WE all sometimes fall back into habits that we know aren’t good for us.
We may smoke, drink a little too much, eat our favorite foods, or jump in the car when we could have walked the short walk to the shops.
However, overwhelming guilt about these things will not help you feel better or change your routine.
Instead, think about how you can take positive steps.
Consider getting the family to cook healthy meals together, downloading the NHS stop smoking app, or organizing a daily half-hour walk with a friend.
That’s what readers asked me this week. . .
F) BOTH nails of my big toes are split horizontally, about halfway down. What could it be?
A) Onychoschizia is the medical term for split toenails. Cracks can result from trauma, such as a toe bump, but since you get both toes from it, I suspect that’s not the case.
Nails can splinter if they are constantly wet. However, this usually affects the hands of cleaners or hairdressers. They can also break down when we lack certain nutrients, such as iron.
A lack of protein or folic acid can also lead to grooves in the middle of the nails.
So it’s worth taking a look at your diet and making sure you’re getting enough vitamins and iron-rich foods like kidney beans and spinach.
Nails can also split due to fungal infections, hormone issues, psoriasis, and diabetes, but you don’t mention any of those conditions.
Since it affects both feet, I recommend that you make an appointment with your GP.
They also don’t mention if they cause you pain, but if they do, it’s best to get them checked out sooner rather than later.
Q) MY husband is 75 years old and has been drinking between 100 and 120 units of dark beer every week for the last 35 to 40 years. I searched the NHS website for liver disease symptoms and it ticks all the boxes.
But he angrily dismisses my results as “complete nonsense you can find on the internet”.
He has an enormously swollen stomach (although he’s not overweight per se – his arms and legs are quite skinny).
The whites of his eyes are yellowish, the slightest scratch will result in a massive bruise, his feet and ankles are swollen, and his face is red and covered with spider veins.
He also suffers from a number of health issues, including gout, an underactive thyroid and COPD.
At a doctor’s visit to Well Man, his blood work for liver function was back to normal. I was hoping it would show something and be a wake up call. In fact, he’s now complacent because he thinks the test shows he’s perfectly fit and healthy.
We would greatly appreciate your advice.
A) Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units per week, which is about a bottle and a third of wine or six pints of average strength beer. Any more than that is at risk of causing damage.
Symptoms of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse include an inability to limit alcohol consumption and an inability or unwillingness to reduce alcohol consumption.
You are right to be concerned.
It seems that your husband is struggling with his relationship with alcohol and that many sessions per week are most likely affecting his health.
Liver function tests may return to normal in early and even fairly severe liver disease, although they would have shown elevated bilirubin if the yellow eyes were a true jaundice. You are in a difficult position because you cannot give him any help unless he wants help himself.
They also don’t mention if he even has alcohol-free days.
It sounds like he doesn’t share the concerns you have. So it might be worth talking to your GP yourself and getting advice on how to talk to or help him.
Ultimately he has to make the decision to make a change, but it might be worth checking with local groups to see if there’s something they can do together that could replace the alcohol some nights of the week.
If you do decide to have more conversations with him, put the blame aside and patiently and calmly try to find out what drives him to drink.
It could be that he has a bad mental state and doesn’t want to talk about it.
Alcohol addiction is often a symptom of an underlying psychological problem or trauma.
Q) When a man with an STD skips water, does he really feel like he’s handing out razor blades, or is that an overstatement?
A) VD or venereal disease is the older term for what are now known as sexually transmitted infections or STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes virus.
Urinating during an STI can cause pain, but not always. It depends on what infection a person has, how severe the symptoms are, and where the infection is located.
For example, in men who have chlamydia symptoms, they often refer to it as a razor-swipe, or describe the sensation as more of a burning, itchy pain that causes a searing sensation, which is why it is in the von you mentioned way is described.
Non-sexually transmitted infections of the urinary tract can also cause similar symptoms. It is important to get evaluation and treatment for symptoms to prevent them from getting worse.
Why aren’t all smokers sick?
Q) I am a non-smoker and I prefer that others do not smoke – but why do so many people smoke for years without dying or becoming seriously ill?
Smoking tobacco is the most dangerous habit of all – it’s incredibly harmful to us.
Smoking increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and type 2 diabetes, but smoking does not spell death for anyone.
We know that smoking is associated with about 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancers. But while some smokers never get lung cancer in their lifetime, other people who don’t smoke but have inhaled fumes as passive smokers will get lung cancer.
This is because our genetics and other lifestyle and environmental factors contribute to the risk.
Smoking is a factor in about 20 to 30 percent of all cancer deaths, but there still remains a large proportion of deaths in which it is not a factor.
There is no safe limit for smoking and fortunately the number of smokers in the UK is declining.
I speak to many smokers at the clinic who have tried to quit but have struggled and started again. That is normal. It often takes several attempts to finally stop. So the key is to keep trying.
The NHS has smoking cessation programs including an app and I recommend making use of them.
People are up to three times more likely to quit smoking for good when they use a combination of smoking cessation treatments and receive support from an NHS smoking cessation service.