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7 February 2011
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Dr Barbara takes her bedside manner to the pavements of Dover

The Street Doctors visit Dover, the gateway to Europe, on the South East coast of the UK.

People in the South East make the lowest number of trips on foot and the second highest number of trips by car in England. This sedentary lifestyle means that obesity is on the increase and that a lot of people just aren't getting enough exercise. Added to this the South East has the highest carbon emissions in the UK and air pollution has been linked to asthma, bronchitis and chest infections. The large elderly population on the Kent coast also means that the number of hip replacement operations is significantly higher than the national average.

Dr George wastes no time in making use of Dover's transport links and hops on a channel ferry.

He soon stumbles across Sapphire a passenger who's a bit "green about the gills". Dr George explains that travel sickness, sea sickness, or motion sickness is caused because the brain is getting conflicting information from the eyes and the ears. The eyes are telling the brain that the body is static but the ears are telling it that the body is moving. This confused information causes the nausea.

He advises Sapphire to go into a well ventilated area and concentrate on the horizon or something far away which should settle down her symptoms. He gives her a non-drowsy anti-histamine tablet. Sapphire then goes out on deck and is soon feeling a lot better.

If you suffer from travel sickness Dr George advises:

- Only eat small amounts of food and do not drink any alcohol before travelling.

- Sit in a well ventilated, cool position

- Do not read and instead focus on some distant object

- Talk to a pharmacist about appropriate motion sickness medication

Dr Jonty is taking in the sea air on the white cliffs when he meets Jenny, who has a long standing complaint, insomnia.

She has had trouble sleeping since she was a child, she can normally get to sleep ok initially but then wakes up after a couple of hours and then seems to be awake for the rest of the night. Jenny has a very busy life working and looking after people.

Dr Jonty advises that Jenny needs to establish a stable, regular sleep pattern and begin to wind down and relax in the evening before going to bed. He also tells her that as she has a lot going on in her life she should keep a notebook next to her bed - if thoughts are racing round in her head during the night she should write them down.

Futhermore, if she does wake up and then has trouble getting back to sleep the best thing to do is get up for a while, then go back to bed when she feels tired again. This also means that the bed is always associated with sleep.

If you are having difficulty sleeping Dr Jonty recommends the following:

- Take regular exercise but not too late in the evening.

- Do something relaxing before bed - have a warm bath, read a book or listen to some music.

- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or cigarettes near to bedtime.

- Finally, avoid having a heavy meal late at night, but don't go to bed hungry - have a light snack or cup of hot milk before bed.

If you are still worried see your GP.

Related Links

WHO - International travel
The World Health Organisation gives up-to-date information on vaccination requirements for every country in the world
DOH - Advice for travellers
The Department of Health provides general advice on avoiding health risks abroad, complete with country-by-country disease and immunisation checklist
NHS Direct - Insomnia
NHS advice on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
BUPA factsheet on causes, treatment, and prevention.

View exclusive video from Dover


Dr Ayan

Health Tips

from Dr Ayan

  • Eat five portions of fruit and veg a day.
  • Drink plenty of water, eight glasses a day for an adult.
  • Exercise is crucial. Twenty minutes minimum, three or four times a week.
  • Avoid stress by managing your time better. If you leave everything to the last minute then it creates stressful situations.

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