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What is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is the condition that affects the eye’s ability to refract or bend the light that enters it equally in all directions. It is the result of the curving of the light on the single point on the retina, which might be caused by injury, surgery, or an individual’s genes. Consequently, the person has blurred vision and will see irregularly-shaped objects in the surroundings regardless of the distance.

What a Healthy Eye Should Be

A healthy eye is supposed to have one focal point behind the cornea and the lens. However, a person with astigmatism has multiple focal points because of an astigmatic cornea. The lens is curved or shaped like a football, whereas a healthy cornea should have a round shape. This results in an out-of-focus vision. The condition usually occurs with other visual problems such as hyperopia or farsightedness and myopia or nearsightedness.

Who Can Get Astigmatism

According to ophthalmologists, most people have a slight degree of astigmatism, but these do not require treatment because they do not affect the vision. There is no known specific cause of the condition, but individuals with a family history of astigmatism are more likely to get it than others who don’t.

Some people are also susceptible to it when the curvature of the lens changes during adulthood or because of injury or surgery. In rare cases, astigmatism may be a result of keratoconus, or a condition that is characterized by the thinning of the cornea resulting in a cone-shaped curvature.

How Astigmatism is Diagnosed

Symptoms of astigmatism include blurred vision, headaches, eye strain, and squinting. An eye specialist called an ophthalmologist can perform several tests to diagnose visual problems correctly. If you suspect that you have astigmatism, the doctor will need tests that measure how the light focuses on your eyes, such as; refraction, visual acuity, and topography or keratometry.

A phoropter is used to measure the refraction of light in your eyes, while visual acuity is measured by asking you to read a distance chart. Topography on the other hand, will measure the curvature of your cornea using the keratometer.

There are three types of astigmatism that you should be aware of:

  1. Hyperopic astigmatism or farsightedness. Both eyes are hyperopic in different degrees.
  2. Myopic astigmatistm or nearsightedness. Both eyes are myopic in different degrees.
  3. Mixed astigmatism. One is nearsighted and the other is farsighted.

How Astigmatism is Treated

Based on the results of the tests listed above, the doctor will prescribe treatments such as eyeglasses to improve the quality of your vision or contact lenses for people with irregularly-shaped cornea.

Laser and refractive surgery is recommended for reshaping cornea by photorefractive keratectomy or laser in situ keratomileusis. Orthokeratology is recommended if you have moderate astigmatism. In this process, you will be fitted with rigid contact lenses to reshape your cornea.

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Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit: What You Need to Know Before Starting

There are actually so many CrossFit gyms around Singapore now! You might even have a co-worker or a friend who’s already going to one. Being one of the most popular fitness regimes today, CrossFit has earned a reputation for being tough yet very rewarding. So, let’s get to know it better!

What exactly is CrossFit?

CrossFit is basically a fitness program that mainly focuses on strength and conditioning. It takes functional movements from many different sports like weightlifting, gymnastics, rowing, and etc. Most of the exercises utilized are in different varieties and are meant to be challenging. Generally, workout routines will change each day testing different parts of strength and conditioning. This is in line with the focus of CrossFit to help an individual create the “fittest” form of himself with a body capable of almost anything.

A CrossFit gym can also look very different from a bodybuilding gym. You’ll see more bars, boxes, and ropes than the usual weight machines and dumbbells!

Is it the right form of exercise for me?

If you’re a complete beginner at weight training or maybe you just lift casually in an ActiveSG gym, you won’t have any problems with CrossFit at all. One of the main advantages you’ll have when starting a fitness journey through CrossFit is that you’ll be trained with the basic and most important lifts to learn. In addition to that, the whole community is very welcoming and everyone helps each other progress one way or another. Many CrossFit athletes are even martial artists, former athletes from different sports, and just fitness fanatics in general.

Is it dangerous?

Looking at it from an audience perspective, CrossFit can look very intimidating. Watching CrossFit athlete squat 465lbs, then move immediately to a 200-pound shoulder press, AND THEN do a 400-pound deadlift can definitely make you doubt if you can even do it. The intensity of the workouts makes people think that CrossFit can cause a lot of injuries. But that’s not really the case at all. Even if CrossFit is all about pushing your body to the limits, it’s doesn’t get to the point of actually destroying your body. The individuals you see that are already doing those extremely high-intensity exercises are already seasoned CrossFit athletes. But they started also started from the bottom like you.

What do I need to start?

CrossFit gyms or ‘boxes’ usually have all the equipment needed for the workouts. Plyometric boxes, barbells, pull-up bars will always be present in CrossFit gyms. If there’s one thing, it would be good to buy a jump rope. Because much of CrossFit is also about endurance, you’ll want to start getting used to conditioning and stamina training before you even start. Having a jump rope can be a good way to start. So aside from the actual things you need like your training attire and extra clothes, all you really need to bring is yourself.

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7 Best Benefits of Getting a Massage Regularly

There’s every kind of massage spa around Singapore. Whether it’s for the stressed office worker or just couples wanting to have a massage together, you’ll always be able to find a good massage place. Aside from it being very relaxing, there are also many benefits to get a massage. Here are only some of them!

1. It helps reduce anxiety

Obviously, a massage therapist employs the sense of touch when doing his/her job. In that situation, human touch is used in a safe, professional, and almost intimate environment. That’s why massages can be therapeutic to many people. This means that when you get a massage from time to time, you can reduce your anxiety and stress significantly.

2. Lower blood pressure

Aside from the therapeutic effect mentioned above, massages help lower our blood pressure because they improve our circulation. No matter what part of your body is getting massaged, your blood will circulate a lot better not only on that specific part but also throughout the body.

3. It can help improve sleep

Again, this owes to the fact that massages promote relaxation. But getting a massage also boosts the production of serotonin in the brain. Not only will this help you sleep better, but you’ll also get a deeper, better quality sleep. And the best thing is, it’s natural and you don’t have to take medications to force yourself to sleep!

4. Massages can help reduce muscle pain

When we get sore muscles, most of the time the first thing we think about is getting a massage, and for good reason! As said earlier, massages help improve blood flow and overall circulation. Usually, muscle pain comes as a result of restricted blood flow. So having a massage will definitely help.

5. It also helps soothe headaches

Firstly, when you get time to relax and ease tension in the body, your mind will also stay loose and feel at ease. Massages also help a lot when you get a migraine or maybe other chronic headaches. Aside from the head, it will also help to massage the neck and shoulders when experiencing headaches.

6. It might help you fix your posture

Because of all the prolonged sitting we do each and every day, our posture will definitely be affected negatively. All this stress on our posture will lead to a lot of problems such as the neck, shoulder, and lower back pain. Getting regular massages, though, can at least help you lower the risk of getting such issues.

7. It helps improve physical performance

The reason why massage therapy is always used in sports is already pretty obvious. Athletes or even just those who like to exercise constantly put tension on their bones and muscles. Having massages can help them get rid of stiffness and other kinds of tension in the muscle. This, in turn, will help them maximize the use of these muscles for a better performance.

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Xeroderma versus Xeroderma Pigmentosum

Xeroderma is the name for the condition characterized by dry skin or xerosis. It’s a term for ordinary dry skin usually caused by old age, dry or cold weather, or atopic dermatitis. It is quite different from another condition called xeroderma pigmentosum.

Xeroderma

Xerosis is not a life-threatening condition but it could be a result of the use of harsh skin products which dry out the skin. It’s also a symptom of eczema or atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and itchiness. If that is the case, then you should consult a dermatologist to get proper treatment. Otherwise, ordinary dry skin can be avoided by applying moisturizers that contain glycerin, mineral oil, petroleum jelly, salicylic acid, or lactic acid.

Xeroderma Pigmentosum

Xeroderma pigmentosum runs in families and it is a dangerous condition which makes a person vulnerable to the effects of the ultraviolet rays from the sun. This means that when a person is exposed to sun, he/she does not have the ability to repair the damage to the DNA. It is also not uncommon for people with XP to experience problems in hearing, vision, coordination, and intellectual function.

If not properly diagnosed and treated, they are prone to a lot of complications including cancer and cataracts. The name xeroderma pigmentosum comes from the first symptoms of the illness which are dry skin and pigmentation or changes in skin color after being exposed to sunlight.

Causes and Risk Factors of XP

Because xeroderma pigmentosum is an inherited disorder, this means it can be passed down to the next generation. Based on ongoing research, at least 8 genes are associated with the condition. It is more likely that a child who inherits the mutation from both parents will suffer from the symptoms. If only one copy of the mutation is inherited, the person will not necessarily experience the symptoms. Although it’s a rare condition, it’s not uncommon in some parts of Asia.

Signs of XP usually appear during infancy especially after being exposed to sunlight even just for a few minutes. The severe sunburn and blistering is the first sign of an abnormality, and by the time the child is a toddler, he/she will have freckles in areas of the skin that are often exposed to sunlight. Besides a photosensitive skin, the child will also have joint pain or arthralgia, cognitive impairment, and conjunctival telangiectasia.

Complications and Treatment of XP

This extreme sensitivity to sunlight makes them vulnerable to skin cancer, especially around the face and scalp. It’s not unusual for children to go through multiple skin cancers even before they reach adulthood. They are also at risk of developing other types of cancer like eye cancer. It’s not clear why a lot of children with XP also develop neurological abnormalities that worsen over time.

The child may suffer from seizures, loss of intellectual function, difficulty talking, poor coordination, difficulty swallowing, and others. Treatment therefore is aimed at protecting the child from the complications. Regular examinations are required to monitor and stop progress of cancerous tissue and skin lesions as well as constant protection from UV light. Neurological examination and psychosocial treatment will help the person cope with daily life.

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What is Legionnaires’ disease?

The name legion is usually associated with something sinister because its association with demons. This reputation makes the name all the more appropriate for this lethal form of pneumonia.

Causes and Risk Factors

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by an infection of the bacterium Legionella. The name was taken when an outbreak of pneumonia affected people who attention the American Legion convention in July 1976. The bacterium Legionella was unknown prior to that discovery. It is usually found in bodies of freshwater and are not harmful but only if it affects water systems built for human consumption.

This means that the bacterium may be found in plumbing systems, water tanks, heaters, cooling towers, hot tubs, fountains, showerheads, and sink faucets. When the bacterium grows and multiplies in a water system, it has to be inhaled by people through small droplets for it to infect.

Some people may have already been exposed to the bacterium, but they are not affected because they are healthy. Most of those affected usually have weaker immune systems especially those who are smokers (even after you quit), older than 50 years, have cancer and other diseases, or those that have a chronic lung disease.

Symptoms and Complications

It takes at least two days after the infection for the symptoms to show up. The first symptoms, including chills, fever, muscle pain and headache, might be mistaken for flu, but the fever can go as high as 104°F which is similar to that of pneumonia. Then in the next several days, the person will experience chest pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cough that is sometimes accompanied by mucus and/or blood, shortness of breath, and confusion. The symptoms can also be confused with Pontiac fever because it’s caused by the same bacterium but is milder and will usually go away even without treatment.

Legionnaires’ diseases, however, can be fatal when not treated. It affects the lungs, but it can affect other organs by wounding them. Untreated, it can lead to respiratory failure, acute kidney failure, and septic shock. It’s not a contagious disease, however, so if there is an outbreak, the common source of water is most likely the culprit and not the people who have Legionnaires’ disease.

Treatment of Legionnaires’ disease

Even after treatment, some people will experience long-term health effects of the condition or a persistence of problems if there is an outbreak. For proper treatment, the doctor must distinguish it from pneumonia by testing for the presence of Legionella antigens in the urine. Additionally, the severity is assessed through blood tests, chest X-ray, brain CT scan, and a sample of the lung tissue or sputum.

Most antibiotics such as macrolides and quinolones work well against Legionella, but the effects are better if the person is treated as soon as possible. Antibiotics may be administered directly into a vein and the person ahs to be admitted to the hospital in case he/she needs oxygen or a machine for breathing. The antibiotics are taken continuously 1 to 3 weeks, but recovery can take a long time.

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Common Learning Disabilities in Children

Learning disabilities can affect a child’s acquisition of basic skills in life such as reading, writing, speaking, and doing arithmetic. In some cases, it can also affect his/her ability to organize, plan, reason, pay attention, and retain information. Not only will the child be unable to keep up with most children at school, but the disability can also impact the way he/she will interact with other people and form relationships.

Unfortunately, most children are not diagnosed with learning disabilities until they are sent to school, while others don’t have the access to the special care they need as they grow up. Add to that the misconception of mixing learning disability with learning problems associated with mental retardation, economic disadvantages, emotional problems, and handicaps.

Types of Learning Disabilities
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in Singapore according to studies and is closely followed by ADHD. Most learning disabilities cannot be cured and will be a challenge for the affected person and his/her family for the rest of his/her life, so it’s important to note the symptoms early on.

1. Dyscalculia
A child will not be able to understand the basic concepts of arithmetic; therefore, he/she has difficulty understanding sequence of events, doing cash transactions, and recognizing sequences of information.

2. Dysgraphia
The child with this condition has difficulty writing, has problems with grammar and writing in a logical sequence, and might exhibit a strong dislike for writing.

3. Auditory Processing Disorders
A child will find it difficult to understand sounds made by others, so it’s more likely that he/she will not understand what you are saying or comprehend the words you have used.

4. Visual Perceptual or Visual Motor Deficit
This condition will affect the child’s ability to understand information that he/she sees. Other symptoms include the inability to copy or draw the visual information, confusing letters that look similar, bad sense of direction, and misalignment of letters when writing.

5. Dyslexia
Children with this condition find it difficult to connect letters, sounds, spelling, and even recognizing words. The child may not be able to understand what you are saying, recall numbers in sequence, has difficulty learning new words and might delay the ability to speak, and has difficulty writing and speaking in an organized manner.

6. Dyspraxia
A child with dyspraxia will have problems with hand-eye coordination and will find tasks that require motor skills difficult. He/she has poor balance, is sensitive to loud and repetitive noises, sensitive to physical contact, prone to breaking things, and cannot organize his/her personal items.

7. ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized by a child’s inability to control his/her behavior. He/she may also be hyperactive, impulsive or inattentive.

8. Memory Problems
Some children will have problems with short- and/or long-term memories, so they cannot create and even retrieve memories. They will find it hard to remember facts and follow instructions.