Q: I read a lot of articles about food and exercise. Some articles advise a light snack before exercise while others feel that exercise is better done on an empty stomach. There seems to be no consensus and this is confusing.
A: If you can exercise on an empty stomach, that is all right. If you feel lightheaded, weak or giddy, it is best to have a banana before working out. Some people like to have a cup of tea or coffee before exercising. The caffeine probably helps them to kick-start the regimen. You could carry water and a banana with you while exercising. If you prefer exercising during the day, make sure to schedule it at least two hours after a meal.
Q: My four-year-old son breathes through his mouth all the time and snores at night. He also has bad breath even though I brush his teeth twice a day.
A: There is a collection of tissue called “adenoids” at the back of the throat. Sometimes this enlarges and causes an obstruction to breathing through the nose. Mouth breathing and snoring are the consequences. Get your son checked by an ENT surgeon. The adenoids can be evaluated with an X-ray and further decisions about medical or surgical treatment can be taken.
Q: My hands are stiff in the morning. I am unable to open my fingers fully. As the day wears on, it improves. Sometimes one of my fingers becomes stuck in a bent position.
A: Try soaking your hands in hot, salted water morning and evening for about 10 minutes. Hold a rubber ball under water and press and release it with your fingers. Also, check your thyroid status and if you have diabetes.
Q: I have to wear closed leather shoes to work. As soon as I remove my shoes, a musty, unpleasant odour fills the room. I find it quite embarrassing.
A: Smelly feet (medical term: bromohidrosis) is a problem that people who wear shoes all day may face. As the feet sweat, the moisture seeps into the inner sole. Bacteria act on the sweat, breaking it down into malodorous compounds. Shoes take 24 hours to dry out completely. So if they are worn again the next day, bacteria thrive and proliferate in the damp environment.
To tackle this problem, wash your feet with an antibacterial soap such as Neko and use a fresh pair of cotton socks daily. You can also apply deodorant to the soles of your feet. The best thing would be to buy another pair of work shoes and alternate wearing the two pairs so that the shoes have time to dry out.
Q: I have a pet cat. Do I need to immunise it?
A: Cats can acquire and transmit rabies just like dogs. Also, since they are usually not tied up or confined inside the house, they tend to get into fights with other cats. This places them at greater risk of acquiring and transmitting rabies. The government hospital for animals administers rabies vaccine free of cost. You and other family who play with the cat need to get immunised with “pre-exposure” rabies prophylaxis. This consists of three injections. Your physician can do this for you.
Dr Gita Mathai is a paediatrician with a practice at Vellore. Questions on health issues may be sent to her at yourhealthgm @yahoo.co.in