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E-cigarettes are bad for you

Several cases have recently been reported from the US and the UK about serious illness in people using e-cigarettes

By Dr. Gita Mathai
  • Published 11.09.19, 2:21 AM
  • Updated 11.09.19, 2:22 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
The only advantage with e-cigarettes in that there is no release of smoke, so family and friends do not suffer the ill effects of passive smoking Shutterstock

Electronic cigarettes are popular with my friends who say they are safer than cancer-causing regular ones. Is it true?

Vaping (using electronic cigarettes) was initially thought to be safer than smoking. However, several cases have recently been reported from the US and the UK about serious illness in people using e-cigarettes. They developed lung inflammation which was non-responsive to traditional medication, requiring hospitalisation and intensive care. The liquid inserted in e-cigarettes was found to contain lead, nicotine and other potentially cancer-causing chemicals. The flavouring used in e-cigarettes has been found to cause severe lung irritation. The only advantage with e-cigarettes in that there is no release of smoke, so family and friends do not suffer the ill effects of passive smoking.

Acid taste

I wake up in the morning with a bad taste in my mouth and a burning feeling in my chest and back.

This could be because of Gerd, or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, a very common condition. The symptoms are aggravated by obesity, consuming chocolate, fried foods, coffee, tea and alcohol as well as smoking. To reduce the symptoms, try to correct these factors. Also, do not lie down for an hour after eating. If possible, elevate the head end of the bed.

Water eases bowels

I have bad rheumatoid arthritis so I am not able to exercise as you advise regularly in your column. I am practically bedridden. I am also severely constipated. This is very uncomfortable.

You could try drinking three litres of water a day and eating four to six helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to establish a fixed time when you try to pass a motion. Exercise your abdominal muscles isometrically by contracting them and holding for 10-15 seconds at a time while lying down. You could also try taking isabgol husk, two scoops in a glass of water every night. This is a non-absorbed bulking agent which can help.

Stroke legacy

Both my parents had strokes, which led to paralysis on one side and slurred speech. I am scared I might wind up just like them. What can I do?

You can reduce your chances of developing a stroke by trying to maintain your BMI (body mass index) as close to 25 as possible. BMI is your weight divided by your height in metre squared. Exercise aerobically by walking, running or swimming for 30-40 minutes a day, six days a week. Eat four to six helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables so that you get your daily quota of health-promoting antioxidants.

Prostate problem

I have been diagnosed with BPH (benign prostate hypertrophy) and am on medication. Despite that, I have to go to the toilet frequently. I cannot control the urge to pass urine. I dread long journeys because of this.

Medication takes a few weeks to start working efficiently. The dosage also needs to be individualised and may need to be increased or you may need to have a second medication added. You can try double voiding — a technique by which after passing urine, you wait for 30 seconds and then void again. You could also try leaning forwards while passing urine to increase the efficiency of the bladder emptying.

Breast cancer gene

I learnt that breast cancer is inherited. My grandmother had breast cancer so I am scared.

The chances of developing breast, ovarian or colon cancer are greater if a close first-degree relative suffered from the disease. This is particularly true with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. The chances of the gene expressing itself are also dependent on the environment. You can reduce your chances by maintaining ideal body weight, not smoking or drinking excessively, exercising regularly and eating 4-6 helpings of fresh fruits and vegetable daily. You could also schedule regular check-ups with your doctor.

The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to yourhealthgm@yahoo.co.in