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Have an extra finger or toe? Get it surgically removed, lead an extra stress free life

Human body is typically unique enough to come up with new kind of headaches every moment

Dr Gita Mathai Published 29.11.23, 06:48 AM antusenok

q My daughter has six fingers and toes. Can it be left alone?

It is best to have the extra toes or fingers surgically removed. If it is connected by just skin, it can be tied off in the doctor’s chamber. Otherwise, anaesthesia has to be given and the surgery done. The extra digit on the hand requires surgery before a child enters school since he or she will then start using his or her hands more. If the extra digit is on the foot, it is best to get it removed surgically before your child learns how to walk.


The extra digits may interfere with hand dexterity and purchasing and wearing shoes. Also, it may psychologically affect the child.

Polydactylism is rarely associated with other congenital anomalies in the child though it may be part of Trisomy 13, Meckel or Down’s syndrome. There is no need to worry.

Prostate check q I keep wanting to pass urine in the night. I feel my bladder is not empty, and I have to go again and again. My sleep gets disturbed.

If this has been going on for some time, your prostate is probably enlarged. This is a small, walnut-shaped gland that, in men, is situated below the bladder. Older men can develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), where the prostate enlarges and can obstruct urine flow. Prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate, can cause frequent urination, pain and discomfort. The enlargement may also be due to prostate cancer. It would help if you got it checked by a urologist. All these conditions are treatable.

Stretch and flex q As I have become older, I am rather stiff.

We all tend to become stiffer as we grow older. This can affect our activities and balance. It may occur because age restricts our activities and, if there is discomfort, we automatically move less.

It can be improved and maintained by doing stretches (detailed instructions can be found on the Internet) or yoga. Each position should be maintained for a minimum of 30 seconds. It might help to go to a physiotherapist. Consistency is important; exercises have to be done regularly.

Pregnancy fit q I am pregnant and my relatives keep telling me to rest. I can feel myself becoming flabby. I also get breathless while climbing stairs.

Please check with your obstetrician whether there is any contraindication for your exercise. If so, please follow his or her guidelines. If you were active before pregnancy, please walk 150 minutes a week at a pace fast enough for you to be able to talk, not sing. Sign up for an antenatal yoga class. That will help ease the pain and expedite the labour process. There is evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.

Lipid correction q I don’t want to take medication to correct my lipid profile. Is there any other way?

Reduce your oil intake to 500ml of vegetable oil per month. Substitute millets, oats and wheat for processed grains. Eat vegetables and fruits. Exercise 150 minutes a week. Recheck your lipids after a month. If the levels are unsatisfactory, you must take the medication to avoid complications.

Bow legs q My son’s legs curve outwards, and his knees don’t touch.

This is common in children who have a family history of bow legs or obesity, or those who started to walk early. It is usually noticeable by the age of two years. Normally, it spontaneously corrects itself by the age of three to four years. Sometimes, it may be because of to rickets. It is worth checking the calcium, phosphorous and Vitamin D levels. Rickets is correctable. If it is some other problem, special shoes or braces may be prescribed when the child is older.

The writer has a family practice at Vellore and is the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to

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