Small Doses

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Notes from the ed­i­tor

Our re­porter Aish­warya has been a very wor­ried young lady th­ese last sev­eral months. The source of her anx­i­ety – a nag­ging cough that started all the way back in Jan­uary 2014 and wouldn’t go away, de­spite con­sult­ing many doc­tors and swal­low­ing pills, cough drops, syrups and even herbal reme­dies. A bot­tle of Be­nadryl and strips of Strep­sils had found a per­ma­nent place in her bag. In the be­gin­ning the hack­ing was just a nui­sance and an em­bar­rass­ment. “Of­ten at in­ter­views I had to stop the recorder to cough,” she com­plains. “When you have to do this 5-6 times in a sin­gle meet­ing, peo­ple look askance. But I wasn’t yet con­cerned be­cause I thought it was the re­sult of too many cold drinks and ice cubes.” But as the days pro­gressed into weeks and months with no sign of the cough ceas­ing, Aish­warya started get­ting anx­ious. She was los­ing sleep and was un­able to con­cen­trate at the job. “When I’m talk­ing to some­one, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on what they’re say­ing, all I could think of was the tickle in my throat that sig­naled a cough was on the way.” Peo­ple told her she looked ill (“which was prob­a­bly more due to the fa­tigue from per­sis­tent cough­ing and los­ing sleep than the cough it­self”) and en­quired “whether I had asthma/low he­mo­glo­bin/ton­sils/TB. One taxi­walla com­mented, ‘Madam, aap bahut be­maar ho kya?’” The cough which ap­peared to worsen in the months of Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber drained her en­ergy, made her eyes red and gave her a lit­tle chest pain too. And the cough syrups made her sleepy dur­ing the day. The last doc­tor Aish­warya con­sulted pushed her to get a blood test and an X-ray. Good news – no asthma, no TB. So what was caus­ing the cough? Pos­si­bly a poorly main­tained AC in the of­fice, said the doc­tor. Breath­ing in the dust par­ti­cles that the AC was spew­ing into a room where she spent sev­eral hours daily, to­gether with the con­ges­tion caused by cold air was trig­ger­ing the cough. Know­ing the source of her prob­lems was just the first step how­ever. Aish­warya still had to get the right fit of med­i­ca­tion. The fresh set of an­ti­his­tamines pre­scribed left her feel­ing nau­se­ated and dopey all day. For­tu­nately the ex­pec­to­rant brought out most of the trapped gunk and, to her great re­lief, the cough has almost dis­ap­peared. As our ar­ti­cle ‘That Nag­ging Cough” in this is­sue will tell you, you need to ex­ert a lot of pa­tience and put in plenty of de­tec­tive work to track down the source of your per­sis­tent hack­ing. But while that may pro­vide you with some an­swers, it is just the be­gin­ning of your so­lu­tion. As our re­porter rec­og­nizes, ‘I’ve got to start ex­er­cis­ing and get fit­ter so that th­ese small health prob­lems don’t mag­nify into a big­ger nui­sance.” After all, if you can’t change the en­vi­ron­ment you work in, you can at least change the way your body re­sponds to it.

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