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Tremor in hands

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

By Dr Gita Mathai

  • Published 19.11.19, 8:50 PM
  • Updated 19.11.19, 8:50 PM
All tremors are not due to Parkinson’s disease. Too much coffee, tea or cola (caffeine), alcohol, smoking, vitamin deficiency (B12 in particular) and even lack of sleep can cause tremors.
All tremors are not due to Parkinson’s disease. Too much coffee, tea or cola (caffeine), alcohol, smoking, vitamin deficiency (B12 in particular) and even lack of sleep can cause tremors. (Shutterstock)

Q I am 34 years old. My hands are not steady, particularly when I try to hold or lift something. I am worried that it may be due to a disease like Parkinson’s.

All tremors are not due to Parkinson’s disease. Too much coffee, tea or cola (caffeine), alcohol, smoking, vitamin deficiency (B12 in particular) and even lack of sleep can cause tremors. Sometimes it may be genetic. Diseases of the liver or an overactive thyroid can cause it too. Try correcting lifestyle factors. If there is no improvement in two weeks, consult a physician.

Pacifier or not

Q My friend told me to use a pacifier for my baby as she is fussy. Should I?

Pacifiers can be habit-forming, cause misalignment of emerging teeth as well as ear infections. The ones made of two pieces can break in the baby’s mouth and cause choking. Sugar-coated pacifiers can cause cavities and mouth infections. Pacifiers can get contaminated, particularly if it falls out of the baby’s mouth and is put back in without sterilisation.

Thin but diabetic

Q I am 36 years old and very thin. I suddenly developed non-insulin dependent diabetes, which is responding to tablets.

All type 2 diabetics are not necessarily overweight. Up to 15 per cent of people who develop diabetes may be of normal weight and BMI. One of the reasons in your case might be that you don’t exercise. Your body, though thin, may have a lot of fat, some of which may be deposited in the muscles. Fat utilises sugar inefficiently and contributes to relative insulin resistance. You may have a family history of diabetes or may not be making enough insulin.

Melatonin pill

Q I was prescribed a supplement by my doctor and found it contains melatonin. I am scared to take it.

Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Darkness causes the body to produce more melatonin, which signals the body to prepare for sleep. As daylight appears, melatonin production decreases and the body wakes up. It is naturally found in the body but is also manufactured synthetically. It can be taken for jet lag and by people who work shifts and need to alter their sleep-wake cycles. It is sometimes given for insomnia if there is trouble in falling asleep. It is not a vitamin or health supplement to be taken regularly as a tonic.

Steady weight gain

Q I do not do work out but I do all the housework. I am gaining weight steadily.

Housework usually expends 300 calories per hour unless it involves heavy lifting. As we get older, our metabolism slows down and the efficiency with which we burn calories decreases. If you eat the same quantity of food and do the same amount of work, your weight will still creep up. Also, as the children get older their supervision requires less physical activity . You need to reduce your food intake and add a 30-40 minute walk, swim, or some other physical activity to your routine.

BP fluctuates

Q I have high blood pressure and it fluctuates. I am on medication.

Timing is very important for the efficacy of blood pressure medication. It should be taken at the same time, irrespective of late or missed meals. Also, taking it at night provides better control and reduces risk of complications such as stroke and heart attack by 50 per cent.

Manage joint pain

Q I have pain in the joints that has been diagnosed as gout. Despite medication, I get sudden bouts of pain.

This is fairly typical of a “gout flare up”. In addition to the medication prescribed, you could apply ice to the joint for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Drink plenty of water to flush out the uric acid. You might be able to reduce the severity and frequency of flare-ups by avoiding sea fish such as sardines as well as red meat, cauliflower and cabbage. Also avoid alcohol, particularly beer.

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