Case File- I cant climb the stairs and feel very weak…Help!!!!!

Case File- I cant climb the stairs and feel very weak…Help!!!!!

climb stairs
climbing stairs

Lack of exercise, poor sleep wake habits and poor nutrition have become a part of the present youth’s lifestyle. I got to see such a case very recently. A girl came into my cabin and I noticed she looked very tired and haggard. On questioning on how she needs my help, she told me that she feels sluggish, no interest to study or do any work. She feels that she has a psychiatric problem and is not mentally strong. And at the end of her tirade, she told me ” I am so weak. I cannot even climb the stairs not even a single flight of stairs. I have to stop for 5 minutes before climbing the next flight of stairs”. I told her to immediately get her Hemoglobin levels checked and come back with the reports. And she came to meet me the next day and her hemoglobin levels were 10 mg/dL. She was a little shocked and she never realized that she has anemia. The normal levels for women are 12-14 ml/dL. Her weight was normal for height. As I took her diet recall, I realized that there was very low protein intake. She was lactose intolerant and hence had to avoid milk in diet. She had no other sources of protein other than pulses occasionally. She was a non vegetarian but still was lazy to cook as she was staying alone so subsisted on cornflakes and instant noodles.

Changing her food routine was a challenge as this would be a total makeover of her eating habits. I advised her to start on dates about 6- 8 Nos. daily in the morning with 2 boiled egg whites and 2 servings of any cereal.

Mid morning a glass of soyamilk and 2 plain crackers.

Lunch 3 servings of any cereal and a cup of any pulse/ paneer (Cottage cheese) with some vegetable and curds. Lunch was not very flexible as she was eating at her work place but she had choices.

Evening after reaching home, A bowl of sprouts( green gram)/ a handful of assorted nuts/ a handful of soya nuts.

Dinner- 3 servings of any cereal plus some Spinach/ fenugreek leaves subji( dry vegetable) with lime juice sprinkled over it and either dal/ soya chunks/chicken/ fish. I asked her to come out of the laziness to cook and to take charge of her health but by now she had realized that she had to make changes in her diet.

If she was having a vegetarian dinner, I asked her to mix soya flour in the Wheat flour while making chapathis to increase the protein intake.

After dinner, a glass of soya milk.

She had to include at least 2 fruits per day out of which one had to be a citrus fruit and a lot of green/ red/yellow peppers to increase her intake of vitamin C and to avoid coffee and tea. I advised her not to have too much of fiber as this can interfere with the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is very much important to bind the iron from vegetarian sources and this makes it available for the body.

She had consulted me 3 months back and has now emailed me telling that she feels better and energetic and is convinced she has no psychiatric problems and has also incorporated an exercise routine to increase her energy levels and is now convinced of cooking at home and advises her work mates too to follow a better routine. I am sure in another year her hemoglobin levels will gradually rise.

The reason why she was sluggish is because the oxygen carrying capacity of the cells reduces once the hemoglobin levels starts decreasing and hemoglobin is an oxygen transporter.

I hope from this example many of us will learn to lead healthy lifestyles.

Sanjana M Shenoy is a A dietitian from Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Having worked as a Dietitian for the Manipal Group of Hospitals namely KMC hospital Mangalore, India.She is also a consultant for corporate's like Infosys and others, conducting talks and presentations for various associations and local television shows.She consults at her Diet and Nutrition clinic "Nutrihealth" in Mangalore.Also is a visiting consultant to various hospitals in and around Mangalore and also runs an active online consultation.

5 Replies to “Case File- I cant climb the stairs and feel very weak…Help!!!!!”

  1. Hello Doctor Sanjana,

    I used to have a lot pain in my legs when I start walking for a 5 min. A pain used to start on the back of my ankles(both legs) and sped up towards knees (spread until 3/4rth of the leg from bottom of the leg). Then the pain used to spread into the foot and then i was not even able to take my next step while I was walking.
    I read this case study and i feel some kind of deficiency in my body causes it, can you suggest me what is it supposed to be.
    When I started taking bottle gourd and bitter gourd juice every morning after reading your article i feel much better.
    I want to now, what does the pain says about my body, what is the root cause? Is that Haemoglobin again or something else How should I handle it better, can you please help me….

  2. Hi Sundeep,

    Pain in the feet can be due to various reasons. Firstly check the footwear you are walking in. If you are wearing the wrong foot wear both while exercising as well as other times, you may constantly hurting your feet. Hence take a look at your foot wear.

    I would prefer you to check up with an orthopedic surgeon. So that we can get to the root cause of the problem.


    Avoiding lifts and using stairs for every three months could increase one’s overall fitness, says a Swiss study. Researchers asked employees who did less than two hours of exercise each week and climbed fewer than 10 flights of stairs per day, to use stairs during working hours. After three months , there was considerable reduction in weight , body fat, waist size, blood pressure and cholesterol of the employees

  4. Hello Dr. Sanjana

    My weight is 150 lbs and height 5 feet 2 inches. I have a problem of PCOD since 7 years (medicine-Metformin). I am unable to lose weight even after gymming for six months continously( 1 & half hour daily). I eat only home cooked food with minimum oil(2 teaspoon per day), vegetables, fruits, etc. I eat 2 times a day that is 2 rotis and vegetable in lunch and same in dinner. I dont eat break fst or snacks Why am I unable to lose weight and What should I do for that.

  5. Namaste

    Generally seen vitamin deficiency causes all types disorders. Vitamin D deficiency is experienced or observed when one has weakness in ankle while climbing stairs or having “bone pain”. One can tap on elbow joint and observe if it gives raise to pain inside is a way of indication for Vitamin D deficiency.

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