Health: A Question of Health

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A FEW months ago I started to cough up blood. A chest X-ray showed a small, darkened area on a lung and I was told that this was caused by heavy smoking in my youth. (I am only 24 and have not smoked for some time.) The blood disappeared, but then returned and is now a regular occurrence. I have concluded that I may have TB. What else could it be?

Tuberculosis would be high on my list of possible diagnoses, particularly if you are feeling unwell, losing weight, or getting temperatures. Causes could also include other infections, small blood clots in the lungs, or abnormal blood vessels. I strongly recommend that you return to your doctor and insist on further investigations.

MY THREE-MONTH-OLD daughter has had a sticky eye almost continuously since she was born. I keep it under control by cleaning it regularly with cotton wool and water, but I am concerned that it will affect her vision.

This problem is usually caused by a blocked tear duct - a tiny channel running from the inner corner of the lower eyelid into the nose.

Quite a few babies are born with tear ducts that are not fully open. Regular cleaning with cooled, boiled water helps, and you can use your finger to massage the side of the nose gently, just below the corner of the eye. The tear ducts usually open by themselves within a few months. Occasionally they need to be helped by a minor operation. There is no risk to your daughter's vision.

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@

Dr Kavalier regrets he cannot respond personally