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Doctors Warn About The New Wave of Infections in UAE

Dr. Sandeep Pargi News

Bacterial and viral infections affecting lungs will continue till the second week of March.

Doctors in the UAE have warned of a new wave of bacterial and viral infections peaking this month and will continue till the second week of March.

The infections are affecting lungs and muscles in adults and children. It is not just viral influenza but a combination of upper and lower respiratory tract infections caused by a combination of air-borne bacteria.

 Doctors are reporting a “higher than average” number of people requiring hospitalisation.

Dr. Sandeep Pargi, Specialist in Respiratory Medicine at Aster Hospital, Mankhool, explained why the number of people affected by respiratory tract infections doubled this year and continues to be a major health issue even as we move into summers.

“This year, we experienced a more severe winter with a (sharp) drop in temperatures and heavy fog conditions. This kind of cold weather causes changes in our respiratory mucosa, making it very dry and prone to an infection build-up. Usually infection causing microbes are always around, but in a weather like this we are more prone to come down with the infection.”

Dr. Pargi said the number of people with flu, cough, cold and wheezing doubled this year because of the weather. “Usually when it is too cold, people tend to stay indoors and everyone in that closed environment breathes the same unhealthy air. The air travels through AC ducts and with dry mucosa, more and more people catch the infection.”

The condition has affected infants and geriatric patients in advanced ages the worst as in both extremes of chronological ages, immunity is compromised.

Dr. Pargi said in cases of adults with other co-morbidities, hospitalisation becomes necessary. “At our hospital, we have been admitting at least six cases each week for this kind of affliction. These are patients with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, history of smoking or other co-morbidities which make it difficult for them to fight the infection.”

Specialist in Respiratory Medicine

Dr. Sandeep Pargi 

Specialist in Respiratory Medicine 

Aster Hospital, Mankhool 

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Toxic Effect of Caffeine on Children’s Health

Caffeine and children

UAE doctors tell of caffeine’s ‘toxic’ effect on children’s health

High doses of caffeine similar to what is found in several cans of energy drinks have been described by doctors as having a ‘toxic’ effect on children.

Energy drinks are designed to increase mental alertness and physical performances for consumers by the addition of caffeine and herbal supplements such as guarana, kola nuts, and yerba maté.

Many contain substantially more caffeine per serving than do conventional soft drinks.

Of the leading brands, Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine per serving; Monster Energy, Rockstar, Java Monster, 160 mg each; and NOS, 260 mg.










“At a high does, caffeine can have a toxic effect on children,” said Dr Binoy Nellissery, Specialist Paediatrician at Aster Hospital, Mankhool.

“Like alcohol, at a very low dose there are few problems- but when it is consumed in higher dose, like in these energy drinks, there are problems.

“Caffeine is easily accessible, and there is no social stigma with energy drinks as there is with taking drugs or alcohol, but it can have a similar effect.”

With a heavy dose of caffeine, heart rate and blood pressure increases. In young children, it often causes a stomach upset.

“In school age children, caffeine can make them nervous and jittery, so its use must be monitored and young children should not be taking these drinks,” Dr Nellissery said.

“We have seen very high levels of caffeine intake lead to heart attacks in some children, in rare cases.

“There are some studies, but more research can be done and children under the age of 12 should not be consuming caffeine at all.

Dr. Binoy Nellisery 

Specialist Paediatrician 

Aster Hospital, Mankhool 

How does fog in the UAE affect your health

Fog in UAE

The UAE was blanketed in fog on Monday, and this trend is predicted to continue on Tuesday as well. The thick fog resulted in delays of around 120 flights in the UAE on Monday. But what about the health effects of fog?

Fog is a low-lying cloud formed by accumulation of water molecules from local water bodies, essentially ‘water in the air’.

Does fog affect your health adversely? Will it trigger existing respiratory conditions or allergies?

We asked an expert, Dr. Sandeep Pargi, a practicing Specialist in Respiratory Medicine at Aster Hospital, Mankhool, about this.

Can fog affect your health?

“No, fog by itself is not known to have adverse health effects”, Dr. Pargi said.

However, smog or fog that mixes with smoke and other pollutants in the air is what causes or triggers health problems.

How about fog in the UAE?

Dr. Pargi maintained that fog in the UAE is not as polluted as in many other countries and cities.

However, as fog usually occurs at the same time as most people drive to work in the country, the chances of vehicular pollutants or irritants mixing with the fog is high. This mixture can be harmful, more specifically to a smaller high-risk population.

Who is a high-risk person?

Anyone younger than 14 is considered at high-risk during foggy or smog conditions, therefore all children and young adults. Other high-risk individuals include patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma sufferers, smokers, people with cardiac diseases, and allergy-prone individuals.

What can they do to stay healthy?

According to Dr. Pargi, people at high-risk should, as far as possible, not go out during foggy conditions. However, if that’s not possible, wear filtered masks as opposed to regular ones. These are available in pharmacies.

“If you find yourself falling sick or feeling under the weather during this season; it may not be just the fog. It could be a combination of the allergens in the fog, cooler temperatures, viruses in the environment and other factors,” Dr. Pargi said.

Specialist in Respiratory Medicine

Dr. Sandeep Pargi

Specialist in Respiratory Medicine 

Aster Hospital, Mankhool 

GulfNews Link – How does fog in the UAE affect your health

Why kids should have sports goal?


World Osteoporosis Day | Love Your Bones

1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged 50 years and above, are estimated to suffer from osteoporosis.[1] Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.[2]

Osteoporosis is a bone condition that causes the bone to become porous. The condition is caused when the bones loses density and become weak. Osteoporotic bones contain abnormal tissue structure, causing it to become fragile.

Human bones are living tissues that are constantly changing. The old bone is broken, removed and new bone is created. This is an activity that occurs in the body from the time of birth until the person has reach young adulthood. At 30 years of age an individual is said to have reached peak bone mass.

Your chances of developing osteoporosis depends on the amount of bone mass you have attained in your young age. The higher your bone mass, the less likely you are to develop the condition. Osteoporosis occurs when there is a significant imbalance between the breaking down of old bones and formation of the new. Calcium and phosphate are two essential substances required in bone formation. Calcium is also an important mineral in keeping the essential organs of the body functioning, when these organs require calcium, the body tends to absorb calcium stored in bones for the same. Inadequate supply of calcium to the body through food results in issue in bone production, making the bones weak and fragile.

The condition affects both men and women, although it is most common in older women. Gender, age and family history are risk factors for osteoporosis that an individual has no control over. The risk of developing the condition increases with age.

Osteoporosis is also called the silent disease, because people are often unaware of its presence until the condition has progressed to a serious stage. There are various causative or risk factors leading to the condition, they are;

  • Poor lifestyle habits including heavy alcohol consumption, unhealthy dietary practices, low calcium diet, etc. are major risk factors for osteoporosis.
  • Bone density of people with high levels of thyroid hormones are linked to increase in bone lose.
  • The bones tend to become weak and brittle if they are not put to use. People with sedentary lifestyles and physical inactivity tend to suffer from the condition because there is no bone activity. Gentle stress needs to be exerted on the bones.
  • Smoking is one of the major risk factors for all severe health conditions. Nicotine has a direct impact on bone cells by reducing is ability to use calcium, vitamin D and the necessary hormones.
  • Estrogen deficiency in women is the most common cause of osteoporosis in women. A woman, once she reaches menopause experiences a quick drop in estrogen, hence accelerating bone loss. Testosterone deficiency in men leads to osteoporosis.
  • Medical conditions resulting in removal of ovaries in women may also cause osteoporosis.

Symptoms of osteoporosis are only visible or experienced once the condition progresses to a later stage. However, in the later course of the diseases, an individual may experience sharp pain in the bones or muscle, neck pain, lower back pain etc. These pains may also get worse upon exertion of pressure to that particular area. Stooped posture, or a fracture of the hip, wrist or spine requires immediate medical attention.

Any of these warning signs should alert you to consult with a specialist in order to understand the root cause of the condition and to rule out possibilities of Osteopenia, a mid point that ultimately leads to osteoporosis. In this condition the bones are weak but not to an extent that they break easy like in Osteoporosis. These conditions occur usually after the age of 50 and not before that.

Diagnosis of osteoporosis usually occurs only after a fall or a fracture. There is no means to prevent osteoporosis, although the health of your bone is your responsibility. There are modifiable risk factors that are under your control and can be controlled at an individual level. Eating healthy food and working out regularly are essential lifestyle changes that need to be made early in life in order to prevent any health complications.

Exercises like brisk walking, running and even dancing in which your legs bear your body weight will strengthen the bones. Prevention of osteoporosis requires muscle strengthening exercises to support the muscles and surrounding bones. Moderate physical activity of 30 minutes for a minimum of 5 times per week is recommended. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D will help improve bone health, and this is the easiest step towards ensuring healthy bones at any stage in life. Food products like diary, salmon, green leafy vegetables must be made a part of your diet, however it is recommended to consult with a physician in order to understand your body requirements.

Treatment options for osteoporosis may also include medications which a specialist may prescribe depending on the extent of weakened bones. Osteoporosis is a condition that cannot be reversed but can be effectively managed. Hormone medications, vitamin D and calcium supplements are also prescribed depending on the severity of the condition.



Osteoporosis Day

Foods to avoid the winter blues

For a lot of people living in Dubai, winter is the most awaited time of year, given the months of heat experienced in this part of the world. While people in cold counties experience the winter blues, most Dubai residents enjoy the light breeze and occasional rain during the winter.

However, this time of the year can be particularly challenging for an individual’s health, as with cold weather comes the flu season, hence causing people to develop the sniffles. One way of fighting these diseases and boosting your immune system is by ensuring that your Vitamin D levels are optimal. Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin is extremely important in maintaining a healthy immune system. Adequate amounts of Vitamin D is necessary for our body to absorb calcium, in turn making the bones stronger. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can cause various deficiencies leading to various chronic health conditions like conditions of the heart, osteoporosis, blood pressure etc.



Read more here:



Early Bloomers event to mark World Prematurity Awareness Day

On account of World Prematurity Day 2017, Aster Hospital, Mankhool organized the ‘Early Bloomers’ event in order to celebrate the little heroes who fought their way to survival.

The event took place at Aster Hospital, Mankhool on Friday, November 24 and was attended by parents of babies who were discharged from Aster Hospital’s NICU. The event was solely dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the little fighters.

The event provided parents of these babies a platform to meet other parents and babies who have been through the same and share their experiences with each other, in order to stay motivated. The event also included fun activities and informative sessions for parents. The educative sessions included a Dr. talk on preemie care and BLS training for parents, to educate them about steps that need to be taken in case of an emergency.

Aster Hospital, Mankhool is well equipped with a Level III NICU. The Hospital has encountered pre-term babies as young as 24 weeks delivered and admitted to the NICU, only to successfully grow and develop into stronger healthier babies. The services and NICU facilities at Aster Hospital gives new hope to parents of the preemies. The NICU team at Aster Hospital are highly trained professionals who are passionate about their duties and responsibilities. They are a team that can be trusted as family, and share the same emotions as the parents of the babies admitted to the NICU.

Why are men more likely to avoid doctor visits?

Why are men more likely to avoid doctor visits?

Dubai: Most men are reluctant to visit their doctors and are more likely to have a serious condition when they make a visit, UAE-based doctors have said.

Men lead women in all the 15 leading causes of death except Alzheimer’s disease, and compared to women, men mostly avoid doctor visits until their medical condition begins to hamper their routine daily activity, they said.

This attitude, according to internal medicine specialists, can have serious repercussions on their health.

Echoing the same observation, Dr Mustafa Saif, Specialist, Internal Medicine and H.O.D Emergency Department at Aster Hospital, said there could be a general lack of awareness about the importance of consulting a specialist upon observing unusual symptoms, but also men do not consider the need to visit a doctor and hope the issue will go away with time.

“There is a difference between feeling healthy and being healthy. The most common reason given for men not visiting the doctor is because they are healthy, but how do you know that? There are a lot of medical conditions that do not depict any physical symptoms until they get severe,” Dr Saif said.

However, he said he has seen some improvement in men taking better responsibility for their health, especially among the younger generation who are more aware and health conscious.

He pointed out some of the most commonly disregarded symptoms that men should watch out for include acid reflux, chest pain, frequent urination and snoring.

“Acid reflux is mostly mistaken to gas as a result of over eating. Most people suffer from acid reflux at some point in life but for a lot of people this could lead to a chronic lifelong condition. Chest pain is also often misinterpreted for a symptom related to that of a heart condition, it is often ignored until it gets severe. Firstly, it is important to understand that chest pain could also be caused due to Gastroesophageal reflux disease and other health conditions.”

He added that frequent urination, which is a common sign of diabetes, should be noted, while excessive snoring, on the other hand, can be due to an underlying condition.

“Diabetes is a chronic condition that drastically affects life of those suffering from it, if left uncontrolled. Snoring is not harmful, but obstructive sleep apnea could lead to many clinical conditions like hypertension, lack of concentration, metabolic syndrome and strokes, if left untreated,” he said.

According to Dr Saif, men are also generally less likely to visit a specialist complaining of a cold or an ache unless the condition gets severe.

The doctors advised paying attention to the body’s warning signs and symptoms and seeking medical advice at an earlier stage so any condition can be diagnosed at an early stage and treated.





Usage of Antibiotics

Usage of Antibiotics

Questioning if they have outgrown their effectiveness given its overuse.

The case of the six-year-old girl who developed antibiotic resistance is not an isolated one in the world of antibiotics.

As these super drugs are routinely prescribed, controversies on their abuse and overuse are beginning to throw a big question-mark on whether antibiotics have outgrown their effectiveness.

The question doing the rounds in many medical corridors is: Is the golden age of antibiotics over?

“No, this is not true,” said Dr Sandeep Pargi, Specialist in Respiratory Medicine at Aster Mankhool Hospital, Dubai.

“Antibiotics still have a great scope as new ones are being discovered. There are some old-generation antibiotics that are being phased out due to resistance [issues] but many are being discovered as we speak.”

Dr Pargi believes doctors need to rely a lot on old-fashioned diagnosis before rushing in to prescribe antibiotics. “Antibiotics work against bacterial infections. Very often, doctors prescribe antibiotics for viral fever and infections which would anyway subside within a week.”

Dr Pargi said, “An antibiotic course is either three, five, seven or nine days. None of the antibiotics go beyond 14-day prescriptions except those administered in case of tuberculosis.

“If the course is three days, then that is what one needs to follow. If the course is 14 days, follow that. The danger arises when people self-medicate, get over-the-counter antibiotics and switch from one to another on their own. They might take two or three antibiotics for a longer period and develop resistance.”

Overuse can occur only when there is trial and error with different types of antibiotics which usually occurs when people self-medicate, said doctors.

Patients can be prescribed antibiotics as many times as they need through the year, provided the protocol and guidelines are followed. Every hospital around the world follows a set antibiotic policy. In Scandinavian countries especially, doctors are judicious in prescribing antibiotics. When this strategy is followed, which should be the case in the rest of the world, there is little danger of resistance, said Dr Pargi.

“In tuberculosis, when a person has the disease for the first time, we begin with the first line of multi-drug therapy. Usually, the disease is cured with a course of six months to a year. When a person has TB for the second time, it means the first line of drugs is not likely to be effective so we put him on multi-drug therapy (with a combination of four-seven drugs). When the disease recurs, it means the strain has developed multi-drug resistance (MDR). When this fails, we prescribe XDR or extreme drug resistance therapy,” Dr Pargi said.

Regarding the superbug scare, Dr Pargi refutes the hype. “There is no such thing as a superbug syndrome. In some areas of the world, a lack of hygiene in hospitals gives rise to resistance within the hospital. There is no uniform superbug syndrome. For instance, hospitals in Dubai have no superbugs.” If hospitals do three things, we need not fear superbugs:

1. Follow a definite antibiotic guideline and policy and avoid indiscriminate use;

2. Use them judiciously with ensuring correct protocal of duration, potency and dose is followed; and

3. Maintain hygiene standards in their environment.


Latifa Dumalag, 48, Filipina Came out from a life-threatening pneumonia with judicious and effective use of antibiotics.
“I have been suffering from bronchitis and asthma since childhood and have a weak respiratory system. So I did not realise that what seemed to be like a normal cough and cold would rapidly develop into bronchitis and pneumonia. I consulted one clinic first and they gave me medication which was ineffective, and I continued to cough and wheeze. 
“When I contracted fever and could hardly breathe, I was referred to Aster Hospital under Dr Sandeep Pargi who literally brought me back from death. I was put on IV antibiotics and once I recovered after nearly 10 days in hospital, I was given multivitamins and discharged in the first week of October. 
“I am 95 per cent cured and still have to get constitutionally stronger. But the right dose of antibiotics saved my life.”


Filipina Coma Patient Finally Goes Home

filipina patient goes home

Patient had been lying comatose in a Dubai hospital for four months.

Alicia Del Los R. finally flew home to her loved ones on Thursday with the help of the Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai after lying comatose at a Dubai hospital for four months.

The 53-year-old Filipina suffered a heart attack in June that resulted in hypoxia (lack of oxygen) to her brain rendering her in a vegetative state. For four months, she had been cared for by Aster Hospital Mankhool.

Having entered the UAE on a visit visa and without medical insurance, Alicia’s hospital bill mounted to more than Dh500,000. However, with the help from the Philippine Consulate, she was finally able to fly home on an Emirates flight on Thursday afternoon.

Dr Sherbaz Bichu, CEO of Aster Hospital, said: “It gives me great pleasure and joy to know that Ms Alicia is now home in (the) Philippines, reunited with her family. After her four-month stay in our hospital battling for life, she escaped the mouth of death.”

“Aster Hospital Mankhool appreciates the cooperation and support of Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes who has been involved in her repatriation. Living up to our promise of ‘We’ll treat you well’, our efficient team of doctors and nurses went over and above the call of duty and rendered compassionate care to her. During her stay in our hospital, she became our extended family member. Our health-care providers built therapeutic relationships with her. To our nurses and paramedics, she was like a mother. To our team of doctors, she was like a sister and so on. And as declared in the UAE this year as the ‘Year of Giving’, the Aster DM Healthcare initiative of Aster volunteers took a true stance in this survival story.”

For his part, the Philippine Consul-General earlier said that the Assistance-To-Nationals (ATN) section of the consulate had communicated with the hospital regarding Alicia’s case from day one and was assisting in her repatriation. Her travel date was finalised last week.

Assistance fund

Universal Medical Transfer Services facilitated the medical repatriation of Alicia from Aster Hospital up to her admission in Angono Medics Hospital in Angono, Rizal using the ATN Funds reserved for Filipinos in need of assistance. The consulate also gave Dh20,000 to the hospital as partial payment of Alicia’s hospital bills. Alicia’s son is planning to approach charitable institutions to help him settle the remaining bill amount with the hospital.

Alicia is just one of the four “stretcher” cases that have been assisted by the consulate for repatriation so far this year, said Aldrine Perez, ATN officer in charge of medical cases. Such repatriation costs between Dh40,000 and Dh60,000 each.

The consulate, through its ATN section, repatriated 1,080 Filipinos from January 1 to September 30. The section also released $559,162.72 (Dh2.05 million) from the ATN Funds to assist Filipinos in the first nine months of the year.

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