Weight-loss 'woes'

Interesting side-effects to losing 15 kilos.

Rx for readers (photo credit: John Sherlock/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)
Rx for readers
(photo credit: John Sherlock/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)
I am a 40-year-old woman who a year ago weighed 83 kilos. Since then, I have lost 15 kilos with exercise and a changed, more nutritious diet. I feel great. But I notice that since losing the excess weight, I feel less hungry than I used to, and if I eat a heavy meal, I feel stomach pains for an hour or so as if I underwent stomachrestricting surgery. Is this a normal thing that happens after losing a significant amount of weight? – B.P., Ra’anana
Prof. Elliot Berry, a veteran expert in clinical nutrition at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, director of the department of human nutrition and metabolism at the Hebrew University- Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a Health Ministry adviser on nutrition, replies:
There is no need to worry. It is likely that your stomach has in fact contracted as a result of the weight loss and your restricted diet.
And congratulations on what you have done! Continue exercise and eating right as a way of life. Your weight loss is highly commendable.
I am 80 years old and a dreamer. I dream all the time, at night and even during a daytime nap. As soon as I close my eyes to sleep, I start dreaming and remember them after waking. I see movements and mainly faces. Anything goes, but the dreams are not scary. Should I be concerned? Do I need help? – S.B., Jerusalem
Prof. Arieh Shalev, chief of psychiatry at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, comments:
Dreaming as such – without other symptoms – does not signal any particular cause for concern. One obviously needs to know how long has this been going on, if you are on medication that could interfere with normal dreaming and whether you always know that what you remember from your sleep is a dream rather than reality.
I think there is no reason for alarm – but you are advised to consult a sleep medicine expert, psychologist or other professional in the field if the problem gets worse and disturbs you.
Two of my middle-aged friends have in recent months come down with the painful neurological condition of shingles. I understand this can result from having had chickenpox as a child or from having been vaccinated against it and that there is no treatment; one just has to wait for it to go away.

My friends said there is a varicella zoster vaccine that is not included in the health basket but can be purchased privately that can protect against shingles. Is this true? If it prevents a debilitating disease, why is it not supplied by the health funds? Are there any dangerous side effects? Can one get shingles without having had chickenpox or having been vaccinated against it? – L.R., Safed
Prof. Dana Wolf, head of clinical virology unit of Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem, answers:
It is true that post-herpetic neuralgia with serious pain for long periods as a result of shingles (the awakening of the varicella zoster virus) is significant, especially in the elderly.
Zostavax vaccine in older people is meant to prevent the virus from awakening in the nerves. It significantly reduces the prevalence of the problem.
It is important to stress that the vaccine is preventive and not treatment. It is not true that there is no treatment, as antivirals at an early stage can prevent or shorten the pain period of shingles.
The vaccine exists today in the US and Europe, and it is now in the process of being registered in Israel; this should take only a few more weeks. As for the next stage, the Health Ministry’s advisory committee on vaccines decided recently to appoint a work group to recommend guidelines on this vaccine, and then it can be considered for addition to the basket of health services (if there is enough money for it and it is regarded as having high priority).
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 91000, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to jsiegel@jpost.com, giving your initials, age and place of residence.