Some Health Quaries & Answers

To walk or not to walk

Q: I am pregnant with my first child. My relatives tell me not to exercise but rest all day. The doctor, however, has advised walking, morning and evening.

A: Exercise is important during pregnancy. It’s not harmful; on the contrary it has a positive impact on the health of the mother and baby. It enables both to withstand prolonged labour by increasing endurance. It boosts immunity, reduces stress and depression, and helps the mother to rapidly regain her pre-pregnancy physique.

Walking on level ground at a steady pace for 40 minutes in the morning and evening is safe and adequate. But be sure to wear good, supportive flat footwear and drink lots of water.

Abortion pills

Q: I induced an abortion with tablets last year. After that my periods became irregular and I have not been able to conceive.

A: Medical abortion is safe but must be done under a doctor’s supervision. A scan should be undertaken before taking the pills to ensure all the recommended criteria for a safe termination are met. The pregnancy should be less than 49 days, you can’t adopt this method if you’ve had a caesarian previously, the pregnancy should be in the uterus and not the tubes, and it should not be twins. The pills must be taken on two separate occasions, two days apart. After the abortion has occurred, a repeat scan must be done to ensure it has worked. If you have not followed these recommendations and had bought the tablets over the counter, consult a gynaecologist.

Blood in stools

Q: I have abdominal pain and diarrhoea with blood. The doctor did a stool test and said it is amoebic dysentery.

A: Amoebic dysentery occurs in tropical countries like India and causes diarrhoea with abdominal pain and blood in the stools. It can be distinguished from bacterial diarrhoea by the absence of fever. Treatment requires five to seven days of metronidazole. But consult your doctor for duration and dosage of the medicine. Failure to complete the course may result in chronic infection.

All diarrhoeas with blood and mucous are not due to dysentery. There are non-infective causes like polyps, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis as well as cancer. If the results of a complete course of medication isn’t satisfactory, consult a gastroenterologist.

Hospital bug

Q: My son is admitted to the ICU with pneumonia. I am worried about the “superbug”. I noticed that a great deal of the time, simple hygienic measures like washing hands between patients is not followed by the medical staff. Neither do visiting relatives and friends follow the rules. What’s more, some of them sit on the patient’s bed.

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A: Hand washing reduces the spread of infection (and possibly the superbug) in the community and in a hospital setting by 50 per cent. It is proven to be the single most effective method to reduce infection. A sanitising liquid can also be used.

Unfortunately, these simple methods are often not followed by lay people or even the medical fraternity. There is nothing much you can do except keep a bottle of sanitising liquid with you and request visitors to use it. You may offend some people, but at least it will reduce your son’s chances of infection.

Chicken pox

Q: Is there any way to prevent chicken pox? Or is it one of the inevitable diseases of childhood?

A: Varicella vaccine to prevent chicken pox has been available since 1995. Immunised children do not get the disease. Although in most children, it may be mild and recovery complete in five to seven days, it isn’t possible to predict if your child will be one of the unfortunate 10 per cent that develop complications.

Diabetic drug

Q: My doctor gives me metformin for diabetes, which I have to take three times a day. My grandmother too was on metformin. I wonder if there isn’t anything better and if I should change my doctor.

A: Metformin is one of the oldest diabetic drugs on the market, and the safest and mildest. It prevents low blood sugars from occurring accidentally and this protects against heart attacks and strokes. Also, since it is taken after food, you are unlikely to take a tablet and then forget to eat.

If you do not like to take pills thrice a day, you may ask your doctor for the longer acting, sustained release formulations. This will increase your dosage intervals.

Leg cramps

Q: My son complains of pain in the leg at night. We have tried iron tonics, zinc supplementation and calcium, but nothing works. He wakes up with pain every night.

A: Add a tablespoon of rock salt in a bucket of hot water. Ask your son to stand in it for 10 minutes every night before sleeping.

Source : The Telegraph (kolkata, India)

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