Health: A Question of Health
Thursday 17 June 1999
If you had a total hysterectomy, the surgeon will have removed both your uterus and your cervix. Occasionally women have a partial hysterectomy, in which the cervix is not removed, but this is highly unusual. Assuming that your cervix was removed, the risk of cervical cancer is tiny, though there have been rare cases of cervical cancer occurring in the tissues of the vagina, just next to where the cervix once was. If you had regular smears before your hysterectomy and they were all normal, I think it is over-cautious to continue having regular smears. If you have had abnormal smears in the past, it may be sensible to go on having smears of the vagina Discuss this with your GP. The whole point of having cervical smears is to reduce your chance of developing cancer of the cervix. Your chance is already exceedingly low.
MY AMERICAN friends are all paranoid about Lyme disease. Can you catch it in Britain?
Lyme disease is an infection carried by ticks. Humans catch the disease if they are bitten by an infected tick. It was first discovered in Old Lyme, Connecticut (after which the disease was named), and there is great public awareness of Lyme disease in New England where it is not uncommon. The illness usually starts off with a circular rash at the site of the tick bite, followed by flu-like symptoms. If untreated it can progress to a debilitating illness, with complications including arthritis, depression, heart problems and nervous system involvement. It can be treated with antibiotics, and early treatment is important in order to prevent the development of chronic illness and complications.
There have been cases of Lyme disease in Britain, particularly in the New Forest area and in Scotland. The best ways to avoid it are to wear long trousers tucked into socks, and to check for ticks after you have been walking in forests and grassy areas.
WHENEVER I fly in aeroplanes I get excruciating pains in my ears as the plane descends. How can I prevent this?
Three things may help. Take a decongestant such as Sudafed for a couple of days before you fly. Try to unblock your ears as the plane ascends and descends by swallowing, sucking on sweets or yawning. Use the Valsalva manoeuvre to release the painful pressure in your ears. This involves gently blowing your nose while you pinch your nostrils together. These suggestions are all designed to open up the Eustachian tubes that connect the back of your nose to the middle part of your ear. The excruciating pain is caused by a failure of these tubes to open and equalise the pressure of both sides of your eardrums.
Please write to A Question of Health, `The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL; fax 0171-293 2182; or e-mail health@ independent.co.uk. Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
Best underrated Christmas movies from Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food