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Milk is not easy to digest for all

People with serious issues addresses them before its' late and gets guidance from the doctor as well

Dr Gita Mathai Published 12.06.24, 06:55 AM

q Over the last six months, I have noticed that whenever I have milk or ice cream, I develop severe abdominal pain, cramps and explosive diarrhoea. I didn’t have this problem earlier.

Milk is digested in the body by an enzyme called lactase, which is secreted by the intestines. Its production naturally decreases after the age of five. Genetically in some people, especially Asians, the amount of lactase produced decreases quickly and becomes insufficient to break down and digest even small amounts of milk. This results in lactose intolerance with the symptoms you have described. You can stop drinking milk and, instead of milk-based ice cream, have fruit bars. Also, try eating curd. You might be able to tolerate it as it is made of partially digested milk.


Genetic cancer? q My mother had cancer of the uterus, and I’m scared that I may get it too because I heard that it is inherited and runs in families.

Inherited cancers are caused by a mutation in a gene that is present in the egg or sperm cell at the time of fertilisation. These make up a fraction of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, pancreas and ovary. Cancer of the uterus is not on the list. It is very treatable if detected early. The symptoms are pain in the lower abdomen, irregular bleeding, spotting, bleeding after menopause, difficulty in passing urine and loss of weight. If you have any of these symptoms, consult a gynaecologist. They will do an examination, an ultrasound and maybe even a biopsy to detect any cancer early.

Old age q I want to age without health problems. What exactly is old?

Old age is a perception and it probably starts when you retire from your job or occupation. The main changes that occur are loss of muscle mass, increasing weight, decreased activity and loneliness.

Many of these can be tackled by watching your diet, exercising regularly, staying in touch with family and friends, and joining a group with similar interests. If you do all of this, you can develop a positive outlook on life that will increase immunity.

White discharge q I have a white discharge from the vagina even though I am very clean and hygienic. I can’t understand why this happens. The discharge is itchy and smelly.

You may have an overgrowth of fungus, or it may be because of a urinary tract or a pelvic infection. You need to consult a doctor. In the meantime, you can change your underwear to cotton, wash it with a mild detergent and not put antiseptics in the water you use to rinse your undergarments. Also, remember that if you are in the habit of douching with chemicals to clean the vagina, an allergy to the chemical may cause irritation and a discharge. Your physician will be able to make a diagnosis and give you appropriate treatment.

For now, fill a basin with warm water and add half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda. Sit in the basin for 10 minutes in the morning and evening. This may provide relief but you should still consult a doctor.

Weepy wife q My wife started weeping frequently during pregnancy. This persisted after delivery. Also, she does not like to look at the baby. She just likes to lie down and cry all the time.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy and after delivery can precipitate depression in some women. It sounds like your wife is suffering from postpartum depression. This is a very serious situation. It can progress until she becomes non-functional or tries to take her life. You need to consult a psychiatrist as soon as possible.

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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