Doc Wright, Australia's #1 Media Medic. Medical advice for all the family.

Hear Dr Wright daily on Sydney's No 1 Radio Station


Download a list of other radio stations around Australia here.

newer   older
  article topic 

Wed, 24th May 2017

It happens to us all. It is curable, preventable, sometimes ominous. Its name is Constipation. "Every Day" is a traditional maxim and part of natures "circadian rhythm", or natural cycle. The longer food residue moves through the large bowel (called the colon), the more water is absorbed, and the harder the remaining faecal mass. Which means the harder it is to pass, the greater the distension of the final valve, hence discomfort.

If it hurts, the urge diminishes and the cycle feeds on itself. Ideally have a glass of water (some prefer warm) on rising. Have brekky and in many, "nature tells you what to do". Never neglect the "urge". Normally it is soft, and easy. Diet can play a part. Lots of natural fibre is fine.

That's how Dr Kellogg built an industry on selling bran, the coarse nutritionally useless outer husk of the wheat grain, into a massive industry. It, like all insoluble fibre, absorbs water, distends the colon and reduces risks of constipation.

Any fibre is good and found in wholemeal breads, fruit, vegetables, legumes, greens in general. Dates, figs, muscatels, kiwi fruit are also fine. Include some each day. Chronic, or recurring constipation (specially if alternating with loose actions) needs a doctor check.

In those over 55, it may be an early symptom of bowel cancer. This needs urgent attention, otherwise is a one way ticket to doom. Risk is one in 25, but one in 5 if a near relative (parent, sibling) had it. A colonoscopy is the gold standard investigative tool, now readily available in every city in Australia.

Pregnancy aggravates constipation, with the increasing pelvic mass pressing on the colon. Drink lots of water.



How many know that in the middle ages in Britain, a very common legal term in courts was "For Underage Carnal Knowledge". Today's abbreviation is a social "No! No!"


Socially unacceptable language is vital in any society, as it gives a person an outlet for rage and "letting off steam", often restoring normality. Most choose abbreviations with Christian references, or ones associated with body orifices and the products thereof. This is preferable to causing bloodshed or physical abuse, and is really very unimportant. Every language has its equivalent.

^back to top


My mother is in the final stages of Alzheimer's. Is there any test to see if I have inherited the disease?


Chances are high you have inherited the predisposition. There is currently no reliable test, and in any case, it's too late. So, best live a sensible lifestyle. Get lots of exercise, lose weight if obese, eat nutritious food, go easy on the slops, and definitely do not smoke and avoid smokers. The "New England Journal of Medicine" (the doctors bible) says ginko biloba and vitamin E may offer mild protection.

^back to top


It is amazing that pneumonia still exists today, with all our wonder treatments.


Once called "the old persons friend" (a common cause of death last century in the elderly) is still very much alive, now called "Community Acquired Pneumonia", a slight variant of the same germ, the pneumococcus. Breathlessness, maybe a mild cough, feeling tired and mild fever are the common symptoms. It still kills but fortunately, penicillin (and other antibiotics) still cures most with early intervention. It may be prevented by a single "Pneumovax" vaccine from your GP.

^back to top


Our house was recently painted by a European guy unable to speak English. We cautioned him about our savage bull terrier but an hour later, he was talking to the dog, calmly smiling, wagging his tail and licking the guys hand. The painter was babbling on in some indecipherable language.


Didn't you know. Dogs understand all languages! They absorb vibes of friendship or aggression, and respond accordingly. That's why they are "good therapy" for elderly or ill people. They can calm, relax, reduce high blood pressure and make us all happy and relaxed.

^back to top


When is the best time to have the flu shot this year?


Ideally, mid to late autumn is the recommended time, and one single booster is all that is necessary. It will contain protection against the three most lethal flu viruses from last year's northern winter. This is updated annually by CSL in Australia. It is suitable for anyone mingling with crowds and specially for all over 65 years.

^back to top

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.



Just Ask Dr James Wright.

Coughs, colds, aches and pains, feeling off colour, painful joints, sweaty and miserable? Whatever your symptom, or illness, Dr James Wright may help you, and answer your questions.

Simply log onto type in your symptom in the space on the left hand column, click topic and up it comes. Simple easy-to-follow information Dr Wright has written over the past several years. Then click contact us if you have a special message.


You can subscribe (no cost) to Dr James Wright's Monthly Health Bulletin by emailing your name and email address to The bulletin contains up-to-date health tips and news for wellbeing. A copy of the current Bulletin may be viewed online here.

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.

Waiting to hear from you Dr James Wright.