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Beauty and fashion, health updates, pets, gadgets
   Beauty and fashion, health updates, pets, gadgets

Your questions answered
Dear Dr. De La Flor,
Due to my job, I do plenty of physical work and for a few months my back has been bothering me on and off. I did suffer from whiplash about 10 years ago. Is there a way of knowing if a have a herniated disk?

Your questions answered

Tenerife - 16.06.2011 - Dear Adrian,

A spinal disk becomes herniated when the inside contents bulge out from a weakened portion of the disk and put pressure on surrounding nerves and other structures. The resulting pain may be local or can affect the leg, foot or hip if the slipped disk is in the lower back. A herniated disk in the neck can cause pain in the upper back and shoulders. Painful symptoms of a herniated disk tend to worsen: after you have been sitting down or standing for a long period; during the night; when you laugh, cough or sneeze; when you walk, even a short distance; when you bend over backwards. Dont forget that the first thing to do is to rest, and it will be an excellent idea to do some imaging diagnosis to rule out other pathologies. Ask your GP for further advice and please do not let this type of pain linger and dont forget to use local heat and light stretching when you feel the tightness and over-the-counter painkillers for the pain. And by the way, body posture rules! Proper body alignment and proper postural awareness during the day is vital. Best wishes!

Dear Dr. De La Flor,

I get swimmers ear very often. Any advice?




Dear Mia,

Known to medical professionals as otitis externa, swimmer's ear is an inflammation of the ear canal. Its common name comes from the fact that it often occurs in children and young adults who swim frequently. However, any cause of dampness in the canal can lead to irritation and chafing, similar to nappy rash in babies. An inflammation of the skin can sometimes lead to an infection that can be painful, almost unbearable.

Despite its name, you don't have to be a swimmer to get swimmer's ear. It's often caused by excess moisture in the ear from routine showering. The moisture can cause the skin inside the ear canal to become chafed, dry, and cracked. A break in the skin, which may result from trying to scratch the persistent itch of the dry and flaky skin, can allow bacteria or even a fungus to invade the tissue of the ear canal and cause an infection.

Other skin conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis, can also lead to swimmer's ear. Another common cause is excessive and improper cleaning of wax from the ears. We need to remember that wax protects the ear canal from excess moisture and harbours friendly bacteria that creates a healthier environment in the ear. Removing this protective barrier - particularly with hairpins, fingernails, or other objects which can scratch the skin - makes it easier for an infection to take hold.

Surprisingly enough, hairspray or hair colouring, which can irritate the ear canal, may also lead to an outer ear infection.

Avoid any further trauma to the ear. Do not attempt to remove visible debris or drainage from the ear. Be very gentle when keeping ears clean and dry. No object thinner or sharper than your little finger should be placed in your ear.

If you're not allergic, you may try a variety of over-the-counter pain medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. If there is a large amount of drainage or debris in the ear, your GP might clean out the ear canal before medicine is placed in the ear. After cleaning the ear, your GP may place a foam wick in the canal. This allows antibiotic or antifungal eardrops or both to be placed onto the wick. The wick swells up inside the ear canal, thus holding the medicine in place against the lining of the skin. Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed if the infection is severe, or if topical antibiotics arent working. I hope you have a great ear infection-free summer!

Dr. De La Flor, licensed G.P./Family Doctor, holds certificates in coaching, nutrition and medical exercise from Berkeley University and the American Council on Exercise. His medical approach is highly influenced by Positive Psychology; an empowering, encompassing way of approaching patients through the study of their strengths and virtues to enable them to thrive and lead fulfilling lives, accept the past, find happiness in the present, and hope for the future. You can reach the doctor at 00-34-697.888.666 to schedule a consultation in his surgery or in your home/business.

This article appears in the print edition 645 of Island Connections

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