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Moods: good, bad and monthly

The medical expert answers common health related questions and queries

Dr Gita Mathai   |   Published 18.05.22, 02:24 AM

I get very bad-tempered and lazy in the 10 days leading up to my period. I fight with everyone.

You probably suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), like 30 to 40 per cent of women in the reproductive age group. It is an exaggerated response to the regular cyclical hormonal changes occurring in your body.


First, try lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep and avoiding stress, especially during the premenstrual period. Use relaxation techniques, such as yoga and tai-chi, and also meditate. Exercise — walk, jog, run, swim or cycle — for 40 minutes every day. Reduce intake of tea and coffee and limit salt to half a teaspoon a day.

If that does not give satisfactory results, various medications can be used. Hormonal medications such as oral contraceptive pills are often used to artificially regulate menstrual cycles and suppress ovulation. This relieves symptoms and also prevents pregnancy. Other medications that can be used are antidepressants and diuretics.

Trigger finger

My finger gets stuck when I bend my palm. I have to straighten it manually. This is painful.

It looks like you have what is called a “trigger finger”. It is commoner in women, especially if you have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Initially, try conservative measures such as resting the affected hand and wearing a splint at night. 

You could also soak the hand in warm salted water and then squeeze a rubber ball 20 times. If this does not work, you may require a steroid injection into the joint or surgery to relieve any existing compression.

Eat right, don’t diet

I have tried various diets but none of them seems to work. It may be because I cannot stick with a diet for very long.

Diets that are very different from your regular eating habits are difficult to sustain. Don’t worry, many people have the same problem. You could try eating just 75 per cent of what you usually eat till the edge of hunger goes off. Do not snack. Incorporate at least 40 minutes of exercise into your daily routine; otherwise, as you lose weight, your skin and muscles will sag.

Morning exhaustion 

By 11am, I feel exhausted. I want to lie down, my brain shuts off and I cannot function after that. I drink coffee but that doesn’t help, and I cannot sleep at night.

Many people cannot sleep at night if they drink coffee late in the day. When you feel sleepy, a better option may be to get up and stand at your desk or go outside and jog briskly in place for a minute or two. That will wake you up. Avoid sugary snacks or high-glucose drinks. They may give you a boost of energy initially but the sugar high will soon wear off and fatigue will set in again. Also, don’t skip breakfast as that kick-starts your day.

Leg cramps 

I wake up in the night with severe leg cramps.

These cramps are often due to an imbalance or deficiency in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. If you exercise, you lose some of these minerals in sweat. Try eating bananas, nuts and oranges. Keep yourself well hydrated with lightly salted lime juice or buttermilk. You know that you are well-hydrated if your urine is a lemon yellow colour. If this does not help, you might require medication which your physician can provide.

Flu vaccine

How often do I need to take the flu vaccine?

The recommended schedule is once a year, sometime between September and March as that is the flu season.

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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