A Question Of Health

What can I do to keep my pH levels balanced?
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ACID TEST

Q. I saw an advertisement stating that we need to keep the pH levels of our bodies at the right level. I am assuming this means that our bodies tend to be acidic, which I am sure in turn causes high blood pressure, strokes from blood clots, etc. What can I do to keep the pH levels low?

A. The pH levels of the human body are incredibly well controlled automatically. pH is a numerical measure of acidity and alkalinity. A completely neutral substance, such as pure water, has a pH of 7.0. Acidic fluids, such as stomach acid, have a pH below 7.0. Alkaline fluids have a pH above 7.0. Human blood has a pH that ranges between 7.35 and 7.45, so it is naturally slightly alkaline (non-acidic). There is no evidence that high blood pressure, strokes or any other diseases are caused by abnormal pH levels. My advice would be to forget about your body's pH - it will look after itself.

ITCHY DEODORANTS

Q. I seem to have built up an allergic reaction to deodorants over many years. It's difficult to find one which does not cause itchiness. Any ideas?

A. A recent epidemiological survey found that 23 per cent of women and 14 per cent of men had experienced an adverse reaction to a personal care product in the preceding year. Overall, more than half of women and nearly 40 per cent of men will experience some kind of reaction at some time in their lives. The fragrances that are used in deodorants are common culprits. Deodorants also contain preservatives and other chemicals designed to prevent them from deteriorating in the bottle or can. Of course you may also be sensitive to the soap that you use to wash under the arms. Dermatologists can do special skin tests to try to identify exactly which chemical is causing the problem. But quite a few people who clearly are sensitive to deodorants and other personal-care products come up negative on the tests. The best advice is to use deodorants that do not contain fragrances, and to try to find something that you are not sensitive to. Unfortunately, the problem is only likely to get worse. As people get older their skin tends to become more and more sensitive to chemical exposure.

Have your say: Readers write

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I use a double-thickness tubular bandage, from midway up my forearm, folded at the base of my fingers, back up to my forearm. I wear this every night from retiring to waking in the morning, but don't usually have to resort to it any other time. This is much more comfortable than any kind of splint I have tried.

Please send your questions and suggestions to A Question of Health, 'The Independent', Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail health@independent.co.uk. Dr Kavalier is unable to respond personally

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