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How much is too much?

Dr Gita Mathai answers your queries

The Telegraph   |   Published 29.05.19, 08:44 AM

Q I feel my husband drinks too much, but he feels it is “all under control”.

Your husband is drinking too much if:

  • He craves a drink and then finds excuses to have a few
  • He is drinking more than he used to. This may be because his tolerance to alcohol has risen
  • He has developed liver or heart problems
  • He has missed days at work or deadlines because of drink n He has “shakes and shivers” when he does not get a drink
  • His family life and relationships are affected.

If the answers to these questions are a resounding yes, then your husband does have a problem.

Summer itch

Q I have itching and discolouration around the area where I tie my salwar, on my chest where my innerwear is in contact with the skin and on my groin. Sometimes the desire to scratch is so uncontrollable that I leave my desk and go to the restroom.

During summer, sweat tends to stagnate in the areas you mentioned. It reacts with the detergent used for washing clothes. Itching of the area abrades the skin. Secondary monilial (fungal) infection can occur. To prevent this recurring cycle, bath twice a day in tepid water to which a pinch of soda bicarbonate (baking soda) has been added.

Pat the areas dry. Apply an antifungal ointment like clotrimazole and then clotrimazole powder on top of it. Do not use prickly heat powder. Wash clothes with a mild detergent and rinse well. Do not use antiseptics in bath water or for rinsing clothes.

Perpetually hungry

Q I am hungry all the time. As I eat more and more, I am putting on weight. I went to a physician who checked several parameters such as blood sugar level and thyroid function and found all of them normal.

You may not be getting enough protein and fibre. Carbohydrates give you a quick boost of energy but you need proteins for longer lasting satiety. You can also stay hungry if you eat too fast, do not concentrate on the food or eat too little at mealtimes in an effort to reduce weight.

Too tired

Q I am sixty-two years old and quite tired most of the time. My blood results show low vitamin B12 levels.

Vitamin B12 is present in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. As we grow older, absorption of this vitamin can decrease because of age or medication-induced atrophic gastritis or frequent use of antacids. High dose supplements as pills may help. If they don’t, then injections of B12 may be required.

Sole sorrow

Q In summer, I develop an itch on the soles of my feet. Sometimes I scratch so much that blisters form. I usually wear Hawaii slippers in summer. I don’t have this problem in winter.

You might be allergic to rubber. In summer, your feet sweat more so the chances of developing allergic reactions is greater. Try soaking your feet twice a day for 10 minutes in tepid water to which a pinch of salt is added. Avoid Hawaii chappals and use cloth or jute slippers instead.

Makeup trouble

Q When I remove makeup at night with a remover, my skin burns and turns red. If I leave makeup on all night, I develop acne.

You cannot leave makeup on all night as it clogs the pores of the skin and causes acne and pustules. It can also make your skin photosensitive. Take a little coconut oil and apply it on your face on top of the makeup. Then wash with a mild facewash or soap.

  • 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

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