Category Archives: Health Quaries

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)

Some Health Quaries & Answers

No saccharin, please :
___________________
Q: I am diabetic and use a branded sugar substitute in coffee, milk and juices. I am breast feeding and want to know if it is safe for my baby.


A:
Any medication or chemicals that you consume crosses over into the breast milk and reaches the baby. Common artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame are classified by the US Food and Drug Administration as class “C”. This means they should not be used during pregnancy or lactation unless they are absolutely essential to the health and survival of the mother. This is not the case with artificial sweeteners. Human beings are very adaptable. You may try unsweetened coffee, tea and juice. That is healthier for you as well as the baby.

Thyroid pill
:-
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Q: I was not conceiving and then was diagnosed as having hypothyroidism. Once I started taking Eltroxin, I became pregnant. Do I need to continue the medicine?


A: Eltroxin needs to be continued all your life as your thyroid gland is not producing enough eltroxin for your own needs. The blood hormonal levels need to be monitored during pregnancy. Eltroxin can cross the placenta to the baby. Too little will affect you adversely and too much will be harmful to the baby. Your baby needs to have a thyroid test soon after birth. The eltroxin you are taking will not affect the baby’s test results.

My feet burn :-
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Q: The soles of my feet burn every night. I leave them uncovered but that does not help much. My sleep is disturbed and I am left feeling irritable all day.

A: Diabetes can cause burning feet. So can a disease in the blood vessels, kidney or liver failure, vitamin deficiency or alcoholism. Remove your shoes and socks as soon as you return from work and soak your feet in tepid water. Take calcium and vitamin supplements. If there is no improvement in a week, consult a physician.

Hearing loss

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Q: I feel that my son is becoming deaf. He does not respond when he is called. He seems to live in a world of his own. The problem started after we bought him a new mobile phone.


A: The new mobile phone may have an MP3 player which might be the reason your son is glued to it. If he has been using “in-ear” earphones at a high volume for long periods of time, it is possible he has developed some hearing loss. The condition can be evaluated.

Your son may become socially withdrawn as he has his music and SMS friends. This is now an international social problem. Encourage him to be more physically active. Also, you can consider spending more time talking to him and listening to what he has to say.

Obstetric care :-
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Q: My wife is pregnant with our first child and I am at a loss as to how to deal with things. I want a good hospital so that the mother and child are safe.

A: Before choosing a hospital (and an obstetrician) you need to scout a few places to see where you are likely to receive the best care. Preferably, there should be several duty doctors following a “shift” system. A single doctor, however good, cannot be “on call” night and day. If he or she is tired or busy, you might wind up with an unnecessary Caesarian section. Also check if the hospital has a paediatrician.

Ear block
:-
___________

Q: My left ear gets blocked whenever I swim. I have had the ear checked and there is no wax blocking it.

A: After getting out of the pool, tilt your head to the left and hop on the left leg a few times. This usually does the trick. If that doesn’t work, hold your nose, close your mouth and breathe out through the nose.

Fractured collar bone:-

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Q: My four-year-old grandson fell down a couple of stairs and fractured his collar bone. The doctor says it will heal and gave him just a cloth sling. Is this enough?

A: Collar bone fractures are common in babies, children and adolescents. The only treatment is rest, a figure-of-eight bandage, a sling and analgesics for the pain. Healing usually takes around 12 weeks but a painless bump may persist for many months.

Active brain :-
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Q: Is there any way I can keep my brain active? I am scared of dementia.

A: Several studies show that memory games, memorising poetry and regularly doing Sudoku puzzles keep the mind active and prevent deterioration of the grey matter. Most newspapers regularly feature puzzles. You can also access them on the Internet.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Some Health Quaries & Answers

Sensitive to sunlight :-…..CLICK & SEE

Q: I develop blotchy red patches on my arms and face which tingle and burn within 10 minutes of exposure to the sun.

A: Some people are inherently sensitive to sunlight, while others develop the problem as a reaction to medication like tetracyclines, sulpha drugs or even common painkillers and anti histamines. If you are on medication, consult your doctor about changing or stopping it.

In any case, try to avoid exposure to sunlight by leaving early to work and returning after sunset. Use a black umbrella to block the sun’s rays whenever you go out. Wear long sleeved, dark coloured clothing and covered footwear. For the exposed areas like the face, neck and hands, apply a sunscreen with an SF (sun filter) factor of 15 or more.

Prostate surgery :-….CLICK & SEE
Q: I had prostrate surgery two years ago, after which I developed erectile dysfunction. It persists, causing me great anguish.

A: About 80-90 per cent men have erectile dysfunction after prostatectomy. It is usually temporary and one recovers in 12-18 months. A small percentage does have a long-term problem, especially if the surgery is for cancer. That’s because the nerves in the area may have been cut during the operation. Consult the urologist who performed the surgery and discuss your options.

Corns on feet :-…CLICK & SEE
Q: There are two corns on the sole of my foot, which are very painful. What should I do?

A: A corn is actually a thickened area of skin which develops because of uneven pressure. The commonest causes are faulty gait or ill-fitting footwear. But first confirm the diagnosis by consulting a dermatologist. A bony swelling, wart or abscess may appear like a corn to the untrained eye. If the swellings are really corns, you may use corn plasters to remove them. Follow the instructions on the packet. Corn plasters shouldn’t be used if you have diabetes; the corns will recur unless the causative factor is treated.

Burning skin :-
Q: I have lumbar spondylosis. Whenever I sit in the office or watch TV, I feel an uncomfortable burning sensation on the skin along the right side of my abdomen. It disappears upon moving.

A: Sometimes nerves leading to the skin become trapped as they leave the vertebral column. The pressure on the nerve causes it to tingle and burn, producing the uncomfortable sensation you mentioned. The abnormal curvature of your spine owing to the spondylosis is probably responsible. First, try conservative treatment with —

Weight reduction, if obese

Spinal exercises. These can be learnt from a physiotherapist or yoga teacher

• Learning proper postures

• Walking for 40 minutes a day.

Usually there is an improvement in three months which can be sustained if the lifestyle modifications are continued. If there is no improvement and the symptoms are incapacitating, you might need to consider surgery to correct the spinal deformity.

Anal fissure :-….CLICK & SEE
Q: I have had chronic anal fissure for the last six months. Every time I go to the toilet, I experience severe pain. An ayurvedic physician has guaranteed a cure but insists I allow him to perform surgery first.

A: A fissure occurs usually as a result of straining and then passing a hard stool. It is difficult to heal as the pain causes a spasm in the anal sphincter perpetuating the cycle of straining and constipation.

Conservative treatment with a sitz bath (sitting in a basin of hot water), applying a local anaesthetic cream (xylocaine, lignocaine) before and after passing stool, drinking four litres of water a day, eating a high-fibre diet, and using a stool bulking agent like isapgol cures the problem in 90 per cent of cases.

If the difficulty persists, consult a qualified surgeon who can perform an anal dilation or actually cut the anal sphincter. This has to be done carefully as otherwise you may not be able to control your bowel movement. I do not think an ayurvedic physician is licensed or qualified to perform the surgery.

Small big query :-
Q: I am an 18-year-old man and would like to know what type of underwear I should use.

A: You have to make a choice depending on your comfort level. Underwear that is too tight may cause chaffing of the groin area. This can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infection. It can also raise the temperature of the testicles, which can marginally lower your sperm count. Boxer shorts are most comfortable. But ensure it is made of a natural fibre.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

 

Some Health Quaries & Answers

Mum’s milk, please   :-
Q: I had a caesarian for my first pregnancy. I plan such a delivery for my current pregnancy too. Last time I was unable to breast-feed the baby. I do not want that to happen again.

A: If you are committed to breast-feeding, you will surely succeed. It does, however, take a little longer for the milk flow to become established after a caesarian. Ask for the baby and hold him or her as soon as possible after birth. Establish skin-to-skin contact and give the baby a chance to nuzzle at your breast. Try to breast-feed early and often. Take only non-sedating painkillers for the postoperative pain, because if you are drowsy you will not be able to hold the baby properly.

Violent child:-
Q: My 12-year-old son develops a blank stare and then starts to attack everyone around, beating and biting. Later he seems to have no recollection of what happened.

A: Your son may be having seizures (epilepsy). Unfortunately, people associate seizures with violent movements of all four limbs and loss of consciousness. This is not the case. Seizures may take many forms and manifest themselves as repetitive, incomprehensible, unrecollected actions. Consult a neurologist who may advise an EEG to record the electrical signals from the brain. Seizures can be treated and controlled with proper medication.

Nodes in neck :-
Q: I developed swellings on the right side of my neck around two years ago. It was diagnosed as tuberculosis (TB). I underwent treatment as prescribed for four months. The swellings have reappeared. They are not painful. I am scared it might be cancer.

A: TB is very common in India. Any part of the body can be affected. The nodes in the neck are frequently infected. The diagnosis is made with fine needle aspiration cytology, by taking a little fluid from the swelling with a syringe. The appearance of TB is fairly typical and very different from cancer. The infection usually requires short-term intensive chemotherapy for six months. In the first two months isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol or streptomycin is given, followed by isoniazid and rifampicin for the next four months. The rifamicin has to be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Not a single dose of medication can be missed. Some patients need to have the nodes removed surgically despite adequate medication. Also, you seem to have taken the medication only for four months instead of six. That may explain the recurrence.

Pain in scrotum :-
Q: I am 25 years old. I have pain in my scrotum on one side. I went to the doctor and he said it is “epididymitis”. He also asked a lot of questions about my sex life. Since I am not married I was embarrassed and did not go back.

A: Epididymitis is common in young men between 20 and 40. It is caused by bacterial infections, TB or STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). It can occur after a urinary tract infection. That is the reason for the queries on your sex life. Depending on your answers, he needs to make a selection of antibiotics for treatment. The important thing is to take the entire course of antibiotic in the dosage prescribed.

Fit but fat :-
Q: I am very fit but everyone says I am fat. My weight is 88 kg. My height is 1.54m.

A: Weight divided by height in metre squared should ideally be 23. Yours seems to be around 37. Though you may be fit and energetic, technically, you are obese. Unless you lose the extra weight, you are in danger of eventually developing other illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

Loosing weight is an uphill task. The important thing is persistence. You need to have a negative calorific balance to lose weight. Eat a diet of 1,500 calories. Exercise by walking for two hours a day. Do some yoga and other core strengthening exercises. This way, you will lose around 700 calories a day. To lose 1 kilo, you need a negative balance of 7,000 calories.

Anal fissure :-
Q: I developed recurrent painful swellings near my anal opening. They burst and now discharge pus. The doctor said it is a fissure and that I need surgery. Please advise.

A: Fissures tend to recur because the drainage of the pus from the initial lesion is never complete unless the entire area is laid open surgically. Medicines (allopathy or homeopathy) will not cure the problem. Until a date is fixed for surgery, take sitz baths morning and evening. Make sure you are not constipated — eat four to five helpings of fruit and vegetables every day. Also take isabgol husk — two teaspoons dissolved in a glass of water — every night.

Source: Tne Telegraph  (Kolkata, India)

How Much Sunshine is needed to Make Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, and a growing list of diseases and conditions are being linked with it. Regular sun exposure, without sunscreen, causes your skin to produce vitamin D naturally. But how much sun do you need?

CLICK & SEE
You’ve probably seen some vague guidelines, recommending “a few minutes every day.” But these recommendations are far too general to be useful. The amount of sun you need to meet your vitamin D requirements varies hugely, depending on your location, your skin type, the time of year, the time of day, and even the atmospheric conditions.

The Vitamin D/UV Calculator
Scientists at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research have devised a calculator that will take all those factors into consideration and estimate how many minutes of exposure you need for your skin to produce 25 mcg (the equivalent of 1,000 International Units) of vitamin D.

It’s not the most user-friendly interface and it is very easy to enter the wrong information. But once you get past the technicalities, it’s very interesting to see how much the answers change when you vary the input.

It is also not written for US cities so you can go to this page to find out latitude and longitude of many cites and enter the numbers manually. The easiest way may be to simply google “altitude of [your town]”. Remember to convert it to kilometers. One kilometer is about 3300 feet.

If your latitude is 39 S, enter -39. If your longitude is 76 W, enter -76.
You’ll also need to enter the time of day you are going out in the sun, expressed as UTC (Greenwich Mean Time). Here is a converter that will convert local time into UTC. The calculator uses a 24 hour clock, so hours from 1 PM to midnight are expressed as 13 to 24.

The calculator also wants to know the thickness of the ozone layer. I suggest just setting this one to medium.

Be sure to click the radio button next to the entries. They are often not automatically selected when you fill in the values.

Keep in mind that the exposure times given are considered enough to maintain healthy vitamin D status. If you are starting out with a vitamin D deficiency, you might need more.

Resources:

Nutrition Data August 10, 2009

CNN October 4, 2009

Times Online October 10, 2009

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