Gallstones: should I have my gall bladder removed?

I have gallstones which are causing me chronic pain, but I am finding it difficult to get sensible advice. I have two sets of symptoms. Occasionally I get severe pain on the right side under the rib cage. This has happened only rarely, although it once culminated in an attack of jaundice in which my eyes and skin turned yellow. The other symptoms are more subtle, but still unpleasant: bloating, constipation and colicky pains. The doctors I have seen all recommend surgery to remove the gall bladder. It seems to me that this can only make things worse, as without a gall bladder, the flow of bile won't be regulated. What other treatments, apart from surgery, are possible?

Blood pressure: worries about salk intake

I am on a low-salt diet for my blood pressure and I am thinking of installing a water softener. Will the softened water contain much more salt than the hard water I am now drinking?

Pregnancy: are test accurate?

How accurate are home pregnancy tests? Is it possible to be pregnant even though the test is negative on the day my period is due? And is it possible that a positive pregnancy test could be wrong?

Iritis: what's causing my eye trouble?

I have had three episodes of a painful eye over the past four years. Once it was the right eye, and twice it was the left. The first time it was diagnosed as conjunctivitis, but it didn't get better with antibiotic ointment. Eventually it became so painful that I went to the casualty department, where iritis was diagnosed. I was treated with steroid eye drops and it got better quite quickly. Since then it has come back twice for no apparent reason.

Facial pain: is this a real illness?

For many months I have been troubled by pains on the left side of my face and below my eye. Initially it was diagnosed as sinusitis, but it did not get better with several courses of antibiotics. I have had X-rays, an MRI scan and several bloods tests, all of which have come back as normal. After all this, I have been told that I have "atypical facial pain" and I have been put on a low dose of antidepressants. This is not because I am depressed - it is supposed to be treatment for the pain. I find the whole experience rather upsetting and confusing, and the pain seems no better. Is "atypical facial pain" a real illness, or am I being fobbed off?

Maternity: ward worries

I am hoping to become pregnant soon but have discovered that my local maternity unit has one of the highest death rates in the country and has been placed under special measures. Do I have any choice about which hospital I must attend for maternity services? I live in London so there are lots of hospitals within easy reach. Is there any kind of league table for maternity services that would indicate those with a good reputation?

STD: can I avoid herpes?

Eighteen months ago my unfaithful husband caught genital herpes, which I have not caught. My GP has prescribed aciclovir as a short-term treatment for my husband. What can I do to prevent myself from catching herpes?

Thyroid nodules: I can't swallow

I have had thyroid problems and lots of nodules on my thyroid gland for many years. Now that the nodules have been zapped, I have to take thyroid replacement therapy for life. The problem now is that I have trouble swallowing food and liquids, and as a result I am severely underweight. Can you recommend someone who could help me?

Teething: does it really cause fever?

I have never believed the old wives' tale about a fever being a sign of teething, but yesterday my baby was miserable and developed a temperature of 38.5C. Our GP found no local signs of infection, so we thought she must have a non-specific viral infection. This morning, lo and behold, her first tooth arrived. Was this just a coincidence, or did the teething cause the fever?

IBS: Syndrome or mone-spinner?

I've had digestive problems since my early twenties, and have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and "non-functional dyspepsia". A couple of years ago, in desperation, I tried a blood test for food intolerance, although I consider the ailment faddish. It indicated a low-grade intolerance of wheat and dairy. To my irritation and relief, if I cut out wheat and restrict dairy, I can drop my medications and feel better than when taking them. Now a friend has suggested that I might have "leaky gut syndrome", which has a plausible-sounding explanation for food intolerance. But when I Googled it, none of the sites were mainstream medical sites, and most sold costly supplements. Is this a real syndrome or a marketing ploy?

Endoscopy: something to fear?

I am due to have an endoscopy to discover the cause of stomach pains. The pains seem like indigestion, but are intermittent. Food doesn't make the pain better or worse - in fact, it seems unrelated to eating. My greatest fear is the endoscopy - I can't bear the thought of a flexible telescope being shoved down my throat. Will I be put to sleep?

Dementia: mind games

If physical exercise keeps the body young and healthy, does mental exercise do the same for the brain? Does a sudoku a day keep dementia away?

Lipomas: living with lumps

I have several lumps on my lower arms, one on the base of my back and several on my thighs. Previously I've been told these were lipomas. Now three more small lumps have come up in a row along the middle of my inside forearm and my doctor has brought up the possibility that they could be an autoimmune disease that affects the connective tissue. I also have permanent hypothyroidism. Do you think this diagnosis is possible, and if it is, what kind of disease?

Head lice: nitting it in the bud

I have five daughters between the ages of 4 and 12 and I've found myself in a constant battle against head lice. I have tried pretty much everything but the treatments I am using don't seem to be doing the job anymore. I read in the newspapers recently that chemicals are now regarded as ineffective, and I am also quite concerned about putting chemicals on my children's hair and skin, especially the little ones. Is there an effective natural remedy I could try?

Hip pain: bedtime turmoil

I am in my late fifties and am in reasonable health. I do aerobic exercises and enjoy quite strenuous walking holidays with no discomfort. However, over the past year or two I have noticed that I am often woken in the night by nagging pains in my hips (I tend to lie on my side). The pain disappears within a minute or two of getting up and moving around. As our mattress is quite old, we decided to invest in a new bed, but although we advised the salesman of my problem before we chose it, the bed we have bought is, if anything, causing more problems than the old one. What can I do?

Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionThe jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
Life and Style
Pump it up: in the first half of 2014, British motorists bought 643,000 diesel cars
motoring
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
food + drink
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
etiquette
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
i Newspaper
 
TheIPaper
The Independent around the web
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    Featured Advertorials
    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    (Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

    Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

    £55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

    £60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Principle Geotechnical Engineer

    £55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Day In a Page

    Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
    Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
    Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
    Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
    Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
    Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup