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How Do You Deal With Grief & Loss?

How Do You Deal With Grief & Loss?

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Grief is an emotional response to loss. Any type of loss could cause grief; loss of a loved one, loss of a pet, loss of a job and financial stability, loss of a relationship, loss of a baby and more.

The pain of loss can sometimes be overwhelming and it can be hard to deal with such intense, overpowering, unexpected emotions. Your physical health can also be affected, making it difficult for you to eat, sleep or think straight. Your whole world can be changed with a loss. Nothing could look quite the same anymore – everything appears lacking, strange or unfamiliar. These are completely normal reactions to have.

how to deal with grief

You might be going through something similar and maybe you’re wondering how you can feel better soon? How can you get to the point where you are not in so much pain anymore?

There are healthy ways to cope with grief & loss that can ease your sadness over time and help you come to terms with what happened and move on with life. There is no ‘’normal’’ way of grieving. Everyone goes through it differently with some feeling better in a few weeks while others take years to fully heal.

Myths about grief & loss

You need to ‘stay strong’

You can feel your feelings. You can feel sad, scared and lonely. You can cry, get angry or stay quiet. None of these reactions are ‘’weak’’. You don’t need to put on a brave front.

Distracting yourself from the pain will make it go away faster

Ignoring the pain or trying to push it down so you don’t feel it will make you feel worse in the long run. While it is extremely hard to do, you need to face what has happened.

If you don’t cry, you didn’t really care about the loss

Crying is one reaction to grief & loss but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry can react to loss in different ways. This doesn’t mean they didn’t feel the pain as badly.

After a certain amount of time, you should be over it 

There’s no timeline to grieve. For some, grief will always remain but they are able to manage their grief better over time.

What are the different ways you can cope with grief & loss?

Talk to someone about it

Talking about the loss can be hard because that means you have to think about what has happened and come to terms with it. But sharing your feelings and thoughts with friends and family can be clarifying and cathartic.

Express your feelings in other ways

If you’re not able to talk about the loss, you can journal or write down your thoughts. Scrapbooking or volunteering for a cause can also help you let all your emotions out

Don’t be afraid to find moments of joy

Again, feel your feelings. It’s okay to laugh, be happy, have a good time and joke around if those emotions come naturally to you.

Look after your physical health

Having quality sleep, eating healthy and exercising regularly allows you to better cope with your grief emotionally.

Sometimes, it can be hard to grieve by yourself. How can you make sure you’re dealing with grief& loss in a healthy, non-destructive way? You can always reach out to a mental health professional, possibly one who specializes in grief counseling, who can help you work through your emotions and teach you coping mechanisms.

You can speak to a licensed mental health practitioner on oDoc. Download the app now.

Sources:

  • Coping With Grief & Loss, Help Guide, October 2021
  • How To Cope With Loss: Tips for Healthy Grieving, Everyday Health, October 2021
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The Gut-Brain Connection

The Gut Brain Connection

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gut brain connection

Ever heard of the phrase ‘gut feeling’ or felt the ‘butterflies’ in your stomach? These experiences can be explained by the gut-brain axis, the communication network that connects the brain and gut, physically and biochemically. This may seem like a minor thing, right? That is until you realise it’s essentially like our ‘second brain’. Yup you read that right! Who knew that hidden in our digestive system are two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells that dutifully line our intestine all the way from gullet to rectum. They make up what is known as the enteric nervous system (ENS).

Let’s see how our ‘second brain’ interacts with the rest of our body!

How Gut Health Affects Our Body

Are you  wondering how on earth your brain directly connects to your gut? The answer is simple (unlike the many complex tasks it carries out)! The Vagus nerve is an important two way connector between the brain and gut. It’s found to play a crucial role in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Stress is noted to inhibit the signals along this nerve causing intestinal distress. You may experience this phenomenon more often if you suffer from pesky IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) as it reduces Vagus nerve function.

Alternatively, do you ever find yourself battling against big emotional shifts like heightened or irrational fear, anxiety and stress? This may be triggered by your ENS.  So if you suffer from IBS or any other functional bowel problems, you have a higher chance of being diagnosed with psychological disorders like depression and anxiety because of this connection resulting in poorer mental health!

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that control feelings and emotions. These are mainly produced in the brain but also by our gut cells and the trillions of microbes that live there! For example, a large proportion of the serotonin neurotransmitter associated with happy feelings is produced in the gut. Gut microbes also make the GABA neurotransmitter, which helps control fear and anxiety.

It’s important to note that these chemicals released by gut microbes also affect brain function. So preserving our ‘second brain’ will eventually support our real brain! Poor gut health results in the microbes releasing lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an inflammatory toxin made by certain bacteria that enters the bloodstream and causes inflammation especially in those with higher intestinal permeability. Inflammation and high LPS in the blood have been associated with a number of brain disorders including severe depression, dementia and schizophrenia.

Consequences Of Ignoring Gut Health

Your gut is a giant chemical factory that helps you digest food, regulate hormones and produce healing compounds to keep your entire body healthy.  When the gut starts to break down, it won’t be long before the rest of your body starts to break down too!

Imagine this, you’re building a house and for the foundation you carefully lay bricks and cement it all together to protect its inhabitants from the dangers outside. Now, transferring this analogy, our own intestinal wall has to be intact to prevent the passage of dangerous toxins, pathogens, and other proinflammatory substances into the human body. If it fails to do so and is more ‘naive and friendly’ it will let these enemies permeate our defence lines and wage war on us! This may result in system wide inflammation and cause disease.

The ‘leaky gut hypothesis’ explains that poor intestinal barrier function may induce chronic inflammatory changes in the target organs by virtue of those little microbial products produced in the gut that cross over into the body.

Just like a poor foundation will result in a house that will crumble, poor intestine health and its increased permeability have been found in many diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, depression, and more.

Foods That Will Better Your Gut Health

                                          Eating a diverse range of foods will result in, you guessed it, a diverse microbiome!

  1. Up the fibre:  In particular, legumes, whole grains, beans and fresh fruit which contain lots of fibre and can promote the growth of healthy bacteria which then helps digest fibre, produce important chemicals like B vitamins and prevent infections from other bacteria like E. coli. The fibre feeds your gut microbes and helps them do their job, which is to protect you! Remember apart from being fibre rich, these plant-based foods are also great sources of other longevity-supporting nutrients, like antioxidants which are known to prevent chronic inflammation.
  2.  Eat. Fermented. Foods! They contain healthy bacteria and can reduce the number of disease-causing species in the gut. These foods include yoghurt, curd, tofu and miso paste. Who knew such sour foods could be so sweet to our body!
  3. You’ve heard of probiotics but what about prebiotics? They are different from probiotics in that they promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut whilst probiotics either consumed as a supplement or found in naturally fermented foods are live bacteria that can help restore the gut to a healthy state after dysbiosis, which happens when gut bacteria become an unbalanced. Prebiotic rich food includes artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats and apples. 

4. Eat polyphenol rich foods! These plant compounds are found in red wine, green tea, dark chocolate, coffee and whole grains. These foods contain plenty of antioxidants and also help your gut find the good bacteria army!

5. Do you often crave that sugar ‘high’? Do you  ‘inhale’ those delicious sweets  when you’re feeling stressed or when you feel … wait, I mean who needs an excuse to eat sweets anyways! We all just eat sweets because they’re such a treat! These days however pretty much everyone has heard the diet craze of cutting out refined sugar BUT some people often mistranslated this to EAT ARTIFICAL SWEETNERS. Hmmm … raise your hands if you’ve done this! Artificial sweeteners have been linked to increasing the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the gut microbiome.

6. When you think of the word antibiotics, you think it’s a miracle cure to your infections. But think of antibiotics like a hyperactive child. This child will love to play with all the toys in the room, just like your antibiotics  fighting off  bad bacteria in the body, but this kid will play with the room’s furniture even though it’s not meant to be played with. Just like that, antibiotics may also fight off your good bacteria too. So, use it only when necessary!

If you have any concerns regarding your gut health, you can speak to a doctor via the oDoc app from the comfort and privacy of your home. GPs and Specialised doctors like gastroenterologists are also available to consult.

Download oDoc today on the App Store or Play store.

References

  1. The Brain-Gut Connection, Johns Hopkins (2022)
  2. Gut Health and Pain – Part 3: Your Gut and Stress, Northern Pain Centre (2021) 
  3. The Gut-Brain Connection: How it Works and The Role of Nutrition, Healthline (2020)
  4. Increased Intestinal Permeability and Decreased Barrier Function: Does It Really Influence the Risk of Inflammation?, NCBI (2016)
  5. Here’s How the Longest-Living People on the Planet Maintain Optimal Gut Health, Well + Good (2022)
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Is this COVID-19 or Dengue?

Is this COVID-19 or Dengue?

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The differentiation between dengue and COVID-19 diagnoses is challenging in tropical regions because of the similarity of symptoms and limited access to specific diagnostic tests for each disease. According to research, most people who get dengue or COVID-19 have mild illnesses and can recover at home and feel better after a week or two. However, some will be at risk of developing severe diseases that could be life-threatening and require hospital-based care that differs between conditions.

Warning signs for COVID-19 and Dengue.

COVID-19: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, the new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dengue: Nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains, gum bleeding, lethargy and restlessness.

Common factors of COVID-19 and Dengue? 

Both COVID-19 and dengue fever are infections caused by viruses. They could both cause fever and body ache in the affected individual. Additionally, both these viruses could cause mild to severe symptoms. In their severe forms, both conditions could damage multiple organ systems and cause death in their severe forms. 

Difference between COVID-19 and Dengue? 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. It is most often transmitted from one person to another via respiratory droplets that are spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. However, dengue fever is caused by the dengue viruses that spread through the infected Aedes species mosquitoes’ bite. 

Dengue’s incubation period ranges between 3-10 days, typically 5-7 days. On the other hand, COVID-19 is thought to extend to 14 days, with a median of 3-5 days from exposure to symptoms onset.

What are the possible complications of COVID-19 and Dengue? 

Some people, about 1 in 6, may have complications, including life-threatening ones. 

COVID-19 complications may include the following

  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Kidney complications
  • Severe lung disease
  • Blood clots
  • Death

A small percentage of people who have dengue fever can develop a more serious form of the disease.

Its complications may include the following

  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Bleeding
  • Hemorrhagic fever
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Death

These lists are not exhaustive.

How can you protect yourself from COVID-19 and Dengue?

COVID-19

  • Get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to you and follow local guidance on vaccination.
  • Maintain distance, avoid crowds and close contact.
  • Double mask while going out.
  • Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues immediately and clean hands regularly. 
  • If you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, self-isolate until you recover.

Dengue

  • Use mosquito repellent.
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing.
  • Use mosquito nets/screens at home.
  • Cover and clean water containers of stagnant water regularly.

When should you see a doctor?

It is best to consult a doctor if fever develops with any of the following:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Pain in muscle or bone 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough

It is difficult to differentiate COVID-19 from dengue fever during the early stages of the illness. A PCR or Rapid Antigen Test is the best (and only) way to rule out COVID-19. If you test positive and need to isolate at home, the oDoc Home Care package brings you a dedicated doctor virtually to monitor your symptoms every day while you recover. Tested positive? Start your recovery now!

On the other hand, a complete blood count test and a Nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or a Dengue antigen test (NS1) must be done to check for Dengue. Our mobile lab service, oLabs, comes to your door so you don’t need to leave home for blood tests. If you are experiencing any of the severe symptoms mentioned above and need to clarify certain doubts, speak to one of our doctors on oDoc! Download the app today!

References

  1. Symptoms of COVID-19, Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (2021)
  2. How do You Tell COVID-19 and Dengue Apart?, Health plus (2020)
  3. Differentiating Dengue from COVID-19: Comparison of Cases in Colombia, ASTMH (2021)
  4. Advice for the public: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). World Health Organisation (2021)
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What is the pelvic floor and why is it so important?

What is the pelvic floor and why is it so important?

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When you think of exercise, you might think focusing on muscle groups such as the abs, legs, back and arms. While all those areas are important, we can’t forget to exercise the muscles that we can’t particularly see or feel. We’re talking about the pelvic floor muscles. Have you ever sneezed, coughed or laughed and found yourself peeing a little? You’re not alone! This could be due to weak pelvic floor muscles. Problems with the pelvic floor are common and could happen to anyone. Incontinence, painful sex and lower back pain are some of the challenges that can arise due to a weak pelvic floor. Here’s what you need to know!

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor comprises of muscles and connective tissues that are attached to your pelvis and are vital in supporting your bladder, urethra, intestines and rectum. In women, the pelvic floor also supports the uterus and the vagina. You could think about the pelvic floor as a shelf for your organs, so a strong shelf means a more secure support system for your organs.

How do you find pelvic floor muscles?

A good way to visualize the pelvic floor and its function is to picture these muscles at the bottom of the pelvis. When you have a full bladder and you’re trying to stop urine flow, you’re contracting the pelvic floor.

Another way to find those muscles while standing is to imagine that you need to pass gas but don’t want to let it out. The muscles you’re activating to hold it in, that is those surrounding your rectum and anus, make up part of your pelvic floor.

When engaging the pelvic floor, make sure to use all these muscles that span the bottom of your pelvis. If you only contract the muscles that stop the flow of urine but not the rectal muscles, you’re not getting a full contraction and therefore, the pelvic floor does not get strengthened. Imagine a sensation of hugging your organs from the bottom up.

It’s important to learn how to tighten and relax these muscles for optimal pelvic floor function. As you’re going about your daily routine, check in with yourself to see if you’re contracting these muscles and to what intensity.

Why is it important to maintain a strong pelvic floor?

  • Strengthening your pelvic floor allows you to better support the bladder, bowels and uterus, helping with bladder and bowel control.
  • A strong pelvic floor also protects against uterine prolapse, when the uterus loses support and bulges out of the vagina
  • For women, a strong pelvic floor can help during labor and delivery
  • Strengthening the pelvic floor can lead to better sex for both men and women. Experts say that strengthening these muscles can potentially improve erectile dysfunction issues as well as boost sexual sensation for women.

How do you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles?

Both contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles is key, and not just solely focusing on contraction.

Kegel exercises help with contraction of the muscles.

  • Find the right muscles as mentioned above
  • Imagine you’re sitting on an exercise ball with a marble inside of it. Picture vacuuming up the marble using pelvic floor muscles. Tighten for 3 seconds to lift the marble.
  • Relax for 3 seconds by taking a deep breath in and feel the air pouring into your lungs, your abdomen and down to your pelvic floor like a jug of water.
  • Make sure to not tighten your abs, thighs or butt and to keep breathing instead of holding your breath
  • Do 3 sets of 10 contractions and try to incorporate this exercise throughout your day

Relax your pelvic floor by incorporating some of these movements into your exercise routines.

pelvic floor exercises

You may think pelvic health is not an important factor to consider when looking at your overall health. But a strong pelvic floor can do wonders for you when it comes to your reproductive system, your sex life and your confidence (no leakages!).

If you’re having bowel or bladder control problems or pain during sex, speak to a physiotherapist or sexual health practitioner on oDoc who can help you find the right treatment. Download the app now.

Sources:

  • 9 Things You Might Not Know About A Pelvic Floor And Why It Matters, 2021, Mind Body Green
  • 5 Pelvic Floor Exercises for Anyone and Everyone, 2021, Healthline
  • What are pelvic floor exercises, 2020, NHS
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