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Article
Wed, 19th February 2020
 

Questions & Answers

 
PREGNANCY

Q: 

What causes little lumps in the dark brown area around the nipple during pregnancy?

A: 

This is caused by female hormones produced during pregnancy, and is really enlarged sebaceous (fat) glands. It usually subsides later. Nipple hygiene, and toughening them up before birth, is essential. Otherwise, with breast feeding, they may become tender, even crack causing intense pain.

 
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STOMACH CANCER

Q: 

A friend in her mid-forties recently died with stomach cancer, but had relatively no symptoms.

A: 

This seems increasingly common, especially in young women in this age bracket. Occasionally there maybe abdominal discomfort, little else. It is now believed helicobacter pylori; a germ carried by 80% of people (generally no symptoms) causes an ulcer which gradually develops into cancer. Ulcers can now be readily picked up by endoscopy, and cured with PPI medication (tablets) and antibiotics before cancer develops. If there is a family history of stomach cancer, chances increase from 1 in 25 to about 1 in 5 - so regular screening is essential.

 
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SLEEP APNOEA

Q: 

When my husband sleeps his body jerks spasmodically. On separate nights he has dreams, where he hits, kicks, punches or grabs me. Next day he relates the dream he had. His brother died three years ago.

A: 

This may be a subconscious nervous reaction to the past sad story. On the other hand, he may be suffering from sleep apnoea - too little oxygen reaching the brain at night, causing symptoms. Referral to a Sleep Disorders Clinic will quickly give the answer. If positive, a CPAP machine will often give a quick "cure". This is a face mask which blows a soft stream of air into the airways and maintaining normal oxygen levels in the brain.

 
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FOOD

Q: 

When one sees the various and widely differing foods people eat around the world, it seems nearly anything maybe nutritious, even though obscene in our culture.

A: 

Just look at what our indigenous people eat. Grubs, snakes and lizards, birds, kangaroo, etc. Look what is eaten in SE Asia, to say nothing of Europe, where horse flesh is enjoyed by millions. It is largely "ones own culture", what is considered the norm, and the cost to produce. Basically, we all need adequate protein, carbs, some fat, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients, readily available in a vast range of living objects (whether with fins, legs, feathers, or growing out of the ground or on trees).

 
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FEMALE CIRCUMCISION

Q: 

What is the purpose of "female circumcision"?

A: 

In many eastern cultures this is carried out in prepubertal girls. It removes the clitoris (the sensitive part), and parts of the vaginal outer lips called the labia. It is supposed to suppress carnal thoughts and activities. It actually causes terrible physical scarring, and serious complications at childbirth. In western society it is banned, but millions are still carried out illegally by "practitioners", often in a non-sterile environment.

 
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GLOBAL WARMING

Q: 

"It interests me that all these people advocating carbon emission risks all seem to drive around in posh cars, fly the globe, and otherwise do all the things they say should not be done. Isnt this hypocritical?" an email says.

A: 

If they all rode bikes to work, or better still walked, read by the sun, or candles, refrained from watching TV, videos, listening to radio (crystal sets are OK), refused air-conditioning then they could hold heads high, and somebody might listen. But no, they continue to enjoy the fruits of excessive coal and petroleum usage, as you say. Of course, governments love the idea of a new "tax". Most seem to have forgotten that such an issue as "sunlight" exists. I am still ambivalent

 
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FRECKLES

Q: 

"Is there some way to prevent freckles? I have reddish hair." A teenager asks.

A: 

The UV rays of the sun work on the melanin, the pigment causing cells in the upper skin layers, which turn brown on exposure. If you are serious, apply a SPF30 or maybe 50 cream to your facial skin every time you go outside. This blocks the UV rays, prevents sunburn, but more importantly, keeps it away from the melanin cells. In redheads it is often irregular in distribution. Whereas olive skinned people tend to evenly tan.

 
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SPRAINED ANKLE

Q: 

"Do ankle sprains heal naturally?" a sports person asks.

A: 

Most ankle sprains heal gradually of their own accord. It means the ligaments holding the ankle joint together are suddenly over-stretched. This causes pain, often swelling. Try RICE. R=Rest. I=Ice packs. C=compression (eg firm elasticized bandage but not too tight). E=Elevation. The swelling gradually subsides. Bruising next day from torn blood vessels will gradually fade over the next 2-3 weeks. If there is any query, an x-ray will indicate a fracture which needs stricter intervention.

 
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INCONTINENCE

Q: 

"Since having my baby, every time I sneeze, I have a little accident", a young mother anguishes.

A: 

This is common, and means the valve in the bladder has weakened. This is usually fixable by pelvic floor exercises. Standing at the sink (for example), squeeze the lower pelvic muscles as if shutting off a urine flow. Do it say 50-100 times several times a day. Gradually this will assist fibres to regain their normal strength, and the horrid little events will gradually cease. A physiotherapist can offer added support.

 
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SCREAMING KIDS

Q: 

"As airplanes take off or come into land, kids on board often start yelling their heads off", a traveling mum emails.

A: 

This is because there is a different air pressure inside and outside the ear drum. It may be extremely painful. Usually, if the ears pop, pressures equalize and pain vanishes. So, try and get the kid to chew or suck something. Adults simply hold the nose with fingers and blow. This forces air into the Eustachian tubes to the ear and presto, click, and likewise the pain goes away.

 
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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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