What is cold sweat?

Monday May 6 2019

By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

Nowadays, I wake up in the morning drenched in sweat unlike my wife who says she is cold. Is this what is referred to as cold sweat? Marko

Dear Marko,
We sweat as a way of cooling down and as such, finding yourself drenched in sweat when you wake up in the morning when the night has been cold may be normal.
When one is faced by an immediately threatening situation, he may let off the fear, fight and flight reaction whereby even when it is cold, he will form forehead beads of sweat in what is called a cold sweat.

Much as women, given the same external temperature conditions feel colder, your wife saying she is cold while you are sweating might mean you have a sweating problem. Sweating in your case might be due to a problem such as taking too much alcohol, food supplements, obesity, thyroid problems, a hidden fever due to say tuberculosis, cancer such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, diabetes or its drugs, drugs for depression or headache or you could be slowly approaching male menopause.

A doctor can check you out and manage your problem. Otherwise avoiding overdressing while you sleep or using a heavy blanket apart from addressing alcohol or supplement use can help in the meantime.

What causes clots during one’s period?

My daughter started her period at eight but gets blood clots during her period. I have used various herbs including herbal tea without help. What can I do? Also, isn’t it too early for an eight-year-old to start her period?

Dear Salama,
Precocious puberty is when a child’s body begins changing into that of an adult (puberty) too soon and here a girl before eight years (and in Africa six years) may start growing breasts and get her period. It is, therefore, normal for an eight-year-old girl to start her period.

It is common that adolescent girls experience heavy bleeding during the first few years of menstruation due to fluctuations in their sex hormones resulting from lack of ovulation. Heavy periods may result in blood clots because an enzyme called plasmin, which makes period blood liquid is outdone by the presence of too much blood.
Whereas it may be possible to treat the hormonal imbalances with birth control pills or other hormones, it is necessary to investigate and rule out other causes of over bleeding during the period to address the cause.

Herbal tea has no tea (which is from a plant from Camellia sinensis) at all but is just a concoction from other plants which may have unknown herbs and effects.
Taking food supplements and herbs, especially when they do not target the cause of the problem is likely to lead to delay of management of the problem. Please visit a doctor, particularly a gynaecologist, for help.

Can asthma lead to obesity?

My wife and I have three children. However, our two sons are overweight and have asthma. Does asthma cause weight gain? Zambara

Dear Zambara,
When a person is breathless, wheezing, has chest tightness and cough, they likely have asthma symptoms. However, a number of obese people may be breathless and get misdiagnosed as asthmatics.
Obese people are at risk of developing asthma apart from the fact that when they get it, it may be difficult to control unless treatment includes weight management.

Obese people are also more likely to experience acid reflux, which can also trigger asthma symptoms. Sleep apnoea, a condition that leads to difficulty breathing and snoring can lead to decreased oxygen levels at night. This, which is also common among obese people, may be associated with asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath as well. Sleep apnoea may also risk one being obese in future.

A number of people get asthma symptoms when they exercise, hence abandoning exercise leading to weight gain. Also, unfortunately, some asthma medication, especially steroids, may lead to weight gain leading to one thinking that it is the asthma causing weight gain.

Surprisingly, a number of Ugandans self-prescribe steroids, including prednisone and dexamethasone, ending up with a lot of side effects including obesity and short stature if given to children who are still growing.

How to get rid of phlegm and mucus

Phlegm is a type of mucus produced in the lungs and lower respiratory tract. It is most noticeable when a person is sick or has a long-standing health condition. Taking the following actions can help to eliminate excess mucus and phlegm:

Drinking plenty of fluids. The body needs to stay hydrated to keep mucus thin. When a person is sick with a cold, drinking extra fluids can thin the mucus and help the sinuses to drain.

Apply a warm, wet washcloth to the face.This can be a soothing remedy for a pounding sinus headache. Inhaling through a damp cloth is a quick way to return moisture to the nose and throat. The heat will help to relieve pain and pressure.

Keeping the head elevated. When there is buildup of mucus, it may help to sleep propped up on a few pillows or in a reclining chair. Lying flat can increase discomfort, because it may feel as though mucus is collecting at the back of the throat.

Not suppressing a cough. It may be tempting to use suppressants when experiencing a nagging, phlegm-filled cough. However, coughing is the body’s way of keeping secretions out of the lungs and throat.
Gargling with salt water. This can soothe an irritated throat and may help to clear away residual mucus. One teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water can be gargled several times a day.

Using eucalyptus. Eucalyptus products are used to subdue coughs and reduce mucus for years. They are usually applied directly to the chest. A few drops of eucalyptus oil can also be added to a warm bath to help clear the nose.
Occasionally, excess phlegm and mucus can indicate a more serious condition. See a doctor if the problem is severe, persistent, or does not improve with rest and home remedies.