Ask Dr. Rachna Pande

Dear Doctor, I am very short-tempered and there are times when I even lose my breath when I become too angry. Is it normal to feel this way? How can I control my temper?
An angry woman. / Internet photo.
An angry woman. / Internet photo.

Dear Doctor,

I am very short-tempered and there are times when I even lose my breath when I become too angry. Is it normal to feel this way? How can I control my temper?

 

Erica

 

Dear Erica,

 

Your problem is more mental than physical. When one is angry or excited, the sympathetic nervous system (part of involuntary nervous system activated during fright or flight) is stimulated. This causes increased release of adrenaline and other stress-related hormones. There can be breathlessness, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, dryness of mouth and other anxiety related features due to increased adrenalin levels. It can be a precursor of serious diseases like hypertension, heart diseases and even strokes. Sudden agitation is known to precipitate a fatal heart attack.

One can control anger by practising self-control over the mind. Avoid reacting immediately to unpleasant situations. In the heat of the moment you may say or do something which may be regretted later. Within seconds the anger may cool and you may think more realistically. Think calmly whether the situation is that bad to warrant such anger; and, what if you are in the place of the person who angered you? Answers to these questions help one to better control their temper next time.

Deep breathing done in spells of anger helps to calm the mind.

Regular yoga and meditation are also very useful in keeping the mind calm in all situations. Thus controlling anger is useful, not only for avoiding an unpleasant situation, but keeping yourself healthy.

*****

Dear Doctor,

I find myself belching and passing out bad air (farting) a lot. To avoid being embarrassed, I normally tend to suppress this bad air from within. Won’t this affect my health in the long run?

Dominique

Dear Dominique,

Belching occurs due to swallowing of gas and presence of gas in the colon. Farting is the process of passing out gas present in the colon via the rectum. Both spoil the atmosphere and are considered impolite when one has company. Holding back belching and farting will only increase the abdominal discomfort, but not cause any serious health issue.

Belching can be due to weakening of the opening between stomach and food pipe. This causes reflux of food and belching. Fried foods, chocolates, sweetened foods, sodas and beer can cause and aggravate belching. Some calcium supplements can release carbon dioxide in the stomach, causing belching. Eating hurriedly and not chewing food properly, loose fitting dentures can also cause belching. Excess belching can be due to a running nose, which can cause swallowing of excess gas. Farting can also be due to sweets, sodas and smoking. When excess air gets trapped in stomach, it will be released via farting as it has nowhere to go. Excess farting and belching always indicate indigestion.

Prevention of belching and farting consists of avoiding chocolates, sweet and fried foods, sodas and beer. Taking fiber-rich foods or fresh yoghurt aids digestion and help reduce belching. One should take small frequent meals, avoid one heavy meal at a time, and chew food thoroughly. Drinking adequate amounts of water aids in digestion and can prevent belching and farting. Herbs and spices like anise, cumin aid in digestion and reduce belching and farting.

Drugs like simethicone can be used to cure belching. If the problem persists in spite of the above measures it is advisable to consult and get investigated to exclude a disease process causing belching and flatulence like chronic gastritis, esophagitis or irritable bowel syndrome.

*****

Dear Doctor,

Are there any known side effects of using a mobile phone a lot?

Patrick

Dear Patrick,

Since cell phones have come into widespread use in the past two decades or so, many studies have been conducted on possible health hazards. Mobile phones work through radio waves. Thus keeping mobile phones over the body or holding them close to the body for a long time while talking for a long time, carries a potential risk of radio waves being absorbed in the body and causing health hazards.

The SAR is specific absorption rates of electromagnetic radiation absorbed by the body while using a cell phone and is a measurement of how safe is a cell phone. The safety limit as set by SAR measurements is said to be 1.5 Watts/Kg as in the US. This translates to talking for 6 minutes at one time and about 20 minutes a day. Mobile companies have been asked to display SAR on their phones but not all are complying with it.

The principle risk of using mobile phones is said to increase in cancers, particularly brain tumors. However, some studies refute it. Mobile phones can also cause muscular pains, cancers, dry eyes, glaucoma (increased pressure within the eyes) and damage to brain. Children are more prone to health hazards because of the developing immature body. Researchers also claim that it may cause infertility after long term use. The danger is not only with the mobile phones but towers as well. People living within 50-200meters vicinity of a mobile tower are said to have greater risk of developing cancer, due to greater exposure to radiation.

Mobile phones add to noise pollution, which in turn can cause many health problems like tinnitus, dizziness, reduced hearing, irritability, early fatigue. A mobile phone may pass through many hands and thus become a source of infections like flu, respiratory tract infections including TB and even skin diseases which are contagious.

The best way is to use the mobile phone discretely, i.e, only when necessary and not carry it on your body if possible. It can be put in a bag or purse to be retrieved when needed.

*****

Dear Doctor,

What are the dangers associated with taking too much salt or adding raw salt in food?

Nash

Dear Nash,

Excessive intake of anything, including salt, is bad for the body. Salt is good for enhancing taste, improving intake of food. But excess salt can cause high blood pressure. This happens due to water retention caused by excess salt in the body. It also puts a load on the heart, increasing susceptibility to develop heart diseases not directly due to high blood pressure. This may manifest as chest pain, breathlessness on exertion, palpitations or swelling over feet. The kidneys get loaded with extra fluid and salt, exceeding their capacity to filter it out. This gradually weakens them, causing kidney failure. One feels thirsty after eating salt, because it draws water from cells in the tissues.

Excess intake of salt can also cause dehydration, causing listlessness and fatigue. Major metabolic functions of the body, including functioning of muscles and nerves depends on correct balance of salt and potassium. Excess intake of salt can disturb this balance causing early fatigue, muscle aches and cramps and even cardiac arrest in severe cases.

Excess salt inhibits absorption and utilization of calcium in the body leading to early osteoporosis weakening of bones). One experiences joint pains and becomes prone to develop pathological fractures (fracture without trauma or just mild trauma) of limbs, due to osteoporosis. Excess salt can lead to increase in gastric acid production, causing heart burn, nausea, vomiting and even peptic ulcer.

Recommended salt intake for a normal adult is about 200mg/per day. For somebody suffering from high blood pressure or heart/kidney diseases, the recommended intake is 150mg/day. Many natural food substances contain salt inherently. Hence while adding table salt, this fact should also be considered.

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