Ask the doc­tor

Pro­fes­sor Ker­ryn Phelps an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions on iron de­fi­ciency, erec­tile dys­func­tion and the best type of ex­er­cise if you suf­fer from os­teoarthri­tis.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Medical Q&A -

QMy 54-year-old part­ner has had dif­fi­cul­ties with hav­ing an erec­tion and reach­ing or­gasm for a few years now. Al­though Vi­a­gra has worked at help­ing with both of these, the prob­lem is still there so that he needs to take Vi­a­gra ev­ery time to en­sure suc­cess. Is there any­thing more that can be done to fix these dif­fi­cul­ties? Or is the only so­lu­tion tak­ing Vi­a­gra? F.A., Tas. Erec­tile dys­func­tion is a com­mon prob­lem in men as they get older. There are many phys­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal and med­i­cal causes. Some things he can do to help are to main­tain a healthy weight, not smoke, not drink al­co­hol, ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, and check if any med­i­ca­tions he is tak­ing af­fect sex­ual per­for­mance. A thor­ough med­i­cal check-up and life­style as­sess­ment is es­sen­tial. If there is no treat­able cause, a med­i­ca­tion like Vi­a­gra may pro­vide long-term as­sis­tance.

QI am 74 and re­cently dis­cov­ered I have sar­coido­sis, due to an X-ray of my lungs. Noth­ing yet in heart and eyes. Will there be a per­ma­nent dam­age of the in­flamed tis­sue, or will it re­gen­er­ate? I have had three colds re­cently, and the cough­ing part was the worst I had in my life. Is there any­thing I can do to help my im­mune sys­tem, or what should I avoid? C.P., Vic. Sar­coido­sis is a con­di­tion where nod­ules called gran­u­lo­mas de­velop in the lungs and other parts of the body such as skin, eyes or heart. Symp­toms in­clude cough, fa­tigue and weight loss, but other symp­toms will de­pend on which body parts are af­fected. You will need close mon­i­tor­ing by your GP and spe­cial­ist to de­tect and treat any com­pli­ca­tions. Most, but not all, peo­ple will fully re­cover.

QI have iron de­fi­ciency anaemia that leaves me feel­ing flat and con­stantly tired. After see­ing my doc­tor I started tak­ing iron sup­ple­ments but they don’t seem to be hav­ing an ef­fect. What other things can I do to in­crease my iron lev­els? G. H., Qld. You first need to know why your iron is low. With iron de­fi­ciency anaemia there can be sev­eral prob­lems: not enough iron in your diet, not ab­sorb­ing oral iron (be­cause of a gut prob­lem), or los­ing too much (through bleed­ing, such as heavy pe­ri­ods or gut in­flam­ma­tion or bowel cancer) or us­ing up iron be­cause of chronic dis­ease. You need to have fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions. You may need an in­tra­venous iron in­fu­sion to help you catch up.

QI had four chil­dren in my 20s, which com­pletely changed my fig­ure. I am happy with the size of my breasts but they are saggy, and I feel a re­ju­ve­na­tion in that area would re­ally boost my self-es­teem. Is it pos­si­ble to have a breast lift with­out hav­ing im­plants? What are the non-sur­gi­cal op­tions to help me feel a lit­tle like my old self again? B. K., NSW. Your sur­gi­cal op­tions will de­pend on the size and shape of your breasts. A mastopexy is a breast lift pro­ce­dure with­out im­plants.

Your GP can re­fer you to a plas­tic sur­geon for an opin­ion. You can tone your mus­cles and change your body shape by chang­ing the amount and type of ex­er­cise you do, such as a com­bined aer­o­bic and re­sis­tance pro­gram.

QDoes phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity help os­teoarthri­tis or will it make my symp­toms worse? Are some forms of ex­er­cise bet­ter than oth­ers? D. P., Vic. Ex­er­cise is an es­sen­tial part of man­ag­ing the pain and stiff­ness of os­teoarthri­tis. You will need an ex­er­cise pro­gram that fo­cuses on strength­en­ing the mus­cles around joints and en­cour­ag­ing flex­i­bil­ity. If weight bear­ing is too painful, try wa­ter-based ex­er­cise. Tai Chi is another op­tion. Your GP may re­fer you to a phys­io­ther­a­pist or an ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist for ad­vice.

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