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3rd 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.

Heavy Periods
“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.

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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