Is Hyd's air safe? nobody knows!

Is Hyd's air safe? nobody knows!

HYDERABAD: Is Hyderabad's air safe to breathe? Maybe, maybe not. Courtesy the complete disparity in air quality data provided by different monitoring stations, there is absolutely no clarity on just how polluted (or unpolluted) he city's air is.

Case in point: January 15, 2016 air quality index (AQI) measured by the many agencies working in this area.While SAFAR (System of Air quality , Weather Forecasting and Research), a Government of India-recognized institute, put Hyderabad's AQI at 80 - which is `goodsatisfactory' by its standards - a wellknown international portal, aqicn.org, declared on its website that the city's air was c l e a rl y " u n healthy". The AQI figure, ac cording to them was 158, which implied that "everyone may begin to experience health effects, members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects". Worse, Plume Labs - a French company best known for real-time monitoring of air quality worldwide - concluded that Hyderabad, on that particular day , was very highly polluted according to thr AQI that read 105. "This means that the air reaches a very high level of pollution.May have harmful effects even in case of short exposure," its mobile-based app explained.

If that's not enough, our own Telangana State Pol lution Control Board (TSP CB) only fur ther added to the confu sion by giving out not one but four different AQI readings from four different locations. If the AQI at Sanathnagar, on January 15, stood at 85 (which is `satisfactory'), the same near the Nehru Zoological Park was 109 - indicating `moderate' pollution levels. The other two stations -University of Hyderabad and Punjagutta - too fell within `moderate' limits with an AQI of 99 and 94 respectively . Strangely, however, PCB recordings were seen fluctuating through the day -from `satisfactory' (i.e. 51 to 100) and `poor' (i.e. between 201 and 300) at all these locations. Befuddled? That's not without reason, admit experts. In fact, ruing the many loopholes in the monitoring system they point out how these starkly different readings are rooted in the different methods used by these agencies to calculate the AQI of a certain city .

If some, for instance, base their readings on PM2.5 levels (comprising extremely minute particles that can stick to the tissues of the lungs, if inhaled) some others exclusively take into consideration PM10 levels -minute particles in the air that are less harmful. A few, on the other hand, use both the parameters that automatically push the recorded pollution levels upwards.

Then there is also the issue of aggregating the readings of multiple locations within the city to ascertain the health of its air. "Air quality differs at locations within a city at different times of the day and can also vary as per the parameters taken into account.One cannot say that the air quality of a city is safe or not going by an average - because of the wide range of AQI recordings. Also there might be pockets in the city that are less polluted than other areas that are severely polluted or are over the danger mark," explained Sumit Sharma, research scientist with New Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Making similar observations, experts at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), called for a "standardization of monitoring and rating" by the central government so as to be able to accurately record the pollution levels of a city. "This confusion is becoming an issue.There needs to be a standardized method of monitoring and rating to correct this disparity . Also, a city requires a minimum of nine real-time monitoring stations that cover pollution hotspots and high population density areas," said Vivek Chattopadhyay, programme head, air pollution team at CSE.

At present, Hyderabad has 22 manual and only four realtime AQI monitoring stations that cover the city spread over 7,100 square kilometres (i.e.HMDA limits).

While admitting to the limitations of their "outdated equipment", PCB officials said that they are planning to upgrade their systems soon."At the manual stations we are not monitoring PM 2.5 as the equipment does not support its reading. By February we are likely to install eight new real-time monitoring equipm e n t , " s a i d R av i n d e r N, senior scientist, TSPCB.

 

Zika virus is ‘spreading explosively’, says UN health chief

Zika virus is ‘spreading explosively’, says UN health chief 

Zika, Zika outbreak, Zika virus, what is Zika, zika in America, Zika total cases, zika infection, Zika mosquito, Zika reason, Zika medicine, Zika treatment, Zika symptoms

The Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas, which could see up to 4 million cases over the next year, international health officials said Thursday, announcing a special meeting next week to decide if they should declare an international health emergency.

The warning from the World Health Organization came amid a call to arms by officials on both sides of the Atlantic over the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to a spike in a rare birth defect in Brazil.

Brazil’s president — noting there is no medical defense against the infection — called for a crusade against the mosquitoes spreading it.

“As long as we don’t have a vaccine against Zika virus, the war must be focused on exterminating the mosquito’s breeding areas,” said President Dilma Rousseff.

The U.N. health agency called the special session in part to convey its concern about an illness that has sown fear among many would-be mothers. It may also have acted quickly because the agency was criticized for its slow response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials said Thursday while they have not yet seen spread of the disease in the 50 states, the number of U.S. travelers infected over the last year in the Caribbean or Latin America has climbed to 31.

The Zika virus was first discovered in Africa in 1947. But until last year, when it was found in Brazil, it had never been a threat in the Western Hemisphere.

The virus causes no more than a mild illness in most people. But there is mounting evidence from Brazil suggesting infection in pregnant women is linked to abnormally small heads in their babies — a birth defect called microcephaly.

Earlier this month, U.S. health officials advised pregnant women to postpone visits to Brazil and other countries in the region with outbreaks.

“For the average American who’s not traveling, this is not something they need to worry about,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But “for people who are pregnant and considering travel to the affected areas, please take this seriously,” she added. “It’s very important for you to understand that we don’t know as much as we want to know about this yet.”

In Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan noted it had been less than a year since the virus arrived in the Americas, “where it is now spreading explosively.”

Although there is no definitive proof that the Zika virus is behind the spike in brain defects in Brazil, “the level of alarm is extremely high,” she added.

“The possible links, only recently suspected, have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions,” Chan said.

Researchers are also looking into a potential tie between Zika infections and cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can cause temporary paralysis.

According to the CDC, the Zika virus is now in more than 20 countries, transmitted by the same mosquito that spreads other tropical illnesses such as dengue and yellow fever.

Sylvain Aldighieri, head of WHO’s epidemic response team in the Americas, estimated there could be 3 million to 4 million Zika infections in the region over the next year. He said the agency expects “huge numbers” of infections because of the widespread presence of the Aedes mosquitoes that spread Zika and because people in the region have no natural immunity.

The same mosquito species spreading Zika in Latin America is also found in the southern United States. However, U.S. health officials reiterated Thursday they don’t think the United States is vulnerable to a widespread outbreak of the Zika virus.

WHO warned China and all other countries that have dengue fever to be on the lookout for Zika infections. The agency said it could be many years before a vaccine is available and it might take six to nine months before there’s any data showing a causal relationship between Zika and the babies born with malformed heads.

Monday’s special session does not guarantee that a global emergency will be declared — WHO has held 10 such meetings to assess the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus and no emergency has been announced.

Declaring a global emergency is akin to an international SOS signal and usually brings more money and action to address an outbreak. The last such emergency was announced for the devastating 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which eventually ending up killing over 11,000 people. Polio was declared a similar emergency the year before.

Marcos Espinal, WHO’s director of infectious diseases in the Americas region, said Brazil is conducting studies to determine if there is scientific evidence that Zika virus causes birth defects and neurological problems. More than 4,000 suspected cases have been reported in Brazil since October. However, tests so far have shown hundreds of them were not microcephaly.

Brazilian authorities estimate the country could have up to 1 million Zika infections by now. Most infected people don’t get sick and those who do mostly suffer mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.

The outbreak has mostly been in the poor and underdeveloped northeast, but the prosperous southeast, where Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are located, is the nation’s second hardest-hit region. Rio de Janeiro is of special concern, since it will host the Aug. 5-21 Summer Olympic games that are expected to be attended by millions from around the world.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the fact the Olympics will be held in August — during Brazil’s winter — could limit Zika’s impact on the games. Cooler weather tends to cut down mosquito populations.

Earlier this week, officials in Rio ramped up their fight against the mosquitoes that spread Zika, dispatching fumigators to the Sambadrome, where the city’s Carnival parades will take place next month.

There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika, which is in the same family of viruses as dengue. Scientists have struggled for years to develop a dengue vaccine; the first such shot made by Sanofi Pasteur was licensed last year in Brazil.

 

Health experts demand pictorial warnings on junk food

Health experts demand pictorial warnings on junk food

Health experts have demanded pictorial and health warnings on junk food and detailed information for consumers about what goes into the food they buy and the effect it can have on their health.

A panel of experts formed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), comprising doctors from AIIMS, experts from Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and dieticians from National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad have proposed pictorial warnings on fast and junk food.

The panel was constituted six months ago to look at the prevalence and data on consumption of high fat, sugar and salt and make recommendations. The final report will be out in February.

"We have recommended pictorial warnings on junk foods like chips, colas, pizzas, burgers or health warnings saying that this product contain fat and salt in excess of what is recommended or even a picture of liver may be on pack indicating that consuming them may led to fatty liver in children and adults," said Dr Vandana Jain, Additional Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at AIIMS, who is also a member of the panel.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), effective population-based childhood obesity prevention strategies include restrictions on marketing of unhealthy food (biscuits and potato chips, for instance) and non-alcoholic beverages (soft/carbonated drinks) to children.

Children having fatty liver are at risk of liver cirrhosis and end stage liver disease and may require liver transplantation later in their life. Obese children also experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, insulin resistance and low self esteem.

AIIMS in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have also conducted a study to look at the prevalence of fatty liver in overweight adolescents aged 10 to 15 years.

The study included 220 overweight children, who visited AIIMS' Paediatric Department with obesity and other related problems. Their parents were also enrolled in the study.

"We conducted blood tests, ultrasounds and other tests and 62.5 per cent of the children were found to have fatty liver and 65 per cent of the mothers had fatty liver while among the fathers, 69 per cent have fatty liver.

"62.5 per cent is a very big number which we never expected. When we began the study we thought may be 40 per cent will have fatty liver because even if we go by adult data, it shows that only 60-65 per cent overweight adults develop fatty liver.

"So we thought children would not have that much, they are at risk and may develop sometime later, but we were surprised to see that many of them already have fatty livers," Jain said.

She said it was not only because of genetics. As a part of the study, they tested blood samples of 100 more healthy lean adults aged between 40 and 60 years to study the gene connection.

"Parents and child do not just share the genes, they also share the environment, they also share the same lifestyle, same food habits and that is more responsible. So both genes and environment are responsible," she said.

Fifty per cent of the children had mild fatty liver while the parents had moderate to severe fatty liver.

Twenty per cent children had hypertension and 60 per cent suffered from deranged lipid profile. 10 per cent children also had impaired fasting glucose and insulin resistance was prevalent in 33 per cent which means their chances of

developing Type II diabetes are high.

According to experts, those who eat fast food consume more fats, sugars and carbohydrates and fewer fruits and non-starchy vegetables and thus end up consuming high calories.

Junk food is also linked to depression, obesity, the early onset of diabetes and heart disease etc.

India faces serious health crisis over rising resistance to antibiotics

India faces serious health crisis over rising resistance to antibiotics

Pooja Malhotra can't remember the number of times she has been prescribed antibiotics for a simple cold and cough. The 23-year-old says that many of her friends and family have, like her, blindly popped antibiotics for years without knowing that they are not required to treat coughs and colds. Prescribing antibiotics has become common place among medicine practitioners in India, and is a leading factor contributing to rising antibiotic resistance in the country, say health experts.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotic resistance causes people to become sick for longer periods and increases the risk of death. For example, people with MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) bacteria are 64 per cent more likely to die than people with a non-resistant form of the infection.

Recent data studies have revealed a six-fold increase in the number of antibiotics being popped by Indians. Effective and inexpensive antibiotics like ciprofoxcillin, septran, ampicillin, amoxicillin, roxythromycin and chloramphenicol are now useless in most cases as bacteria have developed resistance to these, says Dr Shrirang Bichu, a nephrologist at Bombay Hospital. "In fact, many higher antibiotics like cefuroxime, ceftriaxone, pipracillin and cefoperazone are also becoming ineffective in most cases. If left uncontrolled, a time will soon come when we will be left with no effective antibiotics."

Passing the bug

Dr Camilla Rodrigues, consultant microbiologist and chairperson of the Infection Control Committee at PD Hinduja Hospital, revealed that antibiotic resistance in India is rising because of the absence of good sanitation in community and hospitals. "Every stakeholder needs to act responsibly if we have to control antibiotic resistance. Whether it is a farmer or someone dealing with livestock or a doctor — everyone is using antibiotics without thinking about the consequences," she says, adding that a person developing antibiotic resistance has widespread implications for society as s/he can spread the resistant bug to others.

Treating gram negative infections — which mostly affect hospitalised patients — is becoming difficult because the category of bacteria is evolving and becoming ever more immune to existing antibiotics, adds Dr Bichu.

Bacteria classified as gram-negative because of their reaction to the so-called gram stain test can cause severe pneumonia and infections of the urinary tract, bloodstream and other parts of the body. Their cell structure makes them resistant to attack with antibiotics than gram-positive organisms like MRSA. "Gram negative infections are a matter of immense concern. This not only leads to prolonged hospital stay but also leads to increased treatment cost," says Dr Om Shrivastava, infectious disease expert at Jaslok Hospital.

According to Dr Khusrav Bajan, an intensivist at Hinduja, "Community acquired pneumonia, urinary tract infections and typhoid are the three diseases whose treatment is most affected because of incidences of antibiotic resistance."

Stronger dose, longer recovery

Dr Indraneel Raut, chief intensivist at Jaslok Hospital, gave the example of a 48-year-old male patient who had been admitted to the hospital and was receiving immunosuppressive drugs because of a kidney transplant earlier. "He was admitted for pneumonia infection with a multi-drug resistant bacteria. He was treated with a higher-than-usual dose of antibiotics that finally cleared the infection from his lungs. We've been increasingly seeing more cases of antibiotic resistance," says Raut.

The hospital's microbiology department confirmed that resistance of klebsiella to carbapenem and third generation cephalosporins plus betalactamase inhibitor combination drugs has increased by approximately 20 per cent in 2015 as compared to in 2012.

"Resistance to aminoglycosides has increased by 22 per cent. However, resistance of gram positive bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus, towards the antibiotics has not increased significantly. This data is derived from patients coming from the community, transferred from other hospitals and immuno-compromised patients," says Dr Sonar Narula, consultant microbiologist at Jaslok.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has now included high-end antibiotics into Schedule H1 drug category wherein the chemist has to maintain a separate register to keep record of name and address of the prescriber, name of the patient, drug name, quantity, etc. In order to strengthen the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research has set up a National Anti-Microbial Resistance Research and Surveillance Network to enable compilation of national data of AMR.

Just 15% of head-injury victims make it

Just 15% of head-injury victims make it

Just 15% of head-injury victims make it (Getty Images)

ONly 15% of the patients with severe head injuries, who are discharged from hospital in an unconscious state, gain consciousness ever. The rest either die or remain in a vegetative state. This came to light after a follow-up of patients discharged from AIIMS Trauma Center from May 2010 to February 2013.Dr Deepak Agrawal, senior neurosurgeon, said a total of 1,525 patients were admitted to the centre during this period.The families were called after six months to check on the status of the patients, mostly the road accident victims.

"Of these, 166 (10.9%) were unconscious while being discharged from the hospital, 139 men and 27 women with a mean age of 33.9 years. Telephonic follow-up was available in 102 (61.4%) cases, and we found most of them had died or were still in a vegetative state," he said, adding that only 16 (15.7%) patients had a good outcome during six months following the injury.

In India, and particularly in Delhi, the incidence of road accidents are high and so is the number of people suffering from severe head injury, said doctors. "Road accidents are preventable and there is an urgent need to focus on awareness campaigns to ensure safety measures. But the government must also make provision for rehabilitation of terminally-ill patients so that their families do not have to suffer," said Dr Agrawal. Those patients who are discharged in an unconscious state are often particularly difficult to manage at home and are prone to bed sores, respiratory infections, inadequate nutrition and physiotherapy .

At the trauma centre, officials said there are 52 beds in the neurosurgery department. Of this, 20 to 30 are blocked by patients suffering from severe head or spinal injury. "Earlier, most head or spinal injury patients would die within days due to respiratory failure. With advancement in technology, it is possible to keep them alive and in some cases recovery of organ function has also been observed. However, we cannot block precious beds for years together in hope of a miracle," said a senior doctor.

But the families of such patients have a different story to tell. "My father, who is no more, remained in coma for four months after he met with an accident. The doctors at the private superspecialty hospital did tell us there was little hope and sent him home. But we could not have left him to die. We shifted him to another private hospital in Noida. If there was a social security system or rehabilitation plan from the government, it could have saved us from penury ," said Manish Kumar, a Noida resident.

Festival Route to Smoke out Youth from Tobacco

Festival Route to Smoke out Youth from Tobacco

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will collaborate with student unions in organising college festivals across the national capital with an anti-tobacco theme.

Starting from Shri Ram College of Commerce, the ministry will partially fund college festivals so that they include anti-smoking themes and special programmes to create awareness on the perils of smoking.

The initiative is part of the health ministry’s decision to completely redo its media campaign plan for controlling tobacco use, with data showing that youth and women are the biggest consumers of tobacco. Government estimates show that over 5,500 youth start using tobacco every day. A total of 34.6 per cent adults use tobacco in some form or the other, out of which 47.9 per cent are males and 20.3 per cent females.

Several tobacco control studies have revealed that 25.8 per cent women start tobacco use before they turn 15, while the average age of initiation of tobacco use for men is 17.8 years.

An amount of Rs 20 crore was allocated by the health ministry for tobacco control under its National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in 2015-16, a drastic cut from Rs 60 crore in 2014-15.

Tobacco use is responsible for the deaths of 1 in 10 adults (about five million deaths each year). A recent study in India estimated that cigarette and beedi smoking causes about 5 per cent of all deaths in women and 20 per cent of all deaths in men aged between 30 to 69 years.

The Most Stressed Out City in Every State

The Most Stressed Out City in Every State

Money is the single largest cause of stress in the United States, the richest country in the world. And while the economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, with aggregate income on the rise, many Americans face increasing debt burdens, stagnant wages, and rising poverty levels.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress levels of Americans are trending downward. However, just as income gaps have been growing, so has the gap between people who seem to manage stress well and those who do not.

In its latest annual review of stress in America, the APA identifies money and work as the two largest sources of stress of Americans, followed by the economy, family responsibilities, and personal health concerns. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a range of data in these categories in order to measure the likelihood of living in stress in each state’s urban areas.

The variation in stress levels do not vary much across the U.S. According to Lynn Bufka, psychologist at the APA, this could be due to the relatively high level and overall prevalence of stress. “People are going to experience stress no matter what,” she said

The underlying causes of stress do vary considerably between regions, however. The lack of variation of reported stress levels across the nation could therefore be due to the variety of coping strategies for dealing with stress, as well as the differences in how stress affects different demographics. Bufka added that for many people, a certain level of stress can actually be necessary to follow through on stated intentions and accomplish work.

Yet, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to manage stress. The APA has found that poor individuals are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors to manage their stress. Nearly three-quarters of Americans surveyed report feeling stressed about money at least sometimes, and nearly one-quarter report money concerns as causing stress on a regular basis.

Metropolitan areas are often some of the most expensive places to live in a state, and the most stressed areas tend to be less affordable. The affordability ratio calculates how much homeowners spend on their homes as a share of their total income — the higher the ratio, the less affordable the area. In all but four metro areas on this list, the affordability ratio is higher than the statewide ratio. Also, poverty in these areas is higher than it is in urban areas nationwide.

Americans tend to work longer hours than residents of other countries and the United States is the only developed country where paid time off is not guaranteed. Perhaps it is no surprise that work is the next most common source of stress after finances. Bufka explained that “cognitive ability to process new and challenging situations and analyze them realistically” are closely tied with stress levels. The resources and time available to accomplish something within a work group also dictate stress levels, Bufka added.

The typical American works approximately 35 hours per week. In the most stressed out cities in 34 states, the average weekly hours spent at work exceeds this amount.

High stress levels have tangible health consequences. First, unhealthy reactions to stress such as overeating can result in higher obesity rates, and in turn, worse health outcomes. In 29 of the 50 stressed out cities on this list, obesity rates are higher than the respective state figures.

A growing body of research is also connecting stress directly with premature death, depression, and lower productivity in the workplace. “Feeling stressed and overwhelmed diminishes our mental resources, diminishes our capacity to be flexible mentally, diminishes our ability to sort of generate new ideas, all of which we might need to think about how to manage our sources of stress,” Bufka said.

To identify the most stressed city in every state, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of data measuring the two most common sources of stress — money and work — in each state’s metropolitan areas. To capture money-related stress inputs we reviewed poverty rates, housing affordability, and food insecurity. For work-related stress inputs we included average weekly work hours, average daily commute times in hours, and annual unemployment rates. With the exception of food insecurity and unemployment rates, which came from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), respectively, all data used in the index came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey (ACS). The incidence of violent crime in each area comes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2014 Uniform Crime Report. All data are for the most recent periods available. While the potential consequences of stress were not considered in our index, they were reviewed in each state’s MSAs.

 

How Stress Affects Your Body

How Stress Affects Your Body

Every single one of us experiences stress. It's a fundamental part of life that we honestly couldn't live without.

Stress is your mind preparing to face challenge and is extremely beneficial in certain situations.

For example, if you were being chased by a tiger and the only way to survive was to think quickly and react immediately, being stressed would be a welcomed experience because the "fight or flight" state that stress places you in would heighten the senses.

Of course, most of us aren't getting chased by tigers very frequently and in everyday life stress can get out of hand and cause negative effects, this is the type of stress most of us refer to when we use the word.

So if stress is both good and bad for us I thought it would be important to answer a few questions:

What Exactly is Stress?

What Happens in the Body When We Experience Stress?

What Can We Do to Deal With Stress When it Gets Out of Control?

Here's what I found...

What Exactly is Stress?

In a Q&A session for BeWell@Stanford, professor of biological sciences and neuroscience, Robert Sapolsky responds to the question

"What is stress and is it always bad?"

If you're dealing with a species that is not very fancy cognitively, a stressor is only about physical challenge. But by the time you're dealing with smart species, a stressor can also be the anticipation that you're going to be physically challenged.

He continues to say...

But stress isn't always bad. When it's the right amount, we love it; we pay good money to be stressed in that way -- by the right scary movie or roller coaster ride, for example. We call the right amount of stress "stimulation." And it tends to be a stressor that isn't too severe, doesn't last for too long, and is in the context of a safe setting.

You can check out this article here: BeWell@Standford

Let's break it down, stress is something we need. It keeps us moving forward and keeps us safe in many situations.

It only becomes a problem when it gets out of hand. Stress puts a pretty big toll on our bodies and can lead to anxiety, fatigue, depression, and just a general lack of energy.

What Happens in the Body When We Experience Stress?

Brooke Borel broke down what stress does to the body in a 2015 article titled "What Happens to Your Body When You Are Stresed" on the website Popular Science.

Here's a summary of what she said:

Upon seeing a threat, the nervous system sends a message to your brain. The message goes straight to your amygdala which is the part of the brain that handles decision-making and emotions. The amygdala sends a message to the hypothalamus to start producing a particular hormone. At this point your nervous system starts to release adrenaline while the hypothalamus starts to produce cortisol.

Cortisol and epinephrine enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Once in the body, these cortisol and epinephrine connect to the proteins on our organs and tissues that have been designed to receive them.

The cortisol boosts our blood sugar and the epinephrine makes the heart pound faster in major muscles.

You are now in fight or flight.

Check out the full article here.

Now for those of us who experience unnecessary stress multiple times per day, or even on a daily basis, this process will very quickly burn up energy leaving us less focused, and less capable for the day.

On that note, how do we respond to this? We know that stress can sometimes be a good thing but when it gets out of hand what are some of the strategies we can use to deal with it?

What Can We Do to Deal With Stress When it Gets Out of Control?

In an article titled "Tips for Better Stress Management" by Steve Bressert, Ph.D., he says:

For stressors that are uncontrollable, the key is to adapt your response to the needs of the situation and/or manage your cognitive or emotional responses in order to minimize stress. For example:

Remind yourself that you successfully have handled similar situations in the past.

Reassure yourself that you will be fine regardless of what happens.

Find some humor in the situation.

Reward yourself afterward with something enjoyable.

These are just some of the techniques he suggests, so be sure to check out the article here.

Help Your Team Manage Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout

Help Your Team Manage Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout

jan16-21-dave-wheeler-health-and-stress-01

It can be tough enough to manage your own stress. But how can you, as a manager, help the members of your team handle their feelings of stress, burnout, or disengagement?

Because work is getting more demanding and complex, and because many of us now work in 24/7 environments, anxiety and burnout are not uncommon. In our high-pressure workplaces, staying productive and engaged can be challenging.

Although it’s unlikely that the pace or intensity of work will change much anytime soon, there’s a growing body of research that suggests certain types of development activities can effectively build the capacity for resilience.

One approach is to focus on employees’ personal growth and development. When I was working at Google as the director of executive development, for example, we focused on helping managers create the “happiest, healthiest, and most productive workforce on the planet.” Investing in employee personal growth and development from this perspective is the first step in unleashing creativity, enabling potential, and supporting sustainable productivity.

The good news is that there are some very practical and easy-to-implement approaches to personal development that managers and team members can adopt — and they aren’t time-, budget-, or resource-intensive. Here are some approaches to consider, based on the two decades I’ve spent working with managers to enhance team resilience and effectiveness.

Model and encourage well-being practices.  Worker stress levels are rising, with over half of the global workforce (53%) reporting that they are closer to burnout than they were just five years ago, according to a Regus Group survey of over 22,000 business people across 100 countries. And while stress can be contagious, the converse is also true: when any member of a team experiences well-being, the effect seems to spread across the entire team. According to a recent Gallup research report that surveyed 105 teams over six three-month periods, individual team members who reported experiencing well-being were 20% more likely to have other team members who also reported thriving six months later. Takeaway: understand and prioritize activities that promote well-being for yourself and your team. They could include such things as offering personal development tools, like mindfulness and resilience training; explicitly encouraging people to take time for exercise or other renewal activities, such as walking meetings; or building buffer time into deliverables calendars so that people can work flexibly and at a manageable pace.

Allow time to disconnect outside of work. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, workers around the world spend 34 to 48 hours at work each week on average, and many engage in work or related activities after business hours. McKinsey Quarterly suggests that “always-on, multitasking work environments are killing productivity, dampening creativity, and making us unhappy.” And one of the most significant findings in employee pulse surveys that I’ve seen in companies large and small is that employees have an exceptionally hard time disconnecting from work.

 

While the rigors of a high-performance culture may require consistent focus, “always on” is a dangerous and unproductive mindset because it fails to take recovery time into account. Even the best athletes on the best teams require time to rest and recover. So be intentional about when you expect team members (and yourself) to engage in the office or digitally, and be intentional and explicit about when not to engage. No emails after 8 PM or on weekends, for example.

 

Train the brain to deal with chaos. Neuroscience research shows that the practice of mindfulness can systematically train the brain and create useful mental habits that promote resilience and productivity at work (and in life). At Wisdom Labs, we notice that leaders and teams who train their brains to develop mindfulness collaborate better, navigate stress more effectively, and sustain high performance. You don’t have be an expert in mindfulness to help yourself and team members develop this innate human capacity. Technology can be helpful, too: Try out a few mindfulness apps or devices yourself, and pass them on. Good apps include Calm, Headspace, and the Muse.

Emphasize “monotasking” for better focus. Multitasking is a myth. Humans are not effective or efficient parallel processors (computers are). Neuroscientist, educational researcher, and author JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., notes that multitasking typically “doubles the amount of time it takes to do a task, and it usually at least doubles the number of mistakes.” People are best at “serial monotasking.” Managers can encourage monotasking by helping team members with clear, one-at-a-time task prioritization for deliverables, defining milestones that don’t overlap, and generally avoiding the trap of mistaking the urgent for the important.

Be purposeful about “gap” time during the work day, or slow periods over the course of the working year. Be deliberate about helping people pause and recharge during down cycles or lulls in work activity. If there are no down cycles, work hard as a manager to create some. According to Linda Stone, former head of Microsoft University, there is a tendency for people to be pulled toward always being a live node at work, an “always-on, anywhere, anytime, any place behavior” that results in suboptimal and dissatisfying state of “continuous partial attention.” Give people buffer time to recharge and refocus.

Author and management consultant Tony Schwartz suggests that managers understand work is not a marathon but a series of sprints that requires recovery and renewal time in between (say, 90 minutes of focused work followed by a 10-minute break). It’s not the number of hours people work that matters, it’s the value they produce during the hours they work. So stop worrying about how many hours someone spends at his desk, and start figuring out “What can I do to help this person design his schedule so that when he’s working, he’s really working?”

Exercise empathy and compassion. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind, and the benefits for managers are great. Empathy and compassion significantly improve employee performance, engagement, and profitability. A seminal research project at the University of New South Wales, which looked at 5,600 people across 77 organizations, found that “the single greatest influence on profitability and productivity within an organization…is the ability of leaders to spend more time and effort developing and recognizing their people, welcoming feedback, including criticism, and fostering co-operation among staff.” Additionally, the research found that the ability of a leader to be compassionate – “to understand people’s motivators, hopes, and difficulties and to create the right support mechanism to allow people to be as good as they can be” – has the greatest correlation with profitability and productivity. Empathy and compassion are good for people and good for business.

What kind of return on investment can managers expect for these efforts? At Aetna Insurance, more than 12,000 employees participating in mindfulness programs offered by the company showed an average of 62 minutes per week of enhanced productivity, saving the company $3,000 per employee annually. More generally, an iOpener Institute study found that in mid-sized companies, happy workplaces had a 46% reduction in turnover, 19% reduction in the cost of sick leave, and 12% increase in performance and productivity. The happiest employees spent 46% more of their time focused on work tasks and felt 65% more energized than their colleagues. Finally, at a macro level, research by HR consultancy Towers Watson found that companies in which employees experienced sustainable engagement, defined as emotional engagement as well as a sense of being enabled and energized by work, had twice the earnings and nearly three times the gross profit of companies that had average to low levels of engagement.

You may be asking yourself, “Is it really my job as a manager to focus on people’s resilience? To encourage them to practice mindfulness?” According to recent research published by Gallup, the view that employees should leave their personal lives at home “might sound sensible, but it’s totally unrealistic.” Gallup analysis shows that “our well-being has an impact on the people we work with, and on the people who work for us.” Managers, therefore, really do need to focus on what Monika Broecker, founder of the Center for Personal Growth, describes as “upgrading mental and emotional capabilities.”

The bottom line for managers is that personal development makes each person, and the entire team, better, enabling higher performance and engagement over time. Doing well at work and encouraging people to feel well isn’t just possible — it’s the foundation of a high-performance team.

Not all patients need transplant: Docs

Not all patients need transplant: Docs

Not all patients need transplant: Docs (Getty Images)

As  transplant procedures gain momentum across the country, doctors are beginning to increasingly rely on donor organs to save lives. Not everyone needs the cut, or a new organ, said senior white-coats, expressing concern over the rise in such surgeries.

Around 600 liver surgeons congregated in the city on Friday to discuss diagnosis and treatment of acute liver failure, a condition often related with liver transplantation. "Only 30% of these patients would really need a donor organ, the rest can be treated with proper medical intervention," said Dr Mohamed Rela, Director, Institute of Liver diseases and Transplantation, Global Hospitals.

Acute liver failure is caused by overdose of certain medication, Hepatitis and other viruses, herbal supplements, autoimmune and metabolic diseases. Dr Rela observed that most doctors are in a dilemma whether to do a transplant or not. "Although we do have a set of guidelines to ascertain patients who need a donor organ, they are not strictly followed," he said.

From 2008 to 2015, 573 livers were harvested in Tamil Nadu from cadaver donors, with 147 being donated in 2015 alone. Julia Wendon, Senior Hepatologist and consultant Intensive Care at King's College, London, said a needless transplant procedure could put an otherwise healthy person on lifelong immuno suppressants.

"King's college in the early 90's came out with a criteria to decide on when to do a transplant," said Dr Wendon.

"In the UK, a patient is assessed by a group of specialists at multiple levels before the nod is given," Dr Wendon, who has been actively campaigning against unnecessary transplant procedures, said "with close to 80% of the liver being donated by live donors, several ethical issues come to the fore as well. There is a lot of pressure on the donor."

"The recipient may be a close family member and the donor may feel it's their obligation to donate," said Dr Rela.