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New Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

New Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

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New year, new you? Not really. That’s a tough ask. It’s the new year but how about focusing on realistic goals that could bring a better, healthier you?

Maybe you’ve thought about losing weight, having more salads and going to the gym more often. But most often than not, these goals are highly unsustainable and can put immense pressure on you and before you know it, you’ve broken all your resolutions by avurudhu.

It’s not that you’re completely incapable of sticking to your resolutions, it’s just that maybe you need to set more actionable, realistic and achievable goals.

Here are a few resolutions that you can actually keep.

new year resolutions

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Better you in 2022?

For most, resolutions come and go but the resolutions listed above are sustainable and long-lasting ways to improve your physical and emotional health. Try out a few this year!

  • Sources:
    Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating, Healthline, 2021
  • 5 Tips for Healthy Skin, Mayo Clinic, 2019
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The First Trimester

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The First Trimester

The First Trimester

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Happy, anxious, nervous, scared, overjoyed and excited. These are just a few of the emotions you may experience when you first find out you are pregnant. If it is your first time you are definitely going to feel a bit confused and will resort to googling everything related to pregnancy. We have broken down everything you need to know about the first trimester of pregnancy in this blog. 

So what is the first trimester of pregnancy?

It is the earliest phase in your pregnancy. It starts on the first day of your last period and ends on the last day of the 13th week. During your first trimester of pregnancy, a lot of changes happen to you and the baby. So keep reading to find out what is in store for you

What are the changes happening in your body?. 

Due to the hormones released by the body,, many changes will occur during pregnancy. These changes help prepare you for the 9 months of pregnancy.

first trimester of pregnancy
  1. Swelling of breasts– caused by the mammary glands enlarging to prepare for lactation as a result of increased oestrogen and progesterone hormones secretion.
  2. Peeing more often – you will start peeing more often as your uterus grows and presses against your bladder.
  3. Darken and enlarged areolas – this is the pigmented area around your nipple. They may also become covered with small, white bumps called Montgomery’s tubercles (enlarged sweat glands).
  4. Mood swings – you may begin to experience severe mood swings which is caused by the surge in hormones. 
  5. Morning sickness – occurs due to increased hormone levels that is needed to sustain the pregnancy. Contrary to the name, nausea can occur at anytime of day. 
  6. Constipation – occurs as the growing uterus presses against your rectum and intestines.
  7. Heartburn and indigestion – the increased levels of progesterone can slow the muscular contractions in our intestines. 
  8. Extreme tiredness – caused as a result of the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy. 
  9. High heart rate-  caused by the increased cardiac output to supply enough blood to both you and your baby.
  10. Slight bleeding – About 25% of pregnant women have slight bleeding during their first trimester of pregnancy. Early in the pregnancy, light spotting may be a sign that the fertilized embryo has implanted in your uterus. If you have severe bleeding please seek medical advice urgently.
  11. Weight gain – this is due to a 40-50% increase in volume of blood in the body during pregnancy and storage of fat in the body which is later used for milk production. 

It is important to note that some symptoms of pregnancy continue for several weeks or months. Others are only experienced for a short time. Some women experience many symptoms, and some experience only a few or none at all. Everyone is different but that’s to be expected -you are unique! 

Now lets have a look at the changes your baby will go through

The most development occurs during the first trimester. During the first 13 weeks, your baby develops from a fertilized egg (embryo) into a fully-formed fetus. All major organs are formed during the first trimester of pregnancy. By the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus weighs approximately 0.5 to 1 ounce and measures, on average, 3 to 4 inches in length.

Here is what exactly happens: 

(Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

The fetus is most vulnerable during the first 12 weeks. During this period of time, exposure to drugs, radiation, tobacco and other toxic substances can affect the formation of the major organs and body systems. 

So what do you need to know while visiting the doctor during the first trimester?

As soon as you find out you are pregnant, make an appointment with your VOG doctor so you can start caring for the baby. You should see your doctor once a month but it is better to discuss this with your VOG doctor. 

During your first visit the doctor may: 

  • perform an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy
  • perform a Pap test
  • take your blood pressure
  • test for sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and hepatitis
  • estimate your date of delivery or “due date,” which is around 266 days from the first day of your last period
  • screen for risk factors like anemia
  • check thyroid levels
  • check your weight

If you experience any of the following please seek medical help immediately: 

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe dizziness
  •  Rapid weight gain or too little weight gain

It is also recommended you start building out your birth plan early on during your pregnancy. To know more about how to create your birth plan click here. You can also consult a VOG doctor at any time and from the comfort and safety of your home via the oDoc app.

 

Source

  1. Bhargava, H. D. (2020, July 16). First trimester of pregnancy: What to expect, Baby Development. WebMD. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/first-trimester-of-pregnancy#3 
  2. Healthline Media. (2017, November 9). The first trimester of pregnancy. Healthline. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/first-trimester#other-considerations 
  3. The first trimester. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-first-trimester 
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A Future Without Antibiotics

A Future Without Antibiotics

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You are walking on the street, minding your own business, when suddenly you feel a piercing pain in your foot. You look at the sole of your slipper to realise you’ve stepped on a rusty nail. You hobble to a nearby bench and slowly remove the nail from your slipper. Then you take off your slipper to see that there’s a puncture wound in your foot and it’s bleeding, but it’s not too bad, you figure you can get home so you put your slipper back on and hobble home.

Once you get home, you clean the wound with antiseptic. You call your doctor on oDoc and are advised to take a course of antibiotics and to air out the wound. In a few days, the wound has healed and your back on your feet again.

But what if there were no antibiotics? What if it were 1850?

The bacteria on the nail would have entered the wound. Your immune cells would have waged a courageous battle. The bacteria would have proliferated and entered into your bloodstream and if unlucky enough, it would have led to sepsis, organ failure and death.

Before antibiotics

Before 1926, 90% of children with bacterial meningitis died(1). Diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia or even ear infections were left unchecked and resulted in severe lasting damage or death. During wartime, injuries incurred during battles would often lead to debilitating illnesses, severe side effects, amputations and death.

Discovery of antibiotics

The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 led to a revolution in medicine and peoples’ quality of life. A simple ear infection would remain an ear infection instead of spreading to the brain. People would recover faster and were now able to live longer. The future arrived.

The evolution of bacteria

In the last ca. 100 years, with every cough or fever no longer requiring us to battle for our lives, we’ve been able to build industries and advance technologies. Countries like Sri Lanka have been able to harness the combined power of antibiotics, clean water and infrastructure development to pull people up from under the poverty line.

During this time, bacteria haven’t sat idle. For millions of years, bacteria have thrived via evolution. Whatever environment they find themselves in, whatever enemy they find themselves battling, those that survive, evolve to benefit future generations. And unlike us humans, future generations occur every 30 seconds.

Let’s go back to the puncture wound you suffered during your stroll. The doctor prescribes you a course of antibiotics for five days. When you begin to take the antibiotics, they wreak havoc on the bacterial cells – preventing them from multiplying and destroying their cell walls. Most of the bacteria begin to die and you start to feel better. But regardless, you continue to take antibiotics for the full five days and wipe out all the bacteria. Success!

Antibiotic resistance

However, by the 1950s, doctors began to note that penicillin was not able to control bacterial infections as well as it had done a decade or two earlier. Bacteria seem to not be as susceptible as they once were. How could that happen?

Rewinding back to when you felt better three days after starting the course of antibiotics. What if instead of continuing on, you decided to stop the antibiotics and go back to living your best life? What will happen inside your body?

Though enough bacteria were destroyed by the antibiotics so you no longer feel sick, there remained a few stragglers hanging about assessing the damage. Those stragglers take note of the artillery used by the antibiotics and when they reproduce, they mutate ever so slightly so the next generation will have some protection from that specific artillery. All bacteria care about is survival.

Replicating this millions of times around the world and combining it with the age old adage “survival of the fittest”, we encounter antibiotic resistance. Bacteria that are no longer affected by the ammunition we throw at them.

Anything that exposes the bacteria to a said antibiotic and still allows it to survive would contribute to antibiotic resistance. Some real world examples(2):

  • Over-prescription of antibiotics: too much antibiotics for too many diseases that don’t require antibiotic prescriptions.
  • Unregulated prescriptions: being able to purchase antibiotics over the counter means people will self-medicate and overuse antibiotics without medical guidance
  • Inappropriate prescriptions: antibiotics have been prescribed for viral or fungal diseases where antibiotics play no role.
  • Agricultural use: to ensure a continuous food supply and meet demand, animal farmers inject antibiotics into animal feed. This brings extra antibiotics into the human food chain.

No more antibiotics

Over the last 50 years, drug companies were able to develop new antibiotics to counteract the resistance that was being developed towards older antibiotics. However, the pipelines are now drying up due to insufficient funding. Of 18 major pharma companies, 14 no longer work in developing antibiotics.

Without antibiotics, we are hindered in our ability to fight diseases we no longer consider fatal. As per the WHO, “When infections can no longer be treated by first-line antibiotics, more expensive medicines must be used. A longer duration of illness and treatment, often in hospitals, increases health care costs as well as the economic burden on families and societies. Antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections.”(3)

It’s imperative that we all play our part in preventing a return to the dark ages.

How can we prevent antibiotic resistance?

  • Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a doctor
  • Always complete your course of antibiotics regardless of how you feel
  • Never share or use leftover antibiotics
  • Never demand antibiotics from your doctor
  • Consume organic where possible

If you’d like to discuss how antibiotic resistance may be affecting you or your loved one with a doctor, download oDoc today!

Sources

  • The History of Antibiotics, Healthychildren.org
  • Ventola, C., (2015)., The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis., Pharmacy & Therapeutics., 40:277-283
  • Antibiotic Resistance , WHO
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Your Little Girl’s First Period

Your Little Girl’s First Period

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Wonder what to tell your child about periods? Here’s some help to get you started.

The earlier you have the ‘period’ talk with your child, the better. She needs to know about the menstrual cycle and all the changes that puberty brings. A one-time tell-all discussion might be too much for her to take in, so plan a series of conversations revolving around this subject. But most importantly, the conversations you have with your daughter about menstruation can lay the groundwork for future talks about dating and sexuality.

Alright, so where do you start?

What’s a period?

A period is the part of the menstrual cycle when a woman bleeds from her vagina for a few days.

What does it mean to get the first period?

Puberty is when a girl’s body changes from looking like a child to looking more like an adult, producing adult-level hormones. Every month, starting around the first period, estrogen and progesterone hormones prepare her body for a possible pregnancy. As a result, it causes the lining of her uterus to build up to provide comfortable housing for a fertilised egg to begin development. 

Approximately after a month, if the egg hasn’t been fertilised, the buildup of tissue in the uterus will break down and bleed. This blood is what is seen during a period. The cycle repeats every month and is called a menstrual cycle. 

It’s normal for a cycle not to be regular after the first period. Periods may be hard to predict. It usually occurs every 3 weeks (28 days). However, irregular periods are common for the first 1 or 2 years after the first period.

When do most girls get their first period?

Puberty often begins when the child is around 11 years old, although anywhere between 8 and 14 years is considered the “normal” age. It’s generally one of the most memorable events in a young girl’s life. On average, a first period occurs when a girl is about 12 years old.

How can you keep her informed about knowing when her first period is coming?

signs of the first period

How to prepare for her first period?

It’s always good to be prepared, especially as the first period is unpredictable. Here are a few steps to make sure she’s ready when her first period occurs.

  • Being able to talk with a trusted adult and ask any question she has
  • Always carry sanitary pads, tampons, or any other menstrual products 
  • Keep an extra pair of pants
  • Look for places in her school where she can get sanitary products in case of an emergency.
  • Explain some of the pros and cons of types of menstrual products
  • Emphasising that periods are natural
  • Use clear, concrete words for body parts and body functions

How can you keep her informed about knowing when her first period is coming?

Key takeaways

Most girls will get their first period sometime between the ages of 10 and 15. However, a first period can occur as young as 8, so it’s always better to be prepared. The age of the first period can be impacted by genetics, diet, environment, weight, and other factors.

You can help your child prepare for her first period by having an open and direct conversation about periods and what she needs to expect. It would also be a good idea if she could have a few extra menstrual products in her bag for emergency purposes. It’s important to be ready and educated about the first period as it is a great way for your child to approach this growing-up milestone.

If you have any concerns regarding menstruation, you can speak to a VOG doctor via  the oDoc app from the comfort and privacy of your home. GPs and Family Physicians are also available to consult.

Download oDoc today on the App Store or Play store.

References

  1. Tween and teen health, Mayoclinic (2020)
  2. All about periods, KidsHealth (2018)
  3. When will I get my periods, KidsHealth (2018)
  4. At What Age Do Most Girls Get Their First Period?, Healthline (2021) 
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What Is A Panic Attack?

What Is A Panic Attack?

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If you know, you know. Your heart pounding in your chest, your breaths are becoming shorter and shorter and the dizziness is setting in. You may have heard the terms ‘anxiety attacks’ and ‘panic attacks’ tossed around and used interchangeably as if they both mean the same thing. While they have some symptoms in common, they’re both very different conditions and are treated in different ways.

Panic attacks come on very suddenly and involve intense and overwhelming fear. Most often than not, they are accompanied by several mental and physical symptoms. Panic attack symptoms are often so extreme that they can cause severe disruption to your daily life.

An ‘anxiety attack’ is not a recognized term in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, anxiety is an emotional response hardwired into the body and usually builds gradually, in anticipation of a stressful situation, event or experience.

Panic attack symptoms

Mental

  • Feeling detached from oneself and the world
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying

Physical:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Tightness in the throat
panic attack

During a panic attack, your body responds as if you are in real danger even if there is no threat around you. You could be going for a walk, watching TV or cooking in the kitchen.

What is the difference between a panic attack and having anxiety?

 

 

Panic attacks often occur out of the blue and involve severe, disruptive symptoms. On the other hand, anxiety can be mild or severe and gradually build up over time. Symptoms of anxiety can be persistent and last days, weeks or even months.

Additionally, during a panic attack, the body’s fight-or-flight response takes over. These physical symptoms are often more intense than the physical symptoms of anxiety.

panic attack vs anxiety attack

How long does a panic attack last?

Panic attack symptoms usually occur for around 10 minutes and then subside. However, some attacks may last longer or may occur simultaneously, making it difficult to know when one attack ends and another begins. Following an attack, you may feel worried, out-of-sorts, or on edge for the rest of the day.

What can trigger a panic attack?

It is not exactly clear what causes a panic attack but the triggers differ from person to person. Potential triggers could include social events, public speaking, situations that remind you of stress and even bright lights or loud noises can trigger a person’s panic attacks. Certain people, places or events can trigger the attack as well. It is a good idea to watch out for your triggers

How do you stop a panic attack in the moment?

Since panic attacks hit you so quickly, it can be extremely scary and fearful. Here are a few things you can try to stop or manage the attacks.

  • Deep breathing –  You may have difficulty breathing in the moment, but trying to take deep, long breaths can reduce panic and fear. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth. Breathe in a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four
  • Recognize that you’re having a panic attack – Recognize that you’re not having a heart attack, remind yourself that this feeling is just temporary and that it will pass soon and you will be OK.
  • Close your eyes – If you’re in an environment that overwhelms you, close your eyes to block out any extra stimuli and focus on your breathing
  • Focus on other senses and sensations around you – During a panic attack, focus all your attention onto one thing. It could be your watch, the pockets on your jeans, the book on the table next to you, the A.C in the room. You can hold onto something soft like a pillow or run your hands along something textured like a blanket. Focus all your energy on this one object and take note of its size, shape, pattern, colour, and more.
  • Keep lavender on hand – Research suggests that lavender has a calming effect and can reduce symptoms of the panic attack
deep breathing

Read more about coping methods at 5 Hacks To Try When You Feel Anxious

Can you prevent a panic attack from happening?

It’s not always possible to prevent a future panic attack but you figure out what triggers your panic attacks and try to avoid or eliminate them from your life. Other tips that can help prevent your panic attack include:

  • Breathing exercises every day
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine excessively
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

Another preventative measure is to speak to a licensed mental health professional who can help you identify your triggers, develop ways to manage them, work through past pain and gain a clearer perspective for the future.

How can you support a person going through a panic attack?

If you suffer from panic attacks or are facing severe anxiety, speak to the mental health doctors on oDoc. Download oDoc today.

References:

  • How To Help Someone Having a Panic Attack, 2020, Healthline
  • Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack, 2020, VeryWell Mind
  • Grip on crippling anxiety attacks, 2017, Daily News
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