Bharti AXA General Insurance is now part of ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

Bharti AXA General Insurance is now part of ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

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  • COVID-19: How to Sanitise Your Home Effectively

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    How long does COVID-19 virus live on surfaces? Can coronavirus be transferred via grocery items? Should I wash my vegetables in a soap solution? How often do I disinfect surfaces? Should I sun the grocery items I’ve bought? COVID-19 has changed how we perceive things. For example, a quirky, eye-catching door handle or knocker is now just another often touched surface that must be disinfected on the regular. Mundane chores have now acquired a sense of urgency that belies their innocuous nature.

    But we aren’t here to help you ace your household chores with a Stepford wife precision for Instagram-worthy results. We’re here with pointers that we hope will help effectively answer (one of) the most pertinent questions – How do I disinfect/sanitise my home to stay safe? Before we begin here are a few things to take note of -

    Keep in mind the following difference:

    Cleaning v/s Disinfecting

    Cleaning means clearing contaminants from the surface.

    Process of disinfecting helps in getting rid of harmful pathogens.

    Essentials you’ll need:

    Disinfecting wipes, disinfectant sprays, disposable or reusable gloves, detergent, 70% isopropyl alcohol solution, bleach

    Frequency

    Set up a task-list and prioritise high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, handles, toilets, kitchen countertop, and faucets should be cleaned and disinfected routinely. While COVID-19 transmission occurs mainly through respiratory droplets, surface transmission can also take place. Early evidence suggests that the coronavirus can live on surfaces. Hence, cleaning surfaces or things that you or your family may be touching frequently becomes imperative. A publication by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas mentions, “Coronaviruses are surrounded by a lipid membrane and have a single-stranded RNA genome. This is important because the lipid membrane is very sensitive to soap and the RNA genome is very sensitive to UV light. In general, these are very sensitive microorganisms that don’t survive a long time without a host.” Ergo, frequent disinfection and cleaning goes a long way in keeping the virus at bay.

    Here’s how to go about sanitizing your home

    Let’s scratch sanitise the surface

    As mentioned previously, Table tops, handles, the kitchen slab, children’s toys are all areas that require frequent cleaning. According to the CDC, the above should be cleaned using regular household cleaning agents. You can also use a mixture of soap and water. Remember to wear disposable gloves when you’re on a cleaning spree. If you’re using reusable gloves for cleaning or disinfecting surfaces for the purpose of COVID-19, set them aside and ensure that you don’t use them for any other task. As per UNICEF guidelines, “It’s important not to wipe cleaning solutions off as soon as you have applied it to a surface. Many disinfectant products, such as wipes and sprays, need to stay wet on a surface for several minutes in order to be effective.”

    Cleaning electronics

    Keyboards, tablets remotes, mobile phones should all be cleaned frequently using alcohol-based wipes, preferably a make with a high percentage of alcohol content. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s directions and recommendations for cleaning all electronic items. You can also use these wipes to clean board games, something everyone in the family must be making frequent use of considering we’re all homebound these days.

    Also read: Life after lockdown: 7 mistakes you should avoid to stay safe from COVID-19

    Soft surfaces

    Curtains, carpets, sofa covers, bed sheets should be cleaned from time-to-time using warm water, appropriate detergent and a disinfectant. If you have a washing machine at home, wash the items in warm water. Read instructions carefully just in case you have items that may shrink. Do not shake dirty laundry and wash your hands thoroughly after handling dirty laundry. Don’t forget to disinfect the laundry basket too from time to time.

    Handling and prepping food

    There are some activities that we cannot put a full stop to. A grocery run is one of them. Browsing the shelves, an innocuous activity pre-COVID comes with its own set of risks now. You have no way of knowing who and how many have handled a packet that you’re now loading into your shopping cart. Same goes for food that you may be ordering in. So if you’re returning home post a grocery run or receiving a takeout order from the delivery person, first things first – wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Discard the packet you have received your food in. If you’re using a cloth bag (really you should!) for your errands, put it away for wash. Empty the contents of your takeout into clean utensils. Try and limit your errands; buy enough to at least last you a week or two.

  • 5 Unhealthy Habits to Give Up On This World Health Day

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    April 7 is observed as World Health Day across the globe. To begin with, one must acknowledge that living healthy isn’t a choice; instead, it is imperative that you do. A few unhealthy habits might be sabotaging your efforts at living a healthy life. Take a look at the following unhealthy habits that you ought to get rid of this World Health Day:

    1. Skipping your breakfast

    Unhealthy habit #1 is skipping your first meal. When you wake up in the morning, your body needs the correct nutrition to prepare itself for the rest of the day. However, by force of habit, some tend to wake up late for office and make up for the lost time by not eating a full breakfast. Also, one might choose to forego his first meal, thinking it to be a diet hack.

    In reality, not eating your breakfast impacts the body in more ways than one. It causes a drop in your blood sugar levels, affects mental health and concentration owing to the lack of energy reserves, and leads you to binge on unhealthy (comfort) foods throughout the day.

    Needless to point it out, gorging on junk foods can only add to the extra kilos and visceral fat, thereby making you vulnerable to lifestyle disorders at an increased age.

    Health tip: Make sure you eat a wholesome breakfast, comprising the right nutrients and macros. The first meal of the day should not be only protein or carb-heavy; instead, include foods that have adequate proportions of protein, healthy carbs and good fats.

    2. Not sipping enough on the wonder liquid

    Another unhealthy habit is to skimp on your regular water intake. Multiple studies have linked adequate consumption of water to a sharper memory and focus, more stable mood, and increased energy. Besides, keeping up with the required fluid intake helps your skin stay supple and your body cool faster relative to the ambient temperature; provides muscles and joints increased functionality, and flushes out toxins from the system.

    The question is, how much water should you be drinking each day? Experts say that about eight glasses should do the trick (besides the two/three cups of water that you get from foods). However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, the best way to know whether you are hydrated is to check the colour of urine (darker colour can indicate that you aren’t hydrated).

    Health tip: You can spread your daily water intake over the day. Begin the morning with two glasses of water, and drink another 6-7 glasses as the day progresses.

    3. Eating late into the night

    Research reveals that longer the time between two meals (dinner and breakfast), more the time your body gets to process, digest and absorb the nutrients from the food. Also, studies have established a connect between intermittent fasting (marked by spacing out your meals and eating in a shorter window) and healthy weight loss.

    Another reason to give up on late night snacking or late dinners is that it often results in indigestion, something that hampers the quality of your sleep. Moreover, chances are you aren’t necessarily opting for the healthier options. Instead, you are likely to reach out for refined snacks and other unhealthy foods that will, in turn, spike the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and derail all weight loss goals.

    Health tip: Make yourself a dinner schedule and stick to it. Ideally, aim to have your last meal of the day at least two hours before bedtime.

    4. Living a sedentary lifestyle

    In today’s times, most of our work is online. Chances are you are sitting on a chair all day long, glued to your laptop. However, don’t let this professional routine of yours add to the risks of morbidity and mortality.

    Break the monotony by indulging in a 30/45-minute workout regularly. Multiple studies have thrown light on the various upsides of physical activity. Not only does exercise help you look and feel great, but it also aligns perfectly well with your weight loss goals, and boosts metabolism and energy levels.

    More importantly, regular exercise can significantly add to your life expectancy. An extensive body of work corroborates that physical activity helps to keep the heart healthy, lowers the risks of certain types of cancers and other chronic conditions, regulates blood flow to all parts of the body, and supports blood sugar control.

    Health tip: Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity every week. This can include brisk walking or jogging. Team it with two days of strength training, including lifting weights, and using your body weight as resistance (exercises like pull-ups, push-ups and squats).

    5. Not getting adequate snooze hours

    Research states that not getting enough shut-eye at night can cloud your thinking and decision-making abilities (you are more likely to make mistakes), affect heart health and jeopardise your immune system. Being sleep-deprived is also linked with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, owing to the release of insulin that results in increased fat storage.

    More importantly, lack of quality sleep can make it even more challenging to lose weight. That’s because the two hormones that regulate appetite and satiety – namely ghrelin and leptin -- are adversely affected by insufficient or scanty sleep.

  • 6 Scientifically Backed Stress Management Tips to Bid Adieu to Stress

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Long hours of work, responsibilities of your family and suffering sleep patterns can all lead to increased stress. Though it is an inescapable part of our daily lives, there are always some things that we can do to counter it. The most basic thing to do is to learn how to relieve stress from our lives. Here are a few ways to relieve stress that can also be followed to get your mental tranquility back.

    Snack

    For many people, eating seems to be a stress-buster at times when nothing else works. It has been scientifically proven that certain foods actually help reduce stress. Beginning with broccoli that has folic acid for stress reduction to endorphin-producing dark chocolate; from nuts that keep the cortisol levels low to salmon rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help the brain cells function more collaboratively, are all examples of foods that can help you relax when you feel stressed.

    Deep Breathing

    When you feel mentally fatigued and there are not many resources at hand, the most effective way to release stress is by using your body’s mechanism to fix itself. Deep breathing or taking long breaths works efficiently to give your mind the much-needed break. When you start breathing deeply, the body directly responds by lowering the blood pressure, releasing the muscle tension and lowering of metabolism, providing a calming effect to the whole body and mind.

    Take a Walk

    The fact that exercise is good for physical well-being has been long established, but it is also interesting to note that a small amount of exercise can do wonders for your mental health too. In situations where you feel yourself being strained by a certain issue, the best thing to do is to take a walk. According to research, taking regular walks can help to modify your nervous system and control anger and mood swings.

    Turn off Your Phone

    Smartphones have become an essential part of our lives and help us navigate our daily life better. All these positives don’t take away from the fact that they have also increased the anxiety levels in people. By simply switching off your phone, you can get instant relaxation by escaping the urge to constantly check your phone for work emails or social media updates. Even a few minutes away from the screen can be a great de-stresser.

    Take a Nap

    The hectic everyday schedules of today’s life seldom leave time for a full night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can have a major effect on your mental well-being and shoot up stress levels. Although, drastically altering the lifestyle might not be an option, taking a nap definitely is. Research shows that even a half hour nap can reverse the effects of sleep deprivation and help improve productivity and performance.

  • Why Health Insurance Claims Get Rejected?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    A list of reasons that can lead to the rejection of your health insurance claim

    Customers buy health insurance with a mindset that it will rescue them from severe medical emergencies. But what happens when the claim is rejected? The setback of claim rejection can have major financial implications for the insured. The rising costs of hospitalization and medicines further intensify the apprehension, leaving the insured vulnerable.

    You need financial support to recover from an illness or injury and medical expenses are the last thing that you want to be bothered about. To ensure that your claim is not rejected and you get reimbursed on time, you must adhere to these points before making a claim.

    Waiting Period

    Waiting period is the most common reason for health insurance claim rejections. Waiting period can be of different types depending on the insurer and policy. There may be an initial waiting period where a claim is rejected within 30-90 days of buying the cover. There may be a waiting period for pre-existing illnesses where the claim will get rejected within a specified period (usually 1-2 years) if the claim is made for the pre-existing illness. Besides, there may be specific waiting periods for medical conditions such as maternity.

    Incorrect Information

    It is probably one of the leading causes for claim rejections. The insurance policy is based on the details that the insured provides at the time of filling the proposal form. All insurance policies are based on good faith and the insured is expected to provide complete and honest information at the time of purchasing the policy. If any discrepancy is found or if an ailment is discovered, which was not informed to the insurer earlier, then the claim will be rejected.

    Permanent Exclusions

    Every insurance policy has certain permanent exclusions that will not be covered under any circumstances. These can be anything from certain diseases to treatments. Not all policies have the same content in their exclusion list. Therefore, it is advisable to go through the exclusions carefully to avoid unexpected surprises later on.

  • This is How Health Insurance Can Protect Your Savings

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    We’ve all heard the popular saying, ‘health is wealth’. From working out in gyms to wellness retreats to maintaining healthy eating habits, staying fit has become a cardinal aim of our life. Improving personal health competence has certainly been a crucial agenda in people’s life, regardless of their age, gender and occupation.

    While taking care of your health should be the top priority, it bodes well to stay prepared for the unexpected. And that’s why health advisors always recommend buying a health insurance plan as your second layer of defence. It secures you against the risk of medical emergencies that could drain all your finances in one go and burn a large hole in your pocket.

    Apart from covering the rising costs of availing healthcare facilities, health insurance has a host of other benefits. Listed below are some of reasons as to how a health insurance policy facilitates greater savings in times of distress:

    Covers your Medical Expenses

    When you or your family member needs urgent medical care, the last thing you would want to worry about is the medical costs. One of the biggest advantages of having a health insurance plan is that it covers you against unforeseen medical expenses in the event of an unexpected situation. With the right insurance policy, you don’t have to worry about any medical expenditure, be it post-hospitalization expenses, ambulance charges, doctor’s fees etc.

    Hence, by choosing the right blend of features, you can be assured of a 360-degree health protection cover for you and your loved ones. Many insurance companies have started offering riders with the main policy or separate health plans to cover excluded medical conditions such as maternity benefits, personal accident insurance and critical illness cover etc. With these costs covered under your health insurance policy, you need not worry about the finances in case the calamity strikes.

    Financial protection against critical illnesses

    Almost every health insurer provides coverage against critical illnesses such as cancer, kidney failure, stroke, etc. either with the policy or as an add-on cover that can be added to your health insurance plan. In case you are diagnosed with any of these diseases as mentioned in the predetermined list of your policy, the insurance company will give you a lump sum amount to meet all your treatment costs and tackle other financial obligations.

    Selecting the right policy with the right amount of coverage, thereby helps you to prepare for the worst. Rather than waiting for an illness to strike, it’s prudent for you to stay proactive and plan for the future. Additionally, purchasing a policy at a young age will not only give you the benefit of lower premiums but also more comprehensive coverage and hence, facilitate more savings if you’re struck by a malady.

    Cashless Mediclaim facility

    When you’re undergoing the treatment in a hospital, your family might find it very difficult to arrange immediate cash to pay the hospital bills. To make sure you don’t have to face such a situation, many insurance providers offer cashless Mediclaim facility at network hospitals which means you can get the best possible treatment without worrying about the finances.

    All you need to do is fill up the Mediclaim form to get cashless benefits at partner hospitals with the insurance company.

  • Benefits of Getting A Good Sleep

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Getting a good sleep every night is vital for your physical and emotional health. Allowing yourself to have proper rest after a hard day’s work rejuvenates your body and enhances your immune system.

    Sleep has innumerable benefits and it is essential to sustaining life itself, as most of the repairing your body undergoes is during sleep. Here are five benefits of sleep that may motivate you to get that much-needed full eight hours of rest, in case you neglect your daily quota of complete rest.

    Improved Memory

    When our body is tired, our brain cannot recall information properly. A lack of sleep affects our memory as our body produces excessive amounts of stress hormones. Elevated stress hormones could adversely affect the vital functions of our body and affect our quality of life.

    Regular and deep sleep improves memory by regenerating neurons and improving long term memory formation by organizing the information the brain received throughout the day. Sleep is also known to improve attention span, make a person sharper and improve focus, thus improving overall productivity.

    Improved Immune System

    Proper sleep improves the immune system and reduces the chances of serious diseases such as diabetes, blood pressure and cardiac issues. Restful sleep induces a state of complete relaxation, which in turn encourages a regulated blood flow throughout the body, thus reducing the chances of risks related to the cardiovascular system. Healthy sleeping habits also lowers the chances of diabetes by regulating body weight.

    Emotional Well-Being

    Not getting enough sleep can make us feel agitated, irritable and grumpy. A constant state of negative emotions may further lead to depression which can wreck havoc in our personal and professional lives. Enough sleep allows us to be in better control of our emotions, stay calm and reasonable throughout the day no matter what situation we face.

  • 9 Ways to Maintain Your Mental and Emotional Health This Winter

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Weather conditions during the winter season affects our mental and emotional health. It’s quite common to feel melancholic, tired and mentally drained during the frigid winter months. After all, it can be tough to stay cheerful with shorter days, longer nights and frosty temperatures. So, we’ve compiled 5 effective ways through which you can combat winter blues and keep yourself happy during the chilly days of the year.

    Exercise daily

    Your body releases stress-relieving and mood-boosting endorphins during and after a work-out, which is how exercising helps relieve anxiety and depression. It’s even more important to follow your exercise routine during the winter season, not only to release the mental pressure, but also to keep yourself warm and active.

    Invest time in activities

    Plan more activities that you enjoy to uplift your mood. Prioritize time to do something fun with your friends, children, share light moments with your colleagues or classmates, go for a walk by the sea with your partner, or spend time doing your favorite hobby at least once every day. This will help you keep your mind healthy and will induce positivity.

    Nutritious diet

    The food you eat directly impacts your body and the brain. Protein-rich food and carbohydrates increase serotonin, dopamine, and tyrosine which keeps you alert and has a calming effect on your mind. Also, having green vegetables and fruits daily supply essential nutrients to your body, and restore structural integrity of the brain cells to keep you in a healthy mindset.

    Find new companions

    Sometimes one of the best solutions to avoid the loneliness that can surround you in winter is to add another kind of companion to your life. It can be a new friend from social media, or a pet. They can offer unconditional love, comfort and a way to keep you cheerful throughout the day.

    Maintain healthy relationships

    Relationship problems are a very common cause of emotional distress, especially during the winter months. Statistics have revealed that December and January are the busiest months of the year for lawyers dealing with divorce cases. There can be many stressful factors that can affect your relationship with friends and family, but you can prevent conflict by trying to be kind, and make extra effort to be compassionate.

    Talk about your problems

    Knowing you’re valued by others and sharing your thoughts helps you think more positively in overcoming the negative aspects of life. When you speak about things that are troubling you, you let the negative emotions out, reducing your stress and anxiety. Holding onto anger and negative feelings can eventually lead to depression and keep you stuck in the past.

    Take care of your finances

    The uncontrolled spending or increasing financial obligations of you and your family can be another common contributor to your low mood during the winter months. Also, the festive season can create added stress to meet these requirements. You can avoid this source of unhappiness by outlining a strict budget for festive celebrations and making sure you stick to it.

    Take adequate sleep

    Sleep restores both your mind and body. Hence, it’s important to sleep deeply, and adequately to keep yourself positive, both mentally and physically. More so, during winters when nights are longer than usual, staying up late consistently can have adverse effects on your brain and body. Avoid gadgets and heavy food at night to sleep better, and earlier.

  • 6 Tips for Healthier Eyes in the Digital Era

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Keeping eyes protected from the strains and stresses of everyday computer usage is of more importance today than ever before

    According to a survey conducted in the year 2017, India ranked in the world’s top 5 markets in terms of the time spent on apps on Android phones. Indians spend up to 4 hours of their day on smartphones, which is equivalent to half a work day in many cases. For many, these hours are in addition to at least another 8 hours a day spent on their laptops and computers at work.

    Long hours of exposure to the blue light emitted by computer and phone screens can cause a plethora of eye problems; ranging from blurry vision, dryness, eye strain, itchy eyes, headaches to long-term diseases like Computer Vision Syndrome.

    A few simple steps taken every day can help protect your eyes and reverse the adverse effects of computers on your eyes.

    Anti-glare Glasses

    The blue light that is emitted in large amount by computer and phone screens can be harmful to the eyes. When in front of the screen, eyes must be protected by anti-glare glasses. The anti-reflective coating present on the glasses helps to bounce the light off and thus reduce glare and protect eyes.

    Take a Break

    Taking a break from the screen every 20 minutes is important. It can be done by looking at something at a distance; by rapidly blinking or by taking a walk. Walking around helps with the blood circulation which improves not only eye health but also the health of the entire body.

    Better Lighting

    When working on a screen, the lighting in the room should be neither too dim nor too bright. Where low lighting can strain your eyes, bright and concentrated lighting can cause glare; both are bad for the eyes. Therefore, opting for diffused lighting keeps eyes healthy and in good working condition.

    Proper Distance and Angle

    The computer screen must be placed at least at an arm’s length to escape strain and stress to the eyes. Apart from the distance, the angle at which the screen is viewed is of importance as well. By keeping the screen at 20 degrees below the eye level also eases the strain on the eyes.

  • What Amount of Tax Does Health Insurance Save?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    How to save tax and get health protection at the same time

    Health insurance is a critical component of a financial plan especially when healthcare costs are on a rise. In addition, the cost of treatment for major diseases is prohibitive. Sudden hospitalisation expenses can have a weakening impact on a family’s financial condition.

    Buying health insurance for yourself, spouse, dependent children, and parents is a protection from heavy financial loss due to hospitalisation of a family member. There is an additional health insurance. The premium amount paid is allowed as deduction from total income for computation of tax payable, which lowers your tax liability.

    Section 80D of the Income Tax Act provides tax benefits on the amount paid as premium for health insurance. The basic condition is that the payment of premium should be made by cheque, electronic funds transfer, or any digital medium. Payment of health insurance premium in cash disqualifies the insured from claiming the tax benefit.

    The benefit is available for an individual as well as a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). Amount paid for the central government’s health scheme also qualifies for tax benefit under Section 80D. The tax benefit is available when health insurance is bought for self, spouse, dependent children, and parents in the case of individuals. For HUF, health insurance purchased for any member can be claimed as deduction from total income for arriving at the tax payable.

    Deductions allowed from total income under Section 80D for the year 2016-17 is as follows:

    For Individual

    • Premium up to ₹25,000; The limit is ₹30,000 if the person insured is a senior citizen or a very senior citizen
    • An additional premium up to ₹25,000 when health insurance is purchased for parent(s) of the assesse. The limit is ₹30,000 if a parent insured is a senior citizen or very senior citizen

    For HUF

    • Premium up to ₹25,000; The limit is ₹30,000 if the member insured is a senior citizen or very senior citizen
    • The additional benefit offered to individuals is not available in the case of HUF

    Section 80D further provides that an individual as well as HUF can claim deduction of up to ₹30,000 of medical expenditure for a very senior citizen, who is not covered by health insurance. A person 60 years and above is defined as a senior citizen and 80 years and above as a very senior citizen.

    The aggregate amount of deduction that can be claimed under Section 80D by an individual is ₹60,000 and by HUF, it is ₹30,000.

    The following illustrations explains the maximum amount of tax saving on purchase of health insurance

    Premium paid Total premium paid Tax saved when in 10% tax bracket Tax saved when in 20% tax bracket Tax saved when in 30% tax bracket
    For Individual
    ₹25,000 for family PLUS ₹30,000 for 60-year-old parent ₹55,000 ₹5,500 ₹11,000 ₹16,500
    ₹30,000 when assesse is 60-year-old PLUS ₹ 30,000 for 80-year-old parent ₹60,000 ₹6,000 ₹12,000 ₹18,500
    For HUF
    ₹30,000 premium for HUF which includes a 60-year-old member ₹30,000 ₹3,000 ₹6,000 ₹9,000
  • Does your child need to wear a mask to combat the COVID-19 outbreak?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    If used the right way, cloth masks made of cotton can prevent the respiratory droplets from infecting others


    With the world in the firm grip of COVID-19, the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) announced in the first week of April this year that everybody should ideally wear cloth face masks in public -- particularly in spaces where standing six feet apart from each other isn’t a possibility -- to guard against the raging novel coronavirus.

    The leading public health institute has also stated that protective gear shouldn’t be used on toddlers under the age of 2 years and by people suffering from persistent breathing problems. However, the lacuna in the CDC directive is that there is no specific advice on how children should use protective face masks.

    What has added to the confusion is that the CDC hasn’t mandated the need to wear masks; it is still left to one’s discretion. In the wake of such ambiguity, it is crucial to know whether your child needs to sport a protective mask or not. This article seeks to clear the air through expert answers and opinions so that you can take an informed decision. Read on:

    1. Are COVID-19 symptoms different in children?

    No, COVID-19 symptoms displayed by all are identical. However, children afflicted by the novel coronavirus have usually exhibited milder symptoms as compared to adults. While common symptoms include fever, cough and a runny nose, diarrhoea and vomiting have been reported as well.

    2. It is not likely that children will be severely affected by the virus. So why do they need to wear a mask?

    Basis available evidence, children are relatively less vulnerable to COVID-19 as compared to adults.

    That being said, to date, children comprise almost 1-2% of all the cases. The high-risk paediatric population constitute children suffering from underlying conditions like broncho-pulmonary hypoplasia (incomplete lung-development), congenital heart diseases, airway anomalies, and compromised immunity owing to severe malnutrition.

    These findings have buttressed the belief among global healthcare ecosystem that children with undetected or mild cases of the disorder might contaminate others in their immediate families and communities. Should a child already have the virus, wearing protective cloth masks can prevent the virus-laden respiratory droplets from landing around others.

    Remember that non-medical coverings cannot do much to protect your child. However, if used the right way, they are still better than nothing. While it is true that children have accounted for a small proportion of the detected cases, some of them rank high on severity. Importantly, almost 25% of the cases are asymptomatic – the primary reason why the infection has spread thick and fast.

    Also Read - Coronavirus: Myths Vs Facts

    3. Should children wear face masks every time while stepping outside?

    Note that protective gear is the most useful in spaces where your child will, in all probability, come within six feet of other people. It follows that you should make your child wear a mask every time he/she is heading to the local pharmacy or grocery store with you. Masks also become essential gear in areas that are considered hotspots for the novel coronavirus.

    Experts also think it best that children don’t wear masks at home. Should any family member be ill, make sure he/she is maintaining isolation and the other family members are staying six feet apart from him/her.

    However, in case your child is under the weather, or you believe he/she could become sick, try not to step out in public. Should you have to visit the doctor, make sure you have a prior appointment scheduled and wear a face mask if you have one.

    4. Ok. But how should I ensure that my toddler keeps his mask on at all times?

    For anyone with a toddler, this is going to be a real challenge. That’s because some toddlers and pre-schoolers are more likely to wear and keep on a mask more than others.

    Start by explaining to your child why it is essential to wear a cloth face mask. Use simple words to drive home the point -- that people can spread the infection without showing any symptom, for instance.

    Remember that children learn what they see around them – set an example by wearing protective face masks. It is advised to positively reinforce the child’s behaviour when he/she wears a mask.

    You can also fall back on the reward system for faster results. For instance, every time your child wears a mask, give him/her a healthy treat – yoghurt or fruits for instance.

    Children, especially those still in the early stages of development, will find it extremely hard to keep a mask on. They are likely to fidget with the gear, pulling it above or below the nose. Therefore, there is a chance that the mask won’t do what it is supposed to do. In all fairness, how your child would eventually cooperate depends on the age and level of maturity.

  • Coronavirus: Myths vs. Facts

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Lately, there has been a litany of misinformation doing the rounds across social media platforms. Unfounded information and hoaxes have broken and continue to break the internet. That’s precisely why we must separate fact from fiction so that we can better deal with the coronavirus outbreak. However, before we delve into debunking some of the most common myths about this pandemic, it is necessary to put things in perspective.

    What is the coronavirus?

    Coronaviruses (CoV) constitute a large family of viruses that usually cause a host of illnesses, ranging from common influenza to more severe conditions like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

    The COVID-19, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is a new strain of viruses that were previously not identified among humans.

    Symptoms of the infection include respiratory distress, cough, fever, a runny nose, and aching hands and feet (this is not very common). The more severe cases can involve infection-induced pneumonia and acute breathing problems.

    Standard recommendations to contain further spreading of the virus include frequently washing your hands, covering nose and mouth while coughing/sneezing, and consuming thoroughly cooked food. More importantly, avoid public spaces, larger gatherings, and close contact with anybody exhibiting the symptoms mentioned above.

    Debunking Common Myths

    • Face masks can protect me against COVID-19. Myth or fact?

    • Answer: Some truth
      Mask, while not a complete guarantee and failsafe measure, can capture droplets which so far has been the biggest transmission route of the virus. Masks, however, may not be so effective in capturing aerosols which are tiny virus particles. Specific models of the more professional and tight-fitting masks (N95, for instance) help to guard healthcare workers, considering they care for the infected patients round the clock. Remember that stocking up on professional-grade masks makes those scarce and less available to the ones who need them most – i.e., infected patients and healthcare workers.

    • Eating non-vegetarian food isn’t safe. Myth or fact?

    • Answer: Myth
      There is no evidence to support that the novel coronavirus (or any other virus for that matter) thrives and breeds on eggs, chicken, meat and seafood. Just because the outbreak started from a meat market in Wuhan doesn’t mean you cannot eat non-vegetarian food or dairy items for as long as the infection persists. Make sure to cook the food thoroughly so that you kill the illness-causing viruses and germs.

    • We are at risk from packages that are imported from infected areas, particularly China. Myth or fact?

    • Answer: Myth
      Scientists conclude that viruses, including the novel coronavirus, cannot survive on external surfaces for long. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 from any package or item that was in transit for weeks and subject to ambient temperatures.

    • Alternative medicine has a cure for coronavirus. Myth or fact?

    • Answer: Myth
      The information that alternative medicine, including home remedies like consumption of garlic and drinking silver, can avert COVID-19 does not hold any water.

      • Drinking silver has not been evidenced to cure COVID-19; on the contrary, it can lead to seizures and kidney damage. Unlike zinc or iron, silver doesn’t have any role to play in the human system.
      • Drinking water every 15 minutes cannot cure coronavirus. Contrary to a social media post, adequate consumption of water, despite having a host of benefits, will not be particularly effective against any respiratory virus. Neither will be taking a hot shower protecting you against the risks of an infection.
      • UV lamps cannot help either. Instead, sterilising your hands under the light of UV lamps can irritate your skin.
      • Garlic certainly has antimicrobial properties. However, no evidence states that consuming garlic can protect against COVID-19.
      • According to WHO, spraying chlorine or alcohol on your body cannot kill the novel coronavirus. In fact, spraying these can harm one’s mucous membranes.

    Answering Rarely-asked Questions

    • Can COVID-19 infect pets?
    • As of now, there is no evidence of pets getting infected with the virus. However, there are other strains of the virus that can affect animals. Hence, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises against contact with animals and recommends that you wear a mask if sick.

      While the CDC also suggests people travelling to China to avoid coming in close contact with pets, the agency doesn’t give out any reason to believe that animals could be the carriers of this virus.

    • Should I cancel my international trip?
    • Given the current conditions, travelling does present a risk. The idea is to factor in the wellbeing of your family members and fellow passengers. While you may not be particularly at risk of developing symptoms, you can end up infecting somebody who is.

      According to expert advice, you should give up on non-urgent and non-essential travel for the time being; particularly should you be more vulnerable to developing severe complications.

    • What should I expect upon arriving at my international destination?
    • As we write this, most countries have already sealed their borders and skies. While these travel restrictions may be eased in the future, you can still expect to be screened/quarantined if you are coming/ have visited a country where the outbreak has been widespread.

      If I am quarantined at home, what should my coronavirus kit include?

      In case you are quarantined at home, make sure you stock up on certain supplies. These include dry and canned food items, adequate water for every member at home, and a month’s supply of prescribed medicines.

      Make sure you have:

      • Antibacterial soap
      • Toilet paper, tissues
      • Hand sanitizer (with 60% + alcohol content)
      • Antibiotic ointments
      • Bandages, gauze
      • Thermometers
      • Scissors, tweezers
      • Blanket
      • Extra pair of contact lenses, hearing aid batteries (if required)
      • Pain relievers, vitamins and fluids, and other OTC medications for general conditions like heartburn, stomach problems, common cold, etc.
    • How long does coronavirus live on other surfaces?
    • Researchers cannot put the finger on it, but they assume not for a prolonged period. Experts say that this family of viruses can survive on surfaces only for a few hours. While it is still unclear how COVID-19 spreads; coronaviruses, in general, are transmitted through viral respiratory droplets.

      More importantly, no evidence suggests that this new strain can be transmitted through items, particularly imported goods.

    • What are the most credible sources of information about COVID-19?
    • Beware! Misinformation is rampant. As the virus continues to get a foothold across countries, unfounded information and conspiracy theories swell by the day as well. Social media sites have come under a deluge of misleading posts and questionable statistics. Government websites and those of international organisations such as WHO will provide the most credible and vetted information.

      Look out for websites that:

      • Rely on experts for accurate information
      • Have no vested interest, only want to inform and protect the people
      • Are not leveraging the current scenario to sell or promote a product
    • I want to volunteer to help coronavirus-afflicted patients. How should I go about it?
      • Get adequate medical supplies shipped to areas where they are needed urgently
      • Donate to a credible non-profit organisation
      • Support your local businesses
    • I read that it will take 18 months to find a vaccine. If this is true, will people suffer for all this time?
    • At this point, there is no vaccination available for the novel coronavirus. Scientists are working on devising a vaccine, but their efforts will take time to bear fruits. While human trials have already begun, it will take a considerable amount of time before global immunisation becomes a possibility.

      Also, against popular rumours that have been doing the rounds, antibiotics cannot help in preventing or tackling COVID-19. Antibiotics, as the name suggests, only protect against bacterial infections, not viral.

  • How to Sustain On a No Sugar Diet Plan for Amazing Health Benefits

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Master a no sugar diet plan for better skin and metabolism

    From pasta sauce and low-fat yoghurt to protein bars and cereal, it is hard to escape the high sugar content in your everyday meals. Not only does it lead to cardiovascular diseases but also affects your daily energy levels. With many sensing the harmful effects of sugar in our foods, no sugar diets have gained popularity.

    People are slowly catching on that the real insurance against health troubles is consumption of foods with natural sugar rather than artificial sugar. Listed below are some tips on how you can keep sugar at bay.

    Go Slow

    While going all-in for a no sugar diet may work for some people, it might not work for you. Instead slowly eliminate sugary foods from your daily diet. This will allow you to reach your no-sugar diet goal without creating a craving for sugar.

    Read Content Labels

    Often products will advertise ‘low-fat’ items which seem like a good fit, but they can be loaded with artificial sugar. Therefore, we suggest reading the product labels before buying to find out the actual contents, so as to adhere to a no sugar diet.

    Steer Clear of Simple Carbohydrates

    Simple carbohydrates are easy to break down in your body, releasing sugar directly into the bloodstream that cause a spike. This can create a ‘craving’ in your body for sugar. This is why, experts suggest keeping foods with simple carbs or artificial sugar out of your no sugar diet plan.

    Sweetened Drinks

    Replace your daily can of diet coke with herbal tea, coconut water or a glass of water. This will reduce the intake of sugar into your system and leave you feeling fresh and full of vigour.

    Meal Prep

    Hunger strikes at odd times makes us more susceptible to selecting unhealthy options at lunch. Therefore, the best defence against artificial sugar in foods is by preparing your meals in advance. Save big bucks on your no sugar diet by planning what you eat in advance.

  • Are Alternative Healthcare Treatments Covered by Your Health Insurance?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Ayurveda, one of the most popular alternate medicine branch, has its roots in India

    Simran, a 41-year-old school teacher was suffering from chronic back pain. One of her co-teachers suggested an Ayurvedic treatment from an Ayurveda practitioner she personally knew and highly recommended. Having heard the benefits of Ayurveda over allopathy, Simran consulted the practitioner. He informed her that the treatment would take 12 sittings over 3 months and would cost ₹80,000.

    Simran felt optimistic and decided to opt for it. She didn’t worry about the cost as she had health insurance with a sum insured of ₹6,00,000. However, her relief was soon replaced by stress, when she realised halfway through the treatment that her health insurance did not cover alternate treatments like Ayurveda.

    To avoid the shock that Simran got, here’s what you need to know about your health insurance and alternative healthcare treatments.

    What is Alternative Healthcare Treatments?

    Treatments like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, homeopathy, naturopathy are alternative healthcare treatments. In our country, such traditional and alternative medicines are preferred by many over conventional, western medicine because it is safer, deals with the disease at its root cause and doesn’t have any harmful side effects.

    Scope of Coverage

    While there are a few insurance companies that cover alternative healthcare treatments, they usually do so in group health insurance and on request. However, with the growing popularity of alternate medicines, there are quite a few insurance companies out there that are offering cover for alternate healthcare treatments under their standard health care plans.

    You should make sure to check that the health insurance plan you’re choosing covers non-allopathic treatments and to what extent. Read all the conditions thoroughly and understand what they imply.

  • How Can Fitness & Wellness Apps Keep You Healthy?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    By motivating us to do the best we can, even when we don’t feel like it

    Fitness is something that all of us want, but few are willing to strive for. Sometimes what most of us really need is some motivation to get things going. This is where fitness and wellness apps come in to the picture. Since we are always near to our phone or tablet, they form an ideal platform to get us motivated and running on the health trail. Here we note down some of the finest apps that help you exercise, eat, relax and sleep for a harmonious wellness experience.

    RunKeeper

    This free app available for both Android and iOS devices, makes use of your smartphone’s GPS system to help you create running/biking routes near you. Once done with that, it will also give you accurate information about your cycling speed, running pace, and calories burned – all in real time. This app motivates you to lose weight and is apt for all skill levels, right from 5k to a full marathon. Not only that, it can even integrate into your phone’s music app to get you moving to your favourite tunes.

    Yonder

    Again, a free app for Android and iOS. This one lets you break the monotony of routine workouts for something more adventurous. This is essentially a mobile community for backcountry adventurers and backyard explorers that make you aware of various locations ideal for activities such as hiking, climbing, biking, and skiing. The thing different here is that you can find images, and even videos, about locations that have been top-rated by community members, with their take on it. Yonder is one app that will really inspire you to strap your shoes and get out of the house.

    Spotify

    You might already have this one. This music streaming app has a feature called Spotify Running, which lets you select from a mix of popular songs to originals created exclusively for running. The beauty of this app is that, once you start running it automatically detects your pace and adjusts the music according to your tempo, egging you on to go faster. It can also work with RunKeeper, so that you can track your run while matching your steps to the beat.

  • A Market for Mental Health Insurance?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Inclusion of mental illnesses in health insurance will boost mental health literacy and help fight stigmatisation in the country

    Mental illnesses are a serious problem in India. The issue has been relegated to the sidelines for decades now, but the rising number of people suffering from these illnesses has brought it to the forefront. Nearly 6.5% of the country’s population suffer from some sort of mental disorder, and this is expected to increase up to 20% by 2020. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are nearly 57 million Indians suffering from depression, which is one in every 22 people.

    Mental Healthcare Act

    The new Mental Healthcare Act seeks to achieve a paradigm shift in the way people perceive mental illness. It replaces the term “mental illness” with “mentally ill,” which suggests that it is a condition that isn’t permanent, and treatable with the right approach. It also ensures the person’s right to mental healthcare with dignity and confidentiality.

    Another major change in the Mental Healthcare Act is the directive given to the insurers for providing cover for the treatment of mental illnesses. The clause states, “Every insurer shall make provision for health insurance for treatment of mental illness on the same basis as is available for treatment of physical illness.”

    Mental illness cover has been given the same status as that of health insurance cover in the new act. Presently, health insurance only covers aspects relating to physical illness, and that is a huge market. In 2015-16 alone, the premium from health insurance was ₹ 27,457 crore, with a phenomenal growth rate of 21.30% compared to the previous year.

    Mental Insurance Elsewhere

    Mental health insurance is an existing offering that is already prevalent in many countries. However, the coverage differs from country to country. The extent of coverage varies with certain limits with respect to the number of outpatient visits, number of hospitalisations, the amount spent and so on.

    The UK has comprehensive health insurance policies that cover a wide range of healthcare services spanning medical, surgical, psychiatric, and psychological services. Coverage in Indonesia is different in the sense that only public insurance comes with mental insurance, whereas private insurers do not offer it. Similarly, the coverage varies for other nations also.

  • Central Initiatives for Making Healthcare Affordable. Are These Enough?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Some major progress made by the 3-year-old government in the sphere of healthcare

    The UPA-led Congress Government witnessed their worst defeat in the general elections of 2014 and India got a fresh new start. The NDA government targeted major reformation and development in a number of sectors, including healthcare.

    The main focus of the government was on preventive healthcare and long-form immunization drive to minimize or completely eradicate certain preventable diseases like Kala Azar, Tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, and measles.

    Here are some initiatives by the Modi government that made a difference in the health sector.

    Benefits with E-Health

    The Digital India campaign of 2015 brought better efficiency in the healthcare sector. With an increase in the knowledge database and simplified concepts, a greater transparency was achieved, removing many malpractices from the industry. Through E-Heath initiative, healthcare became more accessible to people in remote areas who had very limited access to the healthcare facilities.

    An eHospital app was launched with an online registration system to minimalise the formalities at hospitals, before a check-up or treatment.

    Door to Door Check-up Initiative of 2017

    The most recent initiatives include door-to-door screening for chronic diseases like cancer, heart disorders and diabetes. This programme took place on World Cancer Day (4th February) and offered early detection and treatment of the diseases for people between the critical age group of 30 to 69 years.

    Making India Open Defecation Free by 2019

    Unhygienic conditions lead to diseases. In 2014, the Modi government launched a nationwide campaign to make India open defecation free by 2019. Many known faces from the Hindi film industry, like Vidya Balan and Amitabh Bachchan, took part to preach the campaign effectively to every house in India. More than 80 lakh public toilets were built across the country. Recently, states like Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala were declared ODF states.

    Swachh Bharat Cess

    In the reiteration of Mahatma Gandhi’s dream for a Swachh India, Clean India Initiative or Swachh Bharat Mission was launched in 2015. The government imposed Swachh Bharat Cess on 15th November 2015 on taxable services at the rate of 0.5%. The government raised an amount of ₹3901.76 crore between 2015- 16 that was utilized for different Swachh Bharat initiatives of the government.

  • Tips for First-Time Health Insurance Shoppers

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Assess your needs, know the different types of health insurance and ways to buy them, vet your finances and read all the plan documents thoroughly

    It is prudent to opt for health insurance as it helps you to meet the rising cost of medical expenses. But, if you’re shopping for a complete health insurance for the first time, there are a lot of factors that you need to consider. To simplify the process, we have outlined some tips that will help you make some smart decisions about your healthcare coverage.

    Examine Your Needs

    Before you settle on a plan, you should thoroughly access your needs. Here are some things to consider:

    • How often do you fall ill?
    • How much coverage do you require?
    • Is your current doctor covered in the provider network of the plan?

    You could also ask your doctor if he or she accepts a particular health insurance plan.

    Where to Shop?

    There are different routes you can take to buy health insurance, which includes:

    • Buy/Browse plans directly from an insurance company
      You can contact any health insurance provider to inquire about different health insurance plans that are available.
    • Purchase health insurance through a broker or agent
      Brokers and agents can also help you compare different plan options and process your enrolment. While brokers sell schemes offered by a number of different insurance companies, agents typically sell plans on behalf of one particular company.
    • Purchase coverage from online sellers
      You can use online sites to search and compare different plan options before purchasing health insurance. Many sites have plan comparison tools that help you to figure out what health insurance option best suits your needs.

    Know the Difference

    It is important to know the difference between an individual health coverage, a family floater policy and a rider. Individual health insurance plans offer coverage for hospitalization and surgical expenses. The family floater policy, on the other hand, covers the hospitalization and surgical expenses for the entire family. Riders are top-up plans that provide added coverage to your existing health insurance plans.

  • Porting Your Health Insurance? Read This First

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Shantanu, a 40-year-old professional, is suffering from asthma. He listed this health issue as a pre-existing condition while buying a health insurance policy. After two years, when the insurance provider raised the premium, Shantanu decided to shift to a new insurance provider. However, he was worried that the new insurer might treat him as a new policyholder and impose a waiting period for the pre-existing condition.

    At this situation, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) and its health insurance portability scheme came to Shantanu’s rescue. The guidelines on the portability of health insurance policy enabled Shantanu to shift to a new insurance provider without losing the benefits accumulated with the present insurer.

    What is Health Insurance Portability?

    The IRDAI introduced health insurance portability in 2011. Through portability, a policyholder can carry forward the credit accrued for pre-existing conditions along with time-bound exclusions while switching from one insurance provider to another, or from one health insurance plan to another. The policyholder also qualifies for getting all continuity benefits, like free medical check-ups and no-claim bonus, which were acquired during the previous insurance policy.

    Rights of the policyholder for porting a Health Insurance

    Under the health insurance portability scheme, the IRDAI gives policyholder the right to port a policy (individual or family) from a general insurance provider to a specialised health insurance provider, and vice versa. The new insurer is liable to provide him or her a health policy of at least the sum insured under the previous policy.

    Moreover, the new insurer is also liable to provide the credit rating associated with the pre-existing conditions that the policyholder had already accrued with the previous insurer. Both the previous insurer and the new insurer are liable to complete the process of porting within the stipulated timeline prescribed under the regulatory guidelines of the IRDAI (Protection of Policyholders’ Interests).

    Conditions for porting a Health Insurance Policy

    A policyholder can apply for porting a health insurance policy only at the time of renewal, which ensures that the new period of insurance will be effective with the new insurer. Any policyholder can apply for the portability of his/her existing health policy only if it is maintained without any breaks.

    To port an insurance policy, the policyholder has to submit a written application to its present insurance company to shift the policy to a new insurer. The application should be made at least 45 days prior to the policy renewal date, mentioning the name of the insurance company to which the policyholder wants to switch his/her policy.

    Process of porting a Health Insurance Policy

    Once the insurance company receives the insurance portability application, it provides the policyholder with a proposal form and a portability form. The present insurer then shares the details of the insured person with the new insurer via a common IRDAI portal for sharing customer data. Once the new insurance company gets all the details, it has to take a decision about underwriting the insurance policy within 15 days. Failing to respond within 15 days will force the insurer to accept the portability application.

    Documents required for Porting a Health Insurance Policy

    • Policy certificates of previous years
    • Latest notice of renewal mentioning coverage continuity and other details
    • The policyholder’s self-declaration in cases of no-claim
    • Investigation report, discharge summary and other equivalent documents in cases of claims
    • Filled in proposal form and portability form
  • Should Health Insurance Be a Part of Financial Planning?

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    Though the awareness of having a health insurance plan has increased, some of us still do not understand its importance. The need to assess and hedge your health risk arises from the fact that the health care costs have been rising at more than 20% on an annualised basis. Many of these are not even covered by the medical cover that you avail. If you know the importance of health insurance, kudos to you! But if you don’t, read on.

    Out-of-Pocket Expenses

    Since medical inflation is always on the rise, it is essential to build a corpus which will exclusively cater to your out-of-pocket expenses for medical reasons. The amount you do not spend can be kept aside to build a decent amount of money that can be utilised in times of need. But, there is a right way to go through with that plan and that is through health insurance.

    There is no point in depleting your hard-earned money that you have saved up for health contingencies. A health insurance plan is designed to take care of these increasing medical expenses. By paying for such expenses, the plan protects your savings from being drained out in case of a medical emergency.

    Tax Exemption from the Government

    Isn’t it great when you don’t have to pay taxes on the amount of money you save? Health insurance helps you in this regard too. Your health insurance plan will cover you and your family without you having to pay any taxes to the government. The premium you pay for your plan is exempted from tax under Section 80D. You can, thus, claim up to Rs.60,000 as tax exemption if you pay health insurance premiums for yourself and your dependent parents (if both are senior citizens).

    Lifetime Renewability Feature

    Health insurance is no longer exhaustible! Did you know that health plans come with a lifelong renewability feature? You can renew health plans for you and your family for as long as you live, without any maximum renewal age! It proves beneficial when you retire and have to cut back on your out-of-pocket expenses. With old age come low income and high medical contingencies. If you have a health plan, any medical contingency you face would be covered by your health plan thereby sparing your savings.

  • 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Appendicitis

    by nikesh lakhani | Aug 17, 2021

    The appendix is a small tube-like organ, attached at the end of your large intestine. It is a vestigial organ, one that has been rendered dysfunctional by continuous evolutionary processes over millions of years. But don’t make the mistake of going by the size of it!

    Did you know, that despite over 500 years of study, the appendix still remains shrouded in mystery?

    Right from the ancient Egyptians to Charles Darwin, the appendix has been successful in appealing to some of the best minds in the annals of history. Leonardo Da Vinci was believed to have dissected over thirty human corpses to understand the appendix and its functionality.

    But like every other organ, this vermiform (worm-like) structure is also not free from afflictions. Appendicitis is a medical condition that results from the inflammation or infection of the appendix. This disease is caused when the appendix is blocked by bodily impurities or any other foreign object.

    However, there still remains a slew of facts (about appendix and appendicitis) that are yet not known to most. Four such least-understood things have been stated below:

    • The nature of appendicitis can be misleading

    There is a high chance that you end up mis-diagnosing appendicitis for other common ailments. The condition can flare up, and present itself in the garb of:

    • Fever associated with a food infection
    • Diarrhoea associated with Amebiasis (parasitic infection of one’s intestine)
    • Bloating associated with an eating disorder

    Often, signs of appendicitis can be elusive, thus giving off a false sense of security. You should certainly abstain from any kind of self-diagnosis and avail immediate medical help, should you experience common symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, vomiting and loss of appetite.

  • Appendicitis pain is good!
  • Yes, you read that right! With appendicitis, chances are you will suffer from a lingering pain. But don’t rest assured if it subsides. The cessation of pain may be associated with organ rupture. This can lead the impurities inside the appendix to seep into the abdomen, thereby resulting in infections (peritonitis).

    This can be fatal, and thus, warrants immediate surgical intervention in order to prevent further contamination of the abdominal cavity.

  • Surgery is not the only option
  • A cure for appendicitis might not always involve invasive medical procedures. A milder form of the disease – that constitutes 80% of all diagnoses -- is treatable with antibiotics.

    Appendectomy or surgical removal of the appendix may be required for the other type. Your doctor can determine the procedure applicable for you by analysing medical test reports.

  • Gender is a great determinant of risk
  • Research reveals that men might be more vulnerable to appendicitis. While the reason for this is not apparent, researchers believe that individual dietary habits (such as low intake of fibre among men) could play a major role.

    If you are trying to build resistance against this disease, maintaining a balanced diet (replete with fruits and vegetables) and leading a healthy lifestyle can be a good start.

    Now that you are aware of some of the little-known facts about this condition, it is time to answer the more critical questions.

    What are the common causes?

    This condition arises from blockage of the appendix, leading to an internal build-up of bacteria. It may be the result of:

    • Stool deposition
    • Tumours
    • Severe trauma
    • Activity of intestinal parasites
    • Enlargement of lymphoid follicles (small tissue masses containing inflammatory cells)
    • .

    What are the symptoms?

    Appendicitis is marked by abdominal pain. However, look out for other symptoms such as:

    • Nausea
    • Indigestion
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of appetite

    How can appendicitis be diagnosed?

    Diagnosis involves a cluster of medical examinations. You might be required to undergo:

    • Complete blood count to check for bacterial infections
    • Urine tests to rule out possibilities of urinary tract infections (UTI) or kidney stones
    • Abdominal imaging (CT scans, MRI) to ascertain probable causes

    How is it treated?

    Usually, treatment involves surgery to remove the inflamed vestigial organ. You might be recommended antibiotics prior to the surgery.

    • Laparoscopic or keyhole surgery: This minimally invasive surgery is conducted through small abdominal incisions (generally less than an inch in size)
    • Open surgery (Appendectomy): This procedure is performed through a larger incision (usually 2-5 inches long). Your doctor might consider this approach, depending on the complications (appendix rupture, for instance) your test reports show up.
    • Antibiotics: Common antibiotics used to treat appendicitis include cefotetan, cefotaxime, ampicillin and sulbactam, cefepime, piperacillin and tazobactam, and ticarcillin and clavulanate.

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