ASK THE DOC­TOR

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - with PRO­FES­SOR KER­RYN PHELPS

Q

I have a bulging disc in my back and am on sev­eral types of painkillers and see­ing a chiro – how long does this usu­ally take to heal? K.H., NSW

Risk fac­tors for disc prob­lems in­clude obe­sity, ad­vanc­ing age, lack of ex­er­cise and in­cor­rect lift­ing tech­niques. In most cases, the pro­lapsed disc, which has slipped out of its usual place, will shrink back over sev­eral weeks. We usu­ally give it about 12 weeks to see if it can re­cover spon­ta­neously be­fore re­fer­ral to a neu­ro­sur­geon to con­sider surgery. Ur­gent re­fer­ral is needed if there are signs of nerve root com­pres­sion (numb­ness or weak­ness of the legs, or im­pair­ment of blad­der or bowel func­tion).

Q

The skin on my face is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly red – I think it might be rosacea – are there any life­style changes that I should make to pre­vent it? Should I see a doc­tor? G.L., Qld

Yes, you do need to see your doc­tor for a di­ag­no­sis first. If it is rosacea, there are sev­eral life­style changes which might help in­clude avoid­ing al­co­hol and spicy foods, min­imis­ing stress and avoid­ing sun­burn. Choose low ir­ri­tant, fra­grance­free and al­co­hol­free cos­metic prod­ucts which won’t ag­gra­vate your skin.

Q

After eat­ing a meaI, I have sugar crav­ings – even after eat­ing a big salad. Is there a phys­i­o­log­i­cal rea­son for this or is it psy­cho­log­i­cal – and is there any­thing I can do to re­duce crav­ings? G.W., Qld

For many peo­ple, look­ing for a sugar hit after meals is just a habit. In some cases, post­meal sweet craving is phys­i­o­log­i­cal, due to low sero­tonin lev­els caus­ing a low mood. Sug­ars prompt the body to re­lease sero­tonin, lift­ing your mood. This can be avoided by hav­ing bal­anced meals of low­GI foods like beans, fruit, milk, pasta, grainy bread, por­ridge and lentils, and hav­ing reg­u­lar meal­times.

Q

I keep hear­ing about fatty liver disease. What is the cause, the symp­toms and how is it di­ag­nosed and treated? B.S., Vic

Fatty liver disease is a build­up of fat in the cells of the liver. The cause is un­known but it is linked to over­weight, in­sulin re­sis­tance, high blood sugar and high triglyc­erides, which can be a sign of in­creased risk of heart at­tack or stroke. There may be no symp­toms, but it may be sus­pected when the liver is found to be en­larged, or there is pain in the right up­per ab­domen. Some peo­ple just feel tired. It is of­ten di­ag­nosed by chance, after find­ing an ab­nor­mal­ity on liver func­tion tests, which are done as part of stan­dard blood tests, or when a per­son is hav­ing an ab­dom­i­nal ul­tra­sound. There is no spe­cific treat­ment but avoid­ing al­co­hol, ex­er­cis­ing and los­ing weight can help re­duce or re­verse it.

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