Doc, why won’t dry cough, itchy throat go away?


An untreated infection could be a reason, but here are other reasons

Tuesday October 15 2019

Dr Flo,
I have a dry cough and my throat itches. I have taken antibiotics without improvement. What is the problem?

Dear Victor,
Having a persistently itchy throat and dry cough can be due to an untreated infection. It can also be due to persistent irritation caused by a constant running nose or sinusitis causing dripping of mucus down the throat either due to allergies or due to sinus infection. The sore throat can also be due to stomach content coming back up the oesophagus, causing irritation at the throat, and sometimes some of it “spills over” into the airway. Dehydration, voice strain, recurrent cough and clearing the throat can also make the throat itch. It is advisable for you to visit an ENT specialist for thorough examination of the throat. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause, for instance, allergies are treated with anti-histamines, antibiotics will be given for bacterial infection (different from the ones you have taken), a nasal spray can help decongest the sinuses and medication to reduce acid levels in the stomach. Also, take six to eight glasses of water per day, avoid straining your voice and limit the coughing by taking a sip of water.

Dr Flo,
I have a problem with my right heel. I am 23, an X-ray was done and nothing was seen. The doctor prescribed Neurobione and other pain killers. It’s one month after taking a full dose, but there’s no change. Walking is very painful.

Dear Derrick,
Heel pain could be due to arthritis, stress fracture, inflammation of the tendons, a cyst or nerve irritation. However, in most cases, heel pain is due to plantar fasciitis, which means inflammation of the fascia on the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia is like a sheet of fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the front of the foot, where the toes start. It supports the foot, helps us walk by acting as a shock absorber. It can easily get injured or torn due to too much pressure on the feet. Sometimes the constant stress on the foot and the fasciitis leads to formation of a bony outgrowth on the heel bone called a calcaneal spur. Fasciitis may cause pain, usually after starting to walk after sitting or lying down for long, or after being on your feet for long. It is more common in those who are overweight or obese, those whose jobs require them to stand or walk for long durations of time, and also long distance runners. It can also occur during late pregnancy, and also in those with flat feet or a high foot arch. Wearing shoes with poor arch support also contributes to the problem.
To manage it, reduce the pressure on your feet by reducing the walking and standing. You can stretch and massage your feet before getting out of bed in the morning and after being on your feet for long. Wear shoes with a cushioning sole such as thick rubber sole or sneakers. Get shoes with good arch support, and you can also get heel cushions from the hospital, a pharmacy or even the supermarket. Pain killers also help to reduce the pain and inflammation. You can also see a physiotherapist to help with the exercises for the feet and legs. In case you have tried all this, and you are still in a lot of pain, you may require a steroid injection to the damaged area, which should be done by an orthopaedic specialist. Other treatments that the orthopaedist may recommend include using splints, plantar iontophoresis (using an electric current to get an applied drug to get into the foot), extracorporeal shock wave therapy and surgery.

Dr Flo,
How do I keep my mind healthy at all times?

Dear H O K,
To keep a healthy mind you need to live a balanced life, with physical, mental, social and economic good health. Have regular, well balanced meals, take adequate water, avoid smoking and other drugs, avoid overindulging with alcohol, maintain healthy relationships, work hard, but take time out to rest, spend less than you earn, manage stress, exercise, pray, and seek help when you need it. Changes are a constant in life, find ways to adapt. Also watch what you feed your mind, since you can only give back what you have — avoid toxic and negative people and situations and prioritise peace, forgiveness and contentment over anger, revenge, comparisons and complaining. Whenever you can, spend time in the places, with people and doing things that give you joy.

Dr Flo,
Kindly advice on the best diet for an SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) patient. She’s a woman aged 38.

Dear Kellen,
There is no specific diet for lupus. SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) is an autoimmune disease (where the body’s own immune system fights against your body) and when the illness is active, there is continuous inflammation going on in the body which leads to the various symptoms, but it also increases the risk of developing other disease like hypertension and diabetes. The medications used to treat SLE also have side effects that may impact a person’s health. For this reason, having a healthy diet is vitally important to maintain general good health, help reduce inflammation, have strong bones and muscles, maintain healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease. The SLE patient should have a well-balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and moderate the amounts of animal protein. Have a low sodium diet, limit saturated fats and increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids (oily fish, nuts, flaxseed) and calcium and Vitamin D. If taking methotrexate, then the patient needs to take folic acid supplements or a high folate diet (green, leafy vegetables, fortified cereal).

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