Fresh Pineapple Has Many Benefits

The pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family. It is extremely rare that bromeliads produce edible fruit. The pineapple is the only available edible bromeliad today. It is a multiple fruit. One pineapple is actually made up of dozens of individual flowerettes that grow together to form the entire fruit. Each scale on a pineapple is evidence of a separate flower.



Pineapples stop ripening the minute they are picked. No special way of storing them will help ripen them further. Color is relatively unimportant in determining ripeness. Choose your pineapple by smell. If it smells fresh, tropical and sweet, it will be a good fruit. The more scales on the pineapple, the sweeter and juicier the taste.

After you cut off the top, you can plant it. It should grow much like a sweet potato will. This delicious fruit is not only sweet and tropical, it also offers many benefits to our health.

Remarkable Fruit

Pineapple is a remarkable fruit. We find it enjoyable because of its lush, sweet and exotic flavor, but it may also be one of the most healthful foods available today. If we take a more detailed look at it, we will find that pineapple is valuable for easing indigestion, arthritis or sinusitis. The juice has an anthelmintic effect - it helps get rid of intestinal worms. Let's look at how pineapple affects other conditions.

Pineapple is high in manganese, a mineral that is critical to development of strong bones and connective tissue. A cup of fresh pineapple will give you nearly 75% of the recommended daily amount. It is particularly helpful to older adults, whose bones tend to become brittle with age.

Bromelain

Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme, is the key to pineapple's value. Proteolytic means "breaks down protein", which is why pineapple is known to be a digestive aid. It helps the body digest proteins more efficiently.

Bromelain is also considered an effective anti-inflammatory. Regular ingestion of at least one half cup of fresh pineapple daily is purported to relieve painful joints common to osteoarthritis. It produces mild pain relief. In Germany, bromelain is approved as a post-injury medication because it is thought to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Treat Cold

Orange juice is a popular liquid for those suffering from a cold because it is high in vitamin C. Fresh pineapple is not only high in this vitamin, but because of the bromelain, it has the ability to reduce mucous in the throat. If you have a cold with a productive cough, add pineapple to your diet. It is commonly used in Europe as a post-operative measure to cut mucous after certain sinus and throat operations. Those individuals who eat fresh pineapple daily report fewer sinus problems related to allergies. In and of itself, pineapple has a very low risk for allergies.

Pineapple is also known to discourage blood clot development. This makes it a valuable dietary addition for frequent fliers and others who may be at risk for blood clots.

An old folk remedy for morning sickness is fresh pineapple juice. It really works! Fresh juice and some nuts first thing in the morning often makes a difference. It's also good for a healthier mouth. The fresh juice discourages plaque growth.


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KUALA LUMPUR : More young Malaysians below 40 are at risk of getting heart attacks due to a poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle, said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (PPUKM) cardiology unit head Assoc Prof Dr Oteh Maskon.

He attributed this to the craving for teh tarik, roti canai, nasi lemak and smoking, as well as a lack of exercise. They are at risk from obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes which lead to heart ailments.



He said 5% of 450 patients admitted to PPUKM in the past one year were below 40 and most of them were diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes.

Dr Oteh said the youngest heart patient at PPUM was a 23-year-old male with metabolic syndrome and a family history of heart disease while a simple heart surgery was conducted on a 29-year-old male.

"We also had a 38-year-old woman with three artery blockages and who is also a diabetic. This is shocking as women are hardly known to have heart disease at that age," he said.

He said a family history of heart disease accounted for 10% of heart patients admitted to the medical centre.

"A healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet must start at a young age. Avoid smoking and exercise regularly.

"Go for periodical medical checkups so that early treatment can be administered if you are detected with heart problems," he said, adding that about 30% of sudden deaths occurred in 30% of heart patients before they could be given initial treatment. - Bernama


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Dealing With Schizophrenics

Q: My brother is schizophrenic and suffers from delusions, hallucinations and hearing voices. He can become quite difficult to calm down when he has them. What is the right thing to do when he has one of these episodes? — Janet, Batu Caves.

Dr. Yen Teck Hoe :

Most families reported that a crisis or psychotic episode — that is, a severe break with reality — occurred a few months to a year after they began to notice unusual behaviour. Some said, however, that the crisis occurred with little or no warning.



During a crisis episode, your relative will exhibit some or all of the following symptoms : hallucinations, delusions, thought disorder, and disturbances in behaviour and emotions. No amount of preparation can fully protect you from the shock and dread you will feel when your relative enters this stage of schizophrenia.

Understand also that your relative may be as terrified as you are by what is happening : 'voices' may be giving life-threatening commands or delusions like 'snakes crawling on the window'.

You must get medical help for your relative as quickly as possible, and this could mean hospitalisation. If your relative has been receiving medical help, phone the doctor or psychiatrist immediately. Ask which hospital you should go to and for advice about what to do.

Try to remain calm, speak slowly and clearly in a normal voice. Too much emotion on your part can upset your relative further. Allow your relative to have personal 'space'. Do not stand over him or her or get too close.

Do not shout. If your relative appears not to be listening to you, it may be because other 'voices' are louder. Do not criticise. Your relative cannot be reasoned with at this point. Avoid continuous eye contact. Do not block the doorway.

It is far better, if possible, to have your relative go to the hospital voluntarily. Some have found that presenting their relative with a choice seem to work. 'Will you go to the hospital with me, or would you prefer that John take you?'

Such an approach may serve to reduce the person's feeling of helplessness. Offering choice, no matter how small, provides some sense of being in control of the horrible situation in which they find themselves in.

If your relative becomes violent during the psychotic episode threatening to harm him or herself, to hurt you, or to damage property, you must do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and others (including the ill person) from physical harm. Under extreme circumstances, it may be advisable to secure your relative in a room while you phone or go for help.


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Pesky Presbyopia


DO you often hold printed pages like this one at arm's length in order to read them clearly? Or do you routinely slip on a pair of non-prescription reading glasses, the sort you can pick up off a pharmacy rack, so you can read your Sunday morning papers?

Either way, if you are over 45, such habits most likely mean you are subject to a pesky aspect of ageing called presbyopia.



Oh My, Another -opia?

You might be familiar with the terms myopia (short-sightedness), and hyperopia (long-sightedness), but not presbyopia.

Short-sightedness is a condition where you have clear vision when viewing something close up, but blurry vision when viewing something far away. Long-sightedness is the opposite - clear vision when viewing things far away, blurry vision close up.

Presbyopia, on the other hand, is a condition where your 'near vision' i.e. your clear vision when viewing something close up gradually declines. Left alone, it can make near tasks like reading fine print or sewing difficult or impossible.

While near- and far-sightedness are caused by physical imperfections in the eye that are usually inherited (too much or too little curvature in the cornea, eyeballs that are too long or short), presbyopia develops as the lens of the eye ages and hardens.

In a normal eye, the cornea and lens focus light precisely onto the retina (the innermost, light-sensitive layer of the eye.) To do this, the lens needs to be flexible - when you look at something nearby, a ring of muscles around the lens contracts and your lens fattens, bringing the near object into focus; when you look at something far away, the muscle ring relaxes and your lens flattens, bringing the far object into focus.

The retina then sends coded signals to the brain, via the optic nerve, for interpretation. It is as if the retina asks the brain 'What am I reading?' and the brain answers 'Oh my, another -opia,' faster than you can blink.


In a presbyopic eye, the retina asks the same question, but the brain sees a blur because the lens can no longer bring the words into focus. So the presbyopic person compensates by moving the page further away from him (to the closest point he can focus on) or magnifying the image with visual aids like reading glasses or a magnifying glass.

Correcting presbyopia is a simple matter of seeing an optometrist and finding a pair of spectacles or contact lenses that works for you. Uncorrected presbyopia can lead to unecessary eyestrain or headaches after doing close work and the loss of near vision. Unfortunately, uncorrected presbyopia is all too common.

One Person in Six Has Presbyopia

A recent study on the prevalence of uncorrected presbyopia around the world, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology estimated 1.04 billion people suffered from the condition as of 2005.

There were a billion presbyopes in 2005, and in 2020 there will be a billion and a half. And that is because the population of the world is aging.

The average age of onset of presbyopia is 45. In temperate countries where UV light exposure is lower, it is later – about 48 in Finland. In countries nearer the equator, like Malaysia, where UV light exposure is higher, it can be as early as 30.

By 65, the condition is almost universal. As people live longer and longer, they can expect to live with the condition for longer and longer too (Malaysia's life expectance is now 74 - 71 for men, 76 for women).

A girl born today in Sydney, Australia has a 50% chance of living to 100. If a woman have lost the ability to read naturally by the age of 45, she have 55 years without the ability to read naturally.

Reading is not the half of it. According to the Global Impairment report, 517 million presbyopes either have no spectacles or have inadequate spectacles to correct their condition. As a result, 4 out of 5 of them are unable to perform necessary near tasks, resulting in lost income for individuals and lost productivity for countries.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of these vision impaired presbyopes come from the developing world where access to adequate eye healthcare is limited or unaffordable, or both. Fortunately, that is not the case here, so do not take those services for granted - take advantage of them instead.

Spectacles and Contact Lenses

An optometrist should say to someone who is presbyopic : 'You can have spectacles - reading glasses or multifocals; you can have one contact lens for near vision, one for distance vision (one monovision lens in each eye); or you can have multifocal contact lenses.

These days, we can get freedom from old-type spectacles; we can get more opportunities to be more active in our lifestyles, and presbyopic contact lenses are part of that revolution.

They are becoming more successful because they are more reproducible, have better oxygen permeability, and are better designed.

Seeing an Optometrist

Failure to see an optometrist regularly for something unthreatening like presbyopia may result in other, more threatening eye problems being missed e.g. glaucoma (leading cause of blindness worldwide), age-related macular degeneration (AMD, leading cause of blindness in elderly Americans), or diabetic retinopathy.

For adults, it is recommended a visit :

* Once every five years, or
* Once every two years if you have a family history of glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, AMD, or a personal history of eye injury

Additionally :

* Have a 'baseline' check when you turn 40
* Up your frequency to every one to two years after age 60-65

Children should visit an optometrist :

* At least once when they enter primary school
* At least once when they enter secondary school

What Else Can You Do?

You can not prevent presbyopia, but you can hold it off for longer by protecting your eyes and vision :

# Use the right glasses, read in good light.

# Eat fruits, leafy greens, and other antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants help slow the oxidative stress of ageing in the eye.

# Say 'no' to UV light. Wear spectacles and contact lenses that have full UVA and UVB blockage (look for the World Council of Optometry seal of acceptance for UV blockers/absorbers.)

· Wear protective eyewear when your eyes are at risk e.g. when playing sports, mowing the lawn, or using toxic substances (look for 'ANSI Z87.1', a US standard of effectiveness in protecting against injury, on the lens or frame.)


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Sleepwalking (Somnambulism)


by Dr. Milton Lum

Sleepwalking (somnambulism) is not uncommon among children and is a reason for a medical consultation. The children find themselves in a state of transition from one sleep cycle to the next, i.e. from non-rapid eye movement (NREM) to wakefulness.

During this transition state, there is a high arousal threshold, mental confusion and unclear perception.



It usually occurs in the first or second sleep cycle during the deeper stages of NREM sleep.

When the child awakens there is no recollection of the sleepwalking. It is sometimes associated with nonsensical talking. The child's eyes are often open with a characteristic 'looking right through you' appearance.

More Often in Children

As somnambulism occurs more often in children, there are suggestions that it is indicative of immaturity of the central nervous system.

It is estimated to occur in about 15% of children aged between 4 and 12. Somnambulism can sometimes start in their teens but is usually resolved by the late teenage years. How­­ever, it also occurs in adults.

Some children may hit objects while sleep­walking and injure themselves occasionally. The effects in adolescents and adults may be of more concern as there have been reports of behaviors like driving a car, cooking and eating, with consequent injuries.

Causes

There are several causes of sleepwalking. It is more common in identical twins and is 10 times more likely to occur if a first degree relative also sleepwalks.

In adults, the frequen­cy of sleepwalking increases during menstruation and pregnancy. Sleepwalking may be triggered by disordered sleep schedules, sleep deprivation, fever, stress and excessive alcohol consumption.

Certain medicines can cause sleepwalking. They include sleeping pills (hypnotics), allergy pills (antihistamines), antidepressants, some antibiotics (fluoroquinolone) and calming pills (tranquilisers).

Sleepwalking is associated with medical conditions like fever, nocturnal asthma or fits, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), regurgitation of food from the stomach into the oesophagus (reflux), psychiatric conditions (panic attacks and post-traumatic stress) and when there is temporary stoppage of breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnoea).

Somnambulism episodes vary and can range from walking quietly around a room to disturbed running. The patients may later tell of attempts to run away from dangerous situations. They have a typical clumsy, staring and dazed appearance with their eyes opened as they walk about.

When questioned, their responses are slow or absent with simple or non-sensical words uttered. There is no recollection of the event if the person returns to bed without awakening. Older children are more likely to be awakened at the end of the episode of somnambulism.

Night Terrors

Somnambulism has to be distinguished from night terrors (or sleep terrors) which are similar to somnambulism in that they occur in the first or second sleep cycle during the deeper stages of NREM sleep.

However, night terrors present with sudden screams associa­ted with a panic-like appearance. The eyes are opened wide, there is sweating and increased heart and respiratory rates. This may be follow­ed by movements such as running around the room.

By itself, night terrors are not dangerous but injuries to the child or others may result if the child is violent. Night terrors may occur for many consecutive weeks, stop completely and then recur later. They usually cease when the child reaches adolescence but may occasionally persist until the child is mature.

A similar condition is confusional arousals. They occur in the first or second sleep cycle during the deeper stages of NREM sleep. There are short episodes, lasting about 10 minutes or so, of disorientation, inconsolable crying and thrashing movements in bed.

The child typically does not remember the event. The condition is common in younger children. Attempts to awaken the child frequently prolong the episode.

However, if the child is awakened, the episode typically ceases. Unlike night terrors, there are no changes like sweating and increased heart and respiratory rates.

Diagnosis and Management

No treatment is needed in most instances of somnambulism because it is rarely an indication of a medical or psychiatric problem.

Somnambulism usually disappears in most children at puberty although it sometimes persist into adulthood. A medical consultation is advisable if it occurs frequently, if there is injury or if the behaviour is violent.

The doctor will carry out a physical examination to exclude any medical causes. Some­times, a specialist referral may be made for an assessment to determine whether a psychia­tric condition is the cause.

Reassurance is all that is needed in most instances. Several general measures can be taken by someone affected by somnambulism which includes getting sufficient sleep and avoiding any precipitating factors like visual, tactile or auditory stimuli just before bedtime.

To reduce the likelihood of injury, remove obstacles and sharp objects from the bedroom and avoid bunk beds. Lock windows and doors of the bedroom. It may be useful to have an alarm placed on the window or door.

Any underlying medical condition such as fever, nocturnal asthma or fits, cardiac arrhyth­mias, obstructive sleep apnoea, gastro-oeso­pha­geal reflux, panic attacks or post-trau­matic stress, would be treated appropriately.

Medicines are prescribed if there is a likelihood of injury, excessive sleepiness during the day, significant disruption of family life, and general measures have been unhelpful.

The medicines that have been reported to be useful are the benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Low-dose clonazepam before going to bed for 3 to 6 weeks have also been reported to be usually effective. The medicines can be stopped after 3 to 6 weeks without recurrence of symptoms.

Other treatment like relaxation techniques and anticipatory awakenings have been reported to be useful.

These techniques are usually carried out by a psychologist. Antici­patory awakenings involve waking up the affected child about 15 minutes prior to the usual time the somnambulism occurs and keeping the child awake throughout the time the episode usually occur.

Somnambulism can be prevented by avoiding sleep deprivation, avoiding stress and avoiding alcohol consumption.


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Infant Diarrhoea


In essence, diarrhoea is not a disease. It is a symptom of an infection or illness. Infant diarrhoea is usually caused by infectious agents such as bacteria (shigella or Escherichia coli), viruses (rotavirus), and parasites. If these organisms enter your baby's body, his normal bodily functions may be affected. Diarrhoea is a reaction to these infections. It is usually acute, lasting not more than two days.



Is Your Baby Having Diarrhoea?

Your baby is having diarrhoea when there is a significant increase in the fluidity, frequency, and volume of his bowel movements compared to his usual bowel pattern.

Keep in mind that the frequency of your baby's bowel movement may be affected by his diet, and may not be an indication of diarrhoea, especially if you have changed his diet recently.

Breastfed babies usually have more frequent bowel movements than formula-fed babies. However, please be aware if your baby's stools appear very loose and watery as they are an indication that your baby may be having diarrhoea. In any case, consult your doctor immediately for clarification.

What Are The Dangers of Infant Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can sometimes be accompanied by vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, stomach pain/cramp, or a bloated stomach. If vomiting accompanies diarrhoea, your baby may experience rapid fluid loss.

This can lead to dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses water faster than it can replace. It is accompanied by mineral loss and electrolyte imbalance.

Dehydration in infants is very dangerous and may be life-threatening if it is not countered quickly. Severe health problems may arise if your child is dehydrated.

Signs to Watch Out For

* Dry mouth
* Extreme thirst
* Sunken soft spot on top of baby’s head
* Dry, cool skin
* Sunken eyes
* Absence of tears when crying.

Consult your doctor if diarrhoea in your baby persists for more than 48 hours or if you notice any of the above symptoms.

Do not give medication to stop diarrhoea in your baby unless it is prescribed by the doctor. If your baby is experiencing mild to moderate dehydration, you can give him oral rehydration solutions (ORS) in small and frequent amounts to replace loss of fluids and minerals.

Zinc supplements may also be given by the doctor. Please ask your doctor for more information.

Know More About Rotavirus

In Malaysia, a study carried out in Hospital Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak General Hospital found that Rotavirus was the infective agent in 49% of the total number of children hospitalised for diarrhoea.

Rotavirus is a wheel-like virus and is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis. Rotavirus gastroenteritis is the most common cause of diarrhoea among children under the age of five years.

If your baby is infected, he may also experience abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills.

The Rotavirus enters the body through the mouth, usually after consumption of contaminated food or water. Rotavirus gastroenteritis results in inflammation of your baby's intestinal lining as the virus replicates there. The virus causes damage to the villus, where nutrient absorption occurs. It impairs your baby's body's ability to absorb sodium, glucose, and water.

Prevention

The best way to protect your baby against Rotavirus is by giving him a vaccine during early infancy. It is given orally and the goal of this vaccine is to stimulate immunity from an early age so that your child's first encounter with Rotavirus will only cause a mild infection, or one without symptoms.


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World Alzheimer's Day on Sept 21

This year's flurry of educational events held in conjunction with World Alzheimer's Day will take place in over 50 countries and focus on : 'Diagnosing Dementia : See It Sooner'.

Why is early detection important? Because Alzheimer's is incurable, but appropriate care and medical treatment can slow its progression and improve patient quality of life.



The sooner it is detected, the sooner intervention can take place, and the better the outcome for patients, caregivers, and the community at large.

Stages of Alzheimer

Alzheimer is the most common cause of dementia (the loss of control of conscious mental processes) among older people, but it is not part of the normal ageing process.

In Alzheimer, nerve cells in the brain progressively die. At the same time, the brain produces less of the chemicals that allow nerves to communicate with each other.

As the parts of the brain typically affected first are those that store and retrieve new information, memory is usually affected first. Early stage patients may also experience difficulty in finding the right words and mood swings. Do not dismiss these symptoms as part and parcel of old age!

Later stage patients may suffer deeper lapses of memory and have difficulty understanding what they are told. They may forget daily living skills, undergo personality changes, or appear indifferent to those around them.

Advanced stage patients may become unable to speak, walk, and eat independently. Some lose their sense of time and place, and may wander off with no idea where they are headed or recollection of how they got there. Some lose their inhibitions and sense of propriety, and may undress in public or make inappropriate sexual advances.

Some drugs can slow disease progression and alleviate symptoms like depression, paranoia, insomnia, and hallucinations. But loving care, patience, understanding, and a safe, stable environment are what a patient needs most.

What You Can Do

* Attend a talk to learn more.

* Watch A Cup of Tea, a (very) short film produced by Alzheimer's Disease International at globalcharter.org/film.

* Contribute to Alzheimer's care. For example, at the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation Malaysia (ADFM) two centres, RM30/day pays one person's way, covering meals, daily activities, staff salaries, and maintenance.

Sign the Global Alzheimer’s Disease Charter if you feel all governments should promote awareness and understanding of Alzheimer’s; respect the human rights of people with the disease; recognise caregivers; provide patient access to health and social care; stress the importance of optimal treatment after diagnosis; and increase prevention by improving public health.


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