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Flatulence e, bad breath, acne, inco ontinence?

Byline: Olivia Buxton

fter four years f f r Ag * fter four years as a presenter on Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Pixie McKenna has seen some terrible sights, from excessive sweating to bad breath, flatulence, constipation and bladder problems. They would be enough to make anyone squeamish but to the 41-year-old medical expert, it's all in a day's work.

or "To the patients, they are big enough problems to make a huge impact on their work or relationships on a daily basis," says Dr Pixie. Here she names the top 10 most popular embarrassing illnesses experienced by the show's participants and how she cured them.

1Flatulence Case study: One lady couldn't stop passing wind in public, which was highly embarrassing for her.

She had been eating a lot of cauliflower and eggs, which are both quite notorious for producing smelly farts.

Some people get worse gas than others because of conditions such as Coeliac disease or being lactose intolerant. Your body is unable to break down the lactose in glucose, for example, so eating sweets, cakes and pastries, tempting as they are, can make you very windy. Dr Pixie's advice: Keep a food diary and correlate your 'windy episodes' with your food intake. Food with sulphides, like eggs, are a big issue for people.

You should also try to eat slowly. You can trap a lot of air when you eat and that creates a lot of gas. If your flatulence is really bad, see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

2 e en Bad breath Case study: One man I came across had terrible bad breath. But for most people, it's because of poor dental hygiene. Diet can also be the cause, and if you eat onions or garlic, then naturally your breath is going to smell.

t y Equally, if you have a health issue like a sinus problem or acid reflux, and are on medication, this can cause bad breath. h d s Dr Pixie's advice: Everyone should brush their teeth for two minutes a day and floss. Food can get jammed in between your teeth and d s et d you need to remove it If you need to remove it. If you smell the floss afterwards, it stinks! Also, invest in an electric toothbrush. It's like using a Dyson versus a broom to clean your mouth.

3Painful sex Case study: There was a young woman in her 20s who was experiencing painful intercourse. She had seen several specialists but none had been able to help.

In the end, she was referred to a psychologist but it turned out she had endometriosis. The last thing many of us want is to discuss our bedroom antics with our doctor but at least she saw someone and got a diagnosis. Dr Pixie's advice: There can be other gynaecological reasons for painful sex - it could be down to a fibroid or cervical polyp. Or there could be a psychological element. But by not actively exploring your symptoms further you could be missing a significant diagnosis. The other easily treatable common condition is chlamydia, which has no symptoms.

4Snoring Case study: I snore like a train and on one episode of Embarrassing Bodies, they put a probe up my nose and found I had a big polyp at the back. Its presence was blocking the airway, so I needed to have it removed or my husband would have divorced me!

A worrying reason for snoring is obstructive sleep apnoea, where you stop breathing because the relaxed throat muscles block the airway briefly hundreds of times each night. This can then deprive the body of oxygen and it can be very dangerous.

Dr Pixie's advice: Snoring can be caused by having very large tonsils or a floppy larynx. When you lie down, the muscles that keep your airways open relax and become limp, causing the airways to narrow and vibrate more. Sleep apnoea ht on by weight gain but a can be brough ht on by weight gain but a e, a little device you wear h makes the airwaves stay p.

can be brough CPAP machine at night, which open, can help 5 ch marks dy: The worst example of s I have ever seen was on ho became pregnant when he had put on and then lost t quickly and was left with endous scars.

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their GP and have a blood pressure check and their blood tested for things like diabetes and high cholesterol. If you are on medication, like anti-depressants or blood pressure medication, that may be causing the problem. See a counsellor if stress is the reason.

their GP and have a blood pressure check alws 7Acne Case study: Acne is almost a rite of passage for teenagers but you can get it at any stage in your life. We had a woman who was 30 who had shocking acne - she even had it on her bum. She had intensive treatment and skin grafts to try and get rid of the scars.

ebtgr haf pWt In her case, it was a hormone imbalance and you can also suffer from it if you have polycystic ovaries. Dr Pixie's advice: Women should go to their GP for antibiotics or the contraceptive pill, or they can see a gynaecologist. Men can also get antibiotics and for adults who have rosacea (a skin condition that causes facial redness and spots), this can be cleared with antibiotic treatment.

opg 8Morbid obesity Case study: This one man who wrote into Embarrassing Bodies was 60st and he was stuck in his house. That's the only time I've had to go and see a patient. He spent all his life in a special hospital chair and when the postman put the letters through his door he couldn't bend down to pick them up.

To be classified as morbidly obese, you must have a body mass index (BMI) of more than 35. Dr Pixie's advice: The majority of those overweight are that way because of a combination of lifestyle and lack of exercise. They often say they are too busy to go running or to go to the gym.

But I say to them: "If Barack Obama can always find time to go jogging then you certainly can." We watch 22 hours of television a week on average so there is no excuse.

9Bunions Case study: We've seen some horrendous cases of bunions as well as ingrown toenails and athlete's foot. They are much more common in women than men and shoes have a role to play. Last year, we had this lady on the show who had a massive bony lump at the base of her big toe. The bunion was so painful she could barely walk - her toe was almost at right angles to her foot! It had been caused by ill-fitting shoes and she needed surgery. Dr Pixie's advice: If you don't treat bunions as you get older, you can get arthritis in them and run the risk of becoming immobile. So try not to get them in the first place.

If they get bad, surgical removal is the only alternative but a podiatrist would be the best person to ask about your options. They would look at your gait, how you walk, advise you on what shoes to wear and also give you a special device to put in your footwear, which takes the pressure off the bunion.

10Incontinence Case study: Incontinence is a big issue in women over 40, and it is more common than hay fever! There was this one woman on the show who had four children and her pelvic floor muscles had been shot to pieces!

Mine are terrible too after having a baby recently.

The pelvic floor is there to serve a function but if you forget to do your pelvic floor exercises, you could develop stress or urge incontinence. The woman had the latter and she couldn't hold it in at all and would wet herself in public. Another woman had stress incontinence, where if she coughed or sneezed she would wet herself. Bouncing on a trampoline was an absolute no go for her! Dr Pixie's advice: I would definitely go and see your GP. Usually, incontinence is a physical problem and not normally neurological. But you do need to check that it's not MS or something more serious.

I would suggest bringing along a diary to your GP to show how many times a day you pee and how many accidents you have because it is far easier for them to see how it is impacting on daily life. They might suggest pelvic floor muscle training, bladder training or reducing your caffeine intake.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 10, 2012
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