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Wed, 11th January 2017

When Spring is here - rejoice! The icy blasts of the past three months gradually merge into delightful warm sunny days. I love it. Spring is the loveliest time of the year in Australia I have been saying for years.

But, the evil one lurks, unseen, and is ready to explode onto the scene. Hidden enemies of species man. They are unseen trillions of micro particles called allergens. Mostly, they are pollens from flowers, grasses being the chief culprit. Any kind of flower, (our wattle being one of the worst), or anything that pollinates is a potential for disaster.

These mainly come from the west where there are vast expanses of grass. They drift in wind currents and can travel thousands of kms. Finally to lob at your address. When inhaled, a certain number of "atopic" (sensitized) persons react. Their immune system says "No - go away". Special white blood cells called "mast cells" produce a substance called histamine which quickly travels around the system.


Symptoms quickly develop. Like the irresistible need to sneeze, watery itchy eyes, itchy skin, specially earlobes, dry skin, or any other part. Scratch, scratch, scratch. This gives instant relief, but recurs again ten seconds later.


Drink lots of water which removes histamine from the system. Warm showers only, ending with cold (which shrinks blood vessels reducing histamine itch factor). Then dab body with a very soft towel - do not rub.

Use a non-alkaline soap (Dove, pH5.5, QV bar, etc) which is non irritating. Use liquid tears or an antihistamine eye drops (chemist) Apply cold face cloth to itchy skin parts - often very soothing.

As pollens drop to ground around sunset, explode, releasing the nasty allergens, try and get inside before sunset. Don't go driving into the country in spring where exposure increases. Don't smoke and avoid smokers which aggravate.


If symptoms persist medication often helps. Claratyne and Telfast are the standard non-sedating antihistamines (pharmacist). As the itch symptom travels on the same nerves as pain, paracetamol can often assist. A mild anti-inflammatory cortisone cream may soothe bad spots (but not on the face).

Eurax and other anti-itch creams and lotions also can relieve. Ego has a large range. Again, I repeat, do not scratch, for this rips the skin to bits, and may cause infection, an even worse issue.



We often read about wonderful cures for varicose veins by taking some sort of herbal stuff. There are even coupons, and giveaways. So why do women have varicose veins.


Most result from pregnancy when blood has a tough job trying to get back into the general circulation with the bulging pregnancy. Standing on hard surfaces also plays a part. Keep active. Lose some weight. Bowel regularity helps. Today, laser therapy is fine for many ugly vessels, and spidery veins. But surgery, with or without laser and ultrasound is still the gold standard.

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I don't smoke but picked up (from curiosity) an empty packet on the path. I was staggered at the amount of space devoted to awful images of a person dying on a respirator, quit-line numbers and websites offering advice to help smokers quit. But, nobody seems to be reading or listening. Try selling any other product with such dire warnings.


As girls start smoking anywhere from 9 years and onwards, mainly from peer pressure and mimicking parents and film stars, once hooked, stopping is extremely difficult. Female figures have stayed around 25 per cent for the past fifty years. Blokes, have dropped from around fifty to about 20 per cent. However, as "they" all say ... it is simply a matter of choice. I prefer to be healthy and live.

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Is laser the best way to get rid of pubic hair?


Laser removal of dark hair is very effective, but has negligible effect on ginger or blond. Nevertheless, pubic hair is there for a reason. It helps keep the crutch "air conditioned", and less likely to catch infections from chafing specially in hot sweaty weather.


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My young son kept suffering from ear problems, so the ear specialist cut a hole in the drum an inserted grommets. He is much better, but how long do they stay there.


"Glue ear" commonly results from recurring infections in the middle ear, just behind the drum. This can gradually lead to deafness. If antibiotics do not heal the infection, grommets (tiny artificial tubes) are inserted. This allows proper drainage and aeration. They usually fall out in six weeks time and the hole heals.

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My letter box is occasionally filled with so called "health leaflets". One claims a certain combination of herbs can fix a guy with urinary problems, specially hesitancy.


Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH) will eventually affect about 90 per cent of guys, decreasing the size of the bladder and making normal urination difficult, with the inevitable dribble three minutes later. Epilobium, and heaps of other herbals have been used over the decades. Some claim good results. Others disagree. Most are harmless and as a starter, are probably better than medication, and sure beats early surgical intervention. But don't be too optimistic. Keep in touch with your GP if symptoms continue.

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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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Dr James Wright is associated with lovely Vimiera Retirement Village ( in the leafy Sydney (NSW) suburb of Eastwood. It is operated by Mediaid Centre Foundation (, a non-profit Public Benevolent Institution which provides housing for the elderly, as well as providing a large amount of health information.

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