Is my mouth problem caused by an allergy and when will my period return? Dr Zoe Williams answers your health questions
AFTER eating all those Easter eggs and hot cross buns at the weekend, you might be feeling a little more off-kilter than usual.
We all overindulge sometimes, but you can be left feeling tired, bloated and with blood sugar levels that are going haywire.
You might have a sore head after the bank holiday celebrations too.
To feel more like your usual self, get back to eating lots of vitamin, mineral and fibre-rich fruit and dark green leafy veg, and make sure to hydrate, especially if you hit the booze hard.
Exercise can help combat a hangover, get your blood pumping and your digestive system moving again too.
You might want to slob out on the sofa for the rest of the Easter holidays but try to get out and about – honestly, it will really give you a boost.
Here are some of the questions readers have asked me this week . . .
Q) MY husband has Parkinson’s, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asbestosis.
He suffers from severe constipation which lasts four to five days, followed by diarrhoea for two days – he has tried many of the recommended medications for both.
It is making him very depressed as nothing seems to help and there seems no end to the problem.
Can you please give some advice?
A) Constipation is a very common complication of Parkinson’s, so much so that many people who have the disease notice difficulties with constipation before they notice movement symptoms, such as tremor or stiffness.
The constipation can usually be managed with a combination of lifestyle changes, such as adding extra fibre and fluids to your diet, and medical treatments.
There are lots of different laxatives available that work in different ways. Some stimulate the bowel, some soften the stool, while some add bulk to stool.
Sometimes it is difficult to get the laxative treatment right for the individual, and bouts of diarrhoea can be a side effect from the laxatives.
My advice would be to involve the specialist nurse who works with the hospital team that cares for your husband.
They will have a lot of experience in supporting patients with this.
While in your husband’s case Parkinson’s is likely to blame, it is important to remind you – and all readers – that changes in bowel habits that don’t have a good explanation should always be checked out in case they could be symptoms of bowel cancer.
Speak to a GP if you’ve noticed changes in your usual bowel habits and it’s lasted for three weeks or more.
The type of changes to look out for include tummy discomfort, blood in your poo, diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason, a feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet, pain in your stomach or bottom (anus), or if your poo is loose, pale or looks greasy.
Q) THE mucosa (inner lining) of my mouth is slightly “puffy” when I touch it with my tongue.
This can give me breathing problems, especially first thing in the morning when my voice is hoarse for some time.
I lost my only sister to cancer of the sinuses. How far does the mucosa affect a person?
My bowels move more than once each day, is that related?
Could it be another allergy, as I already have some?
A) The oral mucosa is the moist membrane covering the inside of the mouth.
It stretches from the moist inner side of the lips to the pharynx, a part of the throat behind the mouth.
The oral mucosa protects the underlying tissue and it’s involved in producing saliva.
Stomatitis is the medical name given to inflammation of the mouth lining and it can be caused by ulcers, cold sores, biting or catching the inside of your mouth with your teeth, burning your mouth on hot food, gum disease or gingivitis, allergies or medications.
One of the most common causes that I see in practice is oral thrush infection.
Thrush can also infect your throat and give some hoarseness to the voice and discomfort swallowing.
If you think you might have this, it’s easily treatable with an oral treatment called Nystatin that can be bought from the pharmacy.
It’s important for me to mention that voice hoarseness is something that makes a GP’s ears prick up.
That’s because if it persists for more than two weeks with no obvious cause, it becomes necessary to investigate for chest and throat cancer.
What’s reassuring in your case is that the hoarseness is only in the morning, so this does fit more with inflammation in the area of the vocal cords.
You mention bowel movements too and this may or may not be connected.
In isolation, I wouldn’t worry about having a bowel movement more than once a day as long as that is your normal.
If your bowel movements have changed at all and the change has lasted for more than three weeks, it’s worth making an appointment with your GP – see above, Question 1.
It is possible that an allergy is the cause, so keeping a food and symptom diary would be the first thing to implement to start to try and figure out what the allergy could be.
And a note on oral hygiene – are you brushing your teeth correctly, twice a day, using interdentals as well as mouthwash?
Bacteria or gum disease can cause swelling.
If it’s not getting better despite the things above, then please make an appointment to see your GP, especially if the voice hoarseness persists.
Period cut off by childbirth
Q) MY period hasn’t returned eight months after giving birth. What’s going on?
A) It’s completely normal not to get your period while you’re breastfeeding, so if you’re still feeding your little one both day time and night time, please don’t worry.
The hormone that causes you to make milk, prolactin, also stops you from ovulating and having your period.
When you stop breastfeeding, your period should come back, or by, around 12 months.
If you’re not breastfeeding, your period should have returned by now – it can return as soon as four weeks after giving birth and usually within the first three months.
So if you are not breastfeeding then please make an appointment with your GP or practice nurse who can advise and start some tests to help you understand what’s going on.
There are lots of potential causes, ranging from stress and illness to hormonal disturbances like polycystic ovary syndrome, and of course pregnancy.