A Question of Health

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In the past year, I have taken six courses of antibiotics for cystitis. The symptoms start without warning and within 48 hours, I'm in agony. I've tried everything, from bicarbonate of soda to abstinence from sex, but nothing seems to work. I hate taking antibiotics, but I hate cystitis even more. Is there any solution?

In the past year, I have taken six courses of antibiotics for cystitis. The symptoms start without warning and within 48 hours, I'm in agony. I've tried everything, from bicarbonate of soda to abstinence from sex, but nothing seems to work. I hate taking antibiotics, but I hate cystitis even more. Is there any solution?

 

Recurrent cystitis is fairly common among some unlucky young women and you are obviously one of them. Have you tried a regular diet of cranberry juice? When researchers in Boston compared cranberry juice with a placebo, they found that the number of urinary infections was reduced by about a half in women who drank cranberry juice regularly. One of the interesting findings was that the effects of the juice didn't become apparent until it was used daily for more than a month. So if you can bear the idea of a daily dose of 300ml of cranberry juice for several months, you may find your cystitis getting better.

 

I have developed dozens of tiny circular rashes on my chest and my back. They first appeared on holiday last summer, when they were noticeable because they caused a polka-dot effect on my tan. How can I get rid of them?

Your skin has become infected with a fungal infection called pityriasis versicolor. It is surprisingly common, and often becomes apparent at holiday times because it interferes with the pigmentation of the skin. In dark-skinned people it can cause pale patches, while in the fair-skinned it can cause dark patches. The fungus can be quite resistant to treatment. Try using an antifungal cream such as Canestan or Daktarin for a few weeks. If that fails, you could take a course of oral antifungal capsules called fluconazole, but these require a prescription.

 

If I change doctors, will the computerised records from my old GP be transferred to the system of my new doctor?

General practitioners have moved towards computerised records much more quickly than hospitals. They have recently been given permission to record all consultations on computers and, within a few years, the little envelopes that contain a patient's lifetime medical records will be history. But despite widespread computerisation, there is no universal system for transferring computer records from one GP to another. If you change doctors, your previous GP will print out your file and send it to your new GP, who may have some way of summarising it onto his system. But the printout is likely just to sit on his shelf, waiting to be sent on when you next change doctors.

 

Please send your questions to A Question of Health, 'The Independent', Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax 020-7005 2182; or e-mail to health@independent.co.uk. Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions

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