Storm in a teacup
Q: I have a ceramic mug that I bought from a street vendor. When I drink tea out of it I get a taste of clay
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A: Try drinking the beverage through a straw. If you can still taste the ceramic, discard the mug. Hot liquids can dissolve some of the clay and glaze. Some of these may be contaminated with dangerous heavy metals like lead. This is particularly true of poor quality stuff.
Breast-feeding & contraception
Q: I am breast feeding my four-month baby and want to use some safe and reliable form of contraception. I do not like the idea of an intrauterine contraceptive device.
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A: You could ask your husband to use condoms from the beginning to the end of intercourse. If this does not appeal to both of you, or is not feasible, you can opt for progesterone injections. They are sold under the trade name Depo Provera. The injection has to be given every 12 weeks under medical supervision. Another option is “progesterone only” pills, the trade name of which is Cerazette. Unlike conventional oral contraceptive pills, these have to be taken every day. Both the injections and tablets can cause irregular menstruation. After one year (when you stop breast-feeding), you can switch to oral contraceptive pills.
Q: I have recurrent itching in my vagina and it has been diagnosed as a yeast infection. Despite repeated treatment it comes back.
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A: Recurrent infection is likely to occur if the normal vaginal Ph changes. This occurs if the normal bacterial flora of the vagina changes. This can occur during pregnancy, diabetes, urinary tract infection, with the use of oral contraceptive pills or antibiotics. Vaginal douching or washing with too much soap can also cause a similar problem. Treatment is with medications like fluconazole (tablet) or clotrimazole (vaginal pessaries and creams).
Relapses are common as the organism is now becoming increasingly resistant to the common medication. Unless the underlying cause is treated, relapses will occur. Relapses can also occur if your partner has diabetes which is not very well controlled.
Q: I am 64 years old and have difficulty sleeping at night. I started taking alprazolam 0.25 mg at night. Now I find that even with 0.5 mg I do not get any sleep.
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A: Alprazolam can be addictive if used as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug without medical supervision. Eventually higher doses may be needed for the same quality of sleep. It can also cause dizziness and loss of balance, particularly if you suddenly get up in the night. Other less addictive prescription medicines are available. Your doctor will be able to prescribe medication to help you sleep that will not react with any of the other medication that you might be taking for other illnesses like diabetes or hypertension. It is better to avoid “sleeping pills” altogether as far as possible. Try —
· Not sleeping in the daytime
· Exercising in the morning and evening
· Drinking a glass of warm milk at night.
Q: I have developed boils on my legs. They are painful and pus comes out if I squeeze them. I have this problem every summer. I am not diabetic.
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A: Our skin has a number of harmless commensal bacteria living on it. If small cuts and breaks occur in the skin as a result of scratching, these bacteria can enter the body and produce superficial boils. You need to keep your skin clean by bathing twice a day. Use a germicidal soap like Neko which is bactericidal. Apply the soap using a loofah or plastic scrubber. Avoid using talcum powder. Apply an antiseptic skin ointment (without steroids) like Neosporin or Soframycin on the boils after a bath. Do not break or squeeze the boils. If you develop fever consult a physician.
Q: My right testes appears to be larger than the left one.
A: The two halves of the body are not same. There may even be differences between your right hand and the left one. In most people the right testicle not only hangs lower but may also be larger. As long as there are no lumps or pain, you can leave it alone. If you are really worried, do an ultrasound scan to make sure there is no hernia or hydrocoele.
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Nan or Lactogen?
Q: My son is nine months old. Should I give him Nan or Lactogen?
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A: Children should be weaned on to solid foods after six months. Substituting tinned milk for breast milk is not the answer. They can be started on soft home-cooked solids such as cooked rice, dal and vegetables like potato. Eventually, by the age of one, they should be on the same diet as the family. Tinned precooked cereals and biscuits should be avoided.
Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)