At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 66
▲ G E N E R A L H E A LT H
to reduce swelling and restrict blood
vessels or anti-emetics, to prevent
nausea. If necessary, they may also refer
you to a migraine or headache clinic.
SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL HELP
Around 5% of headaches are serious and
need urgent attention. There are several
associated symptoms to watch out for.
If a headache is accompanied by a rash,
stiﬀ neck, confusion and fever; weakness
or paralysis in one or both arms; slurred
or garbled speech; or sudden agonising
pain, call 999 immediately.
Although unpleasant, an upset stomach
will often pass of its own accord, but
for the elderly, and people who have
a compromised immune system, the
symptoms may be more severe.
Causes include infection (if you have a
fever and stomach cramps), bugs picked
up during foreign travel, side-eﬀects from
prescription medicines, food allergies,
anxiety or an underlying condition such as
ulcerative colitis, IBS, coeliac disease and
pancreatic or bowel cancer.
MANAGE AT HOME It's important to
ensure you don't become dehydrated. Take
small, frequent sips of water, and start
eating solid food as soon as you feel ready.
Rehydration powders can replace lost
salts in extreme cases. Be aware that any
medication you are on, including the
Pill, may not be absorbed properly.
BOOK AN APPOINTMENT If your
symptoms continue for more than a week,
your stools contain blood or pus, or you
have recently been in hospital or taken
antibiotics, book an appointment with
your doctor. Depending on the results, you
may be referred to a specialist for further
diagnostic investigations and treatment.
SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL HELP
If you develop symptoms of extreme
dehydration - scant or dark urine,
UPSET STOMACHS MAY CAUSE MORE SEVERE
SYMPTOMS FOR THE ELDERLY AND PEOPLE
WITH COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEMS
excessive thirst and feeling dizzy on
standing - experience severe abdominal
pain, persistent vomiting or an inability
to retain ﬂuids, you should seek medical
attention straight away. If it's out of
hours, seek help from your local A&E
department or call NHS 111.
Losing weight is a common and usually
temporary reaction to life stresses such
as divorce, bereavement or redundancy,
but unintentional weight loss can also be
an indication of an underlying condition
such as an overactive thyroid, diabetes,
depression, an eating disorder or cancer,
although this is unlikely unless you also
have other symptoms.
Less commonly, unexpected weight
loss can be caused by certain medications,
lupus, diabetes, liver or kidney disease or
coeliac disease. Opinions vary as to when
to be concerned about this symptom, but
you know your body best: if the scales are
normally pretty stable and they suddenly
start to drop for no obvious reason, it
might be time to take action.
MANAGE AT HOME The best way to
gain weight will depend on the reason
you lost it in the ﬁrst place. Essentially,
you need to eat more calories than you
burn, so it's likely you need to eat more,
and more healthily, to gain maximum
nutrition from your food. It might be
helpful to keep a food diary and note your
weight, so you can monitor your results.
RECOGNISE THE SYMPTOMS of stroke
A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain, usually as a result
of atherosclerosis, in which arteries narrow due to a build-up of fatty deposits. It is
always a medical emergency, so make sure you memorise the symptoms and can
recognise them. The key is to act FAST:
The mouth, eye or face of someone with a suspected stroke may
be drooping on one side, and they may not be able to smile.
They may not be able to hold their arms over their head due to
weakness or numbness.
Their speech may be garbled or slurred, or they may not
be able to speak at all.
If ANY these symptoms are present, it's time to dial 999
immediately and ask for an ambulance.
066 | FEBRUARY 2018
BOOK AN APPOINTMENT See your
GP if you are concerned that your weight
is not coming back on, or you have
accompanying symptoms such as passing
more urine than usual (you may have type
2 diabetes), breathing problems, bone
pain, fever and night sweats. Your GP
may need to give you an overall health
assessment and arrange necessary tests.
If your weight loss is the result of a
nutritional deﬁciency, you may need to see
a dietician and follow a specially devised
diet plan to ensure you are correctly
PINS AND NEEDLES
Also known as paraesthesia, pins and
needles are common and often no
cause for concern. The sensation may
be caused by mechanical pressure on a
nerve - for example, when you cross your
legs or fall asleep lying on your arm -
nerve compression, as in carpal tunnel
syndrome, or a more serious illness such
as MS, tumour or stroke. Pins and needles
that are accompanied by muscle wasting
could indicate nerve damage, from injury,
infection, repetitive stress or diabetes.
MANAGE AT HOME Loosen any tight
clothing or shoes and change your sitting
position. You may ﬁnd it helpful to rub or
massage the aﬀected area, to bring blood
and sensation back, and consider learning
yoga or Pilates to improve your posture.
BOOK AN APPOINTMENT If you lose
strength or sensation in part of your body
or have diﬃculty walking, as you could
have a neurological condition. You should
also see your GP if the problem keeps
recurring, has no obvious cause or doesn't
fully resolve within a few minutes.
If the pins and needles are causing
other issues, such as making you lose your
balance or restricting use of your hands,
get it checked out sooner rather than later.
SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL HELP
Numbness or pins and needles in the
groin and/or legs and feet, accompanied
by loss of bowel or urinary sensation and
function, could be cauda equina syndrome,
where the nerve roots in your spine are
compressed. This is a medical emergency
and needs urgent treatment. Also dial 999
if the numbness is along one side of the
body, as it could signal a stroke.