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Double void to shut-eye

Benign prostatic hypertrophy responds to medication, but the tablets may take two to three months to work effectively
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Dr Gita Mathai   |   Published 21.07.21, 01:50 AM

My prostate is enlarged. It is not cancer. The doctor put me on lifelong medications. It has been a year but things have not improved. I wake up several times at night, and always feel my bladder is not empty.

BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy) responds to medication, but the tablets may take two to three months to work effectively. A single medicine or a combination of two may work best for you. Relief with medication may be unsatisfactory if there are complications like a stone in the urinary tract or an infection.


You can try double voiding or passing urine, waiting a minute and voiding again. Reduce coffee and tea intake, and fluid intake after 6pm. Avoid alcohol. If this does not help, surgery is an option.

Back pain

I have pain in my lower back. My X-rays and scans have not shown any abnormalities.

Perhaps you need to concentrate on your posture while sitting and working. Always sit straight. Avoid exercises like touching the toes, leg lifts and stomach crunches. Walk at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a day and enrol in a yoga class. Instead of taking painkillers (they have side effects), apply ice to the painful area for two minutes every 20 minutes.


I used to have a drink in the evenings. Now I need two. I still wake up in the middle of the night.

Alcohol can make you sleepy but as soon as the effect wears off, you may wake up. Alcohol is not a solution. Instead, try a warm bath and a glass of hot milk at bedtime. Avoid afternoon naps.

Room plants

I have a money plant in my room. People say it causes allergies.

Plants trap mould and dust in their foliage, so they reduce dust and allergens in the environment. They also give off beneficial oxygen. They increase the humidity, which not only makes the room more comfortable but decreases the likelihood that you will catch a cold. 


My skin suddenly starts itching at various places. Although initially scratching provides relief, I tend to continue to scratch till it bleeds. Sometimes, it later becomes red and painful.

Try to trick your brain. Stand in front of a mirror and scratch the opposite side of your body. You can apply an ice pack to the itchy areas. Apply a moisturiser and massage it into the skin. Medication like antihistamines will stop the itching but will also make you drowsy. Corticosteroid ointment will provide relief immediately, but if used long-term it will cause the skin to thin. 


My mother and her sisters have gallstones. I am afraid I may develop them too.

Try to keep your BMI (weight divided by height in metre squared) at 23. Drink 3-4 litres of water daily. Cut down on fried foods. Do not fast. Eat 5-6 helpings of fruits and vegetables a day.


I have headaches frequently, so I take paracetamol. I give it to my daughter too. But recently I read that it is not safe and causes liver damage.

Paracetamol is dangerous if too much is taken — too many pills at a short interval. Adults can safely take one gram (or 500 milligrams x 2) tablets every six hours and children 10-5mg/kg/dose every six hours.

The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues, please write to

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