Daily stress can kill your sex life: Experts

Daily stress can kill your sex life: Experts

Regular stress can not just hamper your peace of mind, affect sleep and weaken your immunity, but prolonged periods of high stress and anxiety can increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, leading to erectile dysfunction (ED) which will hamper your sex life, experts have warned.

ED is an inability to develop or maintain an erection during the sexual activity. It can have severe psychological consequences as it can limit your intimacy, affect your self-esteem and impact your most important relationship.

“Stress can be responsible for ED. It affects the psychological state of mind where stimulation may not result in erection even if other things are normal,” explained Dr. Vipin Tyagi, surgeon (Robotic and Kidney Transplant) at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

ED can happen to men at any age but the risk increases with age. The condition may also significantly increase the mental and emotional stress. Men often have a hard time coping with it.

“While the stress and anxiety are understandable, men should not be hesitant to talk but make a conscious effort to address it. Speaking to someone – either their partner, a family member, a friend or a professional consultant about their condition may ease their stress,” Dr. Rajeev Kumar, a urologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told IANS.

According to Dr. Ashish Sabharwal, a urologist with Fortis Escorts Hospital, common physical causes of ED includes cardiovascular diseases (CVD). And related conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome further increase the risk of ED.

The condition becomes chronic if left unattended for several years but early diagnosis and right treatment can prevent serious side effects like diabetes or cardio-vascular issues.

Oral medications can successfully treat ED in most of the men. Medications can also be injected directly into the penis. According to experts, testosterone replacement may be needed if ED is caused by low levels of testosterone.

“Hormone therapy or surgery can treat the physical causes of the problem and there are penis pumps and penile implants available that can help get an erection,” Rajeev Kumar added.

While a penis pump usually gets removed after an intercourse, a penile implant is more permanent and is inserted surgically into the penis.

“In rare cases, vascular reconstructive surgery might be needed to improve blood flow to the penis,” Rajeev Kumar stated.

Eating food rich in flavonoids such as blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes, blackcurrants, apples, pears and citrus products trims down the risk of erectile dysfunction in men, especially in those under 70, a collaborative study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Britain and Harvard University in the US recently revealed.

A combination of consuming flavonoid-rich foods with exercise can reduce the risk of ED by 21 percent, the researchers said.

“Apart from the medicines, the most important thing is psychological counseling. ED can be the first indicator of many serious problems like diabetes mellitus , cholesterol or heart disease,” Tyagi said.

Erectile dysfunction can manifest in several ways. If you find that the time it takes for you to achieve an erection has increased significantly or you’re having difficulty maintaining an erection long enough to have intercourse or the frequency of spontaneous erections has decreased, consult a doctor to check for ED.

“Men should make it a point to visit a licensed andrologist or urologist to receive the right counselling and treatment instead of going to fake sexologists or traditional healers,” Sabharwal pointed out.

The bottom line is: Do not hesitate to meet your doctor early to avoid embarrassment in bed.

Binge eating may also trigger depression

Binge eating may also trigger depression

Next time you munch on that mouth-watering pizza with extra cheese or enjoy a king-size burger with French fries and soft drink, remember that too much of junk food can not only add extra kilos around your belly but may lead you to depression, warn experts.

Binge eating episodes lead to obesity which, in turn, causes depression owing to weight stigma, poor self-esteem and reduced mobility.

On the other side, depression may also lead to obesity as such people tend to engage in “emotional binge eating” to deal with the pain of rejection, have poor sleep patterns and turn into couch potatoes.

“Some people especially suffering with atypical depression tend to eat more, sometimes in binge pattern. Owing to increased eating, there is weight gain which leads to further exacerbation of depressive symptoms, explains Ashish Kumar Mittal, MD psychiatry from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

“In such people, eating relieves stress for brief duration by providing distraction from disturbing thoughts,” he says.

A typical depression is a subtype of major depression that involves increased appetite or weight gain, sleepiness or excessive sleep, marked fatigue or weakness, mood swings and a feeling of rejection.

“The most common cause of depression is neurotransmitter (a substance in the body that carries a signal from one nerve cell to another) imbalance in the brain, especially involving serotonin and norepinephrine,” Mittal told IANS.

Increased appetite or weight gain, sleeplessness or excessive sleep, fatigue or weakness and anxiety are general symptoms of depression.

People suffering from depression generally eat in binge pattern to comfort themselves but it may be comforting only for a while as it becomes a vicious cycle of eating more to feel better — then feeling worse.

“Psychologically or biologically, it is believed that eating leads to a release of certain chemicals which lead to satisfaction or relaxation. We do have patients who binge eat because of depression,” adds Dr Manish Jain, senior consultant (psychiatrist) from BLK super speciality hospital in the capital.

Apart from depression and stress, other causes of binge eating are lack of confidence, loneliness, family history (related to genes) and hormonal deficiency. Binge-eating disorder is also defined as uncontrollable, excessive eating, followed by feelings of shame and guilt.

People with eating disorders develop habits that can cause a great deal of harm. They may diet, exercise or eat excessively which can have life-threatening or even fatal consequences, including atypical depression.

Experts feel that women suffer a great deal more than men on this front owing to biological and psychological factors. A typical depression is seen two to three times more commonly in women than in men.

“Women suffer twice as compared to men from depression because of multiple factors like hormonal, social position or economic position,” says Jain.

“The most affected age group is 40s but I would like to add that depression is a disease which can occur at any age,” Jain warns.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression is a common illness worldwide, with an estimated 350 million people affected by it.

“People suffering from depression should avoid isolation, substance abuse and unsupervised medicine use. Patients should seek treatment for medical issues, if present,” advises Mittal.

Patient should communicate his suffering to his close family members so that they can help him or her in need.

“It is always better to seek professional help in cases of depression to prevent self harm, social and occupational complication. Treatment of depression is done by proper medication and psychotherapy,” Dr Mittal adds.

Binge eating can be controlled by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting engaged in creative work, avoiding junk food, alcohol and smoking and eating balance diet in intervals, the experts advise.

Brush your teeth twice a day and revitalise your heart

Brush your teeth twice a day and revitalise your heart

What have brushing and cleaning your teeth to do with your heart? A lot, say health experts, suggesting that taking care of your teeth and gums will not only help keep oral hygiene or make you smile better but also save your heart from various heart diseases.

Gum disease can be a reason for heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation.

“Swelling caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack”, said Dr Subhash Chandra, chairman (cardiology) at BLK Super Speciality Hospital in the capital.

Dr Chandra recently treated Neelam, an 18-year-old girl who was diagnosed with endocarditis (suffering from leaking heart valve). The infection in her heart valves was caused by mouth bacteria.

Endocarditis is an infection of the heart’s valves or inner lining. It occurs when germs get into the bloodstream and settle inside the heart, often on a valve.

The infection is usually caused by bacteria but in rare cases it is seen to be caused by fungi.

Not brushing the teeth increases the bacterial count in the mouth which can travel to the damaged heart valves to cause infection.

Many of the risk factors for gum disease are the same as those for heart disease, such as tobacco use, poor nutrition and diabetes.

Overall, people who have chronic gum disease are at higher risk for a heart attack. The people with moderate or advanced gum (periodontal) disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.

There are two groups – namely coronary heart disease and infection in heart valves – in which the effect of poor oral health can be studied. Poor oral healthcare increases the risk of coronary heart diseases.

“Poor oral health increases the risk of infection in heart valves, especially in case of pre-existing damage in the heart valve. With such a condition, the infection due to poor oral health can reach to the already damaged heart valves, causing an infection there too.” explained Dr Tapan Ghosh, director (cardiology sciences) at Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is a mandate to maintain good oral healthcare. It is always advisable to go for a regular dental checkup in order to maintain a good oral health.

“One of the biggest mouth-heart connections is related to gum disease. The spread of infected bacteria by swollen and bleeding gums not only destroys the structure of teeth jawbones but can also cause heart attack,” the experts cautioned.

Gum disease which is called “gingivitis” in its early stages and periodontal disease in the late stages is caused by plaque build-up along and below the gum line.

“Apart from heart attack, poor oral health hygiene may result in various serious health consequences as respiratory infections, diabetes, poor nutrition, osteoporosis and stomach disease like gastro-intestinal infection, H Pylori, gastritis and stomach cancer,” added Dr Ramesh Garg, head (gastroenterology) at Saroj Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi.

So next time when you ignore brushing your teeth, hear the voice of your heart!

Beware! Daily stress can lead to diabetes

Beware! Daily stress can lead to diabetes

Be it physical or emotional, taking unnecessary stress can not only give you headache or neck pain but, if left unattended for long, can also trigger elevation in blood sugar levels leading to Type 2 diabetes, health experts have warned.

Owing to changes in lifestyle and daily routine, stress is now seen as a reason behind several health hazards, including the rise in diabetes in India.

Marked stress causes release of several stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which, in turn, increase levels of sugar in blood apart from spiking blood pressure and pulse rate.

“If stress is consistently high, previously transient sugar elevation becomes persistently high, resulting in diabetes. Similarly, blood pressure elevation becomes elevated constantly. Stress also causes change in eating pattern, resulting in ‘binge eating’, thus increasing weight which may also add to elevation of blood sugar,” Dr. Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis C-DOC, told IANS.

Stress can affect diabetes control, both directly and indirectly. It is widely recognised that people with diabetes are regularly stressed and are more likely to have poor blood glucose control.

“Both physical and emotional stress can prompt an increase in these hormones which result in an increase in blood sugar”, Dr. Sunil Mittal, senior psychiatrist and director, Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences in the capital, told IANS.

Shared stress can also lead to similar dysregulation of hormones in children. If they are under constant stress in the home environment, children may have a similarly dysmetabolic state.

“According to recent findings, stress hormones cause an epigenetic change in sperm. So when a father is stressed out, his hormones pack the potential to raise his offspring’s blood sugar levels. With higher blood glucose levels comes a higher diabetes risk, especially Type 2 diabetes,” noted Dr. Ajay Kumar Ajmani, senior consultant (endocrinology) at BLK Super Speciality Hospital.

The primary function of these hormones is to raise blood sugar to help boost energy when it’s needed the most.

Think of the fight-or-flight response. One possibly can’t fight danger when their blood sugar is low, so it rises to help meet the challenge. Both physical and emotional stress can prompt an increase in these hormones, which results in an increase in blood sugar levels.

Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help combat and cope up with stress which reduces the risk of being diabetic or help to keep diabetes in control.

“One should do more of physical activities, like yoga, gymming and dancing. Aerobics and Pilates are great stress busters too. Make a few food changes like having a plenty of fibre and choosing whole grains. Avoid packaged foods and junk foods. Most importantly, take a break from your regular routine and plan some family outings,” Ajmani suggested.

Diabetes is a lifestyle disorder and becoming increasingly common these days.

“Intermittent stress relief in small time frames several times of day (10-15 minutes each) may be acquired with chores that you enjoy the most like music or playing your favourite sports. Mediation helps a lot too,” Misra added.

I lived on but many women can’t; so help me stop this: Acid attack survivor

I lived on but many women can’t; so help me stop this: Acid attack survivor

On a hot summer day 11 years ago, 16-year-old Laxmi was passing by the Khan Market bus stand in central Delhi when a spurned lover threw acid on her – leaving her in excruciating pain. After seven surgeries – last one being the most critical – she is a self-reliant woman who took on the pain and social enigma with much grit in all those years.

Mother of a one-year-old daughter, Laxmi is currently working as director of a non-profit Chhanv Foundation. She is also associated with “Stop Acid Attacks” – a campaign that works against acid violence and reach out to acid attack survivors.

“I was 16 when a 32-year-old man threw acid on me because I had refused his proposal. This happened in 2005 while I went to Khan Market for book shopping,” Laxmi told IANS.

“It was frightening and cannot be defined in words. I had to undergo seven tough surgeries, including the most difficult one in 2009 which was never attempted before in India,” Laxmi added.

For her, society plays a major role in curbing social evils and is disappointed at people’s attitudes for not raising enough voices against crime against women.

“Society prepares and even nurtures the conditions for a crime to happen against women. Why should people remain silent until they themselves suffer something odd to realise the agony that others went through? We should all take a stand against crime against women in our society,” Laxmi stressed.

Overcoming the nightmare 11 years ago was not easy for Laxmi. At a point of time, it became very difficult for her to even finish higher secondary education.

“But the incident could not torment my spirit to fight back,” she added. The determination and support from her family motivated her to enroll for senior secondary certificate (SSC) course as well as in advanced computer education.

Against all the psychological and physical torture she suffered, Laxmi says she can not only stand up for her rights but also raise her voice for others too.

Laxmi was honoured with the “International Women of Courage Award” by the US First Lady Michelle Obama in 2014.

“You haven’t thrown acid on my face; you threw it on my dreams. You didn’t have love in your heart; you had acid in it,” she recited the poem in Hindi after receiving the award.

Laxmi is now helping disseminate awareness about acid attack and how to survive it. “We have several campaigns running like ‘Spot of Shame’, ‘Black Rose Campaign’ and have a cafe ‘Sheroes Hangout’ in Agra where five acid attack survivors are working to fend for their families,” she informed.

“We are also happy to see people supporting us wholeheartedly through social networking platforms,” Laxmi told IANS.

Laxmi has made repeated attempts to curb acid sales and gathered nearly 27,000 signatures for a petition to stop the sales of acid in the market.

“Earlier there were no laws regarding the sale of acid but after the public interest litigation (PIL) that I filed, the Supreme Court ordered a ban on open sale and purchase of acid. Unfortunately, acid is still available in the market,” she said.

Apart from being a social activist, she also manages to endorse a clothing brand “Viva & Diva”.

“My family has always been the source of inspiration for me. They have supported me when I was low and motivated me to work for other acid attack survivors as well,” she said.

Christmas nuggets – from Ukraine to Venezuela

Christmas nuggets – from Ukraine to Venezuela

While you get busy with Christmas festivities this year – decorating your home with X’mas tree and preparing for the Santa’s arrival – do you know that there is a country where people decorate Christmas trees with spider webs? It may sound weird but in Ukraine, people decorate Christmas trees with spider webs. As the adage goes, a magic spider once visited a poor family at Christmas and turned the webs in their home into gold and silver.

There are several such interesting and fascinating facts about Christmas that remain aloof from us.

For example, in Armenia, Christmas is celebrated on January 6 rather than December 25.

The people of Oslo in Norway celebrate Christmas by donating a “Trafalgar Square tree” to the people of Britain in gratitude for its assistance during World War II.

The tree is prominently displayed in Trafalgar Square from the beginning of December till January 6.

Mexico celebrates the festival from December 12 to January 6. As part of tradition, children perform the “Posada” procession, which means “Inn” or “Lodging” in Spanish. Mexico is also known for its unique “Radish Night” which takes place on December 23.

The story behind celebrating “Radish Night” is that once a monk suggested the farmers carve radishes into imaginative shapes and designs as a means to tempt people to buy them.

Since then, the tradition of displaying carved radishes originated in the Christmas market. The grand prize for best radish carving competition is 13,000 pesos ($1,300).

As part of the tradition in Germany, Austria and some parts of Switzerland, Santa Claus is accompanied by a scary devil-like character as a warning to children against behaving badly.

The people of Caracas in Venezuela seem to be quite adventurous during Christmas. They roller skate through the entire city, where the roads are closed in the morning to allow this unusual activity take place.

At night, children tie one end of a string to their big toe and hang the other end out of the window — allowing the roller skaters a friendly tug as they pass by in the morning.

Serbs follow the Julian calendar. Thus, they celebrate Christmas on January 7 and New Year on January 13.