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Wed, 10th August 2016

The navel, commonly called the "belly button" sits in the middle of the abdomen. Pre-birth, it carried the umbilical vessels which took food, oxygen and nutrients to "you" and quickly grew in the first few days of life. It was attached to the placenta, the big meaty organ that was attached to the inside walls of the uterus. At birth, with the first yell, this all became redundant. The cord was tied (to prevent back bleeding), cut and within a few days had withered up and dropped off but the scar remains forever. Adam and Even are claimed to be the only pair without one! "Navel gazing" is a popular past-time.


It is a derogatory word suggesting inward thinking, a philosophical person, self adulation, or just as wanker - take your pick. In some infants, specially if the hole does not close up naturally, a little (or large) bulge may occur called an umbilical hernia. Most close and surgery is rarely needed. The navel can be superficial and is easily cleansed along with body skin in general. Some are deeply placed, often if obese. Herein lays a problem for some. Dust, soap, debris can gradually build up. If you see it turning black, see the doctor. All this stuff may harden and have to be curetted out. It can be as big as a marble.


I once worked in a rural town. A terrified farmer called in one day claiming some sort of living object was trying to extricate itself from his body via the navel. Quick inspection indicated a deeply placed navel filled with hardened dirt. Including a grain of wheat which had shot and was still white. Each day it grew bigger and moved whenever he breathed. It took about ten minutes to extricate the wheat crop, supporting debris and clean it all up. I also gave a short talk about personal hygiene. If there is a deep one in kids, they love shoving any object into it that fits - as they do with any hole. Including ears and nose especially. Be a good navel officer. Check self regularly and all crew members.



I travel a lot in planes, and am always concerned at all the coughing that occurs, and am terrified I may contract some horrible airborne bug.


True. You are really crowded into an airborne tin can in the sky from which there is no exit, and have no option but inhale what others exhale. The same applies to buses, trains, crowded shops, theatres and malls. Billions of potentially serious germs, usually viruses, cling onto exhaled moisture particles. Wearing a standard surgical mask covering nose and mouth when in these situation is an option (as in the Saars scare). Annual immunisation against the flu and pneumonia gives added protection. General good health, eating sensible food, exercise, sleep, modest alcohol, fluids, avoidance of cigarette smoke, is natures way to avoid infections.

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Is the traditional Aussie meat pie, mash and peas a reasonable meal?


Most food items are reasonable, but it depends on frequency. Pastry is made from flour and fat, the stuff inside is often meat that is unsuitable to be sold in any other form, along with spices and maybe some veggies. Potato and peas are fine. As the daily source of food intake, like hamburgers, pizzas and other fast foods, they are on the Z list.

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Is there such a thing as "catching a chill" my mum was always fussy about wrapping up.


A chill simply means a sudden decrease in body temperature. Germs are ever present in the air, and heaps normally quietly live in the throat and airways. With every one degree drop in body temperature, germs have a 100 per cent increased rate of madly growing and invading the body, usually the respiratory system. So, avoid risk situations. If drenched in a sudden downpour, change into dry gear, including shoes. Avoid drafty street corners, or sitting directly under a cold air conditioning outlet.

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I use a keyboard for hours every day, and at days end often have sore eyes. Am I adversely affected by rays from the screen.


There is no known radiation risk from computer screens. However, with keyboard use, a person unconsciously blinks less often, which means eye surfaces dry and become irritable. Take a regular rest, and close your eyes for thirty seconds. Applying liquid tears gives good relief. A hot room, especially air conditioned (where moisture is sucked from the air), or direct heat are well known aggravating issues.

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How often should a person visit a podiatrist? It is an expensive exercise, at $50 a treatment.


Many people, specially older ones, attend every 6 to 8 weeks, and regard it as part of their overall health programme. Without good feet, walking and mobility may be impaired or at times impossible. Thick long toenails, ingrown ones, corns and calluses are often hard to get at. Foot care is even more important with diabetics, where blood supply is frequently impaired. Government and fund benefits are often available to those where finances are tight. Discuss with the podiatrist before starting treatment.

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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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