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Wed, 22nd March 2017

A recent report says paracetamol in infants under three years significantly increases their risks of developing asthma later on. A similar report was printed about ten years ago but nobody took any notice. Paracetamol is widely used to reduce fever and pain of all kinds, believed to be superior to aspirin which irritates the gut stomach lining and can also cause asthma in sensitive persons.

This simply means avoid aspirin, and give infants minimum doses (whether it be syrup or crushed tablets) for minimum periods. The world is full of "allergens", the trigger for allergy reactions and asthma attacks which are often related. Pollens from flowering grasses and trees are notorious, specially in hot weather. In a person who has a reduced immune system (called "atopy"), risks escalate. The tendency is genetically inherited.

Asthma kills around 400 a year in Australia, so is not a major "death threat" when compared to cancer (35,000), or heart disease (50,000). It is simply uncomfortable and frightening.

Avoid situations or contacting items to which you know you are allergic (peanuts being the typical example). Certain foods, cosmetics, clothing, soaps, paints and lacquers, the "house dust mite" (present in 90% of Australian beds, are a common reason why asthma attacks occur at night). Give the cupboards a regular clean out and sunning, for these are often filled with spores from moulds which are also bad news.



I understand that the gene for melanoma has now been discovered. What if a person tests positive


Although not yet a mainstream diagnostic tool, we know it exists. If positive, it is too late to remove it, for the genetic imprint remains forever. It simply means risks of developing one escalate by 70%. However, great attention to regular skin examination, with detection and intervention at the first sign is the best way to go. Skin protection when outdoors (SPF 30 creams and broad brimmed hats), avoiding the sun, not getting sunburnt, and a weekly personal skin check including scalp and back are vital Diabetes is also carried on a gene, but can be prevented with care - diet, avoiding overweight, and taking more exercise.

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Which is the best type of soap to use for skin care?


Some doctors avoid soap, as hot water and rubbing gets rid of most dirt, germs and odour. Avoid alkaline soaps, which tear the skin to bits and cause drying and irritation. There are many good brands, such as pH 5.5, Dove, Ego QV bar. End all showers with cool, and dab the skin with a very soft towel to minimise irritation. Do not rub vigorously.

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If I run my fingernail over my forearm, about two minutes later a vivid red raised streak occurs. Is this serious?


It simply means you are sensitive to pressure; you damage underlying cells which then produce histamine, which causes the local reaction. You may also be allergic to many items, or perhaps are a mild asthmatic. If it troubles you, apply a cold face flannel and it will soon vanish. Avoid skin irritation, such as rubbing clothing and underwear.

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I am scared to visit the doctor for I know I'm in for a heap of pathology tests and what not, so consultation for my mild symptoms ends up costing $100 or more.


In these litigious times, the doctor seeks protection for you as well as him/herself. Mild symptoms may be the early sign of something serious, for which the doctor will be blamed if missed. It is often a difficult issue. That is why many simply try "do-it-yourself" interventions, or ask the local pharmacist. It's probably not a bad starting point, but obviously with persisting symptoms it is essential you visit your GP. Early symptoms of cancer can be very innocuous, even in young persons.

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We are all ultimately doomed to perish with some type of disease. How do we know?


If death (sudden or slow) from heart and blood vessel disease doesn't get us, cancer finally will. Nobody is immortal. Also in time the body simply wears out, or the nucleus of the cells becomes damaged, causing cancer of some part. However the evil day may be extended with simple lifestyle modifications, sensible diet care, and regular doctor intervention to pick up and treat any disease. Genes also play a huge part in longevity, and smoking is the worst cause of self-inflicted premature death.

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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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