Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Dr Sarah: What causes my night sweats?

I'M a healthy, fit male in my early 30s. For a few months I've had excessive sweating at night, but don't feel particularly warm.

I've had blood tests which turned out OK. What else could it be?

Sweating is the body's way of balancing heat loss and is not always abnormal if it is serving to regulate temperature.

Unexpected sweating, especially at night, can be a sign of a hormone imbalance (eg overactive thyroid gland, testosterone deficiency), a hidden infection (eg tuberculosis, infection of heart valves, a virus), an auto-immune condition (eg lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), or abnormalities of the lymph system (especially if lymph glands are enlarged).

Other possible causes include excessive alcohol intake and withdrawal from alcohol or certain drugs.

It is reassuring you're your initial blood tests are normal, but it is important to tell your doctor if symptom persists, or you notice other problems such as weight loss, enlarged glands, or changes affecting your fingernails/finger tips.

Take your temperature next time you experience night sweats to see if you have a low-grade fever. If so, your doctor may want to perform more sophisticated blood tests, or refer you for a chest X-ray or heart scan.

Diagnosed with feet arthritis

I've recently been diagnosed with arthritis in my feet. I also suffer from Type 1a Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) disease.

Are there any supplements I should start to take or certain foods I should eat more of?

CMT is an inherited neurological disorder which affects nerve supply to the extremities.

This can cause problems such as foot-drop, foot bone abnormalities, high arches and hammer toes and can lead to ostearthritis due to abnormal wear and tear on joints.

Superfoods for arthritis are those supplying anti-inflammatory antioxidants and omega-3 fish oils. These include fruit and vegetables - especially those that are red, yellow, orange, dark green or purple - nuts and oily fish.

Some foods can worsen arthritis symptoms and, if you can identify which upsets you, avoid them. The most common culprits are wheat, corn, rye, sugar, caffeine, yeast, malt, dairy products, oranges, grapefruit, lemons and members of the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, physalis, aubergine (eggplant), sweet peppers and chilli peppers).

The supplements I recommend for osteoarthritis are glucosamine 1500mg per day plus chondroitin 1200mg per day (eg Chondromax from www.healthspan.co.uk; Tel: 0800 73 123 77), omega-3 enriched fish oils (1g-3g daily) and vitamin C (500mg daily).

What is Coeliac disease?

MY doctor suspects I have Coeliac disease. Can you explain simply what it is?

COELIAC disease is an auto-immune condition in which you have a sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Some people also react to oats.

When you eat foods containing gluten, they trigger an immune reaction that damages the lining of part of your gut so you can't absorb nutrients as well as before. Symptoms vary in severity and can include tiredness, feeling unwell, abdominal pain, bloating, wind, diarrhoea, weight loss and passing pale, bulky, offensive, fatty stools that float.

Contact a dietician at Coeliac UK on 0870 4448804/coeliac.co.uk.

Mystery of my burning tongue

MY tongue burns and stings but treatment for thrush hasn't helped. There's nothing to see, and my doctor is at a loss. Can you suggest anything to help?

BURNING tongue is a common problem that can have several different causes other than thrush - a Candida yeast infection.

Other possibilities include lack of B group vitamins and/or zinc and lack of saliva.

Try taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement, and using artificial saliva or pastilles that stimulate saliva flow. These are available from pharmacies.

Keep an eye on your tongue, and if you develop ulceration, white or red patches on your tongue, tell your doctor immediately. It is also a good idea to seek advice from a dentist.

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