1. I had a one-night stand during a recent business trip to Thailand and now I keep worrying that I might have caught something. What should I do?
Dr James Koh Kwee Choy: The first thing you should do is quit worrying. If you suspect you may have acquired sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from the encounter, make an appointment to see a physician as soon as possible. Most STIs are either preventable or treatable like syphilis, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, and chlamydia, while others may recur (e.g. herpes infection) or incurable (e.g. HIV). Early detection and prompt treatment of these infections is the best course of action.
2. I’m not gay but I love pink and pastel coloured things and the dreaded V-necked T-shirts. Is it normal?
Dr James Koh Kwee Choy: You have affirmed that you are not gay but you love colours and fashion which, unfortunately and discriminatively, have been associated with either feminine traits or sexuality. You should be confident who you are with regards to your sexual and fashion preferences. Do not let others dictate otherwise. The world would be a very dull place if every man wears dark-coloured clothes and only round-neck tees!
3. My crotch gets super sweaty when I exercise. Is this normal?
Dr Lee Yin Yin: It is normal to be more sweaty at body folds when you exercise e.g. the axilla (armpit), infra-mammary (beneath the breast) for women and inguinal (groin) region. To reduce the intensity, wear light, comfortable pants/shorts/underwear made of cotton or silk and avoid tight pants/shorts/underwear to improve ventilation and reduce heat built up. Shower regularly, especially after physical activities and use talcum powder to absorb excess moisture.
4. What causes foot odour? How can I prevent it?
Dr Lee Yin Yin: Foot odour occurs when excess perspiration occurs at the feet, creating an optimal environment for bacteria to grow. Bacteria, the main source of foot odour, consume dead skin cells on the feet, which then produce odour. Prevention methods include wearing shoes with adequate air ventilation, trimming the hair on the dorsum of feet and toes (hair may aggravate the odour’s intensity by increasing surface area for bacteria to thrive) and removing footwear periodically to reduce foot moisture and reduce bacterial growth. Wear shoes to absorb sweat from feet and reduce bacterial growth, but avoid polyester and nylon socks as they provide less ventilation and may increase perspiration, hence intensifying foot odour. If these methods fail, you may need medical treatment such as swabbing feet with isopropyl alcohol for two weeks, using medicated powders and activated charcoal insoles that prevent foot odour by keeping the feet dry or Sodium bicarbonate that creates a hostile environment unsuitable for bacteria.
5. After I turned 40, I noticed a lot of hair growing out of my ears and nose. What can I do to stop or control it?
Dr Lee Yin Yin: There is no therapy to stop the growth of ears and nose hair. As for control, one of the most practical solutions is to use a nose and ear hair trimmer, either with a pair of scissors or electrical trimmers. It is not advisable to pull these hairs out with tweezers as the insides of the ear canal and nostril are extremely sensitive and bleed easily when traumatized.
6. I’m too fair and have little hair on my body. How can I get some hair to grow at the right places so that I look more macho?
Dr Lee Yin Yin: There is no single way to increase truncal hair growth (e.g. chest / legs / arms) for male patients. Various modalities have been tried but no strong evidence to show the efficacy of any of it.
7. Every time I’m nervous, I tend to fart a lot. It is embarrassing during presentations or social events. What can I do?
Dr. Loong Yik Yee: Nobody likes people with too much ‘hot air’ especially during social events. You need to reduce your anxiety and also the air in your gut. Air in the gastrointestinal system is either swallowed in, produced by food digestion or fermentation by microbes. Avoid carbonated drinks, legumes, nuts and beans, eat slowly and avoid talking while eating. If you are lactose intolerant, stay away from dairy products. Empty your bowel before a presentation or any stressful event. Lastly, remember it is not unhealthy or sinful to fart. But it should be done at the right time and right place and definitely not in public.
8. Recently, my bowel movements have turned reddish. What could this mean?
Dr. Loong Yik Yee: Certain food or fruit like red dragon fruit can cause reddish stools. Otherwise, reddish bowel movements indicate blood in the faeces (bloody shit) which is not normal. The source of bleeding is usually from the distal part of the gastrointestinal system. There are various causes for blood in the stools ranging from piles, fissures, infection, polyps, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease to colon cancer. A proper medical evaluation is needed to identify the cause and provide treatment. Massive bleeding will need urgent attention and prompt treatment. Doctors will usually perform blood tests, stool tests, proctoscopy and sometimes endoscopy.
9. I tend to drool when I sleep. How can I stop that because it’s embarrassing to have my college mates laugh at me.
Dr Koh Kar Chai: Ptyalism or silorrhoea are the terms used for excessive salivation. However, drooling is when the saliva dribbles out of the mouth uncontrollably. While there are many who drool without any cause, there are however certain medical conditions that may lead to excessive production of saliva and drooling. In infants and toddlers, it is most likely associated with teething. For adults, it may be an infectious disease or non-infectious condition of the oral cavity or throat that precipitates excessive salivation. Other causes include certain medications and pregnancy. In your case, it is probably a non-medical problem afflicting many others as well. It occurs mostly during deep sleep. Try sleeping on your back.
10. My sweat smells really bad after exercise which is embarrassing whenever I go to the gym. Is it caused by something I eat or drink?
Dr Koh Kar Chai: Sweat by itself does not smell. The odour comes only after the sweat is broken down by bacteria on the skin. Sweat secreted by apocrine sweat glands predominantly found in the armpits and groin is usually the culprit here. Spices in the diet and certain prescription medication have been implicated as a cause of body odour. Heavy drinking of alcohol as well as regular smoking of cigarettes also contribute to this problem. Apart from using anti perspirants, deodorants and other topical applications, it would be worthwhile to ensure proper skin hygiene. You need not use antibacterial soap. Any good quality soap will do as long as you wash properly. Maintaining a diet with less spices, wear loose fitting clothes, cut down on alcohol and cigarette consumption.
11. Is it true that certain sex positions determine a boy or a girl baby?
Dr Wong Pak Seng: This notion came about because it is thought that sperms that carry the male genes swim faster than the sperms that carry the female genes. Therefore, positions that promotes deep penetration so that the semen is deposited nearest to the cervix (opening of the womb) such as “missionary position” or “rear entry” promotes the chance of getting a baby girl whereas positions where semen is deposited further way from the cervix such as “woman on top” or “side by side” promotes the chance of getting a baby boy. However, though there is scientific evidence that the male sperm does swim faster, nobody has ever done a clinical trial to see if sex positions really affects the gender of the baby.
12.I started taking a medication to stop smoking recently. Since then, I’ve been having very vivid dreams and I feel very depressed. Is it the medication or is it an excuse to begin smoking again?
Dr Koh Kah Chai: You did not mention the name of the medication, but if it is Varenicline, it has been documented to have an effect on underlying psychiatric disorders as well as produce abnormal dreams. You should discuss this with the doctor who started you on smoking cessation therapy.
13.I read about oral cancer recently and feel worried because I’m always getting mouth ulcers. Is it common and what are the symptoms?
Prof Dr Zainal Ariff Abdul Rahman: It is important for Malaysians to be aware of oral cancer because its incidence is very high- 2 new cases are seen every day. Oral cancer also has a high mortality rate because patients don’t seek treatment until it is in advanced stages. Symptoms to look out for include white or red patches inside the mouth and an ulcer that doesn’t heal after 2 weeks. See a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis.
14.I’ve been hearing a lot about the male menopause recently. Is there really such a thing? I’m almost 50 now.
Dr Shaiful Bahari: Although it is commonly known as male menopause, the more accurate term should be ‘androgen deficiency’ because menopause symbolizes the end of reproductive ability in women, whereas men continue to be productive for a lifetime. 1 in 200 men may begin symptoms such as mood changes, poor concentration, lethargy, hot flushes, decreased libido and low semen volume after the age of 40. As some of the symptoms are quite similar to menopause, they are called the male menopause. Basically the problem is caused by a reduction in the hormone testosterone. Treatment includes medications and lifestyle changes such as weight loss (for the obese or overweight), exercise, healthy diet.
15.My brother has just been diagnosed with cancer. I want to help him but I don’t know what to say.
Dr Daniel Zainal: Statistics show that 70-75% of cancer patients will experience clinical depression. The main reasons for depression are deep-seated anxiety, of not understanding what is happening to their bodies and what to expect. Just being there to give moral support is a great help. Allow your brother to go through his emotional turmoil but encourage him to exercise, take lots of antioxidants, sleep well and take their medications as advised by the doctor.
16. Does a flat chested woman have a lower chance of getting breast cancer compared to heavy-topped woman?
Dr Harjit Kaur: There is no significant difference in getting breast cancer whether one is flat chested or heavy bosomed. The only difference is the cancer will probably be picked up earlier in the flat chested woman. As long as we have breast tissue and risk factors we may develop breast cancer. The key is to be vigilant of any changes in the breasts. Size doesn’t matter!
17. I have one breast bigger than the other. Is that weird?
Dr Harjit Kaur: Many women have slight discrepancies in their breast sizes, some more obvious than others. However, there are some congenital abnormalities like hypoplasia (poor development of breast) or hyperplasia (increased growth) in one of the breast causing imbalance. There may also be Aplasia (absence of breast)in some instances. Such anomalies if significant can be rectified by plastic surgical techniques. The important question here is “how significant is the size difference?” Subtle differences can be overlooked but major discrepancies are better surgically corrected.
18. I heard that using yoghurt helps to cure vaginal yeast infection. Is this true? Will yoghurt cure a yeast infection if I put it into the vagina?
Dr Ho Choon Moy: This is a common myth and should not be practiced as it may actually worsen the yeast infection. The genital area is naturally inhabited by bacteria and yeast. They usually do not cause any problems unless there is in unbalance in the body system that affects the body’s natural immune system, such as stress, intake of antibiotics or a bout of illness. It is best to check with your doctor when you experience symptoms such as intense vaginal itch or thick discharge to rule out other infections. Hygiene at the genital area is important but avoid using harsh cleansers or dubious home remedies that affect the natural bacterial balance.
19. My breasts are so small I have to buy brassieres from the teen section. Apart from going for a breast implant, are there other options such as exercises that can enlarge my ‘assets’?
Dr Harjit Kaur: Unfortunately there is no miracle drug that can stimulate breast growth. Breast implants are still the simplest and safest way to attain the breast size of your choice within safe limits. In the hands of a trained surgeon, it is a safe procedure. Mistakes of getting fillers/silicon injected directly into the breast tissue should never be made. They are dangerous and can lead to painful swellings in the breasts and occasionally cancers. Exercise merely strengthen pectoral muscles and may keep the bustline firm but it does not help breast growth. Massages are temporary and massage creams often contain hormones to stimulate breast tissue growth. The long term safety of hormonal stimulation is still not clear and may increase risk of developing lumps and cancers.
20. I contracted a sexually-transmitted disease from my husband but he insists he doesn’t have another woman in his life. Is it possible to get a sexually-transmitted infection without sexual contact- eg through toilet seats or hotel towels/bedsheets?
Dr James Koh Kwee Choy: Although technically it is possible to acquire some STDs from the toilet seats or hotel linen (e.g. public lice, herpes), it is highly unlikely as these pathogens usually do not survive for long outside the human body. To quote Dr. Abigail Salyers, president of the American Society for Microbiology: “To my knowledge, no one has ever acquired an STD on the toilet seat — unless they were having sex on the toilet seat!” However, your husband could be honest in that he does not have any other women in his life right now. Some STDs, such as the human papilloma virus which cause genital warts or herpes simplex which causes painful genital ulcers, can recur after many years. In other words, it could possibly be something he contracted before you came into his life.
21. My boyfriend has finally proposed and we’re getting married next year. But I don’t want him to know I’m not a virgin any more. Is there anything I can do?
Dr Ho Choon Moy: Virginity is loosely defined as a break in the hymen, a thin piece of muscle located inside your vagina. However, some virgins do not have intact hymens due to various reasons. Some women undergo plastic surgery to re-attach the hymen or tighten the vagina in an attempt to simulate the effects of virginity, ie a tighter vagina. While the decision to tell is a personal choice, it helps to be honest with someone you will be spending a lifetime. Carrying the secret may affect your emotional wellbeing later on.
22. I often have big, painful boils at my pubic area although I keep them clean most times. How can I stop that from recurring?
Dr Ho Choon Moy: Boils are infections that happen when there is a break in the skin. Recurring boils happen when the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, that are naturally present in some parts of the body such as on the skin and inside the nose, becomes overactive and infect exposed skin areas. Recurring boils are also associated with other conditions such as diabetes, anemia, poor immunity and other conditions. Get a thorough health check to rule out these underlying problems. To prevent recurrence, avoid scratching as it causes the skin to break and become infected. Small boils can be treated with a cream that is available from the pharmacy, whereas larger ones may need to be removed by a doctor.
23. I had an abortion 2 decades ago and recently the memory of it keeps coming back to haunt me. How can I forget and get on with my life?
Dr Khairi Rahman: You probably feel the guilt, sadness and emotional disturbance that have laid buried over the years in your subconscious mind. Psychological help or hypnotherapy will not help erase the memory but will delve into your regressive feelings to achieve a closure to the unhappy memory. You could be seeking closure for other issues related to your abortion, such as a failed relationship or family disapproval to the marriage. In order to move on, you need to let go of the past.
24. I always bite my nails when I’m anxious. How can I stop this habit?
Dr Khairi Rahman: Finger or nail biting suggests compulsive obsessive behavior. It could also be a projection of other indicative clinical conditions such as depression or stress. A hypnotherapist can conduct behavior modification treatment but there is a risk that your nail-biting may be replaced with other regressive behavior such as eye twitching or sweaty palms. The best bet is to see a psychiatrist for a short course of medications.
25. My secret is that I feel like killing my bedridden mother – or myself. After her stroke ten years ago, my life has been pure misery!
Dr Khairi Rahman: Consider getting assisted nursing to take over in your mother’s waking hours. You may be uncomfortable with the manual aspects of caregiving such as bathing and changing. Having professional help allows you to focus on your mother emotional and psychological needs. Try putting yourself in your mother’s shoes – how she cared for you unconditionally when you were a helpless baby – and how she would feel if she knew you are miserable because of her. Some sickly patients deliberately give up on their lives, refusing to take medications, eat or get better because they don’t want to be a burden to others. Join a support group to share with others. Seeing others in worse conditions will help relieve your depression.
26. I tend to urinate a little whenever I laugh, cough or carry heavy things. What can I do to solve it?
Dr Lo Hwa Loon: The first step is to evaluate your medical history and conduct a physical test to look for signs of health problems that can cause incontinence. Behavioural treatment is a common disease management strategy and includes pelvic muscle exercises, bladder retraining, weight loss, dietary changes and quitting smoking. While there is no single treatment that works for everyone, the selected treatment will depend on the type and severity of the problem as well as your lifestyle and preference.
27. I’ve been married for four years with one child but recently I’m starting to have sexual fantasies about other men. Is there something wrong with me?
Dr Koh Kah Chai: Fantasies are nothing unusual especially among those with active minds. Many do not act on their fantasies as it is usually something which is not within their norm to do and also may not be what they desire to do.It is common to find many grappling with issues of morality over their fantasies as they equate it with an actual desire to act out their fantasies which may not be true.You did not say whether you have your fantasies during sex with your husband or whether you fantasize on your own during self stimulation.In your situation, the fantasies could be because sex with your husband has become so routine throughout your four years of marriage that you fantasize to add variety (albeit mentally) to your love life. Or it could be that your love life has not been what it was like before you gave birth.There’s nothing wrong with you and there won’t be any repercussions from your fantasies as long as they remain as such.
28. After ten years of marriage, I’m still unable to conceive. My husband refuses to seek treatment and insists that it is my ‘bad eggs’. What can I do to get a baby?
Dr Wong Pak Seng: Most couples are able to conceive by the first two years of marriage. It is important to realise that if a couple has difficulty to conceive, there is a 40% chance that the infertility is contributed by the male. The quality of semen has deteriorated over the decades and coupled with work stress and smoking and alcohol, many male folks have a real problem. The first thing to do is to highlight this fact to your husband. If he is still uncooperative, you can go and seek a fertility consultation on your own first. The doctor maybe able to advise you if there are any problems on your side that can be rectified. If there are no obvious problems, you may want to take medications to increase your eggs during ovulation to boost your chances of conceiving. If this fails after 6 months, you really have to ask your husband to go for a semen analysis.
29. My periods are very long- sometimes 15-20 days. I’m worried if it is cancer?
Dr Premitha Damodaran: Heavy menstrual bleeding can be caused by various reasons such as hormonal imbalance, uterine imbalance, polyps, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, thyroid problems, liver or kidney disease, miscarriages or ectopic pregnancy, ovarian or cervical cancers. Other factors include use of non-hormonal intrauterine devices, anti-inflammatory medications or anticoagulants, improper use of hormone medications. It is advisable to seek medical help as it can interfere with your job, family life, social life, emotional wellbeing and health if left untreated.
30. I’m emotionally disturbed by a colleague who keeps spreading tales about me. Should I confront the person or just suffer in silence?
Veronica Augustin: You can choose to be silent (and change jobs or departments) or confront your colleague to put him/her in his/her place. Clarification is good, because sometimes the person who told you about this colleague may have done so with an ulterior motive. Negative gossipers seek to destroy relationships, but you must never retaliate. If the tales are false, stay patient because the truth will eventually reveal itself. If they are true, then it would be wise to do some self-reflection for your own good.
31. I am 64-years-old and have the normal aches and pains associated with old age. But I’m still keen for sexual intercourse once a week or so. Is this normal? What age is it too old to have sex?
Dr Koh Kwee Choy (James): Congratulations on having a strong libido despite your age and notwithstanding the aches and pains. Many people your age would envy you greatly. It is perfectly normal to have sexual urges and one can never be too old for sex!
32. I have fungus growing on my toe nail. How do I get rid of it?
Dr Lee Yin Yin: Mild infections affecting <80% of one or two nails may respond to topical anti-fungal medication. However, cure usually requires an oral antifungal medication for a period of time. Some oral treatments are recommended to be given continuously whilst others may be given as pulse therapy. Combined topical and oral treatment is probably the most effective regime. Recently, laser treatment has been added as a modality to treat nail infections. However, laser treatment is not yet FDA approved and it is as yet unclear how well it works.
33. I regretted spoiling my children when they were young. Now they are all selfish people who don’t even come and visit me or even call to say hello. I feel so alone.
Alex Lui: There are two separate issues here. Firstly, you felt that your children are spoiled because you did not raise them properly. Unfortunately there is nothing much you can do about that now. Secondly, you feel alone. That has very little to do with your children not being around. You need to learn how to enjoy your own company. Alternately, you can swallow your pride and call them. And of course, you should still have your relatives, friends and neighbours as your social support. If not, you are probably having some other issues that make people stay away from you. The problem may be you, and not them.
34. I had a heart attack last year and have recovered. But now I’ve become very afraid it will happen again. It scares me so much I cannot sleep well at night, because I’m scared I won’t wake up tomorrow morning.
Alex Lui: The real issue here is that you fear death. Like it or not, death is part of life. It is inevitable that we all die someday. You need to learn to embrace death as a friend and not an enemy. In that way, there is nothing to fear when your friend comes to take you home.
35. I’ve been very sad since my husband died one year ago. My friends don’t understand and keep telling me to forget and enjoy a new life. But I cannot. Please help me.
Alex Lui: It is only natural that you should be sad when your husband died just one year ago. The more you love your husband, the harder it is for you to forget him and get on with your life. Unless it is affecting you to such a point that you are unable to function at work, have no more interest in the things that you loved doing, your health is deteriorating, or you feel that life in general is not worth living anymore, there is nothing for you to worry about. However, if you are experiencing those symptoms, do see a counsellor, a clinical psychologist, or a psychiatrist soon. You should probably just appreciate your friends for trying show you some concern.
36. I’m addicted to pornography and I know it’s wrong. But I can’t stop! Where can I seek help?
Alex Lui: Just like any addiction, it is very hard to quit on your own. You will need to confide in someone you trust who will be able to support you in your effort to kick the habit. A habit takes a long time to form and an even longer time to break, so be patient. There will be many failures along the way but do not be discouraged. One way to break a habit is to form another habit, making sure it’s a positive one this time. For example, you may want to take up a hobby to get your mind off pornography. Keep yourself busy and surround yourself with people. That way, you have less opportunity to indulge in your online addiction. If you like and can afford it, seek professional help. Some hypnotherapists are known to specialise in helping people overcome additions.
37. I became menopausal some years back but recently I’ve started to bleed again. Is it because of food or should I see a doctor?
Dr Ho Choon Moy: Menopuse is characterized by a cessation of menstrual period over 12 months at least. Spotting after menopause sometimes happen, but it does not mean your ovaries are still productive. Post-menopausal spotting can be caused by various reasons such as hormonal imbalance, emotional distress, drastic weigh loss or nutrient deficiency. Any bleeding after menopause should be checked by your gynaecologist as it may also be a sign of something more serious such as uterine cancer.
38. I read a lot of health articles and I’m starting to lose my trust in them because the news is always so contradictory. Sometimes they will say something is good for the body; later they will say it is no good. What is true and what can I believe?
Chan Li Jin: As health media, we face the same problem and frustration! There is always new research on health issues, and they sometimes contradict each other. Not only that, it helps to remember that everyone has a different body system, so what works for one person may not work for another. Just reading health articles alone will not help you. Know your own body and your own risk factors in terms of age, lifestyle and family history. Learn to listen to your body for unusual signs and practise a healthy lifestyle. Health products or healthy food are only good for you if you need them; when taken unnecessarily, they may be detrimental because your body simply does not need them!
39. I was recently told that I need heart surgery. But I’m really afraid because I don’t know what will happen.
Emy Hoi: Your doctor would not have recommended surgery if he knew your body would not be able to take it. Usually after a heart surgery, your wounds will be sore for around 72 hours. You will be in the ICU during this time, with pain medications to provide comfort. If you are awake, you will be encouraged to get out of bed and begin walking around to encourage blood circulation. There will be a scar at your sternum and smaller scars at your legs where the veins are harvested. The wound, which takes around 6-8 weeks to heal, will feel tingling, itchy, numb and sore. Keep it clean and dry and do not scratch it to prevent infections. You can shower daily but remember to tap the wound dry gently. Do not use any lotion, powder or ointments.
40. I had my bypass surgery six months ago. Is it safe to resume sexual activities?
Raihana Mohd Noor: After heart surgery, heart patients are encouraged to gradually begin a regular exercise programme. Sexual activity is also a form of exercise and can generally be resumed within 6-8 weeks. However, it’s best to first check with your cardiologist as each patient’s condition is different. Strenuous activities such as lifting things, carrying grandchildren, pushing boxes or furniture are also discouraged.
41. Our child is always complaining of stomach aches and headaches to avoid going to school. How can I know if it is a real or imaginary pain?
Alex Lui: Of course you should first consult your family doctor to make sure that your child is really not ill. If the doctor has ruled out any biological causes for the stomach aches and the headaches, then you would definitely need to find out the reason for your child not wanting to go to school, especially if he or she is experiencing some form of bullying. Once you find out the reason, then you can starting identifying ways to overcome your child’s apprehension of going to school.
42. My 2-year-old child toddled into our room one night when my spouse and I were in the heat of things. We had a rude shock but unsure how much he saw. Will he remember and should we be worried?
Alex Lui: Most probably your child might not even realise what he had just observed and he would most probably forget about it with the passing of time. How many of us actually remembered any significant events when we were two? The best course of action in this case is to do nothing, and of course, be more careful the next time!
43. My daughter just had her first period. It came for 2 months, then stopped for 3 months and continued for 1 month, going off and on. Is this normal and should I bring her to see a doctor to get it checked?
Dr Ho Choon Moy: This is common in the first two years of menarche as her menstrual cycle may not have stabilised yet. Many girls also tend to skip a period or stop getting their periods in times of stress such as exams, relationships or changes in schedule. Irregular periods can also be caused by illness or poor health, certain medications, very low body weight, insufficient calorie intake or excessive exercise. Warn her to be prepared with sanitary napkins in case her period comes unexpectedly. You can bring her to see a doctor if her irregular periods persist after 2 years.
44. My child was sent home from school with head lice. I feel like a horrible parent. What did I do wrong?
Dr Mervin Hwa: Head lice are a very common problem in children between 3 to 12 years. It is nobody’s fault when a child has the condition. Most children will present with itch but some may not have any symptoms. The school sent your child back as a necessary measure to prevent the passing of the head lice to other children. Head lice is very contagious and can spread easily from a person to another especially in group settings (nurseries, kindergartens, schools). Children are most prone to catching lice because they tend to have close physical contact with each other and often share personal items. Treatment with medicated shampoo, cream rinse or lotion to kill the lice is needed as soon as it is diagnosed. Simple steps should be taken to prevent re-infestation and passing of the lice to family members.
45. My son is 10 and still bedwetting. What can I do about it?
Dr Mervin Hwa: Bedwetting is a commonly seen childhood problem. As your child is above 5-years-old, you should seek advice from doctor. Bedwetting does not cause any physical health problem but will have harmful psychological impact on a child’s self esteem and confidence. It can also cause distress to parents in terms of practical and financial consequences. You will need to be remain calm and supportive. It is important not to blame or punish your child for this condition which he cannot control. There are other rare causes of bedwetting that needs to be ruled out such as diabetes mellitus, urinary tract infection, constipation or triggered by emotional distress. In most cases, there are no reasons to the cause of bedwetting. It would be helpful to provide a bedwetting diary to aid diagnosis and treatment. Treatment consists of self-help techniques, bedwetting alarm and medications.
46. Every time my children get fever, I run to the doctor because I worry that it might be something serious. Sometimes it’s embarrassing when the doctor tells me I need not bring my child so often because it’s minor. How can I know whether it’s serious or not? I don’t want to regret it later if something happens to my children.
Dr Mervin Hwa: Fever is a common symptom for a parent to seek advice from a doctor. It is not embarrassing as you are not trained to recognise the other danger symptoms and signs accompanying the fever. Causes of fever can be difficult to be determined even for health professionals. In most cases, it is due to viral illnesses that improve over a short period. Other serious bacterial infections include pneumonia(lung infection) or meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain). Dangerous symptoms such as reduced feeding, excessive lethargy, unconsciousness, seizures, vomiting and breathlessness need urgent attention from a doctor. Occasionally, fever without any apparent source will need to be investigated more thoroughly by a specialist. In summary, it is never embarrassing to seek advice for fever as it may be more serious than you think, especially if it involves small children or is associated with other dangerous symptoms.
47. My baby has Down Syndrome. I have been told he will find it hard to learn to talk. Is this right?
Persatuan Down Syndrome Malaysia: All children with Down’s syndrome find it hard to learn some aspects of speech, language and communication. Some children experience severe speech and language problems whereas other children find it less of a challenge. Some children will have more difficulty with developing their grammar; others will find it hardest to develop clear speech. We know that children with Down’s syndrome have a predictable profile of communication difficulties and this helps us to tackle these difficulties from an early age, offering them the best possible start to develop good communication skills. Whilst we know what their challenges are likely to be, we are also beginning to understand what we can do to help.
48. My baby always starts wailing whenever our relatives and friends come to visit. How can I avoid these embarrassing episodes and make my baby more sociable?
Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail: This is known as ‘stranger anxiety’, where babies burst into tears or become clingy and whiny when encountering someone for the first time. Young children depend on routine and familiarity for a sense of security, hence anything that is not in their daily routine will upset them. Avoid putting your baby into the arms of people she does not know. The indirect, gradual approach is best: talk to the person with your baby around. Let her size up this new stranger. Initiate introductions only when your baby is more familiar with the person.
49. I am a new mother with a 2-month-old baby. What are the best toys or gadgets to buy to enhance my baby’s development?
Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail: Actually you can forget about expensive toys or gadgets because all your baby needs is you! Babies need physical contact as much as food and sleep for optimal growth. Rather than toys, they prefer looking at faces, hearing voices and skin-to-skin touch. Spend as much time as possible talking, singing, hugging and cuddling your baby. The more you interact with your baby, the more confident and self-reassured she will be about the world around her. What matters is knowing that she is the centre of your attention.
50. My son always loses a lot of weight whenever he gets sick. What should I feed him when he is ill so that he recovers properly?
Assoc Prof Dr Poh Bee Koon: Feeding a child has never been an easy task. It becomes doubly challenging when the child is having an upset tummy, cold or fever. Uncomfortable, miserable and irritable, your child’s appetite will diminish rather dramatically. While adequate nourishment is important for a speedy recovery, do not force him to eat. It is all right if he does not eat as much as he usually does. The important thing is to ensure that he gets plenty of fluids and eats some light foods every day.
Assoc Prof Dr Poh Bee Koon
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail
Selangor Medical Centre
Dr Daniel Zainal
Prince Court Medical Centre
Prof Dr Zainal Ariff Abdul Rahman
Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
University Malaya Medical Centre
Assoc Prof Dr Shaiful Bahari Ismail
Universiti Sains Malaysia (Kota Bahru)
Dr James Koh Kwee Choy
Senior Lecturer & Infectious Diseases Specialist
International Medical University, Seremban
Dr Harjit Kaur
Prince Court Medical Centre
Dr Ho Choon Moy
Pantai Cheras Medical Centre
Dr Khairi Rahman
Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Dr Lee Yin Yin
Sunway Medical Centre
Dr Lo Hwa Loon
Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences
Dr. Loong Yik Yee
Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist
Sime Darby Medical Center Ara Damansara
Dr Koh Kah Chai
Primary Care Physician
Dr Mervin Hwa
Dr Wong Pak Seng
Consultant O&G, Clinical Director
Sunfert International Fertility Centre
Critical Care Unit (CCU) Nurse
iHealth Medical Centre
Raihana Mohd Nor
iHeal Medical Centre
Chan Li Jin
Editor, Urban Health
Dr Premitha Damodaran
Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Clinical Psychologist And Educationist