Medical Hotline: March 2005

 
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Drooping Mouth

Bell’s palsy is temporary paralysis of a nerve on the side of the face, which weakens and may droop. Some find it hard to speak properly for a while, but this usually improves with time. The cause is unknown, but it may be due to a virus or chill. A neurologist can help, and some physiotherapists offer specialised treatment. Some believe vitamin B12 and steroids help.

Freckles Forever

Freckles are caused by uneven distribution of melanin in the upper skin. They react to UV rays and worsen with exposure. Best to keep shaded, but apply an SPF 30 sunscreen to exposed areas for protection from sun.

Tongue-Tied

Some parents wonder if tongue-tie really occurs in small children. Of course it occurs, and in years past was diagnosed and treated by the doctor or sister at time of delivery. It is very obvious, and a quick snip would immediately release it. Bleeding and pain were minimal. Today the condition is usually left alone. Doctors often see growing children with speech difficulties due to the tongue being bound down unnecessarily. Referral to a speech pathologist is advised.

Vein Problems

Varicose veins can look like ugly bits of knotted rope beneath the skin. But they can also be dangerous, with the possibility of clots occurring. The surrounding skin may also become swollen and purple. Imaging will determine their extent. Varicose veins are treatable, and with larger ones, surgery gives good results. Most heal well. Pregnancy and constipation are claimed to be the starting point, so bowel regularity, enhanced by drinking plenty of water and eating high-fibre foods is a safeguard.

Armpit Itch

Many people, but especially women, suffer from an itch in the armpit, even if there is no visible rash. The condition occurs when the axilla becomes hot and perspiration occurs, triggering irritation and itch. Shower more often, or use a facecloth to frequently cleanse and cool the area. Prantal powder is helpful. Various antipruritic (anti-itch) creams and lotions are available. Also drink a lot of water. But skin irritation is sometimes an early symptom of diabetes, so a blood-sugar check is worthwhile.

Magnetic Help

A sore neck is a common complaint, but some claim it is relieved by applying magnets. Others disagree, with doctors sceptical. Whether the benefits are imagined or real is unknown, but most medical reports say they have little to offer. A better treatment may be deep musculoskeletal physiotherapy or remedial massage. Alternate hot and cold showers, plus massage, is more effective than drugs.

Jumpy Legs

Restless-leg syndrome affects many people. Blood can stagnate in the legs, and, as toxins accumulate, nerve irritation follows and muscle fibre spasms, causing one’s legs to crawl and jump. Magnesium sulphate (2 x 250 mg capsules) at bedtime seems to help. Hot and cold packs improve circulation. Others believe in taking calcium or even walking barefoot on cold tiles. However, it’s essential that sufferers have a blood check for sugar and cholesterol, as it may be clogging arteries, preventing food and oxygen reaching the peripheral tissue.