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Diet pill has a slim chance of being good for you.

I have been on a diet since the beginning of the year and by early summer I got down to 11 stone, but was unable to drop below this. In desperation I turned to a private slimming clinic where a doctor put me on Duromine which she said would not have side-effects if I didn't take them for too long. I am now 9st 10lb but I'm suffering headaches, dry mouth and have trouble sleeping. I am a 40-year -old woman, and apart from a strong family history of heart disease, I am in general good health. Do you think the pills are safe?

NO I don't. Private diet clinics are often staffed by cowboys who give the medical profession a bad name. The use of slimming tablets has always been controversial with many doctors refusing to prescribe them. They should only be used in carefully selected patients with a serious weight problem... and in tandem with a strict diet. You don't fit into these categories and you should never have been prescribed the drug. According to the British National Formulary, the doctors'' drug Bible, the use of Duromine (phentermine) as a general slimming aid is NOT justified as any possible benefits are outweighed by the risks. These risks include dry mouth, headache, hallucinations, raised blood pressure, serious mental illness and addiction! If they were my tablets I would chuck them in the bin.

I HAVE always had difficulty sleeping but have found some relief recently from taking Nytol. Is there any reason why I shouldn't take these tablets on a regular basis?

NYTOL, like other sleep aids available without prescription contains an old-fashioned antihistamine called diphenhydramine. Like many of the older types of antihistamine one of its side- effects is drowsiness which generally comes on an hour or so after taking the tablet - hence it's use as a sleeping aid. It is a pretty harmless drug but I have two concerns about its use. Firstly, in the elderly it can cause drowsiness the next day (a hangover effect), and secondly like many sleeping pills it can reduce the quality of sleep, so although you get more it's not as refreshing.

Other side-effects include a dry mouth, blurred vision, disorientation, problems passing water, and, when taken for long periods, tolerance (its effects start to wear off unless you take a higher dose).

Will this daughter ever be a mum?

My daughter and son-in-law have been trying to start a family for the last year. Because they were having no joy they arranged to see her GP who has informed her that she has a back-to-front womb and is unlikely ever to bear children. She is obviously very upset - can anything be done?

IT'S perfectly normal to take up to 12 months to become pregnant, but if it takes longer it is worth seeing your doctor for advice - though remember it takes two to tango and both the man and the woman should be seen.

I am not quite sure what you mean by back-to-front womb but I think it is probably what we doctors call a retroverted uterus. In a normal woman the womb tilts forward but in around 1 in 5 women it tilts back and is said to be retroverted. This can be perfectly normal and just the way that some women develop, but in a small number of cases it can be a sign of inflammation or infection in the pelvis, both of which can cause fertility problems. In your daughter's case having a retroverted womb would not necessarily mean she cannot have children, but it may be a marker of underlying problems which could cause infertility.

I suspect her GP will refer her to a specialist - most couples with these sorts of problems can be helped.

Beware this invisible danger

My husband and I have been suffering from aches and pains and a lack of energy. Our doctor has checked us out and found nothing wrong but my niece, who is a nurse, thinks it may be linked to our gas fire. Could there be any link?

YES, there could. Gas fires, like boilers and water heaters, produce carbon monoxide (CO). If properly vented there shouldn't be a problem, but in many cases CO can collect in dangerous levels. In very high doses it can lead to unconsciousness and death, but in low doses it can cause a number of symptoms including memory loss, headaches, muscular weakness and pain, fatigue and dizziness. A CO detector in your home or a blood test at your doctor's should be able to rule it out. For more information write to CO Support, 25 Swarcliffe Road, Leeds LS14 5LE. Please enclose a large s.a.e.

The new Alzheimer's drug Aricept, which has attracted so much publicity over the last few months, has failed to get approval from an influential group of independent experts. The Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin review concludes that "on the published evidence available we cannot recommend the use of Aricept."" Although there is evidence the drug can improve mental function in patients with mild to moderate symptoms of the disease, the findings are based on just one clinical trial and experts think more work is needed before the drug should be made widely available.

Some people are not having their eyes tested because they are worried about the cost, but few are aware that free eye examinations ARE still available to some groups including: children under 16 or students under 19; people receiving Income Support or Family Credit; those just above Social Security benefit levels as defined by a means test; diabetics; glaucoma sufferers and their close relatives; the blind and partially sighted; people entitled to NHS complex lens vouchers; those receiving Disability Working Allowance; and recipients of Income-based Job Seekers allowance. Ideally everyone should have an eye examination every two years - particularly people over 40 years old.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Porter, Mark
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 2, 1997
Next Article:MIRROR WATCH.

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