On your feet, to keep fit
Q I have been reading a great many articles that are advising standing up frequently if you have a sedentary lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle shortens your lifespan, increases the risk of diabetes, dementia, deep vein thrombosis, anxiety, cancer, osteoporosis and worsens health and backache. It also offsets the effect of your 40-minutes-a- day aerobic workout. To counteract this, you should stand up every hour, stretch, touch your toes and take a short walk.
Q My gums suddenly started bleeding.
Gums may bleed because your toothbrush is hard and causes injury, or you have bad dental hygiene causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and plaque build up. Any blood leaking out may not clot because of medications like aspirin, clopidogrel or heparin, or due to deficiency of vitamins C and K. Diseases like dengue, cirrhosis of the liver and blood cancers (leukemia) also reduce the platelet count in the blood so that blood oozes.
The first step is to consult a dentist. If the problem is not a localised one, he will refer you to a physician for tests.
Q I have painful boils in my armpit. They appear in crops and leave scars when they heal.
These boils do not occur because of bad hygiene. Naturally occurring skin oils and sebum block the pores of the skin. The secretions build up under the skin causing pain. There can be secondary infection, usually from bacteria which normally reside harmlessly on the skin.
You need to bathe twice a day with antibacterial soap. Instead of directly applying the soap, use a scrubber. After that apply antibiotic ointment (mupirocin) without steroid. It may take around two weeks to clear up.
Q My tongue has developed multiple fissures in which food sometimes gets stuck.
Deep fissures can develop with hypothyroidism, or be part of Down's syndrome. Often there is no cause. The condition is harmless.
You could gently brush out your tongue after eating, with a soft toothbrush.
Q I have fever, cold and cough. How long should I stay away from work?
Colds and the flu are very contagious. If you work in an air-conditioned office, the droplets you expel will soon spread through the system and infect everyone else. It is best to stay at home at least 24 hours after the fever and cough have subsided. The same goes for school-going children. Remember flu can be prevented with annual flu vaccines.
Q I am a diabetic. My doctor keeps telling me to exercise. I don't see the point as I am already on insulin.
Aerobic exercise like walking, swimming and cycling consumes around 300-400 calories per hour. Weight training increases muscle mass so that calories are burnt more efficiently all day. If you walk 30-40 minutes a day and do weight training with light dumbbells for 20 minutes three times a week, you will keep your metabolism humming efficiently all day. This will increase calorie expenditure and can reduce insulin requirement.
Q I have gained weight after menopause and so have all my friends. Is this normal?
People do gain weight after menopause because their BMR (basal metabolic rate) slows down. Activity may also be less as children have left home. You just need to consciously exercise more and eat less.