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DR JAMES WRIGHT HEALTH COLUMN No.565
Sun, 8th December 2019
 

Questions & Answers

 
TUBERCULOSIS

Q: 

Is TB making a comeback in Australia?

A: 

Tuberculosis, or TB for short, was a major killer for centuries. With major social and housing reforms of the late 19th century, it decreased. But the final nail was the discovery of the specific antibiotics in the 1950s. This virtually wiped it out from the western world, including Australia. But it is still rampant in developing countries. However, many drug resistant varieties have evolved so figures are increasing, and treatment options are running out. The HIV pandemic, with reduced body resistance, also opens the way for infection. Any persisting cough needs a chest x-ray.

 
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SEXUAL SATISFACTION

Q: 

As I get older, I do not gain the satisfaction from sex as when I was in my twenties, what is happening?

A: 

This is common. Gratification is maximum in natures planned reproductive years, essentially from around 18 to say 30, when it slowly, then rapidly wanes. Same occurs with women whose hormonal production also drops. Advancing years, stress of life, long working hours, sleep deprivation, alcohol and smoking, certain prescribed medications can all have a negative impact.

 
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COLD FEET

Q: 

"I often suffer from cold white feet, even in warm weather," a reader asks.

A: 

See your doctor and a blood test for sugar and cholesterol may offer the answer. The effect of clogged arteries is often first seen and felt in the lower limbs, where tissue is oxygen deprived. This means they become cold, white and may tingle. If either is elevated it needs prompt intervention. Simple lifestyle modification is often successful, otherwise medication may be essential. Do not delay. However, smoking is the biggest factor.

 
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ALCOHOL

Q: 

"Smoking has finally become a social "No No" but nothing is done politically about alcohol, whose negative impact on health and society makes smoking pale into insignificance", a reader says.

A: 

The lawmakers and also the worlds worst law-breakers. Majority of accidents, crime, marital rifts, much ill health, verbal and physical abuse is linked with alcohol but it is a universal panacea, involves huge amounts of money (company profits and taxation) it will never vanish. America tried prohibition, but quickly disbanded it as illicit black-market brews and crime mushroomed. Even native tribes have made their own version for centuries.

 
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MELANOMA

Q: 

"I understand that the gene for melanoma has now been discovered. What if a person tests positive", a reader asks.

A: 

Although not yet a mainstream diagnostic tool, we know it exists. If positive, it is too late to remove it, for the genetic imprint remains forever. It simply means risks of developing one escalate by 70%. However, great attention to regular skin examination, with detection and intervention at the first sign is the best way to go. Skin protection when outdoors (SPF 30 creams and broad brimmed hats), avoiding the sun, not getting sunburnt, and a weekly personal skin check including scalp and back are vital. Diabetes is also carried on a gene, but can be prevented with care: diet, avoiding overweight, and taking more exercise.

 
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SOAPS

Q: 

"Which is the best type of soap to use for skin care?" this lady asks.

A: 

Some doctors avoid soap, as hot water and rubbing gets rid of most dirt, germs and odour. Avoid alkaline soaps, which tear the skin to bits and cause drying and irritation. There are many good brands, such as pH 5.5, Dove, Ego UV bar. End all showers with cooler water, and dab the skin with a very soft towel to minimise irritation. Do not rub vigorously.

 
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RED MARK

Q: 

"If I run my fingernail over my forearm, about two minutes later a vivid red raised streak occurs. Is this serious?" this email reads.

A: 

It simply means you are sensitive to pressure. You damage underlying cells which then produce histamine, which causes the local reaction. You may also be allergic to many items, or perhaps are a mild asthmatic. If it troubles you, apply a cold face flannel and it will soon vanish. Avoid skin irritation, such as rubbing clothing and underwear.

 
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DOCTOR VISIT

Q: 

"I am scared to visit the doctor for I know I amm in for a heap of pathology tests and what not, so consultation for my mild symptoms ends up costing $100 or more", an irate lady emails.

A: 

In these litigious times, the doctor seeks protection for you as well as him/herself. Mild symptoms may be the early sign of something serious, for which the doctor will be blamed if missed. It is often a difficult issue. That is why many simply try "do-it-yourself" interventions, or ask the local pharmacist. It is probably not a bad starting point, but obviously with persisting symptoms it is essential you visit your GP. Early symptoms of cancer can be very innocuous, even in young persons.

 
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END OF LIFE

Q: 

"We are all ultimately doomed to perish with some type of disease. How do we know," this somber letter asks.

A: 

If death (sudden or slow) from heart and blood vessel disease does not get us, cancer finally will. Nobody is immortal. Also, in time the body simply wears out, or the nucleus of the cells becomes damaged, causing cancer of some part. However, the evil day may be extended with simple lifestyle modifications, sensible diet car and regular doctor intervention to pick up and treat any disease. Genes also play a huge part in longevity, and smoking is the worst cause of self-inflicted premature death.

 
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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

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