Ask the doc­tor: read­ers’ health ques­tions an­swered

Pro­fes­sor Ker­ryn Phelps re­sponds to read­ers’ health ques­tions and con­cerns.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

Q Is it true there may be a cure for mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis as a re­sult of stem cell re­search? My brother has MS and I would love to help him. He's fine at the mo­ment, but I am re­ally wor­ried about the fu­ture. Is this likely to be avail­able to help him? F.D.

At the mo­ment there are no ap­proved stem cell ther­a­pies for mul­ti­ple scelero­sis – it is con­sid­ered to be in the ex­per­i­men­tal stage. How­ever, there is ex­cit­ing progress in stem cell re­search which is show­ing po­ten­tial in slow­ing MS dis­ease ac­tiv­ity and for re­pair­ing dam­age to the ner­vous sys­tem.

Q My doc­tor has rec­om­mended an­tide­pres­sants for my 18-year-old daugh­ter, who is at uni­ver­sity and find­ing it hard to sleep, study and so­cialise – she is nat­u­rally very shy and ner­vous. I am deeply wor­ried about her and want her to get well, but am un­sure if this is the right step. Can you please ad­vise at all? N.F.

It is im­por­tant to ex­plore the cause of her symp­toms and ways of help­ing her to ad­just to the new chal­lenges of uni­ver­sity. Coun­selling, reg­u­lar exercise, es­tab­lish­ing a reg­u­lar bed­time rou­tine and avoid­ing caf­feine and al­co­hol will all help. An as­sess­ment by a psy­chol­o­gist or psy­chi­a­trist would be help­ful.

Q I am fly­ing for the first time with my nine-year-old, who has a se­vere nut al­lergy, and am ter­ri­fied about ac­ci­den­tal nut traces on the air­line food given to us or even to nearby pas­sen­gers. It is such an en­closed space. What pre­cau­tions should I take? B.C.

There are no guide­lines or pro­ce­dures for air­lines to fol­low con­cern­ing nut or other food al­ler­gies. Even if all air­lines re­moved nuts from their cater­ing, it wouldn’t pre­vent pas­sen­gers from bring­ing them on board. You will need to have an ana­phy­laxis plan and carry med­i­ca­tion. How­ever, the only way to be com­pletely safe is for your child not to fly, be­cause a mid-air al­lergy emer­gency could be cat­a­strophic.

There is ex­cit­ing progress in stem cell re­search which is show­ing po­ten­tial in slow­ing MS ac­tiv­ity.

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