking, or remembering things
- Suicidal tendencies
- Back pains
Depression Symptoms in Children
Symptoms of depression in children are almost same as that of adults. However, there are some differences. In children of younger age, depression symptoms may involve body aches and pains and/or emotions of sadness, clinginess or irritability. In some cases, depression may cause loss of weight in younger children.
In teenagers, depression symptoms may include emotions of sadness, agitation, negativity or worthlessness. Teenagers suffering from depression are extremely sensitive and avoid social interactions. In some cases, such teenagers may also start using recreational drugs or alcohols. In some extreme cases, teenagers suffering from depression also form suicidal tendencies.
Depression Symptoms in Adults
Depression takes several years to be treated completely. In adults, the symptoms of depression may include:
- Memory loss
- Personality changes
- Body aches or pains
- Appetite loss
- Sleep disorder
- Loss of interest
- Loss of interest in socializing
- Suicidal tendencies
- Exhaustion, severe tiredness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Panic attacks
- Headaches, aches and pains, bloating, digestive issues, cramps, breast tenderness, etc.
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of interest
there can be many other symptoms of depression, and a person of any age group may experience the disease without even exhibiting all or any of these symptoms. To identify depression and its occurrence, sensitization and awareness are key.
What Causes Depression?
Medical fraternity has not yet been able to find out the exact cause of depression.
However, some of the most common factors of depression may involve:
- Neurological Disorders
- Brain Chemistry
- Hormonal Disorders
- Family History
- Social Causes
- Biological Causes
- Psychological causes
Depression Risk factors:
Often depression is found in the age group of 20 to 30 years. However, this disease can strike anyone at any age.
Listed below are just some of the many risk factors associated with depression, due to which a person may be susceptible to the disease:
- Personality traits (low self-esteem, self-critical or pessimism)
- Traumatic events (physical abuse, sexual abuse, death of loved one, difficult relationship, or financial problems)
- Family history (blood relatives with depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicidal tendencies)
- Mental health disorder history (anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Alcohol abuse
- Recreational drug abuse
- Chronic illness (Cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease)
- Side effects of some medicines (some high blood pressure medicines, or sleeping pills)
Depression is a serious medical condition that may lead to several complications if untreated. Some of the most common complications of untreated depression include:
- Body ache or pain
- Tendency to consume alcohol
- Tendency to drug misuse
- Extreme anxiety
- Panic disorders
- Social phobia
- Personality disorders
- Social isolation
- Suicidal tendencies
- Premature death
Other than these as well, there are several complications that may be case specific. as the complications of the disease are physiological and psychological at the same time, it is very important to handle a case effectively and be extremely careful with a patient of depression.
Prevention from Depression:
There are no scientifically proven ways to prevent depression. However, there are few things that may help prevent depression:
- Controlling stress
- Taking help from family and friends
- Starting treatment early
- Ensuring long-term treatment and help
Diagnosis of Depression:
In order to diagnose depression, following tests may be conducted:
- Physical Examination
- Lab Tests
- Psychiatric Evaluation
Treatment of Depression:
Often psychotherapy and medications remain the preferred ways to treat patients suffering from depression. Treatment of depression involves several drugs and medicines in addition to psychiatric or psychological evaluation.
Those suffering from severe depression may also need to stay in hospital for treatment till their symptoms subside.
Patients suffering from depression may be prescribed several types of antidepressants. Be advised to consume antidepressants only after consulting a certified medical professional. Some of the most common antidepressants prescribed to depression patients include:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – [fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), vilazodone (Viibryd) and sertraline (Zoloft)]
- Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) – [levomilnacipran (Fetzima), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla) and duloxetine (Cymbalta)]
- Atypical Antidepressants – [mirtazapine (Remeron), vortioxetine (Trintellix), nefazodone, trazodone and bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL)]
- Tricyclic Antidepressants – [amitriptyline, doxepin, trimipramine (Surmontil), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor) and protriptyline (Vivactil)]
Note: Tricyclic Antidepressant drugs have severe side effects.
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) – [phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate) and isocarboxazid (Marplan)]
Doctors may add other medications along with antidepressants to fasten the effects of the drugs.
For some patients, the regular dosage of antidepressants may not be very effective, and doctors may not prescribe them straight away due to the associated complications and risks of extreme side effects.
Often the following alternative therapies are used to treat depression. they are not always successful and sometimes can be pointless in specific cases; but patients have been seen to benefit from them otherwise, especially when used alongside prescription medications.
- Herbal remedies
- Guided imagery and relaxation
Risk of Stopping/Missing Out Antidepressants Dose
It is recommended not to stop consuming antidepressants without confirming with your doctor. Antidepressants usually are not of addictive nature but may lead to some physical dependencies. Abruptly stopping antidepressants or missing out a dose may lead to withdrawal symptoms. It is important to consult doctor and gradually decrease the dose.
Consumption of Antidepressants in Pregnancy
Antidepressant consumption is not advised to pregnant women as it may pose a risk to the unborn child. Likewise, breast-feeding women are also not advised to take antidepressants as it may adversely affect the newly born. It is important to consult a doctor before starting antidepressants in the state of pregnancy.
Mostly antidepressants are safe to consume. However, consume of some antidepressants may increase suicidal tendency in kids, young adults and even senior citizens. The suicidal tendency starts showing in the very first week of consumption of antidepressants.
It is imperative to keep an eye on the patients who are on antidepressant dosage for unusual behaviour pattern. In case the patient experiences suicidal tendencies when consuming antidepressants, it makes sense to consult a certified medical professional immediately.
Common Myths About Depression:
Myth #1: Depression is not real disease
Reality: A lot of people believe that depression is not a serious medical condition, but just some random personality trait or weakness. This is wrong. Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect anyone. It is one medical condition that may lead to several life-threatening complications right from physical disabilities to neurological disorders and even suicidal tendencies.
Myth #2: Depression is just an extreme form of sadness or grief.
Reality: This is yet another popular myth about depression. However, the fact is that depression is different from ordinary sadness or grief. Ordinary sadness or grief subsides with time; whereas in depression, sadness or grief doesn’t really subside. Successful treatment of depression takes months, in some cases years.
Myth #3: Depression patients are required to take medications lifelong
Reality: Depression requires longer treatment, but it doesn’t require lifelong treatment. Doctors decide the tenure of the treatment of depression. And once the treatment culminates, the patient doesn’t need to get the treatment again. The exact time period of depression treatment depends upon the severity of the disorder of the patient and widely varies from person to person. In fact, latest research and studies reveal that patients can successfully complete the treatment of depression with a combination of psychotherapy and medications in as little as 24 weeks.
Myth #4: Those with family history of depression are sure to have it
Reality: While it is true that depression can be passed on from parents to their children, it is not likely that everyone with family history of depression will have it. Genetic predisposition of depression is rare.
Myth #5: Depression patients need treatment lifelong.
Reality: This is entirely untrue. Depression patients are required to take medications for as long as their treatment continues. In addition, the duration of consuming medication for depression depends upon the time period prescribed by a certified medical professional after a careful analysis of symptoms, intensity and severity of the disease. Once a patient has substantially improved and integrated into a healthy lifestyle, there is no need to continue treatment. However, it is only a doctor who should decide when a patient is ready to go off of therapy.
Myth #6: Antidepressants always cure depression
Reality: Antidepressants have huge side effects and terrible withdrawal symptoms, which is why doctors only prescribe them after careful consideration in case results are not noticeable otherwise. Antidepressants sometimes fail to work on individuals with specific cases. Antidepressants work by altering the brain chemistry of the patient and thereby helping improve the situation. But when the cause of the patient’s depression does not coincide with the effect of the antidepressants at all, results may be few. In such cases, doctors prescribe other forms of treatment which may be beneficial on their own, or alongside medications and antidepressants.
Myth #7: Depressions only happens because of a sad situation in someone’s life.
Reality: This is sometimes the case indeed, but often times is false since a sad situation is not always even present in the patient’s timeline of disease. sometimes a tragic situation is a trigger which brings out the underlying disease to the surface after denial or pretending, or sometimes by worsening it. Medical experts have been trying to identify causes of depression for a long time but this task is not easy. some identified causes are brain chemistry, hormones, social factors, but very often the precise cause of a patient’s depression is not possible to be pointed out.
Myth #8: Talking about depression makes it worse.
Reality: nothing could be far from true on the list of myths associated with depression. very often, depression is a consequent or bottling up emotions and not expressing oneself. This tendency, over a prolonged period of time, may cause depression, and may be caused due to feelings of hopelessness, feeling unimportant or invalid, etc. Then, not talking about it is a solid cause for depression to worsen. Talking about one’s feelings, questions, and expressing opinions requires a lot of work when one is suffering from depression, as the various causes of these must be targeted and solved first. But once a patient is able to express themselves, their condition is seen to improve in most cases.
Myth #9: Depression is a result of lack of willpower.
Reality: This is terribly misinformed statement, since depression is not the result of lack of willpower, it is instead the cause for it. People of high stature who have made great contributions to the development and changes in the world have been patients of depression, and it would be stupid to say that these people lacked willpower and commitment. A lazy attitude, low self esteem, lack of self conviction are not direct causes of depression, rather they create lifestyle problems which together, with other factors, contribute to depression or its worsening.
Myth #10: Depression is a woman’s disease. Real men do not get depressed.
Reality: Few things could be as sexist as labeling a disease that affects the mind and body as a disease of women on the pretext that men are strong, physically and emotionally, and do not malfunction in any way. Depression affects men and women alike and both genders experience the disease the same way. Through history, this sexist assumption has lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment of patients of depression. Women have often been diagnosis with depression due to forced domestication but that is only part of the issue, and there are endless reasons one may be suffering from depression.
Myth #11: Antidepressants alter one’s personality.
Reality: a common misconception is that those taking antidepressants are unable to experience emotions in an attempt to not feel the sadness that comes associated with a disease. Some patients do experience a ‘flatness’ where they do not experience much feelings, but this is not the desired effect of antidepressants. If one experiences this, it should be reported to the doctor immediately because it is highly likely that the dose of antidepressants prescribed to the patient is higher than what is needed. A change in the dosage will ensure this does not happen and the unnecessary changes in one’s personality are reverted. One must always remember that the point of antidepressants is to provide better adjustment and not change one’s personality.
Myth #12: Depression is a sign of mental weakness.
Reality: This myth is shaped by the stigma that is associated with depression. Depression is observed in patients who are extremely intelligent, have performed high-pressure jobs very well, perform great under stress and duress, have high mental capacity as exhibited by past actions. This shows that mentally strong people are just as likely to be depressed as anyone else. Research has also shown that people who are smarter often experience more stress and pressure to perform well, have positions of responsibility assigned to them, along with a stronger ability to feel what they are going through. This together can make them more susceptible to depression.
Myth #13: Teenagers also develop depression have to live with its consequence forever.
Reality: Lifelong depression is a reality, however gruesome; but is mostly not the case. Teenagers are prone to many negative feelings due to a lot of reasons, internal and external. In such a situation where the pressure is high on them, they may experience depression. But this does not mean that this disease will plague them for the rest of their life. As they grow older and get better accommodate to their environment and adjust better, they are certainly going to be well-coped adults and be healthy.
Myth #14: All LGBTQ persons are depressed, being gay means being depressed.
Reality: Being gay, trans, bi, or queer means being a unique and colourful individual, and does not mean being gay at all. However, studies have indicated that people of the LGBTQ community are often plagued with the deadly disease of depression. This is not because of a link between the two- depression is a disease caused due to several reasons, free of gender identities. This, instead, is because how the society has failed its LGBTQ community and mistreated them, denying them the respect and freedom that they deserve. When any individual is mistreated like so, denied the freedom to express themselves, and forced to fit into monochromatic heteronormative roles, they are going to go through an emotional turmoil. This is the cause for the multifold mental health issues that the LGBTQ persons have to go through. But it is clear that depression is not a disease which selectively attacks a specific group, community, or gender.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Depression:
1) Who is at risk of developing depression?
Ans: Here is a list of those who are at a greater risk of developing depression:
- Those with family history of depression
- Those who have experienced traumatic or abusive experiences in childhood
- Those with history of suicide/suicide attempt in the family
- Those experiencing stress or tensions
- Those who are often socially isolated
- Pregnant women experiencing postpartum
- Those with serious illness
- Those who consume alcohol
- Those who partake in drug abuse
- Patients taking certain prescribed medications
2) Why is depression more common in women than men?
Ans: It is believed that depression is twice more common in women as compared to men. There are many potential reasons and causes why more women experience depression than men. Unique hormonal and psychosocial factors contribute to depression in women, alongside the heaving weight of social oppression, and gender roles and expectations.
3) What is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?
Ans: After pregnancy, women become particularly vulnerable to depression. This is because of physical and hormonal changes and the overwhelming responsibility of the newborn. A large number of new mothers experience ‘baby blues’, a brief period of mild mood changes. Postpartum Depression is serious medical condition that not only requires apt medical attention and treatment but also requires emotional support for new mothers.
4) What is treatment resistant Depression?
Ans: Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is medical condition of major depressive disorder. This type of dispersion disorder doesn’t respond to standard treatment. This type of depression may range from mild to acute and may require a number of treatment methods.
5) Are there any exercises that can help in treatment of depression?
Ans: Aerobics is known to offer relief from mild depression. This is because it stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which is related to mood. In addition, it also increases the endorphin level.
6) What is Brain Stimulation Therapy?
Ans: Brain Stimulation therapy is a therapy used to treat depression. In this therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation repeatedly sends magnetic pulses to the brain. This therapy has been found to be effective in the treatment of some major depressive disorder.
7) What is Electroconvulsive therapy?
Ans: Electroconvulsive therapy is mostly used as treatment to cure acute depression and treatment resistant depression cases. This therapy is particularly helpful in treating psychotic depression.
8) Is there any remedy for prevention of depression?
Ans: Though there are no ways to prevent depression, it is easy to control the signs and symptoms of depression. One can easily make changes to their lifestyle and control their depression from getting complicated.
Here are just some of the many things that one may do:
- Setting a routine lifestyle
- Setting up personal and professional goals
- Regular exercise and healthy diet
- Taking sleep
- Regular screening
9) What are some of the best anti-depression supplements?
Ans: Some of the best anti-depression supplements are:
- Fish oil
- B-Complex vitamin
- Amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
- Vitamin D
Though these supplements are readily available in the market, it is important to consult a certified medical professional before taking these.
10) What is manic depression?
Ans: Bipolar disorder is also called manic depression. It is a serious medical condition. It is major mood disorder, where the patient experiences abnormal moods of highs (mania) and lows (depression). The state of high and low mood is referred to as manic and hypomanic disorder. Bipolar disorder or manic depression is a chronic recurring medical condition.
Tips for Living With Anxiety
- If you deal with anxiety on a regular basis, medication doesn't have to be your only treatment.
- To calm your mind and cut stress, try working these self-care tips into your daily routine:
- Move your body. Exercise is an important part of physical -- and mental -- health. It can ease your feelings of anxiety and boost your sense of well-being. Shoot for three to five 30-minute workout sessions a week. Be sure to choose exercises you enjoy so you look forward to them.
- Pay attention to sleep. Both quality and quantity are important for good sleep. Doctors recommend 8 hours of shut-eye a night. If anxiety is making it hard for you to fall asleep, create a routine to help you catch your ZZZs.