Ask the doc­tor

Pro­fes­sor Ker­ryn Phelps an­swers ques­tions on uri­nary tract in­fec­tions, in­grown toe­nails, glan­du­lar fever and bruis­ing, and has a re­minder about vi­ta­min C.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

My hus­band has been com­plain­ing that his left big toe­nail is in­grown. What causes it and are there any home reme­dies that we can try? J.K.

In­grow­ing toe­nails are very com­mon and the con­di­tion usu­ally af­fects the big toe. It can be caused by in­jury, in­cor­rect nail trim­ming, or tight shoes. They are quite painful and he may need ex­pert treat­ment by a po­di­a­trist to re­move the in­grow­ing nail sec­tion un­der lo­cal anaes­thetic. To pre­vent them, ad­vise him to trim his nails straight across rather than round­ing off the edges, so that the edge of the nail does not press into his skin, and he should wear com­fort­able, prop­erly fit­ting shoes.

I am 82 years old and I keep get­ting uri­nary tract in­fec­tions. My doc­tor rec­om­mended cran­berry tablets to pre­vent them. Do they work? What else can I do to stop this? K.O.

It is best to try to avoid long-term an­tibi­otics. Oe­stro­gen cream ap­plied reg­u­larly to your vul­val area may help. An oral pro­bi­otic, vi­ta­min C and cran­berry tablets can also be use­ful. Drink plenty of wa­ter through­out the day and avoid al­co­hol and caf­feine.

My 16-year-old daugh­ter was di­ag­nosed with glan­du­lar fever sev­eral months ago. She is al­ways tired and strug­gling to con­cen­trate at school. She is sleep­ing at least eight hours a night and is tak­ing a mul­ti­vi­ta­min, but noth­ing seems to be work­ing. What else should we be do­ing? L.P.

Re­cov­ery from glan­du­lar fever can take time and there is no spe­cific med­i­cal treat­ment to has­ten the process. Fa­tigue is the most com­mon per­sis­tent symp­tom. Have her med­i­cally re­viewed in case she has a cor­rectable cause for fa­tigue such as iron de­fi­ciency. Fo­cus on healthy plant-based food, high-qual­ity sources of pro­tein and drink­ing plenty of wa­ter. En­cour­age her to grad­u­ally in­crease ac­tiv­ity.

My mother bruises very eas­ily and has them all over her legs and arms. She is 72 years old, but I’m wor­ried the bruises might be a sign of some­thing else as she doesn’t ap­pear to be fall­ing or bump­ing her­self. Is bruis­ing like this com­mon in older peo­ple? T.Y.

Skin does be­come more prone to bruis­ing and in­jury with age. Her GP needs to look into pos­si­ble causes such as a med­i­ca­tion side-ef­fect (as­pirin for ex­am­ple) or a blood dis­or­der.

I was plan­ning on hav­ing a nat­u­ral birth, but I have been told I have mar­ginal pla­centa pre­via and will most likely need a cae­sarean. Is this com­mon in preg­nant women? Is a cae­sarean the best op­tion for me? V.B.

You must al­low your­self to be guided by your ob­ste­tri­cian. Pla­centa pre­via means the pla­centa is ly­ing over the cervix and could cause bleed­ing, which may be cat­a­strophic for you and your baby if you were al­lowed to go into labour. This is why a planned cae­sarean de­liv­ery is a far safer op­tion.

My daugh­ter is con­sid­er­ing hav­ing my grand­daugh­ter’s ears pinned back. What does the pro­ce­dure in­volve and is it painful? D.D.

Surgery to pin back ears which stick out too much in­volves a gen­eral anaes­thetic and an ex­pert plas­tic sur­geon to re­move ex­cess car­ti­lage and then stitch the skin over the re­mod­elled ears. She will be un­com­fort­able for a week or two, but chil­dren tend to re­cover quite quickly. As with any surgery, your daugh­ter will need to con­sider any po­ten­tial risks and com­pli­ca­tions.

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