Medical Hotline – July 2006


Tooth Picking

Some wonder if it is safe to use a toothpick that has already been used by another person. The answer is no. Germs may be transmitted this way. And other infections such as HIV and hepatitis head the danger list. These may be serious, even potentially fatal. A minute amount of blood can carry many viruses leading to infection. The same applies to razors, shaving gear, toothbrushes, scissors, nail clippers. Viruses are transmitted by body fluids, especially blood.

Filtered Water

Many people use either distilled or filtered water. Others say that exposure to foreign matter may improve the efficiency of the body’s immune system, and harden us to invasion by other germs. That’s probably why kids brought up in a dirty surrounding are often healthier during their lifetime than those who are constantly protected from germs, and by fastidious mums who continually spray germ killers on every available surface.

Muscle Therapy

Today, with increasing treatment options, many doctors carry out musculoskeletal therapy, and have been doing so for some years. Special training is usually undertaken. Muscle stretching, retraining and joint mobilisation are done, and the patients often given a series of exercises to carry out each day. This to is important for a favourable outcome. Musculoskeletel physisotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and others also treat this way.

Sore Knees

The use of magnets for painful knees has been debated for years. There is no scientific evidence, which means doctors do not prescribe them. However, many people claim relief. A kneepad containing many small magnets is placed around the knee and held in place by velcro, and can be worn in bed at night and removed during the day. They are a little uncomfortable. Other people take glucosamine and chondroitin capsules, and believe it also helps. Capsules must be taken for a minimum of six to eight weeks before there is much benefit.


If you are experiencing difficulty swallowing capsules, try this method. Place the capsule on the back part of the tongue, take a mouthful of water, throw the head well back, and usually it will go down in a single gulp without much difficulty. The more you dwell on difficulties, the harder it gets. Think positively. Some pull the capsule apart and put the contents into a little water and take it this way.


Many people with stomach upsets are infected with the helicobacter germ. This is the name of a tiny rod-shaped organism that lives in the stomach of most people. Occasionally it runs amok, and in the presence of acid burrows into the stomach wall, which may lead to ulceration. A simple breath test is diagnostic. Sometimes an endoscopy reveals an ulcer and a biopsy may be taken. It is successfully treated by the PPI family of medication. This stops acid production, and the germ is then killed with antibiotics, often never to recur. Left untreated it may lead to cancer.

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