DR. ELLIE CANNON: Why am I so cold even when I’m inside with the heating on?
I freeze constantly. I’m sitting in my living room with the central heating on and getting cold.
It keeps me from going out of the house because I can wear two thick coats and still shiver. Is there something wrong with me?
Any dramatic change in your body should prompt a consultation with a doctor, especially if it’s severe enough to affect normal activities, such as going outside.
My first thought would be if there was a problem with the thyroid – a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that is responsible for regulating metabolism.
Thyroid disorders cause changes in the way we sense temperature.
If it becomes underactive – producing less of the hormones it usually produces – you will start to feel the cold much more than before.
This can come on suddenly and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain and a change in bowel habits and even difficulty concentrating.
Thyroid disorders can be easily detected by a blood test that a primary care physician can arrange. Feeling the cold can also be related to anemia, when the blood does not have enough red blood cells.
This is often due to a lack of iron in the diet or loss of excess blood during menstruation. This can also be detected in blood tests at a GP.
Any dramatic change in your body should prompt a consultation with a doctor, especially if it’s severe enough to affect normal activities, such as going outside. [File photograph]
Other reasons for feeling cold may be from medications such as beta-blockers or blood thinners, or from significant weight loss.
Anorexic sufferers feel very cold due to a lack of body fat.
There are certain diseases of the blood vessels associated with extreme cold, such as Raynaud’s disease or peripheral vascular disease, but this is usually a specific sensation of coldness and numbness in the fingers and toes
I recently went to my GP because I had discovered four lumps above my ear. My GP said they were age-related – I’m 77 – and harmless.
But my hairdresser still seems concerned. Could I have them removed?
It is wise to be wary of lumps and often it is our hairdressers or beauticians who notice them first.
The most common type of nodules on the scalp are sebaceous cysts, also known as skin cysts.
These occur when moisture builds up in a small pocket under the skin – when the process of skin shedding and renewal doesn’t go as it should in a small area, leading to a build-up of dead skin cells and sebum.
However, it is vital that a doctor has seen the lumps – this can simply be done via a good quality photo – and made the correct diagnosis, as skin cancer must be ruled out
It is thought that almost everyone has one at some point.
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We usually recommend leaving them as they are benign and will not cause any problems. They often disappear on their own.
If they are very visible, uncomfortable, or grow large, a doctor may refer you to have them removed.
Under local anaesthetic, a small cut is made at the top of the cyst and its contents removed. This can leave a small scar.
Unlike cysts, lumps on the scalp can be senile keratosis in old age.
These are rough, wart-like lumps that can affect anyone and are so common that most people over 60 have at least one.
However, it is vital that a doctor has seen them – this can simply be via a good quality photo – and diagnosed them correctly, as skin cancer must be ruled out.
My five year old granddaughter has trouble going to the toilet.
When I look after her, I see her straining for a while and then ending up in tears of pain. Are her parents feeding her a bad diet?
Overexertion and discomfort are the classic warning signs of constipation, which is common in children.
Not drinking enough water, eating too little fiber or problems with toilet training or toilet habits, for example being afraid to go to the toilet at school, are causes.
The problem can run in families, suggesting that there could also be a genetic element.
It affects up to a third of children of primary school age and is important to treat because it can lead to a lot of suffering.
Sometimes constipation in a child is due to underlying health conditions so if it is regular and persistent for a long time it should definitely be discussed with the doctor.
Children of this age should drink at least a liter plus a little more fluid per day, preferably water. [Stock image]
Fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber breakfast cereals are good foods to offer.
Children of this age should drink at least a liter plus a little more fluid per day, preferably water.
A common laxative, such as a macrogol, may be prescribed by a doctor for a few months to help establish a regular pattern and relearn comfortable toilet habits.
It is important that a child learns to be comfortable and at ease when going to the toilet, so quick improvement is crucial.
There is an excellent children’s charity called ERIC, which provides advice to families with bowel problems, including constipation.
Using things like a wall map, which can be marked every time a child goes to the toilet, and rewards can help a five-year-old, as they respond well to compliments (and stickers).
Had two shots and Covid? You still need a booster
A few people have asked me if they need a booster if they have been double stung and then caught Covid.
Well, it is true to say that people in this situation have been “hunted” by contracting the virus.
Studies suggest that two doses of the vaccine, plus infection, give superior immunity than either thing alone.
But we don’t know how long that immunity lasts, nor do we know if that’s superior to the immunity of three doses (the first two, plus a booster).
Studies suggest that two doses of the vaccine, plus infection, give superior immunity than either thing alone
Basically, there are so many question marks right now that it’s safest to just get the booster.
Some can get side effects, like with the starting doses, but unlike Covid they are quite harmless.
If you’re queuing for a booster, it’s because Covid poses a greater risk to you, so do it wisely. Grab the shot!
Good to talk, but pills do work
There was a big hoo-ha last week about an additional guideline in the recommendations for treating depression.
Official advice for doctors now makes it clear that we should offer non-drug treatments, such as talk therapy, meditation and exercise, before offering antidepressants, because of the risk of side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
This is not new. Every doctor I know wants to do this anyway.
Official advice for doctors now makes it clear that we should offer non-drug treatments, such as talk therapy, meditation and exercise, before offering antidepressants, because of the risk of side effects and withdrawal symptoms
In cases where we don’t, it’s not because we don’t bother offering other treatments, but because no other treatments are available.
Demand for psychological therapy is at an all-time high and there is not enough to get by – a quarter of patients wait more than three months for a first therapy appointment, according to the most recent NHS figures.
Antidepressants can often help patients cope with a time of crisis while they wait for a spot to open up.
However, I was pleased to see an important provision in the new guideline: physicians must respect patients’ choices, including a preference for medication over therapy.
This is the case for many. While not perfect, we should not underestimate the benefits of antidepressants. In many cases, they are life-saving.