FAQ Category
Q.1 - Where is the university clinic?

Medical Clinic, Room LG1010 – LG1028A, HKUST, Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong (via lift no. 4)


Q.1 - Where is the Student Dental Clinic and how can I get the dental services?

Location : Room LG1010 - LG1028A (via lift no. 4)

Opening Hours    (By Appointment Only)

Monday - Friday                        : 9 am - 12:30pm/ 1:30 pm - 4:45 pm

Saturday                                    : 9 am - 11:45 am

Sunday & Public Holidays         : Closed

Eligible Users

Full-time students only


  • Oral examination 口腔檢查
  • Intra-oral X-rays 口腔內部X-光片
  • Scaling and polishing 清理牙石及洗牙
  • Oral hygiene instruction 口腔衛生指導
  • Gum treatment : root planning and sub gingival curettage 牙腳刮洗術治療牙肉
  •  Amalgam and anterior composite fillings 銀粉補牙及前牙磁粉補牙
  • Root canal treatment 根管治療
  • Dressings and medications 暫補及藥物治療
  • Extraction of teeth including wisdom teeth 脫牙(包括智慧牙)
  • Minor oral surgery - removal of embedded/  impacted roots and teeth 口腔小手術
  • Incision of abscess 切割牙瘡
  • Fissure sealant 防蛀保護層
  • Fluoride treatment 氟素
  • Preventive Resin Restoration 防蛀補牙
  • Emergency consultation 緊急治療
  • Dental Health Education 牙齒健康教育



Oral examination: HKD 10

Dental treatment: HKD 70 per unit of 20 minutes for the above-mentioned primary dental services.

Q.2 - What is the service hour of the university clinic?

Monday to Friday :  9:00am – 12:30pm and from 1:30pm - 4:45pm

Saturday :  9:00am – 11:45am

Sunday & Public Holidays :  Closed


Q.2 - What are the major causes for gum diseases?

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The toxins released by the bacteria in dental plaque which has accumulated along the gum margin for a period of time irritate the periodontal tissues (tooth supporting tissues), leading to "Periodontal Disease".


The accumulation of dental plaque is therefore the major cause for most gum diseases. Dental plaque can easily be accumulated under the following situations:

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Cleaning of teeth inadequately or incorrectly, leading to accumulation of calculus. The rough surface of calculus allows dental plaque to build up more easily.

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Irregular teeth. The irregular alignment of teeth makes it difficult to clean these teeth.

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Wearing dentures that are not thoroughly cleaned. Dental plaque and food debris can easily accumulate in the space between the denture and the gingivae (gum).

Q.3 - What are the service scopes provided by the university clinic?
  1. General practice consultations
  2. Specialist consultations
  3. Physiotherapy services
  4. Laboratory investigations for the treatment of illness
  5. Dispensary, simple surgery, dressing and injection
  6. First aid
  7. Health education programs
Q.3 - What are the consequences of periodontal diseases?
  1. Besides red, swollen gums and bad breath, people with periodontal disease will suffer from gum recession, widening of space between teeth (interdental space), mobile and drifting teeth, or even loss of affected teeth. On top of the adverse effect on the person's appearance, it also greatly lowers his/her self-esteem. It will interfere with his/her normal social life.
  2. Furthermore, gum recession will lead to exposed root surfaces, which makes the teeth sensitive when taking hot, cold, sweet, or sour food. Severe periodontal disease will also cause loosening, drifting or even loss of affected teeth, which makes chewing difficult and inefficient. It adversely affects the general health and the quality of life.
  3. If a person who wears a denture suffers from Periodontal Disease, the denture may become unfit because of the destruction of periodontal tissues. A new denture may need to be made.
Q.3 - Who can use the university clinic?
  1. All full-time students with valid HKUST student card
  2. Full-time staff and staff dependants


Q.4 - How do I know if I have periodontal diseases?

The early signs of Periodontal Disease are redness and swelling of the gingivae which also bleed easily. However, it should better be confirmed by the dentist's diagnosis.

Mild Periodontal Disease:

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  • Gingival margin is red and swollen
  • Gingivae (gum) bleed easily upon toothbrushing
  • Calculus may be accumulated
  • The teeth or gingivae may be painful
  • Bad breath


  • Use oral care products such as toothbrush, dental floss, etc. to remove the dental plaque everyday in the morning and before bed at night.
  • If calculus is present, have it removed by scaling by the dentist in order to facilitate your daily removal of dental plaque.
  • With the about care, the area with mild Periodontal Disease will heal by itself.


Moderate Periodontal Disease:

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  • Gingival margin shows marked redness and swelling
  • Gingivae always bleeds upon toothbrushing
  • Gingival margin recedes, leading to the exposure of the root of the tooth and the tooth looks longer
  • Periodontal pocket is formed (The inflammation of periodontal tissues leads to the destruction of periodontal membrane. The periodontal tissues and the root of the tooth become detached and a periodontal pocket is formed in between.)
  • Calculus is accumulated
  • Bad breath
  • The teeth or gingivae may be painful


  • Go and see a dentist immediately for scaling to remove the calculus and the dental plaque in the periodontal pocket. After the removal of calculus, it will be easier to thoroughly remove the dental plaque.
  • Use oral care products such as toothbrush, dental floss, etc., to remove the dental plaque everyday in the morning and before bed at night in order to prevent Periodontal Disease from progressing or recurring.
  • After treated by a dentist, you must maintain good oral care habits and visit the dentist regularly for oral check-up.


Severe Periodontal Disease:

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  • Gingival margin shows marked redness and swelling
  • Gingivae always bleed during tooth brushing
  • Periodontal tissues recede markedly and the tooth looks longer and longer
  • Periodontal pocket is formed, pus exudes from the gingival margins and periodontal abscess may be formed
  • Calculus is accumulated
  • Bad breath
  • The teeth or gingivae may be painful
  • The affected tooth becomes loose and drifts away from its original position
  • The affected tooth may even fall out


  • See a dentist immediately for:
    • Scaling to remove the calculus
    • Root planing or periodontal surgery to remove the dental plaque and calculus on the roots of the teeth and in the periodontal pockets.
    • Receive antibiotic therapy as needed
  • Use oral care products such as toothbrush, dental floss, etc. to thoroughly remove dental plaque everyday in the morning and before bed at night so as to control the progression of the disease.
  • After treated by a dentist, you must maintain good oral care habits and visit the dentist regularly for oral check-up.
Q.5 - What can I do if I have periodontal diseases?

1. Clean your teeth thoroughly everyday in the morning and before bed at night to remove dental plaque.

2. Receive appropriate treatment for your condition:

  • Root planing or Periodontal surgery


The aim of root planing is to eliminate the periodontal pocket by removing the dental plaque and calculus in the periodontal pocket and on the root surface of the tooth so that the periodontal tissues may re-attach onto the root surface.

Root planing refers to deep scaling of the root surface of a tooth by appropriate dental instruments.

In periodontal surgery, a gingival flap is raised to expose the root of a tooth so that root planing is possible. This treatment is appropriate for managing very deep periodontal pockets.

Q.5 - What are the charges?

i.  Basic consultation services:

For students: Free (applicable to full-time student with valid HKUST student card only)

For staff &dependants: Charges are listed in the university clinic, please call the clinic at 2358 6670 for details

ii.  Other / additional services:

Charges are listed in the university clinic, please call the clinic at 2358 6670 for details

Q.6 - Do I need to be afraid if my gums bleed when I brush?

If your gums bleed upon brushing, it could be a signal of periodontal disease (gum disease). Don' t mistake it as the gums being hurt by toothbrushing. Although most people brush their teeth daily, it does not mean that the teeth are thoroughly cleaned. If dental plaque accumulates at the gum line (gum margin), the gums would be inflamed. The gums would bleed if the tooth brush bristles touch the inflamed gums. In order to prevent periodontal disease (gum disease), it is important to use proper tooth cleaning methods to thoroughly remove the dental plaque from the teeth. Then, the gums will not bleed and will stay healthy.

Q.6 - What document(s) do I need to bring when seeking medical services for myself and / or my family members?
  1. The valid identity card of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology;
  2. HKID card; and,
  3. HKBC insurance card (if applicable)
Q.7 - What are the payment methods accepted by the university clinic?
  1. By cash
  2. By EPS
  3. By credit card(s)
Q.7 - Is there an appointment system in the university clinics?

Yes, medical appointments can be made via:

  1. In person
  2. By phone at 2358 6670


Q.7 - What is Tooth Cleaning?

Tooth cleaning is also called tooth scaling. Scaling involves the removal of dental plaque, calculus and stains from the tooth surfaces to make the teeth clean and smooth and to prevent periodontal disease.

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 Before scaling                       After scaling

Procedures for scaling:

  • Hand instrument or ultrasonic cleaning device is used to remove plaque, calculus or stain from the tooth surfaces.
  • A special cleaning paste is used to polish the tooth surfaces until they are clean and smooth.

Points to note after scaling:

If you are suffering from periodontal disease, you may experience slight discomfort and gum bleeding for a few days after scaling. However, you should still pay attention to clean your teeth properly. The situation will gradually get better.

Q.8 - Why my gums bleed during tooth cleaning (scaling)?

During scaling & polish, instruments are used to remove plaque & calcium deposits inside gums (pockets) so as to eliminate the source of infection. Swollen and inflamed gums tend to bleed very easily. As a result, discomfort and bleeding are usually experienced during the procedures if there are sub-gingival calculus (deposit underneath the gums).

It is important to continue to brush the margin of your gums twice a day with a soft toothbrush. As long as the deposits were removed after scaling and no new deposit is accumulated around the gum margin. The gums will have a chance to recover and gum bleeding will also disappear.

Usually bleeding will stop after the procedure, but you might still feel the taste of blood inside your mouth which is normal. The Taste will go away after a couple of hours.

Q.9 - How do I make a compliment or a complaint on the medical service?
  1. Fill in the questionnaire which is available at our clinic
  2. Make comments to the relevant department – Health, Safety and Environment Office at safety@ust.hk
Q.9 - What is cold sore?

Cold sore is also called Herpetic Labialis.

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Recurrent Herpetic Labialis is an infection caused by Herpes Simplex I virus. The infection usually occurs on the lips and the edge of the nostril. The exudates contain Herpes Simplex I virus which is highly infectious.


When the symptoms start to appear, there is an itchy and burning sensation in the affected area where blisters will later be formed. When the blisters burst, they become shallow ulcers of varying shapes.


Why is there Recurrent Herpetic Labialis?

After recovery from Primary Herpetic Stomatitis, the Herpes Simplex I virus becomes dormant in the body. The virus will become active again whenever the body resistance is low, causing Recurrent Herpetic Labialis. Factors leading to low body resistance include:

  • Mental stress
  • Physical fatigue
  • Influenza or other diseases
  • Menstruation
  • Sun bathing


Recurrent Herpetic Labialis will usually heal within 2 weeks. To avoid pain or passing the virus to others, you can try the following methods:

  • Keep the affected area clean and dry to avoid bacterial infection.
  • Avoid eating hard or spicy food which will irritate the affected area.
  • Avoid touching the affected area with your hands. Wash your hands immediately after touching the affected area. This could prevent the spread of the infection to other people or to other parts of your body such as the eyes or the genital organs, leading to conjunctivitis or other skin infection respectively.
  • Avoid intimate contact with others, such as kissing.
  • You may consult your doctor or dentist's opinion for applying medicated ointment onto the affected area to relief discomfort.
  • In severe cases, doctors will prescribe medication to reduce pain.

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Herpes Simplex I virus remains dormant in the nerve cells of the body. There is neither medication therapy nor treatment modality that can completely destroy the virus. Therefore, the only thing we can do to prevent its recurrence is to increase our body resistance. For example:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Having enough rest
  • Having balanced diet
  • Having sufficient exercise

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Q.10 - What are those white patches inside my mouth?

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They are usually Apthous ulcer but you must seek dentist’s advice for diagnosis. It is a form of mouth ulcer that is non-infectious but tends to recur. It is commonly present on the oral mucosa of the cheeks, lips, tongue and throat.

Causes of Apthous Ulcer:

To date, the aetiology of Apthous Ulcer has not been confirmed. However, the predisposing factors are known as follows:

  • Oral tissue trauma
  • Stress
  • Problem in endocrine system, i.e. hormonal disturbance
  • Immune system disorder
  • Gut problems
  • Malnutrition (especially the deficiency of Vitamin B12, folic acid, iron, etc.)
  • Wearing an unfit denture


Apthous Ulcer begins with a localised swelling of the affected oral mucosa to form a small round or oval shaped blister. After a day, the blister bursts and becomes a whitish or yellowish ulcer with a red margin. When irritated by spicy, salty or sour food with strong taste, pain will be felt and saliva secretion will be increased.


Apthous ulcer usually heals within 7 to 14 days. If the situation persists for more than 3 weeks or there is recurrent formation of new apthous ulcers, you should consult a doctor for a body check-up to see if other treatments are necessary.

Apthous Ulcer usually heals up within 2 weeks. To avoid pain, you can:

  • Avoid contacting the area when brushing
  • Avoid eating hard, coarse, hot or spicy food
  • Apply ointment prescribed by the doctor or dentist onto the area to relief pain
  • If you are wearing an unfit denture, you should consult your dentist to make a new denture

Prevent of recurrent Apthous Ulcer:

  • Since the aetiology of Apthous Ulcer has not been confirmed, the only way to prevent recurrence is by eliminating the predisposing factors.


Acknowledgement: Most of the above dental health education materials came from : http://www.toothclub.gov.hk

Q.10 - What is the difference between a sick leave certificate and a certificate of attendance?

Sick leave certificate is issued when the doctor believes the patient is unfit for work for the specified period of time.

In cases where the sick leave certificate is not required, the doctor may issue a certificate of attendance to certify to the patient’s employer/supervisor that the patient was in the clinic at the specified time.

Q.11 - Is there any difference to the medications prescribed to the staff and students of university?

The university clinic uses a common pharmacy for all patients and there’s no difference in the medications and/other medical services given to patients.


Q.12 - What can I do if I have a fever out of clinic hours but don't feel sick enough to go to my local hospital?

Fever is not a diagnosis of what may be wrong. It is simply a symptom of usually an infection. You may take over the counter medicine like paracetamol if you have no allergies to it. Follow instructions as per manufacturer in the package. Drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, wear a mask and avoid crowded places, and then make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.

Q.14 - How do you catch a cold?

The viruses responsible for colds are spread from person to person as droplets in the air from sneezing or coughing, or from touching infected surfaces then transmitting the viruses from the hands to the mouth. Handshakes or touching a door handle are possible routes for transmission of cold viruses.
Infected people can spread the viruses from two days before the illness and up to four days after the symptoms start. Colds can occur all year round but are more common in the winter months. On average, adults catch two to three colds each year. School age children can have up to twelve or more colds in a year.

Q.14 - What are the symptoms of catching a cold or flu?

Cold - The virus multiplies in the soft, warm surfaces found in the nose, throat, sinuses, the windpipe (trachea) and the breathing tubes (the bronchi). The main symptoms are blocked or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and cough. There may also be a fever, aching muscles and fatigue. The symptoms usually last for a week.

Flu - These are the same as cold but the muscle aching is usually more severe and the fatigue may last for a few weeks after the illness has cleared up.

Q.15 - What is the treatment towards cold or flu?

There is no cure for cold or flu. Antibiotics, which do work to kill bacteria, do not work on viruses. However, home treatment can help to relieve the symptoms and ensure a speedy recovery.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • For adults, paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen can help to relieve fever and pain. Always follow the instructions carefully and take care not stay within the safe daily doses. It is easy to accidentally exceed these by using more than one product (tablets, capsules, a hot lemon drink) containing the same active ingredient such as paracetamol
  • For children under 12 years old aspirin can be dangerous. It should also be avoided in older children and adolescents. Children's formulations of paracetamol (eg Calpol) and ibuprofen (Nurofen Junior) are available
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Decongestants such as pseudo-ephedrine may clear congestion. Ask your pharmacist for advice on products that contain a decongestant
  • Steam inhalations with menthol or eucalyptus, or herbal products such as camomile, may help.
  • Take care with the hot water
  • Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is sensible. Vitamin C is often claimed to help, but there is no firm evidence for this
  • Rest. Avoid strenuous exercise, as this can increase the chance of catching a secondary bacterial infection. Contrary to the advertising claims for some cold and flu medicines, if you are unwell with a heavy cold and, especially, flu, carrying on as normal is not advisable
Q.17 - How to prevent from getting cold and flu?
  • Isolation of people with colds and flu to prevent it spreading to other people, if practical
  • Regular hand washing and immediate disposal of tissues
  • Aim for a healthy lifestyle a balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, and regular (preferably daily) physical activity
  • Do not smoke since smokers are more likely to catch a cold
Q.18 - What is the difference between cold and flu?

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and flu symptoms are usually more severe such as fever, headache, body aches, extreme tiredness, sore throat, and dry cough are more common and intense. Cold is usually milder than the flu. People with cold are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Cold generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

Because cold and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can be carried out, when needed to tell if a person has the flu.

Q.18 - Does cold weather cause the cold or flu?

The truth is, the flu and the common cold are caused by viruses. People get sick more often in the winter because they are exposed to each other more in the winter than in the summer. When it is cold outside, people tend to stay inside and are more likely to spread germs to one another. With so many people in such close contact, the likelihood of passing germs is much higher when it is cold outside than when it is warm and people are outdoors.

Q.20 - What are the symptoms of avian influenza?

The initial symptoms of avian influenza are similar to those of other influenza viruses, including fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, cough and sore throat. However, it is more likely to result in high fever, chest infection, respiratory failure, multi-organ failure, and death.

Q.20 - Would I be immune from all flu if I receive the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine reduces the average person's chances of catching the flu by up to 80% during flu season. Because the vaccine prevents infection with only a few of the viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms, it isn't a guarantee against getting sick. But even if someone who's gotten the vaccine gets the flu, symptoms usually will be fewer and milder.

Flu vaccines contain killed flu viruses that will not cause the flu, but will prepare the body to fight off infection by the live flu virus. That means a person is protected against that particular type of live flu virus if he or she comes into contact with it.

People who got the vaccine last year aren't protected from getting the flu this year because the protection wears off and flu viruses constantly change. That's why the vaccine is updated each year to include the most current strains of the virus. Getting the vaccine before the flu season is in full force gives the body a chance to build up immunity to, or protection from, the virus. Although you can get a flu vaccine well into flu season, it's best to try to get it earlier rather than later. However, even as late as January there are still 2 or 3 months left in the flu season, so it's still a good idea to get protection.

Q.22 - What can I do to prevent avian influenza?

The public can take the following measures to prevent avian influenza:

  1. Avoid touching live poultry or their droppings, because they may carry the avian influenza virus.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with liquid soap and water immediately after contact with live poultry, birds or their droppings.
  3. Cook poultry and eggs thoroughly before eating.
  4. If you have flu symptoms, consult a doctor and wear a mask to prevent spread of disease. Tell your doctor your travel history if you have been to places with outbreak of avian influenza reported.
Q.23 - Can I be protected against avian influenza by having influenza vaccination?

Influenza vaccine cannot prevent avian influenza as the vaccine is specific for human influenza. The vaccine can help reduce the chance of complications and hospitalization resulting from human influenza. Hence, influenza vaccination is recommended for the elderly and patients with chronic cardiac or respiratory diseases. Influenza vaccine can also reduce the chance of genetic re-assortment and subsequent emergence of influenza strain with pandemic potential. People should seek medical advice if they are considering getting the vaccination. At present, scientists are actively doing research on avian influenza vaccines for use in humans, but none has become widely available commercially.

Q.23 - Should I take the hepatitis A vaccine?

The hepatitis A vaccine is now approved only for people over 2 years old. Its main ingredient is inactivated hepatitis A virus. After injection into the muscle, the vaccine will cause the production of antibodies against the hepatitis A virus. The success rate is over 94%. A complete course of vaccination requires 2 injections into the upper arm. The second injection is usually given about 6 to 12 months after the first. It is believed that the immunity conferred by vaccination will last for more than 10 years.

In Hong Kong, because the majority of people below the age of 30 have never been exposed to hepatitis A. Vaccination is worthwhile in this age group. No blood test is needed before vaccination. And because of high success rate, blood tests after vaccination are not necessary either. You are advised to consult your doctor before you receive the vaccine.

Q.25 - Should I take the hepatitis B vaccine?

The hepatitis B vaccine is composed of the surface antigen of hepatitis B. The vaccine does not carry any risk of transmitting other infections because it is made by genetic engineering. After injection into the human body, the vaccine stimulates the production of the hepatitis B surface antibody. The complete course of vaccination takes a total of three injections. The second injection is given 1 month after the first, and the third injection 5 months after the second. Serious side effects after administration of the hepatitis B vaccine are rare. The most common side effects are soreness at the point of the injection, and slight fever. About 90 to 95% of people will gain immunity to hepatitis B after a full course of vaccination.
Before you receive the vaccine, you should preferably have blood test to see if you have been exposed to the virus before. Only people who have never been exposed to hepatitis B should be vaccinated. If you are already a carrier of the virus, vaccination will not work, although it does not do any harm either. A blood test might also show that you already have natural immunity to hepatitis B because of previous exposure to the virus. In this case, vaccination is unnecessary.

Q.26 - Shall I maintain a totally fat-free or cholesterol-free diet to stay healthy?

Too much cholesterol can cause heart disease and strokes. However, our bodies need cholesterol in order for the cell walls to function and to manufacture hormones. Our liver makes cholesterol even if our diet does not include it, so it is not necessary for us to eat food with cholesterol.

Even for people with high cholesterol, it is not necessary to keep a totally cholesterol-free diet to stay healthy. A healthy diet should contain enough calories to replace one's energy expenditure. Manual workers will naturally need a higher calorie diet compared to those with sedentary jobs. Less than 30% of our total daily calorie intake should be derived from fat, and less than 10% from saturated fat. These figures are lower for people with high cholesterol.

Also, fat and cholesterol are not the only things we should think about. Not eating too much salt is also important to prevent hypertension. And don't forget to stop smoking and exercise!

Q.27 - What are "good cholesterols" and "bad cholesterols"?

When most of us talk about cholesterol as bad for our hearts, we are referring to LDL-cholesterol - more commonly referred to as the "bad" cholesterol. It is a protein that binds to cholesterol and takes the cholesterol to various parts of our bodies, blocking our arteries. High levels of this "bad" cholesterol can cause heart attacks and strokes.

There is, however, another type of cholesterol called HDL-cholesterol - the "good" cholesterol. It is a protein that binds to the cholesterol molecule, but instead of taking the cholesterol to our arteries, it removes cholesterol from various parts of our bodies and takes it back to the liver for disposal. This "good" cholesterol actually helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

To reduce our "bad" LDL-cholesterol, we should avoid food rich in saturated fat such as whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, red meat, chocolate, coconuts, coconut milk, and coconut oil. When choosing oil, choose those that contain unsaturated fat such as olive oil and sunflower oil. Not only do they lower our "bad" LDL-cholesterol levels but they also increase our "good" HDL-cholesterol levels.

Q.28 - What are the consequences of obesity?

There are many negative consequences to obesity. First of all, being obese is a social stigma. Most people do not want to be fat.

Apart from looking better, having a more ideal body weight can help avoid many health problems in the future. Obesity is associated with many common but serious illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke and even certain cancers. A heavy body puts more strain on our knees leading to osteoarthritis (Meaning: degenerative arthritis caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints). Obese individuals may also have obstructive sleep apnoea (Meaning: a disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep), causing poor sleep, daytime tiredness and lack of energy.

Q.28 - I tried to lose weight by eating less, but it doesn't seem to work. How can I actually lose weight?

There is no quick and easy way. To getting slimmer and staying slim, lifestyle changes have to be made; dietary modification and regular exercise must go hand in hand. Exercise alone doesn't produce a lot of weight reduction, if it is not combined with dietary modifications. Similarly, dieting alone without exercise is not as good as one not only loses the fat but also muscle mass. Dieting with regular exercise helps us losing the fat while maintaining the muscle mass.

Both calorie restricting diets and a low fat diet can help lose weight, as proven by many clinical trials. Low fat diets, however, are more difficult to adhere to and there are more drop outs compared to low calorie diet. Knowing the amount of calories in various foods and keeping a food chart detailing what you eat can help too, as you'll be able to estimate your daily calorie intake and adjust your diet appropriately. Cut down on snacks and non-essential food; crisps, chocolate, cakes and desserts are very high in calories.

All forms of exercise are good for us, but we have to do them regularly. Half an hour of exercise every day such as brisk walking is recommended for most adults. It is also a good practice to incorporate exercise into our daily routine: Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, travel on foot as much as possible, take up sports to occupy leisure time instead of watching TV, be active generally! As you can see, it is not a simple business, and you have to be prepared to make changes to your lifestyle.

There are also drugs that can be of help in the weight reduction process, but their effects are only sustainable if they are taken together with dietary modifications and exercise. One should consult his/her doctor before taking these drugs.

Q.30 - Why do I need health check?

The main purpose of health check is to detect the diseases at an earlier stage, for the better control of diseases and hence decrease risk of complications and reduce mortality in some cases. It may be asymptomatic at the early stage of some chronic diseases, an early detection can aid in better control of diseases. Therefore, everyone should have regular health check.

Other than detecting chronic illnesses, health check should also include health risk assessment by health professionals. This includes assessment on health risk factors (such as unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, etc) and functional assessment (such as hearing problem, vision problem, balancing problem etc). This can aid the health professionals to provide counseling, referral and health advice.

Q.31 - Can health check detect every disease?

Only a few chronic illnesses and slowly progressing cancers can be detected by health check. In fact, no health check can be absolutely complete. Therefore, everyone should not rely solely on the health check. Instead, they should always pay attention to any change in body conditions and seek medical advice if in doubt.

Q.32 - What should health check include?

A comprehensive health check should include history taking, health risk assessment, physical examination and appropriate investigations. The results should be evaluated and interpreted by doctors.


Q.33 - How should I choose among the various health check plans/investigations?

The health check plan should be tailor-made for the individual and preferably by family doctors.

Certain check-up plans are considered “basic” as the diseases they tested are common and not invasive. However, there is no “plan” that suits every person. On the other hand, unnecessary investigation will waste money and time. Therefore, it is advisable to consult family doctors to recommend investigations and frequency of health check. Some investigations are more expensive and have potential risks, and thus they are only suitable for those who are at higher risk of developing that particular disease.  Doctors will recommend the inclusion of investigations into the health check plan according to individual’s family history, past health, risk factors and result of physical examination.

Q.34 - What are the causes of headaches?

There are two types of headaches: primary headaches and secondary headaches.

Primary headaches are not associated with other diseases. Examples of primary headaches are migraine headaches and tension headaches.

Secondary headaches are caused by associated disease. The associated disease may be minor or serious and life threatening.

Q.35 - When should I consult a doctor for headaches?

Many people who suffer from mild headaches medicate themselves with over-the-counter analgesics, and they usually do not seek medical care. A person with a long history of migraine or tension headaches can develop a new secondary headache. Many tension headaches probably are migraine headaches and will respond to treatments that are specific for migraine. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted if the headache is:

  • Severe ("the worst ever")
  • Different than the usual headaches
  • Starts suddenly during exertion
  • Aggravated by exertion, coughing, bending, or sexual activity
  • Associated with persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Associated with stiff neck, fever, dizziness, blurred vision, slurred speech, unsteady gait, weakness or unusual sensations of the arm or leg, excessive drowsiness or confusion
  • Associated with recent head trauma or a fall
  • Disabling, and interfering with work and the quality of life
Q.36 - How to prevent headaches?

The following healthy habits can lessen stress and reduce your chance of getting headaches:

  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Stretching your neck and upper body, especially if your work involves typing or using a computer
  • Learning proper posture
  • Quitting smoking
  • Learning to relax using meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or other techniques
Q.37 - Why is it that I do not always get better after my first visit to the doctors?

Do not be discouraged. It is generally accepted as good medical practice for your doctor to try simple and more conservative treatments first to help you get better using your own immunity as much as possible. So, sometimes you may have to make a repeat review visit in case you need stronger medicine.


Q.37 - How to relieve insomnia?

Making lifestyle changes that make it easier to fall asleep and/or stay asleep can often relieve insomnia. Several medicines also can help relieve insomnia and re–establish a regular sleep schedule.

To relieve insomnia, you should:

  • Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature, dark, and quiet enough for sleep
  • Avoid substances such as caffeine, tobacco, alcoholic drink, and other stimulants taken too close to bedtime (effects of caffeine can take as long as 8 hours to wear off)
  • Good bedtime habits and following a routine that helps you wind down and relax before bed, such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, or taking a hot bath
  • Not exercising, eating heavy meals, or drinking a lot shortly before bedtime
  • Making your bedroom sleep–friendly. Avoid bright lighting and minimize possible sleep distractions, such as a TV, computer, or pet
  • Going to sleep around the same time each night and waking up around the same time each morning, even on weekends. If possible, avoid night shifts or alternating schedules at work and other causes of irregular sleep schedules

Several medicines cause sleepiness. Doctors sometimes prescribe sleep–inducing medicine for 1 to 2 weeks to help establish a regular sleep schedule. Insomnia medicine helps you fall asleep, but can leave some people feeling groggy in the morning. You may also be groggy and should exercise caution if you must get up before getting a full night's sleep of 7 to 8 hours while taking these medicines.

Q.37 - Who is at risk for insomnia?

Insomnia is a common disorder. Insomnia affects women more often than men, and it can occur at any age. However, older adults are more likely to have insomnia than younger people. People especially prone to insomnia include those who are:

  • Under a lot of stress
  • Depressed or who have other emotional distress
  • Working at night or having frequent major shifts in their work hours
  • Traveling long distances with time changes (jet lag)