Know the newest villain on the block?


Stress was considered as the disease of the 'adults'... but now we see even school going children being emotionally and mentally overburdened by parents and teachers alike. We see teenagers overburdened by the 'need' of looking perfect for college. We see young professionls being 'coaxed' to look their best in front of clients... so on and so forth. 

I have so many people walk in to my clinic and tell me, 

"Doctor... Dark circles ka kya karu?"

I smile at them and ask them the following questions: 

(Attention please: I know many of you might stop reading this article the moment you see the first question... but kindly refrain from doing so. Why? You will know by the end of the read.)

1. What is your life style like?

Every time I ask this question people cringe. Erratic, bad, irregular etc are all the answers that I get. Rarely I hear people say good, usually regular, I try as much as possible etc,. And when I hear  such 'positive' replies I get curious... and then I ask:

2. What do you mean by regular?

Oh I sleep 8 hours, I eat all home made food, I walk from my home to the local train station etc,. are the usual responses I get. 

I smile because these are the so called 'positive' responses  I was expecting and funnily these aren't so called 'good or healthy' habits!

Did you know:

Sleeping at the right time is important!

1. Sleeping 8 hours doesnt mean that you are sleeping right! Your body is like a car. If a car running on the highway needs rest after certain hours of driving what do you do? You stop at a chai thela or you stop at a dhaba... you don't say 'let me just run it and I shall stop only when I reach my final destination' because the car will overheat and breakdown. Similarly your body needs rest! AT THE RIGHT TIME! Which means that you need to sleep latest by 10:30 p.m. and wake up by 6 a.m.. Sleeping from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the morning gives you your 7 hours of sleep... but in the long run it doesn't do you any good.

2. Eating home food doesn't necessarily mean you are on the right track. WHEN YOU EAT this food is important. Skipping breakfast has become a trend. 90% of patients that come to me tell me that they do not have breakfast! Let's take the analogy of your car again... If the car is to be run in the day when you do add petrol to it? The first thing in the morning right? Similarly when your body is all geared up for a long day of work you need to have a healthy balanced breakfast so that it gets the fuel to run through the day. Else a breakdown in inevitable in the form of illnesses. Also, having dinner at the right time is also very important. At the expense of sounding loony, I insist on having dinner latest 7 or 8 p.m. in the night. Even if you are a corporate office worker! How is the possible? Like you carry your lunch .... carry your dinner as well! I know it sounds like a hassle... but try it! You will never go back to eating a full fledged late dinner. Understand that 're-fuelling' at the right time is very important! 

3. Walking from home to the local train station while going to work, walking from home to the grocery shop etc,. doesn't count as 'exercise'! For your heart to remain healthy you need to add some cardiovascular activity to you daily routine like jogging, running, zumba, dancing etc. Walking is useful when you are walking fast, at a constant speed and when your heart rate is more than a 100 beats per minute. Walking to work and walking to buy groceries doesn't raise your heart rate to more than 100! Don't believe me? Trying counting your pulse at the end of a 15 min casual walk... It will be less than 100. Less than 100 means your heart isn't getting exercised enough. For all those who go to the gym, let me clarify that just because you 'weight train' doesn't mean you are exercising your heart... it means that you are exercising your skeletal muscles. Remember that there has to be a healthy balance between a cardiovascular activity and weight training. 

Dark circles so far were considered as only a cosmetic problem. But today they are considered as signs of a poor health. They can be a part of a condition called Pseudoacanthosis Nigricans, which means that there is very high possibility of you developing diabetes at an early age... not to mention blood pressure too.  

But of course, there is the usual 'heredity' factor that also plays a role. In that case, it is difficult to treat dark circles... but hey, have you truly tried modifying your life style? Try... even if it doesn't help you get rid of the circles it might surely help reducing it! 

So if you have been buying under eye creams, going to beauticians, or even going to doctors  remember that solutions needn't be expensive or time consuming... sometimes  simple steps help you go a long way! 

- Dr Pradnya Shastri