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Will I go bald like my dad?

Byline: Dr GARETH SMITH

Q MY father and grandfather are both bald. Am I at risk and how do I prevent similar hair loss?

A IT is likely you will also go bald. Baldness is a sex-linked genetic condition which sons often inherit from their fathers. It is rare in women but can pass through the female line to men in later generations. Despite the claims of so- called miracle cure advertisements the only way to deal with baldness is to either accept it, wear a hairpiece or have a hair transplant. You could also try hair stimulating lotions or tablets such as Rogaine or Propecia.

Q I HAVE started to play tennis with my son but after every game I suffer from severe elbow pain. I have heard of tennis elbow but thought this only affected regular players. Am I wrong?

A THE medical name for tennis elbow is Olecranon Bursitis and it isn't restricted to those who play a lot. Bursitis is inflammation of the small fluid- filled cushions that cover bony surfaces. It causes redness,

swelling and pain on movement. The best treatment is anti- inflammatory medication and rest. You could also try acupuncture but check with your doctor before starting any course of treatment.

Q MY 42-year-old husband suffers from aching legs and feet, especially after walking. Sometimes his feet look very white. He is also a heavy smoker and is often short of breath. He won't visit a doctor. What is wrong with him?

A YOUR husband shows signs of two potentially fatal diseases associated with heavy smoking. Buerger's disease is when arteries in the arms and legs go into prolonged spasm in response to nicotine. The hands and feet are initially cold and white but circulation may become so bad severe gangrene can set in and the limbs may need amputated. The other condition may be chronic bronchitis, an inflammation of the lungs caused by smoke irritation. As more lung tissue is damaged, victims find it harder to breathe and are at greater risk of pneumonia and lung cancer. Your husband must stop smoking and visit a doctor sooner rather than later.

Q EVERY time I visit my doctor my blood pressure varies. Sometimes he wraps the blood pressure cuff tightly around my arm and other times it is loose. Does it make a difference?

A THE blood pressure cuff should be worn as tightly as possible. A loosely- wrapped cuff can cause an inaccurate reading. Blood pressure can vary greatly during the day due to many other factors. These include whether you are anxious, have taken exercise, hormonal changes and, with some medications, whether you have eaten certain foods or drank alcohol. This is why doctors always judge blood pressure over several readings and never state an absolutely normal range.

Q MY father has been diagnosed with acromegaly. Can you tell me what this means?

A ACROMEGALY causes excessive growth of the hands, feet, jaw, face, tongue and internal organs. Patients also suffer from headaches, sweating, weakness and loss of vision. It is caused by excess production of growth hormone in the pituitary gland, which sits underneath the brain. The cause is likely to be the development of a tumour. X- rays and CT scans can detect the tumour and treatment will involve specialised microsurgery. Hormone supplements may have to be taken long- term and diabetes is a common complication.

Q MY son's best friend has glandular fever. I worry that my son may be in danger of infection.

A GLANDULAR fever is known as the kissing disease because it is caught by close personal contact. But you don't have to get within kissing distance for it to spread. The Epstein-Barr virus that causes glandular fever - known as infectious mononucleosis - can be found in microscopic droplets exhaled when you breathe. If another person inhales these particles they may settle in his or her body and start multiplying. After a few weeks the victim will come down with glandular fever.

Q I RECENTLY had surgery to remove a cancerous lump from my breast. I'm recovering slowly but my arm is still swollen and feels very painful. Is this normal after such an operation and how can it best be treated?

A THE lymph glands in your armpit are also often removed to prevent the spread of cancer cells. These are part of your lymphatic system, the network which returns waste produced by the movement of muscles back to the body. Lymph glands are filters which remove infection or abnormal cells but when removed, this waste can't return to the body in its normal manner. Try wearing a firm elasticated stocking over the arm at night and this should ease the pain.

Write to Dr Smith, 7days, Sunday Mail, One Central Quay, Glasgow, G3 8DA or e-mail g.smith@sundaymail.co.uk.

Sorry, letters can't be answered personally.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 15, 2003
Words:813
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