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Wed, 15th July 2015
 

Fortunately babies are born with no teeth. At least ones that can be seen. Underneath, there are twenty, hidden beneath the gums, ready to sprout forth anywhere from 6-8 months of age. These are called deciduous or milk teeth. The inevitable "tooth fairy" is supposed to bring goodwill in the form of stuff called money during the night when baby is asleep.

In due course, they will come adrift, to be replaced by 32 permanent or second teeth, but when the teething process starts, challenges loom. Breast feeding is the ideal way to set baby up for life - thus no teeth at birth to give mum a break and prevent her from being chewed to pieces. The delicate immune system of the body is pretty fragile in babies, and is still developing. The extra effort of teething throws a major strain on the system, immunity is temporarily downsized, and the harsh environment tries to play havoc. Temperatures often soar. This means a hot flushed baby, often miserable, crying and stressed. This can overheat the brain, and occasionally lead to a temporary convulsion - frightening for a new mum. Also, viruses often climb aboard. This may quickly lead to a mild cough, respiratory infection, tummy upsets and diarrhea.

These are real life issues, and must be managed. What to do? Do not panic, do not become alarmed, for it is all part of growing up. Cool down an overheated body. Simple cool body warmth sponging is a good start. Give some added fluid, water being best. Dab the body with a soft towel. Do not rub vigorously. Simple paracetamol elixir is a good idea. This lessens discomfort and helps reduce fevers. Applying Bonjela gel locally may help. This contains salicylate, a well known pain reliever. An old fashioned remedy was to gently massage the gum with lemon juice! Cuddles, and soothing reassuring mum talk helps. Baby loves snuggling and being caressed. Even tiny ones may be empowered, reassured and made feel good.

 
FLAKEY SPOT

Q: 

I am middle age, and note a flakey spot about a cm to the left of my left eye, which I keep picking. I am a window cleaner, also have a red nose, but wear a cap outdoors.

A: 

Please see your doctor promptly. This is highly suspicious of an early skin cancer. A "biopsy" may be necessary to confirm diagnosis, but removal is essential. There are heaps of interventions. Surgical excision is best (in my view), which can guarantee the entire lesion is removed. But diathermy, laser, liquid nitrogen are also used. I am dubious about a relatively new cream, for several have reported adverse outcomes - in case the topic comes up.

 
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SPLOTCHY PATCHES

Q: 

Since starting the contraceptive pill, I have irregular brown blotches on my face, which is unattractive.

A: 

This is "chloasma", caused by hormonal effects on skin cells when exposed to sunlight. It worsens with increased sunlight, which should be minimised. Applying SPF30+ creams when outdoors may help. It is more probable in blonds and redheads. The areola or pink area surrounding the nipples may also turn brown, much as occurs when pregnant for the first time. That too is a hormonal effect.

 
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GUT CHECK

Q: 

My local newspaper advertises "Bowel Scan" Project, specially for anyone forty and over.

A: 

Rotary have been backing this public awareness campaign for years. It is simple, and cheap. Buy the "kit", usually from the pharmacist, and follow the instructions. If "positive" you must see your GP for further personal advice, probably a bowel examination. If it says "negative" this does not exclude bowel pathology. Risk of bowel cancer is 1 in 25, but 1 in 8 if a near relative had it. Here the risk starts to rise at age 40, so do not consider it an old persons disorder. Many have been fooled.

 
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VISION

Q: 

My mum is slowly losing her vision, and has been told it is macular degeneration.

A: 

Stop smoking is first line advice and avoid smokers. Although there is no universal simple cure, the new antI-VEGF injections currently hold out the greatest promise. Many have benefited, and consider it worthwhile despite the high cost. Government subsidy is now available. Talk to your doctor.

 
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STEM CELLS

Q: 

We hear a great deal about stem cells, and the wondrous cures they may produce. But where is this available, and is it for real.

A: 

This is still very much cutting edge stuff, but some lucky enough to get onto preliminary Australian clinical programmes, have reported amazing outcomes. Like getting back to normal every day work with a heart containing 14 stents for heart disease. And being unable to walk more than twenty metres without chest pain. Stem cells may develop into any body cell and virtually regrow the diseased part. It lets nature do its stuff, as when the body was developing before birth. Amazing stuff.

 
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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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