Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Dr Sarah: Cracked lips may indicate low levels of iron or B group vitamins

Q: I keep getting cracks and soreness in the corners of my mouth.

It gets better for a little while, then comes back again. Is this normal?

A: Cracking in the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis) is relatively common.

It can be due to repeated wetting and drying and it may help to use a lip salve to keep lips moist.

If it doesn't settle quickly, you may need treatment with an anti-fungal gel - ask your pharmacist for advice. Some people with soreness in the angle of their lips have low levels of iron or low intakes of B group vitamins.

You may find taking a good multivitamin and mineral supplement containing around 100pc of the recommended daily amount (RDA) for as many nutrients as possible will help. Also aim to eat at least five servings of fruit or vegetables per day.

Fish oils may also help to damp down inflammation.

MUSE available on NHS for men with impotence due to injury

Q: I can't take Viagra, but understand there is a treatment for impotence called MUSE that might suit me.

Can you tell me where I'd get it?

A: MUSE stands for Medicated Urethral System for Erection.

It is available on NHS prescription for men with impotence due to a physical cause such as injury, prostate surgery, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord problems, diabetes or who are receiving dialysis for kidney failure.

MUSE is a special applicator containing a pellet of the hormone-like drug, alprostadil.

After urination, the man lies down and gently inserts the stem of the MUSE delivery system into the end of his penis.

He then presses an ejector button to release the pellet.

It works by increasing blood flow to the area and produces an erection within 5-10 minutes that lasts for 30-60 minutes. Inserting MUSE was rated as "very comfortable", "comfortable" or "neutral" to use by 88pc of patients in trials.

For more information, contact your doctor.

Early glaucoma is easily treated

Q: I've just discovered that glaucoma runs in my family. Does this mean I'm more likely to suffer from it in the future? Is here a screening test?

A: Glaucoma occurs when fluid pressure in the eye increases, damaging the nerve fibres involved with sight.

It is a common cause of preventable blindness and early detection is one of many important reasons why a regular eye test - at least once a year - is essential.

People most at risk of glaucoma are those over the age of 40, people of Afro-Caribbean origin, people such as yourself with a family history of the condition, those with very short sight and people with diabetes.

When attending for an eye test, tell your optician that you have a family history of glaucoma to ensure that the pressure in your eyes is measured.

If an early diagnosis is made, the condition is usually easily treated with special drops, although sometimes surgery is needed.

GP tests for HIV only if requested

Q: Recently I was sick and my doctor has done lots of blood tests which show nothing wrong.

If I was HIV positive, would it show up in the blood tests?

A: The tests you have when you were ill do not usually include an HIV test.

Doctors only check for HIV antibodies if you specifically request it, as you need to have special counselling about the test and its possible implications beforehand.

If you would like to be checked for HIV, it's best to visit a genito-urinary medicine clinic at your local hospital - this is a highly confidential service and your doctor will not be told about your visit unless you give permission.

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