Sip through the day
Q: Is it necessary to drink two litres of water a day?
A: The amount of water you need to stay hydrated depends on the outside temperature and your level of activity. When you pass urine, it should be a light yellow colour and not orange or brown. Do not wait till you feel very thirsty — keep sipping all through the day.
Q: My feet are cold at night even if I wear socks.
A: This can happen due to poor blood circulation to the feet. It can also be because of anaemia, hypothyroidism, high lipid levels, poorly controlled diabetes or heart failure. Tests are needed for the diagnosis. Once you correct the underlying conditions, the problem will be solved.
Q: I chew tobacco regularly. Of late, my mouth has been sore, and I have also noticed white patches on the inside of my cheeks.
A: It may be leukoplakia, which can be a precancerous condition. Stop chewing tobacco and consult a dental or general surgeon. A biopsy may be needed. The lesions can be removed by surgery, laser or cryotherapy. They can recur, so follow-ups are needed every 4-6 months.
Diet and exercise
Q: I exercise and diet, and yet don’t lose weight.
A: You may be having an inactive lifestyle, which may negate the benefits of diet and exercise. Try to be active throughout the day. Get up every hour, do a couple of jumping jacks or squats, or walk briskly for a few minutes.
Q: My children have head lice and I just can’t seem to get rid of them.
A: Over-the-counter shampoos and applications are available. All family members require treatment simultaneously. It may have to be repeated after 7-10 days, when the eggs (nits ) hatch. After every application, use bedsheets and pillowcases that have been washed in hot water and placed in the sun. In the interim, comb out everyone’s hair using fine-toothed combs — they trap the lice.
Teenage sleep habits
Q: My teenage son stays up late. He has to get up by 7am for classes. I feel he is not getting enough sleep.
A: Children need 11-12 hours of sleep a day until the age of two years. Then, till the age of 13 years, they should get 9-10 hours. Teenagers need around nine hours. The brain replenishes its chemicals and rests and recuperates during this time. You can try talking to your son about the necessity of sleep.
Q: My daughter has an ugly red spot on her neck. I showed it to a doctor. He said it is a birthmark and that we need not worry.
A: Birthmarks can be red, brown, black or white. Coloured birthmarks can persist into adult life. They are usually harmless. The red marks fade over time and, normally, disappear completely by the age of 10. If they are raised and bumpy, increasing in size, painful and situated near a vital organ like the eyes, they have to be treated.
Q: I suddenly feel very hot and then soon become drenched in sweat. I am 52 years old.
A: Hot flashes occur around menopause and tend to be severe in physically inactive women. Try to reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of these attacks by exercising aerobically — walking, jogging, swimming, cycling — and practising meditation.
Q: Recently, I got bitten by a cat. What should I do?
A: Clean the wound thoroughly. Leave it open. Take a booster of tetanus toxoid. Take post-exposure bite prophylaxis with rabies vaccine (five injections).