3 March 2017
Feel your best for 2017
So here we are at the start of a new year, and with a new start comes pre-work fatigue. Here, consultants from The Montefiore Hospital in Hove provide you with all the advice you need to tackle those niggling health problems in the new year.
Back and Neck Pain
“Back and neck pain is a major cause for working days lost, so start 2017 with a New Year’s resolution to look after your back. If you haven’t already, give up smoking as the chemicals in tobacco smoke poison the intervertebral discs. Drink plenty of water especially if you are in an air-conditioned office – your intervertebral discs naturally lose water during the day. Get up from your desk and move around whenever the opportunity arises. If you do develop some back pain, over the counter (OTC) anti-inflammatories, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, will help as well as keeping moving – lying down for long periods at home is counterproductive. If your back pain doesn’t get better within a few weeks or becomes increasingly painful, or if you have leg or arm pain also, visit your GP or a spine specialist,” Mr Michael Cass, Spinal Surgeon.
“90% of migraine sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine attacks. There are some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the migraines – drink plenty of water to ensure you don’t become dehydrated, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, and stick to a routine bedtime and waking up time wherever possible. Avoid regular use of OTC medicines, especially those which contain codeine as this can aggravate the headache. Take a painkiller as you feel the headache coming on. Supplements such as magnesium, riboflavin and CQ10 can also help. If the migraines occur several times a month, see your GP. Sussex GPs will be provided updated guidelines in 2017 on how to better help patients with migraines and when to refer you to a specialist,” Dr Romi Saha, Neurologist.
“One in five women suffer debilitatingly heavy periods that not only affect concentration at work, but even force them to take sick leave on a regular basis. Try an OTC medicine called mefenamic acid (also known as Ponstan) to reduce the pain and lessen the bleeding. If you are obese, losing weight could also help to lighten the periods. If symptoms continue, visit your GP for prescription medication. You may also be referred to a specialist for assessment to exclude other causes such as hormones, polyps or fibroids.” Mr Faz Pakarian, Gynaecologist.
Benign Enlargement of the Prostate
“Are you frequently leaving your desk to go to the loo or getting `caught short’ in a meeting? You might have a benign enlargement of the prostate which affects one in three men in their 50s. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and reducing the number of drinks before bedtime, will solve the problem for most men. If not, surgery may be necessary. New surgical procedures are now available which relieve the symptoms of urinary flow without resorting to cutting or removing prostate tissue, and so preserving sexual function. Discuss the options with your GP, urologist, and importantly your partner,” Mr Andy Symes, Urologist.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
“If you wake up several times in the night feeling like you can’t breathe you may be suffering from OSA This leads to exhaustion and reduced concentration at work, and can be dangerous if handling machinery or driving. Alcohol aggravates the problem so reduce your intake. Losing weight and increasing overall body tone through exercise will also help. However, if the problem continues see your GP. You may be referred for sleep tests to monitor your oxygen levels. A proven treatment is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy which provides steady air pressure via a mask or nose piece,” Mr Mike O’Connell, Ears, Nose and Throat Consultant.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
“Sitting through meetings at work can be torture if you are experiencing abdominal pain caused by IBS. Stress, eating poorly and drinking to excess will worsen IBS symptoms which include diarrhoea, constipation and or pain. Avoid common food triggers such as milk or dairy products, wheat and gluten, and vegetables such as onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts and beans. Peppermint oil capsules can be an effective treatment. For short-term use, try anti-spasmodics, anti-diarrhoeas and painkillers, but if symptoms continue, or include severe pain or persistent rectal bleeding, then see your GP. You may require referral to a specialist for more detailed examination of the bowel,” Dr Mark Austin, Gastroenterologist.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
“Tingling sensations, `pins and needles’ and pain in your hands and fingers? Then you could have CTS, a common condition that can be aggravated by poor positioning of your wrists while using your keyboard or mouse and prolonged exposure to vibrations from using hand tools or power tools. Rest your hands frequently and take anti-inflammatories. If you regularly wake up in the night with a numb hand or the pain is becoming constant, then see your GP who may refer you to a specialist. Most people can be treated without surgery and you might be advised to wear a wrist splint,” Mr Chris Williams and Ms Lisa Leonard, Hand Surgeons.
“Diabetes and work don’t always mix. How do you manage food, medicines, rest, monitoring, and exercise especially if you’ve got demands and deadlines? The rise in obesity has led to an increase in the number of people having Type 2 diabetes. Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue. See your GP if you are concerned. It can be managed with the latest medication, but lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, can reduce or even put Type 2 diabetes into remission. If you have Type 2 diabetes, ensure you have a yearly blood test, an annual eye check and your feet examined regularly,” Dr Sunil Zachariah, Endocrinologist.
Don’t allow a health concern to continue without seeking the advice of your GP and/or a specialist. In many cases, advice on lifestyle changes, plus OTC and prescription medication will help alleviate the symptoms to allow you to function once again at work.
First published in Sussex Business Times January 2017.
3 March 2017
Useful tips on tackling the trauma of tinnitus
If ringing in the ears is literally driving you to distraction, you may have tinnitus. Don’t let it ruin the quality of your life as there is plenty that can be done to help. Hearing experts at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove have `sound’ advice.
Ringing, whistling, humming or buzzing…. all words that have been used to describe a noise inside the head that only you can hear. Around 30% of us have had tinnitus at some point, but one in ten people experience it all the time. For many, this `phantom’ noise is extremely distressing, causing insomnia, lack of concentration and can lead to depression. Don’t let it get to this stage - visit your GP who may refer you to an Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant.
What can be done?
- Often the first visit to an ENT consultant may be your only visit – for many people, the reassurance that this noise is nothing sinister stops them worrying and then, in turn, the tinnitus naturally becomes less intrusive.
- Tinnitus often goes hand in hand with hearing loss, so you may be referred to an audiologist to have hearing levels checked. A hearing aid will not only improve hearing, but also the tinnitus.
- Tinnitus can be triggered by mental or physical changes such as changing jobs or a stressful event. Patients may be referred for stress management or cognitive behavioural therapy.
- A tinnitus masker may be recommended. This is a tiny device that emits low levels of a sound that you choose, such as the sound of waves breaking on a beach. You are in control of the volume and can switch it on and off, however it is recommended that you wear the device for a couple of hours every day. The masker can `trick’ the brain into not hearing the tinnitus. Try this: stand next to a tap turned on full. If you only hear the water, and not the ringing in your ears, chances are a masker could benefit you.
What can you do to help yourself?
- If you are struggling to sleep, use environmental noises to mask the sound of the tinnitus. Open a window at night so you can hear traffic, have a ticking clock in the room, or turn on a radio or TV to a low volume, not loud enough to be intrusive, but at a level that overrides the noise in your head.
- Check your medication – tinnitus can be triggered by certain drugs, such as aspirin. However, take advice from your GP before changing medication.
- Protect your ears from loud noises which can exacerbate tinnitus. For sample, wear ear protectors when mowing the lawn.
- Don’t push earbuds into your ear – if you think wax is the cause of the tinnitus, have your ears cleaned by a medical professional.
- Visit the British Tinnitus Association website for more advice – www.tinnitus.org.uk
Seek urgent medical advice if tinnitus occurs suddenly, is in just one ear or is causing dizziness, or you have sudden hearing loss.
Advice from Mr Tony McGilligan, Consultant ENT surgeon and Ben Tranter, audiologist at the Sussex Audiology Centre who both hold weekly clinics at The Montefiore Hospital, Hove. For more information visit www.themontefiorehospital.co.uk or for a non-obligation enquiry, phone 01273 828 148.
First published in Brighton and Hove Independent on Friday 17th February 2017.
25 January 2017
Useful tips on tackling painful migraines
Sussex GPs will soon be receiving new guidelines on how to treat migraine patients more effectively. This is good news for sufferers as often their symptoms can be misdiagnosed. Dr Romi Saha, neurologist at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove, says that, as well as effective treatments, there is a lot people can do to help themselves.
If your headaches make you light, noise or smell sensitive and all you want to do is lie down in a dark room, then these are likely to be migraines.
Some people complain of one-sided headaches, while others notice zig-zag lights or sparkles before their eyes. However, every sufferer is different and around two-thirds don’t experience these symptoms.
But for 90% of migraine sufferers, an attack can be debilitating, leaving them unable to function normally.
You can get migraines for the first time at any age, but people often have had their first one by the time they are 30, and attacks usually get less severe as you get older.
If you are getting symptoms several times month, then make an appointment with your GP but also try these self-help tips:
- Don’t allow yourself to get dehydrated – drink at least two litres of fluid a day
- Avoid skipping meals
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Reduce the amount of coffee or tea you drink and avoid caffeinated drinks like Red Bull – it might help get you through a tough day, but can trigger a headache later.
- Stick to a routine bedtime and waking uptime where possible. Many people find they have a migraine attack at the weekend because they have spent weekdays going to be at 10pm and getting up at 6.30am, then suddenly they are up until midnight on a Friday night and lie in bed on Saturday.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week
Natural remedies: Magnesium, riboflavin (a B vitamin) and Co-enzyme Q10 can help ward off a migraine. They can be bought in a supplement form from health food shops or the natural remedy aisle of high street chemists or can be found naturally in the following foods -
Magnesium: dark chocolate, bananas, low fat yogurt, nuts and seeds, avocadoes, soy beans, leafy greens and fish.
Riboflavin: milk, meat, eggs, nuts, enriched flour, and green vegetables
Coenzyme Q 10: chicken, herring, mackerel beef, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, pistachio nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, strawberries and soybean oil
Painkillers: Avoid regular use of OTC medicines, especially those which contain codeine as this can aggravate the headache. Take a painkiller as you feel the headache coming on. However, taking any form of painkiller on more than 10 days a month can lead to analgesia overuse which can make the headache worse. Visit your GP who can recommend alternative, and more effective, painkillers. Patients with debilitating symptoms may be referred to a neurologist to rule out other causes of the headache.
Dr Romi Saha holds a neurology clinic on Monday evenings and alternative Tuesday afternoons at the Montefiore Hospital, Montefiore Road, Hove. Visit www.themontefiorehospital.co.uk or for a non-obligation enquiry, phone 01273 828 148. For more information, visit www.migrainetrust.org
First published in Brighton and Hove Independent on Sunday 22nd January 2017.
25 January 2017
Hove clinician urges women not to miss their smear tests
A Hove gynaecologist has stressed the importance of keeping up to date with smear tests in Cervical Screening Awareness Week (January 22).
Consultant gynaecologist Faz Pakarian, who practices at private healthcare provider The Montefiore Hospital in Hove, said figures show that 20 per cent of women do not attend their cervical screening appointments.
Mr Pakarian said: “Cervical cancer is a preventable disease. The signs that it may develop can be often be spotted early and it can be treated before it even fully starts.
“While around 750 women each year in the UK die of cervical cancer every year, figures show that many of those who develop the disease have not been screened regularly. The single biggest risk factor for developing cervical cancer is not being regularly screened, yet it is thought that as many as one million women a year are missing out.”
Women aged 25 to 49 are invited to attend smear tests every three years; those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years. The screening can detect abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer.
Mr Pakarian said: “It is important to get the message across that cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but instead allows for detection of abnormalities at an early stage.
“The routine of attending a cervical screening should be an important part of every woman’s health regime but for many women this message just isn’t getting through. Early detection is key to increasing survival rates so educating everyone about the disease, its symptoms and ways to prevent it is very important.”
First published in Brighton and Hove Independent on Sunday 22nd January 2017.