Help for wors­en­ing flat­u­lence

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - LINDA CAL­ABRESI

I had un­pro­tected sex re­cently and was pan­ick­ing that I might fall preg­nant. It was two days be­fore I could get to a chemist and get the morn­ing-af­ter pill. The chemist said I should be OK, but what are my chances of fall­ing preg­nant? The morn­ing-af­ter pill, or emer­gency con­tra­cep­tion as it is more ac­cu­rately known, is gen­er­ally ef­fec­tive up to three days af­ter sex. The over­all suc­cess rate of the pro­gesto­gen tablet, Posti­nor, is about 85 per cent. Its ef­fec­tive­ness is best if it’s taken in the first 24 hours (when the suc­cess rate is 95 per cent), but even af­ter 72 hours it is still about 60 per cent ef­fec­tive at avoid­ing preg­nancy. While you no longer need a script to get Posti­nor, un­pro­tected sex can leave you ex­posed to sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases, so a check-up with your doc­tor might still be use­ful — and at the con­sul­ta­tion you can also dis­cuss more re­li­able meth­ods of con­tra­cep­tion. In the 1990s I worked as a vol­un­teer in Pa­pua New Guinea. De­spite tak­ing the then rec­om­mended malaria pre­cau­tions, I de­vel­oped symp­toms and was treated for malaria. No test­ing was avail­able and I was treated solely on sus­pi­cion. Ever since, I have ‘‘ stand­ing or­ders’’ that if I get sick, I see a doc­tor promptly, and if they are con­cerned that it could be malaria I get blood tests. How­ever, be­cause it is of­ten hard to get a timely ap­point­ment, I am of­ten told the tests are prob­a­bly too late to be con­clu­sive. Are you aware of any de­vel­op­ments with malaria that would mean I no longer need to bother with th­ese tests? THERE is a lot of re­search go­ing on into malaria, with new di­ag­nos­tic tests be­ing de­vel­oped, but at this stage the thick and thin blood films which you would have been hav­ing are still gen­er­ally re­garded as the gold stan­dard for di­ag­nos­ing malaria. You do need to have re­peat blood tests reg­u­larly in the first cou­ple of days af­ter the on­set of the classical symp­tom of fever. If you dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion with your doc­tor, I’msure some­thing could be or­gan­ised so that you have the blood tests in a timely fash­ion. Linda Cal­abresi is a GP and ed­i­tor of Med­i­calOb­server. Send your queries to­ I’minmy mid-50s and I’ve had a prob­lem with smelly flat­u­lence for a num­ber of years. Just re­cently it has be­come much worse. It hap­pens with­out warn­ing, is un­con­trol­lable, and of­ten oc­curs in stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. I’ve tried chang­ing my diet to no avail. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink al­co­hol, I’ve got a nor­mal BMI, I ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, I’mvig­i­lant with my hy­giene. What can I do to avoid be­com­ing a her­mit? FLAT­U­LENCE is com­mon— how­ever, given the prob­lem is wors­en­ing, it might be worth­while get­ting a med­i­cal check-up. You might have an un­der­ly­ing con­di­tion such as lac­tose in­tol­er­ance or even coeliac dis­ease that could ac­count for your symp­toms. Also, once you hit your 50s it’s a good idea for ev­ery­one to have a bowel check-up any­way. If the doc­tor’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions fail to find a rea­son for your prob­lem then your next port of call should prob­a­bly be your diet. Cer­tain foods are more likely to be as­so­ci­ated with smelly flat­u­lence, such as gar­lic, onions, spicy foods, beer, and par­tic­u­lar veg­eta­bles such as brus­sel sprouts. Other foods can in­crease the amount of wind you pro­duce. Th­ese in­clude dried fruit, fruits such as ap­ples and pears, in­sol­u­ble fi­bre, and legumes such as beans, peas and nuts. See if re­duc­ing th­ese foods makes a dif­fer­ence. Whether the wind you are pass­ing smells de­pends to a cer­tain de­gree on the na­ture of the bac­te­ria within your gut. You can try to al­ter th­ese bac­te­ria by tak­ing pro­bi­otics. An­other op­tion you could try is a char­coal prepa­ra­tion avail­able from the chemist, or a prod­uct called De-gas or No-gas which may also help.

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