Some Health Quaries & Answers

Q: I have terrible dreams every night when I feel I am falling over a mountain or am locked in a box. I don’t feel refreshed when I wake up. I am also drowsy all day.

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A: No one knows exactly why people dream, where dreams originate, what they mean or what the purpose of dreaming is for the body or the mind. But we do know that dreams are strongly associated with REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This can be picked up by an EEG (electroencephalogram) which records electrical signals in the brain. REM shows up as typical wave patterns. During an average lifespan, a human being spends about six years’ time dreaming. This works out to almost two hours each night. Most dreams last for only 5-20 minutes.

One way to sleep well is to go for a 45-minute walk half an hour after dinner, and then drink a cup of warm milk before going to bed.

I suspect cancer :
Q: My father has been taking aryuvedic medicine for his arthritis. He has developed black patches on his skin and tongue. I am afraid it is cancer.

A: Cancer of the tongue is more likely to appear as a painless white patch or a nodule. Black patches on the skin and tongue are probably due to consumption of metals like silver, gold, mercury and lead which are present in Aryuvedic medications. These metals are not eliminated from the body. The concentration builds up and they get deposited in the bones and muscles. It is advisable to stop the medications and see an allopathic physician. If necessary, have a biopsy done to rule out cancer.

That unrelieved feeling:
Q: I have problem moving my bowels. I never manage to finish the business before leaving for work. The whole day I feel the “urge” but cannot evacuate as I do not use the office toilet, which is unhygienic.

A: Constipation, especially long standing, can be due to improper diet lacking in sufficient fibre and fluids. It may also be due to a disease process like thyroid malfunction or a block in the intestine. In your case the former seems more likely as you have suffered for years and your health does not seem to have deteriorated in any way.

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If there is no disease process (ascertained by a medical evaluation), try increasing water intake to three litres a day and eating 4-6 helpings of fruit and vegetables. If this does not work, you can try 2tsp isabgol husk in a glass of water at night to increase the bulk in your food. Walking for 45 minutes a day and doing abdominal exercises will help tone your muscles. This in turn will help regulate your bowels. Also try getting up earlier so that you can spend time in the toilet without tension and anxiety.

Otitis media
Q: My five-year-old daughter has enlarged adenoids (I don’t know what that is) and because of that (according to the paediatrician) she has frequent attacks of middle ear infection. She has been advised pneumococcal vaccine. Is it necessary?

A: Adenoids are paired structures situated at the back of the throat, close to the opening of the middle ear into the throat. With bacterial and viral infections they can also get enlarged, the condition being called otitis media. They can block the opening of the middle ear and cause unequal pressures, build up of secretions and ear ache, eventually leading to infections.

Two common bacterial organisms causing ear infection are the H. influenza and pneumococcus. Immunisation against H. influenza is given with DPT/HepB at six weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks of age as part of the recommended extended immunisation schedule. Prevanar (against pneumococcus) can be given at the same time. If this is missed, Pneumo 23 can be given after the age of two years. The vaccines are safe.

Vaporising mosquito repellents can lead to allergic swelling of the adenoids. Use of a feeding bottle while sleeping, particularly at night, compounds the problem. These two factors should be removed, otherwise the infections will self perpetuate despite immunisation.

High BP at youth
Q: I am 26 years old and have hypertension, which is well controlled. I also have anxiety. I am on medications which I want to discontinue.

A: You are too young to have hypertension. This needs to be evaluated as there are several correctable diseases that cause secondary hypertension. Continue the medications at present and try to consult an endocrinologist or nephrologist to evaluate the hypertension and hopefully find a cause. Meanwhile, to reduce anxiety, try jogging for 40 minutes a day and practise meditation or yoga regularly.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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