Ask the doctor
Professor Kerryn Phelps answers readers’ health questions.
Q My boyfriend’s palms are always clammy, he has excessive sweating and is hot all the time. I read Botox can help. What would you recommend? O.T.
This is called hyperhidrosis. He first needs to rule out underlying causes, such as anxiety, obesity, low blood sugar, overactive thyroid and some medications. Treatments may include medications or surgical procedures. Botox is sometimes used for underarm sweating, but can cause muscle weakness. Q My masseur pointed out I have scoliosis [curvature of the spine]. I often get severe lower back pain at night and when I sit for long periods. I’m in my late 20s. Can it be fixed? S.D. There are degrees of severity and most cases require only conservative management of symptoms with exercises, stretching and physical therapies. Bracing is used in childhood and only severe cases are treated with surgery.
Q I’ve suffered depression and anxiety for a decade. My GP prescribed medication for five years. Last year, I lost 15kg and took up Pilates, which made me healthier and happier. How can I stop the drugs? L.K.
You have made real and positive changes to your lifestyle, which will help relieve depression and anxiety. Keep up your diet and activities and discuss weaning off medication under your GP’s supervision – some medications have a withdrawal syndrome, so you can feel a bit wobbly for a few weeks after withdrawal. St John’s wort can help manage this, once antidepressants are ceased.
Q I have fluid retention and compression stockings only reduce the fluid a little. I have taken fluid retention tablets, but you can only take these for a short period. Can you suggest anything? S.H.
Ask your doctor to investigate whether there
is a treatable cause, such as heart, kidney or liver disease, an underactive thyroid or dietary protein deficiency. Your doctor can advise you on medical treatment, diuretics (pharmaceutical and herbal), dietary change or exercise.
Q My 15-year-old daughter has had shingles a few times in the past 18 months. How can I prevent it? R.D.
“Positive changes to your lifestyle will help relieve depression and anxiety. ”
Shingles is a reactivation of chickenpox virus, which can lie dormant in nerves in between intensely painful attacks, where a rash breaks out in the skin. There is a vaccine which boosts immunity, but it’s only recommended for people over the age of 50. New outbreaks of shingles need to be treated promptly with antiviral medication. Pay attention to your daughter’s diet, ensuring she is eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and she should avoid getting overtired.