Ask the doc­tor

Pro­fes­sor Ker­ryn Phelps an­swers read­ers’ ques­tions about snor­ing, back pain, arthri­tis and colonoscopy prepa­ra­tion.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - MEDICAL Q&A - 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 awwed­i­tor@ bauer­me­dia.co.nz; sub­ject Q&A. Let­ters can­not be an­swered per­son­ally.

Q I re­cently turned 40 and have been get­ting a lot of pain in my fin­gers. I broke them as a child – could I be de­vel­op­ing arthri­tis? L.O. Old in­juries may have dam­aged the joint sur­faces or sur­round­ing struc­tures such as lig­a­ments. This may cause pain later in life. Painful fin­gers may also be an early sign of one of the many forms of arthri­tis. Your GP can get the ball rolling with X-rays and blood tests. Q My hus­band has se­vere lower back pain and con­stantly takes painkillers, but I worry about the im­pact of this. What else can he do? G.A. He should have the pain in­ves­ti­gated by his GP. This will in­volve imag­ing and blood tests. There might be a treat­able me­chan­i­cal cause, such as a pro­lapsed disc. Phys­io­ther­apy, stretches and tar­geted ex­er­cises may help. Q I am 63 years old and hav­ing trou­ble with snor­ing. It wakes me up and I’m un­able to go back to sleep. How can I stop snor­ing? N.D. Ask your GP to re­fer you for sleep ap­noea as­sess­ment. The cause may be in your up­per air­way, or could be a re­sult of be­ing over­weight, smok­ing or drink­ing ex­cess al­co­hol. The as­sess­ment will guide your treat­ment: lifestyle mea­sures first, with surgery some­times nec­es­sary if there is an ob­struc­tion in your nasal pas­sages, for ex­am­ple. A ma­chine called CPAP (Con­tin­u­ous Pos­i­tive Air­ways Pres­sure) worn all night can help stop the snor­ing. Q I had a can­cer­ous polyp re­moved from my bowel 12 years ago, so I need reg­u­lar colonoscopy checks. But I al­ways have a bad re­ac­tion to the prep liq­uid. What can I do? P.D. Good bowel clean-out is es­sen­tial to check for polyps. This in­volves a lax­a­tive kit, which flushes out the con­tents of your bowel. Some peo­ple do have ad­verse re­ac­tions, but there are dif­fer­ent types of prep. Ask your gas­troen­terol­o­gist about your op­tions.

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