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Don't panic...you can beat this fear; HOW TO FEEL SAFE IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS.

I SUFFER from regular panic attacks particularly when I leave the house.

I have put up with these for many years, but things have come to a head this year because I have been invited to stay with my brother in Ireland.

Is there any type of medication I can take to calm me down during the journey?

PANIC attacks are basically severe attacks of anxiety that come on for no apparent reason. Symptoms include palpitations (pounding heart), sweating, butterflies in your tummy, and a strange feeling that something awful is about to happen.

In your case it would seem that these are linked to leaving your house and it may be that you have agoraphobia (a fear of open or crowded spaces).

The best way of dealing with your symptoms is to learn to control your anxiety. Your GP will be able to refer you for psychotherapy and anxiety management, but it can take months and sometimes years to get better. If you leave things as they are the attacks will almost certainly get worse and become more frequent and you may well end up confined to your house. None of this will help you get to Ireland this Easter and you will need to ask your GP for some form of medication to cover the trip.

Drugs like beta-blockers and members of the valium family will keep your symptoms at bay but should only be used for short periods.

I HAVE always had a lot of trouble with my bowels and have been told by my doctor to eat a high- fibre diet. This helps keeps my symptoms under control but gives me terrible flatulence. Can you help?

FLATULENCE or wind is inevitable in all of us to some degree - we have to get rid of excess gas produced by our guts otherwise we would explode! Most of it is produced by fermentation of the contents of the gut by bacteria living in the large bowel. Most foodstuffs are completely digested or absorbed by the time they reach this end part of the gut, but fibre gets through relatively unscathed (which is why it is so useful for helping the gut work smoothly - it gives something for the gut muscles to work on).

All types of fibre are prone to fermentation but some are worse for producing wind than others. Pulses (like baked beans) and some green vegetable (such as brussel sprouts) are amongst the worse culprits, while fresh fruits and foodstuffs like potatoes and wholemeal bread tend to cause much less of a problem.

I suggest you try eating more of the latter. Just one apple, one orange and a baked potato will give you over half of your daily fibre requirement.

I INJURED my knee in a football match a few weeks ago and have been taking a course of ibuprofen prescribed by my GP. A friend of mine says it can have serious side effects. I have not noticed any - what sort of problems can it cause?

IBUPROFEN (Brufen, Nurofen) is a member of a family of drugs called non- steroidal anti- inflammatories). Other well-known members include aspirin, indomethacin, diclofenac and naproxen.

They ease pain and soothe inflammation (as well as treating high fevers) and are used in a wide range of conditions from arthritis to period pains. Unfortunately, while ibuprofen is probably the safest of the lot, all of them do have rare but serious side-effects.

They can worsen asthma and kidney or heart failure, and can inflame the lining of the stomach leading to ulcers and bleeding. This is why they should be avoided in people with ulcers, and should be used with extreme caution in people prone to indigestion, asthma, or heart and kidney disease.

In cases like these most doctors prefer to use a paracetamol-based painkiller like co-proxamol (Distalgesic).

IS is true that selenium supplements can boost your energy levels and help ward off serious disease? If so, what sort of daily dose do you recommend?

SELENIUM won't boost your energy levels, but it is essential for a number of bodily functions and deficiency has been linked to poor growth, reduced sperm quality, and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.

Most of our daily intake comes through eating meat, poultry, cereals and bread, but unfortunately most foodstuffs grown on British soil (which is low in selenium) contain very small amounts and many of us in this country are deficient.

Some experts think this deficiency could be partly responsible for falling fertility levels in British men, and our high rates of heart disease and cancer, and are calling for staple foods like bread and flour to be reinforced with selenium.

That is still some way off, though, and in the meantime it makes sense to increase our intake either through diet (Brazil nuts, tuna and onions are good natural sources), or to take a daily supplement.

There are no official levels recommended yet, but a sensible dose would be somewhere between 50 and 100mcg a day.

IT'S A FACT...

SKIN damage caused by sunlight is the main cause of wrinkles - which is why exposed areas like faces and hands look older than the rest of us.

IT'S A FACT...

SINCE aspirin was discovered we have taken 320,000 tons of the painkiller - that's the equivalent of 1,000,000,000,000 tablets of the stuff!

CALL THE DOC

Guide to vitamins and supplements 0891 525 770

Guide to cosmetic surgery 0891 525 771

Hair loss in men 0891 525 772

Dealing with thrush 0891 525 773

Is vasectomy for me? 0891 525 774

Excessive sweating 0891 525 775

Cancer of the testicle 0891 525 776

Medicines and impotence 0891 525 777

HELP ME GIVE

BRUSH-OFF

TO DANDRUFF

MY scalp is constantly itchy and I have permanent dandruff that falls out like a snowstorm whenever I comb my hair.

Even my eyebrows are full of it! I have tried all sorts of dandruff shampoos but nothing has helped. Is there anything you can suggest?

ORDINARY dandruff tends to come and go, is rarely associated with an itchy scalp, and should respond to a standard anti-dandruff shampoo (like Head and Shoulders) within 10 days.

Your symptoms make me think that you have more than simple dandruff and that your troubles are caused by an underlying skin problem. Three conditions spring to mind - psoriasis, eczema and a fungal infection of the scalp. None of these will respond to normal shampoos and all need specific treatment. Coal tar shampoos combined with steroid or calcipotriol lotions (like Betnovate and Dovonex) work wonders in eczema and psoriasis, and yopu can buy anti-fungal shampoos that should get rid of any fungal infection.

Your first port of call should be your GP who will be able to confirm what the problem is. In the meantime don't waste any more money on anti-dandruff shampoos.

Cheers,

you're

pregnant!

I HAVE only just found out that I am pregnant (I'm eight weeks gone) and I am worried that my drinking over the last couple of months may have hurt my baby. I normally have a glass or two of wine three or four nights a week. Am I worrying unnecessarily?

OFFICIAL advice is that pregnant women should not drink more than one or two units of alcohol a week (where one unit equals a small glass of wine, half a pint of beer, or a pub measure of spirits).

Unofficially, they can probably drink much more than that. There is no evidence that up to two units a day does any harm.

Exceeding two units a day can cause problems, so I advise my pregnant patients to keep to less than two units a day and to have at least two alcohol-free days a week - almost exactly what you have done in recent months. So don't worry!

Unlucky

break for

daughter

MY daughter broke her wrist when she fell rollerblading. The doctor in casualty said it was a greenstick fracture. Should I be worried about this?

NO. You don't say how old your daughter is, but this type of fracture generally occurs in children under the age of ten. Their bones are much more supple than ours and they tend to splinter rather than break cleanly - a bit like a young sapling, hence the term greenstick.

Children's bones heal very quickly and I am sure your daughter will be back on her blades before you know it.

One word of advice though. Buy her a helmet, and a set of wrist, elbow and knee protectors if you haven't already - and make her wear them. Most rollerblading accidents I see in casualty could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing protective kit.

IT'S A FACT...

AND now for the bad news...computer experts believe they can build a robot more intelligent than a human by 2004.

Medical problems? Write to DR MARK PORTER, PO Box 89, Stroud, Glos., GL6 7RS, or E-mail to DrMarkP@aol.com.

Dr Porter regrets that he can answer your letters only on this page. For urgent advice, ring his hotlines above.
COPYRIGHT 1997 MGN LTD
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Porter,, Mark
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 9, 1997
Words:1516
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