Some Health Quaries & Answers

Fight that fever

Q: I read in the newspaper that there is a lot of flu around. I am worried as I get sick every winter.

A: There is an epidemic of influenza. It is especially dangerous in the paediatric and geriatric age groups. Medication called Tamiflu is available to treat flu once it has developed. If you have been prescribed this medication, please remember to take the entire course. Ideally, it should be given twice a day for five days.

Flu can be prevented with a readily available vaccine, which needs to be taken as a single injection and provides protection for six months. Hopefully by that time the flu season will be over.

Ankle ache

Q: I twisted my ankle a year ago. After that I found that if I skid while walking, I tend to sprain it repeatedly. This is very painful.

A: There are ligaments around the ankle joint that should hold it firmly in place. Once you sprain your ankle, the ligaments become stretched and weakened. A slight slip will cause injury and pain. You need to go to a physiotherapist and learn ankle-strengthening exercises. It may make sense to wear an ankle support for a couple of months to prevent slips and strains.

Best exercise :

Q: What is the best exercise to do? There is so much conflicting advice that I am confused.

A: Ideal exercise really depends on how much time you have on your hands. Theoretically you need to do an hour of running or jogging and 20 minutes of stretching. Most people cannot spare that much time. If you are confined to a limited space and cannot go outdoors you could do the same amount of exercise using a stationary exercise cycle, rowing machine or treadmill. But, to make whatever exercise you do more efficient, increase the intensity for 6 minutes and then decrease it for 6. A slow one-hour stroll will improve your health significantly but these variations and additions will add benefit.

Sports physicians have come to the conclusion that the “Burpee” is the best exercise. It involves a squat, followed by a push-up and a leap into the air. Doing about 20 of them is ideal.

Clotty truth

Q: I am going to have cataract surgery and I am on 75mg aspirin once a day. The doctor asked me to “stop it before surgery” but did not specify for how long I should do so. Also should I take clopidogrel instead?

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A: Aspirin and clopidogrel have similar actions. Both prevent platelets from sticking together and increase the time taken by blood to clot. You need to stop both for a week before surgery.

Kids and TV

Q: How much television should I allow my children to watch?

A: Television is a free baby sitter. You can place your child in front of it and have some quiet time for yourself. However, more and more studies have shown that television is detrimental for the social and cognitive brain development of the child. The rapidly flashing images deplete brain chemicals. Memory becomes poor and school performance suffers. The educative programmes and channels too have the same effect. Children learn far more from playing with their peers and having books read to them.

Hookah harm:


Q: I found a hookah bar near my college. My friends said it is smokeless tobacco and hence not harmful. Is it true?

A: Hookahs use specially treated flavoured tobacco and then pass the smoke through water. This does not do much to reduce the health risks. The cancer causing chemicals and nicotine are still present in high concentrations. Also since the smoking sessions last longer (an hour or so) the total amount of these poisonous substances inhaled may actually be proportionately greater. The risks for throat and lung cancer remain the same.

Jogging in pregnancy

Q: Is running during pregnancy safe? Recently I read an article about a woman who completed a marathon and then delivered. But my parents worry even if I walk.

A: The marathon woman obviously was a regular runner with a well-conditioned physique. The dangers in exercising vigorously are dehydration (which will adversely affect the baby) and falls, which may result in injury. If you have not been advised to take bed-rest then try walking for a half hour in the morning and evening. It will build stamina, strengthen your leg muscles and help you have an easy delivery.

Groin pain

Q: I have pain on the right side of my groin if I cough or sneeze. Do I need to worry?

A: You might be developing a hernia. You need to consult a surgeon.

Sources: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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