How much can I drink?
Q: I like my drink in the evening and I don’t think it does any harm to me or anyone else. However, I do not want to wind up an alcoholic. What are the safe limits? Some guidelines say one drink, some two. The exact quantity (small or large pegs) is not specified.
A: Current guidelines state that men should consume no more than three or four units of alcohol a day; women should consume no more than two or three units. The limits for women are less than for men because their body composition is different with more fat and less muscle. Some physicians feel that these limits are too high. They think it should be reduced to three units a day for men and two units a day for women. Two days a week should be drink free.
A unit is not the same as a drink. Most alcoholic drinks contain more than one unit. A premium pint of lager, bitter or cider (5 per cent alcohol), contains 3 units. A large 250 ml glass of wine (12 per cent) contains 3 units, a large double measure of spirits (2 x 35ml at 40 per cent) contains 3 units.
The long-term effects of uncontrolled drinking include cirrhosis and mouth, esophageal, liver and breast cancer. The risks are increased if drinking is combined with smoking.
Also, even controlled drinking takes its toll on the wallet. Your family may not be happy with the money you spend on your “social drinking”. Always remember, no matter how sober you feel, drinking and driving can be a fatal combination.
Q: I have repeated attacks of itching in my vagina. I am 27 years old. Please advise.
A: You probably have an infection caused by an yeast called Candida. It tends to occur in overweight people, in pregnancy, or if you or your partner have diabetes or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection. It occurs if the normal bacterial flora of the vagina changes. This can take place after treatment with certain antibiotics, corticosteroids or hormones. It occurs in some women when they take oral contraceptive pills.
Correction of any underlying precipitating factor will reduce the recurrences. Treatment of the infection is simple. Oral antifungal agents (usually single dose therapy) can be used. Vaginal tablets or pesssaries can deliver the medication directly to the source of infection.
A: I think you are describing vertigo, a sense that the room is spinning around you. It can occur normally if you suddenly change the position of your head relative to your body. If it is frequent and recurrent you need to have it evaluated by an ENT (ear nose and throat) physician. You also need to have an X-ray of your neck bones. A physician can also do relevant blood tests to rule out anaemia.
Treatment of the disease will remove the precipitating factor and cure you.
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Dry, itchy skin
Q: I have very dry skin that is also very itchy. If I scratch, it sometimes bleeds and becomes infected. The dermatologist says I have icthyosis and that I must apply oil. If I stop, my skin becomes dry and itchy all over again.
A: Icthyosis is a hereditary condition of the skin. It can be mild or severe. You need to apply oil regularly as your skin requires a lot more oil than those of other people. A small quantity of a mixture of 500 ml of coconut oil, 500 ml of sesame oil and 100 ml of olive oil can be applied half an hour before bathing. A tablespoon of coconut oil can also be put in the bath water. A non-drying emollient soap like Dove or a glycerine-based soap like Pears will help to keep the skin moist. Baby oil or Vaseline can be applied at night. Both these will not stain the bed clothes.
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Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)