My head’s flaking off…
I’ve got these flakes of crusty skin falling off in my hair and it’s really itchy. My hair now has flecks of skin in it the whole time. How do I get rid of it?
RG, via e-mail
We hate to break the bad news, but it’s called ‘dandruff’, and there’s a pretty simple solution – get the Head & Shoulders out. “A dry, flaky scalp can be caused by a variety of factors,” says Dr Rosemary Leonard, GP and skincare expert. “But in most cases, a gentle, fragrance-free product which effectively cleanses the scalp and soothes itching is ideal.” And if you still look like an extra from Shaun Of The Dead after dousing your head with the shampoo of shame, try a specialist product such as Nizoral. Allow consultant dermatologist Dr Sarah Wakelin to explain the way to a crust-free bonce: “Dandruff is an over-production of natural yeasts on the scalp, so using a balancing treatment containing ketoconazole will reduce those levels.”
Toast makes me wheeze
I’m asthmatic, but whenever I eat bread I start wheezing heavily. Am I making this up, or is there a proper link? And does this mean I’ll have to give up bread forever?
J Heard, Poole
Firstly, rule out other causes. “It could be an allergy,” reasons nutritionist Alice Bradshaw, “as respiratory problems can be related to food allergies and intolerance.” And although being allergic to wheat is almost a badge of honour these days – as anybody who’s seen Sex And The City can testify – you need to rule this out. Get a consultation from an expert who can test you for food allergies (see www.yorktest.com for more information). But could there be a direct link to asthma? TV’s Dr Dawn Harper reckons that there could be a specific link between wheat and your lung lurgy. “Eating bread is an unusual trigger, but I don’t think you’re making it up,” says the celeb doc, displaying a bedside manner to make Dr Finlay hang up his stethoscope. “There’s a substance added to flour called alpha amylase that’s been identified as a cause of asthma.” In which case, it’s definitely time to leave the Hovis alone.
I mainline Kia-Ora
I’m downing a lot of sugary drinks – Ribena, Lucozade and such like – at the moment. Why? Will it do me any long-term damage?
Guy Reeves, via e-mail
“You seem to be addicted to sugar,” says dental specialist Dr Hap Gill. “Addicts enjoy the pleasurable sensation on their taste buds after their ‘hit’ of sugar.” See your GP to rule out diabetes which, although unlikely, is a possibility. Also cut out the sugar or face a life with perpetual chomper problems. “Look forward to multiple fillings, root canals and tooth loss,” warns our portentous dentist. “My number one advice would be to gently brush straightaway after eating, and to limit sugar hits to meal times only.”
My willy’s on fire
I’m getting a burning sensation when I pee – and I’m finding I need to go more than usual, sometimes four times an hour. Most of the time I can only manage a one-second dribble, too. What the hell is going on?
Jimmy T, Carlisle
It’s time to piss in a bottle and take it, cap in hand, to your GP, if the advice of Dr Dawn Harper of TV’s Embarrassing Illnesses fame is anything to go by. “It sounds like you’ve got a urinary tract infection,” says the iron-stomached sawbones. That’s cystitis to you and me – and it affects men as well as women. The condition occurs when the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder and the outside world) becomes infected. Sexually transmitted diseases can be one cause, but usually it’s just one of life’s random risks, like the flu or the shits. But can’t you just down gallons of cranberry juice to take care of it, as legions of girlfriends have done since time immemorial? Not according to Dr Dawn but it’s not all bad. “It can be treated with a simple course of antibiotics, so make an appointment and take along a sample of wee.”
My feet smell like Wotsits
No matter how often I wash my feet they still reek. I’ve tried athlete’s foot cream, but it’s only half effective. What can I do?
Washing your feet with something heavy-duty might have some effect on your locker room-scaring plates of meat, says Lorraine Jones from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. “Firstly, wash your feet regularly using an anti-bacterial soap. When feet sweat the perspiration is unable to evaporate which creates a moist environment that’s perfect for strong-smelling bacteria and fungi to grow.” But what if this has no effect, and your stinking dogs still attract swarms of flies? Our hoof quack suggests an anti-fungal foot spray and some good, old-fashioned hygiene. “Wear socks made from natural fibres – and rotate your footwear to give your shoes a chance to dry out.”
Days of the living dead
Everyday, at about 3pm, I start to feel incredibly lethargic. My eyelids begin to droop and I struggle to stay awake. It can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. I’m not eating anything unusual. What’s wrong with me? Am I diabetic or something?
David Harcourt, via e-mail
It’s a possibility, according to Cathy Moulton of Diabetes UK. “Extreme tiredness is one of the symptoms of diabetes. Visit your GP and undergo a simple blood test.” But Solgar Vitamins’ Victoria Webb-Hockfield thinks it could be a simple case of changing your diet: “Swap your lunchtime sandwich for a protein-rich meal, such as a salad with tuna or chicken.”
A punch ended boxer Spencer Oliver’s career, but it could’ve been worse…
“All I remember is making my entrance to the ring at the Albert Hall,” says Spencer Oliver. “The next thing, I woke up in hospital. I couldn’t speak, I had a tube in my mouth and I thought, ‘Shit! What’s happening?’”
On May 2, 1998, the 23-year-old’s head was twisted by a right-hander from his opponent, Serguei Devakov of the Ukraine. Ten minutes later, he had to be stretchered from the ring. An hour after that he was undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. He awoke 60 hours later to find his head clamped together by 60 metal staples. The speed of the journey from ring to operating theatre had saved him: in previous years Bradley Stone – who died – and Michael Watson hadn’t been so lucky.
“When I woke up, even though my manager said I wouldn’t box again, I was reckoning on having a year off and then coming back… but that’s before I saw what I looked like,” he recalls.
“I’d prepared well, though I’d had some trouble making the weight. The doctors told me that when you get really dehydrated, the blood vessels in the brain can snap, and with the TV lights at the Hall it was boiling. I snapped a blood vessel in my brain early on, and that was that.
“Some days I still think, ‘Why me?’ My wife tells me how lucky I am, though. I’m running marathons for charity while plenty of others are paralysed.” He’s also back in the gym, training boxers Dean Pithie and Wayne Llewellyn and, as a pundit, he regularly crops up on Sky.
“I heard a tape of me being interviewed before one of my fights, and I reckon I sound better now. Maybe it did me some good!”