Monday, October 18, 2021

Takeaways from Health Live @ Seniors Today with Dr Sujeet Rajan

How accurate is the pulse oximeter?  Should you wear a mask at home? Does sleeping on the stomach improve resistance and immunity? How effective is influenza vaccine? These and many more questions were answered by Dr Sujeet Rajan on Saturday, August 8 as part of the Health Live @ Seniors Today series 

On Saturday, August 8, Health Live @ Seniors Today hosted leading respiratory physician, Dr Sujeet Rajan to speak on respiratory ailments, senior health and vaccines.

Dr Rajan is Consultant Respiratory Physician at the Bombay Hospital and Bhatia Hospital, both in Mumbai. He is also a postgraduate teacher at the Bombay Hospital and was also the European Respiratory Society’s National Representative from India from 2015 to 2018. He is also the Indian Editorial Adviser for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and has over 38 publications to his credit.

His areas of interest include interstitial lung fibrosis, airway disease, sleep disorders and end-stage lung disease. The research he has done has focussed around these areas, especially asthma, COPD and diffuse lung disease. He runs an ILD clinic with online MDD discussions. 


Here are takeaways from Health Live @ Seniors Today with Dr Sujeet Rajan


– Pulse oximeter – An oximeter lets you know the level of oxygen saturation in your blood. Oxygen saturation at sea level for most healthy people is 95%. However, if your saturation level is lower than that you shouldn’t panic unless you feel breathless and have fever. Nail polish and cold finger can show a slightly low reading. This is based on you’re the blood circulation in that area. If you are overweight and lying down then your oxygen saturation levels may drop. If you sitting or standing and your oxygen saturation level is 95-96, after walking its 90-92, then it is something to be concerned about since normally the oxygen saturation after walking should rise.


– Oximeter usage – If you have no symptoms then you can check your oxygen saturation once in a couple of day. But if you are feeling unwell then once in a day.


–  Don’t panic – If your oxygen saturation level suddenly drops from 95-96 to 90-92 do not panic. Panicking will increase your heartbeat; you will begin to breath faster and this will lead to lowered oxygen level in your blood. In such situations calm down, breathe slowly and contact your doctor. 


– Four important devices – No touch thermometer, a blood pressure instrument, a glucometer and a pulse oximeter. These are the essential household devices for every home, especially with elderly around.


– Home is a mask-free zone – You don’t have to wear a mask at home. However, if there is one person in the house who is frequently stepping out, it would be ideal to maintain physical distance of 6 feet as much as possible. 


– Asymptomatic carriers – They are a huge source of infection. Hence it is important to counsel every member of the house to not step out and meet new people unless there is an urgency because if at all they come in contact with someone asymptomatic they can pass it on to the elderly at home which can be disastrous. 


– Peak flow meter – It is a measuring device used to monitor asthma. Every asthma patient should have one. 


– Sleeping on your stomach – Also known as sleeping prone. There is no evidence to show that sleeping on your stomach improves resistance or immunity. Patients with Covid-19 have drops in their oxygen and when they are prone, the oxygen saturation improves. However, it is not a recommended sleeping position to improve lung function. 


– Exercise – Quality of life is directly proportional to your physical activities. As one grows older, the less physically active you become the more sick you become. Hence regular exercising is important – yoga, stretching your legs before and after walking, 15 minutes of weight training and 15 minutes of cycling every alternate day.


– Muscle fatigue – Weight training is important for the elderly. As you age, there is a decline in muscle mass. However, simple strength training with one kilogram of weight on alternate days will help improve and maintain muscle mass.


– Nasal Decongestants – While decongestion nasal sprays like Otrivin are fantastic in relieving nasal congestion, they can cause rebound congestion a few hours later when the effect goes away. It increases your pulse and blood pressure. Hence people who often use Otrivin should be very careful. Instead opt for a nasal steroid spray. It is much safer for children, pregnant women, elderly and Olympic athletes. Very few inhalers are as safe as a steroid spray.


– Four things to keep in mind – When you step out for shopping remember to keep four things in mind – 

  1. How long you are going to spend in that shop?
  2. How many people are there in that shop?
  3. How many people in that shop are not wearing mask?
  4. How much time you are actually spending in that shop?

Especially supermarkets and air-conditioned stores, make a list, pick your stuff and leave. The more people not wearing mask in the store the more dangerous it is. It is essential to be observant when you are out. 


– Quarantine limit – If you have Covid-19 you are most infectious three days before and five days after you first have symptoms. Most people under the age of 50 clear the virus in two weeks. If you are over the age of 50 it sometime takes up to three weeks. So, after you have Covid-19, three weeks is the outer limit time for quarantine after that you can step out. 


– A good GP (general physician) – You must find a good GP whom you can trust, who can answer your questions in a way that it builds confidence in you. You need to be cautious of physician who is not competent to manage you or who sees you with a very little time and who refers you to a specialist very fast. 


– Vaccines – At the height of pandemic, opting for an influenza vaccine now is not recommended. However, if you want to opt for the influenza vaccine the right time would be around September-October, when the next flu season begins. Pneumonia vaccine does not protect from Covid-19 pneumonia.


Dr Sujeet Rajan can be reached at or for appointments and a video consultation.

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