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05 - 11 May , 2012
expertadviceHeart TO Heart
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Q: I am a 26-year-old housewife. I had an arranged marriage four years ago and I now have a two-year-old daughter. I knew when my marriage was arranged that I was going to marry the only son of a very rich family. Though all my relatives were very happy for me, I was nervous because I was afraid that my in-laws and husband would look down on me and make fun of my middle-class ways. But soon after marriage I realised that my parents-in-law and husband were very decent people who did not think that money was all that important and that they were all very happy with me. But I also realised that my two married sister-in-laws were disappointed with me. Even today, four years after my marriage, they taunt me about my background whenever they come to visit us and get me alone. I am getting more and more fed up and am wondering what will happen when my daughter begins to understand all that they say. What should I do? Don't tell me to stand up to my sister-in-laws because I cannot do that. Erum, Karachi
After four years of being a good daughter-in-law and wife you certainly shouldn't have to face taunts about your background. But instead of being upset, you should realise that these taunts do not show you in a bad light, they show that your sister-in-laws are narrow-minded and rude.
Have you told your husband about these taunts and how bad you feel? If you have not, and you can do this casually without seeming to complain, it may help. A laughing comment by your husband could make your sisters-in-law stop teasing you. But it's better not to bring your parents-in-law into the matter. You say that you cannot stand up to your sister-in-laws, but you should learn to because this would be the best way to stop their pettiness. Carefully plan what you will say. Choose a time when you are alone with them and be frank and firm but not rude. Tell them that as yours was an arranged marriage, they should have known what to expect from a girl of your background and that you are not ashamed of your background nor of who you are. If they have any shame they will stop teasing you. If they do not, you should just ignore them.

Q: I am the youngest of eight children. My mother died when I was very young and my eldest brother and sister-in-law brought me up and got me married. They also did a lot for my other brothers and sisters. I am very grateful to them for all this and would literally do anything to make them happy. I am now 38 and the mother of two sons. My eldest brother has one child, a daughter, who has grown up to be self-centred and demanding. She is now married but she cannot adjust with her in-laws and so she and her husband stay with my brother and sister-in-law. They are a big burden, both monetarily and physically, on them. I would love to help my brother and sister-in-law in any way I can, but to my shock, they have changed a lot. They are no longer as affectionate as they were earlier and have made it clear not just to me but also to my other siblings that they want to be left alone. This new attitude of theirs has broken my heart. What can I do to help them? Shaista Ali, Karachi
Your brother and his wife have fulfilled all their duties well, but their own daughter is giving them trouble instead of being a support in their old age. They must be very upset and in fact, may feel that life has been unfair to them. They could have reacted to these circumstances in many different ways but they have chosen to be withdrawn from you and your siblings. Try and understand how they are feeling and allow them to live as they want to. Visit them occasionally but do not ask them embarrassing questions or show that you are upset by their changed attitude. At the same time make it clear that you are and will always be there for them if they ever need your help. Hopefully things will change and they will again become the loving and supportive people they were earlier.

Dr Shah Hussain

Q: What does a mattifying gel do? My skin type is oily and acne-prone. Fatima, Karachi
A mattifying gel helps control and absorb excess oil, providing a matte finish to the skin. It also minimises the appearance of enlarged pores. It can be used in your daily routine instead of powder. It can also be used as a primer, especially since you have oily skin.

Q: I am in my early teens and want my skin to glow. How should I take care of my skin? Daniya, Lahore
Skin-care is extremely important at this age. Junk food, irregular sleep patterns, stress, exposure to the sun and pollution could take a toll on the skin, making it dull and lifeless. Acne, dandruff, hair loss, grey hair and even early wrinkles could occur due to improper care. You must have plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, oranges, cherries, plums, berries, red grapes, spinach and broccoli. These are high in antioxidants, especially vitamin C, E, beta carotene and selenium. Antioxidants reduce free radicals and protect the skin from oxidative damage, thus helping your skin remain youthful and glowing. You should drink six to eight glasses of water daily to stay hydrated. As far as skin-care is concerned, avoid experimenting with different soaps and shampoos. Use a mild face wash and do not go out without applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30. It is even better if you carry an umbrella. Do not use too much makeup as this could block your pores and increase whiteheads and blackheads. If you have dry skin, don't forget to apply a moisturiser on slightly moist skin. You could use a scrub once a week. A microdermabrasion treatment once in two months will also help cleanse the skin.

Q: I bathe every morning, but I find that by mid-afternoon I tend to have body odour, despite using deodorants. What can I do about this? Seema, Multan
Sweat itself does not smell, but it is a good breeding ground for the bacteria that naturally live on our skin. The bacteria break down sweat into fatty acids that produce the unpleasant odour. To avoid body odour, avoid wearing synthetic and tight-fitting clothes. Underarm hair provides a greater surface area for sweat to adhere to and gives the bacteria a fertile breeding ground. So, it is advisable to keep the underarms shaved. It is also essential to wash clothes thoroughly. Particularly clothing that comes into contact with sweaty areas. Use deodorants with aluminium or zinc, as these metals kill odour-causing bacteria. There are some people whose body odour is too strong and deodorants and perfumes don't work on them, while others have very sensitive skin that reacts to deodorants. In such cases, antibacterial soaps are a good option. Anti-fungal powder also helps absorb sweat. Non-fragrant anti-perspirants can also be used.

General Physician
Dr Sadqa Gul

Q: Is it safe to plan for a baby while on antidepressants? Wardah, Karachi
As a general rule it is preferable to be off all medication at the time of conception in order to ensure EXPERT ADVICEthat conception is taking place under ideal circumstances. However, this general rule of thumb is overturned if it is medically important for a person to continue with medication for a chronic medical condition. For example a woman should continue with her long-term medication if she is being treated for high blood pressure, asthma or depression. Failure to do so would have an adverse effect on the woman's health, which in turn would not be good for the foetus. Antidepressants cross the placenta into the foetus but no evidence has been produced from animal studies to indicate that they can have an adverse effect. Antidepressants can also pass into the breast milk but again there is no evidence to indicate that this is potentially harmful to an infant.

Q: I have a pain in the right side just under my breast. What could this be associated with? Nargis, Karachi
If you were under a great deal of stress your muscles could be in a state of physical tension, which in turn could give rise to the pain you describe. There are other possibilities that ought to be considered if the pain were to persist. If you were to experience pain on taking a deep breath this raises the possibility of lung infection. Sometimes shingles presents with chest pain prior to the appearance of the rash on the chest wall. Maybe you experienced a recent rib or muscle injury that has flared up following recent physical exertion. In other words there are many diverse causes of chest pain. If the pain persists or increases in severity it would be advisable to visit your doctor to have the matter assessed.

If you want to discuss problems related to skin, hair and nails or if you have any health related queries that need to be answered, or if an onerous emotional problem is weighing you down, share it with us at askexpert@magtheweekly.com. Kindly mention your age and the column you have the question for in the subject line.

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