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Time for a change

Answers to your health queries
Masks must be removed when you come from outside, washed with soap and hot water and dried in the sun.

Dr Gita Mathai   |     |   Published 01.07.20, 05:44 AM

Q. How often should I change my mask?

Facemasks are going to be a way of life for a long time to come. You need four to five masks. They must be removed when you come from outside, washed with soap and hot water and dried in the sun. Otherwise, infective droplets that may have settled on the mask can infect you a couple of hours later.

Covid medication

Q. I keep reading about medications for the coronavirus infection. Should I start taking anything prophylactically?

The guidelines are not very clear yet. All the medications recommended, alone or in combination, are potent and have side effects. While taking them, the risks have to be weighed against potentially dangerous side effects. Unless advised by a physician, exercise for 40 minutes a day, avoid going out, maintain social distancing, wear a mask, take steam inhalations,  gargle twice a day and do pranayama, the breathing exercises in yoga.

Pain in the neck

Q. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am being forced to work from home. By the end of the day, I have severe neck and shoulder pain. What should I do?

When your home becomes your office, several points have to be kept in mind to prevent pain and tension in the muscles. You need to place your computer screen at eye level on a desk (and not work in bed). If you use two screens, place them touching each other and slightly angled. Keep both feet planted firmly on the floor. Take breaks every 40-45 minutes and stretch. For the pain, apply a capsaicin-containing ointment and then ice. If the pain is severe, take paracetamol 500mg.

Diet fail

Q. I have tried most of the popular diets but within a few months, I wind up not only putting all the weight back on but also a little extra.

One of the problems with diets is that they are different from the food that you normally eat, so the diet itself becomes difficult to sustain long-term. The body responds by subtly increasing its efficiency so that fewer calories are utilised for the same activity.

A diet which is similar to your normal food but reduced in quantity is more likely to be successful. Weight loss can be achieved by decreasing calorie consumption while simultaneously increasing activity. Muscle building should not be neglected as muscles utilise calories more efficiently than fat.

Itch no more

Q. I frequently develop fungal infections. My private parts itch and it is embarrassing.

Check if you have diabetes. If so control it adequately. Wear only cotton innerwear and do not wear panties at night. Make sure your skinny jeans and leggings are not too tight. Frequent courses of antibiotics also tend to cause an overgrowth of fungus.

The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and the author of  Staying Healthy in Modern India. 

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