Articles on world tuberculosis day

Tuberculosis: Correct Diagnosis and Treatment Can Save Lives

Dr. Madhukar Pai
Posted on World TB Day, by:Madhukar Pai, MD, PhDDirector, McGill Global Health Programs, Montreal, CanadaTB is an ancient disease that has plagued humans for centuries. Today, India alone accounts for a quarter of all TB cases in the world. Over 2.2 million new TB cases occur every year and TB kills nearly 900 people every day in India. The emergence of severe forms of drug resistant TB has worsened the situation, especially in cities like Mumbai.TB is caused by bacteria that are spread from person to person through the air. Long-term cough and fever are the most important symptoms of TB. When a person with TB coughs, TB bacteria get expelled into the air. The bacteria can then get inhaled by another person who can become newly infected. TB usually affects the lungs,but it can also affect other parts of the body. TB can affect adults and children, and can affect people from all walks of life. Persons with HIV infection and AIDS are particularly prone to getting TB.The positive news is that TB is treatable and curable. However, unlike most common infectious diseases (e.g. malaria or pneumonia) that require a few days of antibiotic treatment, TB requires several antibiotics and 6 months of treatment. Otherwise, TB bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics. Multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) refers to TB that is resistant to rifampicin and isoniazid, two of the most critical first-line antibiotics used to treat TB.Accurate diagnosis: the first key stepBecause TB is a curable disease, it is very important to accurately diagnose the disease and to do it early, before severe lung damage occurs, and before other people in the community are infected.All individuals with cough for more than 2 weeks must seek care early and get their sputum tested for TB. Sadly, many persons with chronic cough do not seek medical care,and this results in long delays before a diagnosis is made. Sputum testing can involve microscopic examination for the TB bacteria, culture to grow the bacteria in a tube, or newer molecular tests that multiply and detect TB DNA. GeneXpertis the biggest new advance in TB detection. It is a highly accurate, molecular test that has been endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). This technology is completely automated and can rapidly detect TB as well as drug-resistant TB within 2 hours (photograph). Over 16 million GeneXpert tests have been done globally.Thanks to the Initiative for Promoting Affordable and Quality TB tests (www.ipaqt.org), led by the Clinton Foundation, it is now widely available in over 100 labs across India at prices that are 50% less than the market price. Through the IPAQT initiative other WHO-approved TB tests such as liquid culture are also available at subsidised rates.Correct and regular treatment can save livesIf TB is diagnosed, the most important thing a patient can do to is to take all of their medications exactly as prescribed by their doctor. No doses should be missed and treatment should not be stopped early, even if the patients feel better. Patients who cannot afford to buy drugs in the private sector must seek treatment in the public sector where drugs are available free of cost.Doctors have an important role to play in ensuring that their TB patients are treated correctly. Doctors must follow recommended treatment guidelines, monitor patients’ response to treatment, and make sure therapy is completed. Doctors should also avoid starting anti-TB drug treatment without doing any laboratory testing to confirm the disease. If TB is confirmed, they should start treatment promptly and follow Standards for TB Care in India.For regular, drug-sensitive TB, a standard 4-drug treatment must be started, and the total duration of treatment must not be less than 6 months. Drug-resistance usually happens when patients do not complete their full course of treatment; when doctors prescribe the wrong treatment, the wrong dose, or length of time for taking the drugs.If drug-resistance is suspected, it should be confirmed using laboratory tests such as GeneXpert and liquid culture. For drug-resistant TB, second-line drug treatment must be started, and the total duration of treatment must be at least 2 years. Treatment for MDR-TB can be very expensive in the private sector, and such patients can access free treatment in specialized public hospitals that can treat MDR-TB patients.With correct diagnosis and complete treatment, TB can be cured and loss of life averted.Importantly, this will also help control the spread of this deadly infection.

How Is Tuberculosis Diagnosed?

Dr. Madhukar Pai
Dr Madhukar Pai, MD, PhDDirector, McGill GlobalHealth Programs, McGill University, Montreal, CanadaAssociate Director,McGill International TB CentreIndia alone accounts for a quarter of all TB cases in the world. Over 2.2 million new TB cases occur every year and TB kills nearly 900 people every day in India. The emergence of severe forms of drug-resistant TB has worsened the situation, especially in cities like Mumbai.TB is a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. While TB most affects the lungs, it can affect other parts of the body as well (e.g. lymph nodes, skin, bones, abdomen,urinary tract, nervous system).When should we worry about TB?All persons with otherwise unexplained productive cough lasting two weeks or more, or with unexplained chronic fever and/or weight loss should be tested for TB. Apart from chronic cough and fever, TB causes weight loss, loss of appetite, and tiredness. Night sweats can also occur.What tests are acceptable for TB diagnosis and what samples should be collected?Sputum is the ideal specimen to collect for pulmonary TB. All patients suspected of having pulmonary TB should have at least two sputum specimens submitted for microscopic examination and/or a World Health Organization (WHO) approved molecular test such as Xpert MTB/RIF (also called GeneXpert). Liquid culture is very useful in diagnosing smear-negative TB,and drug-resistant TB.Where are these TB tests available?In the public sector,sputum smears are widely available in designated microscopy centers and DOTS centers. GeneXpert is also available in the public sector, at the district level. Cultures are only available at reference hospitals and medical colleges.All TB tests are free in the public sector.In the private sector,tests such as GeneXpert, liquid cultures and line probe assays are available atmore affordable prices via the Initiative  for Promoting Affordable, Quality TBtests (www.ipaqt.org). More than 115 accredited labs are part of the IPAQTnetwork.What about chest X-rays?Chest radiography is useful but cannot provide a conclusive diagnosis on its own, and needs to be followed by sputum testing. Abnormal X-rays do suggest TB, but other lung conditions can also produce abnormalities on radiography. So, only relying on chest x-ray can result in over-diagnosis. Tuberculosis can only be confirmed by microbiological tests such as sputum smear microscopy, GeneXpert, and cultures.So, it is very important to order sputum tests that can directly detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis.What about blood test sand skin tests?There is no accurate blood test for active TB at this time.  There is no clinical role for blood-based antibody tests (e.g. IgG/IgM ELISA or rapid tests) and interferon-gamma release assays (e.g. TB Gold). They are not accurate and should not be used for pulmonary TB diagnosis.The Mantoux (tuberculin)skin test cannot distinguish latent TB infection from active TB disease, and has no utility for diagnosing pulmonary TB in adults. It has clinical utility in children, along with other tests such as chest x-ray, smears, and clinical history. Tests like Mantoux and TB Gold were designed to detect latent infection, and cannot separate latency from active disease.How is drug-resistant TB diagnosed?Drug-resistance testing can be done using two methods: genotypic and phenotypic. Genotypic methods are based on molecular tests that detect mutations in TB bacteria that confer drug-resistance. For example, mutations in the rpoB gene of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is strongly associated with rifampicin resistance. Examples of genotypic tests include Xpert MTB/RIF (GeneXpert), and Hain Genotype MTBDRplus (a commercial line probe assay). Phenotypic methods are based on detection of culture growth with and without TB drugs added to the culture media. Phenotypic methods include solid and liquid cultures. While solid cultures can take up to 2 months, liquid cultures (e.g. MGIT culture) can produce useful results within 2 weeks. All of these tests are available via the IPAQT network of private laboratories. They can also be accessed for free in the public/government TB program.

Tuberculosis Control Requires New Technologies and Approaches

Dr. Madhukar Pai
Professor Madhukar Pai, MD, PhDDirector, McGill Global HealthProgramsAssociate Director, McGill International TB CentreMontreal, CanadaAlthough much effort has gone into TB control, reduction in incidence has been disappointingly slow. India is a good example. Although India’s Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) covers the entire country, and has met the 2015 targets, India continues to report over 2 million cases every year, and accounts for 1 of the 3 million ‘missing cases’ that are either not diagnosed, or not reported. One reason behind the observed lack of rapid reduction in TB incidence is the inability of programmes to rapidly diagnose and treat persons with TB, before the infection is transmitted to others. In India, a typical TB patient is diagnosed after a delay of about 2 months, and after having seen three different doctors. This underscores the importance of early diagnosis, of engaging private and informal sectors where patients often seek care, and suggests that more intensive efforts are necessary to identify the mission million patients each year.To control TB in India andelsewhere, we need new technologies (including novel tests and drugs), newpolicies, and new healthcare delivery models. We also need TB champions who canadvocate for more resources.New technologiesTB cannot be eliminated using tools that were developed decades ago. Most developing countries, including India, still rely on the sputum microscopy test. This method is more than a century old, and can only detect half of all TB cases. Furthermore, it cannot detect drug-resistance, which is a growing threat in India. Thankfully, new, accurate diagnostics for TB are finally here and are being implemented in India.The GeneXpert test is a rapid molecular test that can detect TB as well as drug-resistance within 2 hours. It is now being scaled up for TB diagnosis (pulmonary as well as extrapulmonary) and drug-resistance detection and over 16 million tests have been used globally. In India, this technology is being used in the RNTCP (which recently purchased 500 GeneXpert systems) as a rapid drug-susceptibility test, along with other WHO-endorsed tools like line probe assays and liquid cultures. In the private sector, these WHO-approved tests are now more affordable and accessible via the Initiative for Promoting Affordable and Quality TB Tests (IPAQT www.ipaqt.org).The IPAQT network has over 115 private, accredited laboratories across India,where WHO-approved TB tests such as GeneXpert and line probe assays are available at nearly 50% the market price. Currently used TB drugs were developed more than 40 years ago. The past couple of years has seen some breakthroughs in new drug development. Bedaquiline, a new drug to treat adults with MDR-TB, is the first new TB drug approved in over 40 years. Another new drug called Delamanid has also been introduced. In addition, efforts are underway to evaluate drug combinations (e.g. combinations containing PA-824, moxifloxacin and pyrazinamide) and these are expected to shorten duration of TB treatment from 6 to 4 months. Shortening TB treatment to even 4 months will increase cure rates, improve adherence, and reduce the risk of drug resistance. Currently, these new drugs are not freely available in India. It is important for India to streamline its regulatory and policy process, so that new drugs can reach the patients who desperately need them.New policies and standardsRecently, two majorstandards were published – the 3rd edition of the International Standards for TB Care (ISTC), and the first edition of the Standards for TB Care in India (STCI). These policy documents are based on the most current evidence, and already incorporate new tools like GeneXpert and newer WHO recommendations on treatment (e.g. acceptance of both daily and thrice-weekly intermittent regimens). These standards aim to inform physicians about the best approaches to TB detection, treatment and follow-up, and their acceptance and widespread use should reduce mismanagement of TB. In India, research studies show that most private practitioners do not follow international or national standards. This can result in poor quality of care, and increase risk of drug-resistance. Indeed, cities such as Mumbai are already dealing with a widespread problem of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), and even more severe forms of drug-resistance. Thus, it is important to educate the large number of private practitioners about STCI, and to check whether they are following the standards. A new TB book, aimed at private doctors, is now freely available at www.letstalktb.org New healthcare delivery modelsNew tools and new policies will need to reach patients who need them the most. This brings up the relevance of new business models and delivery innovations that can make quality care more affordable and accessible to patients at the base of the pyramid. TB patients need a complete and patient-centric solution, regardless of where they seek care(public or private). Engagement of the private sector for TB control is a key area where newer care delivery models are urgently needed. There are many good reasons topartner with the private sector for TB control. First, half of all patients with TB seek care in the private and informal sectors, and private practitioners (including informal and AYUSH practitioners) are often the first contact care providers. Many patients begin seeking care in the informal private sector, including chemists and unqualified practitioners. So, if we want to diagnose TB early and prevent further transmission, then engagement of such first-contact private providers is the critical. For example, India has over 8 lakh chemists, and many of them directly dispense medications for persons with classic tuberculosis symptoms. If chemists can be educated and engaged to refer such persons for TB testing, they could become a great source of active case finding.Second, there is plenty of evidence that quality of TB care in the private sector is suboptimal. Private doctors prefer blood rather than sputum tests for TB (e.g. TB Gold and TB Platinum) tha thave not been recommended by ISTC or STCI. Even if diagnosis is made correctly,TB treatment in the private sector is highly variable with a variety of irrational drug regimens, formulations and dosages. So, it is important for private practitioners to follow international and national guidelines and use the correct drugs and regimens.Third, even if the correct TB treatment is started, adherence is not guaranteed. All TB patients must complete the full course of treatment. Otherwise, outcomes can be poor. Thus,in the private sector, there is a need create systems to support patients during therapy. Mobile phones may be particularly helpful to send reminders to TB patients, and to make sure they come back for follow-up visits. Fourth, engagement of the private sector is necessary to increase rates of TB case notification. Since 2012, it is mandatory for all TB cases in the country to be notified to local health authorities (e.g. district TB officers). Unfortunately, most private practitioners and private hospitals still do not notify TB cases. Fifth and last, engagement of the private sector is critical to detect drug-resistance and ensure that all patients with drug-resistant disease have access to free second-line treatment that is available in the public sector. If patients cannot afford TB drugs, they should be referred to the public sector.In India, there are good examples of innovative and affordable models in healthcare – from artificial limbs (Jaipur foot), to affordable cataract (e.g. Aravind eye care system in Madurai) and heart surgeries (Narayana Health in Bangalore). There are novel models in the area of TB care as well, including Private Provider Interface Agency (PPIA) models in Mehsana, Mumbai and Patna, and Initiative for Promoting Affordable and Quality TB Tests (IPAQT). These models have used product and process innovations to serve the base of the pyramid.Currently, a Private Provider Interface Agency (PPIA) model is ongoing in Mumbai and Patna, to assess whether interface agencies can aggregate and incentivize private providers,educate them on STCI, improve quality of care and increase case notifications. Another project in Mehsana, Gujarat, is exploring the model of free drug vouchers for patients who are privately managed. These projects have provided free TB drugs to privately treated patients, helped increase notifications, and have also helped improve treatment completion rates. Another project is the Initiative for Promoting Affordable, Quality TB tests (IPAQT), a private lab network that has increased access to accurate diagnostics at lower costs. The government could evaluate these projects, and scale-up aspects that have worked well.Advocating for increased resourcesLastly, we need much more resources for TB control. Otherwise, new technologies and policies cannot be implemented at the scale required. In particular, the RNTCP desperately requires a substantially higher budget, if it has to deliver on the objectives laid out in the ambitious National Strategic Plan, which aims for “Universal Access.” Spending on health itself needs to be increased, given how little India invests in health. Without adequate financial resources, no program can tackle TB. Advocacy, is therefore, crucial –to raise public awareness, and to inspire political leadership. In the past year, TB advocacy has received a tremendous boost. In October of 2014, Satyamev Jayate, anchored by Mr Aamir Khan, featured an entire episode on TB. In December 2014, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan became an ambassador for TB control. A TB survivor himself, Mr Bachchan has featured in a wonderful ad campaign called TB Harega, Desh Jeetega (See YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MiEQ1sqaDE). These are very positive signs, and will hopefully attract increased governmental and private investments in TB control.

World Obesity Day- Let's Pledge to Fight Against it!

Ms. Raminder Kaur Deshmukh, Dietitian/Nutritionist
World obesity day is observed on the 11th of October. In the recent times, obesity has become a major problem. This is a problem which comes  with many serious effects on the individual, society, and the country.4 MAIN CAUSES OF OBESITY:DIET: One of the main causes of obesity is diet. people eat more and more high carbohydrate and high fatty foods. Some of the traditional foods like puri, halwa, etc are also very oily and because of increasing affluence they eat more.LIFESTYLE: Second major cause is lifestyle. Due to sedentary job, hectic lifestyle people do not get enough time to exercise regularly. Due to this they tend to gain weight.GENETIC AND MEDICAL ISSUE: Obesity is passed through genes as well but someone has rightly said " IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY BECAUSE NO ONE RUNS IN THE FAMILY.." Medical issues like hypothyroidism can also be the cause of obesity and needs medical attention. EDUCATION: Lack of education and awareness can also be the cause of obesity. The society's attitude to food often lead to over consumption. Parents don't teach good eating habits to children and many people lack knowledge about good nutrition or a balanced diet.HOW TO CURE OBESITY:It's a disorder where you have an excess amount of body fat. There is no easy cure for obesity. Short cut method will lead to short cut to your life span. So, reduce your body fat through adjustments to your diet and lifestyle.SOME TIPS TO CURE OBESITY ARE:Set realistic diet goals: set goals which are realistic and possible to attain.Create a healthy eating plan: creating a healthy eating plan will help to lower down your body weight and treat obesity. The plan should be a balanced plan. One sample menu is given below to shed extra kilos:7 AM- MORNING- green tea/dalchini water/methi water7:30 AM TO 8:30 AM- BREAKFAST- veg. daliya/ veg. oats/ milk oats/ veg. sandwich with sprouts/boiled egg11 AM TO 12 PM-MID MORNING- coconut water/ green tea/ lemon water1 PM TO 2 PM-LUNCH- any dal with roti and salad/ chicken(grilled) with salad/ any veg. roti and salad 4:30 PM TO 5:30 PM-EVENING- green tea or tea with handful roasted chana8:30 PM TO 9:30 PM-DINNER- any veg. roti and salad/ soup (without cornflour) with salad and any veg./ grilled chicken with salad/ grilled fish with saladCommit to cook your own meal: Eating out can be expensive and add more pounds to your waistline. Prepare your own food  as you will be aware about the quantity of ingredients you will be adding in your food.Read food labels where you go grocery shopping: You should always read food labels as you will be aware of the amount of calories and ingredients in that product.Control portion size: Reducing your portion size every time you eat can help you to consume fewer calories and have control over how much food you consume.Cut down on alcohol intake: Alcohol contain high amount of calories and sugar. Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink every week and increase the amount of water you drink. Drinking water will help your body stay hydrated and healthy.Avoid crash dieting: You may be tempted to try quick weight loss programme or diet, this will lead to other health issues. The only way to lose weight is to adopt healthy eating habit.Limit foods that are high in saturated and trans fat as they will raise blood cholesterol level and increase risk of heart disease.Exercise: To achieve significant weight loss one should start doing some exercise programme. Making simple lifestyle changes can help you live a healthy life.Seek medical advice from the doctor and dietary advice from a dietitian.Let's celebrate this dussehra and obesity day by switching from unhealthy to a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy journey to health.

Today Is Obesity Day- Be Weight Conscious & Not Weight Obsessed.

Dr. Neelam Nath Bhatia, General Physician
There is no zero cholesterol oil as advertised. Every fat has calories, some are healthy fats and others are not as they start blocking our blood vessels, making blood to flow with difficulty leading to Heart Attack and Stroke.One can be own Nutrition specialist and Gymn instructor but do seek help if need be by asking a trained and learned person having a Degree in respective field.Follow Common sense and your own genetic profile. Obesity can be genetic also.It Runs in families should be No Consolation as Genes can be Modified.We need proteins as building blocks,carbohydrates to give us ready energy and fats as store houses of energy plus vitamins and minerals to digest food and for metabolism plus Lots of Water. Remember Jal hi Jeewan hai- Water is Life and There is No Life possible without water.If you want to lose weight cut down on fats and carbohydrates-make it simple and take no refined sugar,minimum grains and depend upon sugar given to us by fruits and vegetables Only.Some fats are as essential to our body as good oil is to run a vehicle.Take a spoon of pure ghee or butter only , not lots of it. Eat a katori of assorted Nuts every day. Nuts carry essential proteins plus good fats which keeps our heart healthy.Do Not Starve. Drink water with ORS, green tea, clear soups, warm water with lemon juice and spoon of honey, every 2 hours so that acids and bile do not keep piling up in empty stomach leading to Acidity.Eat More Proteins as they are filling and do ward away Hunger Pangs. Try Taking a boiled egg /nuts /cup of milk/ curd and it becomes easy to spend 4 hours without eating a regular meal. High proteins also repair the broken cells in body caused by eating little.Eat one full meal at end of the day with roti-sabji-dal-rice 2 hours before sleeping and drink a glass of water as last meal of the day.All Seasonal Vegetables and Fruits are Good , even for persons with higher sugar levels as cutting down on other carbs compensates the sugar taken through fruits.Drink a glass of warm water with juice of fresh lemon plus a spoon of honey on empty stomach every morning. It does help in reducing weight. Apple cider Vinegar diluted with water or juice can be had as many times as one wishes. ACV also helps to shed kilos.Walking is a Simple Exercise which is Meditating too.If outside pollution bothers , take a steady exercise Bike and exercise while watching TV within the home breathing in pure air.Stress makes a person eat erratic and Munch on anything available.Remain Stress free by doing Yoga and MeditationREMEMBER- Learn to Say No.Healthy Stress is good for the body as it is result oriented. Good Results shown after every efforts put in by us do boost our Morale and Make us Eat/ celebrate in a healthy way.One need to weigh only once in a week,not every day. Healthy weight loss is @5kg/month to start with, then there is a plateau ,with no weight loss shown on machine, but once dieting and exercise becomes a Habit, weight loss is gradual and for sure it is going to be a Permanent loss of unhealthy kilos.

28 September Is 10th World Rabies day. Is Your Pet Vaccinated?

Dr. Neelam Nath Bhatia, General Physician
Rabies is a fatal Viral disease transmitted by saliva of mammals including pet dogs,cats,cattle who are Not vaccinated for Rabies and Stray animals like dogs,cats & others like monkeys.It is not transmitted through birds or reptiles. Some scientists tried to transfer virus to birds but Birds got no symptoms and lived after getting the germs, something which is not yet possible in infected human/ dog. Once bitten by a domesticated animal, one needs to get vaccination ASAP and follow the schedule for 10 days at least. If the animal lives beyond 10 days , does not show any symptoms , one can be free from anxiety of getting this Fatal Illness which has got No Treatment Yet.Only Mantra is Prevention.Stray dogs and other animals like monkeys or stray cattle cannot be observed for 10 days.If bitten by them-Complete the schedule of vaccination for 3 months.Vaccine is expensive and our Government cannot meet the demands of every person bitten by stray dogs.Yes it is available at certain Government hospitals in every city.Why not be Cautious about stray animals ?Vaccine was made available more than 100 years ago by scientist- Louis Pasteur who told the world about process named after him-Pasteurization meaning fighting against bacteria and other germs present in food. Milk is Pasteurized and can be taken straight from the pack.Once bitten by animal , wash the wound with soap and water. No stitching should be done as wounds are superficial.The disease causes inflammation of brain leading to hallucinations, confusion,violent movements,inability to move,fear of water( hydrophobia) & loss of consciousness leading to Coma and  ....It is a Painful Death.25,000- 60,000 deaths are reported from all over the world due to rabies.Incubation period can range from 1-3 months.Human to human Transmission is Rare.Do Not be an animal lover at cost of Humans. If you love dogs, get them vaccinated as scheduled.Do Not Feed Stray Dogs on the roads. If you love stray animals, bring them home & keep them under  your care and supervision.Killing Stray Dogs has become an emotional issue on FB & on Social Media. People are displaying pictures of dogs killed to save humans , only to get nasty comments in return.We are mature humans who can take decisions about looking after strays in a friendly way or to feed them on the road, only to forget about them after packets of Biscuits/ Milk is Fed to animals on the roads till next day morning,to cause trauma to innumerable Humans passing by the same road during the day.

Better Sleep Better Health !!

Dr. Trupti Vedpathak, Psychiatrist
Given that an average person sleeps for 8 hrs in a day, that means we spent on an average one third of our life sleeping. Everyone has problem with their sleep at times. This is perfectly normal. In most cases, this problem often gets resolved by itself; however, if it last for long, it is likely to impact day-to-day functioning and eventually affect the quality of your life. A large percentage of people suffering from sleep disorder often opt for temporary solution by having sleeping pills which later becomes a habit.Following are few easy tips to deal with sleep problems:Establish a routine: Set a strict bedtime schedule by getting up at the same time every day, this will help as your body will start to associate times of the day with sleeping.There should be minimal variations in sleep timings during weekends & holidays.Make your bedroom a calm place: Relax your mind & body by keeping the bedroom dark & quiet & cool.Turn off electrical screens: Mobiles, computers, TV stimulate the brain, making it hard to relax. 'wind down' time of 1 hr before going to bed is preferred.Avoid naps: Do not nap during the day or confine naps to early afternoon; no longer than 40 minutes.Notice what you eat or drink: Avoid tea or coffee after 4pm. No smoking or tobacco for atleast 1 hr before bedtime. Do not eat heavy meals near bedtime. A glass of warm milk or banana or warm bath at bedtime will help induce sleep.Avoid clock gazing: Do not repeatedly look at the clock at night, it will make you more anxious. If an alarm clock is needed, place it in the drawer where it can be heard but not seen.Try to do some exercise: Exercise daily. Do not exercise too close to bedtime, as it can disrupt your sleep.Try to resolve your worries: Write your worries on a piece of paper & allot a time during the day to think over it.Check for physical cause: If any pain,  physical illness or mental illness or medication is making it difficult for you to sleep, see a doctor.Don't force yourself to sleep: This will make you more anxious. If sleep doesn't occur in bed for more than 20 min then move out of bed without switching on the light & return back only when sleepy.Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. So lets SLEEP WELL & STAY HEALTHY..

World No Tobacco Day- Self-Help Tips to Quit Smoking!

Dr. Naveen Jayaram, Psychiatrist
Why should you quit smoking?Tobacco consumption kills about 8 lakh people every year in India. Cigarettes contain addictive nicotine and 4000 chemicals which are known to cause cancer. 40% of people detected with cancer in India are due to tobacco use. Smoking causes long lasting lung and cardiovascular diseases.To begin with:Think of your smoking behaviour, introspect about it, why I have got addicted to it.Do not deny that you are not addicted to smoking. Accept it as a problem.Over confidence about quitting is not good.Affirm yourself that “ though quitting is a problem I can leave it anytime.”Decide a quit date. Do not postpone. Be determined.Take help of family members/ friends/colleagues, they would be very happy to support you.Always remember you have to take a step, do not blame others or stress as a cause for your addiction. “A Journey of healthy and happy life begins with a single step.”Our mind has the capacity to overcome any addiction.How to reduce the quantity:Keep a record of amount and frequency of cigarette use.Change to brand of cigarette you don’t like.Decrease the number of puffs while smoking.Do not inhale deeply.Do not buy cigarette packs and keep a stock, buy less cigarette.How to handle the urge/craving to smoke:Delay the urge by 1 or 2 hrs or by counting numbers. Distract yourself. Remember urge will last only for few minutes. You can use nicotine gums, chewing gums, toffee when the urge is very strong.Manage the stimulus associated with smoking, i.e. drink coffee or juice instead of tea etc.Remove things which remind you about smoking from your house and office (ashtrays, lighters etc.)Take deep breaths, it will calm you.Drink small sips of water.After Quitting Smoking:Feel good about your behaviour.Talk to people about your achievement, it will boost your self esteem.Say no to smoking offers from colleagues or friend.Avoid the company of smokers and try not to take a single puff.Practice relaxation techniques- deep breathing, listening to music, exercises etc.Know about withdrawal symptoms like, irritability, decreased concentration, headache, restlessness.These symptoms are temporary and last only for few days.Do not get disheartened if you fail, keep trying.Quitting is a process and relapse is common, you need to be aware of it.If you are unable to quit in spite of multiple attempts, seek medical help. Medication course is available to make your quit process easy.Always remember with conscious determination you can achieve anything.Smoking Cessation is the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives. Choose life, not tobacco. Happy quitting!!

Management of Tuberculosis: 10 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Dr. Madhukar Pai
Indian TB patients get diagnosed after a delay of nearly two months, and are seen by 3 different providers before a diagnosis is made. At the primary care level, patients rarely get investigated for TB, even when they present with classic TB symptoms. Instead, providers give broad-spectrum antibiotics (e.g. fluoroquinolones) and remedies such as cough syrups and steroids. Even when TB is considered likely, private physicians tend to order tests that are non-specific, such as complete blood count, ESR, Mantoux test, and chest X-rays. They rarely seek microbiological confirmation via sputum smear microscopy, culture or polymerase chain reaction tests. Even if the diagnostic hurdle is overcome, TB treatment in the private sector is far from standard. When private practitioners initiate anti-TB treatment, they tend to use drug regimens that are not recommended by WHO or the International Standards of TB Care. Furthermore, private practitioners often fail to ensure treatment completion, and provide adherence support to their patients. This article, one of the chapters of a new TB book called‘Let’s Talk TB’ aimed at GPs in India (published by GP Clinics, available free at www.letstalktb.org) discusses the 10 most common pitfalls that doctors should avoid. Addressing these pitfalls should great improve the quality of TB care in India.Pitfall 1: Not recognizing and suspecting TBDoctors inIndia often miss TB, because they do not suspect TB in patients presenting withcough for 2 weeks or longer.1 Multiple rounds of broad-spectrum antibiotics are tried, but tests forTB are rarely ordered at the primary care level.2 Even when TB is suspected, history taking is often incomplete – familyhistory of TB is rarely elicited, and previous treatment for TB is also missed.2Pitfall 2: Inadequate diagnostic work-upWhen doctorsin India think of TB, they often order non-specific tests such as total anddifferential blood counts (TC/DC), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), andchest X-ray.1, 2 While thesetests can be helpful, they do not confirm tuberculosis. Abnormal X-rays, forexample, do suggest TB, but other lung conditions can also produceabnormalities on radiography. So, only relying on chest x-ray can result inover-diagnosis. Tuberculosis can only be confirmed by microbiological testssuch as sputum smear microscopy, GeneXpert, and cultures. So, it is veryimportant to order sputum tests that can directly detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis.Pitfall 3: Use of inappropriate diagnostic testsActivetuberculosis is a microbiological diagnosis. Serological, antibody-based tests(e.g. TB ELISA) are inaccurate and banned by the Indian government.3 They should not be used for TB diagnosis. In India, there is growing concern that testssuch as Mantoux (tuberculin skin test) and IGRAs (e.g. TB Gold, TB Platinum)are being misused for active TB diagnosis. These tests were designed to detectlatent infection, and cannot separate latency from active disease. The Standards for TB Care in India (STCI) clearlystates that both TST and IGRAs should not be used for the diagnosis of activeTB in high endemic settings like India.3 If Mantoux and IGRAs are used for active TBdiagnosis, this will result in significant over-diagnosis of TB, because of thehigh background prevalence of latent TB infection in India. In children, STCIsuggests that the Mantoux test may have some value as a test for infection, inaddition to chest x-rays, symptoms, history of contact, and othermicrobiological investigations (e.g. gastric juice acid fast bacilli and XpertMTB/RIF).3Pitfall 4: Not considering the possibility of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB)DR-TB occurswhen patients fail to complete first-line drug therapy, have relapse, or newlyacquire it from another person with DR-TB. All persons who have previouslyreceived TB therapy must be considered to have suspected DR-TB. If patientshave any risk factors for drug-resistance, or live in a high MDR-TB prevalencearea (e.g. Mumbai city), or do not respond to standard drug therapy, they mustbe investigated for MDR-TB using drug-susceptibility tests (DST) likeGeneXpert, line probe assays, and liquid cultures. Indian physicians under-useDST and this can result in mismanagement.Pitfall 5: Empirical management ofsuspected TB with quinolones and steroidsWhen doctorssuspect TB or other lower respiratory tract infections, they frequently usebroad-spectrum fluoroquinolones (e.g. levofloxacin, moxifloxacin) for shortperiods. However, such empirical management with fluoroquinolones willmask and delay the diagnosis of TB. Fluoroquinolones, in particular, arebactericidal for M. tuberculosis complex. Empiric fluoroquinolone monotherapyfor respiratory tract infections has been associated with delays in initiationof appropriate anti-tuberculosis therapy and acquired resistance to thefluoroquinolones.4Doctors also tend to use steroids in individuals with history of chroniccough. Steroids, again, can result in temporary clinical improvement, but delaythe diagnosis and treatment of underlying tuberculosis.Pitfall 6: Once TB is diagnosed, not addressing co-morbidities andcontactsOnce TB isdiagnosed, it is important to make sure the patient is not suffering fromco-morbid conditions such as HIV and diabetes. It is also important to check ifthe patient is a smoker/alcoholic and provide them advice on smoking/alcoholcessation. It is also necessary to ask about TB symptoms among family members.In particular, small children living in the same family as the adult case mustbe tested for TB.Pitfall 7: Use of irrational TB drug regimensEven if the diagnostic hurdle is overcome, TBtreatment in the private sector is far from standard.1 Whenprivate practitioners initiate anti-TB treatment (ATT), they tend to use drugregimens that are not recommended by WHO or the Standards of TB Care in India(STCI). All patientswho have not been treated previously and do not have other risk factors fordrug resistance should receive a WHO-approved first-line treatment regimen fora total of 6 months.4 The initialphase should consist of two months of isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide andethambutol. The continuation phase should consist of isoniazid and rifampicingiven for 4 months. There is no need to add additional drugs suchas quinolones to the standard drug regimen.4 Also, thereis no need to extend the duration of treatment beyond 6 months, unless there isevidence of treatment failure, or there are complications (e.g. bone &joint TB, spinal TB with neurological involvement and neuro-tuberculosis). Drugdosages should be based on body weight, and daily dosing is preferable.4Some physicians have the mistaken perception that second-linemedication are more potent than first-line medication. In fact they are lesseffective (and more toxic) medications, and should be reserved only forpatients with drug-resistant TB, or first-line drug intolerance.Pitfall 8: Not ensuring treatment adherenceAdherence to the full course of ATT is critically important to ensurehigh cure rates and to prevent the emergence of drug-resistance. But privatepractitioners struggle to ensure adherence. Most do not maintain any medical records,and this makes it very difficult to follow-up patients. Patients often do notreceive sufficient counseling about the importance of completing the fullcourse of ATT. Drug-related side effects (if not adequately counselled on at theoutset) is another common reason for non-adherence, and possible treatmentdefault.Every TB patient should receive counseling atthe start of TB treatment. Bynotifying all TB cases to the local health authorities, private practitionerscan seek help from the public sector to help follow-up patients who default.Physicians can also work with community-based organizations, and enlistcommunity health workers to supervise treatment.Pitfall 9: Not monitoring response totherapy and changing regimens without DSTOnce ATT is started, doctors have theresponsibility of monitoring the patients to check whether therapy is working.This requires follow-up smear and culture testing. Negative smears at the endof therapy is important to ensure cure. If a patient is not responding to ATT,it important to investigate why. Addition ofa single drug to a failing regimen is a big concern. Many physicians add aquinolone to the 4 first-line drugs (HRZE) when the standard therapy does notresult in improvement. This is wrong, and can result in MDR-TB.Sometimes, patients end up moving from one doctorto another, and each time the drug regimen gets modified without adequate drug-susceptibilitytesting (DST) to guide the choice of drug combinations. This creates a perfectenvironment for drug-resistance to emerge or worsen.Pitfall 10: Not notifying all cases and using free publicsector services for vulnerable patientsTB treatment is available free ofcost to all patients in India via the Revised National TB Control Programme(RNTCP).5 So, privatepractitioners can refer all TB patients for treatment through the RNTCP, unlesspatients insist on being treated in the private sector. RNTCP provides a rangeof services such as contact investigation, linkage to free TB drug programs,adherence support, and linkage to PMDT services for patients with MDR-TB.5 By availingthese free services, patients can protect themselves from catastrophic healthexpenditures. Irrespective of where thepatients are diagnosed and treated, it is mandatory for private practitionersto notify all TB cases to their respective District or Corporation TB Officers.REFERENCES1.          SatyanarayanaS, Subbaraman R, Shete P, et al. Quality of tuberculosis care in India: asystematic review. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis2015; 19(7): 751-63.2.          Das J, Kwan A, Daniels B, et al. Useof standardised patients to assess quality of tuberculosis care: a pilot,cross-sectional study. Lancet Infect Dis2015 (published ahead of print).3.          World Health Organization CountryOffice for India. Standards for TB Care in India. URL: http://www.tbcindia.nic.in/pdfs/STCI%20Book_Final%20%20060514.pdf (dateaccessed 7 April 2015), 2014.4.          TB CARE I. International Standards forTuberculosis Care, 3rd Edition. URL: www.istcweb.org  (date accessed 7 April 2015)2014.  (accessed.5.          Sachdeva KS, Kumar A, Dewan P, KumarA, Satyanarayana S. New Vision for Revised National Tuberculosis ControlProgramme (RNTCP): Universal access - "Reaching the un-reached". Indian J Med Res 2012; 135(5): 690-4.This article was originallypublished in GP Clinics as part of a supplement entitled Let’s Talk TB. Other chapters of this book can be downloaded freelyat www.letstalktb.org