Nasal congestion and catarrh – nasal discharge, or phlegm in the throat – are usually present for a few days during and after many infections of the nose and sinuses, especially the common cold . The combination is a harmless but annoying problem that can be stubborn to shift and can also result in deafness … Read more


Sore throat remedies grab a multi-million pound share of the over-the-counter medicine market – a £71 million share, in fact! Yet there’s little evidence that they reduce inflammation or shorten the duration of the infection. Nevertheless many people find the lozenges and gargles soothing and seem to be more than willing to pay for them. … Read more


Many of us will know what it’s like to wake up in the morning with itchy, ‘gritty’-feeling eyes and perhaps the eyelids stuck together. Underneath, the eyelids will be red and inflamed and the whites of the eyes probably bloodshot. Blinking may be painful and bright light distressing. Conjunctivitis, as this condition is called, is … Read more


More often known as hives or nettle rash, urticaria is a very common skin condition which affects one in five people at some time in their lives. Women are particularly prone, perhaps because of hormonal influences. With ‘ordinary’ urticaria, weals – intensely itchy raised marks on the surface of the skin – suddenly develop. They … Read more


When nasal symptoms are persistent, it is important to consult a doctor, as there are several effective treatments that he or she can prescribe once the possible non-allergic causes already described have been excluded. Obviously, identifying the allergen so that the sufferer can avoid it as far as possible is helpful. Alternatively, anti-allergic, antiinflammatory nasal … Read more


Rheumatism is a general term describing pain which affects the muscles and joints. It covers many conditions, including osteoarthritis, a joint disorder, usually of late middle age, triggered by wear and tear in the joints included in which the protective, shock-absorbing, rubbery substance called cartilage between the bones wears away. Osteoarthritis is thought to affect … Read more


Symptoms of indigestion, usually felt just below or behind the breast bone, vary from an uncomfortable feeling of fullness to nausea, pain, belching, heartburn and wind. Most people will suffer from indigestion from time to time. Often there is no recognisable pattern to the symptoms, but they may be noticeably worse just before or after … Read more


People often say they have flu when really they have some other virus which is giving them ‘flu-like’ symptoms – and so-called ‘gastric flu’ is certainly not due to the influenza virus. But for many people the symptoms of flu – a dreadfully ill feeling, sometimes with acutely painful muscles, a high temperature and a … Read more


Anyone who’s ever had a migraine – and you can include me in that – can understand the misery it brings. Yet migraine sufferers are often branded as ‘neurotic’ and made to feel guilty about their ‘weakness’. This is completely unfair, as studies have shown that there is no typical ‘migraine personality’. Migraine affects as … Read more


Denture wearers may be familiar with the problem of oral thrush as a result of chafing, although it can also affect babies, people suffering from diabetes, those who are generally unwell and not at their strongest, or those taking steroid or antibiotic drugs. It’s caused by a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans which is also … Read more


Painkillers, or analgesics, can be used to treat pain resulting from a wide variety of symptoms. They can ease pain in headaches, migraine, neuralgia, colds and influenza and help reduce temperature, rheumatic pain, period pain, dental pain, back ache, muscular pain and sore throats. So it’s hardly surprising that analgesics take up the biggest share … Read more


Let’s start with the good news – our dental health has improved enormously over the last twenty years and continues to do so. Nevertheless, periodontal (gum) disease is still the commonest of all diseases in the world, not just in Britain, and up to one in five adults in this country will have lost all … Read more


Dandruff is a condition rather like acne which, although not serious, can be acutely embarrassing to those who suffer from it and a source of amusement to those who don’t. It is also the most common cause of itching of the scalp, but is not a sign of general ill health. Normally, everyone’s skin cells, … Read more


Eczema and dermatitis are used as virtually interchangeable terms and generally mean inflammation of the skin. The main symptoms are itching and redness, accompanied by small blisters which often weep and form a crust. Eczema can take the form of small red patches on the limbs, or it can afflict large areas of the body. … Read more


Lips sometimes need more moisture than the rest of the face because they contain no sebaceous glands – glands which secrete sebum, an oily substance that lubricates hair and skin, as well as providing some protection against bacteria. But lips have more melanin, a brown pigment which protects skin against sun. Melanin can help protect … Read more


Chilblains are reddish-blue discolorations of the skin resulting in burning, itching and pain and usually affecting the toes, fingers and backs of the legs. They can be accompanied by swelling and when severe can ulcerate. They’re caused by exposure to cold, which is why you are more likely to develop them in the winter. They … Read more


Although cold sores are not usually a serious condition in themselves, they can cause considerable embarrassment and distress – and, inevitably, they tend to arrive at the most inopportune times. The typical little blisters which develop into weeping sores usually appear in groups around the lips but may also occur on other parts of the … Read more


With several million pounds being spent each year on laxatives, constipation is clearly a very common problem, though women are three times more likely to suffer from it than men. Yet in healthy people it is an ailment that is almost entirely preventable by simple, natural methods and laxatives should rarely be needed. Many people … Read more