Category Archives: Health Quaries

Few Health Quarries & Answers

Be on your feet, to keep fit:
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Question: I have been reading a great many articles that are advising standing up frequently if you have a sedentary lifestyle.

Ans: A sedentary lifestyle shortens your lifespan, increases the risk of diabetes, dementia, deep vein thrombosis, anxiety, cancer, osteoporosis and worsens health and backache. It also offsets the effect of your 40-minutes-a- day aerobic workout. To counteract this, you should stand up every hour, stretch, touch your toes and take a short walk.

Mouth bleeding:
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Question: My gums suddenly started bleeding.

Ans: Gums may bleed because your toothbrush is hard and causes injury, or you have bad dental hygiene causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and plaque build up. Any blood leaking out may not clot because of medications like aspirin, clopidogrel or heparin, or due to deficiency of vitamins C and K. Diseases like dengue, cirrhosis of the liver and blood cancers (leukemia) also reduce the platelet count in the blood so that blood oozes.

The first step is to consult a dentist. If the problem is not a localised one, he will refer you to a physician for tests.

Armpit boils:
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Question: I have painful boils in my armpit. They appear in crops and leave scars when they heal.

Ans: These boils do not occur because of bad hygiene. Naturally occurring skin oils and sebum block the pores of the skin. The secretions build up under the skin causing pain. There can be secondary infection, usually from bacteria which normally reside harmlessly on the skin.

You need to bathe twice a day with antibacterial soap. Instead of directly applying the soap, use a scrubber. After that apply antibiotic ointment (mupirocin) without steroid. It may take around two weeks to clear up.

You can try massaging with pure edible coconut oil.

Cracked tongue:
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Question: My tongue has developed multiple fissures in which food sometimes gets stuck.

Ans: Deep fissures can develop with hypothyroidism, or be part of Down’s syndrome. Often there is no cause. The condition is harmless.

You could gently brush out your tongue after eating, with a soft toothbrush.

Flu break:
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Qustion:  I have fever, cold and cough. How long should I stay away from work?

Ans: Colds and the flu are very contagious. If you work in an air-conditioned office, the droplets you expel will soon spread through the system and infect everyone else. It is best to stay at home at least 24 hours after the fever and cough have subsided. The same goes for school-going children. Remember flu can be prevented with annual flu vaccines.

Diabetes fit:
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Question: I am a diabetic. My doctor keeps telling me to exercise. I don’t see the point as I am already on insulin.

Ans: Aerobic exercise like walking, swimming and cycling consumes around 300-400 calories per hour. Weight training increases muscle mass so that calories are burnt more efficiently all day. If you walk 30-40 minutes a day and do weight training with light dumbbells for 20 minutes three times a week, you will keep your metabolism humming efficiently all day. This will increase calorie expenditure and can reduce insulin requirement.

Weight Gain:
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Qustion:  I have gained weight after menopause and so have all my friends. Is this normal?

Ans: People do gain weight after menopause because their BMR (basal metabolic rate) slows down. Activity may also be less as children have left home. You just need to consciously exercise more and eat less.

Resource: The Telegraph, (Kolkata, India)

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Health quaries & solutions

Q: I have a drippy nose, tearing eyes and constant sneezing. I am unable to concentrate on my work.

A: You seem to have allergies. Try to figure out if any specific allergen causes the symptoms. If you are indoors most of the day, you need to invest in a vacuum cleaner to rid the house of dust. Avoid cotton mattresses and enclose foam mattresses in plastic covers. Room fresheners and vapourizing mosquito repellents are also notorious for causing sneezing and coughing. Consult your physician and see if you will do well with regular usage of non absorbable steroid nasal sprays and non-sedating antihistamines. Take steam inhalations twice a day. Do aerobic exercise like walking or jogging for 40 minutes twice a week. Join a yoga class. The breathing exercises are really beneficial.

FROZEN FINGERS

Q: My fingers are stiff, swollen and painful when I get up in the morning. I am unable to open and close my hands.

A:See a doctor to check whether you are retaining fluid in your body. This may be due to anaemia, kidney and liver problems or endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism. Even early rheumatoid arthritis can cause “morning stiffness.” Until the diagnosis is established, soak your hands in salted hot water for 10 minutes morning and evening. Hold a firm rubber ball under water and squeeze it rhythmically 20-30 times. See if you require painkillers or diuretics.

LIVER PROBLEM:

Q: I don’t drink at all. Now the doctor says I have mild liver damage. How is that possible?

A: Many things (not just alcohol) can damage the liver. Obesity can cause “fatty liver,” as can overmedicating with pain killers (even paracetemol), taking herbal supplements or overdosing with vitamin A. Snacks with transfats, and the fructose and other sweetening agents in cola drinks can all damage the liver, especially if you are in the habit of overindulging.

I FORGET

Q: As I get older I find that I have memory lapses. I am worried that I may develop Alzheimer’s.

A: Memory does get affected with age.

To slow down the deterioration,

• Get 40 minutes of exercise in fresh air daily

• Do cross word puzzles and play memory games regularly

• Learn poetry or pieces from your religious books by heart

• Keep diabetes, hypertension and lipids under control

BOWEL BLOCK (CONSTIPATION)

Q: I am constipated all the time. It makes life very difficult.

A: Constipation means that you pass three or less stools per week and they are of a hard consistency. You need to consult a physician to see if you have any medical issues or medications causing the problem. You also need to consult a doctor if if there is abdominal pain or blood in the motion. Otherwise, the symptoms will improve if you increase the quantity of fluid you drink to three litres a day. Add four to six helpings of fruits and vegetables to your diet. Fix a time to go to the toilet every day. Laxatives and other medications are not really the answer. They make the intestines non responsive to natural stimuli. It also makes intestines habituated, so higher doses are needed over time for the same response.


Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

Some Health Quaries & Answers

Fungus on my nails :

Q: I think I have fungal infection of my nails. They are discoloured and break easily. I also have white patches on my skin that have been diagnosed as psoriasis.

A: Psoriasis can cause nail dystrophy. This means the nails may be pitted, discoloured or have ridges, and break easily, crumble or separate from the nail bed. Sometimes this can co-exist with fungal infection of the nail or secondary bacterial infection of the nail bed.

Psoriasis of the nails has no specific treatment. The nails should be kept short. Nail varnish or henna may be used to disguise the appearance. If the psoriasis is complicated by fungal or bacterial infection, specific treatment needs to be taken after consulting a doctor.

Cat bite :

Q: My neighbour’s cat bit me. Please advise.

A: People are aware of the dangers of dog bite and immunise their dogs. Unfortunately, they don’t do the same for cats although these animals are equally likely to transmit rabies.

The wound should be cleaned with soap and water. Then an antiseptic solution (not powder or ointment) must be applied. A dose of tetanus toxoid should be taken. Proceed to take anti rabies treatment. You will need three injections if the cat is alive and healthy after your third shot. If the cat is missing, ill or dead, you need five. The injections have negligible side effects.

Green diet

Q: How much of fruit or vegetables should I eat?

A: Four to six helpings daily is considered ideal and sufficient to provide the required amount of fibre and antioxidants. It also adds bulk to the food, filling the stomach and reducing total calorific intake. You might also try adding one or two tomatoes. Tomatoes contain large quantities of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Unlike the nutrients in most fruits and vegetables, lycopene retains its potency after cooking and processing.

Body odour


Q: My aunt has a strange body oder . She bathes daily but the smell is all pervading.

A: Body odour can be due to sweat or disease. If she is an elderly person, it might be worthwhile to arrange a complete physical examination for her to rule out any obvious infection or cancer. She also needs to be evaluated for diabetes, liver and kidney disease. These systemic illnesses can cause altered unpleasant body odour.

Sleepy baby

Q: My baby sleeps most of the time. I am worried she’s sleeping too much.

A: The sleep requirement of infants varies widely and can fluctuate from nine to 19 hours. Some parents complain their child never sleeps while others say theirs is always sleeping. If the baby is feeding well and gaining weight, and doesn’t have constipation or diarrhoea, you probably have nothing to worry about. After all, the sleep patterns of adults too vary from four to eight hours a day.

Sugar control

Q: I read that there are several new and improved diabetic medicines in the market. But my doctor insists on the same old metformin. My diabetes is not under very good control.

A: Good control of diabetes requires dieting and exercise. If you aren’t compliant, don’t eat in a measured way and refuse to walk or exercise, your diabetes will probably stay uncontrolled. Try to correct these factors first.

Metformin is a tried and tested medication. It does not cause the blood sugars to drop to dangerously low levels. The biggest advantage is it is taken after food. Indians tend to fast on certain days. If a person administers insulin or takes medication after fasting, the sugars may drop to dangerously low levels.

School shoes

Q: My son’s school issues “regulation shoes”. These give him painful shoe bites.

A: Ensure the shoes are of the correct size and are always worn with socks. Rub a piece of Lifebuoy or Hamam soap on the dry feet before wearing them. Do not wash it off. This will prevent shoe bites.

Source: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Some Health Quaries & Answers

Getting Rid of Body O dour
Q: I have been suffering from body odour, particularly from the armpits, for the last two years. The problem is so severe that if someone around me coughs, sneezes or looks away, I feel it’s because of my body odour.

A: You may be becoming self-conscious and attributing all actions of others to your odour. That may not be the case. However, to tackle the problem,

• Remove all the hair from your armpits and groin area

• Bathe twice a day using a loofah

• Use an antibacterial germicidal soap like Neko

• Wear only pure cotton clothes

• Apply body spray to the armpits after bathing

At work, if you feel particularly conscious, take a fresh shirt with you (buy two identical shirts, so no one will know you have changed). Change around 2pm after washing and spraying just your armpits.

Ear discharge
Q: My son has brown-coloured blood oozing intermittently from one ear. He does not have any pain or fever when this happens. We consulted a doctor but there was no discharge at that time.


A:
First, you have to be sure the secretion is actually blood. At times, the ear gets filled with brown wax, which can ooze out at times. But if it is blood, it’s a dangerous sign. It may be due to an infection, injury or a foreign body that the child may have inserted into his ear. If neglected, it can affect his hearing. Consult an ENT (ear, nose, throat) surgeon immediately.

Recurrent tonsillitis
Q: My daughter is prone to tonsillitis. The doctor has to give her antibiotics at least five times a year, and these are usually sulfa drugs. Recovery, however, is hardly ever complete and she keeps coughing and complaining of pain for a long time afterwards. She has now been advised tonsillectomy.

A: Tonsillitis is not always due to a bacterial infection. If it is because of a virus, antibiotics will not work. Bacterial infection in the tonsils is characterised by high fever and pain and difficulty in swallowing. Also, the sulfa group of drugs does not act against tonsillitis; you need to take penicillin or azithromycin. There are some age-old preventive measures for tonsillitis like regular gargling twice a day with warm, salted water.

Tonsillectomy is not advised unless one suffers from six or more attacks a year. Moreover, the child should preferably be over 10 years. The operation has its own dangers, drawbacks and after effects.

To shave or not
Q: My facial skin becomes black, rough and thick when I shave. My wife says it is because I do it with soap. Should I stop shaving?

A: Your wife is probably right. You need to use a shaving gel or foam containing a moisturiser. The latter will soften the hair and you do not have to scrape it off with a blade. An aftershave acts like an astringent and antiseptic. It will take care of any minor cut that shaving may produce. On the other hand, if you go out into the sun, any perfume in the aftershave may produce photosensitivity and darkening of the skin.

You can apply baby oil to your face at night. This will further soften the skin. Not shaving is often not a solution, because it may impart an unkempt and unprofessional look.

Sleepy child
Q: My granddaughter is an intelligent and active three-year-old. Every time she wakes up from sleep, she asks for her mother and is very slow and lethargic. It takes her about half an hour to become fully aware of her surroundings. Does she need an energising tonic?

A: Many children behave that way. When a child is sleeping, the brain is resting, and it needs time to adjust from zero activity to high activity. Just let your granddaughter make the transition slowly, hugging her for some time. Asking for the mother is normal. She does not need a tonic.

Tongue tie
Q: My son has tongue tie. He is now nine months old. He does not have any difficulty breast-feeding or eating. Relatives say he needs surgery. Which doctor should we consult and where should we have the surgery?

A: Tongue tie is serious if the infant cannot feed. If your son is able to chew and swallow, wait till speech develops. Sometimes tongue tie may be an impediment to speech. If that is the case, you can opt for surgery then. You can wait until he is six years old, as the condition might correct itself as the face, tongue and mouth grow.

Source The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Some Health Quaries & Answers

Protection during breast-feeding
Q: I am breast-feeding my nine-month old baby. I have not had my periods and am not using any contraception. I was told that if you are breast-feeding, you will not get pregnant. Is it true?


A:
It’s a myth, an old wife’s tale. You can become pregnant as soon as you have intercourse, even if you are breast feeding and have not had your periods. You need to check with your gynaecologist and ask for a reliable method of contraception which you can use until you are ready to have your next baby.

There are several options: your husband can use condoms, or you can have an intra-uterine contraceptive device (IUD) inserted, take progesterone-only pills daily or take an injection of a long-acting form of progesterone once in three months.

Familial cancer :-
Q: One of my maternal uncles had lung cancer and another had stomach cancer that spread to the brain. What precautions should I take so that I do not develop cancer?

A: Some cancers can be genetic or hereditary. But in your case, your uncles seem to have had different types of cancer. To reduce your risk of developing the disease, in general, lead a healthy life with one hour of exercise daily. Maintain your BMI (weight divided by height in metre squared) at 23. Eat four to five helpings of fruits and vegetables everyday. After the age of 50, do a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. The PSA level rises in prostrate cancer which is very common in men.

Still no baby
Q: We have no children even after seven years of marriage. My wife became pregnant four times, but each time the pregnancy ended in an abortion. We also tried to have a test tube baby but that too was unsuccessful.

A: Your wife seems to have no problem conceiving since she become pregnant naturally four times. The difficulty seems to lie in retaining the pregnancy and carrying it to term. This may be due to congenital malformations or tumours (like fibroids) in the uterus, or diseases such as kidney problems, diabetes and hormonal imbalance. There are several reasons which need to be investigated by an obstetrician. Investing in a test tube baby is not a solution unless you also plan to use a surrogate mother.

Sweaty palms
Q: I sweat excessively on my palms because of which am unable to shake hands with people or use a keyboard. I have tried several creams and lotions but to no avail.


A:
Sweating excessively on the palms is due to overdrive of the sympathetic nervous system and is independent of the temperature regulatory sweating that occurs on other parts of the body. You need basic blood tests to rule out thyroid and other endocrine malfunctions. These can be treated.

To begin with, try soaking your hands in boric acid solution twice a day. Then apply an anti perspirant roll or deodorant. Wipe your palms frequently. Also, you could use a “plastic skin” on the keyboard to type.

Some doctors prescribe anti cholinergergic tablets, beta blockers or sedatives. However, these have side effects — such as dry mouth and sleepiness — which are usually more distressing than the disease. Surgery can be done to remove the nerve ganglia responsible for the problem. But this should be the last resort.

Migraine attack
Q: I suffer from migraine. The headaches are incapacitating and I lose several working days every month. I do not want to keep on taking tablets.


A:
Migraine can be treated in one of two ways. Some patients are able to accurately predict the onset of an attack. They do very well with stemetil, phenergan, codeine or sumatryptan, which have to be taken before the headache is well-established and vomiting starts.

In others, the headaches are frequent and unpredictable. They need preventive medication like propanalol or amitryptiline, which must be taken daily. Sometimes regular physical exercise combined with relaxation techniques in yoga reduces the frequency and severity of the attacks. Accupressure applied to specific sites at the onset of the headache may help.

Right weight
Q: I am 38 years old and have two children. I am a little plump, not fat. What should my correct weight be?

A: After the age of two, a person’s ideal weight is determined not by age but by calculating the BMI. It is a good indicator of the body fat. Ideally, the BMI should be 23.

Based on this calculation, figure out how many kilograms you need to lose. Exercising one hour everyday should work off about 350 calories. You can tailor your diet so that every day you have a calorific deficit of 500 calories. A 3,500-calorie negative balance will result in a kilogram of weight loss.

Source
: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)