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Wed, 2nd December 2015

If you think you're the only one who suffers headaches (specially on one side) pains and aches in the head, neck, shoulders, pelvic regions and possibly elsewhere, you're off the radar. The world abounds with these unpleasant symptoms. In a society of egalitarianism and equality of the sexes, this is definitely not politically correct, although a medical fact. It can often hit women, particularly those fifty and over. Worse, it is even more aggressive in the 70-80 year olds, and again mainly in women. Chances are high this is PMR, short for polymyalgia rheumatica. In short, painful muscles, with a liking for the spots named and often called PMR for short.


It is often associated with another condition called temporal arteritis, which means inflammation of blood vessels as they branch off the aorta. Similar symptoms, similar attack on females. There are few interventions that lead to a definitive diagnosis and the conditions are often diagnosed on the history. It has been around for a long time and still nobody has come up with the true cause. It is commonly put down to "environmental and genetic factors". That simply means an inheritance from a parent or something in the food eaten or other stuff flitting around in the air. However, treatment can give a quick positive outcome. Corticosteroids, most commonly prednisone, occasionally prednisolone, quickly reduce symptoms. These may be needed for weeks or several months. However, long term use has its own risk profile. Like fluid retention causing puffy cheeks and face, increased risk of weak bones and sometimes eye problems. However, my old mum took a small daily dose for years and lived to 100. The condition and management are not life threatening but if you have the symptoms, see your GP.



Is too much cheese bad for you, and how much is too much?


Cheese comes from milk and is rich in protein and calcium, but also fat, the bad (saturated) kind. If you are overweight and cholesterol level is high, then less is better than more. For an average person, 2-3 slices a day is fine. As with all foods and actions in life for everyone, moderation in all things is still a wonderful guide.

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Not long ago this column recommended that taking some zinc each day may be beneficial to health. In the same paper, same day, another article said that zinc increases risks of prostate cancer in men.


I take 40 mg of zinc a day and general health benefits. Most Australian (and overseas) soils are zinc deficient. This guarantees the food grown in this soil will be zinc deficient also. Massive supplementation of any specific vitamin or mineral is unwise. Small amounts help enhance the food and let nature keep us fit and well.

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I have developed a tender skin redness at the lower part of one leg, with red streaks going to the groin. It is painful, and a friend says it maybe cellulitis and could be dangerous.


Cellulitis means germs have penetrated the deeper layers of the skin, often from a minor abrasion. The streptococcal and staphylococcal germs, forever in the atmosphere are the culprit. See the doctor immediately for antibiotics are usually curative. If left, it will worsen, and may persist for months or even a year. It does not self cure usually. It was once a very serious potentially lethal disease that nearly vanished in the antibiotic era, but is again becoming common. Intravenous antibiotics are needed for severe cases.

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I smoked for years, then stopped. Now, months later, I still cough.


That's fine and indicates the cilia, the microscopic hairs in the airway surfaces, are still working and have not been destroyed. These sweep unwanted debris outwards and also initiates the cough reflex to get rid of it. No cough probably means they have completely died. It will all settle down, but may take a few more months. Do not restart the habit and keep away from smokers Good work. Sipping honey is today's official recommendation for any cough.

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Is there any risk for kids who swim in chlorinated swimming pools?


Most kids do OK, but there is recent medical evidence they run a greater risk of developing asthma, whether the pool is indoor or outdoor. Another recent study showed children swimming in indoor pools run a much higher risk of developing allergies to airborne allergens (stuff in the air, often pollens and house dust). So mums, take care, beware. Chorine is not very nice 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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