Dr Penny Adams gives her ad­vice


Good Health (Australia) - - Contents - If you’d like one of our ex­perts to an­swer your ques­tion, email it to health@bauer-me­dia.com.au. No per­sonal cor­re­spon­dence will be en­tered into.

‘There is now a vac­cine we can give peo­ple over 60’

I am recovering from shin­gles that af­fected my chest wall. The rash was re­ally painful and I felt like I had the flu. Is there any­thing I can do to avoid get­ting it again?

AShin­gles (her­pes zoster), which is caused by re­ac­ti­va­tion of the chicken pox virus, oc­curs in about 30 per cent of peo­ple at least once in their life­time. There is now a vac­cine that we can give peo­ple over the age of 60. It de­creases the risk of de­vel­op­ing her­pes zoster by 50 per cent. The vac­cine is ex­pen­sive (around $200) but in some coun­tries it is given free to peo­ple over the age of 70. It is a ‘live virus’ vac­cine so it isn’t rec­om­mended for peo­ple who have a dis­ease or who take med­i­ca­tion that af­fects their im­mune sys­tem.

I have re­cently been di­ag­nosed with type 2 di­a­betes. Is it pos­si­ble to re­verse this?

AThe good news is yes. A study just pub­lished in med­i­cal jour­nal The Lancet showed that pa­tients who lost 15kg over a 12-month pe­riod had an 86 per cent chance of be­com­ing non-di­a­betic. In ad­di­tion, a lot of these pa­tients were able to go off blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tion. Weight loss is not easy and you need sup­port so see your GP for a diet and life­style plan.

My 10-year-old boy has fears of witches and ghosts and avoids scary movies. He also wor­ries some­thing will hap­pen to me when he’s at school; he is com­plain­ing of stom­ach pains on school morn­ings and is miss­ings sev­eral days of school per week. Is he suf­fer­ing from an anx­i­ety dis­or­der?

AFears of scary things like ghosts at your son’s age don’t in­ter­fere with his daily func­tion­ing and are de­vel­op­men­tally nor­mal. But his anx­i­ety about harm com­ing to you is a prob­lem as it in­ter­feres with his well­be­ing and school at­ten­dance. See your GP for as­sess­ment. A re­fer­ral to a child psy­chol­o­gist can help.

Some­times I feel un­com­fort­able ask­ing my GP ques­tions and I don’t un­der­stand or feel con­fi­dent about my treat­ment. What should I do?

AThe best GPS give time in a con­sul­ta­tion for pa­tients to ask ques­tions, they pro­vide med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion in a way that their pa­tients can un­der­stand and they share de­ci­sion­mak­ing. It’s so im­por­tant for your health that you can com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively with your GP. If that’s not hap­pen­ing, then you should change doc­tors. Ask among your friends and fam­ily for a good rec­om­men­da­tion.

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