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Article
Wed, 5th February 2020
 

Questions & Answers

 
HEADACHES

Q: 

What is the best remedy for headaches?

A: 

Paracetamol today is the best first line approach for pain, wherever it is. Safe, fairly efficient, and harmless at standard doses. Long acting Panadol-osteo lasts for 6-8 hours. Some apply a cold flannel (with crushed ice)to the throbbing area, and place the feet in hot water. It is claimed to shrink the vessels to the head, taking it to the feet. Some laugh in scorn, but it often helps. Aspirin is out of favour (causes gut irritation). However, it is still widely used for migraine, as first line, often taken with a tablet to relax the stomach valve allowing it to be absorbed. Stress is the commonest cause of frontal headaches. Causes for this should be investigated and rectified if possible. There are many other causes, including infections (head or anywhere), which should be investigated and treated. Migraine has its own special treatments with the triptans now universally used. They offer amazing and rapid relief. Recurring heads must be fully investigated by the doctor.

 
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BREAST LUMPS

Q: 

What is the doctors attitude to breast lumps?

A: 

Immediate investigation is mandatory. A great number are cysts and harmless. Many others are swellings of the milk glands, and likewise innocuous. Swelling and tenderness pre-periods are also common. However, as all doctors say, "a breast lump is cancer until proved otherwise". Whether found by simple self-examination (essential for all women each month), or the doctor then mammogram or CT imaging is required. If suspect, a fine needle biopsy is carried out. This yields proof positive if it is cancer. If positive, immediate intervention is essential. Diagnosed and treated early, outcomes are usually fine.

 
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IRRITABLE SPOT

Q: 

The vaginal lips are irritable, and I want to scratch. There is no discharge. What now?

A: 

What now? You visit your doctor immediately. This is a common and very early symptom (often the only symptom) for cancer of this region. A biopsy will give a definitive answer, leading to appropriate treatment. Vulval cancer is uncommon, but like any cancer in the female pelvis, is extremely dangerous and can kill relentlessly.

 
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BLADDER STONES

Q: 

My dad has been diagnosed with stones in his bladder, but I thought these only occurred in the gall-bladder or kidney.

A: 

Stones can occur anywhere. Gallstones head the list, for sure. But they can gradually and silently grow in the inner part of the kidneys, or even the bladder itself. There may be few if any symptoms. Blood in the urine may be a symptom. They are readily picked up with imaging, and can be readily removed. Today, most stones of the urinary track are blasted into powder, which is then passed in the urine. The patient then gets off the table and walks off, frequently back home or to work!

 
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ZINC

Q: 

I have been taking a 20 mg zinc tablet each day, for have been told most soils are zinc deficient, and it is important for good health. But I now notice my scalp hair, and hairs in my ear and nose grow like mad! Any relation?

A: 

Zinc is magical, is often absent from many soils (hence not in many foods that would normally contain it). The small dose you take is fine. Yes, it will make hair grow. Scalp; (wonderful, the guys say), Ears and nose? Damn nuisance, some say. But the hairs are there for a specific reason, so it too is a positive. Keep them clipped short, but do not cut your nostrils. It will also improve sense of smell and taste, and maybe reduce sore throats.

 
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TO URINATE

Q: 

"Imagine my frustration when at a public loo trying to urinate - I stand and wait. Meantime a 10-year-old kid runs in - squirt squirt, and out again, whilst I am still there struggling to get going", an older guy wails.

A: 

You and half a million other middle aged to older guys have the same problem. Called BPI (benign prostate hypertrophy) it simply means the prostate, a gland situated below the bladder, is growing. That means the tube narrows, making it hard to start. Often aggravated by being in strange public places. Time to see the doctor for a check. Enlarged prostates sometimes turn into cancer, which may be mild or very aggressive and can kill within 6 months. Do not procrastinate.

 
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BALD PATCHES

Q: 

"I am middle aged, and note I am losing hair causing bald patches on the scalp, which are the size of a 10c coin. It is gradually worsening. Will I recover?" this unhappy email asks.

A: 

This is called "alopecia areata", and common in women, including school teenagers. Often it is due to stress, and the hair bulb temporarily shuts down. The hair falls out. When in the same area, baldness may occur in various locations. Often, it "cures itself", as you overcome the stressful situation, the anxiety, or depression which often accompanies it. Some kids twist hairs around a finger and gradually pull - so bald spots occur as the hair is dragged from its moorings. Relaxation therapy (hypnotherapy) is often helpful. See your doctor. Medication is rarely needed.

 
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HANDWASHING

Q: 

"I am amazed at how little people wash their hands", a listener says.

A: 

Fortunately, the skin is coated with a very mild natural disinfectant which tends to kill most unwanted germs. Nevertheless, always wash your hands after visiting the loo or preparing food. Transferring germs, causing gastric and throat upsets head the list. If you sneeze into your hand, wash it before shaking hands with the next potential victim.

 
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BEST SOAP

Q: 

"There seems to be dozens of brands of soap - which is best", a young lady asks.

A: 

Soap is essentially made from fat and caustic soda, which means it is highly alkaline. The skin does not like this, and will often dry out and become itchy and uncomfortable. Also, fragrances and colouring agents may also cause negative reactions. Ideally go for alkaline free soaps, such as Neutrogena, pH5.5, Ego QV bar, Dove, or Cetaphil. These are very soothing, and do not irritate the skin or drag water from its surface.

 
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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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