Some Health Quaries & Answers

My wifw eats bricks

Q: When my wife and I visited the Taj Mahal we bought a souvenir, a replica of the Taj made of chalk. It disappeared a few days after we returned. My wife finally confessed to having eaten the whole thing! Then I discovered that she has also been eating uncooked rice and occasionally red bricks too from the housing construction next door. I realise she needs help. Should I go to a psychiatrist?

A: Your wife has “pica”, a craving to eat things not normally considered food. People eat clay, chalk, mud and brick. Pica is an uncontrollable habit, so you’ll have to watch her for some time as she might resort to hiding the fact that she’s still eating non-food items. The urge is uncontrollable even though she knows it is wrong. It is often due to mineral deficiency. It is not a psychiatric problem. Consult a physician. She probably needs antihelminthics (de-worming), and supplements of iron, calcium and zinc.

Doggy pain..

Q: I take my Labrador for a walk in the mornings. He is exuberant, poorly trained and pulls on his leash. Of late I have noticed that my right hand tingles while holding the leash and that this sensation also wakes me up at night. The fingers are often stiff in the morning.

A: Your regular walk probably keeps you fit and provides you with the required amount of exercise. However, if the dog’s personality is as described, you need to take some precautions to prevent injury. Keep the dog on a short leash — holding it firmly at the distance of about one and a half feet, even if the leash is longer. Wear wrist guards and elbow guards. This will prevent injury due to sudden pulls and tugs.

The symptoms you describe sound like “carpal tunnel syndrome” where one of the nerves to the hand is trapped in the ligaments and bones at the wrist. It may have occurred due to injury while controlling the dog. It is better to see an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in hand injuries.

Measles rash?

Q: My one-year-old son developed fever and the doctor prescribed amoxicillin. After three days of he developed red rashes all over the body. My mother says it is measles but he is immunised.

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A: Measles immunisation is given at the age of nine months. At that time antibodies, transferred from the mother through the placenta, are present but waning. If there is a high level of maternal antibodies, the vaccine may not produce a satisfactory response. This is the reason for a booster, which is given as the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine at 15 months. Once this is also given the immunity is almost 100 per cent.

All rashes are not due to measles. Other viral infections can also lead to rashes. Amoxicillin causes non-specific red rashes in some people. Allergies can also cause rashes, in which case there will be associated itching.

Ulcer baby…..

Q: My baby is 10 months old and has developed severe ulcers in the mouth. My doctor says it is due to herpes infection. I always thought that herpes was a sexually transmitted disease.

A: Herpes is the name given to a group of viruses. Different viruses from this group can cause various diseases like chicken pox, ulcers in the mouth or herpes progenitalis. These ulcers are painful. So the baby may find it difficult to swallow. The doctor will usually prescribe some local treatment and antiviral medication.

Although this infection occurs in a large number of children, it is less common in those who are not bottle fed or given pacifiers.

Chikungunya

Q: I had a chikungunya infection about six months ago but my ankles still hurt. I find locomotion difficult as there are sudden attacks of excruciating pain.

A: Unfortunately a chikungunya infection has a long lasting impact in some people. The joint pain either persists or keeps flaring up unexpectedly intermittently for as long as two years. When there is pain apply a capsaicin-containing ointment locally, then place ice on the joint as a cold compress, alternate it with heat from a hot water bottle, have physiotherapy and use analgesics for pain relief.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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