Some Medical Question & Answers

Q: My blood sugar value is 180 on an empty stomach and the same after food. I am confused as to whether I am diabetic.

A: It is not very clear what you mean by an empty stomach. If your blood sugar value is more than 120 after an overnight 12 hour fast, you are diabetic. The “post prandial” blood value is taken 2 hours after a normal meal: 200 mg or more means that you are diabetic. A value between 180 and 200 is suspect and classified as “prediabetic”. You need to get the values rechecked. Otherwise you could always do a “glucose tolerance test” or a single “glycosylated haemoglobin” value. This should provide the answers. Instead of trying to sort this out yourself, it is better to contact a physician.

Better safe than sorry:

Q: I read in the newspaper that many children died after immunisation in some states. I am scared to take my daughter for her booster injection. She is now one year old.

A: Some deaths did occur in the states of Tamil Nadu and Orissa after measles immunisation. The deaths occurred in government-run Primary Health Centres (PHCs). The exact cause was not established. One of the theories put forward was that the water used to reconstitute the vials was contaminated with bacteria. Another theory was that the reconstituent liquid was not water but some other colourless but harmful compound. The truth is not known but the immunisation programme has been adversely affected. Immunisations are safe. They are life saving and reduce morbidity owing to preventable illnesses. Many injections are given only once in a lifetime. It would be advisable to go to a private hospital, have individual immunisation (as opposed to the mass campaigns), insist on and pay for single dose vials (as opposed to multidose), and make sure there is adequate documentation both with you and the physician. Better to be safe than sorry.

Ideal distance from TV

Q: My nephew sits very close to the television. I feel he is ruining his eyesight.

A: The ideal distance for watching television is one and a half times the diagonal measurement of the screen. So if it’s a 24-inch screen, the distance should be 36 inches or three feet. If your nephew sits close to the television, his eyesight needs to be checked. He should also be encouraged to engage in activities like playing, reading books, arts and crafts, or puzzles. Perhaps your nephew is being reared as a couch potato, who will eventually join the millions of obese unhealthy young diabetics in our country.

As a general rule, we’ve found that sitting a distance of four to six times the height of your television works for standard PAL pictures. Since HD pictures have fewer noise and artefact issues, the ideal spot for HD viewing is three to four times the height of the screen. This does, of course mean that you would only have to sit four to five feet away from a 32in screen showing HD signals, hence our belief that larger screens will become increasingly popular as HD becomes more common.

High heels are bad

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Q: At what age is it permissible to wear heels?

A: By heels I presume you mean high heels which are not really advisable at any age. In children they cause deformities of the feet which are still pliable and growing. In adults, stilettos cause bad posture and are responsible for back and knee problems. Women tend to lose their balance and develop sprains and strains, especially of the ankles. In pregnancy, the centre of gravity is already pushed forward. Heels contribute to loss of balance, falls and injuries.

How much is enough?

Q: I keep reading different recommendations for the amount of exercise needed to keep fit. It is all very confusing.

A: It is not very clear whether you just want to maintain an adequate level of fitness or if you want to lose weight. Exercise alone, with uncontrolled intake, will not result in weight loss. The recommendations for an adequate level of exercise vary from 30 minutes of fast walking three days a week to 40 minutes of jogging every day. The general consensus is that you need to walk or run 10,000 steps a day. There are approximately 2,100-2,500 steps to a mile (1.6km), depending on your stride. This means you need to walk approximately 8km a day. If you run or jog, the time taken to cover this distance is reduced. Exercise then becomes more efficient. The calories burned depends on the total distance covered and not on the speed.

Flat feet

Q: My three-year-old nephew has flat feet. Please advise.

A: Flat foot, or “pes planus”, to give its correct name, may be a perception. The arch may actually be present. This can be determined by asking your nephew to stand on his toes. If the normal arch appears there is no deformity. Usually, even if flat foot, it can be managed conservatively. An obese child should lose weight. The child should be advised to play barefoot. Footwear with arch supports and corrective exercises may be needed if the condition persists even after the age of six.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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