More than half of all adults have backache at some time or another. People in their forties and fifties are most at risk and back pains are said to cost Britain about £200 million a year in lost work and sickness payments. In a single year \ million people will visit their doctors for treatment for backache and on any one day 50,000 British men and women will be off work with backache.

There are many reasons why people suffer from backache. If the pain follows a fall then clearly urgent investigations need to be done to exclude a fracture. More commonly backache follows heavy lifting, heavy work in the garden or a long period spent sitting in an uncomfortable position.

Treatment for non-accidental backache consists of three things: heat, rest and pain relief.

A warm bath or a hot-water botde will help relieve almost all muscular aches and pains whether caused by too much of the wrong kind of exercise or by tenseness and anxiety.

Rest is obviously vital. A few days in bed may sound daunting but the alternative may well be a few weeks in bed.

Pain relief can be obtained very effectively with simple analgesics such as aspirin or paracetamol. If you visit your doctor with a back-strain the chances are thathe will tell you to go home and rest and thathe will give you a prescription for paracetamol or aspirin.

If back pain is accompanied by pains in the legs there may be a slipped disc or nerve root irritation and a doctor’s help may be needed. Similarly if pain persists for more than five days and shows no sign of abating then ask for help. Most doctors these days are happy for their patients to see qualified osteopaths.

Avoiding backache is obviously wiser than learning how to treat it and doing nothing to prevent it.

To avoid getting aches and pains in your back do not suddenly take up heavy exercise if you haven’t done any physical work for years. Backaches are common in early spring when gardeners start digging over their vegetable patches.

If you have to pick up something heavy bend your knees and lift with your back kept straight.

Finally, learn to relax your muscles when you’re sitting in the same position for long periods of time .


Bad breath (known officially as halitosis) can be a most embarrassing and socially destructive problem. It is important to understand, however, that using a breath freshening perfume is not necessarily the right approach – just as it wasn’t particularly logical for royal courtiers a century or two ago to use powerful perfumes to cover up the fact that they didn’t bathe very often.

Bad breath can be caused by a number of soluble problems. Sinusitis, persistent catarrh, gingivitis and other dental problems can all be responsible for a malodorous mouth. A visit to the doctor or dentist may provide a permanent solution.

Meanwhile, if you want to paper over the cracks while you’re waiting for more basic repair work to be done there are several alternative remedies available.

Antiseptic mouthwashes (such as TCP or Oraldene) may help by assisting in clearing up infections in the mouth and may, indeed, provide a permanent solution in some cases. Chlorophyll pills and tablets such as Sweet-breaths which contain a mixture of oils can provide a temporary solution. Regular tooth cleaning can help disguise bad breath as well as clearing away debris and preventing the development of further infection.