Neurofibromatosis: what is it?

Our three-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. She was born with quite a few small, pale brown skin marks, which caused her no problems. We thought they were just simple birthmarks. When she went to the GP about something unrelated, she saw a new doctor who thought the marks might represent an underlying problem. She was sent to a paediatrician, and after scans and examinations, we've been told that she has neuro-fibromatosis type 1. It's apparently a genetic condition, but neither of us has any sign of it. Where can we find out more about it? I looked on the internet, and some of the stuff I saw was frightening.

Ear piercing: straight advice

I recently had my earlobes pierced, but the ears were pierced unevenly. I like the location of the piercing on the left ear, but not the right. Can I keep both earrings in for now, wait for the four- to six-week healing period to end, then get the right ear pierced again and just let the misplaced hole close up? I'm a little worried because the place for it to be pierced again is close to where it is already pierced.

Corns: how can I get rid of them?

I have had a corn in the middle of my foot, near the ball, for 10 years. Is there surgery that gets rid of these? When I have tried corn plasters with acid on them, I find them painful and have to take it off after a day. Can I remove them?

ITP: what is it?

I developed a pin-prick rash on my arms and legs, which spread quickly over two days. I was also bleeding from my gums, and had blood in my stools. I had a blood test, which showed that my platelet count was low. I have been told that I have ITP. No one knows the cause. I have been given steroids, which has improved the rash, but I'm told that my blood is still abnormal. Will I need to stay on steroids for ever?

Diabetes: will I have difficulty travelling?

I am diabetic, and I'm going trekking in Tanzania. I need to have insulin injections several times a day. I understand that it may be possible to buy insulin in Dar es Salaam, but that it may not be easily available elsewhere. I usually keep my insulin in the fridge, but sometimes carry it around with me for a few days. How long can I keep it out of the fridge, before it goes off? Should I bring enough for the three-week trip, or get it locally?

Penicillin: do allergies run in the family?

My son was recently prescribed a course of antibiotics for a throat infection. The doctor suggested penicillin, but my wife and two of her relatives are allergic to it, so I asked if he could be given something else, in case he was allergic, too. The doctor was rather dismissive of the idea that penicillin allergy runs in families. Does it?

Dermatographism: what is it?

One of my flatmates at university frequently demonstrates to us an amazing phenomenon. If you take a blunt object, such as a chopstick, you can write her name on the skin of her back. Within a few seconds, the name begins to turn red and the skin then swells up wherever something has been written. She can parade around the flat for hours, with her name emblazoned in the skin of her back. When I try the same on my back, nothing happens. Why is her skin so special?

Prostate: is it cancer?

I think I may have a serious problem with my prostate or testes, as there appears to be blood in my semen. I am not in discomfort, and my testes seem normal. I have not yet seen my GP. What might be causing this? I am a pretty healthy 74-year-old.

Rhesus antibodies: will they effect my health

Twenty-eight years ago, when I was pregnant with my second child, the hospital forgot to give me a rhesus injection and I developed rhesus antibodies because my blood group is A negative and my husband's is A positive. Will these ever have any effect on my health?

High blood pressure: how can I lower it?

What can I do to lower my blood pressure? I am in reasonably good health now, but there's a history of stroke in my family.

Dizzy spells: why would this happen?

I am a 32-year-old woman and sometimes I feel dizzy after eating. It lasts for 45-60 minutes. Do you have any idea why this would happen?

SAD: what is it?

I suffer from "winter blues" lethargy caused by lack of sunlight. Although I am pulling out of it now that spring is here, I am aware that it is getting worse each year, despite global warming and spending three days a week outside. Last summer, I questioned my GP, who said that light treatment does not work that well. He suggested a course of mild antidepressants over the winter months. I do not rate myself as depressed, so it does not seem that logical to take antidepressants. What treatments might help?

Cold sensations: what's causing them?

I am a 60-year-old male and have a problem with cold sensations down the outside of my left arm and leg. Sitting in a heated room does not improve the chilling sensation, and neither does a blanket. The only way to warm the outside of my arm and leg is to sit with radiant heat on my left side. This problem has been with me for eight years. No one seems to have any idea what the cause of it is.

Breast milk: why has it returned?

I stopped breast-feeding my second child about 18 months ago, but recently I have noticed milk leaking from my breasts for no apparent reason. It is only a small amount, but it is now happening most days, particularly in the mornings. The health visitor told me it was likely to be a remnant of breast-feeding, but nothing similar happened after I weaned my first baby. Is this something to do with feeding more than one child?

Jaw pain: what causes it?

My jaw has been clicking since an extended visit to the dentist some months ago. Sometimes my jaw hurts, feeling as if top and bottom are wired together, and sometimes it hurts on yawning and chewing but nothing that isn't fixed by an over-the-counter painkiller. My GP gave me 10mg amitriptyline but it made me so dopey in the mornings that I gave it up. A course of Indian head massage helped my general inability to relax. But I never know with a minor joint condition like this if I should exercise my jaw by chewing or rest it by eating baby food? Are there any long-term, negative effects of this kind of problem, or is it best to just learn to live with it, take the occasional aspirin and keep clicking? How much does it really matter?

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