Home Health DR ELLIE CANNON: At 73 years old, is it possible that I have developed Asperger’s syndrome?

DR ELLIE CANNON: At 73 years old, is it possible that I have developed Asperger’s syndrome?

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Research suggests around 750,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed autism

I am 73 years old and I think I might have Asperger’s syndrome. Since I was young I have been picky about food and have always preferred my own company. Do you think I might have the disorder?

Dr. Ellie answers: Doctors no longer use the term Asperger’s, but it historically refers to people who have “high-functioning” autism and affects thousands of people in the UK, many of whom are undiagnosed.

People with autism find it difficult to communicate and understand other people and social situations. They may have difficulty with too much stimulation, for example flashing lights and loud noises, which makes them feel distressed. People with autism may repeat patterns of behavior, doing the same routine over and over again, such as following a specific walking route or eating only a certain brand of cereal.

Research suggests around 750,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed autism

Crucially, many people with autism have learning difficulties, meaning they have difficulty progressing in school or, in severe cases, require full-time care. However, a significant number of people suffer from a mild form.

They may have difficulty with social interactions, dislike noisy places, or focus strictly on a specific area of ​​interest. But they do not have learning difficulties and can live successful and independent lives.

Research suggests that around 750,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed autism. Previously, people with mild autism (those who have a normal level of language and intelligence) were diagnosed with Asperger’s.

However, the medical world has moved away from this diagnosis because it creates the impression that Asperger’s and autism are two different diseases, which is not the case. There is no cure or treatment for autism and it is not considered a disease.

But some people find that getting a diagnosis can be helpful because it allows them to better understand themselves.

Many people report that their autistic traits become more pronounced as they age or are reinforced by other problems such as grief or depression. Support groups and charities such as the National Autistic Society can offer advice on topics such as communication, mental health and education. If you think you might have autism and want a diagnosis, talk to your GP about an autism assessment. They should be able to refer you to a psychiatrist.

My father, who is 89 years old, had shingles 18 months ago and is still in severe pain. He has been prescribed the painkiller pregabalin, which seems to help a little. What else can he do to improve his pain?

Dr. Ellie answers: Shingles is a painful condition that, in some cases, can last for months. It is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster, which is also the cause of chickenpox.

The vast majority of people get chickenpox when they are children. However, even after the rash has disappeared, the virus will remain in the body forever.

This usually does not cause any symptoms or illness; However, the virus can reactivate later in life and this arises as shingles.

Shingles usually appears as a band of rash, redness, and blisters in a specific area of ​​the body and can be very painful. It most frequently affects people over 65 years of age.

Unfortunately, for one-fifth of patients, shingles can also trigger neuralgia, nerve pain that can persist for months.

Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are often ineffective against neuralgia, so GPs often prescribe specialist painkillers such as gabapentin, amitriptyline or pregabalin. If pregabalin seems to be working, then it may be possible to increase the dose.

However, this should be done under the careful supervision of a GP, especially in elderly patients who are at risk of side effects such as dizziness.

I am a 75 year old man and I have been told that I will need a B12 injection every four months. Why do so many people have low B12 levels? Could there be any connection to Covid vaccines?

Dr. Ellie answers: Vitamin B12 is essential for the body, as it keeps our red blood cells healthy and ensures that the nervous system functions properly. We obtain B12 mainly from animal products such as meat, fish, milk and cheese.

This is why many people who follow a vegan diet, which does not include any animal products, are recommended to take B12 supplements.

However, the most common type of B12 deficiency is caused by something called pernicious anemia. This is an autoimmune condition in which the body mistakenly produces defensive antibodies that attack the stomach and prevent it from absorbing vitamin B12. Pernicious anemia is more common among older people. One in ten Britons over the age of 75 are affected.

Given that Covid vaccines have been offered to people of all ages, but vitamin B12 deficiency appears to mainly affect older people, it is unlikely that the injections themselves have caused an increase in the problem.

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