Medi snips | Sunday Observer

Medi snips

29 March, 2020

 ICE – an emerging threat among youth

Parents and education authorities should be vigilant of any unusual behaviour in young people and monitor their extra-curricular activities to prevent them falling victim to illegal drugs such as ICE now spreading mostly among youth including schoolchildren, Emeritus Professor Forensic Medicine and Toxicology , University of Colombo Prof. Ravindra Fernando told the Sunday Observer.

He said the use of ICE in recent months had spread and was much in demand by the more affluent youth who unfortunately were not aware of the adverse health impact of using it.  Explaining what ICE was, he said, “Crystal methamphetamine, or ice, is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages between the brain and the body. It is stronger, more addictive and therefore has more harmful side effects than the powder form of methamphetamine known as ‘speed’.  Ice usually comes as small chunky clear crystals that look like Ice. It can also come as white or brownish crystal-like powder with a strong smell and bitter taste. Ice is generally smoked, when its effects are felt almost immediately.

It can be injected where effects are felt in 15 to 30 seconds. It is sometimes swallowed where effects are felt in five to 20 minutes. Effects are felt in 3 to 5 minutes if snorted. The effects of Ice can last for up to 12 hours. It might be hard to sleep for a few days after using the drug.”

Warning of the adverse effects he said, “Ice affects each one differently, but effects may include, feelings of pleasure and confidence, increased alertness and energy, repeating simple things like itching and scratching, teeth grinding and excessive sweating, fast heart rate and breathing, reduced appetite and increased sex drive. Snorting Ice can damage the nasal passage and cause nose bleeds. If Ice is injected there is an increased risk of tetanus, infection and damage to the veins. Sharing needles has an increased risk of hepatitis B and C, HIV and AIDS.” He said that taking a large amount of Ice or having Ice from a strong batch, could cause an overdose. Increased heartbeat and chest pain, breathing problems, fits or uncontrolled jerking, extreme agitation and confusion, sudden, severe headache, unconsciousness, stroke, heart attack or death are the effects of ice taken in overdose.

With the street value of ICE rising by the day, he said recent police detections revealed that drug traders had devised new ways of hiding the drug and were now using even women and children to sell the drug.

Plastic water bottles exposed to high temperature can release toxic chemicals – Health Ministry

Concerns over the safety of drinking water from plastic bottles that have proliferated in recent years and spread to all parts of the country, and the possible health impact in the wake of the current heat wave , has caused the Health Ministry to warn the public to desist from drinking water in plastic bottles and recycling them. Instead they should drink boiled cooled water.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer Director / Environmental and Occupational Health & Food Safety, Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine,  Dr Thilak Siriwardana warned the public that the  plastic which is used to prepare bottles to fill water by the industry is for single use only and not for reuse, he emphasised.

It should not be exposed to sunlight or high temperatures to avoid the release of toxic chemicals to the water in the bottle. Also, it may give a smell when drinking.

The transport of water bottles in open vehicles, storing them in hot environments, display in sunlit places in shops, leaving them in vehicles parked in open areas or allowing the bottle to be exposed to sunlight would lead to this condition.

These chemicals could be released when reused even in non-hot environments.”, he said. He said there were incidents where some businessmen used registration numbers of a registered company to bottle and sell unsafe water to the public.

“Customers can call the phone numbers on the bottle to verify the details. If still in doubt they can verify from the Health Ministry,” he said.

The better option is to drink boiled cooled water, he said.

Urging the public to drink boiled cooled water instead of water in plastic bottles, he said,  “The  National Water Supply and Drainage Board assures the quality and safety for consumption of the water distributed by them which is not from tanks stored privately. Consumption of boiled and cooled water in the past is what has contributed to achieving the present state of health in this country.”

Air pollution likely to affect COVID19 –EPHA

The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) has warned  that dirty air in urban areas that causes diabetes, hypertension and respiratory illness could lead to  higher overall death toll from the COVID-19  virus currently sweeping the world. The warning underlines the World Health Authority’s recent description of air pollution as being the greatest threat to mankind among the major challenges we face in the future, and its announcement in its latest report of a 5 year strategic plan to cut down air pollution drastically in the near future. 

Public health experts abroad were quoted as saying that emissions  from petrol and diesel vehicles  had caused  air pollution to spike in recent years- a fact borne out by our own statistics on the surge in vehicular traffic on our roads.  These emissions are now at dangerous levels, local and global experts agree. 

The European Respiratory Society (EPS)  a member of the EPHA  was quoted as saying  that  patients with chronic lung and heart conditions caused or worsened by long term exposure  to air pollution are less able to fight off lung infections and more likely to succumb to them.  A local respiratory specialist on grounds of anonymity  when posed this question by the Sunday Observer agreed saying that air pollution  lowered the ability to fight any disease include new diseases like COVID-19,  as their immune systems were already compromised.

With Sri Lanka now having 50 confirmed cases of COVID19 and 212 persons under quarantine including a five month old infant , health experts opined that more attention should be paid to reducing air pollution risks in the country  and  reducing the number of vehicular traffic as well as devise ways of ensuring access to clean air emissions in petrol stations and other outlets  with the cooperation of the private sector.

News of at least one private organisation opened an outlet in a petrol station to offer vehicle owners a chance to pump in clean air is an encouraging step forward.

Meanwhile, health experts have warned all those with compromised immune systems as well as the public to avoid making unnecessary trips to fetch groceries or shopping in crowded places and exposing oneself to air pollution. 

Stay at home, be hydrated, drink a lot of fluid. Wash your hands with soap several times a day and avoid touching your face, nose or eyes, a Health Ministry source said.