Prevention (Australia)

What doctors tell their friends

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From bloating to heartbreak, these personal accounts will help you overcome those niggling worries.

No, we’re not talking about privacy breach! We mean solid, sincere advice. These personal accounts from doctors will

help you conquer those little aches and bigger worries.

IT’S POSSIBLE TO FEEL HEARTBREAK

“A woman I know came to see me about six weeks after her mother died,” says GP Dr Jennifer Ashton. “She looked awful – her hair was unbrushed; she was wearing an old T-shirt and no bra. She told me she had a fever and upper back pain, neck pain and headaches. I did a full exam and ran some tests, which showed nothing serious. But I knew her pain was real, and I knew what was causing it. I sat her down and said: ‘You are the poster child for reactive depression.’

“We’re not sure exactly why, but sometimes when a person suffers emotional trauma, they develop physical symptoms. She said: ‘So are you going to put me on antidepres­sants?’ I replied: ‘There’s something else I want you to try first: a spin class.’ I knew the endorphins she’d experience while riding and bonding with other women, and the distractio­n of some fun exercise, would do wonders. She tried it, and when I checked in with her a week later, she told me she was feeling so much better already.

Indeed, she said: ‘The first night after I exercised, I had a dream in which my mother told me she was fine and I could let her go.’ I got goosebumps! There’s definitely a mind-body connection – but fortunatel­y for women like her, it goes both ways.”

BLOATING IS NO JOKE

“Abdominal pain is one of the most common complaints we get in the emergency department, and often it’s related to gas,” says emergency physician Dr Eric Gross. “People don’t realise how painful gas can be! It can also be a symptom of something more serious.

“I had a family member who was having gas and bloating pains every single day. We cut things out from her diet, such as caffeine, lactose and gluten, and slowly added them back in. Turns out, she has gluten intoleranc­e. These pains could’ve bothered her for years if she didn’t get them checked out. You don’t need to go running to the medical centre every time you have gas, but if your symptoms persist, it’s worth talking to a doctor. Don’t be embarrasse­d – trust me, we’ve seen it all.”

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