Health: A Question of Health

I AM 67 and about seven years ago I lost my sense of smell. What are the chances of regaining it? I have had a scan of my sinuses, used all kinds of nose drops and have even tried steroids, all to no avail. Is this common?

Between 1 and 2 per cent of adults have impaired sense of smell, although many are not aware of it. Total loss of sense of smell, however, is quite a disability. It not only interferes with enjoyment of food and drink, but also can be potentially dangerous because people who cannot smell cannot detect gas leaks or poisonous chemicals in the air. The most common causes are nose and sinus problems that damage the smell receptors in the lining of the nasal passages. Long-standing allergies, nasal polyps and sinusitis can all damage the sense of smell. A small number of people who have had head injuries damage the nerves that connect the nose to the brain. Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease also affect the sense of smell. Nasal and sinus problems can often be helped by surgery or nasal sprays, but the majority of causes are not curable.

I HAVE recurrent outbreaks of herpes simplex virus on my face. The only effective way to control these is by taking daily aciclovir tablets. If I take two or three tablets a day, the virus is kept under control. Will I be taking these tablets for the rest of my life? Do they have any long- term side-effects?

The herpes simplex virus is a member of the family of viruses that cause chickenpox, shingles, cold sores and genital herpes. Aciclovir is a powerful anti-viral drug that prevents all of these viruses from reproducing. It does not eradicate the virus from your body but you do make it very difficult for it to cause an outbreak. Dermatologists usually recommend that you stop taking aciclovir every six to 12 months to see if the virus has become less rampant. But many people do end up taking the drug for many years. Aciclovir is remarkably free of side effects and there is no harm in taking it for many years, although as you get older you may be able to reduce the dose if your kidneys become less effective at removing it from your bloodstream.

MY SON, aged six, has been excluded from school for a week because of impetigo. Is this reasonable?

Impetigo is a skin infection caused by the staphylococcus aureus bacteria. It usually causes a rash with a slightly golden crust on the surface. The most common areas affected are around the face and mouth. Before antibiotics, it caused epidemics in schools and institutions, but is now easily treated with antibiotic cream or medicine.

Once treatment has started, it seems unnecessary to exclude children from school.

Please send your questions 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 he is unable to respond personally to questions.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test