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Beware! Cotton buds may do more harm than good

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New York, May 8: Using cotton buds to clean ears may seem harmless, but they have the potential to cause minor to severe injury to the ear, researchers have warned.

“The two biggest misconceptions I hear as an otolaryngologist are that the ear canals need to be cleaned in the home setting, and that cotton tip applicators should be used to clean them; both of those are incorrect,” said Kris Jatana of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, US.

A study conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital researchers found that over a 21-year period from 1990 through 2010, an estimated 263,000 children younger than 18 years of age were treated in US hospital emergency departments for cotton tip applicator-related ear injuries — that is about 12,500 annually, or about 34 injuries every day.

“The ears canals are usually self-cleaning. Using cotton tip applicators to clean the ear canal not only pushes wax closer to the ear drum, but there is a significant risk of causing minor to severe injury to the ear,” Jatana, who is senior author of the study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, said.

The study found that the majority of injuries occurred as a result of using cotton tip applicators to clean the ears (73 per cent), playing with cotton tip applicators (10 per cent), or children falling when they have cotton tip applicators in their ear (nine per cent).

The most common injuries were foreign body sensation, perforated ear drum and soft tissue injury.

Data for this study were obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is operated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The researchers said that in more serious cases, damage to the ear drum, hearing bones, or inner ear, can lead to dizziness, problems with balance, and irreversible hearing loss.

“These products may seem harmless, but this study shows how important it is that they not be used to clean ears,” Jatana, who also serves as Associate Professor at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, said.

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Health

Can drinking too much water harm you?

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Toronto, May 23: Do you drink too much water? Beware, overhydration — excess fluid accumulation — can lead to dangerously low sodium levels or in the blood or result in brain swelling, researchers say.

Hyponatremia, a life-threatening condition of brain swelling, is more common in elderly patients and can cause cognitive problems and seizures.

“(Hyponatremia) occurs in common pathological conditions, including brain injury, sepsis, cardiac failure and in the use of drugs, such as MDMA (ecstasy),” said Charles Bourque from the McGill University in Canada.

While it was yet uncertain how hyponatremia develops, the study found that a defect in the hydration sensing mechanism of the brain could be the culprit.

The researchers said that brain’s hydration sensing neurons could not detect overhydration in the same way that they detect dehydration.

Overhydration activates Trpv4 — a calcium channel that can be found in glial cells, that act to surround hydration sensing neurons.

It is cellular gatekeeper implicated in maintaining the balance of water in the body.

“Our study shows that it is in fact glial cells that first detect the overhydrated state and then transfer this information to turn off the electrical activity of the [hydration sensing] neurons,” Bourque explained.

“Our specific data will be important for people studying hydromineral and fluid electrolyte homeostasis, and clinicians who treat patients faced with hyponatremia,” he noted.

The results, published in the journal Cell Reports, showed that overhydration is first identified by the Trpv4 channel which triggers the release of a type of amino acid known, taurine, which acts as a trip wire to inhibit hydration sensing neurons.

“Preclinical models of hyponatremia will be used to examine if the mechanism we report is affected in this condition with the long-term objective of designing new treatments or diagnostic tools,” Bourque added.

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Taj Mahal, Mumbai Sea Link among top 10 travellers’ choices

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Mumbai, May 23: The eternal monument to love, the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra Worli Sea Link in Mumbai figure among the Top 10 TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice awards of 2018 for most visited and popular tourist landmarks, it was announced here on Tuesday.

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Taj Mahal, Agra

Mumbai_Bandra_Worli_Link_

Bandra Worli Sea Link, Mumbai

The other top Indian monuments in the list of awards include: Amber Fort in Amer, Golden Temple of Amritsar, the Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi, Agra Fort, and Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur

Amber-Fort-in-Jaipur-

Amber Fort, (Amer) Rajasthan

Akshardham-Tmple-Delhi

Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, Delhi

Golden Temple of Amritsar,

Golden Temple of Amritsar

gurudwara-bangla-sahib

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, New Delhi

The award winners were decided using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for landmarks worldwide over a 12-month period.

This year’s TripAdvisor awards recognize 759 monuments spread in 68 countries globally, said the company’s Country Manager Nikhil Ganju.

“India’s landmarks as as diverse at its heritage and are among some of the most iconic structures in the world. The list presents fantastic gems ranging from poignant memorials to sheer architectural marvels that are great options for travelers,” he added.

Mumbai’s sole entry to the list, the RGBWSL is one of its most prominent modern landmarks and an infrastructure marvel of a cable-stayed bridge cutting through the Arabian Sea to connect Bandra with Worli.

The top 10 Travellers Choice Landmarks of Asia include: Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple in India, Wat Pho or Temple of Reclining Buddha in Thailand, Mutianyu Great Wall of China, Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine of Japan, Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, and the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam.

Similarly, the Top 10 landmarks worldwide are: Angkor Wat, Plaza de Espana in Spain, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in UAE, St. Peters Basilica of The Vatican, Mesquita Cathedral de Cordoba in Spain, Taj Mahal, Duomo di Milano in Italy, Alcatraz Island and Golden Gate Bridge both in US, and the Parliament of Hungary.

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Health

Exercise 4-5 times daily to delay ageing

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New York, May 21: Want to stay young for long? If so, start exercising four to five times a day as it may help keep your heart stay healthy and slow down ageing, according to researchers.

Research showed that different sizes of arteries are affected differently by varying amounts of exercise.

While exercising for about two to three days a week for about 30 minutes may be sufficient to minimise stiffening of middle-sized arteries, exercising for about four to five days a week is required to keep the larger central arteries youthful.

The study would help “develop exercise programmes to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels”, said one of the study authors, Benjamin Levine from the University of Texas.

With age, arteries — which transport blood in and out of the heart — become prone to stiffening, increasing the risk of heart diseases.

For the study, published in The Journal of Physiology, the team examined 102 people over 60 years old, with a consistent lifelong exercise history.

The participants were divided into four groups depending on their exercise history — Sedentary: less than 2 exercise sessions per week; Casual Exercisers: 2-3 exercise sessions per week; Committed Exercisers: 4-5 exercise sessions per week and Masters Athletes: 6-7 exercise sessions per week.

A lifelong history of casual exercise (two-three times a week) resulted in more youthful middle-sized arteries, which supply oxygenated blood to the head and neck.

However, committed exercisers (4-5 times per week) also had more youthful large central arteries, which provide blood to the chest and abdomen, in addition to healthier middle-sized ones.

Larger arteries need more frequent exercise to slow down ageing, the researchers said.

The findings will help see “if we can reverse the ageing of a heart and blood vessels by using the right amount of exercise at the right time”, Levine explained.

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