Ask the doctor:
your health questions answered
Q Two years ago, after taking an antibiotic for a couple of days only, I developed mouth thrush. I still have a very sore mouth and tongue. Eating or drinking anything not bland and non-fizzy is excruciating, and I only eat because I have to. Can you help? J.M.
If the initial problem was treated for thrush, you would have to question the diagnosis. Burning mouth syndrome has many causes, including nutritional deficiency, food allergies, medication side-effect and gastric reflux.
Q My mother and now my older sister have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I’m afraid I will get it as well. Is there anything I can do to lower my risk? L.O.
There is no sure way of avoiding Alzheimer’s disease. You can reduce your risk by never smoking, minimising alcohol, having a quality diet (including omega-3 fatty acids, fruit and vegetables) and keeping your mind active. Monitor your blood pressure.
Q I often feel sick in the stomach after eating. I have been tested for irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and intolerances related to dairy and wheat, but the results were negative. A friend suggested I start the Low FODMAP diet. What is it? J.J.
If you have not had a gastroscopy, I would advise you talk to your doctor about a referral for that. You should also be tested for helicobacter pylori. This is a blood test and (if positive) a breath test. Your gut function should also be assessed. A Low FODMAP diet is an evidence-supported diet for managing irritable bowel syndrome. FODMAPs are chemicals found in food. See a dietitian for a comprehensive discussion.
Q My husband is 12 years older than me and will be turning 42 in a few months. I have heard a lot about the risks associated for women having a baby after the age of 40, but I recently read that DNA mutations are more likely for older fathers, too. What kind of problems can occur? D.S.
Older fathers do pass on more genetic mutations. Growing evidence shows that the children of older fathers have reduced fertility and an increased risk of birth defects, some cancers and some psychiatric problems. The definition of “older” is controversial, although generally considered to be over 50 at the time of conception, but risk increases with time.
Q At the end of every holiday, my hands peel. Whether I’ve flown overseas or just stayed home, it happens every time. It either starts at the end of the trip or when I’m back at work. There’s no difference to my skincare routine. A.K.
This is a mystery. A common reason I see is that people use hand sanitisers or different soaps or moisturisers when they travel and this causes an irritant contact dermatitis. There is a condition called exfoliative keratolysis, which is more common in summer months. Best to see your doctor or a dermatologist when it is obvious.