|Diabetics usually need a 15,000-calorie diet, with 40 per cent of the calories from protein, 40 per cent from carbohydrate and 20 per cent or less from fat
Q: I have severe attacks of cough and cold with non-stop sneezing and a drippy nose almost every day of the year. When asleep, there is a noise while breathing. Also, whenever I laugh for more than 5-6 minutes, I start coughing. My eyes itch terribly and turn red. My father has had asthma accompanied with these problems for the last 12 years. Please advise.
A: It sounds like you have inherited the tendency to develop allergies from your father. The good news is that most allergies (like yours) are simply irritating and can be controlled. First of all, you need to identify and remove the precipitating factors. Some common allergens are incense sticks, room fresheners and mosquito repellents. Anything that has a strong smell, including perfumes, can cause allergies. It can also be due to something in the food, like peanuts or food colouring. The allergy can make the nasal mucosa swell up. This causes sneezing and a runny nose.
You must get yourself examined by an ENT (ear nose and throat) specialist to see if you need to use non-absorbed steroid nasal spray for a few months. This will tackle the allergy locally. It is usually prescribed along with anti histamine tablets. The sound at night may be either snoring or wheezing. This needs to be evaluated and treated. The eye allergy probably needs only sodium chromoglycolate eye drops, but again it should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
Q: I am a thin diabetic and would like to gain weight. What can I eat'
A: Diabetics usually need a 1500-calorie diet with 40 per cent of the calories from protein, 40 per cent from carbohydrate and 20 per cent or less from fat. Your medication or insulin will be adjusted for this calorie content and your level of physical activity.
If you are losing weight, it could mean that your activity is greater than required, your calorie consumption is less, or your diabetes is uncontrolled. In any case, you need to see a physician.
13 going on 14
Q: I am 13 years old and have started having periods. I donít like it and I donít want it. My friends say I will stop growing. I am short by normal standards. Can I take oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) and stop the periods forever'
A: Menstruation is a normal function of all female mammals during their reproductive years. It involves spontaneous shedding of the lining of the uterine cavity. It is not something to be ashamed of or worried about. OCPs contain a fixed dose combination of the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Taking them will not stop your periods; they will only make them regular. Do not take them at this age unless they are specifically prescribed by a gynaecologist.
Your eventual adult height depends on the average height of both parents. Girls usually continue to grow till 18-20 years. Regular jogging, basketball, yoga and stretches will help to keep you fit and healthy, and may also increase your predicted adult height by 1-2 cm.
Q: I am a 24-year-old woman married for four years. I am in a hurry to conceive but have not succeeded despite trying for the last one year. Is there a particular time or date when I am more likely to conceive' I have no medical problems but have been taking Femilon for irregular periods since the age of 16 years.
A: Femilon is an oral contraceptive pill. It will make your periods regular but prevent conception. If you wish to have a baby, you need to stop Femilon. Before you do that, please check with a gynaecologist. Also please have your husband do a semen test and make sure it is normal before you proceed for any treatment.
Slow, not steady
Q: My mother is 81 years old and has a pacemaker. For the past few weeks, she has been losing balance while walking. She is more or less steady and confident when she walks with a stick. Apprehension, however, makes her steps very slow.
A: The unsteady, unbalanced gait may be due to muscle weakness, a neuropathy of the peripheral nerves in the feet, abnormal alignment of the bones of the neck, a problem in the vestibular apparatus of the ear or a malfunction of the central nervous system. You need to consult a general physician who, after examining your mother, will be able to direct you to the right consultant. Her condition needs to be evaluated and diagnosed. Appropriate treatment can then can be given.
Whatever the cause, she will benefit from using a lightweight aluminium rubber-tipped walker or cane while walking. Keeping the cane by her bedside will allay her anxiety about falling when she gets up in the night. Physiotherapy, strengthening and balance exercises will help maintain poise and mobility as long as possible.
Dr Gita Mathai is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore. Questions on health issues may be emailed to her at email@example.com