Ask mr Brain...all will be explained

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 12:00am

Why do I get dark circles around my eyes? THOMAS Dark circles around the eyes have been blamed on factors ranging from not enough sleep, kidney dysfunction, too many fried, frozen and canned foods to allergies.

However, it is usually caused by nothing more serious than thin skin around the eyes. Thin skin allows dark blood from the veins to show through. It is an inherited characteristic and dark circles is not usually a sign of illness or toxins in the body.

A traditional remedy calls for saffron or almond oil to be very gently massaged into the eye area before going to bed. Another remedy is to dip cotton pads into either fig juice, rose water or cold milk; cover the eyelids with the pads; and lie down with the feet resting on a higher level than the head for 10 to 15 minutes.

Does using a tongue scraper make one's breath fresher? Bad breath can be caused by a range of problems including gum disease, tooth decay, nasal and throat infections, stomach gases and insuffi cient saliva flow. Another possible cause of bad breath is the presence of bacteria which produce foul- smelling sulphurous gases on the back of the tongue.

The surface of the tongue has many tiny projections called papillae and is similar in structure to a woolly carpet. This structure makes it an ideal place for bacteria to live on. Matter draining from the nose can collect on the tongue where it is broken down by bacteria that thrive in low oxygen conditions.

Regular use of a tongue scraper can remove the bacteria from the tongue. If the source of bad breath is the tongue, then it will reduce the problem. Among dental experts, regular tongue scrapping is considered an acceptable practice and not harmful if done gently with a specially designed scraper.

Why do cabin lights on commercial flights have to be switched off before landing and take-off? The lights inside a commercial aircraft have to be adjusted to match natural lighting conditions outside for safety reasons. For landings and take-offs during the day, lights can be left on; at night, they are switched off.

This is done so that in the event of an emergency, the crew and passengers' eyes are already adjusted to natural lighting conditions. They would not have to waste valuable time before their eyes adjusted and could see their escape route. Although in an accident, emergency lights which rely on battery power would be used, the brightness would be limited.

In addition, people are known to freeze in the face of danger or unexpected events. By keeping light levels at take off and landing similar to those that would be present during a real-life evacuation, it is hoped that the natural tendency to freeze is reduced.