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Wed, 6th July 2016
 

About eight in ten will suffer from some form of Arthritis over life. The age range can start young, and continue until the final Boxing Day. So here are a few tips that help prevent or control this widespread menace. Osteo Arthritis (OA) heads the field, usually attacking knees and hips of older folk, (ie. 45 onwards). Any joint in the body is a target. Shoulder and back, wrist, hands or elbow are starters. However, the small joints of the hands are more likely to be hit with the much less common (but probably more devastating) Rheumatoid Arthritis. Most diseases have a genetic component, whether from mum or dad, or more distant relatives.

FAMILY HISTORY

Knowing their family history will give you an early indication in life. However, whatever lies hidden in the genetic code, sensible lifestyle at least can help to minimise its development. That means sensible eating habits, avoiding overweight, getting adequate rest at night, and regular sensible exercise, exercise, exercise. As OA is often related to damage to the cartilage which lines the joint, abuse during early life will make onset quicker and more debilitating. The rougher the sport, often the more damaged the joint surface becomes. It does not like being abused.

HOUSEMAIDS KNEES

Once called "housemaids knee" (presumably dating from when women scrubbed steps kneeling for hours), now an event of the recent past, but still causing later symptoms. Ideally if joint discomfort sets in, it's best to have a check with your GP. However, majority self-treat, and hope it will all vanish which it usually doesn't. For fifty years, aspirin was the sheet anchor for treatment. Discovered by a Bayer chemist in Germany in 1875, it has been used by the tonne ever since, and still is but not as first line therapy. Aspirin comes from the charred bark of the willow tree mixed with acetic acid to form acetyl-salicylic acid which is much less nauseating.

ASPRO

With WW1 hostilities with Germany supplies dried up; and Nicholas in Melbourne produced Aspro. Major drawback is stomach irritability, and risks of ulceration of the gut system and bleeding often copious. By the 1950s cortisone was in use, but long term use was not advised due to side effects. Then paracetamol was developed, found to be equally effective, and non-irritating, so it rapidly started to take over. Main risk is that more than 4g a day (=2 x 500 mg four time a day) can cause severe damage, often not detected until 2-3 weeks later. Soon after, phenylbutazone appeared, but was removed when it started causing severe blood disorders. This was followed by the huge explosion of the NSAIDS, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, claimed to reduce pain and inflammation, often a component. The number of competing brands for the next fifty years was mind blowing. Caution with the NSAIDS is still advised. Many doctors still will not risk prescribing them, despite patient demand, and drug company heavy promotion. The current advice today is back to paracetamol. Many rheumatologists recommend Panadol-Osteo (or similar) 2 x 650 mg once or twice a day. This is longer acting and very safe and effective. There is also a new range of drugs called TNF antagonists and others, but mainly for severe RA.

ALTERNATIVES

The plethora of alternatives still persist. Such as apple cider vinegar (from supermarkets), meadowsweet, celery (juice, capsules, or the raw stuff). Hydrotherapy (hot and cold water treatment), acupuncture, heated wheat bags (at bedtime), massage with various liniments, NSAID or aspirin in creams. Variations are unlimited. If knee and hip pain becomes intolerable, the final resort is surgical joint replacement and the success rate is very high.

 
FALLING HAIR

Q: 

Is there a simple method to stop premature hair loss of hair?

A: 

Most people normally lose 20-100 hairs a day. The hair root (bulb, or follicle as it is called) after vigorous growing activity goes into a dormant "resting phase", and it drops out. Around 6 weeks later, it will regenerate, and a new hair is born. It grows at the rate of 0.34 mm a day, roughly one cm a month. However, many issues can adversely affect growth such as anaemia (heavy periods a common cause in women), thyroid deficiencies, advancing years or too much testosterone in the system. Applying a testosterone blocker (Regaine, one ml rubbed into scalp twice a day) may help. Aldactone can also help (script needed, and taken under GP guidance).

 
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ODOURS

Q: 

My partner says I have unpleasant vaginal odour of which I was not aware.

A: 

There are many body fluids which produce an odour. Male seminal fluid doesn't smell very nice to some. Don't waste time with sprays or deodorants. See your doctor for a medical check. Vaginal infections can cause discharges, which can be very offensive and irritating. Most are quickly diagnosed and successfully managed. Some may indicate the need for an examination of the male partner. Do not delay.

 
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TANNING PARLOURS

Q: 

Artificial skin tanning by manmade UV light has been around for decades. As children, 70 years ago, dad had an UV machine with which he "treated" us. His brother in America had sent it out. It gave a strange odour. We wore goggles.

A: 

Nothing much has changed. In fact, UV exposure has been part of life ever since skin exposure to the sun originated, probably a few billions years ago. Todays "trendy" UV tanning parlour also are not a new idea, having come and gone over the past century. Due to the very high risk of developing skin cancers (melanoma in teenagers being the deadliest), they should be banned universally. The odour you mentioned is due to the ozone being produced.

 
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EGGS

Q: 

What is the healthiest way to eat eggs, and do they increase cholesterol risks?

A: 

Eggs boiled or poached in water retain full food benefits and are a rich source of protein, and certain vitamins. The cholesterol bogey has long been laid to rest. An egg is produced to nourish a developing life (chicken), and is the best of the best. Humans steal and finally eat the producer as well. We are a kindly mob.

 
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SLOWING FERTILITY

Q: 

It seems to me the fertility rates are falling, for women seem to take longer to conceive these days, and heaps have to resort to IVF and related technologies, a job preferably done by nature

A: 

Widespread contraception until much later age than the prime (20-35 years), and advancing years for the first pregnancy are major causes. Many women prefer an education and years in the work force before they consider pregnancy, and today have the choice. Many blame environmental pollutants which adversely affects the quality of sperms, and probably the eggs. Which all means it takes longer to conceive, miscarriage rate is high (often undetected as it occurs early), and difficulty in conception.

 
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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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