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7 February 2011
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The Lake District

Dr George treats fell runner Anya's bad foot on the hoof

The Street Doctors - Dr Ayan, Dr Barbara, Dr George and Dr Jonty have taken a break from the city streets and head to the beautiful Lake District in Cumbria.

The lack of major towns and cities in Cumbria means that many people living there do not have easy access to doctor's surgeries, chronic kidney disease in Cumbria is higher than the national average and despite being the second most rural county in the country 80% of the Cumbrian population don't eat enough fruit and veg.

Dr George starts his day early and puts his best foot forward on the Honistor pass, it's at 2000ft on the Via Ferrata that he meets fell runner Anya who suffers with a bad foot following a fracture to three of her toes. Dr George soon solves the mystery and his diagnosis is that Anya has plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue that stretches from the heel to the middle bones of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is quite common, in particular with people over 40 and it's more common in women and athletes.

Dr George teaches Anya some techniques to help her foot. One of which is to get a can of beans and roll the can under the base of her foot.

He then suggests that she uses her ankle to create the shape of the letters a, b, and c, this helps strengthen the muscles around the ankle, those physio exercises combined with a bit of rest will soon allow Anya to keep on running

The Lake District attracts over 15 million visitors a year so Dr Jonty starts his surgery in one of Windermere's busy camp sites. It's here he meets Lorna, a woman who's worried that she might be experiencing an allergic reaction to her cats which then triggers her asthma.

Dr Jonty explains that the symptoms Lorna has described does sound like it could be her cats, but that it won't be the cats themselves she's allergic to, but there spit! This is because when a cat preens itself the spit dries on there fur then gets into the atmosphere. He suggests taking a damp sponge and gently wiping the cat down each day, this might then lessen her reactions and with luck her asthma might be reduced.

Allergies affect one in four people in the UK. If you think you have an allergy but aren't sure what to do Dr Jonty advises:

- Keep a diary and note down when and where you experience your symptoms.

- If you still cannot work out what is causing your allergy visit your GP who can arrange for you to have further tests.

- Once you have identified the allergen avoid contact with it whenever you can.

- Treatment with a non drowsy antihistamine from the chemist may help in less severe allergies, however, if you experience any swelling of the face or difficulty breathing you should seek emergency medical help immediately.

Meanwhile over at the beautiful Coniston Water, Dr Ayan meets the captain of a steam gondola whose feeling less than ship shape following an accident on his push bike which has lead to him suffering with pain at the top of his leg. Dr Ayan examines Captain John and he makes the diagnosis that Captain John has sciatica.

Dr Ayan suggests back strengthening exercises and tensing the abdomen muscles will help ease the pain. He also suggests that when sleeping John should try placing the affected leg's ankle over his other knee to make a number 4 shape and that this "number 4 position" can help relieve sciatic pain.

To prevent sciatica Dr Ayan advises:

- Stretching and exercising muscles that support the back will help ease sciatic pain.

- Watch your posture. When sitting you should sit upright, knees and hips should be level and your feet flat on the floor.

- When it's time for bed use a firm mattress to support your body and keep your neck supported but not at a steep angle.

- If you do suffer with sciatica you could try taking a pain killer but if the symptoms persist after six weeks go and visit your GP.

Dr Barbara is also keeping busy out and about in The Lake District and she meets Jane in Kendal High Street. Jane has been suffering with pins and needles in her left hand. Dr Barbara asks her to stretch her hand back so that she can tap her wrist, when she does this Jane experiences a tingling sensation. Dr Barbara tells Jane she has carpal tunnel. This is a common condition and it's where too much pressure is on the nerve in the wrist and it can cause aching, numbness and tingling in the thumb and fingers and sometimes part of the hand.

Dr Barbara suggests that Jane buys an over the counter wrist support. One which doesn't give any flexibility at the wrist but still allows Jane to move her fingers.

Dr Jonty is still keeping busy and he's taken refuge from the winds of Windermere and sets up his surgery in a small cafe. Its here he comes across Lynn, an anxious Mum whose worried about her three year old son Kyle whose just got over chickenpox.

Dr Jonty checks his temperature which is up, to find out if he has any other symptoms he also checks his chest, back and examines his throat. Dr Jonty makes the diagnosis that Kyle has a viral infection and reassures Lyn that his own immune system will fight it off and the best she can do is give him a dose of child's paracetamol every six hours.

If you're a parent worried about a child with a virus Dr Jonty advises:

Encourage the child to drink plenty of fluids - having a fever will cause them to loose body fluid and put them at risk of dehydration.

Give them regular paracetamol or ibuprofen to keep their temperature down. Your pharmacist can advise you on the correct dosage.

Finally minimise their contact with other children, to avoid passing infection on.

If their temperature remains high consult your GP.

Related Links

Asthma UK
Asthma UK is the charity dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the 5.2 million people in the UK whose lives are affected by asthma.
NHS Direct - allergies
NHS guide to causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of common symptoms that affect one in four of the population.
Medinfo - Sciatica
Medinfo factsheet on symptoms, causes, and treatments for sciatica.
BUPA - Carpal tunnel
BUPA factsheet on symptoms, causes, and treatments for this wrist condition.
NHS Direct - Insomnia
NHS advice on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
NHS Direct - Chickenpox
A guide to the infection's causes and symptoms, plus pointers on alleviating the itching and soreness.


Dr Jonty

Health Tips

from Dr Jonty

  • Drink alcohol in moderation and have at least two drink free days a week.
  • Spend half an hour a day doing something that makes you feel relaxed. Try meditation.
  • Stop smoking and use the money you save to treat yourself to a massage.
  • Get at least 7- 8 hours sleep a night.

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