IF you like the sunshine, there’s no denying the summer weather has been great over these past few weeks.
But with warmer temperatures comes a greater risk of health hazards, such as heat stroke, sunburn and heat exhaustion.
It’s important to get out and enjoy yourself but it pays to be careful.
Simple things like always carrying a bottle of water with you, staying out of the sun during the heat of the day and wearing a hat and sunglasses, can make a big difference on hot days.
And always, always remember to wear sun cream – SPF30 or above, and make sure your children are protected too.
If you’ve got any pressing questions about going away on holiday, or any weather-related worries, email me and I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can.
In the meantime, here’s what readers have been asking me this week . . .
Q) Why do my knees click when I walk upstairs? I don’t have any pain in them.
It is perfectly normal for the knees to click. The knee joint comprises many different structures, including bones, ligaments, cartilage, muscles and tendons.
Various different parts will move and glide next to each other when you bend and straighten the knee, for example when going up or down the stairs.
And this can cause clicking.
A good rule of thumb is that if you experience clicking or popping sounds in the knee but have no pain or swelling, it’s likely normal.
However, if you have pain, instability and/or swelling that persists, then it’s worth checking if you can directly refer yourself to a physiotherapist via your GP practice.
And if this isn’t available then you should make a routine appointment to speak to your GP.
Q) How can you tell the difference between perimenopause, menopause and thyroid problems?
Menopause, by definition, is just a moment in time, when the woman’s last period was one year prior.
Before this date, for the duration that a person has symptoms related to the reducing hormones they are perimenopausal, and after this date they are postmenopausal.
The hormones that become depleted in relation to menopause are oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. In hypothyroidism there is a reduced level of thyroid hormone in the body.
The main job of the thyroid is to control your metabolism. So an underactive thyroid can cause tiredness, weight gain, aches, low mood, dry skin and dry hair.
Yet these are all symptoms which can also be caused by both perimenopause and menopause, so the way to differentiate is to do a blood test.
Thyroid problems can easily be diagnosed or ruled out with a blood test.
Blood testing for perimenopause is less straightforward and is not generally advised as a way of making a diagnosis.
Q) My son has verrucas on both feet. What can be done about them?
Verrucas, also known as plantar warts, are warts on the sole of the foot.
They appear as small, rough growths and are caused by infection of skin cells with human papilloma virus (HPV).
Although verrucas can be cosmetically unsightly, they are not harmful. And they usually don’t cause symptoms, though they can sometimes cause pain if they’re putting pressure on a sensitive part of the foot.
They will usually resolve eventually on their own if left alone but it can take months or even years for a verruca to disappear if you don’t intervene, according to the NHS.
There are a range of treatments available from the pharmacy to speed up the process.
Most of these treatments contain salicylic acid in different forms, such as gels, lotions, paints and plasters. These should be applied daily, and may be needed for up to three months.
Many people give up too soon, so the verruca doesn’t fully clear, so it’s important to persist with the full course of treatment.
The salicylic acid will only treat the very top layer of skin, so you must rub off the top layer of dead skin each time with a pumice stone or file before application.
Another effective treatment you could look at is cryotherapy, this means freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen.
Some GP practices may offer this, and you can get private treatment with cryotherapy from podiatrists.
‘I rush to toilet each morning’
Q) WHY do I have to urgently empty my bowels every morning as soon as I get up?
If this is something that is new for you and has been going on for longer than six weeks, please get it checked out by your GP.
When we talk about “a change in bowel habit” we mostly want to know if people are having to poo more often or if their poo becomes more runny.
If these types of changes persist, they can be signs of a number of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer.
But it’s also important to be aware that increased urgency to go for a poo, or having less control (especially if this goes as far as incontinence) could be signs of a problem too.
This is an opportunity for me to remind you that the most common signs of bowel cancer are blood in the stool, persistent lower tummy pain or bloating caused by eating, loss of appetite or significant unintended weight loss.
So if you have been experiencing these, please speak to your GP straight away. But back to the reader’s question.
If you have always been an urgent morning pooper and there hasn’t been a significant change and you are not experiencing any new symptoms, then it is likely this is just the norm for you and there is no need to worry.