Some Health Quaries & Answers

Eating out, a lot :-..Eating out
Q: I eat in restaurants very often as my nature of work requires a lot of travel. Some of the places look unhygienic. What should I do?

A: To protect yourself, drink only mineral water. Preferably carry your own water. Do not eat salads and uncooked vegetables. Immunise yourself against typhoid and hepatitis (jaundice). Protection against hepatitis A requires two injections six months apart. Protection against typhoid requires one injection every three years

Sleep interrupted :..Sleep interruption
Q: I have to get up in the night several times to urinate. Even when I have finished, I feel there is more urine. That is really not the case as no matter how much I try, there is no more flow. I am 62 years old.

A: You may have an enlarged prostate. The organ is situated at the neck of the urethra, the pipe through which urine is passed. As age advances, it can increase in size obstructing free voiding of urine. The problem is usually benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH, which is not cancer.

Your doctor can verify the diagnosis by examining you, doing an ultrasound and a blood test. As you wait for the results, you can ease your symptoms by avoiding caffeine and alcohol, passing urine regularly before you actually feel the urge, and staying away from antihistamine medicines.

HPV vaccine
Q: My wife is 32 years old and we have one child. I read about the cervical cancer vaccine and would like to know if she will benefit from it.

A: The guidelines for the human papillovirus vaccine (HPV) advise routine administration for all girls between the ages of nine and 11 years. The decision to vaccinate an older woman should be taken after assessing her risk for previous HPV exposure. There is no test to prove or disprove exposure to the virus. It depends on the woman’s sexual history and that of her male contacts. If she is already exposed, then any benefit from immunisation is likely to be minimal.

Hepatitis B
Q: I live with my aunt and I recently discovered she is hepatitis B positive. What should I do?

A: Check your hepatitis B status by doing a blood test in a recognised laboratory. If you are negative, immediately start on a course of vaccination. The dosage schedule is 0, 28 and 180 days. The injection has to be given in the arm and not the buttocks. But if you are already infected with hepatitis B, consult a hepatologist or gastroenterologist.

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Breast lump
Q: My 23-year-old niece has a lump in her breast. The doctor said we could wait and see. But I am worried.

A: Breast cancer is commoner in older women, but it does not mean a young woman cannot develop it. Particularly those women who may be carrying the BRAC1/2 genes, which are linked with a higher incidence of breast cancer, are at risk. If your niece has a lump in the breast, it is better to have it evaluated by another surgeon. She needs an ultrasound / mammogram / biopsy depending on the size of the lump. A “wait and watch” approach is not logical or scientific until the preliminary tests are done.

Milky discharge
Q: My wife has milky discharge from both her nipples. It is seven years since the birth of our last child. She fed him for a year and a half and then the milk stopped by itself.

A: Discharge from both nipples is unlikely to be due to cancer. It can be a side effect of medications like perinorm or domperone. One of the pituitary hormones called prolactin triggers the production of milk. Some pituitary tumours cause excess prolactin secretion and this can lead to milky lateral nipple discharge. Thyroid disorders can also cause the same symptoms. Your wife’s condition needs evaluation.

Extra bones
Q: I have pain in the arms. It has been diagnosed as “cervical rib”.

A: Cervical ribs are extra bones attached to the neck vertebrae. They are present in 0.5 per cent of the population. They may cause no symptoms at all. In some individuals, these bones may compress the blood vessels and nerves to the arms. There may be tingling numbness and weakness of the muscles of the hands, particularly at the base of the thumb. In many individuals, it is possible to keep these symptoms at bay with regular exercise. Others may require surgery to remove the extra rib.

Scanty beard
Q: I have a scanty beard and want a thicker growth.

A: If you are genetically Oriental it is unlikely that your desire to grow a thick beard will meet with much success. Also, look around at your male relatives. Hair distribution on the face varies from family to family. Just to make sure everything is normal, check your testosterone levels. If that is normal, it means you are out of luck and destined to sport the clean-shaven look.

Source: The Telegraph (kolkata, India)

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