I’ve got Satan’s pits
I sweat like a freak in summer and worry that I stink all the time. How can I stop it? Should I shave my armpit hair?
Rab Smith, Leeds
Oddly, there is a medical term for this: hyperhidrosis. “Many people who suffer from it have had it for years,” says Dr Sach Mohan of Renew Medica (renewmedica.com). “Sweating is constant and antiperspirants don’t work.” Okay, so what’s the plan, Sach? “There are a range of treatments,” says the Doc, casting around for new business, “including Botox injections, Iontophoresis (an electrical current is used to block the sweat ducts) and even surgery, where the ducts are removed.” Huh? So shaving your pits is too simple? “It’s debatable, but one positive outcome for others around you is that hair-free armpits have a tendency to smell less!”
Chickens help me breathe!
I’ve stopped eating all carbs (bread, pasta, potatoes) and instead eat only fruit, meat and veg and have noticed, as an asthmatic, that I’m no longer wheezing. Is there a link or is it all in my mind?
Andy Godden, via e-mail
There could well be a link, reckons Edwina Wooler, of Asthma UK (asthma.org.uk), although it’s really down to each individual’s symptoms. “Some people with asthma may notice an improvement – this benefit is thought to be linked to the vitamins and antioxidants in fruit and veg”, says our breath expert. “And some food can make asthma symptoms worse.” So if quaffing oysters or knocking back champers has you wheezing like Dot Cotton after a quick treadmill session, it’s best to steer clear. But don’t get too carried away, you haven’t stumbled upon a cure. As Edwina says, “The important thing to remember is that avoiding your triggers alone is unlikely to control your asthma. You will need to continue to take your regular asthma medicines and maintain a healthy balanced diet.”
Tell me it won’t come back…
My wife and her mother have had breast cancer. Is it likely to return, and will our children have it?
P Distan, via e-mail
The good news is that only 5% of breast cancers are due to “inherited faults in genes”, according to Laura Gibson at Breakthrough Breast Cancer (breakthrough.org.uk). “A family history of breast cancer is when an unusually high number of close relatives on one side of the family have had the disease or certain other types of cancer, often at a younger age as most breast cancers are diagnosed in women over 50.” If you’re worried about the disease returning, speak to your GP.
Will our kids get Down’s?
My girlfriend’s got a family member with Down’s syndrome. How likely is it that any kids we have will have it?
Ed Harper, via e-mail
“This is unlikely to have any bearing on whether or not she has an increased risk of having a child with Down’s syndrome”, says John Smithies of the Down’s Syndrome Association. In fact, Down’s is one of life’s crueller lotteries, with “99% of cases the result of a spontaneous occurrence at the time of conception”. While it is possible to inherit a form of Down’s syndrome, says Smithies, her family would probably know about it. “If your girlfriend is still worried, she can ask her GP for a chromosome test on a blood sample.”
Junk the grease
How can I lower my cholesterol?
Mike Martindale, via e-mail
You probably know the answer to this one already, don’t you? The simple answer is ‘cut back on fry-ups and go for more runs round the block’, but of course there’s more to it than that, as Marian Byrt at HEART UK (heartuk.org.uk) explains. “Everybody’s total cholesterol should be five or below. If you’ve been told you’re at a higher risk, it should be four or below”. So how do you get it lower? Hell if, after improving your diet and upping the exercise, your arteries are still furrier than Burt Reynolds in a yak skin jacket, it might be time to see the quack: you might have a hereditrary problem. “In some people raised cholesterol is an inherited condition,” explains Marian. “Inherited high cholesterol can cause early heart disease and shorten lives if not identified and treated, but with early diagnosis it can be successfully managed with lifestyle change and medication.”
It’s all going black
I’ve been having moments where I think I am going to faint in claustrophobic environments (train carriages etc). Usually I grab onto things and soon come round – but should I be worried?
Graham Vance, via e-mail
Should you be worried? Sounds like you already are, although you might be glad to know that 17% of Brits suffer from the screaming ab-dabs at some point. “Fainting is unlikely,” says Catherine O’Neill at the National Phobics Society, “as it’s usually caused by low blood pressure.” Still, the fact that you’re climbing up the walls on the train isn’t ideal, so what do you do about it? “Take deep breathes and reassure yourself that this feeling will pass,” reckons Catherine. “Feeling faint can be caused by the ‘fight or flight response’, an inbuilt mechanism originally designed to protect us. It can cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate which can lead to a dizzy feeling.”
The skin at the back of my finger nails is dry and painful. Do I need to take a trip to a ‘USA Nails’ parlour or are there some home remedies?
Jon Snowdon, Hull
Either way, prepare to leave your manhood at the door. “A good quality manicure will deal with cuticle dryness, as a nail technician will apply a hand moisturiser at the end,” says Maria Epiphaniuo, therapist at bloke’s beauty parlour Gentlemen’s Tonic (gentlemenstonic.com). But if you can’t bear to leave the house on such a mission, have a go yourself, as Maria explains. “Use a homemade hand mask by slightly warming up some olive oil and soaking your hands in it. Follow this by wrapping the hands with cling film, and then wrap them in a damp, hot towel for 10 minutes.” When you’re done, why not chop your own gonads off?
What happens when you get drunk?
Aside from attempting to climb some scaffolding…
Alcohol avoids the digestive process and goes directly to the blood. 20% is absorbed through the stomach, 80% through the small intestine. The alcohol dilutes itself to travel through the system, meaning organs containing a lot of water and that need a big blood supply – like the brain – get hit first.
From that point onwards, says leading anatomical expert Dr Izak Loftus, there’s a high chance the booze will seep into the brain’s occipital lobe at the back end of your grey splodge. The next stop: “The drinker finds it increasingly difficult to perceive movement and distance while suffering from impaired peripheral vision.”
Now, with your brain weeping in pain, the alcohol in your bloodstream boosts glucose production, hence that buzz you’re now experiencing. To counter this, your body then secretes insulin, which ironically has the adverse affect: you’ll become even more blurry eyed and dizzy, only now you’ll also be sweating like a whore in a church.
As if that couldn’t be any worse, the booze then cunningly moves into your central nervous system and its ability to analyse sensory information. Or inability to, rather. As if having a dull brain wasn’t bad enough, your CNS is now also having a pop at further blurring your vision.
There’s more. Once your wounded CNS has convinced you to eat from a mobile hamburger stand, it’ll run riot with your ability to feel pain. Which is why you won’t realise until tomorrow morning, when you see your bloodied sheets, that a man called Turnip headbutted you through a chip shop window last night. But whatever – who’s up for a beer garden pint?