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Wed, 3rd August 2016
 

Look at anyone for a few minutes. Sooner or later they will do something a "little bit weird" In fact, if you look into the mirror, you'll probably be doing the same. Twitches, rubbing the nose, tweaking the ears, scratching the scalp or some other spot, putting your hand over your mouth when speaking, pulling your collar away from your neck, blinking the eyes or screwing them up for no good reason. The list is endless. Look at top television presenters and at some stage, they're into it too.

THE STARS TWITCH

Yep, even the million dollar stars. The brain is an intricate interacting network of nerve cells and their long legs which twist and turn and interact. They pass electrical messages through the brain with frightening speed, making the best computer seem like a snail Like the man made computer, the real one must still rely on input. You hit the keyboard to produce an outcome. Hence, the normal activities of life in most cases. A little "virus" (not a real one) seems to get inside, and causes a momentary abnormal outcome. It may be triggered by all of our other senses. What we see, hear, smell, taste or feel. Bingo. A normal reaction takes place, but often an abnormal one occurs also.

AGGREVATION

It can be aggravated by heaps of minor events, stress probably heading the list. This produces a body chemical which activates the "virus". So we rub the eyes twitch the nose, scratch the skin, probably snort or suddenly get hot or flushed. In some, these little movements gradually develop into a habit - a bit like chewing the fingernails, perpetually blinking the eyes or wanting to rub the back. In some, fortunately the minority, this can move on to a diagnosable condition called OCD - short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The body simply cannot resist making the movements. As soon as it occurs, it gives momentary relief but the urge to repeat it all again starts almost immediately. The blur between minor events and well established OCD is a gradual one. Reducing stress, avoiding items to which you know you are allergic (perfume, certain foods, flowers, pollens in the air, house dust) can help. Drink lots of water to remove histamine, a body made chemical which can aggravate. Getting more sleep, more exercise, keeping the mind involved are also beneficial. So does self-will. If it starts to drive you (and your peer group) crazy, see the doctor. Cognitive behavioural therapy, medical hypnotherapy and medication may help severe cases.

 
HAIR AND NAILS

Q: 

A friend suggested I take a zinc supplement. Since then, my nails and hair seem to be growing at a much faster rate, which makes me very happy.

A: 

Soils around the world, including Australia, are mainly zinc deficient. This means the produce grown is also deficient. I believe a 40 mg zinc tablet a day is a good idea, as zinc has many essential uses in the body. Increased growth of the hair and nails (which come from the same embryonic cells) are one obvious outcome. Zinc lozenges are also good for sore throats! Your general body health will improve.

 
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COD LIVER OIL

Q: 

As children, Mum made us take one tsp of Elliott's cod liver oil, a white horrible tasting thick liquid. We hated it. Now, according to some TV reports, it is back in fashion,

A: 

Cod liver oil has many uses, known for hundreds of years. At present those into alternative medicine recommend its use for arthritis and there are heaps of anecdotal reports of its value. It is worth a try. Incidentally, many may recall the picture on the label of a fisherman with a huge fish on his back. That fish was not a cod, but a halibut! I am sure their livers were identical and so is the oil. One tsp daily is OK. It does not have the risk profile of most of the currently prescribed NSAIDS - paracetamol is still the first line prescribed "drug" for Arthritis. However, there could be an ethical issue with those who are anti-whaling.

 
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CONSTIPATED BABY

Q: 

My little one becomes constipated, then yells when a hard motion occurs.

A: 

Baby is trying to come to terms with the big wide world, and it takes all systems many months to re-adjust. Sieved paw paw, prunes and prune juice are excellent. Make sure baby is given adequate fluids. Simple measures are better than medication. Hard stools cause anal dilatation which hurts, and may cause a tiny skin tear which increases discomfort. Some doctors recommend application of a cream with some local anesthetic applied just before it all happens.

 
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BREAST LUMP

Q: 

Whilst all my peer group (mid-teens) is very breast conscious and check daily, I seem to have a lump on one side. Could this be cancer?

A: 

Chances are almost nil. Under hormonal influences, breast tissue grows slowly or rapidly in the teen years. It consists of fat and milk glands with little channels travelling to the nipples. It is common for non-cancerous cysts to develop. See your doctor. These are often aspirated (the fluid is sucked out), and settle down. Lifetime breast care is essential, for it seems to be occurring more and more in younger age groups (even from 35 and onwards) and these cases may grow very aggressively.

 
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SHIN SPLINTS

Q: 

My son is mid-teens, and loves his sport. However, he has developed pain in the right lower leg which impedes his sporting activities.

A: 

This is probably "shin splints". The constant pulling of muscle tendons on the bone can lead to inflammation and pain. It is usually not serious and rest from active sports for a while is usually recommended. Pain killers (paracetamol, physiotherapy, alternate hot and cold packs -10 minutes three times a day) can assist. Occasionally there may be a fine fracture (same cause), often only detected by imaging. Treatment is the same. A positive outcome usually occurs.

 
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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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