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Wed, 9th 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.

INFLAMED VESSELS

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.

 
BEFORE AND AFTER

Q: 

Clever advertising on body image now often depicts women "before" and "after" undergoing cosmetic surgery. One is led to believe that surgery can magically improve figure. But from talking around, I find it otherwise in real life. Is this not being dishonest

A: 

The answer of course is Yes Yes Yes. Today with digital everything, it is not hard to position and reshape anything to look better. There is a major move to have this type of advertising banned. Statutory bodies in some states are already well advanced with proposal to "clamp down" severely on the practice. The sooner the better.

 
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SUN SPOTS

Q: 

Is there a simple treatment for little rough patches on the face, often the nose, cheeks or ears?

A: 

Many of these are solar keratoses. Sun exposure over the years is the culprit. If present, removal is advisable as a certain number will develop into skin cancer. Best see the doctor for a complete check and management. A relatively new product diclofenac (Solaraze 3% gel - script needed) applied twice daily for 60-90 days may eliminate them. It may take 30 days or more for positive effects to be noticed. At around $55 for a 25g tube and prescription is necessary. Personally, I prefer liquid nitrogen spray in one hit, or if there is any doubt, surgical excision.

 
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LAZY EYE

Q: 

My grandson is still very young but I believe he has a lazy eye.

A: 

This condition, known as amblyopic, is treated by patching one eye for a certain period each day. This was once very extensive, but recent work indicates that it may be corrected with patching for 3 to 6 to 12 hours a day, and may be corrected within 8-10 weeks. However, attending a child ophthalmologist is the best bet, for management, for every child is different. But it sure beats the horrible surgical operations of yesteryear. Many cases are detected by grandparents!

 
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SHOCKER PILLS

Q: 

It constantly amazes me as an older person to see new medication madly prescribed by physicians for a few years. Then all of a sudden headline news claim the product causes heart attacks, life threatening blood disorders and other terrifying conditions. Most trust their doctor, so who does one believe?

A: 

The pharmaceutical drug industry is a mega business dealing in billions of dollars. New drugs cost a lot to develop, but if a winner, can quickly recoup costs plus a lot more. It is all money driven. Doctors are literally showered with slick publicity, rewards and freebies to get them writing the new product on prescriptions. There is also a lot of "one up man ship" - many like to be the first with the latest. Older conservative doctors tend to wait for a while before starting, when in many cases the negative affects show up.

 
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ON THE LEVEL

Q: 

I am an older person and straight lines are no longer straight but often kick up part way through.

A: 

See your GP at once for referral to an eye specialist. This is often the first symptom of macular degeneration where destruction of the light sensitive retina at the back of the eye has started. Treated early, newer technology can often delay it. Do not smoke and keep away from smokers, one of the best documented causes.

 
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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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