Sore Throat

Sore throat is a condition which causes pain, scratchiness, dryness in the throat. This problem usually intensifies upon swallowing of food or liquid. The most common cause of sore throat is a viral infection but usually, the condition resolves on its own.

But in cases, where the sore throat, specifically streptococcal infection, occurs because of bacteria, the condition may require medications such as antibiotics. However, other forms of sore throat may require more intense treatment depending on the cause.

Symptoms of sore throat

Symptoms of sore throat depend on the cause of the problem. However, some common signs of the condition include:

  • Pain or dryness in the throat
  • A scratchy feeling in the throat
  • Problem in swallowing
  • Soreness or swelling in the neck or jaw
  • Swelling or redness in the tonsils
  • White patches or pus formations on the tonsils
  • Hoarse or barely audible voice

However, the underlying problem of sore throat can also tend to show some symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Body pain

Also, in children, if the sore throat does not go away on its own soon, the parents should get immediate medical care in case there are other symptoms, such as:

  • Problem in breathing
  • An issue in swallowing food or liquid
  • Abnormal drooling

Moreover, if an adult experiences sore throat with the below symptoms, immediate medical attention must be sought.

  • Problem in breathing
  • Issue in swallowing
  • A sore throat that lasts more than a week
  • Rash
  • Pain in the joints
  • A problem in opening the mouth
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Formation of a lump in the neck
  • Swollen neck or face
  • High fever
  • Ear pain
  • Hoarse voice, which does not improve for more than a week

Causes of sore throat

The most common cause of sore throat is the virus such as cold and flu. But in some conditions, bacterial infections can also lead to a sore throat.

Viral infections such as colds, measles, chickenpox, COVID-19, influenza, mono, croup, etc. can cause sore throat. Moreover, bacterial infections such as Streptococcus pyogenes can also lead to a sore throat.

That said, some other causes of the problem include:

  • Allergies to dust, molds, pet dander, etc.
  • Dryness because of mouth breathing
  • Irritants including tobacco smoke, chemicals, etc.
  • Muscle strain because of excessive yelling, talking, etc.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • HIV infection
  • Tumours

Risk factors of sore throat

A sore throat is a very common condition and can impact people of all ages. However, some people may be more prone to the problem than others. These include:

  • Children between 3-15 years of age
  • People who are more exposed to tobacco or similar type of smoke
  • People that have existing allergies to molds, dust, etc.
  • People that are highly exposed to chemical irritants
  • Individuals that get serious or frequent sinus infections
  • People that have a weak immune system

Prevention of sore throat

The best way to prevent sore throat is to maintain good hygiene and avoid germs by:

  • Washing hands regularly
  • Avoiding sharing of food
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Using alcohol-based sanitizers
  • Limiting touching public places and common surfaces
  • Regularly cleaning all devices such as telephones, TV, etc.
  • Avoiding close contact with ill people

Diagnosis of sore throat

To assess a sore throat, the doctor will foremost conduct a physical exam that can include:

  • A lighted instrument, which is used to look inside the throat, ears and nasal passages.
  • Softly checking the neck to detect the presence of any swollen glands
  • Listening to the breathing

In many cases, the doctors conduct a throat swab test to check for sore throat. The doctor uses a sterile swab and rubs it over the back of the throat to obtain a sample of secretions. This sample is then sent to the lab to get the results.

Treatment of sore throat

A sore throat which is generally caused due to a bacterial infection does not harm and typically goes away in a maximum of 7 days, without any medical care. However, to reduce pain and fever, the doctor might suggest some pain relievers or fever medications.

In case, the strep throat is caused because of bacterial infection, the doctor will suggest antibiotics. The full course of antibiotics should be taken, even when the symptoms get over sooner. In case, the medications are not taken properly, the sore throat infection can worsen or spread to other body parts.

Moreover, non-completion of the antibiotic course for sore throat can lead to rheumatic fever in children or even kidney inflammation.

That said, some lifestyle and home remedies that can help improve the sore throat issue include:

  • Getting plenty of rest and sleeping well
  • Drinking more fluids
  • Opting for more warm liquids and foods such as tea, ice pops, etc.
  • Gargling with saltwater
  • Using a cool-air humidifier to remove the air, which can potentially lead to a sore throat
  • Avoiding irritants such as tobacco smoke, cleaning agents, etc.

Overall, sore throat can easily be prevented and treated after diagnosis. However, regular check-ups can help ensure the infection is monitored and prevented.

Capsule Endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy is a medical procedure that involves diagnosing the digestive tract for any problems. The procedure uses a small wireless camera, which is placed inside a vitamin-size capsule. This capsule is given to the patients to swallow and as the capsule moves through the digestive tract, the camera present inside provides multiple pictures of the inside of the digestive tract. These images are then transmitted to a recorder worn by the patient on the waist.

This method also helps the doctor see the inside of the small intestine. Typically, it is hard to diagnose issues of the small intestine. Capsule endoscopy is an advanced version of the traditional method, which involved inserting a long, flexible tube mounted with a video camera inside the throat of the patient and through the rectum to get a clear view of the digestive tract.

Purpose of a capsule endoscopy

Capsule endoscopy can be used to diagnose all conditions related to the digestive tract. Doctors may recommend capsule endoscopy to diagnose any of the below conditions:

Gastrointestinal bleeding: A capsule endoscopy may be recommended to detect the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding, especially the unknown cause of bleeding in the small intestine.

Inflammatory bowel diseases: A capsule endoscopy can also be advised to the patient to detect any inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease. This procedure can also diagnose affected areas in the small intestine.

Diagnose cancer: The capsule endoscopy procedure can also be used to detect any tumours in the small intestine of the gastrointestinal tract.

Identify celiac disease: This method can also be used to diagnose and monitor the reaction of the body’s immune system to gluten intake.

Examine the esophagus: Esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Capsule endoscopy can be used to detect any problems with the esophagus, such as abnormal obstructions, enlarged varices, etc.

Check for polyps: A capsule endoscopy can also be recommended for patients that have a risk of polyps in the small intestine due to family history or an inherited syndrome.

In other cases, capsule endoscopy can also be suggested a medium confirm the diagnosis or to provide a clear view of the concerned issue when other diagnostic tests such as X-rays, etc. have failed to provide the required information.

Preparation for a capsule endoscopy

To prepare for the capsule endoscopy, the doctor will advise the patient to not drink or eat anything at least 12 hours before the procedure. This will help to keep the digestive tract clear and hence, produce clearer images. In some patients, the doctor might also advise taking a laxative before the procedure for easier flushing out of the small intestine. These precautions improve the overall results of the procedure. Moreover, the patient can also be asked to avoid certain medications to support the success of the technique.

In most cases, the patients are asked to swallow the capsule and carry on with their general daily activities. However, strenuous exercises or heavy weight lifting is not permitted. In case of an active job, the decision about returning to normal activity on the same day should be made by the doctor.

On the particular day of the procedure, the doctor will place some adhesive patches attached to the abdomen. Each of these patches has an antenna along with wires that are connected to a recorder. In some devices, there are no patches required.

The patient also wears a recorder around the waist. The camera placed inside the capsule sends images to the antenna patches placed on the abdomen. These patches, in turn, provide data to the recorder, which collects and stores the information for further analysis.

The patient is given the capsule to swallow once the recorder is connected to the antenna patches. The capsule is to swallowed wit water to allow smooth transportation through the digestive tract. After the capsule is swallowed, the patient should not feel any effects. The patient is discharged the same day and is allowed to resume normal activities with rare precautions.

However, for drinking liquids, the patient must wait for another 2 hours after the procedure. Post four hours, the patient can also eat some light food or snacks, as advised by the doctor. The capsule takes about 8 hours to provide the right assessment it can also be done sooner if the capsule exits the body before that. However, for patients that do not flush out the capsule within two weeks after the capsule endoscopy, immediate medical attention may be required.

Risks of a capsule endoscopy

Typically, capsule endoscopy is a very safe procedure, with fewer risks. But it can have certain rare risks such as lodging of the capsule in the digestive tract. Generally, this capsule is supposed to exit the body within several days via an ordinary bowel movement.

However, the risk is higher in people that have existing health issues such as the presence of a tumour, Crohn’s disease, or previous surgery in the particular area. These conditions tend to narrow the digestive tract structure, making it harder for the capsule to exit the body.

Moreover, if the patient experiences any abdominal pain or is more prone to narrowing of the intestine, the doctor may advise a CT scan to check for narrowing before administering the capsule endoscopy procedure.

That said, for cases, where the capsule has now passed via bowel movement but is not causing any symptoms, the doctor would advise allowing more time to the capsule to pass. But in situations, where the capsule shows signs of bowel obstruction, the doctor may have to remove the capsule at the earliest to avoid further complications. This can be done by surgery or with the help of traditional endoscopy.

Overall, capsule endoscopy is a very safe and effective method to diagnose conditions of the digestive tract.

Surprising health benefits of donating blood

Surprising health benefits of donating blood

The requirement of blood donation has no end to it. Every year the country requires more than 5 crore units of blood. Blood donation is considered a noble cause. But donating blood is not only good for the receiver; it is also equally beneficial for the donor. One blood donation can save up to three lives, and at the same time offer health benefits to the donor as well. These advantages innately benefit the body and also improves immunity.

Here are some surprising health benefits of donating blood:

Boosts the immune system: Donating blood helps to improve the immunity of the body by rejuvenating the entire system. With every blood donation, the red blood cells can recycle themselves, promoting the production of newer, healthier red blood cells. The way this happens is – while donating blood, the body has less oxygen and the bone marrow sends the signals to pump the generation of new blood cells. Also, donating blood is more like a mini-checkup which helps in detecting any potential problem in time. A donor undergoes multiple screenings and tests, which help to provide insights into the blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin, hepatitis, cardiovascular health, HIV, etc. This helps to gauge general health and maintain good immunity. Good immunity is especially useful to fight in such vulnerable times such as COVID-19.

Reduces iron stores: Donating blood also helps the body to get rid of excessive iron levels, which can be a potential cause of hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a health problem that is caused due to the overload of iron and is one of the most common genetic diseases today. The body generally stores iron in the muscles and other tissues, unless it is lost through menstruation or via donating blood. If not lost, this storage accumulates toxic levels in the body, causing problems. Excessive levels of iron in the body can increase the chances of a heart attack. The typical value of the iron level is less than 80 mg/L (for women) and less than 90 mg/L (for men). For all those who have above 100mg/L iron levels, donating blood thrice a year is recommended.

Reduces risk of cancer: The process of drawing out blood which is also referred to as phlebotomy is a great iron-balancing method. This process helps to lower the risk of cancer and mortality. Studies have found a good connection between decreasing cancer risk and donating blood. The types of cancers that be prevented from blood donation include colon, liver, lung, esophagus, and stomach. Donating blood reduces the inflammation in the body and also increases antioxidant capacity.

Improves liver health: Even though donating blood benefits the entire body, it particularly has a positive impact on liver health. Recently, there has been a considerable rise in non-alcoholic fatty liver issues, which has been linked to excessive levels of iron. Also, Hepatitis C and other liver diseases and infections are linked to blood impurity. Though there are several other contributing factors, yet donating blood can significantly help remove iron stores and avoid the build-up of extra tissues in the liver.

Helps lose weight: Another very important benefit of blood donation is the fact that it helps in the burning of fat and losing weight. A single blood donation can help to shed almost 650 calories, which is equivalent to jumping rope for 50 minutes. Each time blood is donated, the body takes this much calorie effort to replenish itself with blood. This is the reason, why a regular donor is asked to donate only once in 56 days or so. Moreover, it also helps to reduce the level of cholesterol in the body and contain the artery-clogging accumulation of fatty acids.

Lowers chances of a heart attack: Donating blood is proven to have a very good effect on the cardiovascular health of a person. According to studies, a one-time donation can reduce the risk of heart attack by 88 percent. When blood is given the iron levels in the body are balanced. If the iron in the body accumulates beyond necessary margins, it tends to constrict the blood vessels and increase the chances of blockage and thereby, heart attack. Hence, depleting the body of the excessive levels of iron provides more room for the blood vessels to operate.

Enhances mental well-being: Even though there are multiple physical benefits of donating blood, but its impact on the mental well-being of the donor is inarguably the most powerful. Donation of blood ensures the donor is helping a receipt in dire need, which imbibes a sense of community-connect, giving and pride in the donor. It helps to relieve stress and focus on the larger, more purposeful aspects in life. It is equivalent to volunteering and this altruistic gesture has major psychological benefits. The activity is also shown to have positive effects on happiness and reduces the overall risk of depression and loneliness, especially in people above 55 years of age.

Overall, donating blood is beneficial for both the recipient and the donor. Given in such critical times, as imposed by the global pandemic, donating blood will help improve health and immunity, while also aid in saving lives. 

Symptoms of Gastro problems & Treatment

Gastro problems or medically referred to as gastrointestinal problems are disorders that occur within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The gastrointestinal tract comprises of mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus. These organs form a long continuous passage from the mouth to the anus – called the GI tract. The GI tract is supported by numerous blood vessels that supply blood to these organs and transport the nutrients to the other organs of the body.

That said several problems can affect the GI tract and impact the digestive system of the body. Some of the common gastrointestinal problems, their symptoms and treatment are listed below:

Celiac Disease: A complicated autoimmune disorder that makes the small intestine hypersensitive to gluten. Gluten intake causes the body’s immune system to attack the small intestine, which damages the villi – small, fingerlike components of the small intestine responsible for absorption of nutrients. Celiac disease can affect people of any age and gender. Common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Changes in bowel movement (constipation or diarrhoea)
  • Rashes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor growth in children

Celiac disease can only be treated by preventing the intake of any food that contains gluten.

Constipation: Constipation is a very common gastro problem that is characterised by the difficulty or infrequency of passing stool.Constipation can be caused due to many factors such as dehydration, lack of fibre in the diet, pregnancy, physical inactivity or medications including iron supplements, opioids, etc.Some of the common symptoms of constipation include:

  • Small, hard and dry stool
  • Difficulty and pain in passing stool
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Bloating
  • Distention in stomach

Constipation can easily be treated with laxatives and some lifestyle changes.

Crohn’s Disease: This a type of chronic bowel disorder where patches of inflammation are formed anywhere along the GI tract – between the mouth and anus. The most commonly affected is space where the small intestine meets the large intestine. The exact cause of the disease cannot be pointed; however, it tends to be aggravated by an unhealthy diet and stress. Some of the common symptoms of Crohn’s Disease include:

  • Prolonged Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Blood or mucus in the faeces
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Feeling of full even after a bowel movement

Crohn’s disease can be effectively treated with targeted drugs such as aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, etc. In severe cases, the disease might require surgery.

Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea is a condition where one experiences loose, watery bowel movements usually more than three times in a day.Diarrhoea can be caused due to a variety of reasons; some of the common causes include viruses, bacteria, medical conditions, food intolerance and certain medications. Common symptoms of diarrhoea include:

  • Frequent, loose watery faeces
  • Urgency to visit the toilet
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Diarrhoea can be effectively treated with anti-diarrhoea medicines and anti-biotics, which help to reduce the frequency of bowel movements. Moreover, electrolyte solutions help to cure dehydration which is a common side effect of diarrhoea.

Diverticular Disease: This a serious gastro problem in which small pockets are formed in the bowel, known as diverticula. These pockets tend to trap food and become inflamed, causing intense pain and constipation. The disease is very common in people aged 60 or above and is caused by a low fibre diet or due to genetics. The symptoms of the disease include:

  • Pain in bowel movement
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Cramping

Diverticular disease is treated with a high-fibre diet and some pain relief medication.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): GERD is also commonly referred to as heartburn or acid reflux and is mainly caused because of the weakening of the esophagus. Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) – a valve at the stomach entrance – does not close at all or opens too often while it should close as soon as the food passes through it. This hindrance causes the natural, non-harmful acid in the stomach to move up the esophagus and create acidity and heartburn. Primary symptoms of GERD include:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest ache
  • Nausea
  • Regurgitation

GERD is treated with antacids, blockers, and Inhibitors, as well as certain lifestyle and diet modifications.

Haemorrhoids and Anal Fissures: Haemorrhoids or piles, are a compilation of inflamed and swollen tissues and veins in the anal canal that have blood vessels, support tissue, muscle, as well as elastic fibres. Piles are caused due to extreme constipation, excessive diarrhoea, straining while passing stool or by lifting heavy items. It can also be caused due to pregnancy, obesity or family history or genes. Piles can vary in size and could be located inside or outside the anal canal. Anal fissures are tiny tears in the thin tissue of the anus, usually common in infants.

Some common symptoms of piles are:

  • Hard, painful lump around the anus
  • Feeling full even after passing stool
  • Blood after a bowel movement
  • Red, itchy and swollen area around the anus
  • Pain while passing a stool

Haemorrhoids can be treated with specialty creams, sclerotherapy, laser treatment, or surgery.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): IBS is a common gastro disorder which affects the large intestine and causes abdominal pain due to altered bowel habits. IBS is a chronic disease which needs to be managed long term and is difficult to diagnose. Some of the common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Cramps
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas

Treatment of IBS is dependent on symptoms and usually includes medicines and dietary changes.

Other common gastro problems include lactose intolerance, malabsorption, polyps and colorectal cancer, peptic ulcer disease, ulcerative colitis, etc. All gastro problems can be easily treated and managed by seeking timely medical help.

What is an organ transplant? How to find the best hospital for liver & kidney transplant in Kolkata?

Organ transplant is a life-saving medical procedure for patients who are suffering from end-stage organ failures such as liver, pancreas, lung, intestine, kidney or heart. Though renal diseases can be treated with other renal replacement therapies, kidney transplantation is the best treatment in terms of improvement of quality of life and cost-effectiveness. Out of all other transplantations, kidney transplant is one of the most common organ transplants globally, while intestine transplant is the least common.

What is an organ transplant?

Organ transplantation involves the removal of a healthy organ from a person’s body and transplanting that organ into another person who has a damaged, injured or comprised organ. Though life-saving, organ transplantation is a major surgical procedure which involves a lot of risk such as the probability of organ rejection. In some cases, the surgeon may perform a double transplant such as kidney with pancreas or heart along with lung. An organ transplant can lengthen the life of the patient and also enable those who have a chronic illness to live a normal life span.

For an organ transplant to take place, the donor organ should match the criteria such as blood type and size of the organ. Moreover, factors such as waiting duration of the patient, the severity of sickness, as well as the physical distance between the donor and recipient are evaluated before the patient is granted the donor organ.

Who needs an organ transplant?

An organ transplant is needed in cases where the original organs of a person have failed or are damaged. In some cases, an organ transplant might be also needed due to a genetic condition called polycystic kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, or a heart defect. Even infections such as hepatitis, physical organ injuries, and chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. can cause an organ to damage – thus, instating a need for an organ transplant.

What to expect?

The core requirement for an organ transplant to ensure the survival of the patient, who would otherwise not survive, if the transplant is not done. In cases, where an organ transplant is successful, it effectively improves the quality of life of the person and eliminating the need for daily dialysis in severe cases.

The procedure for an organ transplant begins when the doctor confirms the need and puts the name of the patient on the organ transplant list. This is done after the doctor diagnoses the condition of the patient, confirms that it is chronic, and also assess if a transplant will improve the condition – making the patient a suitable candidate for an organ transplant.

Once the patient is on the waiting organ transplant list, several factors such as the urgency of the condition, probability of survival, the period, etc. are evaluated before the organ is provided. When an organ becomes available, the surgeon will immediately perform the procedure within a few hours since organs cannot survive for a long period. Post the surgery, the patient will need to recover in the hospital for a few days and will be continuously monitored for any infections, rejection of organ or other complication. The duration of hospital stay depends on factors such as the effectiveness of surgery, signs of infections such as fever, etc.

How to find the best hospital for liver and kidney transplant in Kolkata?

For a patient who has been advised an organ transplant, it is very critical to ensure that the procedure is received from one of the best hospitals. Specifically, in Kolkata, one can use the following tricks to find the best hospital for liver and kidney transplant:

Know your needs: Before initiating a search for the best hospital for liver and kidney transplant, one must priorities their needs. This can be done based on the consultation of the doctor who recommended the organ transplant. The patient will need to know the severity of the condition, the period in hand, etc. The health condition must be clear for one to make the right decision.

Make a list of hospitals offering organ transplant in Kolkata: It is very critical to make a list of all hospitals that offer organ transplant facilities. This list can be made through an online search on platforms such as Google, Practo or Justdial. You could also include referrals from family, friends or other doctors (you may know). 

Narrow the list: After preparing a long list, it is essential to narrow it down based on some very critical factors such as below:

  • Private vs. Government Hospital
  • The proximity of the Hospital
  • Types of Insurance accepted
  • Transplant specialities

Know the hospitals: Once you’ve narrowed the list to include a few hospitals, the next most essential step is the dig deeper and know these hospitals well. You must conduct an exhaustive study of the hospital and assess factors such as:

  • Certifications and Affiliations (specifically in concern to organ transplantation)
  • Recognition such as from NOTTO: National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation
  • Medical technologies
  • Type of facilities
  • Panel of doctors
  • Assistive teams
  • Success rates of organ transplants (specifically kidney and liver)
  • Referred cases
  • Years of service
  • Procedures and processes
  • Surgical advancements
  • Awards

Read online reviews and ask around: After shortlisting a few names, it is important you conduct even deeper research to select the best of them all. Read online reviews and get feedback from friends or relatives or even other doctors about the hospital and then take the final decision.

Visit the hospital and then book an appointment: After making the final decision, you must visit the hospital yourself accompanied by a close family member to check the authentication and then type of facility. You should also meet the doctors and if possible the particular surgeon who would be performing the transplant. The basic aim of this step is to get to know the hospital better.

Once satisfied, book your appointment and prepare for the procedure per the guidelines provided.

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