GP Dublin City Articles
Back pain: 5 signs that you should always have checked out by your health professional
As we get older we might think that aches and pains are just part of life. But if you experience recurring or severe back pain you should pay attention to your symptoms and seek appropriate treatment.
The spine is a very important part of the body. When something goes wrong in this area, it can affect other parts of our bodies as well as the back. The spine is made up of 33 small bones called vertebrae. The top 24 of these are linked together in a flexible way so that we can bend and move our bodies. The nine lower vertebrae are fused together to form a solid column.
As well as supporting the rest of the skeleton the spine also has the very important job of protecting the spinal cord – a network of nerves that runs through the middle of the vertebrae and connects with the rest of the nerves all over the body.
Very often we will find that backache goes away by itself. It may just be the result of overexertion. But there are a few thing you need to look out for to maintain your back health and deal with any problems before they become more serious:
1. The pain doesn’t go away by itself
Rest and over the counter pain killers are often enough to deal with temporary aches and pains. You should soon start to feel it gradually easing off. But if the pain persists for more than a few weeks or, if it is getting worse instead of better as time goes by you should seek medical advice.
2. Does it get worse at night?
Pain that gets worse at night could be caused by sleeping in an uncomfortable position or by a poor quality mattress. But if you have ruled these out, it is important that you discuss it with your doctor in case there are more serious underlying causes.
3. Back pain along with balance or bladder issues
If back pain is accompanied by any problems with bladder control, or if you notice problems balancing, make an appointment with your doctor. If these symptoms are present at all you need to have them assessed. The back pain may or may not be connected with the other symptoms, but you should always mention it to give your doctor a full picture of the situation so that they can make an accurate diagnosis.
4. Unusual sensations in the arm and legs
If you experience any of the following – shooting pains, tingling sensation or numbness in the arms and legs with no obvious reason you should see your doctor. This can indicate a number of different underlying causes which need to be checked out by a medical professional.
5. Fever and losing weight
If back pain is accompanied by fever and losing weight it needs to be investigated. It could be that the two are unconnected, but unexplained weight loss should always be a cause for concern. When you discuss that with your GP make sure you also mention any back pain you have been experiencing in case there is a connection.
This list is, of course not exhaustive. If you are worried about your backache or any other health issues it is always best to speak to your doctor sooner rather than later to get the best possible advice and treatment.
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As winter progresses it is not surprising that we are seeing an increase in the number of children showing signs of cold and flu. These illnesses are far more common in babies and young children. Most of us catch around 200 doses of the cold in our lifetime. About 8-10 of these will happen in the first couple of years of our lives, so it is good to understand how catching a cold will affect your child.
As well as being more prone to catching colds, younger children’s symptoms tend to be more severe. They will seem more unwell than an adult would and it is more likely to be accompanied by a fever. This is not really surprising as their immune systems are still developing.
Which medication is best?
Many children don’t need any medication if their symptoms are mild. If they need something to make them more comfortable, a paediatric version of paracetamol ibuprofen can be given. A nasal spray or decongestant drops can help if they are feeling stuffed up. For children aged 12 months and over a simple home remedy such as honey and lemon can also be soothing.
Plenty of Rest
There is generally no need for the child to be in bed unless they are very tired and need to sleep. Plenty of rest in addition to a good night’s sleep will help to get them on the mend. An afternoon nap and some quiet play might as well as trying to maintain normal bedtime routines should give them the rest they need.
Food and Drink
It is normal to lose your appetite when you are ill. However, make sure your child does not become dehydrated. Offer plenty of drinks, including water and fruit juices that contain vitamin C. If they will eat a little, a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal can be a good option to provide some extra nutrients. Iced lollys can be soothing, especially if they have a sore throat. If possible make your own by freezing juice to give them a boost of vitamin C.
Home or School?
This all depends on how your child feels and how severe their symptoms are. If they are over the worse you might feel it is fine to send them in. If they have a fever, a bad cough or just still seem uncomfortable it might be best to keep them off a little longer.
How to prevent colds?
The simple answer is you can’t. Catching a cold is part of life although fortunately the frequency and severity reduces as they get older. However, if they are run down and not getting enough sleep they will be more susceptible to colds. Good hygiene also plays an important role in stopping the spread of colds to others including other family members. Thorough hand washing is extra important when your child has a cold. And make sure they a fresh hankie to stop coughs and sneezes spreading germs.
Dr Lee has vast experience in Children’s health and offers GP Services In Dublin 1.
What should I look for in a GP?
Finding a General Practitioner (GP) with whom you feel comfortable is a part of taking responsibility for your health and tracking any chronic illness you might have. In addition to having the appropriate technical skills, your general practitioner is a trusted counselor who must communicate complex or sensitive information clearly. As such, your primary health care physician should be a trusted person with whom you can communicate and who will lead you to health problems and solutions. These are the main things to look for in a general practitioner.
Finding a GP
To get started, look for advice from family, friends, neighbors, and other local health professionals like local pharmacists or even local councils can help you with your recommendations. The Internet is another great source of research for potential GPs.
Things to consider
When you have a brief list of potential GPs, you can start reducing your list by researching as much as possible about each GP and your practice. In some cases, you can find information online or just call them. In other cases, you may need to go to the clinic personally to get the information you need. There are many things to look into when choosing a general practitioner.
1. Location : Location is an important factor If you need to visit your GP on a regular basis, it is important to check if it is nearby and that your clinic is easily accessible by car or public transport.
2. Working hours: For most people, a general practitioner whose clinic works during normal working hours may be more appropriate, but if you have a chronic illness that sometimes requires attention after hours you may need to find an outpatient clinic that allows you to access extended hours. As such, consider the working hours of your general practitioner if this is a critical issue and look for nearby medical clinics that offer extended hours.
4. Home visits: You may have a condition requiring home visits, so check with the list of general practitioners if all offer this kind of care.
5. Languages: If you feel much more comfortable and fluent in a non-English language, try to find a doctor who is fluent in your language.
6. Billing: If you are willing to avoid the burden, make sure that the general practitioner practices bulk billing.
Should I go to the doctor for a cold?
The Common colds are very contagious viral infections of the nose and throat, and many of us know the suffering caused such as congestion, nasal discharge, sneezing, throat pain, cough, mild fever, and headache. Most colds are light illnesses that usually vanish in 14 days, with or without treatment.
Many cold symptoms can be treatable in the convenience of your home, but particularly unpleasant symptoms can cause you to ask, "Should I go to the doctor for a cold?" If the cold lasts up to two weeks, this can lead to more serious symptoms and conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis or sinus infection. If this happens, your doctor can treat you of these persistent symptoms and will help you recover completely.
When should you see the doctor?
Determining when to visit a doctor can be difficult in cases that are not urgent. To stay hydrated, feel comfortable and get enough rest can be the best option if you have a cold. But some situations certainly deserve the attention of the doctor.
Difficulty breathing or wheezing: Adults and children may feel clenched in chills with colds. If you have breathing or wheezing problems, contact your doctor.
Fever: Fever is one of the most reliable signs of a cold that requires a doctor visit. Fever is a symptom of more than 40 conditions, but the colds are not one of them. If your temperature reaches 40 degrees C, it is required of you to see your doctor.
Pain in the Sinuses: a cold can lead to overactive mucus production, resulting in permanent irritation and development of sinus infection. The first sign of sinus infection is the pain in the nose and cheeks or above the ears and eyebrows. A sinus infection can exacerbate the congestion, headache, and fatigue that you already feeling with your cold.
Ear Discomfort: pressure or ear pain is a sign that your cold is the cause of the complications your doctor needs to treat. As cold develops, fluid into the middle ear can accumulate, which can increase the risk of infection with bacteria or viruses. Discomfort will likely last until you seek medical help. If you do not get treatment, you can damage ear structures and even cause hearing loss. It is therefore advisable to consult a doctor right away after you feel uneasiness in your ear.