9th January 2000
Mankind may have walked on the moon, invented computers to do their work for them - but they have not cured the common cold which will continue to bug millions well into the New Millenium.
Well, if there is no ready cure, what's next best? Try to reduce the discomfort to a minimum and limit the duration of the illness as much as possible. Here are some tips from Britain's Common Cold Centre:
Wash your hands often
The common cold virus- there are many of them, survive for hours on surfaces such as telephones. Therefore washing your hands will reduce your chances of infection.
Vitamin A- Vitamin C was the trusted agent to protect yourself against the cold. Now, there is new evidence that even Vitamin A maybe helpful.
Take hot food- Hot food reduces the discomfort, as does spicy food, even though the cold may have rendered most of your food tasteless. It may also kill off the viruses early, so you will be cured soon.
Exercise- Staying indoors may in fact prolong your illness. Fresh air and light exercises are a better alternative. Wash your toothbrush with hot water for a few hours on recovery- the virus could still be hiding there, so you need to remove it to prevent re-infection!
No, we are not talking about computer viruses. But it has been 30 years since computers entered workplaces and now there is a rapid proliferation of computers in homes, schools and offices, even in this country. As more and more people spend more and more time looking at their computer screens, there have been concerns about its possible health hazards.
These computers all have a Video Display Unit (VDU)- a television type monitor that displays information received from the computer. As the information is displayed, many forms of radiation are emitted- ultraviolet (UV), visible and infrared (IR). Visible light forms the image that we see, IR radiation appears as heat generated by the unit and the amount of UV radiation produced is usually very small. In addition to these, electrical and magnetic fields are also emitted.
So, why worry? When VDUs were first introduced, they were suggested as the cause of many workplace complaints- headache, dizziness, tiredness and even skin rashes. Now, these accusations have been studied in some detail.
The commonest complaint was that VDUs affect eyesight. However, cataract and other diseases were not found to have any link with working with a VDU. But VDUs did cause eyestrain and headache in some people.
Attempts to implicate VDUs in skin rashes have not been successful. The belief is that prolonged exposure to the environment in which VDUs are usually located- closed, air-conditioned and probably congested- may be the cause of skin complaints rather then the VDUs themselves.
What these studies have also found is that the working environment in many places that utilize a large number of VDUs is not healthy- often having poor air quality, room temperature and improper illumination. Once these are redressed, there has been a dramatic reduction in physical complaints from the workplace. What then can you do to protect yourself? Since the warnings of a possible health hazard from computers first went out, there has been a proliferation of 'health promoting products' as computer accessories- some even promising to absorb radiation!These items are of little value- and the amount of radiation emitted is minute anyway- but computer screen devices that reduce glare are recommended for those indulging in long hours of work-or pleasure- before a VDU.
Other "radiation absorbing" devices are not recommended by health authorities and are not needed anyway!
But, if you are working in cramped conditions with many VDUs in one small room, maybe then it is time to tell your boss that changes will have to be made.
Some alarming statistics have emerged over the last few years about cigarette smoking indicating that tobacco-related deaths are on the rise. They have even led to the identification of tobacco as a greater cause of death and disability than any other single disease.
Consider these statistics:
At present, there are about 1.1 billion smokers in the world- or about one third of the population over 15 years of age. Of these about 800 million are in developing countries.Globally, about 47% of men and 12% of women smoke. In developing countries about 48% of men and 6% of women smoke. In developed countries 42% of men and 24% of women smoke. Currently, tobacco is responsible for about three million deaths- or 6% of all deaths- a year. Based on these projections by the year 2020, tobacco use would cause one in six deaths in developed countries and one in ten deaths in developing countries.
But what if you are an already "well-established" smoker with many years of tobacco use? Will quitting smoking help you improve your own chances of regaining a healthy life?
If you are in doubt about that consider the following:
One year after quitting smoking, the risk of coronary heart disease decreases by as much as 50% and within 15 years, the relative risk of dying from heart disease for an ex-smoker is almost equal to that of a non-smoker.The relative risk of developing chronic lung disease and stroke also decreases but more slowly.Ten to fourteen years after quitting smoking, the risk of dying from lung cancer decreases to nearly that of those who have never smoked.
You can therefore be a statistic- either in the mortality figures associated with smoking or among those who have quit the habit and regained a healthy life. The choice, fortunately, is still yours.
By M.Ismeth and Faraza Farook
Private hospitals promising good healthcare are highly sought after, but most unfortunately cater only to the upper class as charges are prohibitive.
The newly opened Oasis Hospital (Pvt.) Ltd.at Narahenpita on the contrary, has adopted concepts promulgated by well known foreign hospitals, to provide better health care at competitive prices.
Begun on November 15, the hospital offers a wide variety of services under one roof. Unlike in other hospitals where doctors are only available at particular times, at Oasis, all are permanent employees so that they can attend to patients at all times.
The working hours of the hospital are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. but specialised consultants with training both here and abroad are available on call and offer their services round the clock. The specialist clinics and out-patient department will function during this time.
Fully air-conditioned and computerised, appointments are given on computer and to ensure that maximum attention is paid to the patient, each consultation lasts 20 minutes. Medical records are computerised to facilitate their ready availability.
The Out Patients Department (OPD) which will be developed into a Family Medicine Clinic, functions as a 24 hour Emergency Treatment Unit. Oasis also has a special ICU for children and another for adults. It is also said to be the first private hospital in Sri Lanka to possess a Spiral CT Scan and digital X-rays.
Eleven departments specializing in various fields are under the supervision of experienced consultants. They include the Department of Surgery, Internal Medicine, Radiology, Pathology, Oncology, Mental Health, Opthalmology, Dentistry, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Paediatrics.
Dr. Dilrukshi Ruberu, of Wycombe Hospital U.K. for paediatrics, Dr. R.S. Jayatilake, former Director of Clinical Oncology, National Cancer Institute Maharagama for Oncology, Prof. R.M.R.S. Ratnayake, former Associate Professor of Peradeniya and Consultant in Sri Lanka, Nigeria and KSA, are a few of the consultants who head the respective units. Oasis also offers an all inclusive package covering bed occupancy, nursing charges, medical attention charges(in wards, rooms, ICU, NICU), food, linen, and labour charges, only excluding drugs, investigations, operation theatre charges and any outside consultations.
The hospital has a total of 25 doctors and 60 nurses and the management has plans to expand this cadre with the increasing demand. An interesting feature of the hospital is that there are no attendants, a concept adopted from foreign hospitals. All professional caring work is in the hands of doctors, nurses and trainee nurses.
The nurses are given training in English, Computers, Basic Nursing and First Aid and are also encouraged to study for an American Degree through the Institute of Technological Studies (ITS).
The Directors of the Hospital are Dr. E.M.S. Edirisinghe, founder President of ITS and Mrs. K.N. Edirisinghe. A suggestion box is placed near the reception on the ground floor of the hospital for the public to forward their views or suggestions. The hospital is on eight floors and has 200 beds. Of this, 50 are single rooms with attached toilets while the rest of the beds are in cubicles with five beds and two attached toilets. Those who require a little more luxury can opt for a telephone and for more you can get a suite with attached toilets, lounge, TV and telephone. All rooms are air-conditioned.
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