Altitude Mountain Sickness

Altitude Mountain Sickness

What is altitude mountain sickness?

It is a sickness that affects mountain hikers, skiers, climbers and travelers at a high altitude. Altitude sickness generally develops at elevations higher than 8,000 feet (about 2,400 meters) above sea level and when the rate of ascent exceeds 1,000 feet (300 meters) per day.

What are the causes of altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness develops when the rate of ascent into higher altitudes outpaces the body’s ability to adjust to those altitudes due to the decreasing levels of oxygen in the air as altitude increases. This results in abnormally low blood levels of oxygen.

Among the actions that may trigger altitude sickness is ascending too rapidly, not allowing enough time for the body to compensate and adapt for decreased oxygen in the air. Next is overexertion within 24 hours of ascent and inadequate fluid intake. Other causes includes hypothermia and consumption of alcohol or other sedatives.
It is possible, depending on the person’s health, that an individual can rapidly go through symptoms of acute mountain sickness and then progress to high-altitude pulmonary edema (HEPA) or high-altitude cerebral edema (HECA) at moderate to high altitudes.

When should a person seek medical care for altitude sickness?

If symptoms such as headache or shortness of breath do not improve promptly with simple changes, visiting a doctor may be helpful if descending to a lower altitude is inconvenient and a doctor is available.
Descend immediately if shortness of breath at rest, mental confusion or lethargy, or loss of muscle coordination develop. Symptoms of most people with acute altitude sickness improve by the time they reach a medical facility, which is usually located at a lower altitude.

How is altitude sickness diagnosed?

The diagnosis of acute altitude sickness is based on the patient’s signs and symptoms. Normally doctors will ask if you recently traveling to a high altitude region. Doctors will also see if you have symptoms that may indicate the altitude sickness such as loss of appetite, generalized weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath during exertion, nausea, or a headache associated with insomnia. The doctor may hear crackles or rattling sound when listening to the patient’s lungs.

Oxygen saturation of the blood will be measured. Shortness of breath at rest, abnormal vital signs, fast heart rate and breathing rate may indicate high altitude pulmonary edema (HEPA). The doctor may treat the patient with fever and cough for pneumonia in addition to high-altitude pulmonary edema. High-altitude cerebral edema (HECA) is diagnosed if a person’s mental state is altered or coordination is lost at high altitude.

What are the basics interventions for altitude sickness?

For milder condition, some basic intervention may be able to help. The first one is to not further ascent in altitude and returning to a lower altitude. Then reduce your activity level and rest for at least one day before moving to a higher altitude. Most importantly, keep yourself hydrated adequately.  If symptoms do not resolve quickly, descend to a lower altitude. If the person develops any signs and symptoms of high-altitude cerebral edema or high-altitude pulmonary edema, they should descend to lower altitude and be seen by emergency medicine physician.

Exercise Tips for Healthy Heart

Exercise Tips for Healthy Heart

Healthy Heart Exercise Tips That Will Change Your Life

We want a long, prosperous and healthy life. Unfortunately due to the toll of busy working life and hardly any time left for ourselves, some may develop diseases. Musculoskeletal pain, heart disease and diabetes have all become a common friend in the time that we are now living in.Here are some tips of the kind of exercise that can be included in your workout routine in order to achieve optimal health.


  • Brisk walking
  • Biking
  • Running/jogging
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Climbing stairs at work
  • Sports such as tennis, basketball etc


Simple, weight-bearing exercises that use free weights, machines or your own body’s resistance are the focus. A well-rounded strength-training program provides the following benefits:

  • Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissue
  • Lower risk of injury
  • Increased muscle mass (makes it easier for your body to burn calories)
  • Better quality of life


Having good balance is important for many activities we do every day such as walking, and it also can help prevent falls. They also benefit obese people since weight is not always distributed evenly throughout the body.

Balance exercises can be done every day or as often as you like. Preferably, older adults at risk of falls should do balance training 3 or more days a week. Try these balance exercises:

  • See how long you can stand on one foot or try holding for 10 seconds on each side
  • Walk heel to toe for 20 steps
  • Walk normally in as straight a line as you can or in tandem walking
  • Yoga and Tai Chi


These exercises stretch your muscle and help your body to stay flexible. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercise as well as for your everyday activities.

The best time to do flexibility training is when your muscles are already warm so they can stretch without tightness or pain. It’s good to do stretching exercise 3 to 5 times during each session.

Written by: Dr. Shashini Asokumaran

Source: American Heart Association, Rehabilitation Medicine


Fact or Myth? Things You Already Know About Diabetes

Fact or Myth? Things You Already Know About Diabetes

Fact or Myth?!

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases. Therefore, almost everyone knows everything about diabetes. Particularly those who don’t have it. Very often family members, friends, and even strangers think they know all about your diabetes and are quick to judge you or give you advice.

There are hundreds of myths regarding diabetes. Here are some of the common ones.

diabetes - fact or mythFACT: Up to 80% of type 2 Diabetes is preventable by changing diet, increasing physical activity and improving the living environment.

diabetes - fact or mythFACT: Diabetes is a global killer, rivaling HIV/AIDS in its deadly reach. According to International Diabetes Federation, diabetes kills more than 4 million people a year. Having diabetes nearly doubles your chance of having a heart attack. Every 7 seconds, a person dies from diabetes-related causes.

diabetes - fact or mythFACT: Fruit is a healthy. It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. But it also contain carbohydrate which raises the blood sugar.

diabetes - fact or mythFACT: Obesity is a risk factor for developing diabetes. However, other risk factors include family history, ethnicity and age. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

diabetes - fact or mythFACT:  A healthy meal plan for diabetic patient is generally the same as a healthy person. This includes low in saturated and trans-fat, moderate in salt and sugar. Besides that, meals based on lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit. “Diabetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels. Moreover, they are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

diabetes - fact or mythFACT: Diabetic patient can take sweets or chocolate as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise. The key is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions. This way you can focus more on eating healthy.

diabetes - fact or mythFACT: Exercise helps control blood sugar, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, workouts can sometimes lower blood sugar too much. As a result, this will lead to hypoglycemia, especially in people who take insulin or certain long-acting oral medications. To help prevent it, don’t work out on an empty stomach and stay hydrated. Exercise merely needs to be balanced with medicine and carbohydrate intake to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Written by: Dr. Shashini Asokumaran

Understanding Dementia

Understanding Dementia

What is Dementia?

Dementia is an illness that affects the brain, leading to progressive memory loss, decline in intellectual abilities and personality changes.Dementia is not a normal part of ageing

3 common misconceptions of dementia:

  • Dementia is just about forgetfulness
  • Dementia is part and parcel of old age
  • Nothing can be done to help the condition

The fact is, dementia is more than forgetfulness. It decreases a person’s ability to take care of himself. In addition to changes in personality and behaviour, it also causes problems with planning and communication.

Who gets Dementia?

It can happen to anyone! However, the risk of Dementia increases with age. It is more common in those above 60 years old.

What are the signs of Dementia?

Knowing and recognizing the signs of Dementia allow for early management. Furthermore, early detection and intervention help to delay progression of the illness.Dementia - signs

How can you reduce the risks of Dementia?

  • Build positive and healthy relationships
    • Frequent interactions with family and friends. Volunteer, join a club, or participate in community events.
  • Keep your mind stimulated
    • Challenge your brain and keep it working. You can dead, write, play cards, crosswords or boards games. Learn a new language or a musical instrument.
  • Be physically active
    • Exercise increases blood circulation and may improve brain function. You can stay fit with simple brisk walking, tai chi, dancing or even swimming.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables and take less sugar and salt. Besides that, choose food low in fat and saturated fat.
  • Be heart healthy
    • Keeping your heart healthy means keeping your brain healthy too. As a result, you will be able to prevent risk factors for Dementia such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
  • Manage your medical conditions well
    • Seek treatment if you have a medical condition and take your medications dutifully. Go to regular check ups and health screening.
  • Reduce and avoid habits that harm your health
    • Stay away from smoking, excessive alcohol intake and anything that harms your health. Practice healthy habits such as sufficient hours of sleep and exercises.

Dementia care

DementiaCaring for a dementia patient can be challenging and stressful. Moreover, it can take a physical and emotional toll on you. To provide the best possible care for patients, you should start by looking after your own health and well being. It takes a lot of mental strength and patience to deal with dementia patients. Having a strong support network really helps too. This will offer you a place to share your feelings and gain emotional support.

Written by: Dr. Shashini Asokumaran

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