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Wed, 24th September 2014
 

Over the next few weeks the mercury will gradually drop, in some places a lot, in others only a bit. But the inevitable coughs colds and sniffles are bound to afflict many. Be prepared, for sooner or later you may be struck.

Viruses, ever present in the surrounding air, grab a hold inside the nose, then quickly spread to the throat and chest. The temperature may rise, muscles fill with aches and pains and a cough develop. Fortunately, nature is kind, and fixes most within a few days.

Here are a few simple tips worth a try. At the first sign of the sniffles, gargle the throat with warm salty water. Add half a teaspoon of salt to a glass of tepid water, gargle and expel. This soothes the throat, eliminates germs both dead and alive, as well as gunk and goo. Drink lots of water, for this also swishes away body toxins caused by the proliferating germs. Antibiotics are not needed, so do not take left-overs from some previous issue and do not ask your doctor for a new lot. Simple paracetamol helps reduce fevers, aches and pains and improves the way you feel. Two (500 mg) one to three times a day is adequate. (Use the syrup for children. Not aspirin.)

My simple lemon and honey, either hot or cold relieves the cough - take it strong or weak. Squeeze a lemon into a glass, add half the volume of honey, stir and sip. It can be heated up or fill the glass with hot water and try that. Pholcodine based cough mixtures help, but avoid the plethora of mixtures and tablets that fill chemists shelves. None will bring a quicker cure.

Nasal decongestant drops for a couple of days helps unclog airways and sprays are available. Use minimally. Inhaling water vapour helps, but not if there are children around as scalds may occur if spilt. (600 mL of hot water to which one may add a few drops of tea tree oil, eucalyptus or friars balsam. Inhale fumes for about 3 minutes using a towel or paper funnel. Wash face with a cold flannel after to avoid a fresh "chill".)

Millions of dollars are spent each year on remedies that have little benefit. Educate the children in cold care. Cover the mouth and nose if coughing or sneezing, or use a tissue and dispose of immediately. Medicated ones that kill the virus are now available. Wash hands after preferably with hot water and soap for it is covered with germs, which may be transmitted to knobs and objects, or another person's hands. Do not share cutlery and cups. Try and keep hands away from nose and eyes and mouth. Do not smoke and keep well away from smokers, for cigarette smoke is very irritating. If other symptoms develop, see the doctor immediately.

Earache, pain under the eyes, skin rashes, persisting or increasing fever, headache or stiff neck are danger signals. It means other germs may have invaded the system needing evaluation, and a management plan which may include antibiotics. The bodys immune system is very powerful, but with any infection it may drop allowing other germs to jump aboard. Staying in bed for a couple of days is often helpful especially if feeling off colour. The cold will vanish but wrap up well after, and keep warm, keep dry and keep out of drafts.

 
SSRI OUTBURSTS

Q: 

My partner suffers depression for which he has been prescribed the relatively new medications claimed to bring relief. After a couple of months his depression is less, but he now has violent outbursts which is totally out of character.

A: 

There are always positive and negative outcomes when treating the body with strong medication, specially when it is the brain. The newer SSRI drugs are claimed to give relatively good outcomes with many, but outbursts you describe are certainly not uncommon. It is well known there is an increased suicide risk with adolescents. Careful monitoring by the doctor is essential , and outcomes must be discussed.

 
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WEET-BIX SUPPER

Q: 

I love stewed fruit. I invariably have stewed fruit such as apple, peaches or apricots, with crushed weet bix and yoghurt with the evening meal, and also for brekky finding it tasty, tangy and sustaining. Now I wake up in the middle of the night, and have another lot. Is this OK, or am I overdoing it a bit?

A: 

Each day the body needs a spread of fruit, vegetables, legumes, lean meat, fish or poultry, nuts, berries, dairy products, breads and cereals. It doesnít matter in what order you take them. Your menu sounds fine, as long as the other products are included somewhere. A midnight feast appeals to many, but just watch the weight for it can imperceptibly creep on with added food.

 
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ROAD RAGE

Q: 

Recently I had to slow down a bit as we entered a school zone, and the maniac behind tooted, flashed his lights, roared his engine and screeched past careering in and out of traffic. Actually I caught up with him a few km down the road at the traffic lights, where his radio blared forth. These mentally challenged characters are a menace on the road.

A: 

Road rage is the craze rapidly taking over. We pay our taxes, and are entitled to equal rights on the road. However, most will not listen, so be ever vigilant and be prepared to move over if you see weirdos in the rear vision mirror. They can often be seen from afar weaving dangerously in and out of the mainstream traffic. Give way if danger lurks. Driving is not a dress rehearsal.

 
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LONG TERM CONTRACEPTION

Q: 

A friend relies on the three monthly hormonal injections for contraception. Is this OK?

A: 

Today there are many options when it comes to birth control. The past fifty years has been a virtual paradise, compared to the minimum and onerous ones before this, and they are still increasing. It is a case of choices, selections, discussing it with the gynaecologist or family health care provider. Some women do not wish to be worried about taking a pill each day, and opt for the injection. Others prefer the IUD or subdermal hormonal delivery system, or the new vaginal ring.

 
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APPENDICITIS

Q: 

A friend will not eat berries or passion fruit fearing the seeds may jam his appendix and cause infection.

A: 

Risks of this are minimum, but it is possible. Occasionally the appendix becomes jammed with worms or tiny solids called fecoliths. Today, with the widespread high fibre food intake, bowel regularity is pretty good with most, and acute appendicitis is now much less common. Pain around the navel that moves to the right lower abdomen, maybe fever, feeling off colour, constipation, and changes to the white cell counts are focussing features.

 
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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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