Dr Sarah: Can you explain what has caused my polymyalgia rheumatica?
I'VE just been diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica and have to take steroids and painkillers. Can you explain the cause?
POLYMYALGIA rheumatica (PMR) is an autoimmune condition that causes sudden pain and stiffness in the hips, thighs, shoulders and neck.
Symptoms usually affect people over the age of 50 and are worse in the morning, making it difficult to get out of bed. It is twice as common in women as men.
The exact cause is unknown and there are no definitive tests, so the diagnosis is based on the sudden onset of symptoms.
Fifteen percent of people with PMR also have inflammation of the temporal and other arteries which, if not treated with corticosteroids, can lead to visual loss.
Corticosteroids treat abnormal immune reactions and usually bring rapid relief. The dose is slowly reduced and PMR often resolves within two years
What is the difference between angina pain and a heart attack?
WHAT is the difference between chest pain due to angina, and that due to a heart attack?
ANGINA pain is due to lack of enough oxygenated blood reaching heart muscle cells, usually as a result of hardening and furring of the coronary arteries.
This triggers pain which is usually felt behind the chest bone and often described as tight and crushing - like a bear hug. It may spread through the chest or radiate up into the neck, jaw or down the left arm. It tends to be brought on by exertion and relieved by rest.
Some people don't feel pain as such, just a sense of discomfort and that something is very wrong, or sudden breathlessness.
If oxygen starvation is prolonged, some heart muscles cells may die causing a heart attack.
Heart attack pain is similar to angina but usually lasts longer, is more intense, and may be accompanied by sweating, paleness and breathlessness.
It can come on at any time and is unrelieved by rest. Sudden chest pain should always be taken seriously and medical assistance sought without delay.
I'm troubled by acne... is there a natural treatment I can take?
CAN you suggest a natural treatment to help improve my acne rather than keep having to take antibiotics?
A USEFUL remedy that is silicic acid skin gel (Silicol Skin). The gel is applied to the affected area twice a day for 20 minutes, rather like a face mask, then washed of with water.
Research shows a significant improvement in spots and blackheads after six weeks with benefits still visible three months later.
The gel is thought to work by removing impurities and infection from the skin and by decreasing the production of skin oils.
You should also consider taking evening primrose oil and a multivitamin and mineral supplement.
Probiotics are important when taking antibiotics to replenish the healthy digestive bacteria that promote good immunity.
Combating the nasty gnats
WE have a lot of gnat flies that bite this summer. Can you tell me the best natural ways to cope with the bites which itch and sting.
TO HELP prevent problems, try eating plenty of garlic, which acts as a natural inset repellent.
If you are stung, apply an ice-pack (eg bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a clean cloth for five minutes.
Like wasp stings, gnat bites are alkaline, so apply wine vinegar or lemon juice to relieve the pain. (But for bee stings, which are acid, apply baking soda mixed with water).
You can also apply a drop of neat lavender oil directly onto a bite or sting, repeating every five minutes up to a maximum of 10 drops.