Ask Dr. Rachna Pande

I normally mix whisky and a sweet energy drink to make it sweeter to consume. Are there any healthy dangers of such a concoction of a drink?

I mix Whisky with energy drinks

I normally mix whisky and a sweet energy drink to make it sweeter to consume. Are there any healthy dangers of such a concoction of a drink?

 

Emma

 

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Dear Emma,

Whiskey by itself contains high percentage of alcohol, increasing risks of health hazards and addiction. When mixed with a sweet energy drink, the hazards are increased. Whiskey has lot of calories and if the calories of a sweet energy drink are added to it, the risk of obesity is doubled. Obesity carries risk of causing chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks.

The cocktail of the 2 drinks is likely to cause intense dieresis, i.e. passing more urine. This can disrupt the normal salt, water balance of the body resulting in muscle cramps and fatigue. Electrolyte imbalance caused, can also derange the functioning of the heart leading to abnormal cardiac rhythm and even a cardiac arrest.

During pregnancy, a combination of alcohol and an energy drink can lead to miscarriage or stunting of fetal growth. Due to direct toxic effect of alcohol on brain, taking these drinks regularly can lead to poor concentration, memory loss and early dementia.

The biggest risk of combining whiskey with a sweet energy drink is increased risk of habituation and addiction. This is a stage where people find it difficult to quit alcohol, even if they wish to. When somebody habituated to taking whiskey regularly, suddenly stops taking it, he suffers from withdrawal syndrome. This manifests as fatigue, headache, sweating, tremors of hands, hallucinations.

The chemicals present in sweet energy drink for sweetening, flavors, as preservatives can cause allergy in people susceptible to it. This can cause skin rashes, running of nose and or precipitation of bronchial asthma.

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My daughter was bitten by a dog

My 14-year-old daughter was recently bitten by a stray dog. I rushed her to a clinic for treatment, but I am asking this for the sake of other susceptible people. How best should one react in such circumstances and what dangers does such an incident pose?

Maria

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Dear Maria,

The biggest risk posed by the bite of a stray dog is development of rabies. Rabies is a sickness which can occur after bite of any mammalian species but is commonly associated with dog bite. It is caused by a virus which has affinity for the brain. It affects the brain and causes altered behavior and consciousness. The affected person may become very dull, somnolent or very aggressive, difficult to contain.

Hydrophobia is one of the manifestations of rabies, where the individual is afraid of water. He not only refuses to drink but in extreme cases becomes upset at sight of water. Ultimately it is a fatal condition.

The risk is augmented by the fact that the virus can remain dormant in brain for as long as 10 years. If one has been bitten by a rabid dog and remains healthy in spite of not taking any treatment, he may forget about it. But cases have been seen and documented, where after 10 years he suddenly developed rabies and died. Therefore it is imperative that one takes complete course of anti rabies vaccination after a dog bite as soon as possible.

The affected person can become rabid and bite others, thus infecting them.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is also available for high risk cases. This includes professionals like veterinary doctors, butchers, e.t.c. people who deal with animals.

People travelling to areas endemic for stray dogs and bites, are also advised to take pre exposure vaccine before travel. However those vaccinated for pre exposure, if bitten subsequently are still advised to take complete course of antirabies vaccination. Such precautions are taken to ensure that rabies does not occur. They are a must because once rabies occurs, there is no treatment available and it is fatal.

The other risk of dog bite is bacterial infection occurring at site of bite resulting in infected wound and abscess formation. Antibiotics are given after bite to prevent this.

Microbes for tetanus can also enter the body through saliva of a dog, due to the bite, thus risk of tetanus also exists. To prevent this, anti tetanus vaccine is given after a dog bite.

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I am a virgin at 28

Are there any health dangers of being a virgin at 28 as many of my friends keep telling me?

Martha

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Dear Martha,

Being a virgin at 28 is not a big deal. In fact it is good that instead of having partners indiscriminately, you are waiting for the right guy to settle down. Physically there are no health hazards of being a virgin. Unless you consider the prospects of bearing a child, where age certainly matters. After about 35 years or so, risks of having a safe pregnancy and congenital deformities in baby are enhanced. Risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer is more in women who have had no children or did not breast feed their children.

Regarding mental health, if one considers it to be a problem(maybe state of virginity is due to lack of sexual desire), counseling and tests for hormonal levels can help. Due to the perceived problem of not being sexually active till 28 years, some women may develop anxiety or depression. This would need counseling and maybe some anxiolytic drugs to help cure it.

28 is not very early, but not too late either. You can wait for a guy of your choice and then settle down good for once and all.

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I am addicted to coffee

I love taking coffee to the extent that without it I can’t concentrate on my work. Should I worry this feeling?

Kalisa

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Dear Kalisa,

It seems you have become addicted to coffee. Caffeine is the active ingredient present in coffee, which stimulates the brain cells, thus providing sense of feeling fresh and removing fatigue. Due to this effect, one is able to concentrate more on his work, thus giving an impression that coffee has helped to increase concentration.

It also contains anti oxidants that prevent wear and tear of body tissues. If one starts taking coffee regularly and in excess, for these benefits, brain cells start getting habituated to it. Gradually a state of dependence is developed, where one cannot function without coffee. In such a state, one feels irritable, restless, has difficulty in sleeping and is unable to concentrate without coffee.

There would be a strong craving and one would feel good only after drinking it. Regular use of coffee, irritates the inner lining of stomach mucosa, resulting in chronic inflammation and even peptic ulcer disease . Caffeine stimulates the adrenergic nervous system of the body and is an independent risk factor for high blood pressure and heart problems. Coffee taken frequently with milk and sugar, can cause obesity. With subsequent health hazards of obesity, i.e high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems. Unfiltered coffee elevates cholesterol levels, which can again cause heart problems.

Coffee is known to inhibit absorption of essential minerals in the body like calcieum, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. This can result in weakening of bones and chronic anemia. Excess coffee consumption impairs absorption of B.complex vitamins like folic acid, B6 and B12. This can cause increased levels of homocysteine, an amino acid present in blood, excess of which is linked to cardiovascular disorders. Deficiency of these vitamins also causes weakness and burning sensation in feet.

Decaffeinated coffee contains chemicals like methylene chloride or ethyl acetate which are not very safe for health.

Therefore getting habituated to coffee is worrying. Try to reduce amount of coffee consumed, replace it with fresh fruit juice or milk which is more nutritious. Coffee in moderation, say up to 500mg. is beneficial but excess is not healthy.

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