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7 February 2011
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Dr Barbara conducts an open surgery in Belfast

Our four GPs hit the streets of Belfast this week for an urban open surgery as they offer their skills and expertise to anyone they meet.

Dr Jonty meets Dawn at Belfast City Zoo. She is worried that at 28 she still suffers with acne. Dr Jonty explains that acne is caused when the pores in the skin become blocked and spots develop. A lot of the lotions available help to dry the skin up but Dawn is an eczema sufferer with quite dry skin anyway. If the skin gets too dry it can become cracked and there is more risk of infection. Dr Jonty gives Dawn a prescription for a lotion with antibiotics and predicts that in 4-6 weeks she will notice an improvement.

Dr Jonty has the following tips for people with acne. Wash twice a day with a mild soap, avoid greasy moisturisers, don't pick your spots as this can cause scarring, and try over the counter lotions that contain benzyl peroxide. If your acne doesn't improve see your GP for further treatment.

Outside the city at Ballymena's bustling livestock market Dr George meets Bertie a farmer who claims he hasn't seen a doctor for about 15 years. Dr George checks his blood pressure and cholesterol and because they're high arranges to see Bertie again down on his farm to do a fasting test.

Once more Bertie's blood pressure and cholesterol results are unacceptably high. Dr George advises him to see his GP over the blood pressure but says he can change the high cholesterol levels himself by having a healthier diet. Basically, the biscuits and butter are out, fruit and veg are in.

Back in Belfast Dr Ayan meets James a chef in a restaurant with dermatitis on his hands. James smokes ten cigarettes a day. Dr Ayan says that if James stops smoking his hands will improve. Eczema is always worse in smokers. Dr Ayan's not sure why but it must be that cigarettes have an adverse affect on the immune system. If James had known he would have given up smoking years ago.

At the same restaurant Dr George meets Alison who has been experiencing panic attacks recently. He takes her through a series of relaxation exercises that focus on her breathing. She immediately feels the benefit.

Outside Belfast City Hall Dr Jonty meets a woman who has lower back pain. By checking a urine sample he can establish if it is muscular pain or a problem with her kidneys. The sample shows no sign of infection so he says it is probably muscular and will eventually settle.

At a car boot sale Dr Barbara meets Maureen, an elderly lady, who has recently had temporal arteritis, an inflammation of the arteries that mainly affects people over the age of 60. She is now experiencing pain in her cheekbone and wonders if it is returning. Dr Barbara explains that inflammation of the arteries around the head and neck area can affect the eyes, depriving them of their blood supply and this can cause blindness. Concerned that the temporal arteritis is coming back, Dr Barbara insists Maureen see her GP immediately.

Back at the restaurant Dr Ayan is giving tips to a waiter suffering insomnia. Look up at the ceiling and focus on one thing. Then bring another object into your line of vision. Looking up tires the muscles of your eyes and very soon you'll effectively hypnotize yourself. By adding additional things to your line of vision you will tire your eyes and sleep will come.

Dr Ayan's recipe for a good night's sleep is simple. Don't nap during the day, avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, increase daytime exercise and establish a sleep routine.

Related Links

Stop Spots
An acne support group.
British Sleep Society
A professional organisation made up of medical workers, it aims to promote education and research into sleep and its disorders.
National Eczema Society
Free information for eczema and dermatitis sufferers.
Temporal Arteritis
A Royal National Institute of the Blind site on temporal arteritis.

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Dr Barbara

Health Tips

from Dr Barbara

  • Take up a hobby, learn a new skill or try taking part in a sporting or group activity.
  • Use the stairs not the lift at work.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week.
  • Walk 20 minutes a day. Try to avoid using the car.
  • Reduce fat(approx 70g fat per day in average diet).

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