ASK DR NOMTETO
E-mail Dr Nomteto at doctor@drum. co.za or SMS the keywords DR NOMTETO, followed by your question and name to 36489. Each SMS (160 characters) costs R1.
Q HAIR LOSS IN WINTER
My hair falls out every winter and my scalp gets itchy. Is there anything I can do about this? ZINZI, SMS
A The cold winter climate can dry out the skin and could be the reason for your itchy scalp. There are, however, other things that could be linked to your hair loss, including certain medications, a lack of iron, undiagnosed skin conditions, thyroid problems, crash dieting and stress.
A more serious form of hair loss is known as alopecia. People with this autoimmune condition lose their hair because their immune system attacks their own hair follicles.
Experts are not sure why this happens, but it is usually not permanent.
For starters, I’d suggest you talk to your pharmacist, as various scalp-treatment creams and sprays can be helpful. If this doesn’t work, you might need to see a skin specialist (a dermatologist), who will get to the root of the problem and find the right treatment.
Q RUMBLY TUMMY ISSUES
I have a problem with a noisy stomach, and get embarrassed when it grumbles when I’m around other people. Please help – I don’t know what to do. SINDI, E-MAIL
A It may be a bit embarrassing but a noisy stomach is not unusual. Our bodies make noises all the time, and these sounds are probably related to the movement of food and air through your intestines – which is perfectly normal and healthy.
After you have eaten, your stomach may grumble or growl as your muscles contract and relax to mix up your food so that it can be digested. The noises can be worse if you’ve eaten food that doesn’t digest easily.
If loud noises also come with other symptoms – like cramping, nausea or vomiting – there might be a bigger problem. Go and see a doctor if this is the case.
Otherwise try to avoid fizzy drinks that can cause a build-up of gas in your intestines, and take a walk after eating to help digestion.
Q AM I AT RISK OF GETTING CANCER OR DIABETES?
My dad died of gastric cancer and my mother’s diabetes was only discovered a week before she passed away. Is my risk for developing either of these conditions high? KABELO, E-MAIL
A Yes it is, as genetics and family history play a large role when it comes to one’s health issues. Now that you know your risk for developing these conditions, you are in a good position to do something about them.
Tell your doctor about your mother and father and go for yearly screenings. Although cancer or diabetes might come from your family, they are also related to your lifestyle. Again, this is something you have some control over.
Q MY VAGINA SMELLS
I’m 20 and have recently noticed that my vagina has an unpleasant fishy smell whenever I have sex with my boyfriend. What can I do to make it go away? ANONYMOUS, SMS
A There are many causes for a smelly discharge, but in most cases it’s linked to a sexually transmitted disease (STD) known as trichomoniasis. If this is the case, you and your partner should be treated with prescription antibiotics.
Visit your doctor as soon as possible, as leaving this condition untreated could lead to other complications and infections.
For more information on STDs, call Marie Stopes Clinic on 0800-117-785.
Q HELP FOR HEAD LICE
My child was sent home from school because of head lice and I was told not to send her back unless she’s been given the all-clear.
What is a good treatment for lice that is not harmful to the skin? And how do I prevent my child from getting lice again? ANDILE, E-MAIL
A Head lice are very common, especially in schools where kids play in close contact with each other. They can be white, brown or dark grey, and although they are small you can usually see them. Nits are the eggs laid by lice, and they may look like little specks of skin, but they won’t move easily when you try to slide them off the hair.
Various over-the-counter treatments are available at your local pharmacy. They usually consist of a special shampoo and a fine-toothed comb.
Follow the instructions carefully. You might find a second treatment is necessary a few days later. Treating clothing and bedding can also help prevent lice from returning.
Head lice are not dangerous, but it’s best to treat your child as soon as possible to prevent the lice from spreading to others.
‘Although cancer or diabetes might come from your family, they are also related to your lifestyle’