Question & Answers with our Doctors
A few nights ago, my husband woke up to cramps in his right leg. Would you please brief me on how to manage muscle pain?
A muscle cramp is an involuntary, sustained tightening (contraction) of one or more of your muscles. It can result in intense pain and inability to use the affected muscles. Night leg cramps are contraction of the leg muscles, usually in the back of the lower leg (calf). They often occur just as you are waking up. Common causes of night leg cramps may include abnormal processing of electrolytes, overexertion, prolonged sitting, dehydration, hypoglycemia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, certain medications such as niacin, diuretics, calcium channel blockers, antipsychotic medications, alcohol use, low vitamin E, anemia, improper functioning of the thyroid gland, structural disorders such as flat feet and pregnancy.
Management includes investigations such as blood sugar serum electrolytes, full blood picture, thyroid hormones, D-dimer, Doppler ultrasound and check for arterio-venous insufficiency.
Massaging the affected muscles, straightening your leg and flexing your foot toward your knee until you feel the calf muscles stretch or applying a cold pack to the affected muscle or taking a hot bath. Muscle relaxants can be used to relieve leg cramps. However, vitamin B-12 or gabapentin can give good outcome. Antiplatelet drugs can also be of use in some cases.
Prevention: Drink plenty of fluids during the day (six to eight glasses of water everyday), stretch your leg muscles before bed time, Massage your muscles before bed time, eat foods high in calcium (such as milk and cheese), potassium (bananas and dates and vitamin E (spinach and sweet potatoes).
I have a serious illness and I am tired of everyone telling me to have a positive attitude. Is there any truth to the idea that optimism in human can heal?
While it will help to have well meaning friends around you, it can be very harrowing to have those comments particularly when you know you are facing some very disturbing news. Optimism has to be balanced with a reality check(i.e. realism).
If the news is bad then optimism will not help in the long run, but rather a healthy change of attitude towards your condition. A change of attitude involves acceptance and exploring options (or even non-options e.g. in dying patients where preparation for death is rather the key to helping the patient then giving false hope).
Optimism can help bring about the improvement of your condition by releasing factors in your blood that can boost your immune system. So there is a gem of truth in your friends’ remarks. So while it may be OK to have a pity party for a while, do not extend it or it may become a prison.
Recently, I visited my dentist for a regular check-up. I was told be having gum disease. Would you please brief me on this?
Dr. Munira Bahraq
Gum disease or gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by plaque. Plaque is the sticky film composed mostly of bacteria that forms continuously on the surface of the teeth. Plaque cannot be rinsed off but can be removed by brushing. If plaque is not removed, the bacteria produce toxins that irritate gum tissues causing them to swell.
Gradually plaque hardens into calculus (tartar) that forms a rough surface on which more plaque accumulates, causing increased irritation and swelling. This inflammation damages the periodontal fibers that hold the gums tightly against the teeth, creating spaces known as periodontal pockets.
These pockets create room for more bacterial activity leading to bone loss around the tooth resulting to tooth loss. In addition to plaque other factors that cause gum disease (gingivitis) are smoking, chewing tobacco or habitually clenching the teeth.
At home you can be on the alert for the signs of gum disease. If you have any of the following symptoms see your dentist at once:
1. Red swollen or tender gums
2. gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
3. pus between the teeth and gums (noticeable when the gums are pressed)
4. loose permanent teeth
5. A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
6. Bad breath (odour from your mouth)