Medical Hotline: May 2005


Galling Problem

An ultrasound will quickly reveal if you have gallstones. They can affect anybody, but more commonly the obese. Keeping off fatty, fried food, getting exercise, losing weight and drinking a lot of water can help avoid the painful condition. Stones are caused by a gradual build-up of cholesterol in the gall bladder, and one may jam the canal causing nausea and intense pain.


A hard, painful lump on the sole of the foot may be a Morton’s neuroma, a thickening around the nerves and tendons in the foot, which can be very painful. Pressure on the spot is also quite uncomfortable. It is best diagnosed using ultrasound imaging, then surgical removal. But note, your foot will be sore for quite some time, as any surgery on the feet takes a longer time to heal.

Lose Weight

The Atkins diet was phenomenally popular in the US for a few years, but has quieted down since Atkins’s death last year, and the personal charisma he brought to its promotion vanished. Medical journals suggested it was little different from the many other diets recommended over the years. Really, the only way to lose weight is to eat less, and especially eat less fat and eat more high-fibre foods.


Many suffer from allergic skin reactions, in the form of rashes. They’re especially common when the pollen count is high. Treat naturally by applying cool compresses, or sprinkling with starch or cornflour, and despite the inclination, don’t scratch. Low-cortisone creams available from pharmacies also work well, as do non-sedating antihistamines, paracetamol (2 x 500 mg) taken with meals. Drink plenty of water. A check for diabetes is advised if the condition persists.

Restless Legs

This phenomenon is very common. It’s sometimes described as fizz drink in the legs when you’re trying to go to sleep! For relief, try moving often, walking on cold tiles or plunging the legs and feet into cool water or run on the spot. If particularly severe, try some magnesium (2 x 250 mg) capsules taken at night. Others claim corks, cakes of soap, or camphor between the sheets helps.

The Good Oil

Most people know about the benefits of omega-3 fish oil and vitamin E. Omega-3 is essential to general bodily heath. Fish oil feeds the brain, which is 70 per cent fat, mostly of this kind. It also helps avoid and treat depression, may assist relieve asthma, and helps prevent heart disease. It is a very versatile product. Eating fish twice as often as red meats is advisable for general good health.

Furry Tongue

Many suffer from a “coated” tongue. The upper cell layers of the tongue normally come away evenly and regularly, but in this condition, this process has stopped. It’s not serious, is only temporary, is not related to cancer, and is common after mild infections. It can also be readily treated. Use a toothbrush to help remove the surface, rinsing the mouth regularly with warm, salty water, and drink plenty of water. Sometimes antacids and acid-suppressent medication helps. Chewing chunks of fresh pineapple is also effective.

The Ear

Women will insert a hairpin into their ear to clean it or attend an irritation. But all metal should be kept out of the ear, as it’s easy to poke too far and damage the sensitive drum at the far end of the canal. If there is an irritation, a check is needed by the doctor. Loose dry skin, infections, dandruff and wax can commonly occur, which is all treatable by other, less dangerous, means.

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