Health Problems & Solutions

Some Health Quaries & Answers

I want to shed weight fast :
Q: I am getting married in a month’s time and want to lose weight fast. I have to shed six kilos. How do I do that?

A: Crash diets work for short lengths of time, but they aren’t healthy and shouldn’t be continued indefinitely. If you follow a balanced diet of 1,200 calories (60 per cent from carbohydrates, 30 per cent from proteins and 10 per cent from fat), you will have a daily deficit of 800 calories. Once you lose 3,500 calories, you would have lost around half a kilogram of body weight. This means you will lose 3.5kg in a month. Try to combine this with 40 minutes of aerobic activity. That’s a deficit of another 200 calories. The exercise will help develop muscle tone so you don’t have a sagging, aged and unhealthy appearance after the hard gained weight loss.

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Hip surgery:

Q: I have severe pain in my right hip, so much so that I can’t bend. This makes it difficult for me to sit, squat or even walk. I went to an orthopaedic surgeon who advised hip replacement surgery. At 78, I am nervous.

A: Generally, non-surgical treatment with pain relieving medication and physiotherapy is first recommended to reduce hip joint pain, improve joint function and increase the range of movement. Replacement is performed when these have failed. Senior citizens with osteoarthritis who undergo total hip replacement are able to care for themselves, thereby improving the quality of life. Studies have shown that though it is an expensive and invasive process, it is safe. There’s no age limit for hip replacement surgery.

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No rice

Q: I don’t like rice, but am told it’s necessary and without it my health will suffer. Please advise.

A: Basically, 60 per cent of your calorific requirement needs to come from carbohydrates. Rice and other grains aren’t the only source of carbohydrates — they are also found in nuts, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. If you dislike rice, you can switch to wheat or oats. In Western countries, people hardly eat rice yet are healthy.

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Self medication:
Q: I had high fever. I went to a pharmacy and purchased some tablets recommended by the man behind the counter. I now have redness in the groin and armpit, itching and redness in the corners of my mouth. Could this be an allergy?

A: It could be an allergy. Maybe some of the tablets you took were antibiotics. They may have changed your normal bacterial flora so that there is now an overgrowth of a fungus called Candida. You may also have precipitated a vitamin B deficiency. See a doctor to find out what exactly it is. You can then receive appropriate treatment.

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Stretch marks:
Q: I was suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome for the last two years. I consulted an endocrinologist who suggested regular exercise with medication. Now I have recovered. But I still have reddish marks on my lower abdomen. The doctor had said they would disappear with recovery.

A: The reddish marks on your abdomen are called stretch marks. They develop because of damage to the underlying layers of skin with rapid weight gain. They can be prevented to some extent with regular oiling. Coconut oil, olive oil, baby oils, vitamin E and aloe vera have all been used with some degree of success. Once the marks have developed, oils and creams work slowly over a prolonged period of time.

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Surgical removal can be done with laser treatment, dermal ablation or tummy tucks. This is faster and more successful.

Immunity against tetanus

Q: I want to know about the tetanus vaccine and treatment for the disease. If I take a tetanus toxoid vaccine, how many weeks of immunity would it give? I’ve heard there’s a schedule of three doses (for adults) that gives immunity for three years. Please give me the timetable. If one is afflicted with tetanus, is there any life saving treatment?

A: Tetanus immunisation is provided free by the government to all children. It is given as a combined vaccine with those for diphtheria, pertussis and polio. Three doses are given in the first year and boosters at one, one and a half, five, 10 and 16 years. Pregnant women who have been immunised in childhood are given two doses in their first pregnancy. After the immunisation is complete — that is, up to 16 years — a booster needs to be taken once in 10 years.

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Tetanus is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani, which is found in the human intestine and soil. Once it causes an infection, it releases a poison that binds to the nervous tissue. Spasms of the muscles occur, making it difficult for the patient to swallow or breathe. This can eventually result in death. Individuals have survived with aggressive treatment with artificial muscle paralysis and ventilators for breathing.

Source: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Health Quaries

Some Health Quaries & Answers


Q: I have skinny arms and an ugly pot belly. I wish to increase the size of my arms and reduce my stomach.


A: First you need to attain your ideal body weight. Divide your weight by your height in metre squared and see if it is 25. If it is more you need to lose weight. This can be done by a combination of diet and exercise. You also need about 40 minutes of aerobic exercise like running, jogging and walking everyday. This has to be combined with anaerobic weight training and abdominal crunches. Also, if you have a desk job try to maintain proper posture while sitting. Pull in your stomach and hold it in several times a day. It is not possible to reduce your pot belly alone.

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My father had fever and throat pain. He was diagnosed with diphtheria and admitted him in the ICU. Later we learnt that adults don’t get diphtheria.
A: Diphtheria is rare today because of the routine immunisation of all children with the “triple” vaccine DPT which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). Immunity has to be reinforced with booster doses until the age of 16 years. Immunity tends to fall over time. This makes older individuals susceptible to infection. Diphtheria can produce heart (myocarditis) and nerve (paralysis) complications. Maybe that is why your father was admitted into the ICU.

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Q: My sister had bleeding during pregnancy. The doctor diagnosed placenta previa (I don’t know what that is) and did a caesarean section. The baby is premature and very sick. What is this? Will it recur in her next pregnancy?


A: Placenta previa occurs when the placenta fixes itself near the outlet of the uterus. It occurs once in 200 pregnancies. The bleeding is painless, and can be mild or profuse enough to endanger the life of the mother and the baby. It is diagnosed by an ultrasound scan. Treatment can be bed rest in mild cases or immediate caesarean in severe cases. I think in your sister’s case the doctors had no choice. Premature babies have a lot of complications, most of which can be tackled by a competent neonatologist.

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Fortunately placenta previa is not a recurrent condition.


Q: My father had a stroke and his left arm and leg are paralysed. I have been advised to take him for physiotherapy, but how is that going to help?

A: Paralysed muscles become stiff and inflexible. This makes changing the position of the limb difficult. The bones and joints may get pulled out of alignment. Walking and balance become difficult. If he remains immobile bed sores may develop.

It is possible to retrain muscles and brain circuits. Muscle strength, power and flexibility will all improve with consistent physiotherapy. It is worth making the effort and taking your father for treatment.

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Q: I have dark itchy patches under my breasts, in my arm pits and the thigh creases. They are very ugly.
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A: These patches are called intertrigo. They occur when there is a reaction between sebum, sweat, detergents and moisture. There may be a secondary bacterial or fungal infection.

You need to bathe twice a day and dry the area well with a soft towel. Check with a dermatologist about the type of infection (if any) which may have occurred. Applying the specific antibacterial or antifungal cream or dusting powder will help.


Q: My grandfather is bedridden and has developed a bed sore. What should we do?
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A: Bed sores can develop in anyone who is bedridden and unable to change his or her position. Prolonged sitting or lying in one position compromises blood supply to the skin and soft tissue of the area. Bedsores can develop quickly, progress rapidly and be difficult to treat.

Small sores may heal on their own if cleaned appropriately. Deep sores need surgical cleaning, dressings and, sometimes, surgical closure with skin grafts.

It is important to try and prevent sores from developing and spreading by changing the person’s position often.

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Q: I used to drink a glass of milk in the morning and in the evening. I had stomach cramps, bloating and terrible gas. Recently, after a naturopath told me to avoid milk and milk products there was a vast improvement. I need my tea in the morning though. How can I live without milk? I am 35 years old.
A: The naturopath has accurately deduced that you have lactose intolerance. His advice to avoid milk is right and you have improved. At your age a tablet containing 1gm of calcium and three eggs a week will probably replace the nutrition you used to get from milk. You can drink black or green tea without milk.

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Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)