Q: I have skinny arms and an ugly pot belly. I wish to increase the size of my arms and reduce my stomach.
A: First you need to attain your ideal body weight. Divide your weight by your height in metre squared and see if it is 25. If it is more you need to lose weight. This can be done by a combination of diet and exercise. You also need about 40 minutes of aerobic exercise like running, jogging and walking everyday. This has to be combined with anaerobic weight training and abdominal crunches. Also, if you have a desk job try to maintain proper posture while sitting. Pull in your stomach and hold it in several times a day. It is not possible to reduce your pot belly alone.
Q: My father had fever and throat pain. He was diagnosed with diphtheria and admitted him in the ICU. Later we learnt that adults don’t get diphtheria.
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A: Diphtheria is rare today because of the routine immunisation of all children with the “triple” vaccine DPT which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). Immunity has to be reinforced with booster doses until the age of 16 years. Immunity tends to fall over time. This makes older individuals susceptible to infection. Diphtheria can produce heart (myocarditis) and nerve (paralysis) complications. Maybe that is why your father was admitted into the ICU.
Q: My sister had bleeding during pregnancy. The doctor diagnosed placenta previa (I don’t know what that is) and did a caesarean section. The baby is premature and very sick. What is this? Will it recur in her next pregnancy?
A: Placenta previa occurs when the placenta fixes itself near the outlet of the uterus. It occurs once in 200 pregnancies. The bleeding is painless, and can be mild or profuse enough to endanger the life of the mother and the baby. It is diagnosed by an ultrasound scan. Treatment can be bed rest in mild cases or immediate caesarean in severe cases. I think in your sister’s case the doctors had no choice. Premature babies have a lot of complications, most of which can be tackled by a competent neonatologist.
Fortunately placenta previa is not a recurrent condition.
Q: My father had a stroke and his left arm and leg are paralysed. I have been advised to take him for physiotherapy, but how is that going to help?
A: Paralysed muscles become stiff and inflexible. This makes changing the position of the limb difficult. The bones and joints may get pulled out of alignment. Walking and balance become difficult. If he remains immobile bed sores may develop.
It is possible to retrain muscles and brain circuits. Muscle strength, power and flexibility will all improve with consistent physiotherapy. It is worth making the effort and taking your father for treatment.
Q: I have dark itchy patches under my breasts, in my arm pits and the thigh creases. They are very ugly.
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A: These patches are called intertrigo. They occur when there is a reaction between sebum, sweat, detergents and moisture. There may be a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.
You need to bathe twice a day and dry the area well with a soft towel. Check with a dermatologist about the type of infection (if any) which may have occurred. Applying the specific antibacterial or antifungal cream or dusting powder will help.
TREATING BED SORES :-
Q: My grandfather is bedridden and has developed a bed sore. What should we do?
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A: Bed sores can develop in anyone who is bedridden and unable to change his or her position. Prolonged sitting or lying in one position compromises blood supply to the skin and soft tissue of the area. Bedsores can develop quickly, progress rapidly and be difficult to treat.
Small sores may heal on their own if cleaned appropriately. Deep sores need surgical cleaning, dressings and, sometimes, surgical closure with skin grafts.
It is important to try and prevent sores from developing and spreading by changing the person’s position often.
I HAVE TO AVOID MILK
Q: I used to drink a glass of milk in the morning and in the evening. I had stomach cramps, bloating and terrible gas. Recently, after a naturopath told me to avoid milk and milk products there was a vast improvement. I need my tea in the morning though. How can I live without milk? I am 35 years old.
A: The naturopath has accurately deduced that you have lactose intolerance. His advice to avoid milk is right and you have improved. At your age a tablet containing 1gm of calcium and three eggs a week will probably replace the nutrition you used to get from milk. You can drink black or green tea without milk.
Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)