Ask the doctor:
Professor Kerryn Phelps answers your questions on eye colour, loss of smell, the best baby wipes, taking pills, scans and a diabetes diagnosis.
readers’ health questions answered
You might have to find another excuse for his bad temper.
Q My one-year-old daughter has one blue and one brown eye (heterochromia). I can’t find statistics on the incidence or prevalence of heterochromia. Do you know how rare it is? And are there any additional check-ups my daughter should have? J.H.
The statistic I’ve seen is about five to 10 per 1000. Most cases of heterochromia from birth are genetic. Your daughter should have been checked by a paediatrician for any associated problems.
Q How can I tell which are the best baby wipes for my toddler? I’ve read some wipes may be too astringent for little mouths and hands and I was wondering if I’m better using an old-fashioned flannel. D.B.
I do see babies who have dermatitis from chemicals in some baby wipes. I favour a reusable, washable wipe. As a rule, look at the ingredient list on wipes. If it looks like you need a chemistry degree to understand it, use something else. Look for fragrance-free, chemical-free, biodegradable options. Remember not to flush wipes.
Q My husband has problems swallowing pills. He gags and ends up spitting them out. For years, I’ve crushed up headache tablets for him, but a friend said that reduces the potency and means they don’t work. Is this true? It could explain his bad temper. T.M.
Some people don’t seem to be able to swallow pills. Many medications are available in syrup or liquid form, or patches and creams, but not all. Talk to his doctor about options. You might have to find another excuse for his bad temper.
Q My husband has Type 2 diabetes. He’s 64, has been overweight, but now is cycling, walking and not going to the pub. Will he be able to make a comeback? N.B.
Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes may be the wake-up call he needed. The fact that he’s taken up exercise and cut down alcohol are great signs that show he is taking this seriously. Lifestyle measures such as these, as well as paying attention to diet and healthy weight loss, will also improve his blood sugar results. This isn’t the end, it’s a new beginning.
Q Could you explain the difference between MRI and CT scans? I have to have a CT scan and am worried because I think it is more serious than an MRI. S.S.
CT and MRI scans are imaging techniques for diagnosing or monitoring diseases. CT scanning uses X-ray, while MRI uses magnetic fields. CT scans are usually better at detecting fractures, lung problems and cancers. MRI scans are used for diagnosing musculoskeletal and brain and spinal cord problems. Your doctor will discuss which is most suitable for your condition.
Q I’m worried I’m losing my sense of smell. I’ve always loved cooking and fresh herbs, but noticed I could not smell which mint was more pungent at the market. And I can’t smell the flowers my husband buys me. Is this a cause for alarm? F.F.
You need to see your doctor to look into the reason for the loss of your sense of smell. It could be an adverse effect of a medicinal drug. It might be caused by a problem in your nose or sinuses, alcohol excess, diabetes, underactive thyroid, some nutrient deficiencies or one of many other possible causes.
HAVE A QUESTION?
If you have a question for Professor Kerryn Phelps, write to: Ask The Doctor, PO Box 92512, Wellesley Street, Auckland 1141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; subject Q&A. Letters cannot be answered personally.