Ask the doctor
QI am 68 years old and have just received good news from a complete physical and dental check. I walk every day, eat a healthy diet, drink alcohol in moderation and sleep well. However, I’ve noticed I’ve started to dribble out of the left side of my mouth. It doesn’t happen all the time but it’s noticeable when it does. Have you got any ideas what may be causing it? C.G. Dribbling saliva from one side of your mouth indicates a loss of muscle tone in that side of your face. Causes include Bell’s palsy (a temporary weakness of the facial muscles), a mini stroke, or some other neurological or neuromuscular problem. You will need to go back to your doctor as this is a new symptom, which may need a specialist opinion.
QI’ve noticed that my bowel movements are quite extreme. I’ll swing between being constipated with a dull pain in my belly to other days having diarrhoea. What could the explanation be? G.W. Your gut is telling you something. Pay a visit to your doctor, who may arrange investigations including a stool pathogen test and a dietary assessment looking at fibre content and possible food intolerances (such as lactose). Depending on your age and other symptoms, you may need blood tests and consideration for a colonoscopy.
QBecause of my job, I spend a lot of my day looking down – and as a result I feel a lot of stiffness around my neck and shoulders. Some days it even feels like my mobility is restricted. Is there anything I can do at home or work to relieve the tension? P.H. If there is an occupational health officer at work, ask them to assess the ergonomics of your work station. Try to arrange your work schedule so that you have regular breaks where you can change position, move around and stretch. A physiotherapist will show you some stretches and exercises you can do to avoid neck stiffness.
QI’m 30 and suffer from adult acne around my chin and mouth area. I’m certain it changes with my hormones. Is there any medication or supplements I can take, or any other dietary or lifestyle changes worth investigating? C.S. Your skin is often a reflection of your inner wellbeing, so pay attention to your lifestyle. That means exercise, sleep, nutrition (avoid refined sugars and processed foods), stress, and not smoking. Include probiotics and probiotic foods. Make a note to see if certain foods (such as chocolate or nuts) make it worse. Drink plenty of water. The herb Vitex agnus castus can be helpful in regulating your hormones. You can use overthe-counter treatments like benzoyl peroxide or retinoids to manage the spots. Hormonal medications are also available.