Some Health Quaries & Answers

Touch the Grass

Q: I am 23 years old and have been reading a lot about exercising bare foot. I want to give it a try.

A: Barefoot running has really caught on. In fact, there is even a special barefoot shoe, which is similar to a glove. If you plan to run or walk long distances barefoot, make sure you do it on grass or soft soil. Tarred and cement roads or tracks with stones will hurt your feet. Also, make sure you acclimatise and harden your soles by doing short runs or walks at first. Running barefoot on the treadmill or skipping rope without shoes is, however, not a good idea.

Pee pain

Q: My 9-month-old son strains to pass urine. His face turns red and he cries every time.

A: Check to see if his foreskin balloons out when he urinates. If that happens it means that the skin around the meatus (hole through which the urine comes out) is tight. You need to consult a paediatric surgeon. They can dilate it. Otherwise they might suggest a small operation called a circumcision.

Sometimes children may strain to urinate owing to posterior valves in the urinary bladder, which obstruct the free flow of urine. Both the conditions need evaluation, diagnosis and surgical correction. So consult your doctor immediately.

Acne farewell

Q: I am being treated for acne and want to know if I can continue with the treatment after marriage.

A: Stop the treatment if you think that you might become pregnant soon after the marriage. Small quantities of products you apply on the skin can get absorbed and affect the foetus. Many common over-the-counter acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide retinoids, minocycline and tetracyclines, all of which can potentially cause birth defects and need to be avoided during pregnancy.

Here are some safe, non medical ways to control acne:-

Wash your face using a wash cloth 3-4 times a day.

Do not apply talcum powder or greasy make up.

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Shampoo your hair regularly.

Keep hair off the face.

Avoid picking and scratching acne

Bow legs

Q: My daughter is three years old and bow-legged. It looks awkward and we are worried that the deformity will persist and cause problems when she is an adult.

A: Children are normally born bow-legged. It may be more obvious in some than in others. It usually gets corrected by the age of 5-6. If the legs are curved more than normal, it may be due to rickets (a consequence of vitamin D deficiency), or Blount’s disease. It is better to have your paediatrician evaluate the child.

Prostrate trouble

Q: My father gets up several times in the night to go to the loo, where he spends a lot of time as he says the urine does not flow freely.

A: Your father needs to be evaluated for an enlarged prostrate. It seems the likely diagnosis as he is complaining of “an obstructed feeling”. Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or prostatic growth begins at approximately 30. Around 50 per cent of men have evidence of BPH by age 50 and 75 per cent by 80. It can usually be tackled with medication. However, you need to do scans and a blood test called PSA (prostate specific antigen) to rule out cancer. Appropriate treatment can be provided by a urologist.

Leg ache

Q: I develop a shooting pain down the back of my leg when I move suddenly. The doctor said it is sciatica and that I need surgery.

A: Sciatica is a generic term that describes a set of symptoms like tingling, pain or numbness in one leg. It is due to compression of one or more of the nerves coming out of the spinal cord. This may be due to the collapse of the lumbar vertebrae or herniation of the discs in between the bones. It needs to be evaluated with a CT scan or an MRI. If the symptoms are mild and there is no actual muscle wasting, traction and exercise can be tried. If the herniation is severe, surgery may be required.

Milk allergy

Q: My 6-month-old son had such a bad bout of diarrhoea that he lost a kilo. The paediatrician said he is allergic to cow’s milk and asked me to give him soya milk. I tried but my son does not like the taste. Can I use Nan or Lactogen instead? I have no milk so he has been on cow’s milk since birth.

A: Nan, Lactogen and other baby formulae are made by processing cow’s milk. So if your son is allergic to cow’s milk, he will be allergic to these tinned products also. Since your son is six months old, in addition to soya milk, you can start giving him solid food. You can give khichdi, potatoes, carrots, idlies and bananas. The ready-to-serve weaning foods available in packets and tins often contain milk powder so they are better avoided. If you want to use them, check the packaging label.

Source : The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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