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Heart of the matter

The Telegraph answers questions related to heart heath, skin health issues and more

Dr Gita Mathai Published 31.08.22, 04:02 AM
Representational image

Representational image shutterstock

I have pain in the centre of my chest. I went to a cardiologist and he said my heart is normal. I am 32 years old. What could it be?

Chest pain of non-cardiac origin can arise from other structures in the chest like the ribcage, the covering of the lungs (pleura) or chest muscles. A common offender is the oesophagus (the pipe connecting the mouth to the stomach). This can be sensitive, have uncoordinated action while swallowing, go into spasms or be affected by acid regurgitation from the stomach. You need to consult a general physician.


After a stroke

My father had a stroke. He has recovered but tends to lose his balance. The doctors have asked him to walk daily but I am scared he will fall. Is there anything more to be done?

It would help to buy him a walking stick with four little legs at the bottom. He needs to use it while getting up from bed, walking around the house and when he is out for a walk. Also, it will be a good idea to arrange maintenance physiotherapy for him for flexibility, coordination and balance.

Skin tags

I have several black and ugly skin tags on my neck. Are they cancerous? How can I remove them?

Skin tags are not cancerous although they are tumours. They are more likely to occur during hormonal imbalances like with pregnancy, diabetes, obesity and high lipids. A dermatologist can remove them using various techniques like surgery, laser or cauterisation. It is not advisable to remove them at home using a thread as this can result in bleeding or infection.

Prostate tablets

I have an enlarged prostate and this has made it difficult for me to completely empty my bladder while passing urine. I have to get up several times at night. It is better after some tablets were started. How long do I have to take them?

You probably have to take the tablets lifelong. Consult your urologist regularly — once in six months or a year — for a review of your condition and the dose of the tablets. Do not try non-allopathic treatment as you might end up requiring surgery.

Air conditioning

I have air conditioning in my bedroom. Is it unhealthy?

Keeping the room comfortably cool at night will help you sleep better. This means that your functioning during the next day is more efficient. However, you need to ensure that the air conditioner’s filters are regularly cleaned. The cool, dry air can dehydrate, so drink 3-4 litres of water during the day.

Mosquito bites

I develop severe itching with mosquito bites. The area becomes red; I scratch and it becomes brown. How can I get some relief?

You could try sleeping under a mosquito net, wearing long sleeves and removing any trash or stagnant water in and around your house as these are where mosquitoes breed. Once you are bitten, apply ice. This will reduce the itching and swelling. Then apply a paste of baking soda or calamine lotion or aloe vera cream. If the itching is still bad, you could take an antihistamine like cetirizine. Unfortunately, many antihistamines make people drowsy.

Coffee conundrum

I feel tired and drowsy at 4pm. But if I drink coffee, I cannot sleep at night. Please suggest an alternative.

Make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep at night. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, as this sets your internal clock to a circadian rhythm suitable for you. Instead of drinking coffee every hour in the afternoon, stand up at your desk and look beyond your computer screen. Take 20 deep breaths and eat a fruit or a handful of nuts.

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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